Catch up on earlier episodes at this link
Meanwhile, in a settlement a few hundred metres from the MoonShip Waist of Space…
“I can’t sleep, Merry,” Tarquin said, “I keep thinking about that shepherd’s hut and those three people. I mean; how could they breathe?”
“Weren’t they wearing space suits?”
“No. They were in ordinary clothes.”
“Is it still there?”
“I’ll look.” Tarquin got out of his bed and stretched up to look out of the window. The shepherd’s hut was still there.
“Come and see for yourself, Merry,” he said, “it’s still there. Quick. Come and look.”
“Oh dear, Tarq. I suppose I’d better, otherwise I’ll never hear the end of it.” She got up, and stretched, but couldn’t get high enough to see out of the window.
“What I wouldn’t give for an elephant’s foot right now,” she said.
“How would that help? Apart from it being very heavy, elephants have such ugly feet, and yours are delicate and soft… and pretty,” he said, his voice drifting off wistfully toward the end.
“Have you been looking at my feet, Tarquin?” Merry demanded.
“Yah, no, well yah, actually. I like your feet. They look nice when you take your socks off.”
“Perve!” she said, “Anyway, I meant an elephant’s foot stool, to stand on.”
“Yah, I knew that,” Tarquin replied.
“So what was all that about my feet being… you know?”
“Just wanted to tell you. It’s true. You have marvellous feet. Sort of feet a chap could fall for.” He reached behind his seat and pulled out a small wooden crate. “Stand on this,” he suggested.
Merry stood on the crate, which raised her enough to see out of the window.
“Golly, maybe you’re not going mad, after all. Is that it, over there?” she asked. Tarquin couldn’t see what she was looking at. He was far too busy looking at her feet, and trying his very hardest to snatch a peek at her ankles.
“TARQUIN! Concentrate,” Merry said. “Is that it?”
Tarquin reluctantly tore his gaze away from Merry’s lower extremities and put his head beside hers to look out of the window.
“Yah. That’s the fellow. Queer, eh?” then, his mind no doubt still on his companion’s feet, “You smell very fetching today, old thing. That a new perfume?”
“Tarquin, what is the matter with you?”
“Nothing. Just think it probably wouldn’t hurt to try… just once; just so we won’t be lying when we tell Arty and his dad that we’re trying.”
“Once more, and I’ll force-feed you double rations of sardines,” Merry replied.
“Sorry. I’ll drop it. Sorry. But what do you think about this shepherd’s hut and the people who appear and disappear?”
“I think we’re hallucinating. I think they’ve put something in our sardines, or in our water.”
“Why do you think they would do that, Merry?”
“Why do you think they wouldn’t, Tarquin?”
“Gosh. Hadn’t thought of it that way. You really are the clever one, aren’t you. You even manage to make me look a bit of a dimwit.”
“That’s not very challenging, Tarquin, is it?”
“Not with you, old girl.”
“My point precisely.”
The door opened and in walked Arty and Flatulon, with another alien in tow. Once they had removed their spacesuits, Flatulon spoke.
“I’ve brought my wife, Methanie, to see you,” he said, “Now, be nice and say hello.”
“Hello, Methanie,” Merry said.
“How can you tell?” Tarquin asked.
“How can you tell what?” Flatulon wanted to know.
“How can you tell it’s female? You all look the same to me. The only difference is Arty is smaller.”
Methanie started what sounded like a cross between a calypso and a funeral dirge played on out-of-tune steel drums.
“You’ve made my Mummy cry, you bad human,” Arty shouted.
Flatulon consoled his wife and said, “I’m sorry. I knew they were primitive and ignorant, but I didn’t expect speciesism, even from them.” Turning to his son, he said, “No rations for them today, and keep them locked in; no exercise.”
“Oh, but Dad,” Arty complained.
“But Dad nothing,” Flatulon said. “They have to be punished. Come on; let’s go.”
And, with that, the pair were alone again, locked in their cage with no food for the rest of the day.
“Well done, brainbox!” Merry said, finally, “We’re locked in for the rest of today and until they come back tomorrow. If they come back tomorrow.”
“But on the plus side, we don’t have to eat sardines,” Tarquin said, cheerfully.
“Or anything else,” Merry reminded him, killing the mood.
“Yah. You’re right. Bummer.”
As our intrepid astronauts were contemplating their fate and considering their impending hunger, the three people from the shepherd’s hut suddenly appeared in front of them. Merry jumped almost out of her skin, bravely pushed Tarquin forward and courageously hid behind him. Tarquin, for reasons only he knew, and probably not even that, was unfazed by the phasing in of the trio.
“Ding dong,” he said, as his eyes fell on the young female, “you up for a bit of…” and, even as he was uttering the words, the focus of his mind changed. He had no idea why, but he felt suddenly warm, safe and protected.
The pretty young woman who had become the unwitting, and unwilling object of his amorous intentions, albeit only temporarily, turned to her older companion and said, “He’s better now. Shall I up his IQ, too?”
“There’s an old saying,” the older one said, “ignorance is bliss. Let’s leave him as intellectually challenged as he was. If you’ve dealt with his breeding instinct, life will be better for them.”
“But what about the others?” she asked.
“The Borborygmi? No, best leave them. Their sojourn on the moon isn’t going to last, anyway.”
The younger one seemed to Tarquin to shimmer; then he said, “I’ve fixed their radio. They should be able to contact Earth, now.”
With that, as suddenly as they had appeared, the three disappeared again. Not only that, but the door to the cage was open.
Tarquin and Merry ran to the wall and looked out of the window. The shepherd’s hut was no longer there.
“Did I just dream that?” Tarquin asked.
“If you did, I dreamt the same thing,” Merry replied.
“How can you know that? I haven’t told you what I dreamt, yet.”
“Shepherd’s hut, three people.”
“Yah. Same thing. Odd.”
Merry wanted to test a theory. “Tarquin,” she said coquettishly, “about this breeding idea…”
“Yah, Right, No. Must see if the radio works. How can we get back to the Waist of Space?”
Merry knew, then, that it hadn’t been a dream.
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.