Aphelion Issue 268, Volume 25
December 2021
 
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Bucky Chaos and the Robotic Terror

by George Schaade




            Bucky lost his arm while he was at the dentist. Dr. Desenex had just finished putting in Bucky's new crown and the dental assistant was flushing the area with water, when a spy satellite crashed through the roof of the Dental Center. Bucky's left arm was chopped, sliced, shredded, and minced then uniformly spread among the remains of Dr. Desenex and his dental assistant. It was all quite a mess but Bucky did get a free crown out of it.

            The next day the Grand Galactic Celery Export Company fired Bucky because he was a celery stalk stacker and, as everyone knows, a celery stalk stacker needs two hands to stack celery stalks. To make matters worse, Bucky's insurance company refused to pay any of his hospital bills because Provision 4B09 of his policy clearly states that the party of the first part (Bucky) is not covered for anything at anytime. Luckily for Bucky the satellite that took his arm along with the life of his dentist was owned by Blustery Biotech Ltd. which had negligently fired retro-rockets on its satellite as it passed over its major competitor RockStar Robotics Inc. while trying to take spy-type pictures. To make up for their error Blustery not only paid Bucky's bills they also offered him a job... under one condition.

            "Herr Chaos? Herr Chaos, are you avake?"

            Bucky squirmed under the weight of sleep and slowly crawled up the hill of consciousness.

            "Bucky," said Bucky. "My name is Bucky." His eyes were open. Light was coming in. Colors were swirling. His brain was trying to organize the information but there was an urge to resist and sleep.

            "The operation vent fine, uh, Bucky. Try to focus on me."

            There was that voice again. Bucky moved his head in that direction and fought the anesthesia. It took a moment but soon he could see a small, thin man with brown hair and wire-rimmed glasses. The name on his lab coat said Dr. Fredrick Glockenspiel.

            "Oh, yeah," said Bucky as his memory returned. "It went good? I've got a new arm?" When he looked to his side Bucky could see that there was an arm attached to his shoulder but it was heavily wrapped in bandages and strapped down to the bed.

            "Ya, everything vent vell," said the doctor. "Ve need to keep it stabilized for the next few hours. This vill allow the cells to merge and the nerves to make connections. This is all very experimental. The different parts need time to coalesce."

            "What parts would that be, Doc?"

            "Vell, after decades of research ve here at Blustery Biotech have unearthed the Holy Grail of regeneration. Ve have redefined the properties of stem cells that regenerate complex body parts." Glockenspiel's voice began to rise as he became more and more excited. "Ve have taken the pluripotent stem cells of the planarian and combined it with the embryonic cells of tadpoles, salamanders, zebrafish, and the Atarian mold pear! Ve have reached the penultimate dream of all living creatures. Ve have become GOD!"

            "Let's see if it works first," said Bucky.

            "Oh, ya, ya," said Glockenspiel as he quickly fell from his high horse. "For now, you rest."

            The next morning Bucky sat up in bed while the room filled with lab-coated scientists. Without warning the wall of scientists slowly parted to allow a very large, bullish man with a barrel chest and steely eyes to enter the room. It was J. Conway Blustery himself. The look on his face was vile. Bucky thought he may have just smelled a nasty fart, but that vicious face never changed. Blustery's eyes turned to Glockenspiel who jumped to Bucky's side.

            "Today ve vill unveil the latest breakthrough in bio-regenetic engineering. It is an entity unto itself that can be genetically programmed to be any appendage ve designate. In this instance ve have created a new arm for this man in less than a day. The arm vill be fully functional and possess the same touch sensitivities as the arm that our satellite crushed."

            Blustery's eyes narrowed.

            "Uh,uh," stuttered Glockenspiel, "This regeneration creation vill outperform any robotic prosthesis vhile yielding a huge profit margin. Gentlemen, this is the dawn of a new age."

            Glockenspiel carefully and dramatically unwrapped Bucky's arm. As the last of the bandages came off, the room filled with shock and confusion. Mr. Blustery's stony face may have actually moved. Someone in the back of the crowd muttered, "What the...?"

