Friday, February 14, 2020

The Further Adventures of Corky the Killer by Kathleen R. Sands

A three-inch representation of the syphilis bacterium is chosen to run as the opposition party candidate for President of the USA; by Kathleen R. Sands.

Corky opened his eyes. Where was he? Everything here was fat, not flat. A bookcase hulked against a wall, a Sputnik light fixture loomed overhead, and a blue-suited hand puppet slumped on a desk. Corky blinked at the puppet's sulfur-yellow hair, which floated in the air like an abandoned cobweb. He seemed to be in Meatworld, the home of 3D humans.

Corky knew about humans. In Flatland, he'd devoted his entire career to invading their bodies. He was a spirochete, a bacterium shaped in a spiral twist, whose sole purpose was to infect humans with syphilis. He had the traits that all good spirochetes have: monomania, ruthlessness, anomie. He'd first seen daylight in the 1945 publication of a book called Corky the Killer: A Story of Syphilis by Harry A. Wilmer. Dr. Wilmer had created Corky and the rest of the spirochete army as a swarm of dark aliens who conquered humans by sneaking through the skin-border into the body, colonizing every nook and cranny, and reproducing into the billions. Dr. Wilmer's post-World War II xenophobic readers loved it.

As Corky adjusted to his new surroundings, a 3D human entered the room: a dame, one of those 1940s-looking babes with a wasp waist, big shoulders, and copper hair waving over one eye.

Corky stood tall. "Sergeant Corkifer P. Spirochete reporting for duty, ma'am."

The dame looked puzzled. "What does the P. stand for?"

Oho. Nosy. Corky looked her in the eye and said, "Nothing to do with pussy hats, lady."

She raised her emphatic eyebrows. "Smart-mouthed little guy, aren't you?"

Little guy? Corky accepted diminution from no female, 3D or otherwise. As a drawing on every page of Dr. Wilmer's book, he ranged from half an inch tall to a grand three inches on the frontispiece, much bigger than a microscopic Meatworld spirochete. He drew himself up to his full frontispiece height and lowered his black unibrow, one of the features that Dr. Wilmer had created to make him appear foreign and sinister. "I calls 'em like I sees 'em. And all I sees is a dame."

She smiled and tugged her tight skirt down over her hips. "I apologize for my rudeness, Commander Corky."

An apology and a big promotion! The dame took correction well. Corky felt a yen. Dr. Wilmer had drawn his body as a giant screw (point up and out through the top of his head, like a spiked German helmet) but had not given him any other attribute reminiscent of screwing. Still. "Apology accepted, cutie. Who are you?"

"Call me Mildred," said the dame, a contralto. "I'm a special assistant to President Thomas Rex."

"T. Rex, eh? Big mouth, little hands? That guy?"

"That's the one. I'm running his shadow re-election campaign."

"His shadow re-election campaign. Not his Klieg-light-illuminated re-election campaign. And where am I?"

"You're in my office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. Next door to the White House."

Corky glanced out the window at the Palladian pile and yawned ostentatiously. "And why am

I here?"

Mildred smiled and slow-blinked like a cat. "I'd rather show you than tell you."

"I'm a thousand percent with you there, dollface." Corky spread his bristly arms wide, the dame popped him down her voluptuous cleavage, and they left the room.

Warm and snug, the germ felt himself rise and fall with each of Mildred's heartbeats as her stilettos telegraphed her steps down a staircase, through a lobby, and across a sidewalk. He felt the plunge as she crouched to enter a taxi, the settling as she leaned back, and the vibration as she said, "Lafayette Square, please."

He was thoroughly enjoying the ride when it ended all too soon. Mildred exited the cab, pulled out her plunging neckline, and spoke down into her chest: "Commander, stick your head out and take a look."

"No."

"Now."

Corky hunkered more deeply into the flesh-hills of his dream refuge and didn't respond. Mildred inserted thumb and forefinger into her cleavage, pinched Corky out like an insect as he kicked and screamed in protest, and stood him up on her padded shoulder. "There. What do you think of your campaign bus?"

