Robert Duncan-Enzmann

There is a black Project so murky, so obliquely funded, that neither America’s susurrating Congress nor its frieze of passing Presidents know it exists. Or do they?

It’s not one of those enigmatic airplanes crackling about America’s majestic purple mountains, blasting its fruited plains with supersonic boom footprints and contrailing America’s azure skies, or one of those ‘non-existent’ grotesquely shaped things sneaking along above the horizon.

The crisis is less than a half-hour old, and already television cameras are in place all around the hotel, and reporters are inside with portable units, while others mount the fire escapes.

Indeed, this is hard to believe, but President Kludge and the media swear it’s true.

Within the hour, state police reinforced the city police – the hotel’s cordoned-off after a fashion.

What to do? The situation is unique, to say the least. From what Kludge is told, over 800 ladies seem to have ripped off their clothes and vanished. Then to complicate matters, perhaps three thousand children have appeared from nowhere and don’t seem to want to cooperate with or even talk with experts from Child Welfare.

Now President Kludge must ‘handle’ the crisis he has labeled The Wombatron Scandal. How is it that this was allowed to happen? How did he not see this coming? President Kludge tells the people: “Yes, I am commander in chief, but Dr. Vollin’s Wombatron Lab escaped my attention.”

This is not new. When the Colorado Incident occurred, Kludge asked: why was I not briefed, and was told: You didn’t ask.

Kludge rants: “But believe me that this OUTRAGEOUS evasiveness and insolent stupidity will be punished. Imagine saying to ME, the President, you didn’t ask.”

“But,” continues Kludge more calmly as his people listen, “the situation is being dealt with humanely, pleasantly, immediately, and with good taste. No one, and I repeat this, no one has been harmed in any way. And the persons – I cannot say ‘victims’ as they really aren’t victims – the persons involved are being returned to their homes.”

He continues explaining to America’s people at great length. He has appointed an over-over-oversight committee. The information must be controlled, made proper, and correct. Which it isn’t at the moment.

“Makers of gargoyles,” snorts President Kludge.

It’s his ‘best of all’ cliché. It means someone’s hideously distorting the facts and that ‘someone’s’ not just vicious; he’s depraved. A maker of gargoyles.

Kludge’s face reddens with rage. He has a short fuse; imagine his speech to the nation being ridiculed, laughed at, pilloried. Him, the President!

“What? There are no records of missing identical quintuplets?! Call in O-Cubed!” is the executive decree.

America’s gigantic bureaucracy, led by O-Cubed, swings into action. Orders are: “There’s uncounted numbers of missing twins and triplets, hell – missing quints! FIND THEM!”

Scientific wonder scarcely begins to describe the effects of Dr. Vollin’s Wombatron. That is if you subscribe to the theory that there really is such a thing. Not everyone can swallow such a far-fetched story. Many are convinced that he, Maître de Hotel, and his staff murdered over eight hundred ladies that afternoon and spirited their bodies away. Estimates range up to a disposal of a thousand tons.

The news media dutifully runs specials of the government Boyz drilling for secret sub-cellars in the chaotic hotel. Soundtracks of the broadcasts catch the imagination with the authoritative booming of the miners’ drills vibrating eardrums.

Panels of experts, analysts, psychologists, and scientists discuss the kidnapping of 4,000 to 5,000 children for a big pornography ring. Tabloids discuss secret clone factories. President Kludge notices this. He, like most of America, reads the tabloids.

But then, again, there could be a Wombatron. Allegedly it is a miraculous weight loss machine. Kludge’s experts are working on this.

“I’ll soon have another message for my people.”

“Have the spin doctors get it ready,” sneers First Lady.

The situation brings to mind nostalgic memories. Remember the old saying – was it on a valentine? – “Wanna lose ten ugly pounds? Cut off your head.” That was in the old days. The parents of the “dirty bird generation,” oops, “baby boom generation,” thought that was funny. It was the best those old wrecks could do.  The new generation has liposuction.

