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Attack of the Meteoroids

Sometimes space-aliens really are out to get you, so don’t judge a rock by its stony exterior. The matrix might be hiding something truly alien which you (and your brain) should steer clear of. Um-m-m...NOW!



by Patrice Stanton



copyright 2019 Patrice Stanton

Smashwords Edition


Cover design & glyphs also copyright 2019 Patrice Stanton


Thank you for choosing this ebook. Although it is free, it remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, scanned, or distributed for any commercial or non-commercial use without permission from the author. The exception being short quotes used in reviews (though no alteration is allowed). If you enjoyed this story, please encourage your friends to download their own free copy and visit the About-page, linked below, for more.


Your support of the author, as well as your respect for her property, is appreciated.


This book is a work of fiction and any similarities within it to other persons (living, dead, or fictional), businesses (public, private, non-profit, or fictional), places (actual or fictional), or events (current, historical, or fictional) are purely coincidental. The work (and therefore all elements it consists of) are products of the author’s imagination, so are used fictitiously.


Dedicated to my dear husband, James, without whom I’d be ranting about politics, aloud, to an empty (or cat-filled) room.





Table of Contents


Part 1 - INVASION

A note from the author

Scene 1 – Accretion is inevitable

Scene 2 – Brilliant plan

Scene 3 – We’ve come a long way baby


Part 2 - DISSEMINATION

Scene 4 – Malleable mind-mush

Scene 5 – Mm-m-m, briquettes

Scene 6 – Hell’s bells

Scene 7 – Shoulda known better

Part 3 - EVOLUTION

Scene 8 – In this corner

Scene 9 – Will evolve for bacon


About the author: her other books and her blog



A note from the author

Would you believe me if I told you one of the passengers on the Stratos A-29 flight, from an earlier FREE! short-story titled “No Respect”, was the inspiration to finally finish and publish this story of mine which I started back on July 7th, 2017? I’ll let that passenger (from seat 5A) tell you all about why this story matters and how this final edit of “Attack of the Meteoroids” came to be...



Dear Kafirs:

As a first-generation American Muslim, I’m sorry to say I’m still a work in progress. To riff on Bosch Fawstin, the graphic novelist whose “Pigman” series I greatly admire, I can only confess, “My alias is John J. Malone and I’m a recovering Muslim.” (Leaving makes me an Apostate and therefore even worse in the eyes of faithful Muslims than you or any other Kafir i.e. non-Muslim.)

Why recovering and not recovered, like Fawstin? Because I still fight a siren song in my head, though it’s been more than ten years since my last honest prayer. That siren teases me in the quiet moments of the early morning or late night. It tries to convince me how much easier it could be to just come out from this shadowy exile, reclaim my real name and heritage, and then run back into the arms of my well-to-do family (and entire community), begging forgiveness of them and their god, which was once mine, too. But I can’t because I know too much, besides, I’ve seen too often how badly that can go.

So what snapped me out of my tradition-induced trance in the first place? What got me to see there might be something wrong with my family’s (and my) religion? Well, I’ll never forget. It was a Tuesday...New Year’s Day, 2008, so I was home from college. Barely out of my teens, I had strict Muslim parents, too, like Amina and Sarah, the two beautiful girls just a couple years younger than me, who I heard on the news had been “honorably” murdered by their Egyptian father...in a town practically around the corner from where we were living.

I was stunned by the nodding heads and understanding comments coming from my family-elders as we’d watched the TV reports. Later, at (Islamic) community events, plenty of other people I knew and respected nodded or echoed the very same outrage...at the girls! It suddenly dawned on me, still basically a kid, that they had blood on their hands, but by philosophical-extension so did I...

One summer during law school a couple of years later I was again getting sick of hearing the latest greatest apologists lie about and more or less excuse the latest vehicle-jihad: clearly ignoring the many mainstream Islamic teachings that could have inspired him to carry out the multiply-murderous attack. I had zero time for extracurricular projects back then, but I did wonder if journaling or writing science-fiction would somehow help to exorcise my religious demons and maybe ease my sense of guilt over having once been “one of them.” At my first opportunity I moved away permanently and changed my name. Emancipation suddenly meant I needed school loans. For years after that I barely scraped by so easily forgot about writing anything that wasn’t work-related.

Funny, though, how an internet video can change everything. Hearing Richard Dawkins in an interview with Ben Stein say that he thought really technologically advanced aliens could have “seeded life” on Earth, brought my idea of writing fiction rushing back. I realized then and there my Islam-is-from-Outer-Space idea wasn’t that far out after all. I quickly outlined my story, unaware that Patrice was working on virtually the same thing. I filed mine in a To-Do folder. Forgive me for how long our “collaboration” ultimately turned out, but as it was my first great idea I couldn’t bear to let my new friend and self-pubbing “mentor” cut out any of it! I’ve outlined others and am toying with weaving them together into a novella, all with the same liberating purpose: a little humor here to sugarcoat the uncomfortable truths of “The Religion of Peace” there.

As I’d outlined my version of the story below, my goal was to convince myself that my people’s religion wasn’t, couldn’t have been, my ancestor’s idea. We must have been powerless to resist the ones who really created it back there at its beginning. Now I’ve accepted the fact that there’s always been plain old 100%-human-folks throughout time who find using Evil makes for an “easier” path to power. Like fictional alien invaders, these human evil-doers and enablers will always “walk among us.”

But we must resist Evil and those practicing and proclaiming it. Though it will be a struggle, we cannot allow our traditions or habits or even bloodlines to blind us to it or to them.

So, hold your breath, grab a warm coat cuz it’s really cold in space, and get ready to blast off. We’re going on a wild and crazy ride out to the Belt! (And please keep your distance from anyone leaking reddish-grey ooze today.)


Yours in the Counter-Jihad,
Jack Malone



Scene 1 – Accretion is inevitable

A commotion came from nearby, pulling the ruling Sentience of the Asteroid Belt from a half conscious slumber. The largest “oid” of the Meteoroid class unhurriedly stretched, pitched, then yawed.

He watched without feeling as a pipsqueak of an oid starred so to speak, in one of the Universe’s oldest and cruelest games. The little thing was being kicked back and forth between barely larger oids, whose shouts of victory were the source of the noise. As the kid abraded he made puny poofing protest sounds. The resulting crumbles and dust were accreted by some of the bigger bullies, of course, with each go ‘round.

The Sent, as he was often referred to, now smiled, recognizing a bit of himself in those tiny tyrants. Job #1, for him as chief tyrant, was to aggressively pursue, batter, and likewise accrete smaller or weaker bodies to himself, and by extension to his long-dominant oid-stream.

