(An international cross-section of heavily armed professional killers find themselves trapped on a hostile alien game reserve planet.)
KILLER #1: Royce. Soldier of fortune. Ex-CIA. Howdy.
KILLER #2: My name be Nicolai. Spetsnaz, Alpha Group. I am liquidating Chechen rebels. Pleased to be meeting you, comrade.
KILLER #3. This one is called Hanzo. Yakuza, Inagawa-kai clan. Killing is an art form—like flower arranging. Bonsai!
KILLER #4: The handle’s Cuchillo. Enforcer, Los Zeta drug cartel. What’s happenin’, holmes?
ROYCE: We’ve got to find high ground, set up a defense perimeter, establish a kill zone. Most of all, we’ve got to be on guard against predators…
MORTGAGE PREDATOR: Excuse me, may I interest any of you fine, credit-worthy gentlemen in an adjustable rate mortgage?
ROYCE: There’s one now! Kill it!
MORTGAGE PREDATOR: No, no, no, I’m just a banker, and right now we have some very attractive subprime mortgages available.
NICOLAI: Did you be saying subprime? Nicolai always dream of owning dacha and retiring there when he is finishing killing people.
ROYCE: Don’t do it, Nicolai! It’s a trap!
NICOLAI: Nicolai may be from former Communist state, but Nicolai is knowing good deal when Nicolai is hearing one. Where Nicolai is signing?
MORTGAGE PREDATOR: Right there…and there…and the next page… Now let me just adjust the rate up.
NICOLAI: Wait! Nicolai cannot be making payments! Nicolai drowning in Black Sea of debt! Aargh!
MORTGAGE PREDATOR: What part of “adjustable” didn’t you understand in “adjustable rate mortgage?” We put the “mort” in mortgage.
(Mortgage Predator eviscerates Nicolai and leaves with his trophy.)
CUCHILLO: Aye, caramba!
HANZO: By this one’s dishonorable ancestors!
ROYCE: See, that’s what I’m talking about. You’ve got to be careful.
CREDIT CARD PREDATOR: Can I interest you in a credit card? We’re offering a special introductory zero-percent interest rate.
HANZO: This one always wished to acquire ancient katana from Edo period, but this one always thought it was beyond this one’s reach—especially given current dishonorable state of Japanese economy.
ROYCE: What am I—a broken record? Don’t do it, Hanzo! It’s a trap!
HANZO: Gaijin does not understand inscrutable Japanese sense of honor and obligation…
CREDIT CARD PREDATOR: If I could just get your signature…. Now let me jack up the ol’ APR.
HANZO: Wait! This one thought you said it was zero percent interest!
CREDIT CARD PREDATOR: I didn’t say for how long, did I?
HANZO: Help! This one is being crushed under Fuji Mountain of debt! This one can’t pay down this one’s balance over time! Aargh! This one is disgraced! This one goes to join this one’s dishonorable ancestors in hell!
(Hanzo eviscerates himself. Credit Card Predator collects his trophy and leaves.)
CUCHILLO: Holy frijoles!
ROYCE: I told him so! Look, Cuchillo, it’s just you and me now. We can still survive and get back to Earth if we stay on our toes!
CUCHILLO: Don’ t sweat it, holmes! I’m on it like black on beans.
CAR LOAN PREDATOR: Can I interest you in a fine set of wheels on the installment plan? No money down, and you have years to pay.
ROYCE: Not a chance.
CUCHILLO: Why don’t you go peddle your fish tacos somewhere else, man? We’re onto your tricks.
CAR LOAN PREDATOR: No tricks! It’s all perfectly legit. Car loans were specifically exempted from the financial-regulation bill because us car dealers are so notoriously honorable.
CUCHILLO: Well, in that case…There’s this cherry low-rider I’ve had my eyes on. I can just see myself cruisin’ round Tijuana, blastin’ Ricky Martin on the stereo, and wavin’ at all the fine mamacitas.
ROYCE: Do you ever get the feeling no one is listening to you? Don’t do it, Cuchillo! It’s a trap!
CAR LOAN PREDATOR: Just sign here … and here … and once more here. Now I’ll repossess the car—and your vertebrae.
CUCHILLO: This is mucho loco! I haven’t even taken possession of the car yet, man!
CAR LOAN PREDATOR: You should have read the fine print. The first payment is due before you take possession.
(Car Loan Predator eviscerates Cuchillo and drives off with his prize in a cherry low-rider, Cuchillo’s head mounted on the hood as an ornament.)
ROYCE (sighing): They never learn. I’m never gonna get off this damn planet.
LUNCH PREDATOR: Don’t feel too bad. Maybe the next batch will be smarter. In the meantime, wanna do lunch? My treat.
Robert Brenner’s work has appeared in New York Magazine, Open Salon, and Happy. He lives in New York City with his wife.