“What I want to know, really, is where we are.” Lee was aggravated, partly at himself, for following Jason’s directions, and partly at Jason, for being a dick.

“Where we are my friend, is in grave danger.”

Lee looked around. “We are in grave danger in a toy store?”

“This is just the evidence of the danger Lee, not the danger itself.” Jason was in one of his moods. He had probably stopped taking his medication again. Lee tried to think patient thoughts.

“Jason, we are late to the party. Lets ask for directions and get going.”

“No, there is something I need to show you.”

“What? Jason, did you mean to take me here to this toy store? You told me you were lost!”

“No, YOU were lost Lee, I have always known the way.”

“No. You told me you had a shortcut and then you said you were lost. You lied to me!”

“This is important.”

“It is important to me that you tell me where the fuck we are.”

Jason pointed above Lee’s head. There was a yellow digital banner that read in shining digital letters: NJ Toy Emporium, Largest on the East Coast.

“We are in New Jersey.” Jason said.

“I can see that.” Lee wondered how many of their mutual friends he would upset if he punched Jason in the eye.

“I have to show you something.” Jason began running wildly into the maze of giant displays. Lee followed him, despairing.

Jason sprung from behind a pyramid of boxes. “What, exactly, is THIS!” He was holding a grotesque orange globular oozing toy. Lee had seen the nasty things before on DTV.

Lee sighed. “It’s a Bubbit.”

“And what exactly is a Bubbit?”

“Jason, this is stupid.”

Jason glared menacingly at his friend. Lee shook his head and read the package. “A Bubbit is a “˜Interactive Puppet for Aggressive Play! Bubbits will change shape to entertain and amaze! Scare your friends and learn new ways to beat the Bubbit Blue.”

“Beat the Bubbit Blue.” Repeated Jason reverently. “It’s a training device.”

“For ages four to ten?”

“Lee, the situation is dire. We are clearly preparing for Epic Hegemonic Warfare.”

Lee realized that there was no way of getting out of this argument but through it. “Jason, that’s impossible. Other than peacekeeping police actions by the UN there are no military conflicts. The world’s nations have finally done with it. Jason, this is the greatest time of peace since humanity came down from the trees.”

“And you don’t find that suspicious.”

“No Jason, I don’t. People want peace and besides, even if we tried to fight we are all so economically interdependent that it wouldn’t be feasible.”

Jason smiled then, his terrible glinting smile. “Oh Lee, then you finally see it.”

Lee shrugged. “See what?” Jason grabbed Lee’s shoulders and shook him.

“Lee! Do you mean that you can see all that but you can’t see to the next level? The very next logical conclusion!” People were staring.

“Keep your voice down.” Jason grabbed Lee by the elbow and started pulling.

“Do you remember when Ziggy-Stiggy changed voices?”

“I remember a time when my friend Jason wasn’t a lunatic.”

“It was a corporate takeover. Ziggy-Stiggy was popular and totally non-violent. The creator of Ziggy-Stiggy refused to voice the part after the government ruled that the hostile takeover of Ziggy Inc by Brascow was legit. Brascow is highly subsidized by the government, a pawn of the executive branch itself. And what was the first thing that happened to Ziggy-Stiggy when he changed hands?”

“I don’t know, what?”

“He started hunting mushroom people. What does that tell you?”

Lee rolled his eyes. “That the government is preparing us for war?”

“Not us, the children.”

“Why the children?”

“Because something is coming, from very far away. Far enough that the children today will be the ones fighting it.”



“Jason, if that’s true, then we are the last generation that will have peace. If you are right, shouldn’t we enjoy this while we can?”

“You just want to go to the party.”

“Yes. I want to go to the party. Because the aliens are coming.”