“You there,” he telepathed loudly at the entire group. They stopped and turned towards the Sent. Every last one of them, from the fattest bully to the hangers-on, pitched their front ends down in deference.

“Mm-muh, me? You, your Eminence...” began one, either the bravest or the dumbest of the proverbial box of rocks.

“Psst!” A sniveling midget of an oid bumped the larger compatriot. “Prominence, stupid. He’s got a prominence.”

“Shut up you idiot...” the larger bully head butted the sniveler, shattering him into debris no longer worth anyone’s bothering with.

“Get yourselves to the outer edges of the Belt, all of you,” said the Sent. “Wait to be summoned. I may have a job for you oh-so-tough guys.”

A chorus of Yes-your-Eminences came from the group as the oids backed away en masse.

He reflected on how he’d taken charge of the Belt by accreting so effectively every barely telepathic “oid” stream from practically the Big Bang on. He’d crashed into and commandeered them all...from the grunting Australopithicoids, tool-making CroMangoids, and dead-end Neandertoids, to the easy-going Erectoids, fickle Hottenfroids, and the know-it-all Sapienoids...except for a few wily lone wolf escapees.

He noticed his long held anger towards those deserters had cooled. Now, he mused, the perpetually irritated Muh-Hummeroids and their tale-telling fanboy-Koranoids who’d abandoned the Belt rather than accrete also might prove useful...very soon.

More recently, the Sent reflected fondly, he’d had to stomach some bitter new flavors of uppity control-happy oids, one by one finally pummeling them all into (his) shape.

“Whether they called themselves high-kicking Communoids, Socialoids, or Fashoids, or whatever the <BLEEP> else their ignorant ‘progressive’ offspring thought would fool even me,” He chuckled telepathically, “ultimately those new tele-philosophizing wannabe tyrants also ate my dust and were accreted. I will not not NOT get started on the Anarchoids and Feminoids.”

“Yes I have incorporated them all,” the Sent bragged to no one in particular, then noticing a few smilers amongst his nearby Ministers quickly rationalized some actual losses, “and what I haven’t gotten ahold of...well, they weren’t worth bothering with.” He knew instinctively, given enough time, such micro dust, barely capable of supporting sentience anyway, whether in space or on a planet’s surface, would be assimilated into the Universe’s most mysterious body...The Dark Matter.

“Hey, you, Kid,” the Sent telepathed sharply at the beleaguered and beaten oid, “come over here and join my other satellites...that’s it. Closer. Closer. There you are. Good...Well?”

“Well, what? Your Em, your Supreme, your...” The little oid was nervously vibrating, which sent the remaining loose particles from his recent beating into a loose sort of Saturn-ring around his midsection.

The Sent smiled inwardly, keeping a straight face. “You do know why I called you over, don’t you?” As he waited he signaled for his defense ministers to assemble around him. The lesser orbiting bodies obediently caught up, taking positions respectfully lower than the Sent’s ecliptic. In a show of further deference, they waited until he telepathed to them, before replying.

“Well?” the Sent repeated to the little nervous oid.

“Well what?” asked the tiny dust-ringed body, clearly inexperienced in courtly manners, for he stared straight up at the Sent, still unpitched, still unyawed.

“So you don’t know what I called you for?” The Sent ignored the lack of court-manners.

“Um, no...sir,” he said, now dropping slightly lower in orbit, blushing in shame. His thoughts were racing at near light speed, which made him a bit dizzy.

All of a sudden the grandest oid in the Belt let go a belly laugh that sent a pulse of energy concentrically outwards.

The ministers had all they could do to maintain proximity, so it’s easy to imagine the challenge the tiny bullied oid had, as countless smaller oids out from all sides of this impromptu cabinet meeting were bouncing off their larger neighbors like unwitting billiard balls caught up in a three-dimensional break.

Again the Sent answered his own question. “We’re telepathic. You should know why I’m calling before...oh, never mind. Come back up here where I can see you.”

The ministers were telepathing like mad at the poor kid, “Go to the outside...to...the...outside.”

The kid was looking around nervously, “Yes, sirs?” He rose up on the Sent’s same plane. To get outside the orbit of the greatest oid, the much smaller one really had to get a move on, 2-pi-r being what it is.

“Do I know you, Kid?” The Sent barely waited, “Well, do I?”

“N-n-no, sir. I’m just out of school. Your Sentience, sir.”

“Ter-rific...”

The small oid moved away slightly, fearing another laugh. Of course this required even more speed to stay apace with the tyrant.

“Come back, come back, Kid. I just mean, being fresh out of school, you’re probably well versed in the accepted History of the Universe and all. Am I right?” Recollecting his own schooling, the Sent smiled - as much as a meteoroid could smile.

“Yes, sir. Specialized in your campaigns here in the Belt, of course, which lead to your rise to the top of the oid-chain, so to speak, and of course I couldn’t get enough of the various winning philosophies employed by the creatures on, on...the blue marble, over, over...well, I know it’s over there somewhere. I just can’t quite see it at the moment, due to your, your...” He was blushing again.

“Due to my immensity?” He waited, telepathing the sound of a large boot impatiently tapping on a stone cold marble floor. “Well? Spit it out, boy. I’m looking for someone who can be honest with me. Otherwise I’ll keep going even further outside this sad circle of lackeys around me and find someone who can. This is your big break. I have a critical mission and no more orbits to waste.”

“But, sir, I was only going to say, ‘Because of your magnificent accretion,’ sir.”

And just like that, the magnificent accretion, who happened to be the ruler of all the Asteroid Belt, jostled the oid like old friends would elbow one another. It knocked the kid out of his orbit only slightly.

“Attempted humor...and from a buck private to his commander-in-chief, you might as well say,” chuckled the Sent. “That took some stony star stuff, Kid. I do believe you’ve got more in you than meets the eye, considering that whomping you just took.”

“Uh, thanks, uh, sir...” the kid was starting to huff and puff a little. He wasn’t used to traveling in such grand circles.

“Ready to take some mental notes as needed, Kid, or should I say, my most-junior cabinet minister Kid?”

“Minister? Junior cabinet-minister-Kid? Why, yes. Yes, sir, I am ready.”

“Good, good. Then orbit on up here to my office and let’s get started.”


Scene 2 – Brilliant Plan

“This Proclamation will be addressed to those wishing to join my most elite Legion. Only the best and strongest need apply for the mission. Got it?”

“Got it, sir. To the Best and Strongest. Check.”

