Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Only In Ozarium
Synth-Fit Hair

“Has this ever happened to you?”
A man in a suit and tie carries a brief case and walks down the sidewalk when, out of nowhere, a finger of wind lifts a corner of his toupee. He stops to adjust it. He moves on. It happens again, and he repeats the process of what he did before. 
Then continues onward. 
A few minutes later the wind does the same thing. This time, using its entire hand. This causes him to slap his own hand down on the top of his head to make sure the toupee doesn’t take flight. When he turns a corner the wind decides its going to take another swing. It reaches out and snatches the toupee, and if this isn’t enough to satisfy, it pitches it on the ground. 
If it had a foot it’d probably stomp on it too. 
The wind was like that. 
However, the stomp comes a second later. Not from the wind. Obviously the wind does not have a foot. What happens, though, is the flying toupee lands directly in front of a small boy and his mother. Not paying attention to the stealth mode of the hair, the woman steps on it and with a slight slip of her left foot, she nearly loses her balance. 
The man rushes over. “Oh, my! Are you okay, ma’am?”
The lady’s cheeks flush. Clearly she’s embarrassed. “I’m fine.” She grins. “Just clumsy, that’s all.” She looks down. She glances at the man’s bald head. Looks down again. Then back to the bald. “Um. I’m so very sorry about that, sir. I didn’t see your hair on the ground.”
The man smiles. “No worries, ma’am. No worries at all. Sometimes this thing," he points at the fake hair, "has a mind of its own. Ha-ha.”
The little boy looks up at the man and blinks and tries to picture the hair piece coming to life and crawling around on the ground. That’s what it would do if it had a mind of it’s own. At first the boy thinks it’s funny. Then, not so much, because image becomes a bit unsettling. Unsettling enough for the memory of the ghost inside his closet back home who likes to whisper the boy’s name and wave at the boy late at night while everyone else in the house is asleep. 
So, this poor man with sunlight bouncing off his scalp bends down to pick up his toupee and, like some rabid Tribble after the next Tribble to mate, it shoots off down the sidewalk with the help of a gust of more wind and slides under the wheel of a moving car. Then another car runs over it. And another makes it shoot out from under and fly.
“Look at it go, Mommy!” The boy laughs as he points a finger at the flying toupee as if it was most impressive thing he has ever seen in all of his 6 years on the planet. 
All the business man can do is stand there taking the punishment, beat down with embarrassment. The woman tells him to have a good day and drags her son off. The boy still points at the flying toupee. Still thinks it’s a mind riot.
People pass the sad man, paying no attention to the bald guy with a tear in his eye. He wipes his nose and walks to his destination, horrid thoughts stuffed in his head that he has to now face people without his toupee. No one has ever witnessed his baldness. Not one person outside of his house. Not even a coworker. He’s afraid of walking in there and facing the inevitable. Them laughing at him. Making jokes. But, he has no choice. Pride of having that mask of reassurance has withered away like a flower.
He opens the door and steps inside. 
The picture darkens and a scene of workers on a line in a factory appears. 
A tall man steps into view.
“Here at the Gorrack-Shiffler corporation we not only produce robot maids, Tidybots, and Smart-Tats,” he says, “we produce artificial hair for men and women called Synth-Fit. Our toupees are both windproof and both fireproof. We guarantee it. Come by our local shop so we can fit-you-to-size with the correct toupee. This is how our product works: each design has a small microchip that sends a signal to release what we call Feelers. The Feelers are animated microscopic needles which suture themselves into your scalp and connect to your skull. This procedure is completely painless. This is just like going to someone who can perform acupuncture. The Feelers latch on and will never let let go. 
Unless you tell them to do so. 
Download the Feeler app to perform this task. You can program the hair to connect or disconnect or even set it on auto to adjust itself throughout the day. Need to change the style? Prefer a comb over? Prefer a part down the middle? Prefer a part on the side? How about a Mohawk? We’re not kidding! How about spiked hair in rainbow colors? It’d be rad, dude! The choices are endless! Synth-Fit Hair is at your disposal to do as you say. 
“Your baldness will be hidden and you will return to the things you love. Such as riding your motorcycle. Riding your road bike. Swimming laps. Running. Being a hit at the party with a beautiful lady on your arm. Be incredible in the bedroom! The choices are endless!
(Well, we can’t exactly help the bedroom part, but just wait, we might come up with a quick fix soon!) 
“Come on by our shop and allow us to fit you with Synth-Fit Hair, the latest in hair replacement.” 

