Will Pepper Writes as
Dubya-Ay P. The 3rd
In this universe’s crazy history of card games, there was no way this dude could beat my hand. Sure, I was on day three of little sleep and multiple Poker games since arriving aboard the Space Casino Tunica just outside of the Delta Nebula. At this point, I just wished my hosts had given me a chair where my feet touched the ground instead of them loosely dangling like two bright blue and brown chicken legs. Nine straight hours of winning-then-losing and losing-then-winning have come down to this hand.
The tournament started with twenty players in five games, all betting their hard-earned units. Then, as players ran out of units, a wagering of personal possessions followed. It was common practice and also led to great stories. Just in this last game, a GrimStox bet his mighty talisman necklace straight from his neck, its jeweled tusk shaped horn that was worth a pretty penny (or even an ugly one or two). After the GrimStox lost his hand to me, smoke shot from his eyes and he ate a garbage receptacle on his way out. From what I understand about their culture, that’s taking a defeat lightly.
The Literoit Space Princess Uary bet her tiara, a crown that was about half my three-foot frame in height and diameter. The largest of Literoits are around eight feet tall with heads the size of my entire body. With the recent loss of the crown dismissed the Space Princess from the table, the lady currently sat in the back of the room with the crowd watching this final battle for the massive pile of chips in the center of the table.
After the green Tishcipe dealt the latest hand from its octopus arms, I added the GrimStox’s horn to the stack with a clank on top of the pile. The impact splashed the chips. A reverent hush fell over the room.
If my hand were labelled anything, you could call it Rocking Royalty. This straight flush was unbeatable, an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten, all in the house of Spades, were the perfect combination. Yes, there was one way to beat me, but I was pretty sure I saw the Joker card, a dancing Rhino in a miniskirt on it, tossed down in anger when the Space Princess Uary folded and stormed out of the room for a bit.
I’ve had many adventures in my life, and met many different species, but I couldn’t place what species my opponent, this cloaked figure, actually was. This being possessed bony fingers so long they could pick an apple from a tree, even if the creature was lying down. I’m pretty sure its mouth was under that hood, but I could only see one giant eye peering from the hole. All of this made the rest of its anatomy a complete mystery to me.
The cloaked creature used one finger to push its last chips on the table, making the ante too rich for my blood. I’d feared that. Without enough chips or possessions to call the hand, I’d have to fold even with a winning set of five cards.
Just as I raised my claw to flop my loss on the table, the creature waved its bony fingers for me to stop.
“Giving up so soon?”
“Um, yeah.” I snorted and motioned my claw across the table. “I can’t match or call the pot.”
“You might be out of units, but you are not out of value, are you little gremlin?”
I gulped because whenever someone makes a change to a game, the change usually only benefits them.
“Don’t overreact…I don’t want you, little one.” The creature chuckled. “Only a piece of you. Your tail.”
Some say it was a vicious rumor created by the DongaDid empire that gremlins’ tails detach. DongaDids are known liars, but great at parties, so they are almost always employed in politics. However, this particular rumor is also true. When cornered, gremlins sometimes use our tails as whips to scare away predators. However, it is also a myth that a gremlin’s tail carries instant knowledge, that anyone outside of the gremlin race can hold a tail and double their intelligence for a short period of time.
The drawback for the tailless gremlin is he becomes clumsy. Who would’ve thought a tail was crucial for balance?
I smacked my lips as the prospect of winning the pot and the odds of losing my literal tail warred in my head. There were enough units and treasure on that table to keep me from having to work for a year! But if I lost, losing the units and treasure would be nothing compared to losing my tail.
“Of course, if you don’t think you can beat me, I understand.” The creature opened its hood to reveal a gaping mouth with a tauntingly tightlipped smile.
I squeezed the playing cards so hard they crinkled in my claws. There’s no way to lose. Think of the units!
I knew I could sit here all day debating this decision, but I didn’t have all day. Fortune favors the bold. So, I reached down, popped off my tail, and tossed it into the middle of the table.
“I call.” I spread my cards out on the table and my opponent whistled in awe. “You better call the fire department, because you just got burnt!”