“Remember,” began the Sent, “how we set the CroMangoids to plotting against the Sapienoids, then swooped in to accrete the entire bunch of them that remained up here?”

“Yea-ah buddy, I, I, I mean, yessir. I do.” The Kid wasn’t up on protocol, so was blushing again at his error.

“Ha! That’s what I like. Passion. Passion for the cause, Kid. For my cause. Where were we? Oh, so, those old CroMangoids and old Sapienoids thought they were so much smarter than me. Thought they’d just skeedaddle. Thought they’d invade the blue-marble with whole waves of warriors going down and seeding the planet, didn’t they? Well, what did they end up accomplishing? Duking it out in Earth dirt, rather than out here, in orbit. Oh, sure some skeletal remains got shoved on the shelves of their more-evolved offspring’s museums.”

“Oh, but sir,” the Kid telepathed, “down there they still tell a few legends about them in archeology schools. At least around the bonfires celebrating some human nerd’s thesis defense.”

“Yup, yup. Another good one, Kid,” the Sent elbowed the little oid again, but he was ready, so held his orbit fairly well. “I can almost picture the skeletons dancing in the firelight, can’t you Kid?”

“Yes, sir. Old bones and campfire tales. Check, sir.”

“Now, you’d be correct in pointing out that some escapees have had more long lasting successes down there.” The Sent sighed heavily, lifting himself slightly higher on the ecliptic. The newest junior minister pushed himself upwards as well.

“Uh, I would, sir?” The kid was a little less winded that time.

“Now this is off the record, because even though our slogan is, Accretion-Is-Inevitable, clearly sometimes it isn’t. 100% Effective is a pipedream. A few bad seeds, infected with their own crackpot ideas of Conquest-and-Control, escaped. Which gets to our new mission.”

“Yes, sir. Bad seeds; bad ideas. Check.”

“It’s not that some very decent sized Meteoroids haven’t made it all the way down to the blue marble. They have,” admitted the Sent, “But that, my little friend, may just be the problem. Or one half of the problem. Can you guess the other half, Kid?”

“Um, not really, I mean one of ours did wipe out their dinosaurs. That’s kind of a big accomplishment.”

“Whoa! You’re absolutely right. I forgot about that. I was thinking about more recent history. Say, the last millennia and a half.”

“Since it’s mostly blue, did they hit that instead of what they were aiming at?”

“Ha! You’re such a hoot, Kid, but no. They hit in a desert and got control of a few humans and played some tricks on their puny minds. Then, well, then those idiot-oids made a galaxy-sized mistake. Can you guess what it was?”

“No, sir, I can’t say as I do.”

“Simple, Kid, Control always follows Conquest. The Koranoids loved spinning yarns about all the Conquest the Muh-Hummeroids had kicked off, but all of them forgot the follow-up plan of keeping Control of the human hoardes they’d inspired. But this time, we won’t. This time, I, the one who’s accreted and conquered just about the entire Belt...I will conquer the entire blue world!”

“Sir, yes, sir! Brilliant World Conquest-plus-Control Plan. Check!”


Scene 3 – We’ve come a long way, baby

Finally the Sent’s personal swarm of meteorites invaded the earth.

His essence was suffering mixed feelings. He and his innermost circle of sycophantic ministers now hovered near the wreckage they’d wrought on the blue marble’s most traveled to desert city and religious site.

From a human’s earthbound perspective the meteoroids’ arrival had seemed like a judgement of Hellfire. Oid after oid had rained down upon the marching millions circling their famous monument-of-peace. (Prior to that moment only a few dozen of their faithful had been crushed to death so far that year.)

Ministers telepathed condolences to the Sent, but he rebuffed them.

“I know, I know. I should take pride in what the rebel-oids started here, lo those many orbits ago,” the Sent moaned, “but the wasted opportunity for my Conquest...”

The Meccan landscape was now covered not only in countless chunks of fresh fallen black meteorites, but with tattered and red-splattered human confetti, as if a record-number of faithful suicide-bombers had “misunderstood their religion” on one another...simultaneously.

Sure, for the Sent there was additional pride to be taken in the fact his Legion had hit its earth target with a precision even he’d feared to hope for. The near success meant they’d been “this close” to jumping the poetic ship of their mortal oid-coils and onto-then-burrowing-into the three-plus million brainstems at the target location.

Sadly, even the tyrant Sentience of the Asteroid Belt knows close only counts in the proverbial human horseshoes and human hand-grenades. Unfortunately, oh-so-inventive humanity (and violent, the Sent had often noticed) was massively more fragile than he’d remembered. His survival, along with his oids’ essences, had meant exiting just prior to impact. Which had also meant the larger meteoroids shattered into countless more death-dealing chunks, irritating grains, and highly dispersed micro-meteorite particles.

“And to think,” the Sent muttered, “if I’d tele-viewed more carefully I’d have sensed we could’ve landed less than 20 miles southwest of here, exited, wafted straight over to, and been snuffled straight into what would have been millions of perfectly serviceable bodies...”

“Speaking of ‘snuffling,’ your Sentience,” a minister telepathed.

A pungent smell came from the human parts. It cut through the ethereal miasma holding the increasingly impatient oids’ essences, compounding the Sent’s grief at the senseless loss of what could have been his ready made oid-controlled Earth-conquering army.

The Sent was mumbling incomprehensibly, interspersed with clearer self-chastisements.

“Sir?” another minister asked.

Their leader was coming up blank in his search for a new Plan, “Oh, nothing, just wondering who’d mindlessly walk around and around, much less venerate one of the tiniest oids to ever hit this planet? I mean absent clear Control by a superior oid-mind essence...”

Wanting to make brownie points, another minister’s essence chimed in, “Yeah, no self-respecting oid would give the phase-angle of the day to such a pathetically small hunk of burnt rock back in the Belt, even though it was, reportedly, a nice rich black.”

“Somehow,” added another, “you just don’t expect beings that used to name entire planets after their gods to lower themselves and smooch a mere chunk of rock.”

The mental essence of the Sent perked up as he rolled the idea of modern-day-human rock-freaks around in his ethereal head.

“Sir,” the newest junior minister telepathed gently.

“Not now, Kid. I gotta think.” The large essence rolled away, swirling, ebbing, flowing up, over, then above, to listen in on the humans that had quickly arrived at the disaster site. To himself he wondered, “These human Muzzlimbs are mighty obsessed for some reason with our shells. I guess since they want to keep them all to themselves...Wait, what are they talking about now in that sand language of theirs?”