            At first all that Bucky saw was a dark black arm which was a stark contrast to his blond hair, blue eyes, and baby's butt pink torso. But as he looked closer his arm wasn't just black. There was also some blue twinkles, white sparkles, and occasionally a flicker of green. What was really surprising was that all of these tiny glimmers of color were very slowly moving. Bucky compared it to looking at a picture of deep space with all of its stars, supernovas, and galaxies. It was almost hypnotic to watch...hypnotic...hypnotic...hyp

            "Herr Bucky! Herr Bucky!" yelled Dr. Glockenspiel. "Pay attention. This is the part vhere ve need your help." The doctor cleared this throat. "Herr Bucky, do you have any feeling in your arm?" He then pressed a needle along Bucky's new arm in several spots.

            "Ow! Ow! OW! Hey, quit poking me with that thing."

            A round of applause arose from the group of scientists as Glockenspiel took a bow. Mr. Blustery gave a tiny almost imperceptible nod, spun on his heels, and exited the room. The others took this as their cue to leave and silently marched out behind Blustery.

            "You did good," said the doctor with a big smile. "Now get some rest. Your job begins tomorrow."

            In the beginning Bucky's job wasn't very strenuous. For the first few days all he had to do was snap his fingers, squeeze a rubber ball, and walk around the room. That quickly progressed to push-ups, bicep curls, and rope climbs. After three weeks Bucky was opening jars of pickles, arm wrestling a mountain gorilla, and bending steel. Bucky's new arm was performing magnificently, but Bucky was feeling lousy. Dr. Glockenspiel and the other scientists were constantly testing him. Stress tests, blood tests, x-rays, urinalysis, aptitude tests, prostate exams. It never ended and it was all driving Bucky crazy. So he told Glockenspiel that he wanted to quit his job, but he was told he couldn't. Soon after that bars were installed on the window in Bucky's room. He had gone from a patient to an employee to a prisoner.

            There was one other at the hospital that wanted to leave. It was Binkie, the mountain gorilla. Over the weeks of arm wrestling, Binkie had become Bucky's only friend and Bucky sensed that she wanted out as much as he did.

            "We've got to get out of here," said Bucky.

            Binkie handed Bucky another jar of kosher dill pickles which she was quite fond of. As he opened it, Bucky surveyed his dark, bare room, considered the futility of the situation, and slipped into despondency.

            Suddenly Bucky's new arm slapped him and pointed at the window. As the shock of what had happened sank in, the arm fell to Bucky's side and returned to his control.

            "What the hell?" cried Bucky. Binkie continued to eat pickles. "It just did that on its own. It was like it was trying to tell me something." Binkie silently pointed at the window.

            "Of course," exclaimed Bucky. "Together the two of us are strong enough to bend the bars on the window. Come on, Binkie, let's do it!"

            Together they bent the bars and once outside the two of them raced away until they reached a fork in the road. Again Bucky's arm slapped him and pointed to the left.

            "Ow! Quit that! Okay, we'll go that way."

            As they walked along Bucky kept looking at his arm with suspicion. It had attacked him twice. Was it because it had all of that strange DNA in it? Those scientists at the hospital had messed with nature and now his arm seemed to have a mind of its own.

            Realizing that Glockenspiel would send people after them, Bucky and Binkie left the road and headed out across a field toward some lights they could see in the distance. Within a short time they were close enough to tell that the lights were from a traveling carnival. This was a good thing. There were always odd-looking humans and strange aliens at a carnival. Bucky and Binkie would blend right in...or not.

            "Mommy, look at that man's arm!"

            "Shouldn't that gorilla be on a leash?"

            "Freak!"

            A voice boomed from across the midway. "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Come see Stella the snake dancer. She walks. She talks. She crawls on her belly like a reptile. See JoJo the dog boy. He barks. He bites. His father was a sailor. His mother was a bitch. Only ten credits to see them all. Don't wait, don't hesitate. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"

            Bucky and Binkie followed the voice through the crowd past the Solar Slide, the Anti-Grav Coaster, Tilt-A-Whale, Toast Toss, and Whack-the-Alien. At the sideshow tent they saw the man with the big, raspy voice.

            He was a large, egg-shaped man with spindly legs. His round face had three chins below a smile that went from ear to ear. On top of his head was a battered top hat that seemed to shift from side to side on its own. The rest of his outfit was archaic, a faded plaid suit with vest and rough brown shoes covered by spats.

            As he finished his spiel he directed listeners to the ticket booth, stepped off the stage, and headed straight for Bucky.

