by William Arthur "Bill" Holmes. © Copyright 1990-2010 [From September 5, 1989]
In the vast expanse of Llycete Spaceport's docking yard on this below-freezing winter morning, the Mraclys, a small ship badly in need of a paint job, stood apart from the other ships. It stood out mostly because it was so ugly. Green on top, orange on the bottom, with brown patches everywhere, it looked a lot like a green & orange spotted heerbjablig, a rare and endangered species in the jungles of Llycete. The heerbjablig was endangered mostly because it was so ugly. People just shot it on reflex. The Mraclys often inspired the same response.
The Mraclys's owner, a young entrepreneur/smuggler known only as "Baub," didn't care about any of that. He had more important things on his mind.
The first thing he noticed after falling out of bed this morning was the gold embedded in the walls of the cargo hold of his ship. There must have been several millions worth! How or why it was put there, he didn't have a clue.
When he first spotted it, he thought he was still dreaming. But no. In his dream he was falling out of a space ship, nothing but space all around, no cargo holds filled with gold. And in his dream he was wearing red army boots.
He looked down at his feet and they were bare, just the way he had left them. So this had to be real, right? He furrowed his brow and chewed a fingernail. But this accomplished nothing, so he crawled outside the ship to inspect the doors for signs of forced entry.
His bad breath condensed in the chill morning air, and his bare feet were beginning to attach themselves to the frozen pavement below. He climbed back into the ship to see if he couldn't find some shoes, and maybe see if whoever put that gold in his ship was still lurking about — maybe up front in the cockpit.
But wait a minute! Hadn't he just spent the night in the ship, with the doors locked? Yes, he had. So, how could someone have gotten inside his ship and ... He realized the gold must have been particle-beamed into his ship during the night while he slept! How odd.
But, just in case he was wrong about that, he decided to make sure he was alone in the ship. He made his way back from the entryway, through the main body of the ship, and the short distance to the cockpit.
The cockpit door was open, as always, since it never actually had a door, it was just a doorway. He stopped a few feet from the entrance. Except for the hidden corners on either side of the doorway, he had a clear view inside the cockpit.
He threw the only thing he had on him, his left shoe, through the doorway into the cockpit to startle any prowlers into revealing their position. The shoe bounced off the instrument panel and fell to the floor. Aside from that, nothing happened. Baub then bolted into the cockpit, spun around, and went into a crouch with his hands out in front of him, ready for hand-to-hand combat, just like they taught him in driver/combat training.
The cockpit was empty. So, he quickly snatched up the shoe, put in on, and went to the weapons locker. Opening it quickly, he pulled out a small hand blaster, checked its power supply and walked awkwardly — due to the one shoe — back toward the cargo holds for another look at the gold.
Standing with his arms at his sides and his mouth wide open, Baub stared at the gold, dumbfounded. He then, suddenly inspired, raised his blaster up, aimed in the general direction of the wall directly in front of him, and ... heard a noise from behind. Spinning around with the reflexes of an entrepreneur/smuggler, gripping his blast pistol with both hands, police-style, he aimed toward the noise.
He lowered the pistol, and shook his head in disgust. It was Dak — Baub's best and almost dead friend — clambering up the entry ramp. Dak threw up his hands in surprise, then threw up, all over the ramp.
"Don't ever do that again!" Baub hissed.
"I'm sorry," said Dak. "You really surprised me. And I had a hangover, and ..." Dak was looking down at the barf now covering his shoes and dripping off the edge of the entry ramp.
"Not that!" Baub rolled his eyes. "Don't ever sneak up on me when I've got a blaster in my hand!"
"Oh, I'll try and remember," Dak whimpered.
After Dak wiped off his shoes, Baub invited him inside the Mraclys.
"Come and see what someone left me," Baub whispered.
[Stay tuned for the further adventures of !]
[Editor's note: It never continues. Sorry.]
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