The behemoth loomed in the parking lot, the only red vehicle in a sea of white and blue and black. The vinyl wrap encompassing its girth blared Cork America! Cork America! Giant images of Corky's hand with its four Vienna-sausage fingers surrounded the slogan in several gestures: V for victory, thumbs up, hand on heart, upraised fist, live long and prosper. Lounging on the roof of the bus was an enormous recumbent sculpture of a confident Corky, smiling and waving, the head and hands spring-mounted to jiggle when the bus was in motion.

For once in his life, Corky was speechless. He'd always thought of his three-inch frontispiece height as the apex of his variable size, but this giant Corky was forty feet long! Unlike Dr. Wilmer's line drawings in black on white, the giant Corky was vivid in metallic blue, candy red, and iridescent green. And unlike Dr. Wilmer's naked, scrawny germ, the giant Corky was nipped and tucked, shaped and padded, clothed and shod in the latest GQ fashion.

The spirochete was dazzled, unable to speak above a whisper. "Me?"

"A PC version of you. Let's go inside."

The front half of the bus's interior housed a conference table with iPod docks, LCD TVs, DVD players, DirecTV in-motion satellite receivers, and Wi-Fi. Crammed among the electronics were a miniscule toilet-and-shower room and galley kitchen. Ceiling-level hammocks hung above it all.

Mildred waved at the array. "Two teams alternate ten-hour shifts around the clock. Press officers, drivers, and techs all live on the bus for the six months of the campaign. Work never stops."

Corky wasn't into electronics. He sucked human blood, not radio waves. Distracted, he moved his mouth closer to Mildred's warm neck.

"Naughty." The dame plucked him off her shoulder and popped him inside her jacket pocket. "You'll like this better." She walked down the aisle and swished aside the curtain hiding the back of the bus. "Your space."

It was a compact but complete TV studio: stage floor with green screen, cameras on rolling platforms, control console, microphones, lighting rigs, teleprompter, fiber optics and coax cables everywhere. "Live feeds, streaming, constant social media. Interviews with world leaders, activists, influencers. Virtual travel to war zones, demonstrations, summits. Every appearance simulcast to the screens on the sides of your bus and all around the world. Since you don't eat, sleep, read, have sex, or need down time for any other reason, you can work 24/7, just as you've always done."

Corky took it all in. Everything in the control room was human-sized. Everything on the stage floor and the prop and wardrobe room was Corky-sized. The P&W room contained miniature business suits and office furniture, sports outfits and equipment, casual clothes and living room furniture, flags and podiums - everything scaled to him, 1:24. He leaped from the dame's pocket, donned a black cowboy hat with a silver band, and jumped onto an animatronic palomino stallion, activating it into rearing and neighing.

Mildred folded her arms and watched the three-inch germ bounce around on his steed. "Well, I'm glad there's something here that appeals to you." As Corky played buckaroo, she explained. The president's political party needed a master saboteur - here Corky grinned through his stubble - to infiltrate the opposition party as a candidate. Mildred would organize everything to insure that Corky would defeat his rivals to become the opposition nominee. Then, of course, he'd throw the election, insuring Rex's win.

"But I have to infect humans with syphilis," yelled Corky as he held on one-handed. "That's my raisin detter."

Mildred wrinkled her gorgeous nose. "Old-fashioned. No shame in it any more. Too easy to cure now. I need your expertise in sabotage -"

Corky brightened.

"- but forget about the syphilis. You leave the planning to me. We'll clean you up, modernize your persona, arrange exposure and platforming, and pump up your popularity. Once you've become the opposition candidate, we'll arrange a scandal to make sure you lose the election to Rex."

Corky drooped. No syphilis. No raisin detter. He was skeptical. He'd always worked sub rosa. This business of creating a public persona seemed hinky. He'd never worn clothes - although he liked the cowboy hat - and public speaking had never been one of his job requirements. But Mildred was the boss. He'd play along for a while, learn the ropes of this new world. She was smart, though not as smart as she thought she was. "Okay then. Just for you, baby. Give us a little kiss."