He went lower towards the chattering group, only to come in on a heated discussion.

“...protect them from the apes and pigs and American dogs...”


***


It had been days since the impact, and still no Plan. The ministers were getting restless and so was the Sent.

The humans were finally getting control of the immediate area. They’d even gathered up most of the meteorites, supervised by what had to have been their holy men. What had begun as a global clean-up operation was quickly being winnowed down to what the humans being escorted off-site angrily called Muzzlimb-Majority Nationals.

A group of workmen in the central clean-up area had finished packing “space rocks” as they called them into a series of shiny aluminum trunks. Their boss shouted at them and waved for them to get in the dusty small trucks and leave. Immediately another party, in fancy black cars pulled up alongside the shiny rock-bearing vehicles.

“Hello!” said the Sent. “Who do we have here?”

The new arrivals were clearly more important, judging by their sleek shiny limousines. Before long, drivers in white robes, with red and white checkered head wraps let fat bearded men in the same white robes and wraps out from the cars’ back seats. The bigwigs stood around and all the remaining workers bowed while the foreman stepped forward, addressing the visitors as Prince So-and-So, How-do-you-do, Prince-Such-and-Such, How-do-you-do, and so on. Then the lucky workers got to kiss the princes’ hands! Finally they got to opening a couple of the metal boxes containing the bigger pieces of fractured oids.

“Here we go again,” said the Sent, as the princes started acting just as some of the foremen had: gesticulating to the sky and then to the destroyed the rock-shrine all the while shouting either requests or curses perhaps to their gods.

By the time the princes finished issuing commands to the workers, the Sent finally had a new Plan.


Scene 4 – Malleable mind-mush

Meanwhile, the Sent was enjoying keeping close tabs on the Possessed humans. Oh, what a step up its opulence this was from the burnt iron-ore husks the celestial-vacuum-traversing entities had jumped free of. The Saudis’ jets glittered as only royal wealth could command. Gold here, there, and pretty much everywhere. From the ceiling tiles to the window covers, and from the table tops to the seat covers. Even the carpeting had Lurex threads within, and don’t let a crystal or china connoisseur get started on the quality of the dining accoutrements.

“These airships are pretty relaxing, eh Kid,” the Sent telepathed to his now most trusted associate.

This time, the Kid would try to make the Earth’s future ruler laugh. He just wasn’t sure which passenger to direct his thoughts to.

“Yes, sir,” the Kid returned, “But then, compared to zipping around at 50,000 mph in the Belt, what isn’t relaxing?”

The Sent did laugh...but the Kid’s essence was still glancing around the passenger compartment of the spacious private jet trying to choose which/who was telepathing to him. Before he succeeded, lo and behold most of the human-pawns responded - against their weakening-will - to the Sent’s tickled funny bone by spewing their drinks out one or both nostrils. It wasn’t as if an oid-invaded mind was totally Zombified, but the Saudis aboard the luxury jet were definitely confused. In addition to looking embarrassed, the control the royals did retain was put into pretending they hadn’t noticed anyone else’s faux pas.

Servants rushed about delivering starched white napkins to their white garbed betters as well as hastily cleaning up the random spew-splatters, thankful that the cabin’s furnishings and walls remained untarnished by the minor messiness.

“My, my, my, laughing actually does feel good,” the Sent declared, “but now, I must begin the Deep Burrowing.”

“Deep Burrowing, sir?”

“Why, yes, Kid. Did I forget to...” The Sent went quiet for a moment, and though not fully in command of the multiple humans he’d inhabited, could already do tricks, like straighten fingers that gripped tiny delicate coffee cups, or cause their eyes to blink lazily.

While causing one such blink, the Sent shot a wave of psychic energy outwards at light speed, undetectable by the humans or their devices. All his subordinates, on Earth and in the heavens, picked it up, whether they cared to or not.

“Yes-s-s...the Deep Burrowing,” the Kid nodded telepathically. Even he, an oid, was oblivious to the fact the knowledge had just been planted into his essence. “I can’t wait!”

He’d have to, though. Only another irresistible psychic wave from the Sent would trigger the start of the slightly-messy-yet-necessary brain-exchange with their host bodies.

The Sent was a hands-on control-freak. His Earth Takeover Plan, though, was going more than the proverbial extra mile. Light years more! By probing the minds of the non-desert humans – the mostly American & European aid workers - who’d arrived at the impact site first, he’d been let in on a particularly prevalent human Fear. Upon seeing the carnage-plus-meteoroid mélange, a common mental image frequently formulated above their heads. These images were detectable to the oids like so many Star Wars holograms. These troubled humans actually revisited scenes from their Entertainments...scenes wherein alien beings went from mere mind-control all the way to puppet-master string pulling body snatchers...

And so, voila! The greatest Sentience of the Asteroid Belt had, at light speed, figured the best way to accomplish his takeover. He had blasted a psychic-memo to his ministers.

“Now hear this!” the Sent had telepathed, “we’re going to split up our essences and inject them not only into the humans present, but straight into as many oh-so-precious meteorites in those boxes they’re loading up and if need be, into some still on the ground back at the site.”

Sure, the Sent’d been weirded out at first by rock worship, then passed it off as a mere religious fetish. Finally, after consulting his ministers and considering the background on the religion’s founder (and his aspirational-life), the Sent began to see the rock-kissing as a unique and speedy way to gain physical contact with an already mentally-cohesive planet wide army of dedicated virile human soldiers. He’d make them his bots, instead.

On the prince’s jet the Sent telepathed to his Minister of Alien Cultures, “Can you tell me with certainty, the entire worldwide herd of oid-inspired meat sacks will take to these new space-rocks like they did to the old one?”

“Yes, sir, as certain, sir, as you were of our swarm hitting its target.” His human cringed a little realizing the double-entendre he’d made.

Before giving the General Order, the Sent directed the Kid and a couple other of his inner circle to stay cohesive in their current lone skulls, figuring it’d be easier for them to jump into a new one, should he need them to.

“All right then,” the Sent commanded, “everyone move some of your essence out of your humans and into as many meteorites as you can. Go! Go! Go!” He looked forward to feeling the comfort of a stony exterior again, even if just in part. Human-bodies were just so danged squishy...

The jet they were in was one of the royals’ fleet of planes, all of which carried dozens of wood pallets piled high with the newest holy treasures. Sure, it’s always a joy for the Sent to command thousands of essences (now filling the space pebbles, lovingly cushioned and boxed for worldwide distribution) but...the bigger thrill would only come by taking countless human skulls-full of mind-mush and making them his own, along with their bodies, of course. The latter required human-oid contact and this rock kissing practice would be perfect.

