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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 329 Response

“Robot Emissary”

Don Webb

Challenge 329: Ásgrímur Hartmannsson invites readers to supply alternate endings to his “Robot Emissary.”

[...] After another week the spaceship drifted out of the atmosphere and disappeared. It was never seen again.

But no, it was seen again. In fact, it came bustling back one week later.

The robot reappeared from inside the spaceship. This time it did not resemble a white male. Rather it was covered with sequined, multicolored polka dots and looked somewhat androgynous.

“Cross-dresser!” piped up a few voices in the crowd.

“Wait...” said others. “Those sparkly rainbow hues are pretty cool.”

“Not rainbow,” countered others, “more like the Olympic colors.”

“If they’re supposed to represent humanity,” groused a sports non-fan, “who’s green?”

“Me, after eating the super-spicy kung fu special at your greasy spoon, ya dope—”

But the squabbling was interrupted by the robot’s stentorian yet soothing voice: “Your objections have been noted. We will sweeten the deal. Bring us your sub-prime mortgages and derivatives. We will buy them at book value.”

“Now that’s talkin’ turkey,” exclaimed the assembled throng, suddenly deciding that money trumped the robot’s possible sex, religion or politics. The crowd rushed home, scrabbled together all their worthless financial instruments and, in one weekend’s time, reassembled to rethrong the spaceship.

The robot dutifully paid for the contracts with crisp, official-looking currency and trundled the toxic assets away in alien-looking carts.

“Hmpf,” snorted a skeptic, squinting at a banknote. “Legal tender on planet Zorlox, is it? Looks like Monopoly money.”

“Then it’s even-steven,” chirped a throng-mate. “What have we been using? Counterfeit Monopoly money, that’s what. Call it a bail-out: we can spend the scrip buying back our own whiskey at Zorlox casinos.”

Copyright © 2009 by Don Webb

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