The planet Nebtok Blintz 6.1 is located just a short distance from the Zerbon nebula. It has a twin planet (6.2) and both float in a beautiful wraith of Zerbon’s orange gasses. While this was nice to look at as I drove in, visibility was terrible. Luckily I’d just had my wipers repaired, and after clicking them to intermittent I was able to see well enough to land.
I only had a tourist visa, which I’d picked up at the Nebtoki consulate on Pluto (all the Zerbon planets seem to have consulates there, who knows why). The bastards only gave me 30 days, but whatever. I’d have the last laugh as I was going to meet up with the Balthonians and help them smuggle four tonnes of diamonds from the planet’s carbon core. Then we’d roll in our billions and take peyote and maybe go to Alpha Centauri for burgers. But first there was work to do.
Getting through customs was disgusting. I forgot how drippy the Nebtokis are, and to make matters worse the agent at my wicket had left his mucus cup at home. Ew. Maybe this helped me in the end though, because I was able to pass myself off as a tourist without being selected for reversible brain dissection. A more attentive agent might’ve seen I had things to hide.
I returned to my pod and headed for the rendez-vous point I’d set up with my contact among the Balthonians, Chad. “So you’re here, finally,” he said. As though it was my fault the whole road was socked in with orange gas and I couldn’t go more than 100,000. My foot wasn’t even on the pedal, I swear.
“Just give me the diamonds, cowboy,” I said. This is what people call Balthonians because they look like cows.
“And if I say no?” he said, smiling like a crazed fool. What the hell was he playing at? Jesus, I just crossed the galaxy for this guy.
“Hey, what’s the deal man? You’re the one who called me, unless you forgot.”
“Oh I didn’t forget. It’s her who isn’t so sure.”
“Her? The grandmother?”
“One and the same.”
“My god. I thought that was just a legend. You know, scare the Bogzarfs and all that. ‘Ooh, don’t mess with us or the grandmother will get you.'”
“Might scare you too.”
“Well I’m not nervous. If anyone should be nervous it’s her.”
“Oh she is, she always is. That’s her M.O.” He turned his head and yelled back into the darkness of the cave he’d come out of. “Grandmother! Our fence is here. Come size him up.”
Of course I’d lied to him, I was nervous as hell. The grandmother? She was feared from here to the goddamn vanguard of the universe.
After a minute she waddled out of the cave, and to my surprise she just looked like an other Balthonian woman. The only exception is that she had a cloaking device wrapped around her head like a shawl. “What do you want,” she asked.
“What is this?” I said. “You guys fucking called me, ok? You. Called. Me.”
“Alright alright, keep your hat on,” she said, looking me up and down like I was a slave she was inspecting for Krebian digi-lice.
“I’m not wearing any lice, if that’s what you’re worried about,” I said. “Trust me, no one is listening in.”
“Yeah haven’t I heard that a million times,” she said, continuing to size me up.
“What about you, eh? What you got under that cloak?”
At this Chad turned purple. I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his damn head. “No one dares mention the cloak!” he roared.
“It’s fine, Chad, it’s fine. If he wants to see, let him see.”
Finally we’re getting somewhere, I thought. A little cooperation. I was chewed up with curiosity by that point, wonder just what the hell this famous old lady kept on her precious little head, so even though it was just a second before she unveiled, it felt like an eon.
In the end I wish it had been. For when she pulled the cloak off her head I was greeted not by typical Balthonian fur, but something wholly different. A strange little man growing straight out of her skull. “Good god,” I said. “What the fuck is that.” At this the little man turned his head — not at me, but the other way — and a knowing smile pinched across his face. And that’s when I felt it, the heat. The raging unbearable heat. “No,” I said. “It can’t be true.”
His little voice croaked out then like a toad jumping from its wee dank toad hole. “Oh but I’m afraid it is.”
Every second that passed made it harder for me to speak, as I was cooking from the inside out. “Not…not…a mind boiler?”
“Haha! Merry Christmas Earth douchebag!” he cackled. With that I collapsed under the force of the burning, flopping like a fish on rocks. I tried to ask why, but my tongue swelled and choked me out.
There was no explanation, no reason, no hope. I’d met my end among this band of diamond nabbers. Goddamn, I thought. Should’ve known better than to trust a cowboy. Should’ve known… And like that I was gone.