 This has been an approved message from the Gorrack-Shiffler Corporation™ 

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Only In Ozarium

Gargle w/Glass

Harmonica Cannonball Carswell here. Are you someone who wishes to be blues singer? Are you frustrated? Do you get laughed off the stage cause of that squeaky little voice? Have you tried so darn hard to sing the blues you've torn your vocal cords to shreds? Have you got down on your knees and prayed to our 4 gods to have a perfect, nicotine-infused voice? Hoping those guys will hear your request? 

The unfortunate thing is that those fellas might not be listening.   

I know. 

I've tried talking to the squirts. 

They don't listen to me either, man.

Think they'll waste their time on us? Sheee-it--no! Those guys are more worried about playing the ongoing infamous game of Shifting forward, running the world as it should be. Or they might be playing Scrabble. Or Risk. Or Jarts (Sure, safe for the kids, when used as directed? Really? Are those inventors of the game nuts or secretly planning to kill children? Pah-lease!) 

Could be those 4 gods could be playing a marathon of Dungeons and Dragons.

That'd take a while. 

A long while.

Whatever the case is, dude--or if you're a girl, ma'am--don't worry with those gods. They ain't gonna help. Ya dig? They have better things to do. Like play games.

Now dig it: you don't want to keep getting laughed off the stage because of your squeaky voice, much like that one dude in the pre-Shift movie "The Fly" where the dude's head is on a tiny housefly and screams "Help me! Help me!" before the spider eats it, right? 

Or have someone suggest you buy a karaoke machine and lip sync. 

C'mon! Ya gotta be kidding? Those machines need to be outlawed!

Now dig this: thanks to this new product at Gorrack-Shiffler, your go-to online store on the Gridd, you can purchase the right device for the job called Gargle w/Glass, a replacement for your vocal cords. This device is so reasonable you'd think the price would be like purchasing a piece of furniture for your living room--I'm talking about a footrest, not a couch that seats 10. 

The procedure to remove your old vocal cords and replace with new is completely pain-free. Can ya dig? It's considered outpatient surgery and is performed at our office and will last all of 20 minutes. 20 minutes of your time for a fabulous product with a slice of another 10 left for your recovery time, waking up after the anesthesia; then, sheee-it, you're out the door and ready to step up on the stage and show those people you can sing! 

Not only will you be able to sing, you'll keep your original voice and have the choice of different options, such as making the tone of your voice sound like you swallowed a balloon full of helium--one cool joke at a party! Ha-ha! Or talk like the famous pre-Shift actor Boris Karloff, especially when he narrated the pre-Shift movie "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." 

Other options include performing a British accent. And for all you Kung Fu Theatre fans, dig this: smack your lips and move them like those actors did with someone replacing the foreign language with English translation. You'll be able to perform them both using your new vocal cords. Almost like you've become a ventriloquist and the dummy at the same time speaking in 2 separate voices. 

Can ya dig it?

I can!

Man, talk about being a riot at parties! 

And if you'd like to dig deeper into Gargle w/Glass you can always download the Gargle w/Glass app and speak in different languages. It's easy. Give it a run, man! It'll cost ya couple extra bucks but, hey, why not treat yourself once in a while? 

And once you have Gargle w/Glass installed you'll be making hundreds! Hundreds! Every blues band in the colony will hire you! 

Can ya dig it? 

Can ya?

I assure you Gargle w/Glass is the best product on the market today if you want to sing well. Order yours today. Operators are on standby, waiting for your call. Tell 'em your friend Harmonica Cannonball Carswell sent ya.

Catch you out there in the blues circuit, man!

This has been approved by Gorrack-Shiffler

Friday, February 28, 2020

Only In Ozarium


Smart-Tats! Your colony’s leader in holographic tattoos that specialize in animated holographic designs for your feet, your legs, your left butt cheek, your right butt cheek, your hip, your torso, your chest chest, your back, your ams, throat, neck, face and head! 

