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 Honourable 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?