Without this stroke-of-luck it would have taken eons of patience and the Sent was fresh out of that. He’d already used it up waiting for an open-mouthed sneeze, a well timed eye rub, or the ultra-gross booger-search, to get what little human contact they’d already managed. Tiresome as it’d been, he now held court inside the hallowed cranial halls of dozens of jet-setting humans. From official Saudi muckity mucks and their minions, of course, to U.N. envoys and their security details, as well as renowned scientists and hanger-on academics. All who visited the crash-landing site had been Sented, so to speak, and were ready to be Deep Burrowed when the time was right.

Then, at that point they really would be puppets doing the bidding of the grand Sentience puppet master.

The Sent laughed aloud.

“Sir?” It was the Kid.

“Ironic, isn’t it?” the Sent telepathed.

“What is, sir?”

“Sometimes these humans’ worst fears are warranted.”

Their human-bodies chuckled. The remaining human-consciousness of the Saudi princes had them looking from one to another pretending, as before, they’d done or seen “nothing out of the ordinary.”


Scene 5 – Mm-m-m, briquettes

The Sent was acting like a brand new gardener, hovering around awaiting his first sprout. “How many Possessions so far, Kid?” he telepathed.

It was a couple of weeks after that first plane ride with the princes. Their whirlwind tour had gone smashingly. The Saudi princes had played their part - mentally cheered along by the Sent. Like some jet-setting version of an Easter Bunny play, white robed bearded men hopped around at 600mph, deposited their black briquette “eggs” in mosques large, medium, and shopping-mall small, to be found by deliriously energized crowds of adults, breathlessly awaiting the starter gun, so to speak, to get ready, get set, kiss...a space rock.

And except for the random killer stampede here or messy bus burning there, at each mosque worldwide, whether stand alone monstrosities or those miniscule strip-mall spaces, the cheering throngs had, for the most part, waited patiently. The faithful of all colors could practically taste the holiness in their good fortune. They, it seemed, had been chosen by their god to lock lips with a piece of meteorite just bursting with alien brain spores, unbeknownst to them! Their simple minds, from generations of sanctioned sibling- and close-cousin-marriages, had seemingly forgotten all the mournful wailings for the deaths of the millions of co-religionists a month or so earlier.

Unfortunately the rest of the world wasn’t allowed to forget. The rest of humanity had had the crash site imagery seared into its brains, courtesy of endlessly looped foreground or background or sidebar video. And then, of course, there were the endless “memorial services.” And essay contests. Because #WeAreAllMuslimsNow.


Scene 6 – Hell’s bells

The first award ceremony for one of these contests was about to start at a grade school in Garland, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Before today, the Sent learned, the city’s biggest claim to international oid-inspired fame had been the thwarted “blasphemy attack” on a Draw Mohammad Contest years back. The particular brain the Sent was currently in, was that of an imam of no small repute, and not just locally. This holy-man’s thoughts were clear: he was courting the large media presence today, in large part, to wipe away the stain of that earlier tragic event from his innocent, peaceful community.

In the lobby the conniving imam had finally finished his latest round of teary-eyed propaganda interviews so it was time for the Sent to take action. By now, normal human to human speech was a breeze for him and his ministers, but their sensitive oid business, of course, was still best kept secret, in the essence-to-essence realm.

“Kid!” he telepathed sharply, then, perturbed by his subordinate’s inaction, accidently forced his own imam-human to spout aloud for no apparent reason, “Hell’s bells!”

A few media notables and teachers nearby looked nervously in his direction. The Sent forced a crooked half smile and swiveled the imam’s head, catching sight of the Kid - in a young Muslim man’s body - juggling a dozen small jewelry gift boxes and chatting, human style, with an official of the school hosting the event.

The Sent had thought he knew a lot about earth, but was actually shocked at what he’d just learned. The imam’s latest wife, a recent convert from Christianity, was a fourth-grade student there! Many derogatory thoughts were going through the “holy man’s” mind about America. He knew even child brides it seemed, along with many other abhorrent practices of his religion, were immune from criticism. His and other school-age brides from American-mosque families had already become the perfect P.R. bridges to use in proselyting government-school students and their gullible parents.

The imam now focused his thoughts on the girl, which made the Sent’s essence shudder. He was all the more anxious to take full possession of the quote holy man. Still, the oid was pleased at how quickly the imam had believed using the young thing in the aliens’ scheme today was his own idea.

Thanks to the Sent, the nine-year-old’s innocent guise would be the means of spreading more than the normal good-will into what the Religion-of-Peace called the infidel-community. Even now a table in front of the stage held countless “I Care” ribbons she’d designed herself - sporting sparkly meteorite-sand crescent & star shapes.

Alien brain “cultures” would be directly inhaled by every single schoolkid whether they sniffed the irresistibly-fruit-scented meteorite crumbles stuck to the ubiquitous “participation badges” or those incorporated into the costlier top prizes.

The voices from the school auditorium were growing louder. Time had come for everyone to take their places or to settle down and the principal was motioning to the imam, so the Sent walked him dutifully over and they went in. The school district’s first Mecca Memorial Essay Contest Assembly was about to get really fun.

“Ps-s-st!” The Sent tried again.

“Sir?” The Kid telepathed, then turned toward the imam and smiled, nearly dropping the unwieldy tower of boxes.

“Why didn’t you put those in a bag?” the imam spoke angrily at the Kid’s human, in their strange desert language. The Sent picked up on his human’s lingering resistance.

The kid’s human muttered back in the same language, though barely a whisper, “I don’t know.” Maybe I just didn’t think of it, you camel turd, the Kid thought.

“This way, um,” the milquetoast male principal said, waving his arm as if directing recalcitrant children, “um, your, your Eminence, is it?”

“Sayyid will do fine,” the Sent’s human answered as they proceeded into the auditorium. The Sent thought, Even tough Pedo meat sack is more accurate.


Scene 7 – Shoulda known better

Surprisingly the kids had actually quieted down when the imam had entered the room. The assorted “inter-faith” holy-humans on stage wiped at tears and dropped their heads as he was directed to one of the chairs center stage. All of them looked like their last friend in the Belt just been accreted and they were next on the menu.

You could hear the proverbial pin drop as the principal stepped to the podium.

“Honored guests,” he nodded to the community’s religious leaders, “students, staff, and visiting parents...thank you for coming to today’s memorial service for the 3 million beautiful, faithful Muslims who died that fateful day, one short month ago.” The silence was still deafening.