Mildred bent over, luscious lips puckered, and knocked Corky off his mount. "Oops, sorry. I'm so clumsy. Forgive me?" She picked him up and set him back on his little horse.

Good. A wise dame knew that a man's hurt feelings were always her fault. Corky could work with her. He nodded. "Now you owe me a better kiss."

She flashed her pearlies, planted a wet one on him, and left him to explore on his own.

Team Corky arrived that afternoon, ready to work around the clock: a PR and social media guru named Oscar, a legislative researcher named Bert, a community engagement organizer named Ernie, and others that Corky judged bluenoses. The only one he cottoned to was the huge Maori security guard, Lulu, tattooed all over with fish scales, whale teeth, and fern leaves. Whenever Corky needed to escape his handlers, he'd kick them out of his private space so he could perform a war dance with Lulu. She'd take up the whole back of the bus as she stomped, hissed, air-punched, and yelled. On his little TV stage, Corky popped his eyes, vibrated his hands, and extended his tongue right along with her.

After he began his high-speed training in camera-wooing, fan-flattering, and sound-biting, he learned to be humble yet authoritative, fun-loving yet serious, endearing yet fierce in the right. He spoke lightly but with conviction and made jokes only at his own expense. He even softened his 1940s cartoon-villain slang a bit, though not as much as Mildred wanted. Skyping to check on his progress, she said, "Corky, hon, can you tone down the gangster cant?"

Corky, now the darling of his trainers and comfortable in his soon-to-be celebrity status, shrugged and smiled. "The way I speak shows I got moxie."

Mildred sighed. "Moxie. That's exactly what I mean. Nobody says moxie any more. Nobody drinks Moxie any more. Mad magazine is dead."

Corky suppressed himself. He needed to tread carefully for the nonce. "I'm sure you know best, babe. Er, ma'am."

When he was ready, his team moved into Phase Two. They invited celebrity stylists onto the bus to groom and dress the candidate, voice coaches to improve his projection and enunciation, movement coaches to help him develop grace and spatial awareness on his studio set. His social media accounts were staffed around the clock. Corky appeared on magazine covers dressed in thousand-dollar suits and in skimpy Speedos, arm bristles and unibrow waxed, screw-shaped torso transformed by CGI pecs, abs, and lats. His new cryptocurrency, Corkcash, made him a billionaire overnight. On late-night TV, he out-dimpled, out-punned, and out-snided every host. He toured college campuses, registering students to vote, receiving honorary doctorates, and giving rah-rah graduation speeches. He played charity golf games, piano duets, and chess matches with politicians, film stars, and celebrity YouTubers. A new K-pop group stormed the adolescent music scene with a hit single, "Koleukeu," and a new dance, Poppin' the Cork, which looked just like you'd expect.

The touring began: Cleveland, Roanoke, Greenville. Corky trounced Mildred's Rex puppet in debate, largely because the latter's whiny Grampa Simpson voice (a specialty of Lulu's) suggested that the rival candidate was an incoherent geezer prone to narcolepsy. Pensacola, St. Louis, Baltimore. Members of Team Corky in suggestive spirochete costumes photobombed constituents' weddings and political opponents' campaign rallies. Des Moines, Flint, Canton. Corky donned sunglasses and played saxophone on screens behind local blues bands. Houston, Colorado Springs, Council Bluffs. Corky promoted his new salty treat, Spirocheetos, while his staff handed out free samples. Waukesha, Bedford, Prescott. In chef's hat and apron, Corky mixed up a batch of Corked Carrot Cake and challenged viewers to improve on his recipe. Portsmouth, Bangor, Golden. Corky demanded to see Rex's birth certificate. Grand Rapids... Eau Claire... Leesburg...

Because Corky never left the bus (and because he didn't eat human food, only human blood), his aides mingled with the crowds, pressing the flesh and distributing goodies. Grinning for selfies, shirt-sleeves rolled up, sweat coursing, Oscar, Bert, Ernie, and the rest shook hands, kissed babies, ate tacos, and touted Corky as the best thing to happen to the country since the last great thing. While all this went on, Corky appeared on the huge screens set up at the rallies and on the sides of his bus, speaking in folksy or erudite language as the situation called for, endearing himself to the salt of the earth, the barons of business, and the idols of the intelligentsia. Meanwhile, Lulu sat cross-legged in a dark corner, watching the screen, scoffing Spirocheetos and laughing a low grunting sound deep in her chest.