On the other hand, this generation invented the fat suit. You put on special boots, pointing toes down (it’s real uncomfortable), then put on the suit. You look like you gained 300 pounds overnight and several inches. The suit even pads out neck and chin with what looks like fat.

But the missing ladies were not wearing fat suits.

Party time, party time, party time – America’s media gets it all. Broadcasts it all with a three-minute time delay; they don’t want to be the guests of honor in a government legal luau. It would be just another great American trial with the world watching.

As we say, everything will we play, but only with a three-minute time delay.

Truly amazing is the media’s manipulation of giant cherry-pickers. They’re all around the building. Even more wondrous is their video-recording equipment. They can see through windows, see in the dark, and even see around corners. They get everything. They purify everything. Everything on the record is debated. Media lawyers say: “We can keep it” or “it has artistic merit,” or “the government will need it for analysis.”

Yet the situation is a real one. The Wombatron is a real possibility. Wondrous are the workings of Dr. Vollin’s invention. Hair can be ugly gray, white, sometimes thin, sometimes thick, sometimes thickened, often long. With Wombatron division, the old hair is there on the floor, fallen-out, just like the tent-like clothes have fallen off.

Then, for moments everyone itches just horribly. Everyone scratches. It’s like a million-cootie march about the scalp. As though a million head lice were all feasting at once.

But in no time, “gloralusky!” (as the lean, lively, underfed child in that comic strip “Little Annie Rooney” would exclaim in her rare moments of happiness during her perpetual efforts to escape Mrs. Meany from the orphanage) “Gloralusky!!!!!!!” The little girls sprout magnificent heads of hair. It grows inches per minute. This is all a result of the Wombatron’s scientific effects.

The boys have hair too. It’s not short. It’s wonderfully long. One boy screams: “If you got it!” and the others, also well-educated, finish the sentence: “Flaunt it!”

Inside the building, Hotel Dick interrogates Maître de Hotel.

“3,000!” Exclaims the hotel Dick.

“Have you been drinking again?” demands Maître de Hotel, looking at the hotel Dick, Monsieur Pierre, as he pats his lips with a hanky.

Dick retorts, “I’m good at taking headcounts! Yes, about 3,000, and the vast majority are girls.”

Maître de Hotel, now totally beside himself, shouts: “It’s not how many pink elephants you’re seeing! It’s this whole insane story! Now start from the beginning and explain what’s going on as we walk up there together.”

Even as Maître de Hotel and the hotel Dick reach the door, they’re pushed back inside by a furious group of women. It’s three ladies from the concierge who burst unannounced into Maître’s office, oblivious to all formalities and courtesies: Pandora Seidenlust, Penelope Feinschmecker, and Rebecca von Greifdasding.

Fists on hips, Penelope Feinschmecker shrills, “The Child Nudist Convention has swarmed into our concierge and..”

What nudist convention?” interjects Maître de Hotel, even as the concierge ladies shrill their screed of indignation.

“What kind of a person are you, hosting such a convention!”

“In a nice hotel!”

“We have called the police!”

“And informed headquarters! You nasty man!”

Penelope Feinschmecker adds, “And where are all the ladies from the Embroidery Guild?”

“Yes, where are they?” shrieks Pandora Seidenlust: “The ladies’ clothes are lying all over the place. So, where did they all go without a stitch of clothing on?”

She thinks to herself, “Boy oh boy, what a mountain of fat those ladies must make.

Penelope pipes up in her shrill voice, “And the children! They are all stark naked! How about it, Maître? Explain that!”

Rebecca von Greifdasding now yells at Maître: “Yeah, where are the ladies from the embroidery convention? Are they dancing naked around a goat’s head in the courtyard? You nasty, filthy old man — just you wait until the police get here.”

And indeed, at that moment the police arrive.

“We are here,” announces the lady Police Lieutenant, “to take the little nude orphans to a —”

Lieutenant Voyeur from Vice interrupts, pointing to Maître de Hotel: “And you will come with us! Imagine! Little boys too — you swine! Pornographer! And probably murderer!”

Upstairs there is a desperate cry, which interrupts the accusations of Lieutenant Voyeur from Vice.

