The holidays always bring to our minds childhood memories of resurrections, preserved foods, and despotic cabals. Those memories have probably been implanted via high-frequency Omega rays from the Black Satellite, but they are precious nonetheless. Please enjoy this preview of MBOTA: Chapter 2.
The next day, the Overloards called.
Super Patriot Boy woke up early, refreshed but still restrained in his crèche. He lay staring at the dark ceiling, watching the crawling shapes through the canopy. Soon, though, the lights would come on, the shapes would flee, and he would be free to do whatever it was that he did in this world. He had never been very sure of what that was. Mostly, he seemed to sleep, wake up, eat, pass the time, pass the things he had eaten previously, and then sleep again. Occasionally, he died and was resurrected, but to Super, that felt a lot like sleeping and waking up.
Sometimes, before the bedtime gas hit him, he liked to imagine that he had some purpose in this world. Maybe he was secretly a hero that had a destiny to fulfill. Or perhaps he would invent something that would make the world not quite so awful. Or—and this was the wish he had never spoken aloud—he might someday write a book or a poem or a brochure that would give others hope in their bleakest hours.
And then Super would laugh with glee and shake his ugly head as he sucked the gas into his lungs—purpose and meaning were for suckers. Nothing was clearer and more comforting to know than life was a terrible accident full of other terrible accidents that usually ended in a last terrible accident. And no matter how many times Super would be brought back from death, he knew that there would be a last death. And it would be the sweetest one because he would never have to open his eyes on this world again!
He was still reflecting on his current good mood when the restraints unlocked and the canopy withdrew. Super stood and hopped out of the crèche bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to take on an entire regiment of Reptiloids. Those scaly fuckers wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of skinning and deboning Super today! He flexed his left arm a bit and smoothed his flag-kilt before doing a few quick toe-touches to get warmed up. He must have slept very well, indeed, because he felt like a million items suitable for bartering. He wasn’t sure, but he figured that he’d died again. He’d have to ask Flappy about it. He sometimes wished he could remember it, but given some of the things Flappy had told him, he was usually glad that he couldn’t.
Super leapt to the door and pulled his tricorn off the peg. He gave it a quick brush with his fingertips and put it on his gleaming skull, where it sat a flattering angle. Ready to face the horrible, horrible world! He thought that maybe he’d eat a nutritious breakfast and then play a bracing round of his favorite video game, Turnip Harvest IV. Video games were so imaginative! In this one, food—actual food!—grew in the ground, and all you had to do was to pull it up, and it didn’t struggle or plead or bargain with you. It just sat there all compliant and helpless as you cut it up.
He opened his bedroom door and strode into the Grotto’s large main room. Directly in front of him was the ancient pit sectional on which he liked to sprawl. How many naps had he taken on it as magma flares or deep-space gamma ray bursts had kept them all indoors? Super loved the feel of the rust-colored polyester/rayon upholstery, and he thought the rolled arms gave the set just the right touch of pizzazz. The soft yet supportive cushions were both practical and luxurious. Even though this appealing sectional was over four hundred years old, it still offered a sense of contemporary style, and Super thought it complemented the grey stone of the Grotto’s walls and ceiling and floors nicely.
This stylish piece faced the thing Super prized most in all the world—a large video monitor that was secured to one of the walls. How many precious hours of his unnaturally renewable yet inevitably finite lifetime had he spent watching animated critters and their funny antics on the bright, color-saturated screen and its 3560:1 contrast ratio! That was his favorite ratio, and he loved it and all the critters so much!
Sometimes, he wished he didn’t ever have to sleep and miss out on their funny antics—it made him hate Flapman and Gibson and their rules about bedtime. Rules! And sleep! Why should he ever sleep again?! He would outlive those pathetic bastards, and they were just bugs on his windshield, which was an expression he’d heard once. Anyway, they weren’t the boss of him. The next time they told him to go to bed, he would finally slaughter them both and hang their bodies from…
Super took a deep breath. He cut the thought short and stuffed his incipient rage down into the place where he kept all his incipient rage: right next to a generous store of stuffed-down, incipient resentment. And the fact was, Flapman was big and scary, and Super didn’t really want to kill him anyway most of the time. Flappy was his friend, after all. Gibson, he could kill without a second thought, though. But Gibson knew how stuff worked, and that was important. Maybe Super would just slice him up a little. You know, teach that nerd what’s what.
At the far end of the Grotto’s main chamber was the kitchen and Gibson’s workspace, where he did nerd stuff. Super liked the kitchen, even though it was too far away from the monitor for his comfort. But, oh, the food! Cans of mushrooms, cans of beans, cans of meat from an animal called a “chicken,” cans of meat from an animal called a “sausage”. Sausages were from Vienna, Super knew, because he had seen Vienna on a map once. Vienna wasn’t there anymore; Ograh the Kaiju had eaten it a long time ago. Super wondered if the sausages missed their home, and what kind of sound they made, and whether they sank or floated. The meat in the can didn’t float, but Super didn’t think that that was necessarily representative of the properties of an entire, ambulatory sausage. He hoped that, one day, he would find a live sausage. Then he could push it into the water and answer two of his three sausage questions. He wasn’t sure where chickens were from. He had some questions for them too.
Super wandered over to the kitchen, running his hand along the edge of the island that separated the kitchen from the rest of the room. The island had been carved from an outcropping of the Grotto’s stone, and its flat surface was stained and chipped. Gibson liked to call it “the altar,” which they all thought was very funny. Super thought about how many dinners had been held down and prepared there, and the memory of dinner-struggles past ignited Super’s appetite.
He passed the island and moved into the kitchen proper. He knocked for luck on the sturdy wooden post embedded deeply in the stone floor, rattling the familiar manacles that dangled there. The heavy iron door of the pinecone vault next to the pantry caught his eye, but Super knew that he’d better not push his luck. If too many pinecones were missing, he’d be composing Hosing Songs for a month. He opened the pantry and grabbed a can of mushrooms for breakfast.