Frank Bungalow skipped away from the combination clock radio/enchanted genie lamp as smoke billowed out of it. A man in bright neon clothes emerged, rubbing his hands and winking at him as a skateboard and boombox appeared beside him.
“Whoa dude, you so just freed me from that gnarly lamp. I, like, totally owe you, like, three extreme wishes. You need an anthropomorphic mascot with attitude, you totally just lay that wish on me.”
Frank scratched at his sensible moustache. “Well, you see, the machines have taken over, and well…”
The genie raised one hand. “Like, no need to elaborate, homeslice. You totally want to get jiggy with some ladies? Get some crunchy tunes up in here?”
Frank wiped the sweat from his brow, listening for the modem-howl of the machines coming nearby. Detecting none of the maddening signal, he turned back to the genie. “You really grant wishes?”
Frank’s head dipped low, his hopes crushed.
The genie smirked. “Psych! Ha, totally had you going there. Anyway, I so specialize in adding ‘tude to stuff. Like, let’s so add some ‘tude to those bogus clothes you’re totally sportin’!”
The colors on Frank’s clothes sprang to burning life. His work-casual khakis turned into bright baggy pants, flaming orange spilling out from them. His collared shirt burst outward, a shimmering blue windbreaker taking its place. His haircut, once revered by dress code policy makers the world over, was covered up by a tall, striped hat. He looked down at himself in horror.
“What have you done?”
“Nothin’ but givin’ you some ‘tude!”
Frank heard the telltale hiss off a modem connecting to a phone line, sweat beading across his brow. “One of those things is dialling in! As long as no one unplugs the phone cord, one of the machines will be booting up any second!”
Frank grabbed the genie by his bright yellow robes. “You don’t understand. That’s a scout. Given enough time, it will connect to a BBS, and it will only be a matter of time before it sifts through all of the anime porn and shooter mods before it finds an attack program!”
The genie crossed his arms, pulling out a pair of thin sunglasses and putting them on. “Listen coolio, I totally don’t think I can even give you ‘tude if you keep talkin’ about these machines. Like, you want to be the bomb, you’ve so got to give me something other than complaints, you know.”
Frank heard the machine getting closer, the ping of its internal speakers getting louder with each step. “Do you do anything other than give things more attitude? Anything at all?”
“Dude, what’s better than ‘tude? ‘Tude totally sells, yo. You got some hostile machines puttin’ you in chain gangs and makin’ you build modems so that they can totally take over the world, and only a funky fresh animal with ‘tude can save you. It’s so the only way.”
Frank released the genie’s flowing shirt, feeling the caustic yellow glowing on his skin. “I’m just tired of running. So very, very tired. I just feel like a rat in a cage.”
The genie smiled. “Like, no rage is gonna change that. You so need to do this. Like, you totally need to make the right wish. I think I totally know what you want.”
Frank smirked. “When my boy was crushed by that giant printer, he looked up at me and asked why there were so few mascots any more. He needed to know where all of the attitude had gone. Where were the men and women with enough attitude to turn this robot revolt around? He died before I could answer.”
The genie’s magic took hold. Somewhere, Frank heard the distant sound of grunge guitar. “No man is capable of ‘tude. Only anthropomorphic animals in sunglasses could possibly contain the ‘tude necessary to take our planet back!”
The machine turned the corner, but did not find Frank waiting for him. Instead, it bore down on an armadillo in a leather coat, wraparound sunglasses shimmering across its beady eyes.
“You’re about to fall, and you won’t get up.” he shouted as he hopped on his skateboard.