The kid lay on a park bench holding his face. One eye was swelling; it was a golf ball and would be a tennis ball in a few minutes. He had an hour to get to Dr. Moon’s. Any longer, he might die.

“Who saw it? Anyone see it?”

Yoshi had to get the provenance. If he didn’t get it, no story. End of story.

There was a rustle in some bushes. Yoshi stepped over the bench and caught a wino by the ankle before he could crawl away.

“You see it?!”

“I…uh,” said the bum.

He had a bag of recycling. Enough empties to trade for one or two beers, which was why he was trying to get away.

Yoshi couldn’t pay for information. Everyone knew it. Yoshi tightened his grip.

“Did you see?”

“Okay, it was a drone. Calm down,” said the wino.

“Black drone, yay big?”


“Lemme see your ID.”

“Screw you.”

But he gave his name. Yoshi wrote that down and the time and place.

Dr. Moon had the only clinic in town. When no one was getting sick, which was most of the time these days, he sent out his drones. The stings gave people a disease, horrible symptoms that developed in minutes. He alone possessed the vaccine because he engineered the disease in the first place.

It was a horrible situation and everybody hated Dr. Moon, but no one knew what to do about him.

The kid had his phone out and Yoshi saw from the screen that EMS was en route.

“Kid, what’s your name?”

When the ambulance got there, he wrote down the company: BMR. He asked the medics their names; they wouldn’t tell him, but he saw a name badge.

“Where you taking him?” Yoshi yelled as they pushed the gurney in the back.

“Where do you think, Yoshi?”

“Dr. Moon’s?”


Yes, they knew his name now. Yoshi was the first reporter the village had seen in years.

It was useless to follow the ambulance. Once they got to Moon’s perimeter, Yoshi wouldn’t get any more info. Plus which Moon had a hard-on for Yoshi, who was trying to shine a light on the doctor’s activities.


His two bedroom house was on the poor side of town. It needed paint, planks, and plumbing, and he had no intention of doing any of it. He kicked open the door and Buckles and Knuckles, his twin Alsatians, slobbered up to him.

“I’m home.”

Aside from the disintegrating trappings of a late-stage bachelor, the central feature of the house was an antique spirit fluid duplicator machine. Like an industrial mimeograph, it was purely mechanical, and the cheapest way he’d found to make a paper broadsheet. It sat in the middle of the living room amidst stacks of past editions and rolls of newsprint. A patina of dark blue ink residue coated the walls.

Yoshi went to the kitchen and opened three cans, one for each dog and the third for himself. Corned beef hash. He made sure to give himself the human food. He once ate half a can of Tastee Bitz before realizing he’d given Buckles his Dinty Moore. The newspaper ate up all his brain space.

“There’s worse things to be obsessed with,” Yoshi said to the dogs as they gobbled up dinner.

He was tired and about to lie down when the dogs started barking. Someone was tapping at the door.

“What now?”

He looked through the peephole. Buckles and Knuckles could get bitey and he didn’t need a lawsuit. A delivery drone was hovering outside, knocking at the door with a pencil thin appendage. He cracked open the door, the two dogs snarling and pressing their snouts through the opening.


“Delivery for Yoshi Foster,” said the drone.


“Please log into your email for the Federal Parcel security code to accept this delivery.”

“I can’t use my thumbprint?”

“We apologize. Due to the risk of disease, the thumb scan is inoperable.”

His email. He hadn’t touched his phone in months. Going phoneless was a game he played with himself, like getting on the wagon. And relapses had consequences.

Curiosity got the best of him. He went to a drawer, got out his device, and buzzed it back to life.

Perched on top of an iceberg of unread emails was the one from Federal Parcel.

“W6AUN,” he said to the drone.

“Thank you.”

The drone sank to the ground, dropped the package, and flew off into the air.

The box weighed next to nothing. A trick by Doc Moon? A bomb? No surveilling cars, no ne’er do wells he could see on the street. But no return address, either; just a barcode.

Before he had a chance to open the package, his phone began chirping. The amply jowled face on the screen was his mother’s.

His Mother! It had been too long since he’d spoken to her. What a coincidence she would call at the precise moment his phone was back on.

Yoshi didn’t like coincidences.

He swiped the screen.


“Yoshi! You answered!”

“Mom, is something wrong?”

“No, I’m fine. Are you okay? I haven’t heard…”

They went back and forth. She asked a lot of questions about what he was doing, was there a girlfriend, etc.

“Mom, I’ve got to get out the evening edition.”

Normally, she would’ve said, “You’re still trying to be a big writer?” or words to that effect, but she only nodded.

“Okay, dear. One more thing. I hate to bother you, but I need a favor.”


“Could you go online and order me a few packages of Tummies?”


“Tummies Antacid, dear. I’ve been having terrible indigestion.”

“Just go to the shop down the street, what the heck?”

He was getting that sinking feeling.

“I’m a little short this month, dear.”

No she wasn’t. She had a pension and was one of the only people Yoshi knew who didn’t worry about money.

“Sure, Mom, but how about Rollades? I…um…have some I could send you,” he said, only to check, to make sure.

But he already knew this was not his mother.

“No, son! It must be Tummies, the antacid of champions!”

He turned off the phone. Then he brought the package to the sofa and opened it.

Inside was a coupon for Tummies.

The ad-bots were sophisticated, but only to a point.

Yoshi’s first inclination was to throw his phone to the worn shag carpet and stomp it into dust. But he’d done that before. And the process of getting a new one had exposed him to more advertising than simply shutting what he had off. Besides, he now felt he had to make sure his real mom was alright, and he needed a phone to do that.

Or not.

Perhaps it was best to do what he was doing with the newspaper, trust only face to face interaction in the real world.