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Perfectly Adjusted

        Herbie Mint looked like a regular guy, but he was special. He was perfectly adjusted. He could figure out the tax code all on his own, and always got his tax return in on time. He had no trouble programming the time on his VCR. He could even write everything necessary in the itty-bitty little rectangles on government forms.
        "A few tests," said Peters, the government man. "If you don't mind."
        "Of course not," said Herbie Mint.
        After all, they were paying him a hundred bucks. Plus, on top of that, he liked doing tests. His score, naturally, was perfect.
        "If you would step this way," said Peters, gesturing.
        Obediently, Herbie Mint walked through into the soundproof room with the sheet of black plastic on the floor, and Peters shot him in the back of the head.
        As expected, the autopsy revealed that Herbie Mint was one of Them, the alien invaders. Hard to find, because the aliens had concealed their own identities even from each other. They had blended in really well, but for one thing: they were perfectly at home on planet Earth.
        That was what betrayed them.
        "Because we're not made for this," said Peters to the new recruit. "Ancestrally, we're hunter-gatherers from the plains of Africa. We're not made for this multi-gigabyte five-buttons-a-minute stuff."
        "I see," said the new recruit, whose name was Health.
        Despite the name, Health was neurotic, a little psychotic, slightly depressed and subject to panic attacks. But that wasn't too abnormal (a fact which would have been clearer if people hadn't gotten so good at faking their personality inventory tests.)
        "So you're with us?" asked Peters.
        "How could I be anything else?" asked Health.
        Health passed all the courses with flying colors. And then, in a private ceremony, just the two of them together, Peters swore him in and gave him his gun.
        "Thank you," said Health.
        "Be careful," warned Peters. "It's loaded."
        "That's okay," said Health. "I won't make any mistakes."
        Then raised the gun and shot Peters full in the face.
        Health was tired of being human, tired of living unhappily on the concrete planet where he just didn't belong. He had tried everything from drugs to religion, and none of it worked. He wanted to win the transformation the alien recruiter had promised him.
        Health was tired of living on a planet where he could figure out no more than ten percent of the functions of ninety percent of his gadgets. He was tired of being defeated by his TV, his portable phone and his Internet refrigerator. He was tired of being baffled by the pull-down menus of his home hub. He wanted to conquer life on planet Earth, wanted to reshape himself to live as a modern human: he wanted to take the alien route and become perfectly adjusted.

the end

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PERFECTLY ADJUSTED first posted 2003 August 17 Sunday. Copyright © 2003 Hugh Cook - all rights reserved.