By the time the first primary debate occurred, Corky had a higher brand approval rating than any of the other forty-eight same-party candidates. During the debate, he appeared jocular but never frivolous, energetic but never manic, calm but never flagging. He promised to provide everyone with everything they wanted - free this, free that, world-class whatnot - all while cutting taxes to zero (with air quotes). So mesmerized were the skeptical reporters and pundits by Corky's charisma, intelligence, and seriousness of purpose that their usual hard-hitting challenges to his logic and their probing questions about his mysterious past melted into queries about his favorite pizza and baseball team.

One by one, his rivals dropped from the race, calling on their supporters to switch their allegiance to Corky. Party solidarity, they preached, was the only way to beat Rex in the general election. Because Corky was a bachelor and possessed no partner/spouse/accomplice to give the traditional first-lady-in-waiting speech, celebrities of all sexual orientations and gender identities acted as cheerleaders at the nominating convention. "Cork America! Cork America!" chanted the ebullient crowd while minions distributed baseball caps emblazoned with CACA! (The cap manufacturer had inadvertently omitted the first exclamation mark.)

Victory! Mildred and Corky whooped it up in a private but expensive celebration. Everything was going according to plan. The next step was to discredit Corky so thoroughly that he wouldn't stand a chance against Rex no matter what idiotic behavior and language the latter exhibited. What should Corky be charged with? So many possibilities: bribery, extortion, witness tampering, perjury, money laundering. They brainstormed far into the night.

Somewhere around three in the morning, Mildred's light bulb went on. "Corkman! I've got it. All we have to do is reveal the truth about your past: You're a spirochete! You got where you are today by infecting people with syphilis. We won't run the risk of being caught in a lie because it isn't a lie!"

So this was it: the shame game. She didn't want him infecting people, but she wanted to out him for infecting people. Hypocrite.

"Mildred." The voice coach had helped Corky develop a resonant baritone. "I'm willing to go along with anything else, but not that. Being a spirochete is a matter of pride for me, not scandal. Despite being a relatively young disease, I've been one of the most pestilential scourges of humanity for more than five centuries. A perfect killing machine - as undefeated as Alexander, as quick- conquering as Julius Caesar, as wide-ranging as Genghis Khan, as -"

"Oh, can it," yawned Mildred. "Those guys are all dead, and so is your former life. I told you, syphilis isn't a big deal now. Diagnosis by blood test, cure by antibiotic. Routine. Just another infection."

Like you, thought Corky. "But I was the shark of the microscopic world! Don't humans respect sharks? They have their own television shows and beach signage."

Mildred snorted. "Don't be a dolt. That's not respect. That's trivialization. We do that to every species we extinguish and every culture we suppress. Tons of microbes - including you - have been reduced to soft toys. Look." She pulled out her phone and showed Corky a photo of a Barbie- sized, spiral-shaped plushie in princess pink. The thing had big cartoon eyes ringed with long lashes and was labeled syphilis in fluffy cursive.

Corky stared in outrage. Forcing the steam down inside, he said, "Give me a minute" and held his head, thinking. Mildred watched him, tapping her foot.

He breathed deeply and slowly, did a few wide-legged forward bends, and silently repeated Dame, you are not the boss of me twenty times. Held up his smiling face, turned to Mildred, and said, "You're right, of course."

"As always. I wish you'd remember that little fact sooner next time."

"Yep, I'll do that. Kiss and make up?" He puckered.

She rolled her eyes, bent down for a peck, then jerked back. "Hey! Too much tongue, you nasty germ." She backed off and adjusted her shoulder pads. "I'll get working on that exposé right away." She sailed through the privacy curtain, past Team Corky, and off the bus. Lulu watched her pass, a low growl rumbling underneath the frowning face tattooed on her chest.

