Hello, there! And welcome back. I apologize for subjecting you to the indignity of meeting on the sidewalk in front of my store, but I’m afraid we really have no choice. Unfortunately for us both, circumstances have conspired to keep us out of the main building for the rest of the day. You see, we’re in the middle of a psychic lockdown, which is a supernatural emergency of the first order. The short summary of the situation is that it’s very dangerous for me to attempt to view the future from within the confines of my office at this time. Cosmic blasts are right now ripping through the subspace ether and pounding psychic outposts like a hurricane thrashing a private boat dock. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the location of a soothsayer’s workplace is carefully chosen for its harmonic frequency with the rhythms of The Infinite. An office like mine is a lightning rod for psychic energy from the future. If I tried to channel the mysteries from beyond while sitting in such a pulse-amplifying environment, it could be catastrophic for me. Remember the mosquito that penetrated a vein in the classic Far Side cartoon and inflated to twice his normal size because he couldn’t pull out? You’re talking about the same sort of consequence for a seer like myself should one of those cosmic blasts electrify the office, but the consequences would be ten times worse. Literally anything could happen in such a situation, but the most common result is psychic energy conversion, where the soothsayer himself is transformed into pure energy and dissipated into the cosmos as a brief but singularly stunning rainbow of sparkling lights. It’s truly quite beautiful, but seers around the world agree it’s probably not something you’d want to experience. Psychic scientists don’t fully comprehend what causes the mystic firestorms that result in lockdowns, but some theorize that seers from the far future are experimenting with powerful new ways to amplify the psychic signals. Of course, when they start messing around like that, they affect the entire time stream. They should really stop being selfish and consider the fact that they’re putting the fortune tellers of their past in horrible jeopardy. Fortunately, I did retrieve my cracked crystal ball from the building before I left, and I think it would be safe to discuss Survivor out here on the curb, if you don’t mind sitting on the sidewalk today. Very well. I’ve spread this blanket out for both of us. I don’t want you to risk ruining your attractive outfit. Let’s be seated. Ah, yes, there are the words of this week’s title, zipping around the interior of the cracked crystal ball like children playing tag at recess. It’s
Bubble Sky Doll Rubble Tumble
It’s dark in the Islands of Fire. The sun is just beginning to announce its arrival in the east, extending a few tentative rays above the horizon, as if testing the water before easing in. At Yasur Camp, a few of the women are already out of the shelter and milling around. Julie and Lisa are standing near the fire, adding a few sticks to it and stamping their feet to ward off the chill of the pre-dawn air. Mia is walking to the shelter, her face fixed in its typical baleful scowl. She nudges the sleeping form of Eliza, not quite gently.
Eliza rolls over quickly, her eyelids snapping open and then continuing to their “maximum on” position as she stares at Mia with the roundest, widest eyes she can possibly muster. “What’s going on?” she whispers urgently.
“Oh, nothing serious,” Mia purrs. “The younger girls are taking a reasonable break this morning and heading out for a hike. You’re a younger girl so we thought you’d like to come along.”
“Sure! Sounds fun,” Eliza says, sliding over the side of the shelter and out. She yawns as she follows Mia around to the fire, where Lisa and Julie are waiting. The two fold their arms and stare impassively at Eliza. “Morning!” Eliza chirps. When the other two fail to respond, she changes the subject. “Are we going to have a bite to eat for breakfast before we head out?” she asks.
Mia smiles mirthlessly. “No, I don’t think so,” she says. “No time. We need to get there before dawn to have the full effect.”
“Get where?” Eliza says as she falls in behind the other three women headed out of camp. None of them answer so Eliza fills the silence with a lengthy story about her youth. Her voice rises in pitch as the words tumble out of her like a slot machine jackpot. Mia and the others pick up the pace.
Presently, they arrive at the base of Mount Yasur, winded from having sprinted most of the way there. Eliza herself is desperately out of breath, but she bravely struggles to finish her tale, squeezing out two or three important words between each gasp. “OK!” Mia calls, cutting off the story. “We’re here!”
“Someone remind me…where I left off,” Eliza wheezes, “so I can…entertain us…on the way back.” She bends over and rests her hands on her knees. “Where are we…anyway?”
“Come on,” Mia says. “Let’s go up. It’s beautiful up there.” She sets off up the steep slope, slipping now and again on the loose rock as she climbs. Lisa and Julie follow.
