“A criten,” Bud explained, stirring a pot of tortilla soup, “Is a devise much like a Spontaneous Anomalator only the results are predictable. Actually, I think the Spontaneous Anomalators are a sort of perversion of the criten. Anyway, the criten is a marketing device. It is used for advertising and it can target a specific person once you know their DNA.”
“What person are you targeting?”
Bud stirred more slowly, sinking the long spoon to the bottom of the murky brew. He looked away and coughed, and finally answered, “Doc.”
Bud chased a large piece of tomato around with the spoon. He glanced at Unk and then back into the pot. “The criten is making him find all kinds of Mexican things in his life: he hears Mariachi music, he sees cacti in places . . . and . . . he desires Mexican food.”
“Yes. It might interest you to know that Doc has weird DNA.”
“I might have guessed that. How is it weird?”
“They guy who tested it said it was unlike any other. He actually said . . . no, well, obviously he was joking.”
“No, tell me.”
“It was just a joke, probably, but he said for some reason it make him think of cheese.”
“Weird. Do you think he’s an alien?”
“The lab guy? No.”
“No, Doc. Obviously he’s not a cheese.”
“I’m not sure, actually. I’ve got DNA from Felonious Assault and he’s definitely an alien. Doc has another pattern entirely.”
“Yeah, we already know about pastor Fel; he’s part of the third wave of the youth pastor invasion. So you’re into high-end marketing, eh? How much did that one set you back?”
“Quite a bit, but it is the only one on the planet, and I thought it would be my duty to keep it away from the fundamentalists,” Bud replied, his hands folded piously.
Unk whistled. “Can you imagine if Pastor Fel found out that such a device existed? You might need to hire some guards.”
Bud looked quizzically at Unk, but refrained from saying anything further.
When Unk got home and found out the lilrabbi had mislaid the J.P.S.Umug, he felt no little consternation. What if it fell into the wrong hands? But then, he thought, why would a youth pastor read a journal?
While Unk perfected his plan, and the four of them worked for Bud, Bud’s restaurant flourished, the months passed, and the Outreach Hospital was built. It had a special wing dedicated to radiation treatment, in which the sinister Plovalis machine was installed. Of course, Doc ministries also hired a special Hospital Pastor, the Reverend Dull Sodder.
They had a special ceremony to dedicate the Plovalis machine. Doc sat on the side, dreaming of tortillas and guacamole; Pastor Fel preached, Dull Sodder was content to watch, all the deacons were there wearing lab coats, and Dr. Federico Somaro beamed.
Mingling afterward, during the reception, Dr. Somaro found out that nearly all the deacons had tumors in their heads. He rubbed his hands together and exclaimed, “Already we have a full waiting list for the Plovalis.” Indeed, they were all very eager.
Pastor Fel put up a bit of a fuss. After all, it was supposed to be an outreach. But Dr. Somaro convinced him by pointing out that it would be good to see if the machine, which had never been tested, could actually do what was expected. Dull Sodder, who was standing nearby, gravely pointed out that deacons were more expendable than The Lost.
It was during the week during which the first of the deacons underwent treatment that Bud’s friend in Oregon finished building the ship with the etymological confabulation drive. When Doc arrived at La Casa de la Llama Ardiente after church that Sunday he found it had closed up. He was kind of glad; he did not really feel like Mexican food, not since last Tuesday; he could not stand it. In fact, he realized as he stood in the parking lot, he really did not hold with it at all.