“Run, run, get out of there!”

It’s the underpaid ladies and men from Child Welfare are thundering down the hall, beating a hasty retreat. Their first defeat ever, anywhere, anytime.

The little boys thought of it; it’s the kind of things boys would think of, especially little boys with women’s brains and imaginations. But before the boys get into action, the battle is carried by the girls.

Working Together Winning Together was their motto. When the Welfare workers stormed the concierge floor, seizing several of the little girls to drag them safely away into the loving, all-embracing arms of Child Welfare, other girls pitched in to help the screaming, struggling, little victims.

“Stick together, girls!” is the battle cry, and in moments the half-dozen Child Welfare workers are overwhelmed by a furious human sea that grabs hair, clothes, and where necessary, anywhere from six to a dozen are struggling with each arm and leg. It’s an ugly struggle.

Dozens of children are struck with bruising blows even as the adults from Welfare are tackled and subdued. Moods are nasty, tempers are high, and the hurts are significant. Welfare’s not used to being frustrated. Never, till this moment, have they failed to carry off a child, regardless of the level of protest.

Broom handles, dustpans, vacuum cleaner handles, short lamp stands wielded as clubs, and a human sea bring down the Welfare workers. Their faces are soused with fire extinguisher foam, their clothes ripped and hanging off, and they are ejected down the service stairs.

Three of the habitually no-nonsense Child Welfare broads roll down the stairs, legs and arms bound together with wire coat hangers, to the militant shrieks of, “Yo, heave-ho! All together!”

Then, another three big bundles of Child Welfare Avoir du Pois (in France, that’s what they call “weight”) roll down the service stairs. Perhaps, due to their planning, none are injured or even bruised very much, though being tied up with wire coat hangers does hurt.

This all takes place even as Officer Voyeur from Vice prepares to arrest Maître de Hotel for perversion. And now, as everyone knows, this is just the opening skirmish with Welfare and other do-gooders. The boys, led by embroiderer Rosie Good, cheer. A handful of other boys, joined by legions of little girls, get the fire hoses ready to blast back the next wave of Social Workers.

America’s Photo-piranhas, in a feeding frenzy, balloon this wonderful event into a bacchanal. They are good at this. Who can forget President Persimmon’s illness all over the Japanese Prime Minister? Isn’t it wondrous how the photographers were hanging onto 4th-floor ledges to photograph and video all this for the people of the world? As one sour-faced Japanese conservative said: “Nice people in Japan commit hari-kari after such antics.”

Standing atop a cherry picker, equipped with lenses that are the envy of professional astronomers, Roland Soothsayer explains to his adoring audience: “The defenders are alert and ready, heady with their first victory, they stand ready to repel the Child Welfare invaders!”

He points with his fingers, the camera recording every second.

“There! Those are their lookouts at the windows! And here, our super cameras show you what’s happening inside! See their defenses at the elevator shafts and stairways? Piles of furniture, hoses ready, spears made from mops and broomsticks! It’s a battle supreme!”

It’s sensational. Interest levels climb toward, equal, and swiftly surpass the mobs that watched a division of police cars following suspected murderer “Scissors Man” OJ. Without question, this is one of the century’s sensations. Soon, so many are glued to their television sets that streets all over the world are quieter than the moment of America’s Moon landing.

“There are the SWAT teams!” shrills hack journalist Clackseed, as supporting cameras show the sinister, black-garbed men.

“When will they start shooting?” he sobs, as supporting cameras show America’s people the throngs of adorable little children.

“These are America’s finest marksmen. Will they try for headshots? Will they kill as fast as they can, ripping their bodies to pieces?”

America gags. The White House phone lines smolder as protests overload them.

Forever politically correct, Boston Buzzard has a “person” at the “happening.” The Person, in a shapeless ankle-length Kaftan and broad-brimmed hat, drones on to Boston Buzzard’s adoring audience. It’s gripping. It’s a long-running sequence. Brunch is followed by lunch, then, in turn, lunch is followed by “glunch” – that’s between lunch and dinner.

