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  4. Wac-A-Mole Realism™ by Matthea Harvey
Wac-A-Mole Realism™

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At the carnival, Robo-Boy sees only things he recognizes. The Ferris Wheel is an overgrown version of his own bells and whistle eyes. His Flashers, his mother calls them. The Tilt-A-Whirl is the angle his head tilts when the Flirt Program goes into effect, usually in the vicinity of a Cindy or a Carrie, though once he found himself tilting at the school librarian which caused him to wheel in reverse into the Civil War section knocking over a cart of books that were waiting to be shelved under B. There’s a dangerously low stratosphere of pink cotton-candy clouds being carried around by the children. If Robo-Boy goes near them, the alarms will go off. It’s the kind of sticky that would cause joint-lock for sure. In a darker, safer corner Robo-Boy finds the Whack-A-Mole game. He pays a dollar and starts whacking the plastic moles on their heads each time they pop up from the much-dented log. He wins bear after bear. It’s only when he's lugging them home, the largest one skidding face-down along the sidewalk getting dirt on its white nose and light blue belly, that he remembers the program: Wac-A-Mole Realism™—the disc on the installer’s desk. Suddenly it all fits together: the way a deliciously strange thought will start wafting out of his unconscious—and then WHAM, it disappears.

Source: Modern Life (Graywolf Press, 2007)
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Wac-A-Mole Realism™

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