“Open your eyes and shut your
mouth. Listen, for just one minute.” Beating hearts
are all I can hear; thousands of rampantly beating, openly bleeding
hearts, the hearts of the dead before me. “Open your mind
and close your heart. Think, for just one second.” It’s
all so clear to me now. I understand why I must do it.
“Your Grandmother’s name was Venus.”
“Why was she named that?”
“Her smile shone so bright it lit up the whole world, just like
Venus. You know, Venus is the brightest planet,” Salina said,
stroking the child’s head. The child was her own seed; half
hers - half his. He was Gregory Walden, a drunken bastard
of an auto-mechanic. She was saline to his wounds; Salina
Von Tussle to everyone else. The child was a girl, Victoria
Von Tussle. Vee to anyone who knew her, but she was a double
dose of saline to the wounds of Gregory Walden.
Gregory was a bastard alright. His father died during childbirth,
or rather what I mean to say is his father died because of childbirth.
Bearing a child upset Samuel Walden so much that his heart exploded
upon laying eyes on the young birth, Gregory. Hearts are funny
things: sometimes they explode. Someone should have foreseen
the alcohol induced suicide impending and just done away with the
little drunk right there on the operating table. You know
they say sons without fathers are suicidal, if only because no one
is bugging them about mowing the lawn all the time.
Gregory wasn’t any better at parenthood than his corpse-of-a-father.
He was worse, actually. He just had a stronger heart.
If Gregory had been in the E.R. at the time of birth, his head might
have exploded. Heads are funny things too.
On this planet heads were funny things. On Earth heads were
the center of everything. People talked and talked and talked
and talked and talked and talked with them, thought with them (though
the libido or the heart often construed these thoughts), ate with
them, saw with them, heard with them, and made outrageous faces
during orgasm with them. Heads were just as important on this
planet, called Earth’s sister, Margarette. This was the formal
name of the planet, Earth’s sister Margarette, or E.S.M. for short.
It was pronounced s-m.
The planet was born and populated shortly after God realized that
Earth’s people were far too interested in reality television to
pick up a Bible. It was his second big experiment with life.
Much in the same way as with Earth, God made two beings, Arlene
and Evan. This time though, no Bible, no Heaven, and no Hell.
Only a quota: The populations of Earth’s sister, Margerette never
surpass one billion, or God would turn the planet into galactic
jello. God, though never controlling it on Earth, still looked
down on fornication, and threatened to destroy E.S.M. if perversion
ever equaled the amount of perversion on it’s sister planet.
Many postulated that God was just lonely, and wanted one of his
own sexual play-toys, but after the bit with Lucifer, God would
never again allow a being to become his sexual partner. We
all know what happened after Lucifer was found cheating on God,
he was kicked out of eternal paradise and homosexuality and Hell
were both defined as bad, bad things.
Anyway, heads were of the greatest importance, as well as the greatest
impotence. These facts were true on earth as well. The
fact of the matter was, and is, most people cannot give birth to
a logical thought. With the heart and sexual organs pulling
and twisting each thought like a taffy-pull, people really didn’t
have a chance. Not on E.S.M., and especially not on earth.
Heads on E.S.M. were different than heads on Earth. Sure,
people still used the same outrageous thought processes, still made
illogical, salacious decisions, and people still talked and talked
and talked and talked and talked with them, but there was one major
difference. Every year in autumn, while the trees on Earth still
held all of their leaves, and would continue to do so, evermore,
the people of Earth’s sister Margarette all lost every single hair
on their heads, eyebrows and eyelashes excluded. Not a single
person on the planet would have hair all through winter. This
made the female breast the most important part of the body.
Without breasts it is hard to distinguish between a bald male and
a bald female, and all through winter you could find men viewing
women’s breasts without the fear of being labeled a pervert.
Winter was never cold for the men of E.S.M.
This was a big topic of controversy on E.S.M., for all perverts
were sentenced to death by hanging. It was believed on E.S.M.
that perversion of the mind through sexual want led to perversion
of society, inevitably leading to chaos and anarchy, but enough
digression, back to Salina and Victoria.