"Who wants the sting of the needle from one of those defunct, One Stop Shop Tattoo Parlors? They always claim their equipment is sterile—but do you know it for a fact it is? Really? Check this out: Last year over a 500 people obtained blood poisoning and a flesh-eating virus from a here-today-gone-tomorrow tattoo parlor.  
"No one wants that.
      "No one needs to ever go through that horror.
"So why not try a pain-free Smart-Tat? I can't think of any reason not to. You want to spend money on a good tattoo. We have it for you. Painless. Worried when you age those wrinkles will make your blue elephant holding those red balloons will twist and turn into blue sludge and a splatter of red? It won't happen. Smart Tats never change shape. They continue to stay formed on the skin as a person ages. 
"How about that?
"Plus, Smart tats are reasonable and dependable. The whole process is easy. Simple. To the point. All you have to do is order your tattoo online and it will ship to you free in only 2 days. When it arrives open the box and use the specialized glove included to lift the tattoo and place it on the part of your body where you desire.
“There are so many different designs you will be able to choose from, too. Make sure to give a look at all the designs on our website before deciding. If you don't see what you want, we'll design it for you. 
"No extra charge!
“Decide one day you don’t like where your tat is located? Feel like it should be placed elsewhere on your person? Getting old seeing it wrapped around your ankle? Wearing a Smart-Tat also gives you the option to move the tat from one spot to the other. Really simple. Touch the tat with your finger and move it. 
"Easy as that!
“Love Halloween? Love dressing up in scary costumes? Why not purchase one of our Body Bags with a Shifterchip, a transparent bag you slip over yourself and a microchip you insert into an inside pocket that will shift the appearance of the Bag into a complete costume. You can download as many costumes designs as you wish off our website. The price is extremely reasonable! 
"Please visit www.smarttats.oz and make us your go-to tattoo parlor! 
“We look forward to serving you!" 

Approved by the Gorrack-Shiffler Corporation™ 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Only In Ozarium

Andy Astroh

“Howdy, folks! I’m Andy Astroh! Come on down to my shop, Andy’s Automatons of the Future, located about two kilometers past the Anchor’s Away building downtown, smack dab beside the Pickle Smoothie shop. You can’t miss it. All you have to do is stick that nose of yours in the air and sniff. Ha-ha! Park your air car on the roof and take the elevator down to the 4th floor and see one of my associates. They’ll find you a robot that’ll fit your needs pronto! 
"I guarantee it!
“My associate will show you an automaton that has been fitted inside what we call a Body-Boot made of synthetic skin. Your new robot buddy will look like a human. Awesome, right? And what's even more awesome is that my products are reasonably priced. You can't go anywhere in the colony and find an automaton this reasonable, folks. No kidding! 
"Plus, I'll even throwing in a positronic brain. No robot salesman in their right mind throws in a free brain. It's unheard of! It's horrific! It might even bankrupt a business!
“....But not mine.
“Do you actually think my competition, Ricardo over at Ricardo’s Robot World, throws in a positronic brain for free? Not gonna happen. That guy is so tight he squeaks when he strolls. That guy is so tight he only buys groceries off the table titled Clearance. That guy is so bad he’ll sell you a defunct, half-wit, junk of a robot that giggles and rolls its eyes and whoops and whistles and blows raspberries while doing a Michale Jackson jig across your living room floor.
“Surely, you don’t want that. Do you? 
"Do you?
“If you’re pinching pennies, folks, or don’t have enough dough to keep your old robot maintained or—worse—already have a robot infected with that nasty Tourette Syndrome Virus and does nothing but spat curses at you when you instruct it to clean your house, it is time to buy a new robot.
“Listen: If you actually have one of those buggers with that virus you don’t have to listen to all that negativity day in, day out. You’re the boss—not it. Detach its power source and bring it to me. I will allow you to exchange it for a new one. No joke. I will trade you for one of my best, my finest, machines. Guaranteed!
“I’ll even do one better: I’ll even throw in a life-time warranty. That’s right! A lifetime warranty on any robot you buy from me!
“Who does that anymore? Ricardo? Pah-lease!
"But I sure do!
“Plus….plus….there's more, folks, another plus if you mention this ad you will receive 20 percent off your purchase. 
"Does it sound too good to be true? Does all this sound like I just took a dive off the bridge? Well, all you unbelievers out there get your ass off the couch and come down and prove me wrong. I'll show you that I'm right.  
“So, what the hells are you waiting for? Get down here and see me or one of my associates. We'll get you going with a brand spanking new robot with a fah-ree positronic brain with a life time warranty.
"Until then, have yourselves a great day, have a safe day, and don’t forget to stick those oxygen masks over your face during the upcoming Jupiter Day, the one time of the month when the air is gaseous and lacks oxygen. Safety first!
“Until then, see ya soon, folks!”