Eliza straightens and looks to the top of the volcano. “Why is this hill smoking?” she calls out to the others. “That’s kind of weird, isn’t it?” When no answer is returned, she sighs and scrambles up the side in pursuit of the other women. “Yeah, that’s just not right,” she mutters to herself. “Hills don’t smoke. I wonder if there’s a bomb or something up there.”
After considerable effort, all four women wind up on the very edge of the volcano, looking down into its hazy interior. “Whew!” Eliza breathes. “Long way down. And it’s sure hot and stinky up here. What is this big open-mouthed steaming mountain?”
The shadows of her companions darken Mia’s face as she begins to speak in a low voice. “According to legend, Mount Yasur required the blood of evil to sustain its fury. In particular, it sought the beating hearts of women. The men of Vanuatu established a code of strict conduct for their women. Those who broke the rules were taken from their homes at dawn and forced to hike to the top of the volcano. Once there, they were tossed over the side to slake the thirst of the mighty Yasur. All manner of women were punished in this way. Murderers, thieves, and the like. But the highest measure of disdain was reserved for a particular breed of woman.” She leans forward, and a low roar from the bowels of the volcano rumbles like thunder far below. “The women who were made to suffer most were those who had betrayed their own.” A column of smoke shoots up into the air behind Mia, billowing magnificently as she glares at Eliza with fiery eyes.
Eliza leans gingerly forward to peek over the rim of the crater. “So this is a volcano,” she breathes. “I feel foolish for not knowing that. I even saw that movie with Tommy Lee Jones in it when it first came out. Of course, in that movie, there was lava and stuff in the streets of L.A. A guy even had his legs dissolve in this one scene. This is quite a bit different.”
Mia quickly glances at Julie and Lisa in disbelief. “Hey, Eliza,” she says. “Did you hear what I said? Any of it?”
Eliza nods, wide-eyed. “I sure did! Those poor women! You could tell, though, that first night, when they made us sit off to the side. Women are just second-class citizens here. It’s disgusting!”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Julie shouts, her voice shrill with agitation. “Women who had betrayed their own. The worst possible crime. Who do you know that’s done that recently?”
Eliza frowns and cocks her head back to look up into the sky. “Hm, I don’t know,” she says, then she suddenly gasps and stares at Julie with an open mouth. “You don’t think that Brook fella betrayed those guys, do you?”
Mia throws her hands into the air and growls in frustration. “Come on!” she yells. “It’s you, Eliza. You! You sunk a knife in our backs when you voted out Dolly!”
“In whose backs?” she asks.
“The LYGA, don’t you remember?” Julie says. “The Lazy Young Girls Alliance. Us!”
“Oh, I didn’t know you were being serious about that,” Eliza says. “First of all, I don’t think it’s lazy to pace yourself when you’re working hard. And secondly, you can’t call it the LYGA and have her in it.” She points at Lisa. “She’s way too old.”
“I’m young at heart!” Lisa protests, thrusting her chest forward, presumably to call attention to her young heart.
Eliza shrugs. “Well, I didn’t believe you,” she says. “I didn’t want to be outnumbered 5-4 so I played along with the OILA.”
“OILA?” Mia asks.
“Old Industrious Ladies Alliance,” Eliza replies. “That was their response to the Tree Mail we got last week. Don’t you remember when we were asked to play up the age differential and pretend the two generations have wildly different work ethics?”
“Cut! Cut!” a voice screams from within the volcano. A door pops open on the interior wall, just above the roiling river of lava below. A grappling hook sails out and finds purchase on the lip of the crater, right next to the women’s feet. A man in an extravagant outdoorsy hat scampers up the attached rope and swings himself up and out of the volcano. “Rule #1 of Survivor: you do not mention the casting notes!” the man screams.
“Oh, that’s right!” Eliza gasps, clapping a hand over her mouth. “Wow. Sorry, Mr. Burnett,” she says. “It won’t happen again.”
Burnett points a finger between her eyes threateningly. “You’re absolutely right it won’t,” he says. “You make another mistake like that, and I will write you right out of this series! We’ll digitally insert your replacement into the first two episodes, and nobody will be the wiser. You behave yourself, Eliza, or you’ll find yourself on the outside looking in.” He stares down the other three women before crouching to retrieve the grappling hook. “OK, places, everyone,” he says. “And...action!” He slides down the side of the volcano to its base and quickly disappears into the tree cover below.