On Bacon Street, a mutual admiration set of Boston’s intelligent people gape at their TVs, almost drooling on their catered vegetarian roast. They watch – enthralled.

None will ever tell, but the boys and girls at glunch turn to loathsome Clackseed’s channel. Clackseed tells it the way it is. He’s a real American. He has a better view, and intelligent people like the boys and girls at glunch can make up their own minds.

“They’re burning their bras!” says Clackseed, and the three-minute time-delayed TV channel shows the scene.

The intelligent people at glunch can’t help laughing at the scene on their TVs.

The three-minute delay of the broadcast lets the scene through: A chorus line of six identical little girls, bare except for an enormous bra they hold before their collective chests. They are high kicking in step like tiny Rockettes. In the background, another group has a bra they are burning on a fish pole.

Clackseed asks his admirers: “What is Maître de Hotel up to? And where are the 800 bodies?”

Suddenly great bangs are heard.

THAT’S GUNFIRE!” Shouts officer Voyeur of Vice.

It is gunfire. Some of the girls are from Texas, and they never liked the government’s Child Welfare bureaucrats, but gunfire is a minor matter. For now, the building trembles with the rumble of high-pressure hoses.

Maître de Hotel, the girls from the Concierge, and various police functionaries rush into the corridor and from there behold the second phalanx of Child Welfare workers riding, stumbling, clumsily surfing a wave of water down-down-down the backstairs, urged on by firehoses.

Cries from below punctuate the sound of water and thumping surfers.

“What’s happening to the hotel switchboard?”

“Everyone’s calling at once and from all over the country!”

It’s true, the children are calling home, and with no instructions to the contrary, the switchboard struggles to put the myriad of calls through. Unfortunately, calls are also going to papers, lawyers, radio, and television stations. Whatever’s going on, there will be no keeping a lid on it. More than a few of the calls are going to foreign countries.

“Should we shut down the switchboard?” an operator cries out.

Useless. The children seem to also have hold of not dozens but hundreds of cellular phones, computer terminals, and whatnot. Whatever’s happening, it will be no secret.

No less than five attempts have been made to storm the upper concierge floors. Two were thrown back in the first half-hour. The next was driven back with sticks, hurled objects, and fire hoses. The last two, when the water was turned off, were repelled by badly aimed but potentially lethal gunfire.

After the water recedes and the gunfire stops, finally, a note is brought down under a white flag: “We’re hungry, please send pizza, soda, candies, and other goodies for us to eat!”

And in a thundering choir of voices, “AND NEW CLOTHES!”

Think of it as a truce.

A caravan of pizza and fast-food trucks arrive, followed by Filene’s delivery trucks. Elevators are loaded. The besieged have a feast, don their new clothes, and then agree via their many phone lines to a conference.

There are many good negotiators among the children.

“I am,” announces the little girl, “Mrs. Blandtree.”

“You’re a six-year-old brat, and —” says Police Colonel Gurney.

Mrs. Blandtree interrupts, “Shut up, Bunny Bear, or we can talk about your nights at the Gaiety Girley with Rosita! And I’m Mrs. Blandtree to you buster,” she adds.

Police Colonel Gurney’s face flushes with red rage. How could she possibly know that!!!

The six-year-old Mrs. Blandtree continues, “And you Gov? Wanna talk about the drainage deal with Gurney, the airport, and Flat Iron Corporation? Let’s see. We can find the accounts in your safe.”

Governor, glaring at Colonel Gurney: “She doesn’t talk like a six-year-old.”

Colonel Gurney: “Shall I get the TV loonies out of here?”

“Haw, haw, haw!” laugh the media men.

“Don’t be stupid,” says the Governor, “after this —”

“Just call me Mrs. Blandtree, Governor Greenbottom, and hear this: You will arrange for all of us to go to our homes.”

“Your what? Your homes? Where —-”

“At once!” retorts the six-year-old, interrupting.

In the White House, President Kludge makes a brilliant, well-thought-out move. He calls the Child Stealers Bureau for records of missing sets of identical twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, septuplets, octuplets, and even nonuplets. Swift and brilliant work by government photographers have worked through the flood of incoming data, discovering that there are at least fifty sets of quintuplets in the hotel.