The crowd went wild with applause. I jumped on the table and took a bow. The Space Princess nodded at me in acceptance of my awesomeness. Our dealer, the Tishcipe, High-Clawed or High-Tentacled me; I couldn’t tell which, but I was too excited to care. Now was the time to gather up the units and get to spending.
Then, as the crowd settled down, I heard a slow tapping to the right side of the table. With two arms full of the booty, my green eyes caught one of the creature’s giant fingers pointing across the room. I rotated my head, and my eyes eye went wide. A cold shiver went through my leathery skin as I read the creature’s outstretched cards.
Four threes and a Joker. Five of a Kind. The only hand that could possibly beat mine.
How in the world did I miscount the cards? In shock, I dropped the winnings I had gathered, slumped down on the table, grabbed my pointy ears and pulled them over my mouth to muffle a scream through my gritted, oversized teeth. The bony finger raked all the units and treasures away, except for the tail.
As I stared at my tail, tears welled up in my eyes. I’d lost a lot in my life, just never a piece of myself. In the past, others took advantage of me, so I’d preferred my loner status to risking getting hurt again. You can’t get hurt by people if you have no people, right? However, right now, loner life stunk, because I was not only alone. I was broke, and I was broken.
“There, there, little one.” The bony finger rolled the tail from side-to-side below my face. “I promise to make excellent use of it.”
And, like that, the creature snatched up my tail and departed the room with the crowd, leaving me alone with nothing but the playing cards on the table and a whole lotta self-pity.
I bit my lip and glared at the cards, my pupils trying to burn holes in them. Sadly, gremlins lack that power, so instead I snatched up the cards and flung them against the large window looking out into space. The cards flew through the air, rotating and turning, until they all stuck against the glass. Some of the cards values, the Threes, faced my direction, while two of the backs of the cards faced out into space.
Then I saw it.
One of the backs of the two cards was the color blue. The other cards were red.
The cloaked figure had used two different decks of cards. It not only cheated; it got away with it and got away with my tail!
By the time I ran my little legs across the ship to the hanger bay, a siren blared, alerting everyone that a ship was departing. I would’ve gotten there earlier, but the loss of balance due to my missing tail ping-ponged me from wall to wall in the hallway. Anyone who saw me might’ve thought I had too much Ssepg punch. Once I got to the hanger, I was forced to watch as the creature waved goodbye through the cockpit windshield of its ship. The only thing that made it worse was that he waved with my tail in his grip. With a roar of engines and a blast of heat, the ship shot from the hanger.
“Son of a biscuit eating crackle dragon…” I looked around to make sure no one heard my profane language. The only creature there was Space Princess Uary, surrounded by her servants and several pieces of luggage. One of her servants held out a case to the Space Princess. From inside it, she withdrew a tiara identical to the one she lost in the poker game.
The Space Princess must’ve felt me staring because she spoke to me without even looking my way.
“I usually wear this fake one when I play games of chance, but it completely slipped my mind this time.” She emitted a laugh that echoed in the hanger, and for second I feared she’d lost her Space marbles. “You see, I’m way too competitive and have now lost something irreplaceable. That crown is more than jewelry. It is the only way I can communicate with my tribe.”
The Space Princess finally turned to face me and began walking my way as she asked if I wanted a bite to eat. Free food is free food, so I said yes because I was as broke as a coal miner on Spartacus Four, a planet known to have zero coal mines. The two of us, plus her entourage of six servants, strolled over to the ship’s cafeteria in silence. Only after I’d put all the food the little red plastic tray could handle on it did I spot a smile cross Uary’s giant face.
In my experience, unexplained smiles either equaled adventure, or criminal activity. Sometimes they meant both. For the next half hour, the Space Princess Uary told me stories of how her tiara was not merely a crown, but more of a magnet and conduit. Her species was a quiet one and rarely spoke about their problems, which was why the expression As Quiet as a Literoit was the slogan for the universe’s Number One vacuum, The Sukett. Uary explained that her species inability to properly convey sadness was why she broke out into laughter when she spoke with me earlier about the loss of her crown. This particular tiara emitted a pulse that only other Literoits could sense. It relaxed her subjects, encouraged them to speak at ease, and allowed those within a stone’s throw the courage to speak up. This had kept her home planet free from strife and war for over three hundred years. Without the crown, an uprising was destined to happen.
