Beauty Queens


“So why is he doing a deal with us if he hates us so much?” someone asked.

“MoMo’s been trying to tamp down an insurgency in the ROC. Needs some firepower. We sell him arms; he lets The Corporation set up shop in his country. Covertly, of course.”

“How’re you going to get those weapons into the country?”

Agent Jones held up a small, white jar of Lady ’Stache Off.

“Lady hair remover?” a black shirt asked.

“Looks like it. Actually, it’s a powerful explosive. Dr. Du’Bious?”

“We found that if you change one compound in Lady ’Stache Off, it becomes highly unstable. All it needs is a charge of some kind and you’ve got incredible shock-and-awe capabilities,” the scientist explained excitedly.

“And it leaves your legs baby smooth.” Agent Jones attempted another smile. No one laughed. Agent Jones cleared his throat. “So. We sell MoMo his weapons. And The Corporation gets a foothold in the Republic of ChaCha.”

A new slide whirred into place. It showed an artist’s colorful rendering of the new ROC, with huge shopping complexes, smiling people in sunglasses toting oversize shopping bags, a Corporation oil rig shining from the blue water in the background. “Violà. The Republic of The Corporation. God bless America.”

There was a round of applause.

17Bermes scarf, a highly coveted status symbol. When the Pope chided pop star Magdalene for her collection by saying she could feed a village for a year for the cost of it, she responded, “Yes, but I can t wear a village around my neck.”

18 Bipolar Bears, The Corporation’s cuddly combination vitamin and mood-leveling drug marketed to tween and teen girls. Bipolar Bears banish bad moods and keep you beauty-queen perfect. Sold in a variety of signature bottles. Collect them all!

19Ragnaroknroll, an online gaming community whose members meet once a year at a Holiday Inn in Brainerd where they eat reconstituted eggs and stage mock battles. Soon to be a major motion picture with merchandising opportunities out the wazoo.

20Genghis Khan, thirteenth-century Mongolian ruler. Genocidal maniac. Wearer of very smart hats.


Under Taylor’s direction, her group of girls found their way back to the damaged beach, which resembled a dorm room after an island-themed kegger gone wrong. Broken trees and fractured palm leaves littered the sand. Belongings were strewn about. But the sea was now calm and the sky forgiving. The girls fell into the sand, exhausted and groaning.

“How long have we been stranded here?” someone asked.

“About three days,” Miss Ohio answered.

Mary Lou looked at the hair on her legs. “Four.”

“All right, Miss Teen Dreamers. Let’s get this place a little cleaned up and get us a signal fire going. Tomorrow morning at sunrise sharp we’ll practice the opening number. Just lettin’ y’all know, we might have to make a few more adjustments to the choreography if the other girls don’t make it back.”

“I’m so hungry,” Mary Lou mumbled. “So, so hungry.”

“I can’t move,” Miss Arkansas cried. “I’m too tired.”

Taylor had already begun clearing plant debris into a tidy pile for burning. “This is not the Miss Teen Dream spirit, ladies.”

Miss New Mexico tried scooping a handful of sand into her mouth, but Adina stopped her.

“We need food!” Miss Ohio cried, and the others moaned in agreement.

“Miss Teen Dreamers. It is time to get ahold of ourselves. Miss Alabama, I did not mean that literally. That is gross. Stop it.” Taylor scooped up seawater in a large shell and poured it over the ends of her hair, rinsing out the mud. “Remember: We are Miss Teen Dreamers. We are not victims. We are not cowards. We are bright shining stars, beacons of hope to all who arrive on the shores of our beauty.”

Mary Lou pointed to the surf. “There’s an ocean full of fish out there if we could find some way to catch them.”

“I hope there’s salmon,” Brittani said. “Salmon has a lot of omega-3. My consultant, Tricia, says it’s really good for your skin and nails.”

“Right. Because I’m really worried about my FUCKING NAILS AT THIS POINT!” Adina screamed.

“Language, Miss New Hampshire. You owe me twenty-five cents for that potty mouth.” Taylor took the lip gloss from her zippered pocket and slicked it over her mouth. “Let’s ignore those who would bring us down and affirm, Teen Dreamers: How are we gonna get us some fish?”

Everyone shouted at once. “We could try grabbing them!” “Fishing pole.” “Laser gun!” “Think positive thoughts!”