About Kind of a D.R.A.G.
Author: Kiernan Kelly
Word Count: 15,207
Page Count (pdf): 33
File types: PDF only
Genre: sci fi
Date Published: First Printing: January 2013
Second Edition: May 2018
Publisher: Evil Plot Bunny LLC
Max is doing fine. He’s bartending in a strip club located on a tiny planet at the ass-end of the universe, earning a living and generally getting by without much drama. That is until his boss leaves on a trip and places the burden of running the bar on Max’s broad shoulders. It’s a task he normally could handle just fine if it weren’t for two android drag queens who decide to meddle with things beyond their abilities and create a new stripper — one who complicates Max’s ability to keep the bar up and running while capturing Max’s imagination and heart at the same time.
“Is it supposed to smell like burning feces?”
Ivanna Hump held her nose with two fingers as she peered at the machine, blinking her sparkly purple eyelashes. They were part of her trademark look, curving up over her brow until they tickled her forehead.
The large box was shimmying and shaking more than she did onstage when she lip-synced to Gloria Estefan’s Congo during her homage to late twentieth century entertainers. Leaning against it, she felt as if she was practically dry humping the fucking thing. She tapped the gray metal with one long, red-lacquered fingernail. “Maybe you pushed the wrong button.”
Betty Boob shook her head, her sleek, multi-colored, fiber optic bob swishing. “I know what I’m doing. I’ve seen the Boss do it a thousand times.” She pointed to a funnel on the top of the machine, then to a slot, and finally, to a door on the side. “You pour the gooey stuff in here, the circuitry board goes in there, and slide the block of plasti-skin in here. Then you turn these dials and press the green button. Snap! You’re done.”
“Huh. Seems like there should be more to it than that, don’t you think? I’m a little worried. If you made a mistake, we’ll be in trouble. Maybe we should unplug it and forget the whole thing.”
“It’s too late for that. Stop the process now and you’ll end up with a machine gunked up with half-baked plasti-skin. Besides, what’s the matter with you? Did you forget your big girl panties at home? Stop being such a dick. It’ll be fine.”
Unlike the rest of them, who were programmed to be ever polite and solicitous, Betty’s encoding allowed her to be snippy when challenged. Part of her job as the club’s Mistress of Ceremonies at Club Grinder was to deal with hecklers and nuisances. Ivanna didn’t take it personally.
They weren’t supposed to be in the Boss’ workshop or fiddling with the D.R.A.G. machine. The Dynamic Remodeling Android Generator was an obscenely expensive piece of equipment, the only one on-planet and quite possibly in-galaxy, and the Boss would shit kittens if he knew two of his droid Drag Queens were tinkering with it without his permission.
They had no choice, though. It was the first night of the Boss’ weeklong vacation off-planet –the very first time he’d left the club with only Max the downstairs bartender and the Queens in charge of the club, mind you — and already they’d managed to break one of the club’s best strippers. They had no one who could fill his spot, either. Without the stripper, the schedule would fall apart. They needed to replace him before the club opened that night or suffer the consequences when the Boss returned.
Betty continued. “Besides, it’s your fault we’re in this mess.”
“It was an accident! I thought it was a twist-off.”
“And what did we learn?”
“Dicks don’t twist off?”
Ivanna huffed a strand of hair out of her eyes. “Anyway, what’s important is that if the Boss finds out we used the machine without permission, he’ll have us melted down into cocktail shakers.”
“He won’t find out if you keep your fucking mouth shut. As long as this one has dark hair and a tan, the Boss will never even know the difference. All the droid strippers look alike to him. Look! It’s almost done.” Betty pointed to a green light just beginning to flash.
The machine suddenly began to buck in earnest, and puffs of oily black smoke poured out of every crack and crevice. An alarm shrieked, and the lights in the room dimmed.
Ivanna took a step back from the clanking machine. “Um, is it supposed to do that?”
“Er… sure. Sure it is.” Betty didn’t sound half as confident as she had a moment earlier. In fact, she took two steps back.
Sparks began to sizzle in and around the machine’s circuitry, and the smell of burning compost grew stronger. Both Queens held their noses and yelped.
Betty looked at Ivanna. “What did you do?”
“Me? I didn’t do anything.” She could barely hear Betty over the screaming alarm.
“Yes, you did! You touched it.”
“Only with my fingernail. You’re the one who put the stuff in, turned the dials, and pressed the button!”
“Yeah, well, look at that fingernail! It’s extremely sharp. It’s practically a claw. It could be a lethal weapon. You broke the machine with it.”
“It’s a fucking fingernail!” Ivanna waggled the nails in question in front of Betty’s face. “They’re not even real. They’re plastic! How much damage can plastic do?”
“Evidently a lot, since it broke the damn machine!”
“Have you flipped a cerebral circuit breaker? I didn’t break anything! You did something wrong.” She fanned her hand in front of her face, trying to clear the smoke. It wasn’t helping. “Can’t you stop it?”
“Me? I don’t know how to stop it! I only ever watched the Boss start it. He never had to stop it early.”
“That’s because he knows what he’s doing!”
The machine suddenly belched an even blacker, oilier cloud of smoke. A clanging noise rose above the din before the door flew open so hard it broke one of its hinges. It banged against the side of the machine and bounced back, then stopped, hanging at an odd angle. The machine bucked and rocked, then went completely, utterly still. Something told Ivanna it wasn’t going to be easy to get it going again.
In fact, it was probably going to be impossible. The Boss would have to get it repaired or get a new one and neither option boded well for the future health of Misses Betty Boob and Ivanna Hump. She wondered what her new life would be like melted down into bar equipment, and whether cocktail shakers could taste the alcohol they shook.
Probably not. She wasn’t that lucky.