Corky leaned back in his miniature ergonomic executive office chair and closed his eyes. That Rex puppet of Mildred's - was he merely another puppet? The dame had kidnapped him from Flatland, resuscitated him with no thought for the culture shock he would suffer, incarcerated him in her re-education camp, and forced him to go along with her scheme to ensure Rex's re-election. If Corky rebelled and refused to serve her agenda, she'd have no more use for him. What was to stop her from simply flushing him down the toilet?

A chill seized his heart - or rather his protoplasmic cylinder. Even if he accomplished all that Mildred wanted him to do, if he succeeded in getting Rex re-elected, what then? Did he have a future? He could have kicked himself with his jellybean foot. That dame had mesmerized him into forgetting who he was.

Now. The time was now. He had to take control of his own life. He swiveled his chair to face his miniature industrial-design desk with built-in computer to research the election cycle.

Hmm. Seemed to be more of a pendulum than a cycle. Some Pollyanna would get elected by promising to deliver a sunny future of universal sociopolitical equality in which everyone would be pals. In the following election, a challenger would defeat Pollyanna by forecasting a Stygian hellhole of a world and promising heftier bomb shelters, more assault rifles, and higher walls.

Looked like Rex's win had sprung from the hellhole-rifles-walls platform, so Corky would adopt the rainbows-and-roses path. He looked in the mirror, tried on a Pollyanna face, and started up his new resonant baritone: "You may say I'm a dreamer / But I'm not the only one / I hope someday you'll join us / And the world will live as one."

Mildred's stage-managed scandal broke a few days later: The well-known public figure named Corkifer P. Spirochete was exposed as a literal spirochete! Headlines blared, political pundits tsk-tsked, social media went ballistic in all caps. CORKY'S SORDID PAST. CORKY A HORRIBLE DISEASE. CORKY HAS NO HEART, ONLY A PROTOPLASMIC CYLINDER. Public bonfires consumed Corky memorabilia: spirochete bobble-heads (screw points removable for child safety), bumper stickers showing the V-for-victory sign with a four-fingered hand, ball caps emblazoned with CACA!

That afternoon, Corky girded for battle. Pundits, press, public - they waited in front of screens large and small, hungry for his voice. He sat behind his TV studio desk, calm and in command, his mind and protoplasmic cylinder filled with - what?

Ah. Of course. Moxie.

He raised his head and nodded to his production director.

The questions rolled in from all over the country. From a student at a small liberal arts college in Marfa, Texas: You are the cause of syphilis. Do you admit responsibility for depriving the world of artistic geniuses like Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, and Manet? Literary geniuses like Oscar Wilde, Guy de Maupassant, and Baudelaire?

Face beatific, Corky bowed his head. "Their early deaths were proof of my love. They escaped the horrors of old age and the fickleness of public approbation. Worldly strife forgotten, they live on forever in our hearts."

Lurking behind a light reflector in the studio, waiting to witness Corky's fall, Mildred frowned, a WTF expression marring her beautiful face.

From a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in Albuquerque, New Mexico: Do you admit facilitating the lethal infection of African Americans in unregulated medical experiments? Expediting the destruction of entire Native American societies? Did you incapacitate hundreds of soldiers daily during the terrible world wars of the twentieth century, thus prolonging those wars by years and ending thousands more lives prematurely?

Corky's now-bifurcated unibrow rose in rueful acknowledgment. "I did so only at human instigation. I was merely the people's tool. But terrible as these events were, they sparked the greatest era of medical research the world has ever known, establishing our country's leadership in the global progress toward a world with no illness. Deaths from pneumonia, tuberculosis, diphtheria, influenza cholera typhoid smallpoxmalariapolio - eliminated or hugely reduced with my help."

Behind the reflector, Mildred's expression altered to alarm. She stepped forward, shaking her head and holding her hands in the air. Corky calmly met her eyes with his.

From an economic affairs officer at the United Nations in New York: What do you have to say to the accusation that you are a mass murderer? That you've been a pestilence upon the face of the earth for centuries? That millions of infants have been born disabled or dead because of you? You are responsible for destroying millions of noses, eyes, brains, lives, families, settlements - some say even entire empires. And yet you have never even apologized. How can you live with yourself?

