Meanwhile, in a settlement a few hundred metres from the MoonShip Waist of Space…
“We aren’t small animals you can keep as pets, Arty,” Meredith said, “Like you, we are intelligent creatures; inquisitive, resourceful and the very pinnacle of evolution on our planet.”
“Gosh, Merry,” Tarquin responded, “well said. Well said indeed!” And he started clapping like a seal; perched, as he was, on something that had the appearance of an upturned, empty fromage blanc pot.
“Shutup!” Merry instructed.
“Sorry,” Tarquin meekly replied.
“My Daddy says that if you were intelligent beings, you would have started doing something by now. He thinks you are probably what he called ‘domestic animals’ sent to see if they could survive space travel. We did that before any of us went into space.”
“Go and tell your Daddy he’s wrong, Arty. We are not pets. On our planet, we are like I imagine you are on yours.”
“Well said again!”
“I’ll tell him as soon as I bring your food in. How many times a day do you normally get fed?”
“We don’t ‘get fed’; we prepare meals!”
“Okay. How many a day?”
“Three,” Tarquin volunteered.
“And do you have a tin each, or one between you?”
“A tin of what?” Merry asked, dreading the response.
“We can’t make out the writing on the tin, but the picture looks like what we would call fish.”
“Not sardines!” Tarquin groaned, “Can we have something different? Please? Just for a change.”
“That’s all I could find in your thing.”
“What do you eat? Perhaps we could have some of that?”
“You wouldn’t like what we eat.”
“Well, could we try?” Merry was sure anything would be better than a constant diet of sardines in vegetable oil, three times a day for the rest of their lives.
“I’ll ask Daddy, but I’m sure he’ll say no. Wait here.”
Arty donned his space-suit and left the room, leaving our intrepid astronauts alone, in their cage.
“What shall we do while we wait for Arty to come back, Merry?” Tarquin asked. “How about a game of ‘I spy’. You start.”
“How about you shut up and let me think, Tarq?”
“Yah. Okay,” Tarquin said, dejectedly, “I’ll do that. I’ll shut up and let you think.”
After a couple of all-too-brief minutes, Tarquin could remain silent no longer.
“What are you thinking, Merry?”
“I’m trying to decide the most efficient way to kill you, Tarq.”
“I say, that’s a bit rum. I thought you wanted to find a way of getting us out of here.”
“So, what were you thinking, ultra-brain?”
“I was wondering what you were thinking, that’s all.”
“You weren’t thinking about anything yourself?”
“Tarquin Stuart-Lane, you really are a… oh my God!”
“I’ve just realised what the name of our moonship means.”
Arty chose that moment to reappear. He removed his space-suit and approached the cage, laden with tins of sardines.
“So?” Merry asked.
“Can we try what you eat?”
“What did your Daddy say?”
“He said ‘No, there might not be enough for us, if you have some, too’.”
“Why? What do you eat? Where does it come from? How do you get supplies?”
“That’s an easy one. Daddy says I should tell you that we have a lifespan of fifteen of your years, and each pair produces enough young to maintain a stable population.”
“What has that to do with food?”
“Why? What do you do with your dead?”
“We eat them, of course. Don’t you?”
“You mean…” Tarquin said, incredulously, “you mean you’re cannibals?”
“No, silly; they’re round metal things you shoot out of big guns.”
“No,” Merry started to explain Arty’s error, then changed her mind. “Oh; never mind. Just give us a tin of sardines each.”
I wrote part one of this tale in response to Kreative Kue 39, issued on this site earlier. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.