A funny thing happened on the way to Australia. Yeah, Australia. I had a hunch. All good evil geniuses need a hunch, though usually they come separate on their own person.
Unfortunately, neither Penny nor the President could confirm anything, so I said my goodbyes to the Pres and dragged Penny onto airplane. Oh, Moai and Carl came too. I had to ship Moai, but he got full use of my luxury crate this time. I suggested he try something a little light, like “The Importance of Being Earnest” or “John Dies at the End”.
As for the rest of us, a public worked out wonderfully. Penny didn’t understand it, but I like to surround myself by people. I do it not out of any enjoyment of the human condition or anything like that. I’m sure witnesses to my little joke last time around have their own suspicions. But really, no matter how seriously anyone took that, it’s not like I said anything about turning pacifist, now did I? Nope, though I still like to get out in the middle of people in order to better remember why it is I want to slaughter them wholesale. It’s all well and good for philosophers to debate the sublime reasoning of humans, but it’s quite another to see two people’s battle for an armrest set to the soundtrack of a crying baby.
And just like that, my life of killing people seemed perfectly justified. It wasn’t my fault, your honor! The baby was clearly asking for it! After all, the mother gave it milk, a pacifier, a toy, a bedtime story, cooing, singing, and a fresh diaper. Clearly, this baby’s inability to shut the hell up showed it to be dangerously irrational. It may have snapped and killed us all! I mean, who is going to stop a murder baby? People would coo and call it adorable no matter how many heads it bashed in with its rattle, no matter how blood-drenched it got, and no matter how ugly it is. Seriously, I’ve never understood people’s inability to see that. Then again, I don’t always get abstract art. Maybe babies that are so ugly appeal to the same sense of people liking abstract art.
It would certainly explain the significant amounts of poop involved in both areas. That kid was a perpetual-motion machine of bodily sewage. Put in a tiny bit of food, get a tidal wave of crap in return. That little fucker could have solved the world’s power crisis if given enough vegetable paste.
Believe it or not, it’s not me who did anything about it, either. That honor went to Penny. She got my attention by tapping me on the shoulder and directing my view to the window. “I saw something on the wing.”
I patted her condescendingly on the head. “Oh, don’t you fuss. It’s probably just a gremlin or some other sort of creature hoping to bring this thing down. We’re almost to Australia, though, so at most it’ll dump us in the middle of a bunch of sharks or toxic octopi.”
She glared at me. “This is serious!”
Everybody loves to tell me that, but so few of the situations really are. I stuck my tongue at her, but I leaned over her to peer out the window anyway. Typical. She didn’t want to trade me the window seat, but now she wants me looking out it. Wait, typical of what? Darn pop cultural linguistics osmosis!
I didn’t see anything out the window, though I saw something in the window’s reflection. It surprised me. A plane window clean enough to reflect something? It just isn’t done. Next you’ll be telling me Penny was an evil robot sent to assassinate me!
So, anyway, what I saw was Penny’s mouth opening wide and the barrel of a laser poking out. She grabbed for me, but it was too late to hold me still. I wiggled downward and pulled my body away. She activated her oral laser too late and burned a hole in the window.
That sucked. It blew quite a bit too. Cabin pressure problems, you see. Oxygen masks dropped from the overhead compartment. I knew I was supposed to place the mask over my own before assisting anyone else with theirs, but it seemed like a bad time. Besides, Penny turned her face toward the rest of the cabin.
I grabbed her by the throat and angled her head upwards. I didn’t put a lot of thought into then forcing her to carve out a hole I could throw her out of. Looking back, I don’t know if she was a robot from the start, or if Technolutionary replaced her at some point between when I met her and the flight. Hell, I don’t know if she even knew enough to understand what was going on.
I’ll tell you what I did know. I knew she was shooting a laser beam out of her mouth to try and kill me while we were both inside an airplane. Not only that, she managed to get a few last shots in on it while she fell through the air.
On the plus side, at least I didn’t have to put up with any more of her mouth.
So despite a little fire and lots of screaming, we managed to put in a safe little landing in the waters of the Coral Sea off Queensland. It was a big mess. Lots of boats to rescue us, some waiting around, official statements, and then releasing people’s luggage. You’d think it’d be more likely they would have found my armor, but they realized pretty early on they were dealing with a laser mouth. Under those circumstances, they thought a bag check was unnecessary. Free at last, Carl and I made our way to Brisbane to hide out while Moai flew over separately.
