Feminine Wiles

“Get ready!” hisses Wile #1. “She’ll be here any minute!”

“Shhhh!” say Wiles #6-9.

“We know, #1,” says Wile #4. “We’ve been planning this for six months. Everything’s been mapped out. Nothing’s going to go wrong.” #4 has the blueprints.

“Dust cloud!” snaps Wile #3. #3 drew the blueprints, labelling each part of The Device in her clear, impossibly tidy handwriting: c a t a p a u l t and b i r d s e e d and, in slightly larger writing at the top, A C M E.

Wile #5 is painting furiously at the end of the road, covering the face of the rock with quicksilver. Each stroke makes the rock a more perfect mirror.

“Positions!” snaps #1. #5 puts down her brush and scrambles for cover. #4 and #6-10 tense in expectation. Every wire strains against the clasps that bind it to the buttes.

Far away on the horizon but speeding closer second by second comes the dust cloud, boiling furiously. A tiny speck can just be made out in the center, its legs pumping madly. It raises its head and all the Wiles put their hands over their ears against the horrible cry:

“Meep! Meep!”