Mister President, Nebraska Is Missing!

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Mister President, Nebraska Is Missing!

Episode 5

A collection of characters around a smoking outline of Nebraska.

As the world's richest man, Irving Sprilznick was accustmed to top-flight accommodations everywhere he went, as well as luxurious surroundings when he chose to stay home. Sometimes, though, he liked to spend a whole weekend hunting ducks in the marshlands along the Platte River in Nebraska. For this, he needed just two things: his deluxe helicopter and the companionship of Spot the Wonder Dog.

Although Sprilznick hated to admit it, Spot was the key element in the success of these getaways. Because Spot could fly the helicopter (indeed, Spot had invented the helicopter and assembled it himself), Sprilznick had no need to hire a pilot to fly it. Spot had been vetted by the Secret service, so it wasn't even necessary to have them along for the ride. Spot could flush out the ducks with aplomb, dress and cook them in a variety of sumptuous ways, and even play flute and violin simultaneously while Sprilznick was eating. And, if any important business calls happened to come in while Sprilznick was taking an afternoon snooze on the airbed that Spot had invented, Spot knew how to deflect them. All in all, a most agreeable arrangement.

Then there were the times like this, when Sprilznick was celebrating a business deal (which, come to think of it, Spot had suggested, for Spot read the business media in about six different languages). This was an occasion when Sprilznick could allow himself the luxury of a Friday afternoon departure. As the helicopter moved West across Iowa, Sprilznick sipped champagne and worked on the latest Wordle puzzle. Today's puzzle was especially vexing. Would Sprilznick have to call on Spot's experise again? No, Spot was busy flying the helicopter, and Sprilznick hated to be reminded that Spot could do so much for him. Sprilznick looked up from his Wordle and watched the countryside pass by. There were tiny cows scattered among the silos, trees sagging with ripe apples, and immense combines rolling through the corn fields. Wait, wasn't that combine manufactured by Sprilznick Farm Products? Yes it was! Come to think of it, Sprilznick owed Spot another bonus for having invented it. Here and there a shopping mall or airport would pop up, only to give way once again to farms and orchards. Soon the Missouri River would appear, and then the broad, blue-green expanse of the Platte River in Nebraska. Sprilznick could hardly wait.

Something very strange was going on this time, however. The Missouri River came and went, but instead of wetlands, all that greeted Sprilznick's eyes was a deep canyon stretching to the horizon. A closer look revealed that much of the canyon was flooded. So, had Nebraska washed away in some tsunami that the news media had failed to notice?

'Spot, could you put the helicopter on autopilot for a moment?' Sprilznick asked, trying not to let the panic he was feeling creep into his voice. 'Have you noticed that Nebraska is not there?'

'Of course I have!' Spot retorted. 'You were napping, so I put in a call to Deus Ex Machina. I've also called President Woodhed, who had been having a very bad day even before this happened. He's waiting for you to get back to him.'

President Woodhed thought Irving Sprilznick was a complete waste of life and breath, but couldn't say as much to his face. After all, Sprilznick was the world's first and (so far) only trillionaire. Sometimes he was a very useful man to have around, though, because he had had the cash to buy Tweetblitz from an erratic dweeb named Asinus Muscus. Tweetblitz had become a thorn in Woodhed's flesh when it started allowing trolls with conspiracy theories to dominate it. Woodhed didn't ordinarily mind conspiracy theories, but these trolls thought he was central to the conspiracies. Fighting back against them would only have alerted them to the fact that Woodhed wasn't competent to manage even one conspiracy. So, having Tweetblitz in the hands of a trillionaire whose worst quirk was duck-hunting was a slam-dunk. It also didn't hurt that Woodhed and Sprilznick had attended school together in Omaha, wherever it had gone to.

Spot landed the helicopter on a grassy knoll on the Iowa side of the Missouri while Sprilznick talked to the President. When Sprilznick finally ended the call, he was not the happiest of men. 'The extraterrestrial Indians that have taken Nebraska are not interested in American money,' he exclaimed. Spot rolled his eyes at this, but said nothing.

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