WAR!


Chapter Eleven

 

Driving Mr. Greg- by Todd K. Frazier

Todd darted to the nearest door and turned the knob. Jeff, thinking to hedge their bets, twisted the knob on the opposite door and yanked it open....................

Of course, they were both sucked out into the void of open space immediately. Todd could see from the outside that they had been duped. There were NO correct doors to allow them safe passage. Greg had cheated again. Todd started to sigh, and then realized that if he did, he'd be out of air in a few seconds.

"It is very cold in Space." Jeff heard in his head. He had recently watched Star Trek II on video tape and was hearing the words Kahn had uttered echoing through his head. Being naked, the words struck a personal cord within him. Looking around, he realized that the air pressure in the room they had left had propelled him away from the trap at an alarming speed. He also realized that Todd was nowhere in site. It only made sense, since he had left through another door. He was probably heading in another direction at high speeds as well. Jeff quickly forgot about a lot of things as he passed out from lack of oxygen.

*********

"Did you want Canadian Bacon or Supreme?" She asked.

"What?" Todd jumped with a start. He was in a pizza parlor. "How did I get here?"

"You walked through that front door, just like everyone else." She started. "Of course, the employees use the back door, but you're not an employee. There IS the delivery door, but you would have had to come in on a truck."

Todd couldn't deal with all the information this lady was imparting, so he began to ignore her. Then, he realized she had asked an important question. "Canadian Bacon," he interrupted.

She scribbled something on the data pad and left. Todd looked around. An alien was looking at him from the next table. This wasn't your average everyday alien. This one looked very much like a dragon, only smaller. Around it's neck was a large decorative box with piano keys on it, resembling an accordian with flashing lights.

The creature started growling and grunting, while simultaneously playing the "accordian". Out of the box came a metallic voice that spoke English, "I see you've fully recovered." Todd surmised that the box was a translation device of some type.

"Did you save me from my predicament?" Todd asked, with a grateful smile.

"Yes I did. I thought you looked like you could use some help, and some clothing as well."

"Well, thank you very much. Where's Jeff?"

"Jeff?"

"My friend. He was also ejected into space. I take it you didn't see him." Todd looked saddened by the loss of his friend.

"You never know. He could have survived. In this universe of infinite possibilities, anything can happen."

At the phrase 'infinite possibilities', Todd's head snapped up like a Zarnsnafian Bug Mite. "That gives me an idea!"

The alien gracefully sat down at Todd's table, in a manner that would have seemed impossible considering it's size, even if it was smaller than a dragon. "My name is Snargfroth. I will help you with your idea, if you will help me with a little problem."

"You've got a deal!" Todd smiled just as the pizza arrived.

******************

There was a knock on the door, which was pretty wild considering that Greg was aboard his ship in open space. He put down the book he was reading, "Twenty things to do when there's no one left you needed to kill."

"Who is it?" Greg asked.

"UPS delivery man," a muffled voice answered. "Are you Greg?"

Greg grew very suspicious. "Yes, I'm he. How do I know you're not a trap?"

"I guess you don't. Do you want this thing or should I mark it refused?"

"What is it?" Greg asked, curious as to the contents.

"It's heavy, whatever it is. Look, I don't have all day. Open the door!"

Greg checked the external sensors. Strangely, a pocket of breathable air had formed around the door. Shrugging, he pulled out his Tarcunzian Stun Blaster (just in case) and opened the door.

Standing before him was a man in a brown one-piece uniform. He wore a hat and was holding a package with both hands. There was a clipboard sitting on top of the box. Greg took the clipboard, signed in the little box, and pointed with his gun inside the door. "Just set it right there, and do it slowly."

With a tip of his hat and the clipboard under his arm, the man "walked" back across the void between Greg's ship and the UPS truck. Greg shut the door and noticed that as he did, the pocket of air outside dissipated quickly. "Just goes to show you that UPS is a heck of a delivery service."

The package called to him in the way that mysteries do. Greg got out a small scanning unit and pointed it at the package. A light began to flash on the indicator. It flashed over and over the word 'safe'. "I guess it must be safe." Greg decided.

He tore into the package like a kid at Christmas. On top of the small black object was a pamphlet. "Your brand new improbability drive!!" Greg opened up the pamphlet and proceeded to read it carefully.

"Congratulations! We noticed that you were a man of savvy the last time you docked your little ship and hoped that you would be happy to help us with our new product. It's called an Improbability Drive. It can make your ship do amazing things, like the improbability of Infinite speed. We were hoping that you would like to beta test the little item for us. If so, follow the simple instructions included in this box and get it hooked up to your engine right away!"

Greg was very excited. He'd never been asked to beta test anything before. Taking the object from the box, along with the manual, he dashed off to the engine room.

************

"Are you sure this is all you want in return for helping me?" Todd asked.

"Quite sure," Snargfroth agreed, nodding it's head quickly.

Todd took the small piece of chalk from it's resting place. He quickly drew a small circle on the board, and put a line next to it. "This is a half note." Next to it he drew another circle, no line. "This is a whole note. Can you see the difference? It's very subtle."

"I see it. I only wish someone had shown me this before. It would have made all the difference."

"Well, now that we straightened that out, would you like to try again?"

The alien placed large claws upon the small box hanging from it's chest. Switching the indicator from translator to music, it began to play what best can be described the sound of a metallic golf club smacking a golf ball in musical succession.