“So could I call Hillary Mars, since she has a red face, mommy?”
Salina giggled, “not if you wanted to live to see tomorrow, flying
It was autumn on planet Earth’s Sister, Margarette, and everyone
was garnishing freshly shined heads and faces, red and ripe as apples
that were bobbing in a tub of water. The people of Bjorndale
packed tightly into subway cars, the only mode of transportation
in the inner city, aside from legs. Among the people jammed
like caulk into a bathroom floor were Salina and Victoria.
They were heading off for their weekly Gregory visit. Salina
took her sweet time on Tuesday afternoons. She slowly stewed
up their supper in their small kitchen, before settling down at
the dinner couch to an hour or so of The Earth Channel, the finest
reality television in all of the Milky Way.
People on E.S.M. died for reality television, literally. Each
year casting was held for “The Reality Show of the Century,”
Held in downtown Baldiera, the capitol city of the planet, hundreds
of thousands of entrants lined up for a chance to serve their planet.
In a sadistic way it was service, too. This was the governmental
ploy to keep population at a decent rate, as well as to weed out
potential perverts. Twenty thousand strong, the competition
lasted eight months. Broadcast round the clock on its own
channel, the television show pitted neighbor against neighbor, friend
against friend, family member against family member, until all of
19,999 were dead, and the remaining contestant was crowned the King
or Queen of E.S.M. for the year. The King or Queen also got
an automatic lot in the next year’s competition. It was a
highly coveted award, though no one had ever become King or Queen
twice. It stated in the rules that anyone who did succeed
and win the crown twice would be named ruler of the worlds, E.S.M.
and Earth, forever.
This was another topic of much debate. Earth and E.S.M. were
always at a state of constant struggle when it came to control.
Though Earth had been around nearly one million years longer than
its sister planet, E.S.M. was already more technologically advanced.
Earth’s Sister, Margarette had given Earth the cure to cancer, water
powered automobiles, and various other important inventions.
The very same company that hosted “The Reality Show of the Century”
each year was also the lead developer in such ventures as water-powered
automobiles, and the cure for cancer. And as a bargain for allowing
Earth to broadcast the show, and to cure cancer, OmegaCorp convinced
the president of Earth to allow Earth to come under the rule of
any who won the crown two years in a row.
“I’m excited to see Daddy, aren’t you Mommy?”
“Of course, Victoria. It’s always interesting to see what
mess he’s gotten himself into each week. It’s more stimulating
than watching, ‘The Reality Show of the Century.’” Salina
scoffed as she said these words.
“Mommy, why don’t you love Daddy anymore,” the child looked up into
her mother’s eyes, expecting an answer to the question, this time.
“Oh look, here’s our stop. Let’s go Vee.” Salina grabbed
Victoria’s miniature hand and led her off of the subway car, into
the cold air of the station. Nearly everyone was wearing a
stocking cap, to protect their windblown heads. The two made
their way out of the station and walked thirteen blocks to Gregory’s
apartment. The number seven hung upside-down on the door as
it always did. Salina wondered when he’d fix that. She
knocked and the number made a jingle-jangle sound against the hard
“Welcome, welcome to apartment seven,” Gregory offered as he opened
“Seems to me this is apartment number L, Gregory.”
“Right, right. I’ve been meaning to fix that. Work has
been busy,” Gregory replied as Salina held her tongue. She
thought to herself that the only work he’d done was on a bottle
of Omega Brand Whiskey.
“Daddy! I missed you,” little Victoria jumped into her father’s
“Well, thanks, kiddo. Hey, you watch “The Reality Show of
the Century” don’t you? Auditions are coming up. I’m
going to enter. I hear this year it’s all about alcohol, and
you know I can hold my liquor.”
Salina almost laughed at the thought of him being King of E.S.M.,
but then choked on a thought. “Gregory! You know that
over nineteen thousands entrants die!”
“Well, yeah. I think I could whip them all though.”
“Oh Daddy, you’d be the best King ever,” Victoria said, smiling
through missing baby teeth.
