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by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

There is only one pushcart.  I'm sure you've noticed that around meal times the service slows down.  I don't mean the line gets long, although it does.  I mean that when you are at the front of the line and you ask Jimmy or whatever the name is for a chili foot-long or cheese fries he takes a while to respond.  There is hesitation, there may be blank stares, there may be lapses of memory.  All of these are indications of lack of bandwidth. This never happens if you want a double cheeseburger with all the trimmings at 8:26 p.m. That's a slack time.

I see you don't believe me. Take this paper.  Don't look at it! Give it to any pushcart operator: he won't be able to look away. See, this is important. The pushcart...  Okay, _pushcarts_.  I believe the "pushcarts" represent the vanguard of an invasion force.  I don't know whether their role is surveillance, sleeper cell, or what. But why would they hide if they didn't mean us harm?


Maybe so, but if we are experimental subjects and the pushcart represents some intergalactic psychology department, yes, I do object.  I want them out of my brain and off my planet..

So here's the plan.  Tomorrow, hand this to any pushcart operator.  Then see what happens.  You'll know if it works.


Go ahead, give it to her.  You want me to do it?  Alright, alright, give it here.  Howdy Ma'am, I want to buy a hot dog.  But first, would you take a look at this please?  Thank you.

[Whispers] yes, I know she's reading it.  She's still reading. No, maybe you're right.  She is just standing there, immobile. That's what I told you would happen.

So the pushcart has flickered out.  Probably all of them have disappeared, except for the single real one.  No, I don't see anything else that's changed.  Well, except that all the buildings have disappeared.  And the trees, the pavement, and the sky.

Don't be such a baby.  You still have me, and this regular hexagonal grid on the floor.  And the face. Look up.  Big eyes, enlarged cranium, it's the standard tabloid alien.  Who knew they were real? It doesn't do any good to panic. I was wrong: the pushcarts weren't the only fakes.  So sue me. Hey, at least we still have each other.



Now you've gone and changed the way genre readers look at hot dog vendors forever, ha ! Great story.

Posted by: Daniel | February 7, 2009 6:48 AM

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