Corky allowed a moment of silence while he gazed upward and then lovingly into the camera. "Today I am transformed in spirit and renewed in mind. My old self is laid aside; my former manner of life is dead. From darkness I have come into the light; from arrogance I have come into humility. My cause is no longer destruction but life. Hear my words."

Mildred's face froze.

"You call me disease. Germ. Vermin. So did you once denigrate Native Americans, calling Geronimo a red devil. Now he is admired as a great American defender of his homeland. Similarly, you once thought of African-Americans as beasts, assuming that Frederick Douglass lacked the intellectual and moral capacity to function as a free citizen. Now he is revered as one of our country's greatest orators, writers, and social reformers. Germans used to be huns and krauts; Japanese were nips and japs; Mexicans were beaners and greasers. Now we value them as friends and allies in our global fight against environmental destruction, cybercrime, and poverty.

"Historical revisionism is not some new-fangled attempt to bend the past to conform to the present. It is simply the way history works: as an ongoing dialogue between then and now. Our perceptions of the past change constantly, expanding our understanding of others' values and viewpoints. Our country's inclusive spirit absorbs this new understanding into its own social fabric, enlarging the definition of what it means to be American. DNA testing has proved that every human is 99.9% identical to every other human, thus exploding the myth of racial purity. Our evolving society reflects this new understanding. The percentage of nonwhite members of Congress has tripled over the past decade. The number of minority-owned business increased 400% last year."

Mildred's hands covered her mouth.

"Next prejudice to be exploded? Speciesism. If physical distinctions are morally irrelevant within a species, so must they be between species. We've done away with gladiators; why not bullfighters? We don't eat cats and dogs; why eat pigs and cows? We don't flay people to make leather shoes; why then alligators and ostriches?

"Just as we've exploded the myth of racial supremacy, let's explode the myth of species supremacy. Enlightened minds of today recognize the moral equality of all living beings. Let us be those enlightened ones, the ones who enlarge the idea of celebrating diversity to include all species."

Mildred's face was now pinker than the plastic hair rollers she slept on every night.

"According to our Constitution, a president must be a natural-born citizen, at least thirty-five years old, and a resident of the country for at least fourteen years. There's no requirement that the president be a white man, any kind of man, or even a human being. Those ideas are irrational prejudices. The book I was born in was published in New York City in 1945, and its first copy was deposited in the Library of Congress. I thus meet all three constitutional requirements."

Mildred's body shook visibly.

"Massive social change starts with one small step. Let us be the country that leads the world in eliminating this last irrational prejudice of speciesism, equal in moral failure to racism, sexism, ageism, classism, cissexism, and other prejudices spawned by ignorance and fear.

"I humbly ask for your vote."

Silence. Inside the studio and the rest of the bus, Corky's team waited for more. Across the nation, everyone waited for more.

Corky, silent, gazed at the world through the camera, a benign smile sweetening his face.

Beaming, Lulu slammed her meaty hands together in loud applause. Oscar, Bert, Ernie, and the rest of the team joined in. Across the country, viewers in millions of broadcast venues applauded. Cheers sounded in sports bars. Corky's V-for-victory salute was raised in university auditoriums (mostly with five fingers). Whistles, foot-stamping, and yells of approval rocked corporate offices.

Corky couldn't hear the nation-wide reception, but he knew it must be happening. His eyes met Mildred's once more. She stood for a moment, arms dangling, posture sagging, cheeks red and damp, before turning to flee the studio through the privacy curtain.

Warmth flooded Corky's protoplasmic cylinder. He had won.

And he would win in November.

Late that night, while Team Corky slept the sleep of the just in their ceiling-hung hammocks, the victorious candidate lounged in his executive chair, feet on desk, hands behind head, calm and serene. For the first time since he'd been catapulted into Meatworld, he felt secure. No threats on the horizon.

"Knock, knock." Because Corky's space was closed off by curtain rather than door, the knocks sounded in Mildred's sultry alto.