President Kludge orders the Child Stealers Bureau to study every file concerning missing identical quintuplets up to the age of seven, no matter how many there are!

“That’s where we’ll start,” he assures America’s people. “We can return all the missing children to their grieving parents.”

The people will love him for it.

On the scene of the Wombatron incident, the CIA is there, so are the Secret Service, FBI, Air Force Navy and Army agents, and various unnamed agencies. Some have weapons, some are uniformed, some skulk about in civilian clothes and nicely polished shoes. Their coordination is, well, chaotic.

Someone, who knows who, has moved in several armored cars from different agencies. They all glare at each other. The SWAT teams eat their box lunches and prepare to shoot off one or another rival government agency; they certainly are not willing to shoot at little children. It isn’t in their rules. It isn’t a thing they would do anyhow.

They all wonder: what’s going on?

They are informed that over 800 ladies, well-heeled ladies, from all over the USA have vanished, and nigh on 3,000 small children have appeared from nowhere. It is true. How will this situation be resolved?

Government agents are working on Maître de Hotel, his staff, and indeed everyone in the Family Hotel chain’s management. They have all been taken into custody. None of them seem to have any answers.

And then, a thorough search of the hotel discovers Dr. Vollin of the Institute of Bio-Variometry and his Wombatron. Apparently, the Wombatron Weight Loss Machine exists – with exponential side effects.

Rubber hoses, hot light bulbs, an enema, then electromagnetic thrills with a low voltage cattle prod loosen Dr. Vollin’s tongue about his machine. The members of his lab are also interrogated with various techniques of extracting information; it really loosens tongues. It’s what the intelligence Boyz are paid to do. And wonder of wonders, the captives all tell the same story. A fine job – as they say in the services: “Well done, Boyz.”

The stories from the wicked scientists are consistent but hard to believe. Well, that’s not what the Boyz job is; they just collect the information, confirm it, and forward it to People’s Authority. The Boyz don’t have to believe it.

Meanwhile, the same techniques extract a confession from Maître de Hotel. He has confessed to running a gigantic porn ring, as have all his associates and Family Hotel’s management. All are now held incommunicado. Gurney rushes his report to People’s Authority.

People’s Authority is outraged at the obviously fictitious story that Gurney believes. People’s Authority is dictating a “Dear Sir: Eat my banana” letter back to Colonel Gurney.

People’s Authority is still chuckling when Colonel Gurney’s minions break in, seize him, and drag him to the Family Hotel to see for himself. Seeing’s believing!

In the hotel, People’s Authority, who has now stopped chuckling, considers the matter. So much does not fit. How did the hotel staff murder over 800 people then dispose of the bodies without a trace? Who kidnapped 3000 well-fed, healthy, highly belligerent children and hypnotized them into claiming they are the missing women? Dr. Vollin’s story offers a scenario at least as reasonable as grade-D Science Fiction. Beloved tabloid reporter Clackseed will undoubtedly expound upon both stories on his station.

The hotel’s grand ballroom has been appropriated as a temporary headquarters. Quick fingerprint comparisons of a few that claimed they worked in Defense and Government agencies match perfectly. But how can that be? The workers were adults, and these are little children.

There is the clamor of the media and the uproar of countless persons who claim to be relatives. They are also berated with all manner of threats by all of the precocious and too knowledgeable brats. What is to be done? The children have a plan. Ethel Bushroy Fotheringay demands they all get a phone call.

The hotel switchboard puts a call through to Reginald Bushroy Fotheringay III. Somehow it is broadcast over the hotel speaker system.

“Darling!” says a lovely female voice. “Sweetheart, it’s time we —”

“Ethel? Stop talking like that. You sound like a little kid! Get with it, what’s up? Let me get back to the TV. I was watching the game.”

“I called to say the meeting ended early. We’ll be on the way —”

Reginald interrupts, annoyed. He had plans that will now be canceled.

“What’s with this ‘we’ stuff? That’s how the British Princess Barnbottom talks,” he grumbles.

