A Reluctant Emcee

One of the Ab's brothers

The stun bolt struck near me, and I was flying through the air. My hair crackled with static electricity. My vision went red. Quite possibly I soiled my expensive trousers. Did any of that worry me? No, I had much bigger problems. My brothers were coming back to town for the wedding.

I’d been dreading both events. Their inevitable return, and the marriage of Josh and Mary. Just as inevitable: the lovebirds’ request to have me, the Right Honorable Member of Parliament for Middlesex County, Ab Durer, as master of ceremonies.

I loathe the role of emcee. And my friends always ask me to do it.

Earlier that week, I’d foolishly complained to my brother Warren about emceeing again; he’d looked particularly scary in a suit of plate mail he always “wore” in the datasphere. An affectation, but it had plenty of impact.

“Well, why don’t me and the other brothers come?” he’d said.

“Uh. I’m not sure how good an idea that is,” I had said.

“Sure! It’s been ages since we saw you. Fabian and Petrovich have been pretty busy in Central America, but me and Deeter can convince them to come up.”

“No, I really don’t think you should. You’re not invited.”

“Hey!” shouted Warren, “we’re never invited. Just suck it up. We’re going to be there. Besides, Albrecht,” he said — emphasizing the “brecht”, just the way I’ve always hated it —”we have something to tell you.”

It had taken me a while to work up the courage to let Josh and Mary know that all four were planning to attend. Mary had burst into tears, and Josh confided, “You know, I thought this relationship was just going to be the end of my bachelorhood, not the end of everything.”

I’d laughed and mumbled something about the boys being much more mellow since they’d left high school. You had to admire the couple’s pluck. They made contingency plans, booking a full riot squad for the reception, buying doses of the best nanobiotics money could buy, and hiring Freeze-A-Head, “in case” of fatalities.

I felt so bad that I actually gave them my speech to vet, though I figured we would never get through the wedding, let alone the speeches. I was kind of torn on that. I hate emceeing — blathering into a holo-mic so that the relatives and friends attending remotely can enjoy the syrupy sentiments. And while everyone else whiffs up jazzy nanocaines and quaffs copious amounts of Old Nurberg’s Pink Ale (those who like it like it enough to go blind), I have to abstain.

On the other hand, did I really want to see my brothers back in town, just to avoid sobriety?

But I should get back to the stun bolts, and my electric fandango as I flew through the air, shouldn’t I?

°°°
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The Pillage People

The Pillage PeopleThough they were best known for their aggressive neo-fascist jazz stylings of classic Tyrolian folk tunes, The Pillage People were equally popular with a certain sect of gigantic silly hat fetishists. (You know who you are.)

Pictured, from left to right are: Amanda Uhgenkitz (flugelhorn and pistol), Betrand “Stumpy” Russell (sousaphone, vocals and umbrella), Dennis “Don’t Mind the Finger” Travesty (vocals and thermite grenade), Velaquez Eatme (guitar and pointed stick with razor attached to the end with duct tape), and Karl “The Beard” Marks (pocket xylophone, clarinet with flame attachment, and dictatorship of the proletariat).

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The FridgularityKick off your summer holidays with a fun summer read. Right now you can get the paperback of The Fridgularity for 25% off, if you buy it direct from Monkeyjoy Press. Use coupon code: BE3H5AJV. 

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Some members of Alltop are also bitter. Thanks to Foxtongue for finding this pic. Originally published, February 2009.
Alltop: humorphone and feedbag. Originally published August, 2007.

Leonides and the papier-mâché spatula

lady wakes up to discover she's a velocoraptor

Gregorina awoke that morning feeling stranger than usual. She’d had vivid dreams of ravaging Leonides, their local butcher, with his own meat tenderizer.

In the dream – or perhaps it would do her good to think of it as a nightmare – Leonides seemed to enjoy the beginning of his beating, but when he realized it was not an overture to a more gentle form of lovemaking, and in fact, the beginning of the end of his life, he cried out in existential anguish: "Oh no! Not with the mallet I use to prepare scaloppini, not such an ignominious and ironic end for poor Leonides!" (Clearly, Gregorina’s unconscious suspected that Leonides had taken an English degree before learning a more useful trade.)

As she dressed, Gregorina could not shake the image of the butcher’s terror, spurting blood, and excellent prices on Bavarian blutwurst.

And all day, she kept having to floss.

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Alltop loves weird couponing.

Disquieting Postcards I’ve Recently Received from My Future Self

aliens in switzerland

Dude!

Recognize the handwriting? Yeah, it’s me. More precisely, it’s you, circa fifteen years from now. Good news — you’ve finally lost that twenty pounds! Too bad you had to amputate your right leg to do it. At least it means our BMI is low enough to keep us out of the local “Fat Reduction Centre.” The less said about those, the better. I hope you like the card. This is a picture of our home town after the alien invasion. Cool, eh?

