My hunchbacked manservant hobbles into my lair, in the left eye socket of my skull-shaped swamp fortress, and he trips over a cat, drawing a hiss and a squawk from it. He goes to kick it but misses, and nearly drops my glass of whiskey, and then gets his balance and screams a few obscenities at it as it scampers away.
The winged monkeys flanking my wall of video screens exchange the kind of looks kids do, when their grandma shows up to a cookout hammered with a creepy, half-dressed gigolo. I clear my throat at them and they straighten up, planting their spears firmly and getting serious.
My manservant’s name is Skinny Clyde – I didn’t name him that, and he’s not skinny, I guess it’s supposed to be ironic or something. There’s a temp service for minions and henchman and whatnot, and let’s just say it’s a pretty deep pool. You never know what you’re going to get.
Skinny Clyde wears a hood because of a horrifying facial disfigurement, so there’s not much to describe about him, except he’s pudgy, and dresses like the guys who steal droids and resell them, in Star Wars.
“Master,” he says. “I bring terrible news from the blogosphere!”
I keep telling him to just call me Tommy C., but it’s like he just can’t hear that. I take the glass of whiskey from him and let my adorable white lap dog sniff at it, and then I reply, “Yes, I know. I’ve felt a disturbance within it for several days now. Just give me the gist of the problem, and then I’ll blog it into submission.”
Skinny Clyde drags a club foot over to a side terminal next to my gargantuan, prehistoric-shark-jaw throne, and taps at a keyboard for a moment, while I sip my whiskey and smack my lips around it and go, “Ahhhh.”
It’s two o’clock in the morning, so Future Tom Headquarters is illuminated only by screen savers and torches mounted on the wall. Skinny Clyde hates switching out the torches all the time, but this isn’t a daisy farm, is it? He could always be a hunchbacked waiter, or a hunchbacked car salesman, or he could go back to school. Hunchback probably means Pell Grant, if he’d just take a couple hours and check it out.
“It seems that another blog has emerged on the Internet,” Skinny Clyde tells me, still typing. “On WordPress, no less, just like The Curse of Future Tom.”
“Impossible,” I tell him with a wave of my hand. “There is no more room on the Internet. We took the last spot, remember? That guy who tap danced and sang songs, sold us those lightning rods and the web address? He pinky promised.”
“No, Master. I don’t remember him.”
“He was right here. That’s where I got the deed to this place. He wore a big top hat made of nachos, and an eye patch?”
“Nonetheless, the new blog has been verified using Facebook Technology. It’s very real.”
Something screeches out across the Everglades, as an alligator eats it perhaps – a chilling omen, if you ask me, you know what I’m saying?
I lean back in my throne and make a steeple with my fingers, thinking all right calm down, let’s get a bird’s eye view on this here situation, before we get all excitied. “Tell me more about this, new blog.”
The dim lighting is perfect for the holographic projector, and when he turns it on, I slam down my drink on my desk. Rotating in front of me is a three dimensional image of my old nemesis, his head shaven, his eyes like leashed-up porcupines, full of coffee and set ablaze.
I leap to my feet, being careful not to drop the dog. The last time I saw this man, he was blogging in an abandoned warehouse, right before it exploded.
“Joe Oestreich,” I whisper, not believing it. Yet there he is, risen before me like a ghost from my past.
“You know him, Master?”
But I don’t answer him at first, transfixed by the image above my desk – I should have known this day would come.
After a nice, dramatic pause, I finally reveal, “We used to blog together back at the Blogging Academy. One day there was a blogging accident – ten people died. Joe caught the blame for it, but we both knew that…”
“He’s very talented. He’s published several articles in actual magazines – you know, the kind made of paper, that you get paid for writing in?”
“I get paid?”
“No, Master. You sit around writing for free all the time. For some reason.”
That makes me cock my head a bit. “Indeed? Hmmm. Tell me more about these, magazines.”
More typing and then copies of Esquire show up on one of the seventeen wall screens. Also Sports Illustrated, Barrelhouse, and more – what’s that, a literary review? Why doesn’t this guy just get out his Writing Cycle and start roaring around me in circles, doing wheelies?
“That’s it,” I tell him. “I’ve seen enough.”
Then I turn to the winged monkeys, who were starting to slouch again a little bit and snap to attention. “You two – eliminate him.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” Skinny Clyde tells me.
“We can’t really fly,” one of the monkeys says. “Just having wings, that wouldn’t do it – it’s a matter of physics. Our wings would have to be like fifty feet wide.”
“You’re having another psychotic episode,” Skinny Clyde explains. “I’m not real and neither is this room. You’re sitting in your garage at a cluttered desk, giggling to an empty room.”
“Damn it!” I bellow, throwing the dog at the winged monkey on the right. “Very well. Nothing fights psychosis like blogging. Engage the Blogotron.”
“Master, you’re just going to sound like an idiot. Seriously. Bristol Palin got engaged today to that same dude who knocked her up and then posed in Playgirl. Maybe, blog about that I’m thinking?”
I stare at the rotating face of my old arch enemy.
“Oh, I’ll blog about him,” I whisper to the various manifestations of my most recent psychotic episode. “I’ll blog about him… forever.”
And all the way out in the swamps, the bats and googly-eyed wildcats and weird-looking swamp owls exchange really tired and uncomfortable glances, as my diablolical laughter engulfs the night.