Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Consulting Editor


Monkeys and Empire State Buildings
by James K. Isaac

Debbie Does Delta Draconis III
by Sarina Dorie

Becoming Einstein
by George S. Walker

No Good Conscience
by Edward J. Knight

Last Log of the Vancouver
by David Falkinburg

Saving the Galaxy and Taking Names
by Justin Short

Diplomacy in Springtime
by Jennifer Linnaea

Onkeymay Usinessbay
by Doug Donnan

Inside Magic Circles
by Brent Knowles


Cosmic Life Rays
by John McCormick and Beth Goldie

A Lost World On the Polar Ice
by Fitzhugh Green




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Onkeymay Usinessbay

By Doug Donnan

Teach-Tech Robotics Research Facility, Seattle, Washington

“BECAUSE IF WE DON’T do something about it now,” Brandt said as he made a hand gesture as though he were cautiously pulling an electrical plug from a wall socket, “sooner or later we’ll all be walking down the unemployment road.” The two men stood there just outside one of the rear service entrances to the massive building. The only light was a pervasive iridescent glow that was provided by an overhead electric sign that silently announced: SHIPPING & RECEIVING.

“But dammit, Brandt, this is breaking and entering,” Bell exclaimed softly as if he might be trying to make some kind of dramatic point in a church or public library. “I would rather be an unemployed linguistics translator than a common thief. We could go to prison for this if we get caught. Then where will your own Ph.D. in Languages get you?”

Bill Brandt, a decidedly perspicacious fellow, gave him a kind of impish grin as he held up a pair of shiny brass keys and jingled them in front of the pink beak that was Walter Bell’s nose.

“I’ve got a few friends in low places my little Berlitz buddy. We may very well be entering, but as far as breaking anything we would surely be found innocent by a jury of our peers for making a few simple adjustments to these damned multilingual robotic menaces,” Brandt replied with a furtive hush as he hooked the thumb of his other hand over his shoulder at a large gray metal door.

“You’ve got the keys?” asked Bell as if that may also be some type of crime, but then again perhaps not. “Listen here, Brandt. I don’t want you to think for a minute that I condone any of this crazy business about monkeying around with all of our high-tech robotic replacements. On the other hand, I’ve got a family to feed too. So please,” he whispered as he half-squinted all around and about into the darkness of the asphalt parking lot, “will you give me the condensed version again of just exactly what it is we’re trying to accomplish here?”

“Okay my hapless friend,” Brandt sighed as he leaned in close to his apprehensive colleague, “here’s the story one more time in a nutshell. These particular state-of-the-art robots, affectionately referred to as Engloids, are all about teaching the English language to people in foreign countries. The researchers have found that young children in particular take a liking to these electronic educators. Apparently the kids don’t feel as uneasy or shy when these contraptions put on their Americanized dog and pony show.”

Americanized?” Bell sighed a whisper in dismay.

“Whatever,” Brandt hushed him. “The point is they’re a big hit overseas. My sources tell me that this particular company, Teach-Tech, is at the forefront of all this. Apparently they’ve got a stack of back orders from countries like China, Japan, Korea and on and on. The writing is on the wall. As these gizmos grow in popularity, we the people, with our little language lessons, are bound to become extinct sooner or later, comprende?”

“Unfortunately,” Bell replied. “I think I do. But what in the hell are we going to do about it? That is my question to you.”

Brandt glanced around into the darkness for a second and then pulled a fold of paper from the pocket of his Old Navy peacoat. He handed Bell the little ring of keys and unfolded the slip of paper. He then produced a miniature flashlight from out of nowhere and snapped it on.

“Jesus,” Bell almost laughed. “Who are you, James Bond or Houdini?”

“Never mind all that,” Brandt answered as he played the penlight’s beam around the electronic schematic. “My guy inside, my source if you will, tells me that if we simply remove this particular microchip ... #461,” he pointed to a tiny highlighted circuit board, “we can throw quite a micro monkey wrench into the sub-systems of these damn robotic teaching transformers.”