Eliza’s eyes suddenly widen. “Hey, wait a minute!” she exclaims. “You guys were threatening to throw me in the volcano!”
Mia gasps dramatically. “What?! No, that’s not it at all. We just wanted to remind you who your real friends are.” She puts her arm around Eliza’s neck and pulls her in tight. “Don’t vote against us again, all right?”
Eliza nods meekly, her head barely able to move under Mia’s arm.
“All right then. Let’s go home.” She releases Eliza and watches as she slowly picks her way down the volcano’s sloping side.
Lisa looks at Mia, confusion apparent in her face. “Where’d that whole story of Mount Yasur come from?” she asks.
Mia looks around nervously, then leans in close to Lisa and whispers in her ear: “Casting notes.”
Meanwhile, across the island at Lopevi Beach, the men are reveling in the glory of their first campfire. “Oh, fellas, this is the life!” Rory says. “The sun is coming up, and we are warm! We have fresh water cooking. And, best of all, one of those shamelessly celebrating women got the boot last night.”
“Still,” J.P. says, laying on his back with his hands behind his head. “It’s kind of embarrassing it took us the better part of a day to start our fire, even after we got the flint.”
“Maybe nobody will notice,” Chad says hopefully.
“Hey, Sarge,” Chris says. “Why didn’t you jump in there and help us out? We could’ve used a warm fire last night.”
“Wasn’t uncomfortable,” Sarge says simply.
Brady laughs. “That’s it?” he says. “Meaning you could’ve started a fire at any point, if you’d wanted to, flint or no?”
“That’s right,” Sarge says, drawing himself up to his full height and staring sternly at Brady. “You got a problem with that, Milkman?”
“Not a problem, really,” he replies. “I just don’t believe you, that’s all.”
“I didn’t see you getting the fire started, either, tough guy,” Sarge says.
“Difference is I could have gotten one started instantly, even in a driving rain.”
“You’re delusional, soldier!” Sarge snaps. “I’ve started fires in the middle of monsoons by rubbing my fingers together for sparks.”
“I’ve been airlifted into the heart of Antarctica,” Brady counters, “and forced to ignite a fire through sheer force of will.”
“You’re a liar,” Sarge growls. “No milkman does that sort of thing.”
“We had a very thorough training program,” Brady says.
Sarge squints at him. “There’s something very, very wrong about you, Milkman,” he says. “I just get the feeling you’re hiding something important from us.”
Brady smiles coolly. “Nah, I’m exactly who I say I am. Don’t worry. I just happen to have learned a lot of interesting things in the Bureau.”
“The Bureau?” Sarge asks quickly. “You mean the FBI?”
“No, no, no!” Brady says, his voice suave and soothing. “The bureau. As in a dresser. I keep all sorts of interesting how-to documents in my dresser drawer at home. Just handy literature I find here and there. When I get a new one, I open the drawer and add it to the stack. Then whenever I read one of those things, I like to say I learned it in the bureau. It’s funny. Everybody always think I mean the FBI when I say that. Without fail. So amusing. I’m just a humble milkman. That’s all.”
Sarge stares at Brady silently for a long time. “Well, I wouldn’t call you humble,” he says finally. “And I still say there’s something not right about you. But I’ll let it slide for now. I’m watching you, though, Milkman. You’d better straighten up and fly right. Do you read me?”
Bubba interrupts their discussion by wandering into camp with a roll of parchment in his hands. “Guys, I just went and grabbed Tree Mail. We’re already almost late for an important Challenge.”
J.P. sits up. “Reward Challenge, right? What’s so important about that?”
Bubba reads the scroll again. “It doesn’t say Reward Challenge,” he says finally. “Doesn’t say Immunity Challenge, either, though. It just says it’s important.” He shrugs.
“Well, let’s not waste time speculating,” Sarge says. “Everybody single file. By the left, double time. Let’s move out. Harch!”
Nobody moves. “You are so weird,” Little John says. He gets to his feet and saunters off, shaking his head. The others fall in behind him and soon the beach is empty but for the tribe’s crackling fire.