This has been an approved message by the Gorrack-Shiffler Corporation. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Only In Ozarium


Two ladies sit on the front porch of a house under a bright sun, each holding a plate of food in their lap. Their children play a game on the front lawn, kicking a ball around. Smoke drifts off a grill in the backyard. Both husbands are in charge of it, fixing hamburgers and hotdogs, each are drinking beer.

“You know, this was such a great idea, ordering a vacation for our family reunion,” one woman says after a chew and a swallow of a hamburger on a bun.

“I agree,” the other woman says around a mouthful of corn on the cob.“Even if this is all a hologram. It’s so real!” Flakes of corn and corn juice dribble down her chin. 

A camera zooms in to view a small mass of dots scurrying from behind the woman’s ear, crawling across her face, consuming the food particles. 

“Betty!” the woman nearly chokes on her food. “What on earth just crawled all over your face?” She almost drops her plate of food. The dog sitting close by licks his lips, ready to snag a bite if that wish comes true.

Betty smiles. “It’s the latest thing to keep your face clean, Cecilia. They’re called TidyBots.”


“TidyBots. It’s the latest greatest thing on the market. They keep your face clean. Here, I have an extra unit. Try it out by clipping it around your ear."

Cecilia sticks it on her ear. “Kinda like a, um, hearing aid.”

“Yep. It’s really neat. You’ll never need napkins ever again! All you have to do is think what job you want to give the bots to do, and they will do it.”

Cecilia eyes were wide. “You mean it has telekinetic ability?”

“Absolutely! TidyBots have a tiny little radar embedded in their system that will pick up its master’s instructions. Heck, they’ll even clean your hands too, if you're too lazy to do it yourself. Ha-ha. Watch this!”

Cecilia opens both palms and the TidyBots rush down her neck and slip under the sleeve of her blouse and perform the task promptly.  


“Here, let me email you a copy of the quick-start guide from my Recog electronic tablet and a password to use. Make sure you tell them the correct commands. If you flub up, it could be dangerous.”

Cecilia blinks. “Dangerous?”

“I don’t want to alarm you, but there was a case where a woman’s face was scraped clean of her skin. They said those things didn't stop until they hit bone.”

Cecilia gasps.

“But don’t let that scare you. Gorrack-Shiffler snatched fixed the defect. They only want  consumers to be aware. It’s kinda like those ads for new medicine. They always warn you of possible side effects, right? Same thing here. All you need to do is make sure you perform the correct commands. I had to do it when set I bought them. Make sure you think of a good password, though.” She leaned over and added: “That way, no one can steal it and use it for themselves.”

Cecilia frowns and does some thinking. “Didn’t Gorrack-Shiffler make that weird toupee for men?”

Betty chuckles. “Yeah. It was guaranteed to never fly off your scalp no matter what happens.” She stuck her hand above her head and flipped it up.

"Strong winds."



“A cat jumping on your head and grabbing a claw full of hair!” 

The women laughed.

“Oh, I really got to try TidyBots!” Cecilia downloads the TidyBot instructions on her own Recog. “Interesting!” she said after reading the quick-start guide.

“Try it out! Eat something and be sloppy about it!” Betty taps her friend’s knee and giggles.

Cecilia takes a big bite off a chicken leg and lets the juice drip off her chin. She thought of the words CLEAN ME and automatically the TidyBots scurry out from behind her ear and do what they were built to perform. “Ooh! That tickled! Handy little snots, aren’t they!” 

“Yep! I use ‘em wherever I go.”

“Well, so will I.” Cecilia smiles.

The picture pans backward and makes the two women on the porch blur. Bold black letters crawl across the screen as an unseen man’s voice reads: “TidyBots! The human flesh cleaner! Purchase TidyBots today and receive one free, plus your very own holographic vacation! That’s right! We’re giving away a FREE vacation! Why leave your home? Why pay for one of those expensive virtual travel agencies in to book your family vacation? Why pay to kennel your family pet? Stay home. Relax on a holographic beach holding your favorite drink. Enjoy the sun and waves of the ocean. Or wherever you choose. Act today!”

Another voice, this one a woman’s: 

“This holographic scene was designed by us, the Gorrack-Shiffler corporation. To order TidyBots call 1-800-tidybots-clean-me and make sure you mention watching this commercial. You’ll receive your free holographic vacation.

