“Ugh! Damn, Son of a bitch! This is really nasty! This shit really tastes like shit!” Gumal swore in disgust. “This isn't the same beer you brought back from ancient Englarsh, or whatever the name of that damned place was.”
He took a toke off the stratodoober to clear the nasty taste out of his mouth and, more to the point, forget he'd ever tasted it.
“Huh?” Rority replied, “It isn't. These are some different brands from some different breweries. It's called Moosehead. It's from Carnudia, Carnivore, Cannalida, something like that. I forgot what they called the damned place. I haven't tried it. Here, I'll trade you, this one's from Germie Man.”
He took a sip of the Moosehead. “Ugh! Gimme that stratodoober!”
“I have trouble reading these protohuman scribblings,” Gumal said. “What is it?”
“Heiney Kin. I have no idea why they gave beers these silly names, related to a gluteus maximus?
“Hey, I got a great idea. Noboty, come here.”
“Yes, sir?” replied the robot, constructed from trillions of nobots, of course.
“I want an Irish pub. No, wait – not a real pub like in real ancient Ireland, but something better. That place we were that time in Springfield when we stopped for a few cases of beer fifty years or so after Gumal killed Kennedy. Lets see, what was it called? Dancies? Dracies'?”
“D'Arcy's Pint, sir?” the nobotic butler inquired respectfully. “Rather primitive, isn't it, sir?”
“Well sure, of course. That's the whole point. But if you want primitive, go back only a hundred thousand years earlier than then.”
“That's not in my data banks, sir, but I could interface.” The robot “thought” for a second, then replied “which D'Arcy's, sir?”
Gumal interrupted. “This tastes almost as bad as the Moosehead. When did you get this gawdoffal swill?”
“Three trips ago, maybe a few months.”
Gumal had been researching the ancient art... no, far more than ancient, since the art of brewing beer had died out millions of years before. Rority had tried his hand at making his own and failed miserably, even though he was as far advanced in intelligence to a protohuman as a protohuman was as far advanced in intelligence as an Australopithecus. It would be twice that, if humans hadn't stopped evolving five million years earlier.
It kind of galled him that a barely sentient animal could out think him in basic chemistry, especially since chemistry as such no longer existed; it was pure physics now.
Maybe that was the problem, he thought.
“Well, there's your answer, Gumal pontificated. “It got skunky.”
“What? What's ‘skunky’ mean”?
“You know that one animal, the black one with the white stripe down its back? Well, before we reconstituted all the extinct species and made the dangerous ones harmless and limited animals' breeding abilities, this particular one defended itself with a nasty stench from a gland under its tail. It was called a ‘skunk’. The protohumans said that beer got ‘skunky’, meaning bad tasting and bad smelling.”
“Shit. Then all my beer's bad?”
“How old is it?”
“Ten million years, protobrain!”
Gumal laughed. “No, I mean how long since you brought it to the present?”
“I already told you, the newest is at least a few months old.”
“Did you keep it cold?” asked Gumal
“Only the Ameran Corn stuff,” Rority explained. “They drank it cold, everybody else drank theirs at room temperature.”
“OK”, said Gumal, “What kind of Ameriwhatever beer do you have?”
“Well, there's Busch, Bud...”
“They named the beer plants' names?” Gumal interrupted again. “Makes more sense than butt relatives from Germie Man, I guess. After all, they did make it out of barley and hops and other grains. But the grains didn't come from bush buds, they came from grasses.”
“Who knows why a protohuman would name their stuff the silly names they gave it?” Rority said “Anyway, there's Cores, and Milner, and San Paulie, and Carumba, and dufus' exes... hey, I bet they named that one after the dumb brewmaster's wives!”
He thought a second. “No, those two were only refrigerated in the northern part of the Hundred States; it was before the continent became one country.”
“Are you sure?”
“No,” Rority replied, “I didn't do any extensive research or anything. Hey, robot, how's that pub coming?”
“You never did say which one, sir.”
“Oh... there was more than one? The one I was in.”
“That would be the one they built after they lost their lease in the strip mall,” the robot replied.
“The what?” Gumal asked. “They took their clothes off and mauled each other?”
“No, sir,” the robot answered. “A ‘mall’ was an alley if I'm not mistaken,” like it ever would be, “and it was laid out in a strip. Strip mall.”
Rority said “Oh, hell, just make the whole damned town. How many people were in it?”
“Quite a few more than a hundred thousand people in the time period D'Arcy's Pint existed, sir.”
“Well, you don't have to recreate the whole town. Just the pub and a kilometer or three surrounding it, and enough people to make it convincing.”
Gumal said “open” and the bottle cap popped off. He took a sip of his Budweiser and made a face. “Almost drinkable. Better than a gargleblaster, anyway. It doesn't taste anything like a Guinness, though.”
“Of course not,” Rority said. “Guinness is a lager, Budweiser is a pilsner.”
“What are lagers and pilsners?”
“Different beer recipes,” Rority answered. “I thought you said you were researching it?”
Gumal looked at the label. “This says Budweiser was a lager. I'm not researching how they made it, you're doing that. Hey, what did they use to smoke hemp buds from back then? Maybe they were better at that than us, too.”
Rority said “well, there were a few ways. There were pipes, bongs, hitters, doobies...”
“Is that anything like a stratodoober?”