Throughout the entire story, I kept silent. Well, except for loudly gobbling down every ounce of food on my plate. When you’re broke and you get a chance to eat, you eat everything you can.Only when she finished her story did I show her what I’d brought with me from the poker game: the hooded creature’s cheating hand. I had planned to shove those cards in the cheater’s cheating face and demand my tail back, along with all of the bounty. Instead, I showed them to the only person who got cheated more than me.
The space princess leaned across the table and pried the cards from my claws. She flipped them over and sighed.
“So, we both got cheated.” The next thing she did caught me completely off-guard. “You’re going to make this right.”
I had no clue what her comment meant, but I also know that no good deed goes unpunished, so I started looking for the closest exit. “Um, what do you mean?”
“Observe.” The princess extended her arm and one of her servants handed her a box just about twice my size. On the side of the silver box were the words Court Caddy: Property of the Literoit Empire. I spotted little thrusters recessed into the hinges of the box. Uary popped open the box and withdrew a handheld device.
I approached as the giant placed her discovery on the table: a handheld device with a monitor featuring a flashing light and coordinates. Under the screen were the words Tiara Tracker®, for when you are a Royal and screw up Royally.
“So, you’re going to go get your crown?”
“No.” The space princess placed her hand on my head and gave me a pet. “You are.”
“Bring it back in one piece, or don’t bother coming back at all.” The Space Princess’s decree rang in my ears. It seems that her Royal Highness had a travel log that accounted for everywhere she went and, if she went after her crown, then her father would know that she had lost it. I didn’t care about the Space Princess ever “shaming the Royal Family,”I was doing this for me, not her. I didn’t owe her a thing if this didn’t work, but I needed the units AND my tail, and she was the only ticket in town.
So that was how I wound up in the cargo hold of The Wind Breaker, a drop ship that went from planet to planet and parachute dropped supplies to clients, with its current stop my final destination: Planet Wesenglund. My glowing hands thankfully weren’t causing an issue. Usually, they ate through all materials they touched when in flight. It’s a gremlin thing we’re known for: we make ships that fly, well, crash.
Even if the cargo bay’s gravity generator broke and me and all the contents of the cargo hold got loose somehow, the crew made sure my hands weren’t a danger by placing me in a Baby Bouncer Protection Bubble. I’m sure you’ve seen them, or at least heard the jingle; “When you fly through the sky and you don’t want trouble, make sure you put the baby in a Bubble.” They’re the bubbles that you put infants in to protect them when you travel. They are pretty darn close to indestructible, and as comfy as massage chair set on the full body massage setting. In addition, the crew strung my hands up with six different sets of twine around my wrist, locking them in the middle of the bubble and keeping them from touching the sides. Of course, my nose itched, but it was worth the frustration to keep my hands from imploding whatever they touched and keep the ship less crashy.
Turbulence hit us and the ship jostled all the cargo around. Next to me I saw box that read Non-fragile: towels. On top of it was a silver packet about the size of a pizza. That parachute pouch was meant to open before the box hit the ground, meant being the operative phrase. I’d heard horror stories of orders smashed into pudding upon impact, which is only good if you ordered pudding.
The space princess made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: she would get me to the hooded creature’s planet, I would snag her the tiara, and then she would fly me home in the Court Caddy. The bonus was I got to steal my tail back and pocket any units I found. Plus, she sweetened the pot with a bounty matching the units the cheater stole from me, all to be paid upon the tiara’s safe return, of course.
In this bubble with me was the handheld homing beacon Tiara Tracker and the protective box the Court Caddy, so you can imagine I was in a pretty good-sized bubble, probably designed for a species with really, really big babies.
