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by Luc Reid

After the bolts of green fire from the sky had finally ceased to fall, after the screaming across the world had been drowned out in a deadly roar of heat and force, after the last remnants of unprotected buildings aboveground had collapsed in twisted, melting, ashy heaps, after the gasworms had been released to tunnel mindlessly, automatically, mechanically into the rock and seek out the hidden shelters, after the last of the live radio signals, but before Dr. Vanfrancus made it back into his carefully-protected family preserve from the liquor store, where he had bought two cases of absinthe (officially to extract thujone from them, as his wife generally made it very hard on him when he attempted to bring liquor into the compound for personal consumption), and before Mrs. Vanfrancus made it back from her daily power walk, and especially before anyone knew that yet another nanny had quit and left the compound in a huff, 7-year-old Melina Vanfrancus came back out of her father's study, where she was expressly forbidden to be and especially where she was expressly forbidden to play with the controls to the machines her father had told her at many a bedtime he would soon use to become ruler of the world through threatening the destruction of all life on Earth, and sat back down across from her favorite doll, whom she had named Princess Sarah Palin.

"I'm very sorry to have made you wait, Princess Sarah Palin," Melina said, "but now we won't have to worry about any more interruptions to our tea for anything so silly as baths. Could I tempt you with more fairy cake?"

Princess Sarah Palin accepted just one more piece of fairy cake, as she was watching her figure.

"And really, calling me a brat," said Melina, and she delicately set to eating her fairy cake.

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