“Before our special guest,” he nodded to the imam, giving him a sheepish smile, “announces the winners in our ‘I Believe Islam Means Peace Because...’ contest, we have an uplifting video segment from a CNN broadcast earlier today, featuring Texas’s own favorite veterinarian, Jayne Goodyall, and the amazing discovery she made in Saudi Arabia, at one of the private royal zoos affected by the devastating meteorite storm...” The principal waited uncomfortably for technical services to make it happen...and waited and waited.

The students had begun fidgeting almost immediately. Finally a thin woman double-timed it over to the principal and whispered in his ear what most suspected was Bad News. She whirled around and marched offstage.

“Well, I’m sure you can find the footage of Ms. Goodyall’s discovery online once school is over today. And now, we’ll begin our memorial.” The man gave the podium over to various holy men, primarily Christian, who, by their words, proceeded to insult their Savior. They praised up and down the planet’s least tolerant faith and its recently deceased adherents, none of whom would have given a rat’s arse if, say, the Vatican and its faithful had been inadvertently obliterated by space debris.

Finally, it was the imam’s turn to say something. The Sent, out of the goodness of his essence, gave the human free reign, as some of what he had learned about the religion he admired, other than maybe the marrying little kids. Even as the supreme Sentience he couldn’t offer his subordinate oids the religion of peace’s ultimate reward: Kill (or conquer) or-die-trying-then-get-eternal-paradise-even-if-you-fail.

As the rotund rock-venerating imam began babbling in mixed desert-speak and English, the Sent again telepathed his associate.

“So, Kid, I asked you earlier for the Possession-stats so far.”

“Sorry, sir. Just finishing...calculations...Sir, Muzzlimb Possessions alone we have one point eight-six-four, nine-seven-five, two-three-one Billion...oh, wait...make that two-three-TWO.”

“Whew. Nearly 2 billion. Why that’s more than I could have hoped for in such a short time. I sense we have sufficient control to make our move. Prepare to...” the Kid cut him off.

“Wait, sir, there’s more,” the Kid telepathed impatiently.

“Ha!” the Sent shouted telepathically. “Did you hear what that meatsack just said in desert-speak? He’s actually telling them the truth of how his god has given his loyal meatsacks the privilege of imposing their rule over all ‘unbelievers.’ Now I can understand why he uses his own language so much, but go on kid, what more?”

“O.K., so in addition to all these students and families you’ll be getting control of soon, there’s also the non-Muzzlimbs from the crash site: the outsiders, you know, the ones who came from NASA and the UN, with all their gun-toting Security goons, like they thought...”

This time the Sent cut him off, “Yeah, like they thought we were going to slither out of the rocks and go all ‘Wars of the Worlds’ on them.” He laughed, forcing the imam’s body to convulse several times. Fortunately only a small group of the quote-troublemaker boys-unquote, noticed as the principal had piously instructed everybody to “bow their heads and close their eyes.” The boys were now jostling one another and chuckling quietly amongst themselves. This attracted the attention of a burly non-bowing, non-eye-closing gym-teacher. She glared in their direction and shushed them loudly. They quieted down, but as soon as she began scanning for others to likewise bully, they went back to the jostling more energetically.

“As these students would say: LOL,” telepathed the Kid, “like we had a magic shrinking ray to get inside everything or something, rather than bits of our oids getting stolen and passed to all their special friends and families back home, so we’ve got...several thousand and counting Americans from the clean-up work alone. What the Muslims oftentimes call ‘Crusaders’ since many are still Christian.”

“Excellent,” telepathed the Sent, “and now, let’s just see if I’ve got enough of this fat windbag’s cranial matter under control to shut him the <BLEEP> up.”

“Go for it, sir!”

This time a shudder went through the chubby white robed imam, fluttering his robe until he and it went stock still. He spoke like an old-time robot, literally, until the words slowed, then just stopped coming out. After a couple of seconds of silence, the principal, the priest, the rabbi and other holy guests on stage began peeking at him, fearing to offend by doing more.

“You’re doing it, sir, you’re doing it!” the Kid was telepathing excitedly.

“Yes. It’s working as planned,” the Sent answered, then made his human mumble a ‘Thank you’ into the mic and shamble back to his place on the stage.

Originally that would have been the cue for the rabbi, so he straightened up.

The principal rushed back to the mic. “No, no, no...thank YOU, Imam Darrel Harb, of our very own Grand Wahhabi Mosque,” he said, with a condescending nod before switching focus to shake his head at the rabbi, indicating a change of plans. “But before we have some words of comfort for the imam’s community from the Rabbi, we’ll have the top essay winners’ prizes awarded by the imam’s young...young...” the nervous edu-crat now stared at the approaching school girl, seemingly tongue-tied by the phrase, “young wife.”

The rabbi dutifully slumped down again.

Countless gasps started coming from the audience. About half were from students and staff looking at cellphones - even though the former were forbidden to use them during school hours. The other half came from those frantically pointing at the female mosque-guests onstage and the diminutive “wife.” The latter’s tiny-footed yet powerfully delivered kick to the rabbi’s crossed ankles as she passed had him doubled over in apparent agony. She grabbed the microphone roughly from the now-cowering principal before he’d adjusted it down towards her 4’4” frame.

The icing on that strange scene was the greyish red ooze now flowing from those particular females’ ears. Though stunned, some of the alien-possessed entourage on stage attempted to help stem the flow using their humans’ hands, whereas the females with their mandatory head-wraps had the advantage. The white linen scarves and floor length white burkas did a fine job of containing the stuff and keeping it from ruining the furniture and floor.

“Flaming balls of iron ore! This wasn’t in the Plan...” telepathed the Sent to the oids, “abandon all craniums; abandon all craniums and coalesce above the building. Go, go, go!”

As the oids exited their humans one by one, most of the bodies dropped straight to the floor in their tracks, like so many imploded buildings. There were exceptions, though, and within minutes internet smartasses rushed in, crowning them #TheGarlandGirls (even shortened to #TGG) and #TheFightinFemales (#TFF). Imediately, of course, they memed the <BLEEP> out of them. Videos of these first “fighters” had gone instantly viral, their fists of alien-fueled fury, tiny or fully adult, caught in living color, flying at one another as well as pummeling other students and visitors caught completely unawares. All of them made shockingly quick work of any who’d gotten within range.


Scene 8 – In this corner

The oids quickly came up with an explanation of the Oozing that had caused that worldwide collective gasp: an explosive incompatibility of the female brain with their spores. The humans, on the other hand, were busy spinning fairytales and other cover stories.

