“What’s wrong with her?” a raspy voice spoke anxiously. “I can’t deliver her damaged!”
Lynn’s limbs did not seem to want to listen, and her eyes wouldn’t open. Panic was starting to set in. A cold blast of air puffed under her prone body, and it felt as if she was on a giant grate. Had she been in an accident?
“It is probably transmitting sickness. This being has likely never been through the beaming process. I warned you it might be the wrong planet.”
The second voice was more resonant and sounded almost metallic. What was going on? The back of her head was throbbing, and Lynn wondered if she may have a head injury.
“See, look, she is starting to regain her faculties. You can verify identity yourself.”
Lynn’s legs twitched uncontrollably, and she was able to open her eyes slightly. A scruffy-looking man was leaning over her, unshaven face so close that she could smell the coffee on his breath. It must have been an accident; she sighed. Why today?
Beyond him, she could just barely make out the second figure. This guy seemed to have a head that was way too large for his body, like one of those silly bobbleheads she had on her desk. Hallucinations. It was most certainly a head injury.
“I don’t need her to verify her identity. It’s the right gal, now shut up before I power you down.” said the man as he helped Lynn rise to a seated position.
She felt a bit better now, blinking hard before taking in her surroundings. The room was tiny, with two swivel chairs in front of a wall of monitors and strange buttons. Shivering, she realized the bobblehead was not changing.
“Guugghh,” she grunted as she looked at the scruffy man.
Words were not quite coming out yet, and panic was replaced with a profound irritation.
“Hold up- don’t try to talk yet. It’ll be a minute, eh?” The scruffy man said
“Guurrghaha,” she repeated angrily.
A low thrumming noise filled the room, its pace accelerating. Lynn’s ears started to tingle, and she worried she was going to pass out again. The bobble-headed guy was now in front of one of the chairs, fiddling with the buttons.
“Reaching velocity in five, four, three, two…”
The pulsing thrum was now a cacophony of buzzing as if she was in the middle of a giant beehive. Her body tingled with thousands of tiny electrical pricks. Lynn scrunched her face, now wishing she would pass out again. Then it was silent aside from the gentle thrum she heard when she first awoke.
A deep laugh erupted from the man that was sitting next to her. The fear and anger that had been building erupted into a wild swing, fist landing squarely on the man’s jaw. His mirth ceased immediately.
“OUCH! Geez lady,” he yelped, rubbing his jaw.
“What is going on,” her words came out weak and scratchy, and she pursed her lips, staring accusingly at the man.
A hand shot out as he rose to his feet. Lynn flinched before realizing it was just to shake.
“Captain Jase Rex, ranking member of the GSG, at your service,” he said heartily.
“GS what? Where am I?” Lynn interjected.
“The Galactic Shipping Guild, Ma’am. You are on ISA-5. It’s my job to deliver you to your new mate.” Jase intoned cheerfully.
“Who the what now? I am nobody’s MATE. I just want to get to my office, get my promotion, and get on with my day. You’ve already made me miss my workout; take me home.”
Jase sat there looking dumbfounded, his mouth opening and closing several times.
“Let me clarify. I want to speak to your manager!” Lynn screeched.
“No, no, I’m a ranking member.” he finally answered. “I work independently. There are no managers. Just assignments.” Jase scoffed and moved towards the screens. “Here, I’ll show you.”
“Your rank then,” Lynn continued ignoring Jase. “What’s your rank? I want to speak to someone higher up!”
“He is ranked 254 of 302 members,” Bobblehead interjected.
Lynn stopped for a moment and turned to face the funny looking thing.
“Hmm, you’re not even that good.” she paused, contemplating the apparatus in front of her. “Who or what are you?” She asked.
I am-” The bobblehead started to say, but Jase interrupted.
“Wait, that rank has nothing to do with how good I am. It is based on the number of jobs I have completed. This one will jump me up a good ten points! I’m the best lady.”
Lynn just laughed, “you can’t be the best. You didn’t even get the right person; you’re an idiot!” She turned back to the droid “now, who are you?”
“My name-” it started to speak but was interrupted again.
“Hey- I follow instructions. Just because you were not aware you were to be mated doesn’t mean I picked up the wrong package.”Jase smirked
“But sir-” the Bobblehead interjected, “you only hacked nine digits. There was only an 87 percent chance of the correct coordinates.”
Jase opened his mouth, but Lynn spoke first. “Excuse me? Eighty-seven percent chance? Hacked, what kind of sham is this?” she started to pace and turned back to the bobblehead. “And who are you?”
Jase interjected, “He’s a CP-C8K model droid, ancient. Just call him Cupcake.”
“Sir, I am programmed to be able to answer for myself, and I am NOT ancient. My production date is less than five cycles ago. Designers ensure I am valid for at least fifteen cycles.” the droid retorted.
“Whatever,” Lynn dismissed the droid and turned to Jase. “I demand you take me home now. It’s obvious you have the wrong person,” Lynn said
“Well..” Jase drawled, “That could be a problem.”
“A problem? There better not be a problem. In fact, I demand you take me home AND compensate me for pain and suffering! Believe me, I know people, and I’ll get it.”
Jase just smirked, “Ya, I’d like to see that happen. I’m broke! Barely had enough fuel to get me to ISA 5!”
“Oh, I’m sure you can get something for this piece of junk spaceship, or whatever it is.” Lynn leaned in. “Or you cute little space droid.”
