How the World Was Saved
By Peter Wood
COMMANDER ZAMOT MATERIALIZED the human onto the interstellar ship’s quarantined examination room. Zamot switched on the universal translator to make sense of the human’s babbling.
The human stared at his captor from behind the shimmering force field. “Y’all fixing to probe me?”
Zamot frowned. The Empire had not probed aliens in generations. “Why would we do that, human?”
The human’s voice quivered. “Name’s Buddy.” He wore a bright orange vest that covered a green and brown speckled jacket. “That’s what y’all do, right? Anal probes?”
Zamot waved a claw over the contagion sensor and activated it. Soon he’d sweep the planet with the Eradication Ray. Then he and the crew could begin mining while his wife stayed shipside. After a four month interstellar journey, he craved time away from his mate almost as much as the planet’s wealth. “No. We do not need to perform experiments.”
Buddy exhaled loudly. “Thank the sweet Lord, y’all don’t probe.” He reached into a bulging pocket and pulled out a metal cylinder. “You want a beer, bossman?”
Zamot squinted at the can. Pabst Blue Ribbon. He was curious about Earth culture, but would have ample time to poke through the rubble after mining commenced. “No.”
Buddy popped the top off the cylinder and took a sip. “Can you make it quick? I got to get back to shining deer. Y’all had me worried. When I saw your light I thought State Wildlife was coming.” He swayed as he talked.
Zamot pointed the contagion sensor at the human. As long as the planet was clean of a select few kinds of toxic microbes, mining could begin. Soon he would be calculating shares for everybody on board. Even his wife would have no reason to complain.
“I figured you boys would have landed in New Mexico,” Buddy said.
Zamot put down the sensor. “Why would you presume we would land anywhere?”
“Y’all landed there a while back. Area Fifty-One.”
“We are the first Empire ship to come to your world.”
Buddy shook his head. “Ancient aliens built the pyramids. The government’s been covering y’all up for years, bossman.”
Zamot’s mate, Dreel, stomped into the room. Her erect antennae showed she was not happy. “You said we were the first to land here, Zamot.”
Zamot suppressed his anger. Why must she always correct him? What was he thinking when he combined a mining expedition with a second honeymoon. “We are.”
“Not true, bossman.” Buddy reached into his pocket and pulled out another beer. “If y’all hadn’t been here before, how would a good old boy from Alabama know about probing?”
Zamot could not believe the audacity of the human. “Silence. We no longer probe.”
“How far back did you check the records, Zamot?” Dreel asked.
“Forty solar cycles, as is required,” Zamot said.
Dreel glared at Zamot. Her scaly tail thumped against the bulkhead. “So, you didn’t research the complete records? You never thought another citizen may have already laid claim to this planet? I knew you would err.”
“I did not err,” Zamot snapped. As Dreel’s tail hit the bulkhead again, he wondered if the reinforced walls had the strength to withstand the wrath of an angry wife. “The Empire has not been here before. I just ran a complete diagnostic. There are no hyperspace drive exhaust traces.”
Buddy’s eyes were bloodshot. He stumbled and grabbed onto the hovering examination table for support. “That saucer crashed in Area Fifty-One over sixty years ago.”
Dreel snorted. “See Zamot. That is why you should have looked past forty years.”
“Dreel,” Zamot insisted. “The human is wrong.”
“He knows about probing,” Dreel said.
Buddy yawned. “And then y’all helped out Lee friggin’ Harvey Oswald. Landed a saucer on top of the School Book Depository,” He pointed his right hand like a gun. “Bang. Goodbye JFK.”
“Jaefkay probably tried to take the rightful claim to this world,” Dreel growled.
“I have no idea what the human is talking about,” Zamot said.
Dreel’s tone was stern. “If you had done a proper investigation, you would understand.”
Buddy’s voice slurred. “How’s Jimmy Hoffa doing?”
“I told you we should have gone to the Maxiumus star system,” Dreel said.
“We have every right to colonize this world,” Zamot said.
Dreel’s voice rose. “We will not set one talon on this world. I cannot believe you failed to do proper research.” She gave a slow shake of her head and let loose a condescending laugh. “No, the sad thing is that I can believe it, Zamot.”
Buddy pointed to the sensor. “What’s that doohickey for?”
“Return the human to his world!” Dreel thundered. “Whoever has rights to this planet will not appreciate us tinkering with his property.”
“Just set the controls for the home world and do a proper investigation of the next world. We will tell the crew and the authorities that we detected a hostile microbe here. At least that way we can pretend you know what you are doing.” Dreel slammed her tail against the bulkhead and stormed into their sleeping quarters.
“Could y’all drop me off at Wilbur’s Stop and Shop for a second before you beam me to my deer stand? I’m a good ways in the woods. I’m fixin’ to run out of beer,” Buddy drawled.
“You will materialize where we captured you,” Zamot hissed.
“I got trouble with my wife too. That’s why I spend so much time hunting. Always after me to get a job.” Buddy tossed an empty beer can on the floor.
Zamot sighed. “My mate can be a challenge.”
Buddy laughed. “You need a vacation.” He pulled two unopened beers from his jacket and set them on the table. “You need these more than me.”
“I will return you to the Stop and Shop,” Zamot agreed.
“Thanks, bossman.” Buddy vanished in a flash of silver light.
Zamot popped open a beer. He leaned back in a chair and pondered where he would go after this expedition. Without Dreel.
Peter Wood is an attorney from North Carolina. His previous story for us was “The Day the Alien Came to Church” in the 12-FEB-2013 update.