“Remember, TidyBots is always safe…when used as directed!"

* Coming soon: TidyBots’ Framework, cleaning each pore and spec on the human body! You may never, ever, need to bathe again!

This has been an approved message from the Gorrack-Shiffler Corporation™ 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Only In Ozarium


The sun above blazes. A temp of 65 with a soft breeze. In a nice suburb a man jogs past a house, throws his hand at an older lady enjoying the peacefulness of the morning on her porch, sipping on great cup of coffee. 

The lady waves back with a grin.

The jogger turns a corner and passes more houses, hears a few barking dogs, throws a wave or two at folks sitting on their porch or getting ready to mow their yard. When he passes a two-story brick house he stops, sticks both hand son his hips and sucks in some air. He checks his watch. Then bends to tie his shoe. 

The front door to the brick opens and a man steps out, carrying a briefcase. Before taking another step he hesitates. Turns back. Smiles. Leans forward. 

He and his wife embrace.

He continues the smile as slides behind the wheel of his air car in the driveway. He notices the jogger and throws a wave. 

The jogger returns the gesture.

All is well in this perfect little suburb. Much like all is perfect in this husband's world. A good wife. The best in the world. Approved by the corporation they are going to start working on having a baby. Something they had been talking about for over a year. They live in a great neighborhood. He works at the largest employer in the colony, the Slader Corporation. Receiving his engineering degree was not easy. It took long hours and a lot of coffee with a slice of patience. But it paid off. It paid off so well that it scored him a 6 figure salary a year. Pretty good going from working as a manager at bork Burgers. Thank the gods the corporation gave him the substantial training to do what he is employed to do for them. If this top secret experiment goes well, it will solve the high crime rate in the colony for good.

The jogger stands on the sidewalk and shields his eyes from the sun to watch the air car blast into the sky. He sneers and wastes no time taking a leap and bound onto the porch, ripping the screen door from its hinges and crashing through the front door of the house and finding the wife in the kitchen and attacking her. 

She has no chance. In the blink of her blue eyes her world goes sideways.

“No one wishes this to happen,” a man says as the picture goes dark, “ever. No one wants to receive a call at work their loved one is hospitalized because of a break-in at their own home. The result would be horrific, traumatizing, causing the victim never return to a place they could once call a safety net; a home where they have always been safe and sound; knowing that it could possibly happen to them again.”

The unseen speaker makes his appearance. Tall. clean cut. Suit and tie. 
“Here at Gorrack-Shiffler we have developed the best in security for such dreadful things happening such as this. So why not pay the money and get the best in security these days called Fragments? An invisible electrified screen that will stop intruders in an instant. We guarantee it. Don’t worry about buying another costly security camera from the local consumer electronics retailer store, or one of their fancy high-dollar doorbells to spy on folks who step on your porch and steal your package. I find that masquerade equal in engaging in voyeurism activity.  
“Folks, we have a solution for your problem. We guarantee it.  “One word: Fragments. Invest in it. It is best in security on toady’s fluctuating market. You will never be dissatisfied with our product. You will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that you are safe at your own house. We guarantee it. 
“Just remember one thing: Fragments, safe when used as directed. 
“If by chance you are not satisfied with this product of ours, there is no worries. Seriously. Your money will be returned 100 percent. We’ll even throw in an extra 50 percent as a big Thank you for taking the chance to try our great product. 
“How’s that sound?
“Installation of Fragments comes with no out of pocket expense. Free of charge. Allow our professionals install it for you while you sit back and enjoy your day. You will then be able to using an app on your phone enabling you to control Fragments, setting it to ON, or setting it OFF. The app also gives the consumer an option to activate their product by voice recognition.
“Now, let’s return to this house invasion again, rewinding it, showing you what will happen if this young couple purchased Fragments.

In a nice suburb a man jogs past a few houses, throws his hand at one older lady enjoying the peacefulness of the morning on her porch, sipping on great cup of coffee. 

The lady waves back with a grin.

The jogger turns a corner and passes more houses, hears a few barking dogs, throws a wave or two at folks sitting on their porch or getting ready to mow their yard. When he passes a two-story brick house he stops, sucks in air, checks his watch, bends to tie his shoe. 

The front door to the brick opens and a young man steps out, carrying a briefcase. Before taking another step he hesitates. Turns back. Smiles. Leans forward. 

He and his wife embrace.

He continues the smile as slides behind the wheel of his air car in the driveway. He notices the jogger and waves. 

