by Steve Ford


Margaret took a closer look at the plastic bottle.

  Try these other Suave Naturals products that give you the perfor-
  mance and fragrance appeal of more expensive brands for less:
    * Anti-Pulverizer & Deoderant
    * Moisturizing Body Lotion
    * Body wash

Ha! It was actually written like that. Instead of anti-perspirant, it said Anti-Pulverizer.

Margaret smiled and and put the bottle of shampoo back on the shelf, making a mental note to tell Steve about the misprint. He would like that one.

She continued down the aisle of the Health and Beauty section to the lip balm display. She couldn't find her normal brand, but she was drawn to a tube that showed a pair of icy lips. The label said "No Burn". The fine print said that it was safe and effective against the effects of wind, sun, and spontanious combustion.

Marketers were getting stranger and stranger.

She checked her list. The last item was bug spray for an ant problem she had recently discovered in her house. She craned her neck and found the aisle labeled "Pest Control". When she reached it, she stopped short.

The entire aisle, both sides, was pest control.

Shelf after shelf of gaily-colored boxes and cans, showing a variety of fantastic creatures. The Woverine Repellent showed something that couldn't possibly be an accurate drawing of a woverine, although she couldn't think off-hand what a woverine actually looked like (she imagined a small, shaggy dog-like creature). This one had a mouth that was open much too wide and its teeth were far too long and numerous. Any creature that looked like that couldn't even close its mouth.

There was a can of bee killer that had what looked like a radar dish on top. A propane tank had a picture of somebody attacking a garden slug with a flame thrower. A long stick-like device with a telescopic sight claimed to be able to take down a robin from a hundred feet. Robins weren't even pests!

Feeling like she was in the wrong part of town, Margaret decided to forgo the ant spray and hustle to the checkout line. This would teach her to stop at an unfamilliar store.

The checkout clerk was pleasent and efficient, scanning the items. She paused at the lip balm, smiled, and said, "This has saved *my* life more than once." Margaret smiled back, paid with a credit card, and hustled out the door with her bag.

And stopped dead.

The sky was brillient green. Two suns stared back at her, one small and blinding white near the horizon, the other bloated and bright red straight up. The parking lot was filled with vehicles that looked like strange mutated crosses between cars and tanks, complete with gun turrets on top.

Suddenly, a shrieking roar, a blinding flash, and a huge rock streaked from the sky, smashing one of the tank/cars and sending shards of burning wreckage skittering across the parking lot. The stentch of sulfer hung thick in the air.

Margaret stared at the burning car/tank a moment longer, then turned and re-entered the store. Suave anti-pulverizer might not be such a bad idea after all.