“Okay” said the man uncomfortably, shifting his weight a little. “maybe it would be a good idea for some introductions. You do still do introductions don’t you?” He asked.
Sophie squinted at him as politely as she knew how which was not very polite and in fact made it seem to the receiver of her squint that they had just said something incredibly stupid.
“I mean, I’m not exactly up on the customs of you Colonists these days…” He added uncomfortably while trying to narrowly avoid her skeptical squint without looking like he was. It didn’t work very well. He felt the broadside of the squint on his stubbly cheek like a sunburn and tried to find an interesting rock to stare at – preferably one that would be at a more oblique angle from the direction of her gaze.
“Us colonists?” she finally responded to the back of his head. “Are you trying to say that you are not from the Colony of Biter IV? You’ve got the shifty eyed look of one of them.”
“If you wouldn’t mind me asking,” He said. “When, exactly, was the last time you saw a colonist from Biter IV?”
“Never. I just heard about ’em.” Sophie responded. “I’ve heard their shifty eyed.”
“Well I don’t know about that.” He was relaxing a bit now. The conversation seemed to be going a bit better in the light of her apparent lack of knowledge. “It seemed to me their eyes stayed in the right place the last time I saw them.”
“Oh yeah?” She said defensively. “And when was that?” Something about this human was really starting to irritate her, probably the method he chose to travel in. Everyone knew that Aliens were the only things that were supposed to be wandering around on big silver saucers. It was an affront to everything she believed in.
“Oh.” He looked around at the spectacled man behind him. “Last week wasn’t it?”
“Yes sir.” Said the spectacled man. “Last week Tuesday. Excuse me miss, but what day is it? Tuesday?”
The first man, the one in the shorts and strangely adorned bowling shirt, looked at her. Bowling shirt guy. She thought to herself. He probably has a name but she was sure she didn’t want to know it. It was the look she once had given her brother when he mentioned joining the war with glee and a starry eyed wistfulness. It made her feel like maybe that expression had accidentally found itself on her face and she had to fight back a momentary urge to punch herself in the mouth.
“Tuesday is one of the days of the week. Don’t you name your days here anymore?”
“I named this one ‘the day some jerks ruined my day’day. If that’s what you mean.” She replied.
“Well, that’s sort of on the right track but generally they’re shorter. Good job on being creative though.” Piped up the spectacled man.
“Jerkday then.” She said.
Bowling Shirt Guy coughed politely and appeared for a moment to be confused about which expression was more delicate to use in this situation. It was roughly at that moment that a Mutant bunny tried to maul the one girl of the group, Miss Pouty Puffy Lip. She didn’t scream or cry out as she was expected to do but instead grabbed it in mid flight and seemed to hug it.
“Ahhh Bunny!” She cooed with glee. The bunny, held in the embrace of this lunatic bared its fangs and spit at her trying to nuzzle her equine neck with its very unsoft teeth. “Ernest, look! It’s a bunny! I always wanted one!” She yelled at the Spectacled man now known as Ernest.
“What the hell happened to it? Does it have rabies?” He said.
“No no no. It’s just genetically confused that’s all.” She replied, trying to maneuver her hand around its thrashing head to pat it. “Here little fella. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“It’s going to kill you though.” Sophie replied.
“Nonsense.” Said Pouty Puffy Lip. “Bunnies don’t hurt people. They’re cuddly and they love to be snuggled. I just talked to one the other day about the subject, in fact.” She held the bunny tightly in the crook of her arm like a headlock as it opened and closed it’s bristling mouth in a mixture of rage and horror – trying to chomp anything that came within range of being chomped. The other hand scratched at the soft fur at the back of it’s neck. In a strange instant the bunnies eyes clicked open. Even though bunnies should not have expressions, this one was clearly in shock with just a dash of strange recognition. Once that passed it closed its eyes and smiled.
“See?” Said Pouty Puffy Lips. “Snuggly!” Indeed the bunny had completely relaxed. She had never seen one of them smile before, generally because she did everything in her power to kill them quickly before they got that close. She had to admit –even though it took a bit of revulsion to do it – that it was almost cute.
“Look.” She said, hoping that her eyes weren’t goggling quite as much as she suspected they might be. “I’ve had a day already. I’m getting tired of all of this standing around. I have trees to milk and goats to chew.”
“Right.” Said Bowling Shirt Guy. “Sorry about all of this. Susannah get’s carried away with her job a little. Very enthusiastic at times.” Pouty Puffy Lip looked up from her still tightly clenched blob of soft downy fur capped with gigantic teeth and smiled broadly. She had to admit, it was one of the cleanest and toothiest smiles she’d ever seen on a human and it, like the now docile bunny, unnerved the hell out of her. Human teeth were not meant to be white. Nor were they supposed to be straight and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d see quite so many of them.
“You’re not really human are you?” She said.
“Oh yes. From Earth. I thought we’d mentioned that already. Sorry. My name is Captain Townes Martin Conifer, this is my Biological Expert Susannah Brown and her husband and the Turtle’s computer, Ernesto Brown. And you are?”
“That’s a strange name. Well, Miss Noyd. As I mentioned we’re trying to procure one of your carrots if that’s possible.” This time he smiled. She wondered what it was with these so called people insisting they were human by proving how much they weren’t. He too had an impeccable row of white – not brownish yellowish – teeth.
She squinted at him again, this time as she would have at her father when he insisted that the President of Florida was going to visit in the morning and she needed to clean the goats with that small weird plastic stick with the bristles stuck in it that seemed to have no other purpose other than meticulous goat cleaning. Her squint didn’t have the desired effect. He continued to smile. His pearly white teeth glittered in the sun.
“You want one carrot. Am I right about that?”
The Spectacled man coughed politely which caused Bowling Shirt Guy to look at him.
“Oh yes and a few potatoes if you have them. And if you don’t mind my biological officer has taken a liking to your Bunny here.”
“Well you’re welcome to the Bunny. I’ve never heard someone want just one carrot though. And usually when they come to get them they have guns. And they don’t ask.”
“Well we thought we would be polite. Besides we don’t have guns. We’ll happily pay you for them.”
Payment was a novel concept she’d heard of in tales of a mythological nature. It was always a concept she’d liked about in tales, however. If she understood it correctly it meant that someone would give something for something else. She didn’t quite understand the point of it, of course, as it was just a matter of swapping stuff and she already had most of the stuff she needed except the one really big big one that she often wished for.
“What’ll you give me for it?” She said, squintily.
“Well, I understand that you colonists used to trade little metal disks or small chunks of nicely printed paper. We have a lot of that if you would like it.”
“I haven’t got a damned bit of use for something like that.”
The spectacled man stepped forward confidently. “How about a toothbrush?” He said, producing a Meticulous Goat Cleaner.
“I already have one of those.” She said.
“Really? That’s actually quite shocking.” He said, putting the Goat Cleaner away.
It was the Captains turn to be squinty. “Well, what would you consider a fair trade for the items involved?”
Trade was another term she’d distantly heard about. It was up there with buying things as in it was something that happened in fairy tales and long gone stories of the olden days which everyone knew hadn’t ever really happened. There was something in her, however, that was keen on the idea but that really isn’t too uncommon. Who doesn’t want to live a fantasy? She figured she could play along until one of them pulled the requisite gun used for such transactions.
“I want off this damned shitpile.”
“You heard me. I want to be gone from here. Off of this planet. Gone. If you want my carrot and some potatoes my going trade is that I’m coming with you. I’ll throw in the Rabbit for free.”
The captain cleared his throat hoping that when it cleared it might push the appropriate words out with whatever it was that was in there.