The Cabbage-Patch God
The Dolls’ Crusade
A Natural Attraction
A Remarkable Reaction
*Bradley the Magnificent
Brad felt good, really good, as he got out of his red Mustang coupe. Why Officer Kelly hadn’t given him a speeding ticket he had no idea. He would’ve bet on Kelly ticketing God Himself for going 90 in a 45 zone. My mojo kicks ass, he thought. His grin faltered as he stumbled over the weirdly cracked and rippled pavement in the middle of the school parking lot. The pavement that, he told himself firmly, had NOT spontaneously shaken itself last week into an uncanny semblance of his own face. He scowled in concentration all the way up the front steps. Behind him, the parking lot smoothed out like the still surface of a pond.
When Brad walked into school at 8:04, Assistant Principal Goodwin was waiting in front of the office, arms folded.
“Bradley Jones,” she said, shaking her head as though looking at something disgusting left by a puppy, “I told you yesterday …”
“I am not tardy,” Brad said.
“…that you are right on time. Keep up the good work, young man.” She wheeled around and marched into the office, the door swinging shut behind her.
Wow, it worked on Goodwin, too. Somehow he’d acquired supernatural powers overnight. Brad’s grin was back. As he strolled toward Mr. Datta’s math class he wondered, did a God need algebra? Did He even need high school?
At lunch, that stupid freshman Kayla whatshername stared at him with an intensity that was truly unnerving. He could feel her gaze from three tables away. “Seriously creepy,” he muttered. She had become obsessed with him lately, and no matter how rude he was it made no difference. “I wish she wasn’t interested in me at all,” he thought. There was a noiseless thump, and Kayla looked away. Good! But he was momentarily nauseated, and so dizzy he had to grip the edge of the table till the room stopped whirling.
“You alright?” Chuck asked, “Brad?”
Brad waved him away and stood up quickly, but all afternoon he felt odd.
Driving home as fast as the Mustang would go, Brad found Officer Kelly waiting for him. This would be no problem. But Kelly hit the lights and pulled him over. No matter what Brad said, thought, or did, Kelly took out his ticket book and wrote a $238 ticket, which Mom would not pay for.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rucker:
As you may be aware, Santa Clara County is conducting a series of above-ground atomic bomb tests in our effort to defend ourselves against the invasion of forces from San Francisco. These tests began two years ago when Oakland destroyed the Bay Bridge and San Francisco’s navy proved unequal to mounting an assault across San Francisco Bay. San Francisco then turned their attention south toward San Jose, provoking our military to explore the nuclear defense option. After considering many factors including environmental, strategic, economic, and impact on residents, the site selection committee has chosen the 5200 block of Merit Avenue as the best candidate site.
This letter is to inform you that your house (identified as Tax Parcel No. 5480035017) was chosen as the site of the test. The County of Santa Clara, California hereby claims your property under the right of eminent domain so that this test may be conducted.
The County of Santa Clara will reimburse your family the current tax assessed value of your home and reasonable moving expenses if you choose to remain in the county. We anticipate that you will have questions about this purchase, and will be pleased to discuss the particulars with you. Ms. Beverley Allele will be your point of contact with Santa Clara County, and can be reached at the number below.
By the way, should you choose to remain within the city of San Jose, we recommend you avoid North Loganberry Way.
County Assessor’s Office
“Boy!” the copy editor cried.
Adolphius Equis, AKA Boy, had been chatting up one of the reporters to verify mutual interest when he heard the summons. He ran to the watercooler, poured himself a paper cup full, and tossed it back. He noticed the reporter was still watching him, so Adolphius grinned, lifted his black tie and mock-hung himself–tongue protruding, head lolling to the side. It got the laugh he’d wanted. He shot back a sly grin.
Adolphius flicked drops of cool water on his face and dashed the last few meters into the copy editor’s office. He panted as realistically as he could manage. “Almost didn’t hear you, boss–what, with the noise of the metal fans.”
The copyeditor didn’t glare long at the absent-minded secretary. He stood and handed Adolphius a typed page with various corrections in red ink. “Take this to the editor. Don’t dawdle.”
In the reflection of the window, Adolphius adjusted his tie and pushed back his hair while he watched the copyeditor bend over a filing cabinet. Adolphius let a half-animal noise escape his throat, which he turned into a throat-clearing.
With a manila folder in hand, the copyeditor spun on his heel and snapped his heels together. “What part of ‘Don’t dawdle’ didn’t you get?”
“Just want to make a good impression, sir.” Adolphius marched out of the office, down the hall, and–out of eyesight–ducked into the bathroom to seat himself on the porcelain throne. He had reading material:
Hitler Wins Again!
(UPI) After conquering the world and ridding it of the filth of Africans, Americans, Asians, Eurasians, Hitler successfully purified the European blood down to the superior Aryan line. Of course, not all Germans measured up to the Aryan standard, and these genetic reprobates were swiftly dispatched. Superior Nazi scientists have since developed human cloning techniques, which lead to the ultimate purity. However, it has come to Hitler’s attention that some Adolfs of genetic variability are not wearing their mustaches between four and six centimeters. Effective immediately, all such outliers will be dispatched with due haste. Heil, Hitler!
Adolphius finished his business, washed his hands, pulled out ruler and scissors from his back pocket, and trimmed the impurities.
illustration by Ethan Reid
“This came for you, Martin,” said Sue at reception as he was sneaking out of work early one Tuesday. Martin sheepishly took the envelope and retreated to the break room. The fluorescent lights hummed tirelessly, and Martin, who was 39, felt old and useless. He opened the envelope. It burst into flame.
Martin shrieked and threw the envelope down on the table, where it continued to burn brightly without burning up.
“MARTIN, THIS IS GOD,” said a voice from the burning envelope. “I’D LIKE TO GET TOGETHER WITH YOU UP HERE THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW AT THREE. SEE YOU THEN.”
The flames guttered, and Martin reached tentatively for the envelope. It flared again.
“AND MARTIN,” said God. “LET’S KEEP THIS BETWEEN US.”
The envelope suddenly burned away to fine ash that drifted off the table and settled invisibly over the dun-colored, industrial carpeting.
Martin didn’t sleep well that night. He began by worrying about what God could possibly want with him, but by 2:00 AM he had shifted his fretful attention to logistics. How was he supposed to get to the meeting? Would he just be lifted up bodily? If so, what if he was indoors? And so on.
The next day he would have called in sick, but God was probably watching. At work, he managed to utterly bork the financial projections he’d been working on for two weeks.
Martin was wigging out: he had to talk to someone, even though God had said not to. There seemed a real possibility he was going insane. He went down to see Sue at reception.
“You look awful,” she said. “Are you OK?”
“Actually,” Martin said in a rough voice. “I’ve been a little stressed out. I have this appointment with–”
The next thing Martin knew, he was waking up naked and badly hung over in an empty warehouse that smelled like beer and piss. Something sharp was jabbing his back. When he got up, he discovered he’d been sleeping on a Barbie bed.
“God is not screwing around,” Martin said.
Work that next day passed in disoriented tedium. At 2:52 he wandered into the hallway and out the back door. In a store window across the street the sun gleamed like gold. Martin squinted. Could that be–? He stepped off the curb toward the light, right into the path of a speeding Ford F-150.
Martin actually ended up being a couple of minutes early.