The jogger returns the gesture.

All is well in this perfect little suburb. Much like all is perfect in this husband's world. 
The jogger stands on the sidewalk and shields his eyes from the sun to watch the air car blast into the sky. He sneers and wastes no time taking a leap and bound onto the porch, ripping the screen door from its hinges and a second before crashing through the front door of the house a horrid realization punches him in the face. His intrusion has changed tactics, a turn for the worst. 
For him.

He has no chance of retracting his move. No chance of pulling back his forearm which begins a quick turn of events that makes his scream crawl from the bottom of his stomach into his throat beginning with the flesh, muscle and sinew slicing away from the bone on his upper arm in perfect cuts, perfect little cubes of red and skin. 1 inch long by 1 inch width. The skin on his shoulder flays off with a flap, like a bird scrambling for cover, but not before grabbing hold of a long strip of his back and yanking hard. His face becomes the next in line—there is no stopping now, a non-stop flight to Boston—and in a blink more red cubes are grated. Nose. Lips. Fat cheeks. Eyelids. Both ears.

Now a vacancy of flesh, the brain completely dissolved inside the realm while Fragments burrow into the eye sockets and hollow out the skull, there is nothing to direct the corpse, nothing to steer this intruder’s intent, nothing to make it stop as the rest of the corpse—once 200 pounds now a mere 140 if that—is chewed into chunks like the predecessors. The fine cuts are  much more accurate than a top chef welding its butcher knife working in an expensive restaurant cutting apart a slab of beef. 

The remains of the jogger spill onto the foyer’s floor with a few splats and slides, as if being a catch-all for the red meat. With the help of a free Dissolve pad upon purchasing Fragments the floor’s color changes to a bright blue as intruder’s chunks touch it.

The only thing remaining is the intruder’s skeleton, a pile of unmovable parts. 

If the customer who stands there wiping off the dish soap using towel didn’t see it, she wouldn’t have believed it. 

She smiles.

And calls her husband. “John? You’re not going to believe this. It really worked. Yeah. It really worked! Oh, sure, I’m just fine…Nathan? Nathan is great! He’s asleep. Didn’t hear a thing. This was such a great move for us, honey. Thank you very much!”

“Do yourself a favor and invest in Fragments,” the suit and tie says. “You will not be sorry. We guarantee it. We’ll even throw in an extra Dissolve pad to stick on your front porch catching intruders in mid-step before reaching your doorknob or even that mischievous guy or gal who loves stealing your package.

“Just remember, Fragments is safe, when used as directed…”     

This commercial was paid by the Gorrack-Shiffler Corporation.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Only In Ozarium

The revisions of Ozarium are finished. Thank the gods. It took clubbing Discouragement over the head and stuffing it in trunk and dump the pathetic creature in the river (please don’t tell anybody!) and then me driving off with a big smile on my face. This gave me a chance to work on my book. I really, really hope you dig the version when it’s released. This time it reads much better than the last. The original was a complete mess. Big time. You can thank the literary gremlins and Discouragement for making that happen. Should have dumped that creature in the lake long before now. Should have known better to listen to those guys. So, until the release, to promote the book, I'd like to start by sharing a few oddities--guess you could even call outtakes from the original novel--called "Only In Ozarium". If you like watching goofy commercials you might just enjoy these.  

 Only In Ozarium

Martha, The Rat Exterminator

“Do you know me? I’m Tyler Jim Bobby Elrod the third. You can call me Tyler for short. When I’m not on working at my store or sitting at home in my undies eating Cheese Puff Explosions In Your Mouth and watching the Sledge Hammer put a smack-down on his opponent in the ring I don’t worry with dealing with pests. Don’t have time for that nonsense. Or bugs. Big ones. Big black ones with eight legs. And, if you’re like me, and not one uh those uppity, nose-in-the-air-because-I-drive-an-air-car-worth-more-than-yours-and-make-a-six-figure-salary-that-you-do kinda people living in their sterilized communities in sterilized houses and eating sterilized vegan food and drinking sterilized water you just don't have access to your own pest control device. 
“So why not purchase Martha the Rat Exterminator X? It’s the best one out there. It's very reasonable. You can even finance it. You won't even have to give blood or sell a kidney or sell a pinky toe to purchase it. 
“Look folks, you need to rid those monsters from your home. Clear and simple. This is the best way to do it. Those things can ruin your lives. They did mine until I took charge and ordered a Martha. You need take control of your own kingdom. You need to rid those rats from the village. Those nasty creatures are dangerous, filthy, despicable rodents! You sure as heck don’t need ‘em roamin’ around in your double-wide mobile where your family sleeps. All my kids—the ten from the five marriage I’ve had—are safe n’ sound in their home with a Martha. I made damn sure of it. Believe me, even if my ex’s won't agree with anything else I do or say, they agree with a Martha on duty at all times. 
“To show you how valuable a Martha is, let's check out a family who was in dire need of one..." 