            "Young man, young man. Could I have a brief confabulation with you? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Professor Ignatius Verbal. I have doctorates in Hoaxocology, Gaming Science, and Mutant Arts. I am also an expert in such things as ethnic slurs, cello repair, floral arranging, and open-heart surgery. And I own and manage Professor Verbal's Pan-Galactic Carnival in which you are now maintaining a presence."

            Bucky was struck speechless by the professor's introduction. After a few seconds of wide-eyed silence Bucky was able to mutter, "I'm Bucky Chaos and this is Binkie."

            "It is with deep gratification that I have this honor, young sir," said Verbal as he pumped Bucky's hand. "While speaking to the masses about the required expenditure for entrance to the sideshow, I espied your most unusual appendage. Might I inquire about its nature?"

            "Wuh?" said Bucky. Binkie pointed at his arm. "Oh, my arm. Well, that's kind of a long story but it does seem to attract a lot of attention."

            "Precisely, my dear boy, precisely. And as a connoisseur of idiosyncratic phenomena I can appreciate the commercial value of your extraordinary biceptual bender. Perhaps we could reach a mutual agreement that would bring both of us robust monetary satisfaction."

            "Are you offering me a job to let people look at my arm?"

            "Indubitably," said the professor.

            "And what about Binkie?"

            "Why of course! In a carnival there's always room for a gorilla."

            It took only two weeks for Bucky and Binkie to adjust to their new carnival life. Bucky's arm quickly became a big attraction in the sideshow and in his off time he helped with some of the rides. Binkie had it easy. She just sat in a cage and did the angry gorilla thing when people passed by. In her spare time she darned socks for Grok, The Human Centipede.

            In the third week Professor Verbal hired several more people. One of them worked with Bucky in the sideshow and was billed as Vocado, The World's Strongest Man. He certainly looked the part. Hard, steely muscles covered his behemoth body. A massive head with stone carved features turned like a turret on a tank. His footsteps probably registered on seismic scales. Needless to say, this was a really big guy. And from the beginning he seemed to have an interest in Bucky.

            Vocado never said much to Bucky but the strongman's eyes followed Bucky's every move. When Bucky had breakfast in Binkie's cage, Vocado was lurking behind the bales of hay. When Bucky repaired the professor's nuclear toaster, Vocado was skulking at the window. There seemed to be no escaping the strongman and Bucky was getting tired of all the lurking, skulking, creeping, prowling, and generally stealthy hiding. So one day as Bucky finished washing up, he spotted Vocado crouching behind a pile of sawdust. Bucky confronted him.

            "What's the problem, Vocado? Why are you following me?" demanded Bucky.

            For a long time Vocado considered his response then said, "After you escaped from the hospital, Blustery Biotech sent out agents to track you down. I stopped them from capturing you."

            "Oh," said Bucky. "Well, that's a good thing, right?"

            "No." replied Vocado. "For you that's a bad thing because those agents were suppose to return you to the hospital for more tests and experiments. My boss wants something different."

            "Who's your boss and what does he want?"

            Vocado put his hands on top of his head and in one fell swoop ripped away his human disguise to reveal a shiny metallic robot with gears, cams, cogs, motors, stabilizers, wheels, and flashing gizmos. Vocado was even more impressive as a robot than a human.

            "I was created by RockStar Robotics to find you, separate your arm from your body, and bring it to them."

            One of Vocado's metal hands changed to a whirling circular saw blade. The other hand became a large grabbing claw that reached out for Bucky's head.

            Bucky was frozen in fear until his arm slapped him and pointed at the wash basin full of water. Bucky picked up the metal tub and flung the water at the robot. He expected to see sparks, flashes, bangs, and pops when the electrical parts of the robot short circuited. But Vocado only laughed and said, "I'm waterproof."

            Bucky then threw the metal basin at the mechanical monster. Vocado caught it with his grabber hand and used his saw blade hand to turn it into aluminum coleslaw. Noticing that Vocado was now slightly off balance, Bucky rushed the giant and hit him hard causing both of them to tumble into the Cotton Candy Balloon booth.

            For a short time they flailed about in a cloud of pink fluff with Bucky being the first to emerge. He was covered in fuzzy, pink balls of sweetness and helium. He kept trying to run but it was all in slow motion. Not far behind was the robotic terror which was also covered in fluff and moving like a man on the moon. The balloons on Vocado burst first and when he caught up to Bucky he unleashed a mighty swing of his arm that caused Bucky to sail midway down the midway. Seeing all of this, Professor Verbal rushed up to Bucky and helped him get to his feet.