M.

— P.S. Don’t sweat the aliens. They’re good for us.

* * *

Dude!

You again. Okay, first things first. If I know me, you’re having your doubts about how legit these postcards are. You’ve probably even noticed that the postmark is today (your time). Here’s how it works: Some day soon you (previous me) will invent time travel. It’s limited to flat objects no bigger than a postcard and no more chemically complex than a postcard. Actually, it’s limited to postcards, but you’ve invented it. (Will invent it, rather.) Way to go. Oh, and there are still some overheating problems, so I can only send one postcard each day.

Or it’s a hoax. Ha ha.

Now, there’s something you need to remember for tomorrow — don’t have dinner with Susie from accounting. I know you’ve been looking forward to it, but just trust me. Crap, I’m running out of room. Promise me. Whatever you do, don’t go out with Susie. And especially don’t sleep with her. Really.

M.

— P.S. Seriously. BTW, this is a pic of the Ruins of Manhattan.

* * *

Dear Asshole:

You still went out with her, didn’t you? I can tell because I (you) still have Susiecular Herpes. Yes, I know you’ve never heard of it. That’s because in about five years you’ll be first person ever diagnosed with it. When that happens, you’ll be sorry you didn’t listen to me. Okay, let’s try something simple. You probably still don’t believe I’m future you. Here is a prediction that will convince you: Next week, you are going to narrowly escape death. Don’t freak out. Don’t worry about it. You escape it. I’ll write again after that’s happened, and then we might be able to make some progress.

M.

— P.S. This is a picture of Our Glorious Leader. Yes, that’s an accordion. All the aliens play them.

* * *

Mark,

Listen, I know you’re an ornery bastard, but what’s the point in sending these notes if you insist on manhandling the timeline? By spending the entire week in your apartment, you’ve seriously messed things up. For starters, you didn’t get the promotion you had coming. Which means no trip to the Mayan Riviera this (that) winter. Which means you never meet our wife. And before you ask, the reason I can still remember her is because I’m writing these postcards from within a Grubenstorbian Bubble. I can see with infuriating clarity the repercussions of your actions (or in this case, milquetoast inaction). If you are going to be a complete dick-wad about it, I’m going to stop sending these notes altogether. You know, it’s almost like you’re trying to sabotage your future. (Which pisses me off for obvious reasons.) I loved Sheila! She was very understanding about the Susiecular Herpes, even when the virus mutated and turned our boy Chad into Balzrog the Destroyer. Crap, I’m almost out of space again.

M.

— P.S. This is a picture of the on-ice celebration when the Leafs won the Stanley Cup for the first time in more than sixty years. But you’ll never get to see it now, you bastard. Who could have guessed your vacation in Mexico was so critical to the timeline?

* * *

Dude!

Hey, more good news. I’ve used all the null-time I’ve had in the Grubenstorbian Bubble to invent an adaptive energy field that will act as a perfect prosthetic for my missing leg. It looks as though I’m hobbling around on thin air; freaky, but who cares? I think this is the last note that I’m going to send. The Bubble is almost out of entropy, and I’d like to get this prosthetic to market as soon as I can. Just promise me you won’t bet against the Leafs, okay? And in case you do finally believe me, for God’s sake, don’t try to track down Susie or Sheila, or act on anything else I’ve told you okay? This whole thing was just one big bad idea.

M.

— P.S. This is a picture of the first Transnormative Human. Freaky, no? Get used to it. They’ve survived your non-trip to Mexico.

* * *

Dear Early-Twenty-First-Century Wanker,

Okay, you win. I guess it really is impossible to improve yourself through time travel. Once again, you’ve screwed me over. The minute I left the Bubble, I was arrested by the Fat Police for Transtemporal Violation of the Fat Laws. Look, remember when I said “The less said about the Fat Reduction Camps the better”? What that didn’t mean was: “It would sure be a great idea for you to write a short story about FRCs and send it off to some shitty science fiction e-zine.” I would have noticed and warned you if it hadn’t taken years for the issue to reach print. I don’t know who to curse (more), you or the glacial pace of the publishing industry. It hardly matters, they’ve got me now. Still, even Our Glorious Leader can’t take away my new invention. And I may just survive the Slorg Diet. At any rate, I won’t be able to send any more notes from where I’m going, so I just have one more thing to say: Play these every week: 3-15-27-29-44-46

In time,

M.

— P.S. Wish you were here.

The End

summer reading sale -- books sitting on a beach

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Originally published by AE – The Canadian Review of Science Fiction in their first issue, October 2010. Alltop once married its own great-great grandparents. Postcard image by Franco Brambilla.