Apparently this homing pigeon Court Caddy did everything. It was bullet proof. It had tiny rockets that allowed it to blast off through the atmosphere and return to its owner. It also had something called Bluetooth, which made me fear my teeth would change color in flight. Even with the possibility of discolored teeth, the Court Caddy’s best feature was that it was large enough for me to hop in after I snagged the tiara and packed it with goodies.
The space princess looked concerned, her eyebrow cocked, and her lips pursed, when she told me that the seal on the box was airtight, so no breathable air in or out. I sent her a half smile when I told her she shouldn’t worry her giant head; I don’t breathe.
She also told me if I damaged the tiara in any way, the crown would cease to function as a conduit between her race and I shouldn’t even consider coming back if that were the case.
Cargo drop for “Marvin, DA” commencing in three…two…one…drop.
The clank of a trap door under the towel box sounded. With a whoosh, the package dropped from the ship. Then the trap door slammed shut.
I glanced at the tracking beacon. The small dot grew with each passing second. We were approaching the drop zone.
Cargo drop for “Gremlin, T” commencing in three…
Even though I don’t need to breathe, that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the need to hold your breath and brace, especially when a knot in your stomach tells you something bad is coming.
It was at this time I glanced up at the top of my protective orb and relaxed. There was no need to worry. My parachute pouch was securely fastened to the top of my bubble.
A gust of wind hit the ship just as the ship’s computer said the word drop and the trap door opened. My bubble bounced between the hole like a basketball ping ponging between the opening of a rim. I’d noticed how fast those trap doors closed on the towel box, so I shook my body and kicked my legs, hoping my momentum would drop the ball.
The good news was I dropped through the hole.
The bad news was that the slamming shut trap doors severed my parachute from my bubble, and I was now careening towards the planet’s surface.
I don’t work in Research and Development, but I knew now was not the time to product test this baby bubble’s durability.
I’m not subtle under pressure. My mama named me Troubadour because she said I came outta the egg singing. However, since I was headed towards the ground at a speed that would make a cheetah appear to stand still, she shoulda named me Crash Test Dummy Truby.
Glancing around the ball of doom, I closed my eyes and braced as we hit the ground.
Nothing happened. When I peeked through my right eye, I noticed that the ball had flattened from the impact to where the box, monitor, and myself were squished together. We were undamaged, just crowded as all get out.
Then, as a smile crossed my lips, the rubber ball let loose of all the pent up energy from the impact and shot me skyward. For the next few minutes, I spent my life as a bouncy ball. Let me tell you, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Once the ball finally settled in a set of bushes, I said the magic word that we rigged to the voice activated command necessary to burst my travel bubble.
“Kablamo”. The ball popped and the strings holding my wrists snapped. Then I tumbled to the ground face first. “Uh, that’s gonna leave a mark.”
After dusting myself off, I snagged the monitor with my right claw and the handle to the Court Caddy with my left. Even though the box was twice my size, it weighed almost nothing and was easy to sling around. The monitor on the Tiara Tracker showed a blip at the bottom of the screen, which meant I was facing the wrong way. I rotated and spotted a dense fog approaching in the distance.
Once I entered the fog, immediately my leathery skin prickled and itched. I thought maybe it was just the shock of my fall hitting me, but then I glanced down.
On my skin were thousands of little bugs, each nibbling away.
“Get offa me!” I swatted at the bugs and sped through the fog until I reached a path. In the distance, I spotted a building that looked like an old house from that film about the kid that attacked people at a motel while he dressed up like his mom. I’m not sure how the flick ended, though, because I only caught some of it as an in-flight movie until I, well, crashed that flight.
Of course, when I heard growls over my shoulder, I swallowed hard and turned around. Yellow teeth and a slobbery snarl greeted me. This wolf was three times my size and probably four times as hungry as I was. As it lunged for me, I held up the Court Caddy and blocked its bite. The wolf clamped down but then yelped, probably hurting its mouth on the impenetrable casing. It ran off into the darkness just to my right.
“And tell your friends not to mess with me either!”
Apparently, it didn’t hear me because a collection of eyes suddenly beamed at me in the darkness. I glanced down at the Tiara Tracker. I was headed the right way, I just needed to get there a whole lot faster than I planned.