            "My dear boy, you seem to be in a most precarious situation. It would be extremely beneficial if you were to determine a means of extricating yourself forthwith. I would try to negotiate a suitable agreement with this elephantine can opener but I don't believe he's in the mood for a palaver right now."

            Verbal slinked away as the ground trembled from Vocado's approach.  Bucky hobbled into the sideshow tent just ahead of the menacing robot. In the tent Bucky's sideshow friends tried to help him. The Wolf Boy jumped on Vocado's leg and gnawed at his metallic ankle but for all his effort little damage was done. Blaze, The Flame Juggler and The Amazing Rondo peppered Vocado with fiery torches and card tricks, but nothing slowed him down. It was only when The Human Centipede tripped him that the robot was momentarily stopped. This gave Bucky the opportunity to head for the big top tent but the robot was close behind.

            "You can't escape me," squawked Vocado as he chased Bucky around the inside of the tent. "My mechanical legs never get tired. When I catch you I'm going to cut off your arm."

            As Bucky ran he noticed that the crowd was standing and cheering for him. He responded as a good showman would. He smiled and waved as he ran for his life. Unfortunately this distracted Bucky just enough to lose a step on Vocado who instantly swung at Bucky and knocked him high in the air.

            "I've got you now!" proclaimed the robot.

            But Bucky fell into the Atomic Circus Cannon which promptly exploded sending him to the top of the bigtop where the trapeze artist Luigi of the Flying Luigis grabbed him. Luigi and Bucky swung back and forth a couple of times then Luigi carefully dropped Bucky on to a trampoline where he bounced twice and slid off into the hands of four clowns. The clowns carried Bucky to their clown car and they all squeezed in. As the car began to speed away Vocado grabbed it and ripped off the door. He held the car above his metal head and shook it like a bottle of stubborn ketchup. Clowns began to fall out...first one...then two...next three...again four...suddenly five...even six...and finally...Bucky.

            "Give me that arm," said Vocado who jumped on top of Bucky.

            The terrible machine used his grabbing hand to hold Bucky down while his buzz saw hand whirred and hummed as it slowly got closer and closer. Suddenly, as if with a mind of its own, Bucky's left arm seized the robotic limb just behind the saw blade. A titanic struggle ensued. The buzz saw arm pressed down with the force of a hundred bulldozers. Bucky's arm pushed back with the power of a genetically enhanced appendage. Just when it looked like Bucky was going to lose this epic fight, the grabber hand loosened its grip on Bucky's neck and the buzz saw slowed then stopped. The giant robot was frozen in place. Bucky hesitated at first but carefully crawled out from under Vocado. Sitting on the back of the metal monster was Binkie.

            "Binkie?" cried Bucky. "What happened?"

            The mountain gorilla pointed to a toggle switch on Vocado that was now set to the off position. At that same moment the circus crowd went wild. They cheered, they jumped, they waved, they roared with joy. Verbal and the other carnies rushed in and hoisted Bucky and Binkie on to their shoulders to parade them around the big top. It was the greatest show that anyone had ever seen.

            The next day everyone was involved with clean up around the carnival. The sticky pink balloons were swept up and the sideshow tent was fixed. A new door was put on the clown car and the Atomic Cannon was reset. Vocado's metal body was dismantled and the parts used to make repairs and upgrades to many of the carnival rides. In all it was a bright and cheery day.

            "My dear Bucky," said Verbal. "Could I have a quick word with you, young sir? After last night's happenings a great deal has been revealed about your past. It would seem that you are now being pursued by two very powerful establishments. Once the carnival is fully operational we will be moving to our new location on the planet Crustacea. If you choose to join us on this excursion you may avoid those that are pursuing you. What do you say?"

            "Well," said Bucky, "I'm not sure if..."

            Suddenly Bucky's left arm slapped him and pointed at the sky.

            Bucky just shrugged and said, "I guess we're going with you.”


THE END


2021 George Schaade

Bio: George Schaade is a retired teacher living in the Big Thicket forest of East Texas. Though his favorite genre is SF he often ventures into fantasy and humor where his stories can be offbeat or even wacky.

E-mail: George Schaade

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