Dinner was served on a long table in an even longer room. The Master sat on the far end and motioned for Gregson to sit down. Silver trays were heaped with the most unusual delicacies. Gregson recognized them to be fruits and vegetables, but the center was filled with tentacles and purple sacks that looked horrifyingly like brains.

“I trust you have never eaten this kind before. It is out of this world. Similar to what the Japanese call Calamari. I hear you are looking for me?”

“What?” Gregson asked.

“You are looking for Madelyn’s ex-husband. I am he.”

“You don’t look like the picture she gave me.”

“Let me see that,” the Master said. “Oh yes. That was before I lost 100 pounds, got hair plugs, and reconstructed my face. It was a painful process. My name is Doctor Swanson.”

“I thought I just saw Doctor Swanson?”

“She is my creation; created in my image.” He said this like he was god, and Gregson quietly thought he knew why Madelyn divorced him.

“Your creation?”

“Yes. All of the women here, were created by me. They do what I tell them to do, unless I want a mild argument. The food you are eating is from a planet neighboring our solar system. I have built a retirement home there, on a beach with an endless shore.” He said this in a dreamy voice, recollecting his dream home.

It was difficult to disbelieve him. And none of the food resembled anything on planet earth, with the exception of the squid, but it looked more alien than underwater.

Digital ticker-tape rotated the room like a trading floor. There were pictures done by Salvador Dali on the walls. Melting clocks set the emotional tone in the room.

“Your ex-wife wants to collect,” Gregson said.

“I know. Madelyn will never be satisfied. She stole my heart and all my money. She wants to bleed me dry, like a spider. Now she wants what the government can’t trace—the most valuable commodity.”

“Bitcoin?” Gregson asked.

“Freedom.” Before he could speak again, an alarm sounded.

“Containment in Chemical Room 3!”

“Follow me,” Dr. Swanson said.

When they got to the chemical floor, Gregson looked through the glass. Scientists in lab coats were trying to escape.

“Not again; I told them it’s volatile.”

“What is?”

“The virus; I’ve designed it to wipe-out life on planet earth.”

“What?” Gregson asked.

“We need to start over. Women are in control now. Pretty soon masculinity will be dead, if it’s not already. There’s nothing left to explore; there’s nothing unknown; humanity has become civilized—too weak to wage war.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Gregson asked.

“Without war, there can be no heroes.”

It was all starting to make sense to Gregson. “What about your scientists? Aren’t you going to save them?”

“They can’t be bothered by the virus; like the good doctor, they’re robots. How do you think I got them to build my beach house on Planet S?”

“Planet S?”

“Planet Swanson.”

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