Thursday, May 25, 2006
"Hey! No photos!"
It was late last night that Overseer Q arrived with his assistant Growing Dinosaur Neil. He comes by once a year or so just to check up on the Agents in the northern hemisphere. Often he just wants to play video games or read the paper, but yesterday he had a specific agenda.
"Flatlander," he said in his rather unnerving high, squeaky voice, "I have a new mission for you, and this one comes straight from the top."
"What is it this time, another UFO investigation? Radioactive dinosaur bones pointing to extra-terrestrial involvement in the Great Extinction? Another Elvis sighting?"
"No, this time it's Top Secret. You're to break off your current activities and take on a whole new identity. No more skateboarding. No more record collecting. Might require a relocation. Further information will be made available at a later juncture."
"But the big record collector's show is next week-end. There's going to be bargains! I still haven't found that Electric Boogaloo album with the instructional manual."
"It's all right. The boys at Intelligence broke the code. We now know how they do that head spin thing, and the bionic worm as well. You are to cease your quest for the manual and focus your energies in an entirely new direction."
"And the blog?"
"The blog will be given over to underwriters, to keep up appearances. You'll be half a continent away by the time the site counter hits 20 000."
Now, Overseer Q doesn't mess around. Still, I couldn't help feeling nostalgic--all those days at the skatepark, all that digging through thrift shops. As an Agent, I'm supposed to cultivate a certain detachment, but it isn't always easy.
"So, when will all this take effect?"
"It already has."
With that, Overseer Q unholstered his anamnesis-ray gun and generated a self-forgetting field. I suddenly realized that the past few months have been an artificially induced hallucination, and that I was actually on a train, in a private berth, with only an attaché case and a bag of Doritos on the little table before me.
My first thoughts were, "Man, I hate Doritos", but of course, all was not as it seemed. As I inspected one of the triangular cornchips and brushed away the film of cheesy orange particulate, I saw writing on the snack food's surface. The words were tiny and seemed to glow with a bluish tinge for a moment, then fade. Somehow though, I could still see the script in my mind, where it was now fully legible--it was photoscript, now permanently implanted in my mind!
I promptly ate the chip, and reached for another. Chip after chip revealed more information: directions, names, maps and diagrams, much of which made no sense to me, though I was sure that their meaning would become apparent in time. When the bag was finished I searched the recesses of the foil interior for any further missives. I found a small cellophane envelope, heat sealed, in which was a folded piece of paper. Was it another clue to my future assignment, or merely a randomly packaged promotional item?
"I'll just have a bag of those Doritos" wink wink.
As I unfolding the paper, a small, 3-dimensional hologram of E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial sprang into animation in front of me. The flickering blue apparition looked at me with its big, kind eyes, and raised one long-fingered hand in a gesture of greeting. Then the rasping, broken voice of the sagacious space creature filled my cabin for a brief moment with the words
"Good luck! And Stay Old!"