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by Jewel Beth Davis

What the flak am I doing on this Lude-forsaken planet? One minute I’m floating in empty space in my sweet little souped-up Aero Lynx with my good buddy Carna the horn dog. The next thing I know, I’m lying alone in the killing heat on this crappy, repulsive world called Earth. For Lude’s sake, this is a place that doesn’t even acknowledge life on other planets.

There’s no way I’m staying here. Get me the flak out of here! Okay, don’t panic. Take it easy, Sod-boy. You’ll be fine. Just think and breathe. That’s what got you through every Constellation Exam you ever took.

Sod’s bright white hair stood up on end in a modified mohawk. He was a good-looking humanoid — so the fem genders told him — with smooth, gray skin and no acne. He was very tall for a masc gender on his planet and walked on two muscular legs that had fins on each ankle.

Sod took several deep, cleansing breaths and scanned his environment. The sky was the sky. It happened to be a nice day on Earth; the sky was various shades of blue with lots of the white stuff tacked on. But the rest of the environment was wholly unappealing.

Dry, brown-and-reddish ground stretched from horizon to horizon every which way he looked. Here and there, tufts of green sprouted, but they must have battled with the rest of the environment to emerge and likely wouldn’t last long. A single bird with an impossibly long wingspan glided towards him. It was mainly an ecru color, but the tips of its feathers looked as though they’d been dipped in chocolate. Sod did not recognize the bird from his Ornithology of the Universe textbook.

Other than that, he could see deep, rust-colored canyons in front of him about five drilos away. Lude, the heat. His lungs rasped when the breath went through them. It must be at least 110 peqans. He wasn’t used to it. His ship and home were both climate-controlled.

Everything was controlled on Nede. It was such a beautiful planet; he couldn’t imagine why anyone would live anywhere else. Thank Lude his flying suit was equipped with water straws and cooling apparatuses. Even so, the sun beat down on his head and face. And already his face was starting to dry and crack. On Nede, the sun’s UV rays were automatically filtered. These people must get cooked daily.

Sod had been kneeling. Now he stood. He had to move. He couldn’t remain stagnant or he’d fry. He had to try and find shelter. All he could see were a few scraggly trees here and there that had almost no leaves.

He began to walk towards the canyons. He didn’t remember how many hours were in a day on this planet, but the sun was almost directly overhead and he figured he had a long stretch before the sun would begin to set. Damn his ego for not wearing his helmet while flying. It would have protected his brain and also had automatic cooling. He sipped nonstop on a water straw implanted near his chest plate. It was dead quiet here other than the occasional buzz of a big flying insect.

As he stumbled over the uneven terrain covered with prickly plants, Sod noticed little furry creatures eyeing him from behind scrub brush and tumbleweeds. Their eyes were black and shiny. He didn’t think he needed to worry about them, but just in case, he kept moving as fast as the heat would allow. They were probably just curious.

Well, he was curious, too. How could he have been flying above this planet one minute, and the next, be on it? No ship, no Carna, no food, nothing. This area was so brown and wasted, he didn’t see how life could exist here if everywhere else on the planet was like this. Of course, there could be other climate sectors.

He tried to think back. He and Carna had been laughing just before he arrived here, but about what?

Sod piloted the Lynx and Carna was his navigator. They were just goofing around, zipping down one wormhole into a universe and whooshing up another into a different universe. Somehow, they had ended up near the Milky Way, in proximity to the only peopled planet on this end of the galaxy.

Nobody bothered with Earth. Earthlings were troublesome humanoids, obsessed with power and materialistic to the extreme. Nobody visited this planet because the people here were so fearful of life on other planets that they’d probably shoot any visitors right out of the sky before they could even communicate. That was the rumor, anyway. Earthlings were the butts of jokes on every planet in every galaxy.

“Professor Sargon was really after your ass when you messed up the experiment with the Chinglies,” Carna said. His hair stuck out in bright red points all over his head.

“The Chinglies!” Sod laughed. “The Chinglies were everywhere. On the walls, the floors, the ceilings. Sargon looked like she was about to have apoplexy.”

“What a mess! I never had that much fun in an experimental science class before in my life. I am so flakking sick of detrums and santons,” Carna said.

“Not me,” said Sod. “I flakking love detrums and santons. I’m just going to cry when we finish up that unit.”

“Flak you,” Carna said. He threw an energy bar at Sod’s head but missed.

“Flak you,” Sod cried. “You flakking skimmy, suggy, son of a tofull.” He caught the bar and flung it back at Carna, hitting him in the chest. They were both laughing so hard, they could hardly catch a breath. They wheezed, discharging intermittent high-pitched shrieks.

“I bet Professor Sargon is going to be gunning for you,” Carna said.

And that was it. That was the last thing Sod remembered before he found himself here. There was no flash of light. And neither of them had touched any buttons or given commands to the P-yuter. What the flak? he thought. This sucks tofulls.

Sod tripped over a long, tubular, undulating creature with geometric patterning. It hissed at him. A small, forked tongue came out of the creature’s mouth. “Whoa,” Sod said. He ran, his fear seeming to form a tangible mist around him.

If he ever got back to his ship, he’d turn it right around and head for home. He’d go right to his dorm and then straight to the library to study for his Constellation Exams. He’d stop flakking around all the time and get serious. He’d find Scohee, his femfriend, and tell her so. She was always ragging on him to take his life more seriously. As long as he wasn’t stuck forever on this Lude-forsaken planet. Please, Lude, please.

Sod stumbled on a rock and fell to the ground. He gouged his knee, which began trickling blood. “GAT!” he screamed, and fell on his arm. “Stinking GAT!” He knew he had wrenched something, because it hurt like a son of a tofull. He was flakking hot. His skin was now a deep pink with gray edges. His bruises were turning black and yellow, his muscles pulsed with pain, and he felt like crying. But he wouldn’t. No. He wouldn’t. He dropped his head into his hands.

A humming, whirring sound like a top-of-the-line liquidizer broke through to his awareness. He blinked and looked up. There was a tear in the fabric of the sky and his ship appeared, hovering above him. The bottom panel opened and a familiar face appeared. It was Professor Sargon.

“Gotcha,” she said.

“Flak,” Sod said.

Copyright © 2011 by Jewel Beth Davis

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