As I darted along the path, I heard the trample of paws behind me getting louder and closer. The tracking monitor beeped faster and faster. The tiara had to be in this approaching house.
A nip of teeth grazed my hand that held the Tiara Tracker. Maybe noises attracted these wolves, or they just hated noises. As I approached the steps, I spotted a wolf shooting over from the side of the house flanking me. There was no way I’d make it to the front door without the pack pouncing on me. In a last-ditch effort, I chunked the tracker in the distance and watched as the wolves pursued the noisy prey over the running one. I darted behind the steps in the front of the house and hid.
Minutes passed and I peeked out. It looked like the coast was clear, so now came the question: should I go in the front door or try another way?
I chose the latter and snuck around to the back of the mansion. There, I found a pipe going into the basement, maybe some type of exhaust for a heating unit. Unfortunately for most creatures, the breadbox size of the pipe and the grate covering the exhaust port would have kept them out.
Fortunately for me, I am a dainty little gremlin with strong enough teeth to chew through the grate. A few bites and a wiggle-wiggle later, I was in some basement laboratory.
The lab was filled with scientific equipment and lit by torches hung from the walls. A Bunsen burner heated something in a bubbling beaker on one of the white rectangular tables. Several sealed vials containing different colored liquids were spread throughout another table.
There, on the center table, lay my goodies: the units, the tiara, the horn, and of course, my tail.
I heard a grunting voice from the other side of the room.
“You own these pushups; they don’t own you.”
I leaned down and glanced under the white operating table. There, on the ground, was a human-shaped ghost doing push-ups. His mostly translucent figure looked like he was wearing a gray tank top, black workout shorts, and sunglasses hanging from a strap around his neck. On his feet were crisp white shoes with the words New Balance on them. I’m sure all this meant something on O.E., but to me he just looked ridiculous.
The walk over to the table was easy, what with the concrete floor’s dust layers muffling my steps. However, the table creaked as I crawled on top of it. Through gritted teeth, I tip-toed over and around various beakers, burners, and cylinders to gather up the loot.
“You got this, Dude-bro. Pain is just weakness leaving the body. So close to breaking the record. Own it. Push it.”
I was just finishing putting the tiara and the units in the Court Caddy, when a massive crash occurred from outside the mansion. The impact knocked me and my carrier off the table. On the ground, I came face-to-face with the ghost.
Then he snatched me by my shoulders, stood up, and threw me against the ceiling.
“You’re messing with my reps, Dude-bro!”
The impact of my head meeting the wooden slats of the ceiling jarred me and I saw stars. I crashed back down onto the laboratory table, my chest stinging from the impact and my middle right claw getting wedged in the top rim of a beaker of some green solution. It was stuck all the way down to my knuckle. With my free hand, I grabbed the GrimStox’s horn and wrapped it around my neck. Then I snatched the Court Caddy and jumped as the ghost swiped at my legs. I scurried up the stairs, opened the door, and closed it behind me.
There I found myself in a large open room with a yellow metal door to my right and the view of a large door in the distance that surely led out. Without even looking around, I sprinted toward my proposed exit but screeched to a halt as the hooded creature emerged from the stairs and blocked my path.
“Hello, little gremlin.” It uncrossed crossed its giant finger-arms and pointed at my Court Caddy. “I think you’ve been naughty.”
It was then that I realized I still had that beaker stuck to my finger.
I sent a wink and a smile at that cheating cheater. “Who, me?”
I flicked my claw with the beaker on it towards him, expecting it to fly off and smash into the creature’s face. Nothing happened. After two more attempts, the creature chuckled, ducked its shoulders, and charged at me.
I chose flight over fight and darted through the yellow metal door and slammed it behind me. Then I barricaded the door with a broom that was propped on the wall next to the door.
The creature banged on the door, but the broom-barrier held. With a second to get my bearings, I glanced around the room. I was in a large, spacious kitchen, one with beautiful gold countertops and every appliance you could imagine. Two large garbage cans the size of bar stools were next to the kitchen counter. Finally, in the back wall was a small door. I grabbed ahold of my Court Caddy, ran to the door, and opened it.
