That daft Dr. Wormwood, with the apparent help of a number of Rejects, had finally put the finishing touches on his newest model, the Super Dirt Star. Larger than its predescessor and nearly thrice the three dimensional displacement, it was now the ultimate vacuum in Very New Havana, prominently displayed in the window of the dubiously credentialed Dr.’s Vacuum Emporium and Air Supply. And when activated it sounded… Todd wasn’t sure. Hinky. The kind of sound you’d go a lifetime and never place. It was, in a word, unmistakable.
Todd wrote the last of his entry and carelessly tossed down his Better NASA Space Pen®, pretending for no-one-else-for-he-was-alone’s sake that he wasn’t captivated by the pen’s rolls and bounces across the mahogany veneer of his crepescular desk, onto the chrome and foiled titanium floor. He turned his attention back to the dispatch, folding it neatly and purposefully as he had been instructed. Lighting his nearest stick of red wax he lifted the liquefying organic compound squarely above the freshly licked and pressed envelope flap and slapped his big brass T down for the seal. With a knowing wink that only Todd would think to give to an inanimate object, he addressed this one to George Lazenby, President of The Universe, Incorporated and Mayor-Elect of the Bermu-Delta Exclusion Zone, and, secretly, sort of, his boss. Lazenby was going places and Todd knew it.
The second copy Todd addressed to Bearnice, his literary agent and biggest critic. He gave that envelope no such wink, as he could already imagine what she’d have to say to such a bold and unbibliographied work of intelligence.
Todd reached into the secret compartment below his desk and retrieved the appropriate canister for the day, placing the letters into its aluminum receptacle before twisting it shut and walking it to the exterior bleached birch door. He tucked the smooth metallic communication apparatus behind the unkempt fern below the coat stand where his droid Unit 8633 Joe’s overcoat was curiously not hanging. Soon the droid would have to fend for himself, thought Todd, wherever that imbecile was.
His work complete for now, Todd mixed himself an absinthe and Tang and settled his gaze out the slats of his Venetian Space Blinds onto the fading light over the Very New Havana skyline. He noted the swiftly changing hues of the partially artificial lagoon surrounding the surprisingly affordable Bermu-Delta Hilton. With the approach of evening the air was thick with the lusty croaks of the lagoon’s radioactive frogs. Todd wondered if the apparatus was still behind the fern but daren’t look. He knew it was a good place to hide things. Lazenby himself had taught him that, but he wasn’t precisely sure how things worked from there.
A few more absinthe and Tang’s and Todd was thinking of mustering courage. A bowl of cereal, a few lines of powdered iridium and one-maybe-two-tops more drinks and he’d be ready to complete his mission. The room long since darkened, illuminated only by the glow of the frogs and the reflection of whatever they were supposed to be calling the moon these days, Todd had wedged approximately 30% of his body back into the taffeta dress. Tattered and stained, its folds creased over in unflattering ways, Todd still considered it his best disguise by far, and as long as the heels held up he would continue to wear it.
And it was right there and then, grappling with the synthetic silk cross-straps that are supposed to somehow go around and under his armpits in a way he could never quite get right, that he heard it. Through the din of the frogs and the rattling rumble of his hotel air conditioner, he could hear it, hinky and unmistakable.
The whole place was about to suck.