Over at Challenge Beach, Jeff awaits the arrival of the two tribes. He’s standing next to an enormous pile of jagged rock fragments. As the tribes file in, they see Jeff crouch to pick up a handful of pebbles. He flicks them one at a time to the top of the pile, then watches them roll down the side, bouncing off the larger rocks as they go. Finally, when both tribes are settled on their mats, Jeff turns to grin at them. “What fun!” he says. “Reminds me of that game Plinko on The Price Is Right. Only I don’t win any money at the end, which is a real shame. Anybody remember Plinko? Show of hands.” A good three-quarters of the Survivors hold their hand in the air. Jeff nods appreciatively. “Yeah, great show. And while we’re on the subject, Bubba, what is the story behind that awful shirt you chose to bring with you?”
Bubba blushes furiously and folds his arms across Bob Barker’s face. “Well, I just think he’s a great man,” he says. “All that tireless work he does for pets. And then I hear he’s managed to get lucky a couple times with those pretty models on the show. I think he’s earned my respect, don’t you?”
“If you say so,” Jeff says. “I just want you to realize it’s all about the editing. I always, always remind everyone to help control the pet population and have their pets spayed or neutered. That’s always the last thing I say every episode after I say ‘The tribe has spoken.’ But does that ever make it on air? No! Burnett always edits it out. I mean, it’s not like Barker has a copyright on those exact words. I’m not going to get us in trouble or anything. I’m just looking for a little bit of the compassion points the old man is stockpiling. Would I get mad if he told somebody the tribe has spoken right after they overbid for a dinette set? No! It’s just professional courtesy. I’d be flattered at that tip of the hat from him. Besides, aren’t two voices better than one when it comes to keeping our pet population under control? Burnett just doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Jeff sighs. “Oh, well, let’s drop it. This is obviously a sensitive area for me.”
The Survivors shift around awkwardly on their mats, uncertain how to respond to Jeff’s outburst. “I’m sorry,” Bubba finally says. “I didn’t know it would upset you so much. I could wear a different shirt every now and then if that would help.”
“Yeah, could you?” Jeff says. “I mean, come on. This isn’t Pearl Islands. You DO have a change of clothes in that bag, don’t you? Or did you just bring seven orange Bob Barker shirts?”
“Eight,” Bubba corrects him. “Gotta wear something on Laundry Day. I’ll borrow something from one of the other fellas.”
Jeff stares at Bubba for a while in silence before drawing a deep breath and clapping his hands together once. “OK then. Let’s get on with today’s Challenge. We’re going to do something a little bit different today. It’s going to be an individual Challenge, but you’ll be playing as teams. There will be only one individual winner, but that person may win something valuable for their tribe. In addition, they may win something even more valuable for themselves.”
Ami raises her hand. “What do you mean, ‘may’? Is this a Reward Challenge?”
“Mm, not exactly,” Jeff says. “And it’s not an Immunity Challenge, either.” His eyes twinkle in merriment.
“It’s not?” Rory says. “Then what is it?”
Jeff drops his jaw and stares at him in shock. “I’m stunned you don’t recognize what’s going on here,” he says in a disappointed voice. “It’s obviously a twist! Survivor’s all about twists now, folks. Don’t you know that? You know, don’t make assumptions? Expect the unexpected? All that? Come on, you guys! Try to keep up. You’re the ninth cast, for heaven’s sake! This sort of thing should be old hat to you.” He shakes his head sadly. “I had such high hopes for you, too.” He sighs. “Oh, well. Let’s discuss the Challenge. As you know, the Islands of Fire are a place of ancient mystery and magic and so on. Today, we’ll get to know another small piece of this world of wonder. Many of you will recall the single hair we plucked from your bodies during your pregame physical. These hairs were carefully packaged and shipped ahead to the Vanuatu witch doctors, who have assembled a complete set of voodoo dolls, one for each of you.” He holds up a featureless brown canvas doll with a name tag looped around its neck. “I can assure you these are entirely authentic,” Jeff says. “Example.” He reveals a thumb tack in his other hand, which he proceeds to drive forcefully into the knee of the tiny doll.
“Aaaaahhh!!” J.P. shrieks as he crumples to the ground with both hands clapped over his kneecap. “Stop it! Pull it out! It hurts, it hurts, it hurts! Mommy!”