Instead of an exit, it was a small elevator. Next to it, I spotted an Up arrow on the lone button.
The throbbing in my finger where the beaker was cutting off the circulation to my claw was getting worse. I returned to the kitchen sink and looked under it for any type of liquid I could use as a lubricant to pull this vice grip off my hand. Among the sponges and dishtowels was a bottle that read Kitchen Karate ® and the slogan “When you can’t get the grease off, Karate it!”
“That’ll do!” I snatched the bottle with my free claw and jumped on edge of the kitchen counter. Unfortunately, after I bit the top off with my teeth, my nostrils filled with a sour burning smell. For a creature that doesn’t need oxygen, it is kinda weird that I still smell things. My nose wiggled and I sneezed, losing my footing and falling to the silver tile floor.
When I hit the ground, the beaker broke, freeing my hand. However, the spilling and combining of whatever was in the beaker and the potent cleaner Kitchen Karate ® (available at your local SpaceMart) turned into something much worse than just a bad smell.
First, the two liquids formed a gel.
The gel expanded to the size of a loaf of bread.
Then it grew to my size.
As the gel absorbed anything it touched, it continued to grow. When it grew to the size of a mattress, it knocked over the two garbage cans. As the contents spread out onto the ground, I noticed skeletal bones splayed out on the floor.
“That’s never a good sign.” I retreated back towards the far wall.
The bones and garbage cans now floated in the clear gel. Now the size of a car, the gel kept expanding and getting closer to me. As it grew, the blob sucked in the broom handle that was holding the door shut on the other side of the room. Through the clear blob, I saw the card cheating creature open the door from outside, step back in horror, and quickly slam the door shut again.
I glanced at the small elevator. Right after I pressed the button and jumped in, the blob filled the rest of the room. It would’ve gotten in the elevator with me had I not shut the door a split second before it reached me.
As I ascended up a floor in the elevator, the thought never occurred to me that a worse situation was possible. Ever the optimist, I jumped out of the door into a room that looked like a green house. Through the windows, the full moon illuminated not only the greenhouse, but also the outside. From this view, I spotted a silvery round spaceship in the distance and an astronaut running towards the house.
I put two and two together and figured that’s what made that crashing sound that alerted the basement ghost to my presence.
I reached into my Court Caddy and pulled out my tail. Gremlin tails are finicky. It makes sense because they control our balance. If you put it on upside down, you’re worse off than not having a tail at all! Plus, the longer you have one detached, the more finagling and finesse it takes to pop it back on. That is why it took a couple of minutes and four different attempts to get it to reattach.
Finally, after I was just about ready to throw the tail in the Court Caddy and worry about it later, the tail clicked. My back straightened. My ears popped. The muscles in my lower back tightened.
I immediately discovered that a victory roar was a bad idea. The moon’s glow dimmed over me as something in the room shifted and eclipsed the light. I turned and spotted a giant plant with eyes the size of melons.
The plant dove at me with its large pod-like head and opened its mouth to reveal row after row of jagged teeth. I rolled to my right and then snatched up the Court Caddy just before the plant’s mouth slammed down on the floor. With the box between my claws, I darted through the greenhouse. Vines shot out from every direction and nipped at my feet. I jumped, but had not yet adjusted to having a tail again. After my second jump, I leapt too high and hit my head on the glass ceiling. As I crashed down to the floor, I landed on the box and it popped open. The tiara and horn tumbled together, but the units scattered across the room.
My instinct was to grab the money and run, but I knew if the Space Princess’s tiara got eaten by a plant, that I might as well not take this box’s return flight home. I snatched the tiara in one hand and the box in the other. Then the plant snatched me. As vines lifted me up and the world turned upside down, I noticed that the tiara’s rim had caught the horn’s strap. I angled the horn towards me, but the plant jostled me and I almost dropped the whole thing.
Just as the plant hovered me above its open mouth, my lips snagged the horn, and I blew.