“No, it was just a thin piece of paper with the plant material rolled up in it. You set one end on fire and inhale the smoke from the other end. The closest a protohuman could come to stratodoobing would be to burn a fattie while sitting on top of a mountain. Here, hey Noboty, roll Gumal a joint.”
“Yes, sir,” the robot said. It rolled a large joint, lit it with the end of its burning index finger, and handed it to Gumal.
“Burn a fattie?” Gumal asked, holding the burning fattie.
Rority laughed. “Set fire to a big fat doob. Like what's in your hand.”
The joint went out out before Gumal took a toke, so he lit it again with a small nobotic device that looked a little like the cigarette lighters they used to install in automobiles before smoking was seen as a really, really bad thing.
“Hmmm...” Gumal said, after inhaling the sweet smoke deeply, and holding it a few seconds before letting it out. “Not too bad. Nowhere near as good as a stratodoober, but it will do.”
“Your program is ready, sirs,” the robot said. “Here's a doorway.” It promptly dissolved into a waft of nobotic dust, and what would have looked like a very nice outhouse to your great great grandfather stood in its place.
Rority said “Hey, I wonder if Rula would want to come? She likes eating almost as much as she loves stratodoobing.”
“Dunno, hey Rula!” Gumal said.
Rula's shape assembled itself out of nobots. “Yeah, guys, what's up?”
“Want to come to an old Amerin corn recreation of an ancient Irish pub?” Rority asked.
“No, thanks, I'm learning to dance. You know, Rority, your fascination with the protohumans is catching on.”
“What's ‘dance’?” Gumal asked.
“It's a protohuman thing, I'll show you some time. It's fun. Gotta go, though.” She dissolved; or rather, her nobotic image dissolved into nobotic dust, and disappeared.
Gumal and Rority went into the very nice, if small, outhouse, which once inside past the large entrance area was a very nice and very big room that was very full of nobotic simulations of protohumans. There was a long bar, many tables, and there were ancient Irish musical instruments hanging from walls among posters that were advertising Guinness beer. There were video screens, and Rority noted again that they interestingly showed only two dimensional images rather than holograms.
“How many, sir?” the nobotic simulation of a hostess asked in the large entrance area, apparently unaware that Rority and Gumal looked less like protohumans than bonobos did.
“There's a two hour wait...”
“Pause nobots” Rority said. “No waiting. Make it not so busy. Continue.” Rority had forgotten how popular this place had been.
“Right his way,” the nobotic hostess said. “What would you like to drink?”
“I'll have a Guinness,” Rority said.
The hostess looked both woeful and exasperated. “Sorry, guys, but the beer distributors' drivers union is on strike. All we have is soft drinks. We're really sorry, we pride ourselves on our beer selection. There may be a case or two of Millers left.”
“Pause nobots,” Rority said. “Console.” He picked up a menu and spoke into it. “Real reason for no beer?” The console read
Error code #476,480,937,821: Limited supplies available
Requested item only available from past
Suggested substitute: Root Beer
Rority sighed. “Continue program,” he said, as the menu became a menu again.
When the drinks came, Rority thought that it was too bad there wasn't any real Guinness. He'd have to study this “draft beer” thing and incorporate it into the D'Arcy's program, as well as stocking it with a case of each of the other brands D'Arcy's had carried.
He hoped he didn't have the same problem with the food, which would be synthesized by nobots and probably wouldn't taste exactly like what he had eaten in the real place.
Rather than the blessing of Ireland's best, there was a sweet, dark, carbonated water drink the menu said was called root beer that the console had suggested.
Drinking it, Rority thought of another protohuman book he'd read that was written by one of the fellows the Irishmen who had invented Guinness had wanted to kill in terrible ways.
“This stuff tastes almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Guinness,” he said. “Here's to protohuman fiction!” he exclaimed, raising his glass.
Gumal made a face. “Tripe!” he said.
Rority snickered. “You didn't even read it!”
“I don't have to. You just quoted it. Jees, he was just an animal. Protohuman fiction is a quaint novelty, nothing more.”
“You underestimate them,” Rority said. “They were surprisingly clever sometimes. They did invent beer, you know, and we can't recreate it.”
He asked the artificial nobotic waitress if it was OK to smoke; he'd seen that there was some sort of law against smoking indoors. Not unreasonable, considering the primitive premedical protohuman society with its lack of nobotic cellular surgery, and all the other advancements and discoveries that had happened in the last ten million years.
“No sir,” she said, “but you can smoke outside on the patio.”
The two went outside and sat at a table next to a table that had an armed man dressed in a black costume with a shiny metal thing on his chest sitting at it.
Gumal relit the perfectly machine rolled joint the nobotic robot had made for him earlier.
“What the... Hey, you two! You're under arrest!” the armed and strangely costumed man said.
“What? PAUSE! End simulation! Son of a BITCH!” Gumal said. “Now you see why I hate those trips. Goddamned primitive!”
“Not as bad as the real thing was,” Rority replied. “I wonder why he was going to arrest us? I'm going to have to do a little research.”
“Who knows what the protobrain thought? Anyway, give me that stratodoober!” Gumal said as the pub and its contents dissolved around them.
Rula was leaning back on a recliner, sipping a gargleblaster.
“That ‘dancing’ stuff is exhausting,” she said. “Fun, but exhausting. I don't know how those protohumans could live like that. Got a beer, Rority?”