It was not an unpleasant sound. In fact it was quite good. The various creatures in the pizza parlor began to dance in time, for a change. There were many cheers and many smiles. At least, as much as one could tell. Aliens tend to smile in various ways. Todd nodded to the 'dragon' in that way that music teachers do when you finally get something right.

After a while, many of the patrons came up to Todd and thanked him personally for helping Snargfroth with his little problem. And when the dance was over, the 'dragon' came over to Todd's table. "If there is ever anything I can do to help you, let me know. You've made a friend for life." The alien patted Todd on the back, gently for a 'dragon'. Todd tried very hard not to fly across the table.

**************

It had been several hours. Greg wiped his hands on an engineering towel and gave the console a final once over. Everything checked out. The Improbability Drive had fit like a glove, just as the manual had indicated. He went back to the bridge of his ship and sat in the command chair. "I only wish I had a few team mates to fill up the other chairs around here," he said to himself.

The small light flashing on his armrest control pad let him know that he had full power at his command. "Computer, activate the improbability drive, half power. Let's see what this baby can do."

*****************

Jeff flashed into existance, fully clothed, next to Todd in the booth. "Wha?"

"Hi Jeff. Glad you could join us." Todd smiled. "Meet Snargfroth."

"Who?"

"The 'dragon' next to you." Jeff jumped with a start. He was a bit unoriented. The alien gently patted him on the back. Jeff flew across the table. Todd grabbed him by the ankle and hauled him back.

"But, I was dying in the deep of space!!" Jeff exclaimed.

"You WERE. Not anymore, thanks to our new friend here. You see, he owns this small company......" Todd began to explain.

*********************

Greg was halfway across the galaxy. It had taken a manner of seconds. The computer tallied the results, "All of this became possible at a factor of 5,734 to 1 against probability."

"Let's see what happens at three-quarter power. Computer, increase power to the next level."

*********************

Everyone in the room suddenly found themselves covered with chocolate syrup. "What is the meaning of this!," The president demanded, rather loudly.

"Sir, I have no idea. We cannot find the source of this insult." His advisor stammered.

"I want an answer yesterday! Whomever is responsible will pay. They will pay with their very lives!"

The dignitaries in the room agreed, by pounding their fists on the conference table. Unfortunately, their fists stuck to the table in a most embarrassing manner. This only outraged them more.

*********************

Greg was in the NEXT galaxy. At the speeds he'd been traveling, it had taken mere moments, instead of decades. The computer tallied the results, "All of this became possible at a factor of 60,636 to 1 against probability." He was dizzy with excitement over this new little toy he'd been given to beta test. Taking out the manual, he began to fill in the last page, which was a feedback form. He gave the Drive a wonderful review. The form had fine print near the bottom that stated, the Drive company and it's deliverers were in no way responsible for anything that might happen during the use of the Drive itself. The installer was the sole responsible party.

Nothing bad had happened, so Greg finally signed it. He'd refused to do so earlier as he didn't want the world crashing down on him should anything go wrong. But, nothing had. So he signed it after the fact. Dropping the form in the small mail chute, he pressed the send button. He could hear the form as it dissolved into it's base molecular form and beamed away through a series of relays back to it's owners.

That taken care of, he rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "OK, computer. Feed full power into the Improbability Drive."

The lights went out. Emergency lights came on, outlining the bridge in a strange reddish hue. "What happened? Computer, what's our status?"

"The Drive has disappeared, taking with it most of the engine. It has left us powerless and on backup batteries which will fail within the next 2.3 hours, unless we get underway, in which case they will only last for .3 hours. All of this became possible at a factor of 1,200,684 to 1 against probability."

"Ah. So, basically I'm stuck in another galaxy and have no way of getting home?"

"Negative. If we find a base to get repairs at before we run out of power, we'll be able to set course for our galaxy."

"Sure, but how long will that take?" Greg didn't think he wanted to hear the answer.

"Seventy years at maximum warp."

Considering the newest Star Trek series called Voyager, and the similarities to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Greg put two and two together and realized that Todd had to be behind this whole trap. "It wouldn't surprise me if a small dragon was helping him either, knowing how much he enjoys reading Heinlein."

"Sir?"

"Nothing. Start scanning for a base."

"That won't be necessary. A very large fleet has just appeared off the starboard bow."

"Really? Hail them."

An angry looking chocolate covered man appeared on the screen. Not knowing that this was odd in a different galaxy, Greg took little notice. "Greetings. What can I do for you?"

"You can die, you scum," The president growled. It was possible that he was even red-faced in rage, but difficult to tell. After all, his face was a sticky mess.

"What?"

"We took far too long to find you. But we have positive proof that you recently installed an improbability drive that caused us to be covered in chocolate as a side effect. It was the most horrid insult to our conference and dignity. You must die for your crime."

"But, I don't HAVE a drive."

"Nice try. You did have one. That much is certain. And don't go trying to blame the company that made the thing. We intercepted your beam-mail. You signed, taking full responsibility. We have it right here." The man held up the contract so that Greg could see that he had indeed been caught red-handed.

As the fleet's entire weapons array began to power up, Greg realized one thing. "I should never ever sign any agreement without a lawyer."

Then, he realized a second thing. "Computer. It was nice working with you. We've got about a second to live."

The computer began to sing a death song from it's library of pop music in the late '60s. It sang it very loudly, making the last moments of Greg's life more miserable than anyone could dream possible.

continues



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