The reason we were in town is I wanted to send Venus a few presents so she wouldn’t forget about me. When I thought of what cute and cuddly little critters I wanted to jump out of a box and surprise her, Australia immediately came to mind. I left Carl to prepare for our stay. The usual. Transport, a steady source of decent food, and a list of places of interest. In the short term, the hotel we checked into was more than happy to call us a taxi.
I don’t care if they called us freaky, tentacle-faced motherfuckers. The process helped me acclimate to Aussies driving on the wrong side of the road. Figures. Fill an island with criminals and they all wind up driving in the oncoming lane. On the other hand, it worked out pretty well with all of them doing it.
Anyway, enough about the driving habits of highly alcoholic people. I had to go meet a man about a wombat. I met the fellow at a public bench. He wore a trench coat and a fedora, thereby making my own trenchcoat unfashionable. I sat down next to him and tapped my foot on the ground in a complex code. Then I slid closer and pressed my cheek to his. “Hey, you got the stuff?”
He held up a hand and nodded, looking around with eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. He opened up his coat, reached past the cheap knockoff watches hanging on the inside, and pulled out a big fuzzy puppy thingy.
He held the wombat out to me as it swung its little legs in the air. I just stared at it. He shook it up and down toward me. “Take it!” he hissed.
I held out my hands. “The fuck is this shit? This is a wombat? I mean, I know I saw the pictures, but I expected hidden claws and fangs…maybe giant poison spines. Are you sure this thing is from this continent?” It was a fat, fuzzy, brown rodent thing the size of a small dog and no tail.
The man sighed, then dropped the wombat in my lap and gave it a hard slap on the back of the head. Angered, the critter snarled with its cute little snout and started clawing at me. I growled too and grabbed for its cute wittle paws. While I worried about that, it bit into the front of my coat. It didn’t get through, but it damn sure bit in and held on. As for me, I stood up, holding its front paws and trying to shake it off.
Next to me, the man quickly glanced around, then stood up and tried to get away from my display. I didn’t let him. Trapping him with an arm on either side, tried to dislodge the wombat by ramming my body against the other man’s. “Get off! Get off! Ah! Ah! Get off, you hairy bastard!”
Passerby stopped to watch as I humped the fellow with the marsupial between us. “It’s ok!” I shouted to curious voyeurs. “This isn’t what it looks like! We’ve got an animal between us!” That drew gasps. In retrospect, we looked really bad with both of us in coats like that. You can hide a lot under a coat, like nudity.
Trying to get away, the broker turned and tried to climb over the bench. I grabbed him by the shoulders and held him as I rubbed my belly and the toothy marsupial against him. The wombat dropped to the ground and started chewing on some grass. I let out a sigh and clapped my broker on the shoulder. “It’s ok. It’s released.”
“Please let me go,” the man said.
I stepped back and picked up the wombat. It had calmed down somewhat. I lifted it up and cuddled the little guy. “You know, these things are some fuzzy little evil attack rats. How much for a box of fifty?”
“Fuck that!” exclaimed the unscrupulous and cowardly broker. “I can’t get you that many.”
He turned around and scooted to the side to get away. I stepped closer, settling the wombat on his shoulder. “Now, now. A fellow like you must know someone who can get me a bunch of these things for a little experiment.”
“Get it off me.”
“I think we’ve gotten it off enough already,” I stole the fedora off the man’s head and set it on the wombat’s. I ruffled his hair. The man’s, not the wombat. “I’m new here. I’m sure I could give you a nice finder’s fee for your trouble. And for this guy.”
“Get it away and I’ll hook you up.”
Grinning, I lifted up the cuddly killer critter and set it on my own shoulder, letting it keep the man’s hat. It turns out wombats are excellent at persuading people to talk. My contact there was all too happy to keep his word and give me a name and a number. He relaxed a bit more with the nasty business of wombat combat out of the way, though he had one last question for me.
“What do you want these things for? Who are you?”
I gritted my teeth and stared at him like some grim, angsty avenger of the night. In a voice like gravel, I answered, “I’m Wombatman.”