John Cash

Sentient toilets had a vogue for a while in the capital city of the Bergenalter Empire. Actually, they were a sessile flupe of the warrior caste of the dominant species from Emkaron 6.

Cameron Nguyen Fishbeck hated the things. It creeped him out to think of sitting and doing his business on what amounted to the oral orifice of an alien organism. And the sound it made as an equivalent of flushing was just gross.

But what really annoyed him was payday. His job as the bookkeeper for the Municipal Nujjball Arena meant he had personal contact with the flupes since their religion forbade them taking checks. They had to be paid in cash.

“What do they do with it?” he wondered not for the first time as he made his rounds dropping Impervine-wrapped bundles of coins and the specially notched antique pool cue handles used as money in the Bergenalter capital. “They’re stuck to the floor, they’ll live out the rest of their lives sitting there, eating, well, I don’t like to think about what they usually eat. But every payday they get bundles of money. Is it like an after-dinner mint?”

He didn’t know and didn’t care to find out that the flupes were essentially their race’s incubators and the money they got paid would ensure that no Emkaronian warrior was born without a coin in its pustules and a pool cue on its carapace.

Cameron made his way through all the toilet facilities of the complex, dropping his little bundles and cringing at the lip-smacking sounds the flupes made. He did his job quickly and tried not to think about it at all. “It’s exactly like throwing money down the toilet,” he complained silently.

Since nujjball is played with seven to twenty-three teams, each with as many as 1942 members, the city found it more profitable to charge the players and hire the spectators whose jobs consisted of rooting, jeering and doing the wave at the appropriate times. Usually there were more people on the field than in the bleachers and accordingly the toilet facilities in the stands were smaller and generally cleaner and better maintained. In fact, only one of the Emkaronians was employed as living porcelain in the rooting section.

Not that this made much difference to Cameron Fishbeck who just wanted to get the unpleasant task over. Finishing up quickly he hurried back to his office just before the belching started. Luckily, there were no games on so the arena had a minimum of workmen’s compensation claims to pay since the only one injured was the flupe who merely had a bad case of indigestion. If some of the cheering employees had been there, well, it’s always nasty when the excrement hits the enthusiast.

But when the near disaster was over, and blue hockey-puck-size antacids had been given to the gassy flupe the real source of the problem was discovered. Too much wood for the Emkaronian diet. Fishbeck had figured the paycheck wrong and delivered more than twice the correct number of pool cue handles to the lonely flupe.

His boss called him into the main office and told him the bad news. “Cam, you paid the fans’ loo wrong.” *

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