“What will happen to them, the Engloids?” Bell asked as he pinched the duet of keys.

“Quite frankly my dear Bell,” Brandt leaned into him even closer now, the brim of his dark cap pecking at Bell’s ridiculous pulled down navy blue sock hat. “I don’t give a damn.”

“I see,” Bell almost whimpered there in the shadows.

“It has to be done, or else. Now are you with me on this or not?” Brandt finished as he pushed the light and paper back into his pocket.

“How many are there ... inside there?” Bell nodded at the door.

“An even dozen,” Brandt answered. “Apparently we’ll find them easily. They’ve got a kind of chimpanzee-like face and they’re all wearing a silly red, white, and blue plastic baseball cap.”

“Okay,” Bell replied now with a little more conviction. “Let’s do this.”

Seoul, South Korea, Six Weeks Later

“How was your airplane flight Mr. Kellogg? Do your arms grow weary?” asked the diminutive South Korean Teach-Tech liaison Jung Hun Park. His absurd attempt at the old American joke was almost as funny as the ancient original one.

“A bit of turbulence here and there Jung Hun, but nothing I couldn’t handle from my kneeling position in the plane’s bathroom,” Kellogg responded to the decidedly na├»ve, smiling emissary.

“You are prepared now to view the video then?” he asked with a polite bow of his head.

Kellogg looked around the little auditorium. There was a fair sized LED screen set up with a few unfolded metal chairs facing it. Rather crude he thought to himself, but it would probably suffice for the demonstration.

“Why yes,” Kellogg replied. “And will it be possible to meet some of the young students later?”

“It shall be done,” Park nodded again as he swept out a hand like a maître d’ in a restaurant, directing his guest toward the gray steel seats.

Before long the TT Robotics executive was comfortably seated and waiting for the service technician to start the video that was to display examples of the school children’s learning progress. A lot was riding on this, Kellogg mused. The future of the entire Engloid project and Teach-Tech Robotics itself was very probably at stake.

The big screen lit up in a wash of cool blue and then the Teach-Tech logo dissolved in accompanied by a short fanfare.

“I have not yet seen this video myselves Mr. Kellogg,” Park whispered softly. “But I know that the children were to be very excited to have us look through it. They all do now seeming so proud to be beginning to learn all the fine, new, cool words of the Americans.”

“Uh, certainly,” Kellogg said as he slid over a bit in his seat. “It should be very, interesting. Ah, here we go then!” He breathed as the screen lit up with all the smiling, then singing faces of a collection of young, raven haired South Korean children. The title of the little ringing song was superimposed over their bobbing heads in a playful cartoon-like script: TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME!

The airy instrumental that lead into the little ditty was apropos and heartfelt. However, it didn’t take a trained ear long to detect that the youngster’s collective rendition of the iconic American song was, at best, somewhat flawed:

Aketay emay outway otay ethay allbay amegay,
Aketay emay outway ithway ethay owdcray,
Uybay emay omesay eanutspay andway Ackercray Ackjay,
Iway on'tday arecay ifway Iway evernay etgay ackbay.

Kellogg did a quick double take at the screen. He couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears. He bent forward and began to massage his sweating forehead with the tips of his manicured fingers. “They’re singing in Pig Latin,” he almost groaned. “The damn kids are singing in freakin’ Pig Latin!”

The now befuddled Park, who had been tapping his foot to the tempo of the song, turned to witness the now pallid, agonized face of the Teach-Tech CEO. “Latin you say Mr. Kellogg? But I thought we were to teach them ... I mean ...” his mouth now formed into a tiny puckering hole like the entrance to some vacant birdhouse.

Kellogg hung his head in despair just as the children celebrated the end of their efforts with a resounding cheer. “We’re ruined,” he sighed. infinity

Doug Donnan lives in a one horse town along the Florida Panhandle. He has been writing fiction for over 30 years. His fiction has been published by “Aphelion Science Fiction & Fantasy,” “Orion's Child,” “Fiction Brigade,” and “Flash Fiction World.”




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