As it had begun unfolding live on CNN and other outlets near simultaneously, the spinmasters-by-trade knew there’d be no putting this weird outbreak back in the bottle. Since all of the networks’ number-crunchers were seeing an immediate ratings-spike, naturally not one of them nor their bosses wanted to!

Little did America know, the best show by far, i.e. historically speaking, was that same day, at a LIVE! top-dollar invitation only meteorite massacre memorial plus marathon fundraiser, half a continent away from the Garland, Texas, school event. The Hollywood star-studded #WeAreAllMuslimsNow event also featured two Democrat First-Couples. Social media had exploded CNN’s viewership as news spread of the Garland melee, but the recently struggling network was about to hit more pay dirt with a knock-down bare knuckles better-than-MMA style event out on the left coast.

The well-healed and well-connected at this event were as far from conventionally religious as you could get, but “science?” They could and plenty did feign an interest in astronomy in the last few weeks...because learning a science-y catch-phrase or two served their purposes and got them camera-time at charity-events like this.

But exposed females got Possessed, regardless their religious feelings for black space rocks. All of them, indiscriminately, would be driven at Autobahn speed into a whirling dervish, fighting Irish, PMS-like madness as their brains were partially devoured and turned to spore-rich mush. Just for contacting one of the “occupied” meteorites or infested-individuals and then gone on about their daily business.

So, as luck and even better ratings would have it, LIVE! in one corner of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater stage the white haired, gaunt bodied creepy now, ex- U.S. President Clinton found himself a target. He defended himself rather poorly against his wife - the dumpy recently failed first-female-presidential-candidate-from-a-major (Democrat) political-party.

The exclusive broadcast rights bidding-war had been won by CNN and at the moment the broadcast booth decibel level was skyrocketing.

Both of their talking heads noted that the missus-Clinton fought remarkably well, once they’d recovered from their shock, that is. (No mention being made yet of the still tiny trickles of brain-ooze.)

“Look at that sure-footed strength! This is NOT what we saw from her back when she was Scooby-vanning it on the campaign trail,” the gender-fluid cappuccino-colored male-expressing host said, adding with even more excitement, “She’s looking like a woman less than half her 70+ years, isn’t she?”

“I’m going to ignore your, your ‘Lookism’ and ‘Able-ism,’ for now...’” growled the race-denying born-White cis-female colleague. “What...what the <BLEEP> is that, that...that greyish red stuff oozing out of her ears?” She was grimacing unawares.

“New York?” begged the male-expressing host, “can we get a medical expert on the line? Oh, my God, it’s beginning to seep from other places, um-m-m, other cranial places, I should have said...” He looked at his cohort, prepared for her ire, but she was now gap-mouthed at the gory ruckus.

The audience had begun screaming before the first punch landed with a THWACK! squarely on old President-perv’s weak ghostly-white jaw. The crowd quickly quieted, seemingly mesmerized by what very well could have been a typical well-choreographed Hollywood movie stunt. (Later eye-witness reports would reveal their “reasoning” went something like this, if such lefty crowds could be found guilty of using higher brain functions: “If the deadly attacks of the former First Lady upon her ex-President husband was truly real, the Secret Service, always nearby would have responded and put a stop to it.”)

The more recent democrat occupants of the Whitehouse, on the other side of the stage, were yet to put on an equally enthralling show. They still danced around each other nervously, the younger First Lady kept her attention more on the Clintons, it seemed, perhaps her mind-melting not as pronounced or hoping for fighting tips.

“Oh, no-o-o,” decried the race-denying cis-female CNN host, as the younger First Couple went from watching the others fight to eying each another suspiciously up and down and then up again, “please don’t, Barrack...no-o-o Mrs. O...”

The male-expressing host cut her off, “I, I have a medical doctor on the line; go ahead, doctor, tell our viewers what you just told me...”

On screen the medical man’s mouth moved, but no sound came from the broadcast, so unless you could read lips, viewers were out of luck. On the other side of the split screen, the elderly First Couple was finished, with a pseudo political-victory finally going to the missus.

The younger pair seemed to still be considering tactics when all of a sudden it was Game On.

The fisticuffs battle was more accurately foot-sti-cuffs. It was also fairly short lived so the cameramen barely had time to establish a decent shot. In this match-up the missus clearly had the weight advantage over the scrawny beige ex-President, and in her four-inch stilettos she had a height advantage later described as, “Jie-normous.”

“Great job, ‘dude,’” sneered the cis-woman host.

“Holy <BLEEP>!” the male-expressing host had turned in time to see the “First shoe” completely miss its first mark. “We’re having technical difficulties with the doctors feed, but what he told me was he thinks this may be some new form of Ebola type viral infection that has come in on the meteorites. Our CDC has been getting reports of similar outbreaks with accompanying random violence, literally, from around the world, but especially in our precious...”

“...so-called no-go zones and inner-cities?” muttered the race-denying cis-female host helpfully, towards her partner.

The male-expressing host glared at her, “...in our precious Muslim communities. The U.S. government is strongly urging...”

The female wasn’t done butting in, “Kill all the infested, I hope?”

Her co-host whispered, “Shut up, you fool.”

Suddenly dozens in the 900+ person audience were bolting from their seats and charging the exits furthest from the fighting onstage. They must have been streaming CNN on their phones and heard the E(bola)-word.

The CNN host returned his attention back to the doctor, with an even broader smile to cover his growing fear. He’d completely overlooked the small drops of greyish red falling onto the collarbone area of his co-host’s crisp white linen blouse.

“So,” he began, going to a studied monotone he used to disguise fear, “the doctor and his team at the CDC advise everyone who has had no contact with the meteorites..”

“Holy <BLEEP>,” the cis-female host burst in, she’d swiveled back around toward the stage. Her cohort was ignoring her so was equally as oblivious as she was to the grey bits and red droplets she’d flung out from her ears during the turn, “I think they’re ready to really rumble now, man!”

“Ha, look at him,” she shouted towards the ex-President as his “loving” bride’s second flying kick struck pay dirt. At the same time the CNN host elbowed her male-expressing coworker with an alien-enhanced strength. He grimaced like a little girl, but not at the sight of teeth and blood flying from the ex-President’s mouth. “What?” she taunted, “You got no stomach for even watching a fight?” She’d leaned down, as he was doubled over in his chair. He looked up at her more wild-eyed than the ex-President who was getting his ass-whooped by his wife, in front of the entire world.

