About The Kulture Vultures
(and the Plot to Steal the Universe)
“Only five people can save the world. But there’s a problem. They’re dead.”
In the black of the cosmos, the Combine rules over entire planetary systems with an iron fist. Having harvested and destroyed the culture of billions upon billions to ensure that they, and only they, are the dominant form of entertainment in the universe, the Combine maintain a monopoly over hearts and minds everywhere with their terrible sitcoms.
Just so happens that the best pirated culture comes from Earth. The human monkeys might not be smart, but damn if they aren’t entertaining. Earth’s biggest fan, a lowly intergalactic cab driver named Zel, joins a few not-so-loyal companions in a race to prevent humanity’s extinction – by resurrecting Earth’s great pulp writers and scientists. The only ones with enough creative craziness to figure out how to stop the Combine.
It was one of the stranger things on the grid of the Universal Entertainment State: Channel Detritus. Every channel was a planet. Every planet was a channel.
Detritus broadcasted its jive. They spread it around the universe because everybody had started to think like Earth these days: Let’s put on a show!
They thought that they, just like all the other bupkis planets, had something to say.
The lesson of Planet Blue Ball was: Do not to be afraid to try it as long as you feel it. That seed of an idea that now seemed to be planted on virtually every planet, where organisms large and small, dull and bright, felt compelled to tell the rest of the universe whatever the fuck they were doing.
In one spiral galaxy was a body that had renamed itself Planet Scrimm, after the actor Angus Scrimm. They turned Scrimm’s “Tall Man” and the Phantasm films into a religion. They worshipped a steely flying sphere that stabbed you in the forehead with either prongs or an industrial-strength drill.
It wasn’t just the Scrimms. Dreams and nightmares were oozing out of every corner of every gravitationally bound system – even a few where gravity didn’t seem to matter.
There were broadcasts about how shitty every job was; how hilarious or stupid each pet was; what beings had for dinner; whether sex was good or bad; how many creatures God had saved that day or how many the Devil had claimed – technology may have moved on. Primal fears about death and what happens next had not.
There were also planets with very narrow goals: How many farts were cut at the dinner table? Was it all right to surrender to the biologic imperative to kill your lover on first fuck? If you shit in public, should you wipe? Is an automatic weapon needed to run for public office or will a lot of money do? Will life have any meaning or will it merely be defined by the output of my loins? Is there a Supreme Being? What is his phone number? Why is he effectively a deadbeat dad? If we’re so goddamn smart, why the fuck doesn’t anything make sense?
There was one planet that took it all too far, though.
Detritus. Planet Detritus was taking it too far, decided LieutenantKabiddlebopper.
Lieutenant Kabiddlebopper manned the Early Warning station. His job was to watch planets and mark culturally dangerous ones. What he was used to seeing was sarsaparilla and popsicles, Friday night football games, first kisses, Sadie Hawkins Day dances, hayrides, flannel shirts and young’uns in trees.
All that was shit, but it was also harmless.
Now, Planet Detritus had become this other thing. A home of bad smells, ugly for the eyes, sores for the mouth, and sexually-transmitted diseases. It was place where males never get it up, where the cost of gas by the gallon was measured in astronomical units, where people named their children Penny or Reginald or Apple or Biff.
It was the only place in the universe where when they performed a rock & roll show, they talked until the curtain came down. They never played a note. There was no music. And it smelled like hair spray.
On Detritus, they worshipped Earth advertising. Commercials, print ads, radio ads, brochures. It was an elephant burial ground for tasteless hawking and consumerism. Silly String ruled. Colgate was a sacrament. Budweiser was one of the lesser deities. Chevy and Ford two of the greater. And there had been a decades-long war between American Eagle followers and their enemies, the subjects of the Banana Republic.
Everybody lived in cookie cutter dwellings that they claimed had been inversely inspired by a Pete Seeger song called Ticky Tacky Houses. They had the Never-Have-Fun Zone – which always ends with a chain saw.There was a theme park called Little Guy, Big Cock. It played off the urban legend that small in stature meant living large in the sexual dimension. It really pissed off the females of the species. There was the Thin-to-Skin Pavilion. Walk in skinny, walk out fat.
All this might have gone undetected, if it had stopped there. But there was one cherry on the Detritus shit sundae: Ass-to-Mouth.
That crossed the line. One orifice was connected to the other. What came out of their ass went right into their mouth. What exited their epiglottis was sent straight to their rectum. Ass talks, mouth shits.
This, Kabiddlebopper decided, was a sign of the End Times.
He had to alert KKK, even if it was late.
Kahunakrat took the call with a grin. He didn’t need a lot of sleep. Conquering the universe was a full time gig. It required sacrifice. He was happy to give as long as it got him where he wanted to go.
His visage popped up on the vid screen in front of Kabiddlebopper.
“On the same page, Lieutenant. Thank you,” said the Ruler of All Things Large and Small as Kahunakrat now called himself. “People think I act without mercy or reason. I do neither. I am the last repository of reason and mercy, the last wall against this virus. Only I can vaccinate us against this plague. I am hope for the hopeless. I am the surgical scalpel to rid us of this disease. To save the universe, I need to destroy it.”
“Be that as it may, to shit where you eat, frankly, is a contravention of evolution itself,” KKK opined. “It’s ugly in ways never imagined. That cannot be allowed. Since it can no longer be contained, it needs to be eradicated.”
“They don’t respect themselves. We don’t respect them. Redact it. Expunge it. Make it go away, Kabiddlebopper. You have my authority to dispose of this any way you want. Be efficient. Be violent. Don’t leave a nano-particle. Make it gone. I will be watching.
“There will be others. Keep me informed.”
Lieutenant Kabiddlebopper chest swelled with pride. “Yes, sir!” He had done a good job. A great job. And he wouldn’t be killed. He felt superb.
Kabiddlebopper readied the Combine death frigates. He told them, “Make it messy.”