SEVENTY-EIGHT, 2.0

“It needs a shave, so take it for a shave.”

“A cleaning, surely, but a shave? That’s how much extra?”

“Only a couple of twenties. It’s worth it, trust me, piece of mind for the month.”

“Just a month? For forty I would want it to last at least six months, come on.”

“Beggers can’t be choosers, Huell.”

“Jasper, when is the last time you worried about your human’s health?”

“It’s not about health, it’s about the appearance. The KingFather is visiting all homes on the east river soon, and he’s going to want to be impressed. Who knows, you could be chosen for the next abductions.”

“If he’s choosing the next unit based on humans already here, then it’s a rotten way to go about it.”

“Won’t make a difference, the choosing isn’t what it was. How do you think the Walson kids always manage to get picked for abductions? They buy their way in.”

“Why don’t you buy a spot?”

“It’s a dirty job and I’ve got all I can handle at home.”

“If I were chosen, again, I’d sell them any that I abduct as soon as I got home.”

“Easier said than done. Especially given how you treat your own human. No one would or should trust you, based on that thing. What did you name him?”

“Victor is what his collar said.”

“And you kept that name? Geez, Huell, have some imagination! Look at him. Blonde hair, blue eyed, and all fat. Looks like a Grumpy to me.”

“That’s a name for a wild animal, maybe, but not a human. Besides, how do you justify naming yours?”

“Donald is based on a leader, and Kymberlie is just poetic. Did you know that the humans, on their planet, once put a Donald in charge of all things?”

“Yes, Jasper, everyone knows this.”

“Thank goodness he took over and opened the doorways. Years of trying to convince leaders of all kinds to let us through, and finally we got one easy enough to manipulate.”

“What did he say when we first got there? I always forget this part of the story.”

“He said, ‘You’ll never believe the influence we’ll have over the people. With your technology and my power, we can do anything. First order of business, we give them a show. Pretend to take me hostage, and I’ll get out of it, it’ll be unbelievable.’ Then we clipped him.”

“Isn’t that illegal now?”

“Well, now it is, sure, but that was fifty years ago. Clipping was the thing to do, the only way to break them. There’s that image, remember? The famous hologram of that Donald’s hair falling right off when we clipped him. He turned from orange to red.”

“Ah, the orange humans. So rare these days.”

“They just don’t go outside any more. My friend Satchmo was on the last abduction run, said he had to go into one of their homes to pull the human out. It smelled like dung, he said.”

“Everything the humans do smell like dung. And when they make noise, awful.”

“They call it ‘speaking’. It’s disgusting. truly.”

“So you think I should shave mine?”

“It’ll be worth it. When they’re shaved and clean and you get the pants on them, with the diapers, they don’t run around as much. They sit in the corner and turn red when you look at them.”

“Such an odd thing, don’t you think? If they didn’t want to be watched, why not just hide under the beds?”

“They like it, and so do the Human-F*ckers.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me. F*cking a human, there’s nothing more gross than that.”

“I’d clip you myself if I ever found out you did that.”

“I’d submit to punishment for that, trust me.”

“So, when is the KingFather coming to town?”

“Paper said next week, around the first of the month.”

“I have time, maybe I shave Victor myself.”

“Don’t be cruel, you want it done right, and you wouldn’t want to accidentally clip him.”

“Not illegal if it’s an accident.”

“It is if you get one that speaks, and Victor likes to talk.”

“That dung that comes out of his mouth is useless and we all know it. Do you know anyone speaks human? Not me, I don’t, and I don’t believe they exist, either.”

“One day we’ll be able to translate, and with your luck it’ll be the day you accidentally clip Victor.”

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