Now he shouted back at her, “What’s...what’s WRONG with you?” He jumped up, shoved his chair back, knocking it over. Then he started to stomp off camera. Nobody seemed to care because just then another wave of cheering and shouting and mayhem erupted from the remaining live audience, so the male-expressing host halted and came back.

“Just flap your ears and fly away, Dumbo,” the super progressive female host now shouted, “or put up your dukes and die try...” her voice trailed off as clearly the amazon of a First Lady had also scored a TKO.

The Dems’ beloved two-term beige savior was brought down by a high flying third kick and now lay dead, or out cold, on the stage. Another roar from the crowd followed, meaning whether it was the return of The Black Plague or awesome Hollywood movie-magic, the super-rich and powerful industry insiders were totally into it.

Buoyed by the response, the most recent victor looked out on the remaining audience and smiled. Then she stepped over to the skinny unmoving man she’d vowed to love/honor/and obey and paused, as if for the camera to follow her. She raised her nearest foot and brought it down without mercy on the former President’s already bloodied skull. An audible CRACK! echoed across a brief uncertain silence just before the audience roared again.

***

Meanwhile, back at CNN headquarters the suits on high had hastily gathered to discuss Plague-Coverage Strategy. They hated this spontaneous Dem-on-Dem blood sport as much as they loved it. They knew if their ratings freefall had gone much further, those of them with golden-parachutes would’ve pulled their golden rip-cords. Those without them, well, no one wanted to go there. The HQ tele-conference room was abuzz... “What headlining dynamic duo can we get next?” “They look dead, should we call it Death Match?” “Will anybody be left to run on our next presidential ticket?”

***

On-set in California the female cohost’s ooze-soaked earpiece had just shorted out, so from her perspective, everyone on set and in the control room was eerily silent.

She shouted, “Tell me...somebody, anybody...tell me I didn’t just see a chocolatey twig and berries swinging under the First Lady’s floral square dancing dress...anybody?” Her brain ooze had ruined more than studio equipment. The red stain on her blouse had spread so much it looked like a never before seen Frankenthaler or Rothko painting. Perhaps that aesthetic was why the floor director and the others were loathe to pull her from duty.

“Nobody has the <BLEEPS> to answer me? Fine. TKO to the female-expressing former First Lady, and we’ll pause while our editors rewind the footage from that last high kick, and we’ll watch it frame-by-frame, since I suddenly seem to have programming discretion.”

With that she pushed her long blonde hair back from her face and started to tuck a strand behind an ear. It was the first time she realized her brain was, well, oozing out.

“What the <BLEEP>?”

Her male-expressing cohost now stepped back over and grabbed up his empty chair, wheeling it further away from her on-camera space. Keeping more than an arm’s length away was suddenly critical as he knew she’d probably fight hard to keep the spotlight. He and she had equal status, so taking advantage of the woman’s sudden distraction, he signaled for the cameraman to follow on him. Of course this meant swinging away from the multi-million dollar shot over his rival’s bloody shoulder, missing completely the emergency medical crews loading the lifeless bodies of two ex-presidents onto stretchers.

“Oh, no, no, no you don’t, sweetie.” She spat out the faux endearment and was back on point, reaching over to give his wheeled chair a shove out of the new shot angle he’d established. She quickly scooted herself into it, not fully realizing she, too, had alien-enhanced female-strength.

Her stunned cohost had rolled a bit before he and his chair crashed roughly on one side. It was becoming clear to him that that bit of live TV and the recent knockouts on stage were connected...to Ebola 2. This new virus was somehow a strength enhancer. These sudden super-girls were NOT Hollywood trickery after all.

“Guys? Guys!” the male cohost shouted in his split second of clarity, but his cries were in vain.

Emboldened by this new more practical Female-Empowerment, the cis-female host jumped back to her feet before the man-down had barely made it to his hands and knees.

The camera went wider so as to show the host-on-host combat full screen. And, oh, She was on He like a poor-whittle-“unarmed” ANTIFA thug on a big-bad-NAZI of a Trump supporter. Her alien-enhanced low-kicking was so precise - and fast – a few savvier social media types noted that with the right kind of music it would have made a grisly version of the traditional Ukrainian dance called the Hopak. Many more commenters rightfully questioned where the other production crew-members were, noting they were certainly in no hurry to intervene.

Aside from a slight bobble of the closest camera and a lack of color commentary, the CNN female host proceeded to deliver, LIVE! On-Air! Blows-to-the-Death! just like the former First Ladies had role-modeled moments earlier.

As she finished delivering a gruesome death-sentence to her former on-air partner, gunfire rang out from the stage area. Apparently some security person had recovered his or her wits and was attempting to put-down one or both of the former First Ladies who’d turned on each other.

The winner of CNN’s first employee “Death Match” smoothed her hair, and shouted at the camera man, “Focus on that, you <BLEEP>ing idiot,” she gestured over her shoulder towards the shooting, “not me.”

She glared at him until he complied, then, as she gingerly touched her bloody neck and ears, looked past the cameraman and aimed her ire over at the floor manager.

“Get the <BLEEP>ing makeup girl out here. NOW!”


Scene 9 – Will evolve for bacon

The Sent’s essence - or spore-cloud - and the highest ranking ones of his invasion force had met up. They hovered here and there over the island of Manhattan, mostly in Times Square. It was easier for them to keep tabs on human news by watching the famous live-feed big screens. Despite the utter breakdown in society, with literal Death-Matches coast to coast, not to mention basic survival in the balance, top government priority had been given to keeping the networks up and running and available in homes and emergency-shelters. Somehow they knew the masses would stay relatively calm if their video screens kept flickering with some sort of unending broadcasts.

Food shortages had started, hence rationing. Ditto for clean water. Electricity was rationed except for TV, as most networks were showing either classic-TV movies and reruns or totally-scripted “political opinion” roundtables 24/7. The talking heads were still well fed, expertly groomed, and (lightly) medicated to keep up appearances of normalcy. Only they – and certain pre-approved politicians - were doing better than mere survival, kept well away from the chaos in their high security broadcast/living/shopping bunkers, with the best medical-care and lifestyle-supplies.

“It was a really great idea, sir,” the kid telepathed towards the Sent, rushing on before the moping Sentience could dampen his mood, “the CDC estimates you would have had as many as six-billion soldiers...if the females hadn’t started killing everyone when their brains broke down,” telepathed the Kid.

“So you say...for the two thousand eight hundred seventy sixth time,” the Sent replied, ebbing and flowing just above the traffic. Occasionally a large truck would splatter some of his essence into spore-clumps that would fly off and bounce around until he decided to recombine them.


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