A deep blast shook the entire room. The plant shrieked and tossed me away. I smacked the floor and dropped the horn as I rolled end over end towards an open window. I clawed the ground to try to prevent from rolling out. With my left hand holding the Court Caddy and my right hand’s claws digging into the wood floor, I dangled above a thirty-foot drop.
That’s when I saw it. The tiara rocked back and forth, its rim on the edge of the window. One sudden movement and the thing might shatter on the ground below.
The space princess’s words from earlier rang in my ear.
Bring it back in one piece, or don’t bother coming back at all.
I turned my gaze back towards the greenhouse just as the giant plant’s melon eyes spotted me and it stretched its vine like neck my way.
I kicked off the building and flipped backwards as the plant’s head bit into the space where I just was. Then the force of the impact knocked the tiara skyward. With no time to lose, I tried to angle my descent in a way that I could catch the crown. I opened my claw to catch the tiara. It barely slipped through my fingers.
Thinking quickly, my reattached tail whipped around it and pulled it into my chest as I landed atop a long dead tree near the house. The impact knocked me unconscious. I have no clue how long I was out, but the sound of wolves howling woke me up with a start.
“Time to go.” I opened the Court Caddy, put the tiara in, and was just about to jump in my little ride out of here when I spotted the astronaut from earlier. The human was near the entrance to the mansion. Several wolves stalked the space cadet. One was sneaking up behind the astronaut.
I’ve got what I came here for. Don’t get involved. Just hop in and blast off…
I had both feet in the box and was just about to close the latch when I stopped. If I did nothing to help the human, I was no better than the creature who cheated me. I was only thinking about myself. That had backfired on me more times than I could count on one claw.
I had to save the human.
I leapt to within a few feet to the back of the stalking wolf. He heard me land and turned with a white tooth snarl.
“Howl’s it going, pal?” I closed the Court Caddy’s latch and the wolf lunged at me. Tiny thrusters in the box fired up and the box rocketed into the pouncing wolf’s open mouth. The wolf’s underbite must’ve caught under the mini-ship’s handle because, from where I stood, the beast was still hanging on as the Court Caddy broke orbit and disappeared into space.
“Well, that’s one way to travel.”
I realized that my lone chance of getting off this rock now meant that astronaut’s spaceship. Even though me and ships don’t work well together, this plan was still better than the alternative of being served as the main course in a wolf dinner.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the astronaut dealing with what looked like smaller, baby wolves. With my balance back, I took several large leaps and landed on the silver orb of the crashed ship.
A mechanical voice blasted a warning from the vessel. Ship repair complete in one minute. Two minutes until lift off. The doors opened. I had one foot in the vehicle when a wolf slammed into me from behind and knocked me into the ship’s cockpit.
“Hey! Get offa me!”
The wolf opened its mouth to take a bite outta yours truly. I closed my eyes because I knew I was done for. Then I heard the wolf yelp. I opened my eyes as a silvery gloved hand yanked the beast out of the ship.
From outside the craft, I saw the astronaut toss the wolf into the weirdest thing I’d seen all day, and remember, there’d been a lot. Even so, a giant chicken with the body of a wolf won the What the Mynark? prize.
Before I could ask anything, the smaller wolf and the Wolf-Chicken squared off. The astronaut took this opportunity to dive into the cockpit. The doors to the ship shut behind the human.
Then the human locked eyes with me. I didn’t know if speaking would help or hurt the situation, but I decided to give it a shot.
“Thanks, Boss! That wolf almost ate me!”
A yelp from outside the craft sounded. I peeked out at the windshield to see the smaller wolf run off into the distance, fleeing the Wolf-Chicken.
As awkward as it was to find myself in a spaceship with a total stranger, I continued to watch the Wolf-Chicken because it was now pacing and looking intently at our vessel.
Then, something even more bizarre occurred: the creature raised its rear and plopped on top of the ship, clearly having decided that it must be a giant egg. Metal buckled and popped like a submarine going deep underwater.
“Get us out of here, Boss!”
(To Be Continued in the interactive eBooks A Series of Fun Mistakes Available on Amazon.com or here)