I’ve got to go and soon, Norman thought to himself as the car continued down the highway. It had been several hours
since he’d stopped at the roadside diner and it was highly probable, he thought, that the food he’d eaten was the cause of
his intestinal distress. The place had been nearly intolerable from the moment he walked in, (cleanliness had not appeared
to be one of the establishments higher priorities), and had it not been for the fact that he always carried his own eating
utensils and drinking glass, he’d have run from the establishment screaming. Pretty soon he was going to have to stop the
car and let nature take its course, but God only knew what was crawling around at this time of night in the desert, so
stopping along the side of the road was out of the question.
* * * *
“All you need Norman, is a change in environment,” Doctor Jacobs had said, “Someplace more suited to your delicate
Having been Norman’s doctor for fifteen years, Dr. Jacobs had seen Norman an average of three times a week. He had helped
Norman through nearly every imagined illness known and unknown to mankind. Through carefully administered doses of sympathy
and placebo sugar pills, Norman had maintained his health and Dr. Jacobs had ensured a satisfactory retirement fund.
Seeing as retirement was only a few months away it was now time to insure peace of mind by seeing to it that as many miles
as possible were placed between his golf game and Norman’s hypochondria. The suggestion to Norman that he move out west
would hopefully do the trick.
* * * *
Two months of research later and Norman had finally decided upon Tucson, Arizona as his avenue of escape from the filthy,
germ-infested cesspool of New York City. Tucson had become the Mecca of cleanliness to Norman. The air there was pure and
fresh as was the water, scrubbed clean by its journey down the mountains and across the desert. There were suburban
communities of individual green plots instead of the germ-infested hallways of the viral breeding ground of the New York
City high-rise apartment buildings. He had carefully examined hundreds of photographs of Tucson and seen none of the dirty,
vermin-infested street wretches that plagued New York like human cockroaches. Yes indeed, life was going to be a lot
different in Tuscon and a whole lot cleaner. He knew that life could never be completely sterilized, but he believed that
once free of New York, it could at least be sanitary.
* * * *
I‘ve got to find a restroom, Norman thought. Then as he topped a small rise on the highway he caught a glimpse of a
gasoline station sign in the distance. Ordinarily he would never have even considered using a gas station restroom. As
landmarks of the unclean, gas station restrooms topped any list. Practicality being the mother of preparation though, he
was ready for the eventuality of a possible gas station restroom stop.
Pulling off the road and coming to a stop in front of the pump island, Norman turned off the motor, and shut off the lights.
Hopping out of the car, he looked at the approaching attendant and asked, “Restroom?” The attendant hooked his thumb towards
the rear of the building. Norman nodded and walked to the trunk of his car. After opening the trunk Norman reached in and
grasped the handle to the bucket he’d prepared as his emergency kit. He removed the bucket and set it down on the pavement
at his feet. He then closed the trunk and prepared to enter the restroom.
First he donned the white filter mask, and then he slipped his hands into the yellow cleaning gloves and took inventory of
the remaining contents of the bucket. There were cleansers, sanitizers, sprays, brushes, toilet seat covers, and a plastic
baggy containing a number of pine tree shaped air fresheners. Taking a deep breath Norman walked to the rear of the
building and opened the door to the restroom. Cleansers and brushes in hand Norman quickly surveyed the sink, stall, and
toilet. The facilities were filthy! With precious little time remaining before necessity forced Norman to relieve his
twitching bowels he began to clean.
* * * *
Mission Update: Galactic Chronomarker 987.461.006
We were completely unprepared for the chemical attack the earth creature launched upon our position as it entered the
cubicle. Large numbers of our expeditionary forces were swept to their watery graves during the initial onslaught. Those
remaining units unable to raise defensive shields in time perished beneath the secondary foam attack. My own team suffered
heavy casualties when the bristles of the creature’s hand weapon repeatedly attacked our position. Samples of the chemical
agents have been collected for further analysis. Future landing parties should be alerted and prepared to encounter
* * * *
Satisfied at last that things were as clean as he could possibly manage, Norman removed the yellow gloves. The mask would
remain in place until he was once more safely outside the confines of the foul facilities. Closing the stall door he
removed one of the pine tree air fresheners and hung it upon the coat hook. Reaching into the bucket and withdrawing the
small cardboard box containing the last barrier of his defenses, he gently placed the paper seat cover upon the toilet seat.
Dropping his trousers he sat down and at long last let nature take its course. Keeping his nose buried in the brochures
he’d received from the Tucson chamber of commerce he spent the next twenty minutes lost in the pristine fantasyland that
awaited him at journey’s end.
* * * *
Mission Update: Galactic Chronomarker 987.461.007
Once the earth creature dropped the lower half of his outer garments we were easily able to defeat the flimsy paper barrier
he placed between himself and our tactical squads. My own team successfully phase shifted and quickly penetrated the
creature’s outer epidermal layers. We have now entered the bloodstream and replication sequencing has begun.
Host organism has returned to its transportation vehicle. In the estimated three days remaining in the creature’s journey,
we should have ample time to assimilate the earth creature and gain control of its higher brain functions. Now that our
advance team is no longer stranded in the wilderness of this world, colonization may proceed and our conquest of the planet
can now begin.
* * * *
Relieved and feeling better, Norman returned the emergency kit to the trunk of his car. There were still a lot of miles to
go before he’d stop for the night and get some rest. The first thing he’d do when he reached a motel, was take a long hot
bath, and then he’d send his clothes out to the cleaners. He really needed to get a good night’s sleep. All in all this
had proved to be an exhausting day and it had taken quite a toll. He paused to wipe a hand across his brow; he wasn’t sure,
but it felt as if he might be starting to run a fever.
-- end --