Jeff extracts the tack and nods in a self-satisfied manner. “Money well spent,” he observes solemnly. “Here’s how it’s going to work. Each of your dolls will be suspended beneath a lighter-than-air bubble, which will carry all sixteen dolls up into the sky. I’ll give each of you an authentic Vanuatu blow gun. On my go, you’ll take these darts and shoot at the suspended dolls. Your goal is to break your own doll’s bubble right above this pile of rocks next to me. You want your doll to land as close to the top of the mound as possible. In this way, we simulate the classic ‘King of the Hill’ style duels staged repeatedly over the years by the Vanuatu themselves to establish their tribal leaders. Everyone with me so far?” The Survivors nod in perfect unison. “Good. Couple things to remember. With all these darts flying through the air, it is certainly possible that some may strike the dolls themselves. Be prepared to experience excruciating pain. You may go after someone else’s doll as strategy. Or shoot their bubble early, before it approaches the pile of rubble. It’s up to you. Your focus is to be King of the Hill, by whatever means necessary. The one of you whose doll lands closest to the summit of the pile without tumbling to the bottom wins, and your tribe wins, too.”
“Wins what?” Ami asks again.
Jeff bounces his eyebrows up and down a couple times, Groucho-Marx-style. “You’ll see, won’t you? Maybe nothing. Maybe we just dragged you all out here to combat our own boredom. You won’t know until it’s over. OK, everyone. Grab a blow gun and a supply of darts, then line up in front of the mound. It’s time for what we like to call Bubble Sky Doll Rubble Tumble!” He looks into the camera and grins. Everyone gathers their equipment and takes up a starting position. Jeff raises one arm as the oversized bubbles rise into the air, the nondescript dolls dangling beneath them. “Survivors ready? Go!”
Pwuf-sheeeeer-thwunk! The first dart whistles through the air and sticks firmly in the right arm of one of the dolls.
“Aiieee!” Sarge yells, dropping his blow gun and clutching his left hand to his right bicep. “Curse you, Milkman!” he bellows as he catches sight of Brady loading another dart into his pipe. “You are going down!” Fighting through the blinding pain, Sarge bends over and retrieves his blow gun, steadies the barrel, and puffs a dart into the dead center of Brady’s doll’s chest.
“Arrrgh!” Brady cries, slamming a fist into his breastplate and cupping it with his other hand. He drops to his knees and plunks his forehead on the ground, coughing loudly. His now-forgotten blow gun is on the ground beside him.
Meanwhile, the sky is thick with the shafts of flying darts. Many other Survivors are also groaning in pain and struggling to focus on operating their weapon. Suddenly, a loud blop sound heralds the popping of the first bubble. Julie yells out excitedly as Chad’s doll plummets to earth. It lands a few feet shy of the pile itself, and when it does, Chad cries out in pain and collapses to the ground, where he curls up into a ball and whimpers from the punishment.
“Oh, wow, didn’t think of that,” Jeff marvels. “Dropping your dolls from a height onto that pile of broken stones sounds painful for you. Guess we should’ve play-tested this one a little bit more. Well, don’t worry. We’ve got a crack medical staff here. You won’t be suffering for long, and we won’t let you die unnecessarily, either. Speaking of which, I guess it goes without saying that you’re out of the Challenge as soon as your doll hits the deck. That was a rule I forgot to mention. I had no idea how easy it would be to enforce. Ah, there goes Mia’s doll!”
As the cries of pain from the Survivors mount, more and more dolls begin dropping out of the sky. When each doll touches down, its owner dives to the ground, as well, rolling around in an agony of voodoo-battered limbs. After a while, only two dolls are still airborne, Rory’s and Scout’s. Each doll has at least one dart poking out of it, but the two Survivors are battling the overpowering pain in an attempt to get one last shot at their respective bubbles. Gasping in pain, Scout raises her blow gun. Its barrel vibrates wildly as she tries to steady her aching arms. With a final desperate puff, the dart zips into the air and penetrates her doll’s bubble. With a lazy, end-over-end somersault, the doll drops out of the sky and lands squarely on top of the mound of rubble. Scout screams and collapses to her mat, both hands clawing for her back. The doll skids just a few feet down the hill, then comes to rest on a small ledge.
“Scout has taken over the lead!” Jeff cries. “One doll to go. Take your time, Rory.”
Blinking back tears of pain, Rory manages to get a final shot off before slumping to his knees and watching the flight of his final dart. It rips through the thin bubble, and the doll plunges downward. “Oh, no!” Jeff cries. “It looks like it’s going to land on its head!” Indeed, the little bag has stabilized itself into a head-first configuration.