Rats invade a double-wide mobile home. In the living room they scurry everywhere. They take a leap off the back of the couch and a bound onto the floor, missing empty beer cans. And surrounded by these cans sits the man of the house in his favorite recliner. His head wobbles. His eyes are glassed over. Obviously this man is drunk. His mind could be stuffed inside cloud nine, but, in all actuality, is swimming in cloud seven while he plays tug-a-war with a rat that is desperately trying to steal his bag of barbecue potato chips. 
In his incoherent alcohol-induced language he mumbles,  meaning to say, “Let go of my chips, rat!”
The rat understand this. The creature bares its teeth and hisses.

In the kitchen the man’s wife is making dinner on the stove. Government canned meat surprise: artificial onion, artificial potato, artificial dill pickle, artificial mushroom-flavor, added with nutritional vitamins, the only thing worth while in this mess of artificial. The smell of the food wafts through the mobile home like a moving shadow. The smell alone could stain the walls and ceiling for all eternity because this young mother uses so much lard it could easily be smeared on the linoleum floor and be used for a skating rink.

This poor wife has grown so tired of dealing with these pests which are running back and forth on the kitchen floor. She feels that she's wasted her life fighting them. Originally her dreams were to be a ballerina instead of a wife married to a husband that gave her six kids. But she loves her kids. She loves her husband. She loves her family more than anything in the world. Unless the world came knocking on her door and congratulated her on winning the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes. And what would give this fantasy more of an incentive would be the famous actor Roger Rigatooee waiting for her in his expensive air car, the only one in existence that can do mach 7. 
Then she'd be out of this damn dump.
For good.

In a single bedroom where all six children sleep the rats are in full swing. One little girl of about six screams when ten rats take chase after her out of the room and down the hall. The second child, a nine year old boy, a child with more courage than his petrified sister, has watched so many Friday Night Kung Fu Theatre programs he has mastered a set of nunchucks. Proudly, he fights off furry beasts one by one, knocking them this way and that. 

Bruce Lee would be proud. 

The third child is another boy, close to eight, who loves westerns. He loves watching them so much he has been sneaking his father’s pistol out of it’s shoebox in the closet for a year now, standing in the mirror admiring himself while wearing a cowboy hat, acting all Black Bart-like. He’s even fired the gun at empty beer cans, glass bottles, a neighbor’s shed, a neighbor’s window, a neighbor’s old vintage Chevy Vega, a neighbor’s mailbox, at the neighbor while she was at the mailbox, at the neighbor while she was running away, at the neighbor when she tripped and fell—the bullet missing her scalp by millimeters—, at the neighbor when she got back up and scrambled into her house, and at the neighbor when she barely got inside her home. With this training he felt he was ready to take on anything and has used it wisely by not only shooting holes in the bedroom wall, blowing apart a model of Chainsaw Freckles, shattering the bedroom window, shattering his piggy bank holding a whopping twenty pennies, he’s managed to shatter the wall screen his parents dug out of a neighbor’s garbage. The television already had a large crack split down the middle, anyway.
No big loss here. 
All this he performed, in a Black Bart-like fashion. 

The last child, a toddler wearing a diaper--a specialized diaper developed by a company swearing up and down their product does not leak--leaks a healthy pocket of feces where the legs fit snug against the elastic. This minute the child is surrounded by a group of rats. They are hungry. And they are drooling. Evidently they couldn’t score a scrap in the kitchen and have decided to go elsewhere for take out. 

What's funny, though, is this baby hasn’t a worry in the world. She looks at them and goo-goos and gah-gahs and laughs and claps her little hands. 

A second before the rats decide to make a meal of this weird-sounding creature the front door bursts open, ripping from its hinges. A white fog curls around the legs of a figure that steps into the living room. The face is set in a scowl. Red eyes sink into her eye sockets. There is a curl of the lip. The camera shot makes Martha the Rat Exterminator X appear ten foot tall when she is only four foot seven. She is grey-headed, wears a colored blouse and slacks, and looks quite mad. 