“Bushy, we’re coming home, all three of us, and we’re now six years old.”

“Sure, so am I, six and a few hundred months. And stop talking like a little girl. At your age, it isn’t cute.”

Bushroy, switch the channel! Listen to the news!”

Bushroy switches to Clackseed’s station.

Headlines read “Giant Porn Ring or the Wombatron Fat Loss Machine – You Decide!”

Bushroy listens to the fantastic stories explained by Clackseed and the announcers. He suddenly loses interest in the ball game.

Clackseed expounds on the headlines.

“Colonel Gurney has reported the collaboration of a hotel with a giant pedophilia ring, which according to people familiar with the situation, murdered 800 women attending an embroidery convention at night and brought over 3,000 children in their place. On the other hand, People’s Authority confirms the rumors of a fantastical weight loss machine with unforeseen side effects – the overweight persons become three or more six-year-old children with the memories of the adult from which they came. Both explanations are hard to believe. Stay tuned for updates as we cover the continuing investigation.”

It looks more like a scifi story than news. He snaps at the voice on the phone who claims to be his wife.

“HEY! What’s this about a mass murder and pornographic orgy putting Ancient Rome to shame? Or a magic machine producing children from fat people! What’s going on? That is where your guild meeting is!”

“It is called the Wombatron Machine, darling.”

“Umm — You mean,” he offers weakly, “I didn’t cross a science fiction channel? Perhaps, I’m dreaming?” he adds as an aside.

“You ain’t unless the whole world is. We’re coming home. All three of us. So be at the airport.”

The speaker system clicks static as the call ends. It is not broadcast to the TV viewers. That would be insensitive.

Negotiations reach agreements. Children will be flown to their proclaimed families and homes on private flights.

People’s Authority briefs State Police Colonel Lamprey, Mass. Gov Prior Mantis, Secret Service’s General Catcher, and the CIA’s Director Skinner. They are here to direct activities at Logan Airport, where most of the Wombatron children will arrive for connecting flights. There is big media action here.  Real authority is needed.

It’s just as exciting at other transportation terminals. At each terminal, the agencies are dispersed in proportion to the numbers, wealth, and political muscle of those traveling – the formula’s complicated but well-thought-out. For, after all, these agencies do useful things with the taxpayer’s money.

Bushroy tools his sleek, over lengthy car toward Logan Airport. His sister and grown daughter (Dreadful Hilda) are with him. Well away from the airport, they meet the first roadblock. Bushroy rolls his window down at the signal of an officer.

“Listen, buster! Either you take the breathalyzer, or your daughter drives!”

Identification at the first roadblock was very thorough. As the police said: “Every Kook in the country’s trying to get to the airport.”

It’s even worse at the second and third roadblocks, and at the last barrier, the cops make them leave their car and proceed in a squad car.

Ms. Nippy Yap, US Attorney General, takes President Kludge’s ‘suggestions’ very, very seriously; no chances will be taken where the safety and welfare of the Wombatron children are concerned.

And in the meantime, countless agents are combing the city for something on the order of 800 dead bodies. Murders do happen, although 800 hefty women would be a record.

Boston, that jewel by the sea, is girdled by route 495 where the missile-lords play and cinched ‘neath the girdle by route 128, where genius builds anti-missile-missile-missile-missiles, giving taxpayers their money’s worth.

But now, this Wombatron crisis arrives. Everyone who’s anyone seems to be involved. The airport swarms with cops, detectives, FBI, Secret Service, Marshalls, State Troopers, and unnamed groups. All have no idea what is really going on. They have orders. Whatever’s going on, nothing is going to be allowed to go wrong. It is a major attraction for not only the curious but every pervert in the state.

Ms. Nippy Yap, US Attorney General, has her teeth in the matter. Until the matter is sorted out, the children will be protected. Nippy loves children. None will be abused while she’s at the helm. The Wombatron children’s interests must be looked after while they are transported home – if they have one.

The governor’s on hand, and the TV crews are right with him following the Wombatron children. The TV crews are here to capture the touching reunions of the families.