Corky smiled. Here came the dame, crawling back. "Come in." He turned to observe her...

"That was some speech. A real corker." Mildred's voice broke on the pun.

Corky's face and voice remained neutral. "Thanks. What can I do for you?"

"I came to apologize. I should have recognized you as the better candidate." Her face reddened under his impassive gaze. "And?"

"Well, I suspect you already know."

"And I suspect you know the price you have to pay."

Mildred winced but came forward.

"Good girl."

Mildred sighed. Closed her eyes, opened her lips, and displayed just the tip of her delicious tongue.

Corky planted his wettest, slurpiest kiss on her, really burrowing in to look around. Yep, there it was: a syphilis chancre inside the dame's left cheek. His previous kisses had been fruitful. His progeny were glad to see him. "Hey, pops! Nice place you got for us here." The young spirochetes feasting on Mildred's red blood cells rotated their flagella in greeting before returning to business. Corky admired his offspring's work as they drilled into Mildred's mucous membranes and lymph nodes, each dividing as it worked: one became two, four, sixteen, 256, and 65,536 in less than an hour. One spirochete could produce over four billion offspring before lunch time.

"Good job there, kids. Progress report?"

His spawn chorused, "Veins, arteries, capillaries, spleen, bone marrow all colonized. Next targets: liver, heart, kidneys. White blood cell count dropping. Antibody development slowing. Host body anemic and vitamin-deficient."

Corky tsked. "That dame - always on a diet. Estimated time of final target?"

"Brain and nervous system colonized within three years. Blindness, insanity, muscular paralysis."

The dame's beautiful green eyes gone. Oh, well, what the hell. Plenty more dames. "Any concerns?"

"Blood tests?"

"Don't worry. The dame hates needles. She'd die sooner than get tested. Literally."

Corky and the spawn undulated their protoplasmic cylinders in unison and yelled, "Hey, hey, get outta our way, spirochetes gone have their day!" They all laughed, whirling their flagella in gales of laughter.

"Great job, kids. Keep up the good work."

"Yup. Give 'em hell out there, pops!" The spawn waved their flagella bye-bye as Corky withdrew from the dame's mouth.

He shook himself like a dog, flinging droplets of Mildred's own saliva into her face. She dabbed her skin with a tissue. "Okay, then? I've got a job with your campaign?" Corky tilted his head, admired Mildred's beauty, and considered for a moment. "Hey, sweetie. Remember you once asked me what the P stands for? My middle initial?"

The dame looked surprised. "Um. Okay. What does it stand for?"

Corky smiled. "Power." He pressed his buzzer.

Lulu appeared, grinning. She silenced Mildred with one huge hand over the lipsticked mouth and the other trapping both wrists behind her back.

Corky waved his four fingers at Mildred's frightened face. "This person is no longer authorized access to the bus. Please confiscate her electronic pass and escort her off."

The huge Samoan snatched the pass off Mildred's jacket, jerked of her one arms up between her shoulder blades, and used the other to steer her out of Corky's private space, down the aisle, and out the bus door.

Corky's last sight of Mildred was the vision of her bounteous rump: two puppies fighting under a silk sheet. He sighed and shook his head. The past was past.

And the future? He leaned back, feet up, eyes closed, and puckered. As president, he planned to do a lot of kissing.

8 comments:

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  3. Could make an interesting cartoon or comic book. I liked Corky's political defence of his past misdeeds. Quite witty. I felt sorry about Mildred..I wonder why she allowed a known virus to kiss her in the first place. Pretty dark and bleak humour there.

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  4. I loved this interesting and creative story. I thought Corky was going to get it in the end somehow, but the surprise ending was done well. Great original story.

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  5. Wonderful quirky fable with an engaging voice. Suddenly world politics are comprehensible ;-)

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  6. The amorality you created here was well done. Politics.

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  7. Mildred created a monster she couldn't control. Corky is a character I'm going to remember for a long time. Excellent mix of sci fi and satire, very enjoyable.

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  8. Quite imaginative and fun to read.

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