After the husband lets loose a riveting, projectile burp with a spray of washed down beer sending a flutter down his esophagus, he loses his tug-a-war with the rat and curses. Then, while his brain catches up, he notices a savior in the mist: “Holy jumpin’ gods in their bubbles! 'Bout time ya, got ‘ere, Martha," he wishes to say, but his incoherent alcohol-induced language doesn't allow it, making his voice a undistinguished babble. 

He tries standing up and he falls back into his recliner. His brain just isn’t functioning properly enough to allow his legs to perform the duty.

“With God as my co-pilot, I swear vengeance!” Martha the Rat Exterimantor's voice crackles through a tiny speaker hidden behind her non-movable plastic lips and follows it with a fist in the air, as if she was getting ready to lift off the floor and fly.  

Bright red lights flicker inside her pupils. 

Martha is ready for work. 

She pops two shells in her shotgun’s breech, targets a rat, pulls the trigger, and splatters not only it, but catching three  more in the spray, even chewing holes in a wall next to a bookcase which has not seen a single book on its shelve since it was built. 

Rats scatter, taking notice to this horrifying sudden turn of events. They aren’t worried with potato chips. They aren’t worried what’s cooking on the stove. They’re definitely not worried about eating the toddler. They’re actually more worried about saving their own fur.

The shotgun goes off again, washing rat blood and rat guts all over the wall. Another blast and pieces of fur and a slice of a rat head lands smack dab inside a pan on the stove. 
The wife scoops it up. “Yuck!” And flips it over her shoulder and continues working on dinner. Can't waste food in this house no matter what.

Three more rats explode. Their bodies splatter against the mirror where the husband usually admires his ever growing belly. Walls become washed with rat. Panelling on the walls become washed with rat. Lamps. End tables. The coffee table. The wall screen featuring reruns from a pre-Shift era. Each rat is picked off one by one as if they starred in a shooting gallery at the county fair. 

Once the job is done, Martha the Rat Exterminator X stands in the living room, an uptick of her chin, proud of her work, cradling the shotgun, obviously approved of her mass murder. “This house is clean.”

Now the double-wide is in ruins. Large holes are punched in the wood paneling and some of the pieces scatter on the floor. Family pictures are disintegrated. Wires hang out of the shattered wall screen like twitching, multicolored worms. So much for the viewing of reruns. The window in the living room is completely shattered with free A/C for all, thanks to the cold wind blowing outside. 

However, there is an upside to this: the family are as happy and as content as if redneck Santa Claus pulled up in a four-by-four Ford F150 with a rebel flag waving in the wind and gave them all presents and an empty Mountain Dew two-liter plastic bottle to use as the reservoir to fit inside their 1969 Chevy Camaro's engine, the same vehicle that has been on blocks for five years in their front yard.  

“Glad ya saved us, Martha!” The husband has managed to perform his vocabulary. He attempts to stand up, but slips on a congealing pile of rat blood and fur on the carpet and lands face-first into another pile of it.

The kids gather around Martha and laugh and hop up and down and celebrate—except for the toddler who’s diaper is still jammed with poop. The girl is slow-to-crawl into the living room. Martha notices the little girl and reaches down and picks her up and places her on her shoulders. 

Toddler fecal oozes out of the diaper and down Martha’s back.

“Dinner’s ready!!” The wife strolls out of the kitchen, holding a large bowl of the greasy substance that looks like a cross between sausage gravy and black mold and what is inside the toddler’s soiled diaper. “Who’s hungry?”

Her family raise their hands. Except her drunk husband who attempts to rise back up wearing a mask of rat blood. His speech has returned to the incoherent and falls back in the muck, passing out.

The picture switches back to Tyler Jim Bobby Elrod the third. “Boy did that family have a time of their lives, eh? What are ya waitin’ for, folks? Put that twelfth beer down and get off that couch and get your butt down here to Tyler Ray Jim Bob Elrod’s and visit our Rodent Quarantine And Kill department and buy yourself a Martha. She’ll be mighty fine to ya and will take good care of your problems! And don’t worry about the wreck of the double-wide, we are one hundred percent sure Slader Corp will offer its assistance for your loss!”

This message is still pending approval from the Slader Corporation™