The underground-dwelling flukers* are all that remains of humanity after a hydrogen war leaves the land permanently uninhabitable due to radiation and feral mutated animals.
Members of the Pinole fluke pit in Northern California live off of care packages dropped by Martians and pass the time by playing a board game with a Barbie-like Perky Pat doll. When they hear about an Oakland fluke pit that plays a similar game with a doll named Connie Companion Norm and Fran Schein meet the Oakland flukers halfway in Berkeley to face them in a game where the winner receives the other flukers’ doll. The Scheins return to Pinole victorious, but when the rest of the Pinole flukers find out that Connie Companion is grown up, married, pregnant and has a job unlike the perpetual teen Perky Pat they get gravely offended (which I couldn’t quite grasp this overreaction), banish the Scheins, and Sam Regan decides to leave with them.
It’s an oddball story interesting mostly if seen as a sketch for one of Dick’s best novels The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.
*because it was a fluke they survived
Cast of characters
- Tod and Helen Morrison, Norm and Fran Schein, Sam and Jean Regan – members of the Pinole fluke pit. Same or similar names as the Mars colonists in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
- Timothy Schein – the Schein’s ten-year-old boy
- Fred Chamberlain – a child from the Pinole fluke pit
- Hooker Glebe – mayor of the Pinole fluke pit
- Ben Fennimore – member of the Berkeley fluke pit
- Walter Wynn, Charley Dowd, Peter Foster – members of the Oakland fluke pit