A group of Wombatron girls has invaded the lounge. They know what they want and do not hesitate to demand.

“Two fingers – a double! Dry on the rocks and skip the twist!” shrill the girls in unison.

“With liverwurst on rye, and where’s our drink!”

“Look, we can’t serve alcohol to minors.”

“Listen mister, met your daughter at Chippendales in New York.”

Colonel Lampry enters to investigate the commotion.

“Why, Colonel Lamprey! Ain’t seen you since your raid on the Golden Banana,” she announces loudly.

Chaos ensues. Several officers corral the group and escort them out of the bar. As they exit, Bushroy orders a double scotch to replenish his liquid courage.

Dreadful Hilda strides in with three little girls in tow. They claim to be her mother. Good thing he had his drink. He needed it.  He extends his arms.

The TV crews zoom in on this touching reunion. The three pretty little girls smile sardonically. The Governor shakes Bushroy’s hand.

The TV director hollers: “Get the close up with the Governor. Get that wholesome smile and those lovely children warmly greeted by our Governor and his State Police.”

It’s adorable. The TV public loves seeing sweet children.

Nippy Yap oversees the transportation of the children and their families. She takes the newly united families to a cordoned-off exit. The nice Mr. Bushroy and his family wait with her. He is impressed. A big car pulls up.

“A limousine, how nice!” he exclaims.

Men in polished shoes get out and open the doors for the Bushroy family and usher them and Nippy Yap into the car.

Bushroy asks, “Who are these people?”

“Just your friendly State Police and a few people from the US Attorney General’s Office, to keep you company,” Nippy Yap explains.

One man says, “Just settle down in the middle seat, Grandpa Bushroy and —-”

Bushroy interrupts him, “I’m not their grandfather! They’re my wives!”

“Now, now, Gramps, we’re here to help you through your trauma,” says the mustached man with shiny shoes.

A second man with dark sunglasses pipes up, “Be good, grandpa, don’t be naughty. Bigamy is illegal. Child-brides are illegal.”

The man in the front turns around and speaks to Bushroy in deep tones, “Try to calm yourself: We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.”

Bushroy mumbles under his breath, “Ah, the infamous great lie.”

The three little girls now have banana curls; they had stopped off in a beauty parlor to be banana-ed. It’s what they always wanted when they were little. It was all put on one credit card along with all their new clothes. Bushroy has money.

Bushroy, like all the other husbands who now have several underage wives, is in an awkward situation. One that will make lawyers rich. Across the country, lawyers are cashing in on the Wombatron Scandal.

“One class-action suit!”

“Don’t be silly.”

“Fourteen class action suits, eight hundred civil suits, and four thousand criminal suits.”

As luck would have it, amidst hundreds, nigh onto a thousand women at the embroiderer’s guild meeting, thirty were lawyers. They have multiplied at least six-fold. That’s 180 lawyers, but it’s worse than that, for a number were senior partners in sizable legal firms.

What’s to be done? Can a child be disbarred from representing itself? Is the child a child? If so, and due to the effects of the Wombatron you have been multiplied, aren’t you still yourself? And don’t you have all the legal privileges you always had?

It’s all being decided in the courts. The cases are being tried in every state of the union.

With the help of electronic communications, some thousands of lawyers are engaged in a mighty struggle with the government, with the states, with the legal profession, the airlines, the hotel, the Bio-Variometer Wombatron Laboratory, Child Welfare Washington, Amtrak, Macy’s, and a number of fast-food chains. There are real damages and real meat for lawyers.

The tabloids are having a field day with the two inexplicable scandal scenarios. No bodies were ever found, and no missing twins or triplets were ever matched. Science fiction has undergone a revival around the amazing immortality machine of Dr. Vollin. Hard science claims it’s baffled. There has been an explosion of very precocious six-year-old quintuplets in the past five years.

It is rumored that one who wishes to lose all their weight – and it needs to be a lot – can, if they have the right connections, do so in Mexico. It has attracted those interested in life extension practices, immortality seekers, and even those who wish to disappear. This is the reality of the Wombatron.