“Thanks Hun. Well I’m entering. Trials start tomorrow.”
Salina sighed. She thought about the horror of her daughter
growing up without a father, although Gregory Walden wasn’t much
of one. She sat on one of the old reclining chairs facing
the television. “Do you know what a Lemming is, Gregory?”
“Sure, aren’t they those earthling animals?”
“Yes. You know what Lemmings do? They walk into the
sea, and kill themselves. You are going to turn up like a
“How could I be a Lemming? I’m not killing myself. I
know I can take those guys. Nobody at the bar can hold as
much as I can. You know that.”
“Gregory. We’re not talking about fun and games. This
is life and death on the line. Are you willing to die?”
“It’s a great service to the country. You know how crime goes
down once the show starts playing. You have seen how they
stop catching perverts for months and months. It brings the
country together. You know that. If I die in service
to my country, I’ll die a happy man.”
“Gregory. Have you ever thought about what kind of people
they accept? It’s a butcher’s block. I have seen the
show a million times. They’re all perverts and criminals!
Can’t you see that?”
Gregory shook his head. “I’m doing it and that’s final!
You’re trying to say that all those loyal E.S.M.’s are perverts!
They’re doing a service to their planet. That’s more than
I can say for you.”
“You’re right, Gregory. You’re right. I think our time
is up. We have to catch the train. C’mon Vee.”
With that Salina picked up her daughter and left apartment number
seven behind. Tears welled up in her eyes, but her daughter
just smiled up at her.
“Oh, Mommy. Don’t be sad,” Victoria said and threw her arms
around her mother’s neck. “I know that Daddy will win.
He is the best. I can’t wait until I can serve for E.S.M.”
“…Welcome back to “The Reality Show of the Century.” I’m your
host, Brent Fischman and I just want to say it has been a wacky
few months here on the grounds of Omega Enterprises. Only
two competitors remain. For the first time in history last
year’s champion, Hamilton Kirshner is up against one last competitor,
by the name of Gregory Walden. It’s going to be a battle to
the death. Each competitor has had to defeat almost twenty-thousand
others, and it all comes down to this event, the Omega Brand Whiskey
Gregory sat in his locker room. He knew that he was going
to win. He drank Omega Brand Whiskey all day, each day of
the week. It was his drink of choice, and Hamilton had no
chance. A sudden knock at the door roused Gregory from his
“Hello Mr. Walden. My name is Robert Omega. I am the
owner of OmegaCorp. How are you today?”
“Wow! Holy shit it’s great to meet you! You put on a
hell of a show.”
“Thank you, Mr. Walden. I am here to talk about the competition
today. It is obvious that you are superior to Hamilton.
He has met his match, when it comes to this sort of thing.
I feel that it is unfair that you even face him, but the show must
continue. The people demand it. I have a proposition.
You like to serve E.S.M. don’t you?”
“Oh, of course Mr. Omega. That is my duty. That is why
I signed up for this show in the first place.”
“Wonderful,” Robert said with a sneer. “Wonderful. You
have heard that if any contestant wins The Reality Show of the
Century twice they become supreme commander over Earth and E.S.M.,
“Yes…I’ve heard that.” Gregory was interested now. He
sat up and looked intently into Robert’s eyes.
“I feel that it is your civic duty to lose tonight, Gregory.
Greg, if you do this, you will go down in history. I’ll make
sure of it.”
Greg swallowed. His jaw fell open like a hinge.
“Open your eyes and shut your mouth.” Gregory opened his eyes.
His mind was flooded. “Listen, for just one minute.
If you don’t do this, we are going to kill you. You will never
see the throne. You’ll be humiliated, dishonored. Open
your mind and close your heart.” Gregory tried to imagine
losing, dying. He remembered his father. “Think, for
just one second. Greg. This is for E.S.M. This
is the future of our worlds. It all lies in your arms.”
Gregory saw his father smiling down on him, proudly. He saw
him reaching his hand out to Gregory, beckoning him to join at his
side. Then a wave of understanding came over him. He