Sometimes I just want to complain about everything.

There is a store in the mall outside of town called Complainers that sells these little cheap rubber toys that cry when squeezed, real, salty tears. Nobody knows how the tears come to be inside the toys, or how they keep generating the tears, and nobody really wants to ask.

There's a vague idea going around that someone in south Asia cried, hopefully while watching a sad movie, hopefully not during any period of actual duress, into the Complainer toys, though the regenerative nature of the tears pokes holes in that theory.

There's another thought that there's witchcraft or something involved, but everyone's decided that's altogether too silly to be seriously considered. Everyone knows magic isn't real; if anything, the company, which is a subsidiary of a tech giant, has used the Complainers to test new and emerging teleportation technology which transports the tears from the faces of whoever's crying them into the toys in real time. There are some strange hard knobs in the toys that lend credence to the teleportation theory, but no one can figure out why a company would demo a new technology in this way.

Adding to the sense of intrigue and mystery surrounding the Complainers is that none of the employees have ever been seen, except for the eccentric General Manager, Rusty Waters, who gives occasional press conferences that cannot help but call to mind the opening factory scenes of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Of course, this has led to rampant speculation that there are Oompa-Loompas or similar people working in the factories, but of course, that theory can also be dismissed out of hand under the same general ideas as can the theory about magic.

Of course, none of the theories mattered after the Complainers started oozing acid instead of salty tears, burning the hands, arms, bodies and faces of hundreds of thousands of children, many of whom had begun sleeping with their Complainers to have something to blame when they wet the bed. The public was incensed by the health crisis, and demanded the heads of the heads of the FDA, the company, the company that owned the company, the countries where Complainers were made, the countries where they were sold, and all the retail stores that carried the now-caustic toys.

Of course, the governments and the Complainers company worked out a deal: a fine was paid. Promises were made. Wrists were slapped. The product was removed from shelves. The world sighed a collective sigh of relief, none quite so large as the managers of the company, who'd never expected their prototypes to become as successful as they were, and who now had a lucrative business manufacturing bootleg Complainers to sell to the thriving collection market online. return