“What the?!” Pomona stared back at me, hands helplessly outstretched. The soft empty shell disintegrated with her body heat. “How? No, wait. Why?” Her lower lip started quivering, her eyes welled up. Here we go. I shut the bulkhead and locked it. At least we were safe in here from the guards, until we got picked up. “Poe! Pull yourself together. Nobody got time for the waterworks.” She let the thin fabric that contained the sample fall to the floor and covered her face. She shook.
Great. What did I do this time?
I felt another sensitivity training looming.
Outside, the shouting began. It was muffled for now, but that’d change soon. Crap. Somebody barked orders nearby. The guards were faster than I thought. I dialed in the key combination for the pick-up beacon and bent down to collect the remains of the shell. Good thing I brought the cooler because the sample looked as if it was sweating. Mother Goose gave me his word, that we were safe and won’t get any nasty, deadly, or hilarious diseases. I satisfied my curiosity and smelled the flimsy translucent parchment. “Smells like napalm in the morning.” HA! Finally. I could use that quote.
I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
I expected a laugh, or a snicker, oh well, even a snort from Pomona would have done it for me. Something to cheer her up, or annoy her in a good way. My day was about to turn complicated.
Her fist connected with my jaw with a sickening crunch. Ow!
I didn’t know she was capable of such a forceful hit in her current, uh, form. The pain caught up with my jaw. For a moment, I lost the ground beneath my feet, and I might have felt my head spin and try to fall off, like a well behaved bowling ball. What a punch. My vision blurred and the shouting and banging outside went far away, just to take a run up and slap me across the face. I probably fainted for a second there. But don’t tell Pomona. That’ll make her more insufferable and bratty than now, which is almost impossible.
That never happened, and you never saw me kiss the ground.
“You left me alone! AND IT MELTED!” She screamed. I sat up and spat out a tooth. Ugh. Great! Liquid food was my foreseeable future. This gig was a visit to hell already. If Pomona hulked out on me, I could wave the rest of my bones goodbye and Mother will need a spatula to scrape up what’s left of me.
Fuck it. “Po’? If thif a gween-fenawio?” She glared at me, while I fumbled with the tranquilizer gun in my belt. Thank God, Mother gave it back to me, after I tested it extensively. On me. As an experiment. And everyone else on the ship. Without their consent. Then on me. Again. By accident. Huh, You might see a pattern there.
“NO.” Her teeth made a scraping noise. She pulled me to my feet and glared at my hands. I smiled, and held my hands up.
“Fee, no feepy time.” She made a disgusted face and went to open the bulkhead. I needed to sit down a bit, so I parked myself on top of the cooler, in case it crawled away. I wanted to hold her back and protest. I swear I wanted to, but I saw her eyes, and they glowed red already. “Uh, don get -” The metal door slammed shut behind her before I had a chance to finish my sentence. A deep guttural growl reverberated in front of the bulkhead. Those poor, poor bastards. I heard the shouted orders, then terrified screams, jowls, then just thumps and explosions and gunfire. I was really glad Pomona was on our side.
“Kong? What’s your status?” What impeccable timing. I swallowed. Mother Goose will love this.
“Uh, fo-fo.” The comm went silent.
“Darling? Why do you talk funny? Did you lick the sample by any chance?” I- what? “We talked about this, you know.” Mother Goose sounded exasperated. I felt him pinch the bridge of his nose. “Please don’t contaminate the sample. It pays next years supplies.” He sighed. “Did you contaminate the sample?”
“Nu-uh!” This wasn’t even my fault!
photo by me