“Oh, great,” Rory says, laying his head on the mat and covering it with both arms. No sooner does he complete this act than the doll strikes the pile of rocks and sticks in place. Rory lets out a roar of discomfort and collapses sideways, unconscious. His doll, however, has not moved from its position atop the pile of stones.
“Rory!” Jeff says, raising his hands in the air. “Rory wins....something. I’m not saying what just yet, but he and Lopevi might wind up being pretty happy about this. You guys can all go. We’ll see you at Tribal Council tomorrow night.”
The Survivors, who have all managed to pull the darts out of their respective dolls, explode in confusion. The questions erupt all at once. “All of us? Tribal Council? Tomorrow night? What’s going on? What did he win?”
Jeff raises a hand to silence them. When they are finally still, he says, “Just come to Tribal Council tomorrow night, and all will be made clear. It’s a twist, guys! I can’t tell you everything right now. That would just ruin the surprise.”
The next evening, all sixteen Survivor pile into the Tribal Council area, squeezing together into the new double-wide stump chair configuration. Jeff makes them wait a few awkward minutes, then strides in from the darkness and takes up his spot on his own custom-chiseled stump. “Welcome to Twist Council,” he says ominously. “Let’s bring in our jury. Brook and Dolly, voted out in the last Tribal Council.” The Survivors stare in confusion as Brook and Dolly walk in front of the assembled Survivors and take a seat on the far side of the Tribal Council area. “And let’s bring in the Vanuatu Champion.” Rupert steps out from behind a tree and stands behind Jeff, his arms crossed impressively. “And, finally, let’s reveal our panel of judges.” A torch is lit next to Jeff, illuminating a wooden table behind which sit Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul. An oversized swivel chair at the end of the wooden table is notably empty. Jeff glances at his watch. “Mr. Trump will be here shortly. We’ll start without him.” The Survivors stare at Jeff in unbridled confusion, their faces tense with uncertainty. “OK, first things first. Drop your buffs. You are now merged.” A ripple of surprised conversation runs through the crowd as they throw their buffs to the floor. After a moment or two, when the talking has subsided, Jeff speaks again. “I was just kidding. Go ahead and put your buffs back on. You’re not merging today. That would be a cool twist, though, wouldn’t it? But no, that’s not the twist.”
Suddenly, a helicopter descends from overhead and lands just outside the voting confessional. Donald Trump hops out of the elevator and jogs over to his chair at the judges’ table. “You shouldn’t have started without me, Probst,” he snaps. “You’re fired.”
Jeff ignores him. “These guys over here? The judges? They’re not the twist, either. Rupert?”
Rupert drops a welder’s mask over his face and reaches behind him. He turns around with a flame thrower. Before the judges can react, he torches them and their table.
“Wow, that was easy,” Jeff laughs. “Two more pretenders to the reality TV throne, down in flames.” He turns back to the Survivors. “Islands of Fire, people. Yes, fire is life in Survivor. But it can also be your death out here. I advise you to stay on your toes. OK, let’s get on with the vote. It’s time to reveal the twist. Each tribe is going to vote a member of the other tribe out of the game tonight. As winners of the Challenge yesterday, Lopevi, you get to go first. When Yasur has lost a member, they will vote out one of your own. Rory, as winner of the individual component of the Challenge, you get to vote with them, but they can’t vote for you. Everyone understand?”
“Yeah, but...what are they doing here?” Eliza asks, pointing at the jury.
“Oh, they’re on their way to the cannibal feast we talked about several days ago. But they’re waiting for the two of you who get voted out tonight to join them. OK. It is...time to vote. Lopevi, you’re up.”
The men vote out Eliza, while the women (and Rory) determine Brady is the strongest member of the Lopevi tribe and eliminate him from the game.
As they file out together, Sarge stops Brady with a shout. “Hey, Milkman, what is it you really do for a living? I gotta know. It’s killing me.”
Brady smiles thinly and loops an arm around Eliza’s shoulders. “I’m a secret agent,” he says, his voice silky and rich.
Sarge throws his head back and laughs. “OK, Milkman, OK. I didn’t really expect a straight answer from you, anyway. Have fun at the banquet! I’ll make sure someone covers your rounds when we get home. It’s the least I can do for the nuttiest milkman I ever met.”
And the visions are gone. And not a moment too soon. My back is killing me from sitting on the cement. It’s better than being transformed into pure energy, but I’ll be happy to be back in my office next week, I can assure you. See you then.
Your comments are welcome. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.