Cupcake wheeled his way between the two, “I told you this was a bad idea, captain. Organics are so unpredictable. We should have just waited for an assignment.”
“Bah- we would have been waiting months. My plan will work; trust me.” Jase answered smoothly.
“Sir, by my calculations, your plan only has a fifty-seven percent chance of success..”
Lynn’s jaw dropped. “fifty-seven? I thought you said eighty-seven!”
The captain swept his arm out and yanked a short metal cylinder off the wall, cackling maniacally. A long high pitched squeal emitted from the droid as it rolled over to where Jase was standing. It snatched the tube from the captain’s hand, then gently stroking it as he returned it to the wall.
“It’s okay, little coupling,” Cupcake crooned softly.
Jase, still snickering, turned to Lynn. “They started playing with personality chips on the C8K models; these guys get a little sensitive.”
Lynn looked closely at the machine, frowning slightly. It appeared that the massive globe would crush the supporting apparatus, but on closer inspection, the sphere head sat nicely into an indentation. It swiveled to reveal a giant round screen with a simple animated face.
She made her way to her feet, wobbling slightly, and walked closer to the droid. Her hand stretched out to touch the smooth surface but rolled back quickly. The C8K’s feet contained a tread, like something you would see on a construction vehicle, and the short, squat body was cylindrical with two snake-like arms protruding from its sides. Creepy human-looking hands would light up and twitch occasionally.
She stifled a laugh as she retracted her hand. “So, Cupcake,” The name slide out of her mouth slowly. “How do I get myself back home.”
“Ma’am-” the droid spoke but was interrupted with the crackle of a voice coming from one of the screens.
“Welcome to ISA-5. Please transmit your ship’s registry so we can assign docking.”
Jase rushed to a screen and tapped multiple times on unrecognizable characters, finally pounding his fist on the image.
“Cupcake, hurry! I need you to enter my encryption key. I keep inputting it wrong.”
The droid rolled his way over to the screen, and a long thin device exited his middle finger, and connected to the screen, then quickly retracted back into his body.
The screen’s voice replied, “Okay, Faylus, you are cleared to dock in sector five, stall eight. Please enjoy your stay on ISA-5.”
“Phallus,” Jase muttered. “It’s pronounced PHALLUS.”
“Yes, sir,” the voice replied. “Where do these captains get off thinking these names are funny..” the voice trailed off as the transmission cut.
“I still don’t understand why I have to come along if you’re just going to bring me home! I am adding this to what you owe me, and believe me, I will find some sort of manager,” Lynn muttered as they made their way through the crowded streets.
The air was thick, making it hard to breathe, and it smelled like a mixture of hotdogs and the 4-H area of a fair.
“Slow down?’ Lynn spoke rudely.
Jase grabbed her wrist, gripping it tightly, dragging her along behind him. They darted through the crowds without taking a breath. She tried to dig her heels in unsuccessfully, slipping in a slick blue mud-like substance that covered the walkway.
The street was lined with colorful tents, enclosing what she assumed were stores in a marketplace, and now and then, a face would peer out of a tent and look around. Most of the beings were a pale shade of cornflower, slightly lighter than the mud covering the streets. They were taller than Lynn, and on further inspection, she could see a layer of fur or hair covering their bodies. Little lizard people carried boxes and scurried along between the larger blue ones and the wove in and out of the bright tents. Hot steaming trays of what Lynn assumed was food sat on carts pushed by some blue aliens. One stopped in front of her, offering a small pastry that smelled of warm fresh baked bread. Her stomach rumbled. As she reached out to accept the treat, Jase swatted her hand away.
“How dare you!” Lynn screeched
“They chop off your hands if you can’t pay for something…” he said matter-of-factly. “Just don’t touch anything. Or look at anything, either.”
They continued through the marketplace at a breakneck pace, and she began to feel dizzy, faces of the creatures starting to blend.
“Slow DOWN,” she shrieked angrily, this time finding solid ground as she dug in her heels.
Jase lost his balance and tumbled into a bright red tent, nearly bringing the whole thing down with him. A large blue alien came out from the front flap, waving a feather at him and making a gurgling noise. He raised his hands in defense and backed away slowly.
“That could have ended very poorly,” He stated. “We need to get to the pavilion,” He continued, gesturing to a large building. “Trust me, and I’ll get you home, I promise!”
Cupcake rolled up beside them, and Jase bent down, whispering something to the droid, who proceeded to sink into his treads, leaving only the giant head exposed.
“Anti-theft mode activated” sounded from the sphere.
An extensive set of stone stairs led to an arched entryway at the top, continuing to a small vestibule with only enough room for one of the blue people sitting at a small desk.
“I’m here to see Tr’Bani,” Jase said to the receptionist. “My name is Captain Jase Rex with the GSG. I have a delivery.”
“Delivery?” Lynn hissed at him. “I thought we were talking to your manager. You were getting me home!”
“Yeah,” Jase smirked. “The customer is the manager, get it?”
Lynn picked up her foot to kick Jase but thought better of it. The receptionist glanced at the group disapprovingly.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Rex, our cargo has already been delivered.” He sniffed, “Perhaps there was a mix-up? Are you sure it was Tr’Bani receiving? There are many planets in the sector.”
Jase frowned and leaned in close to the receptionist. “Of course, it was Tr’Bani! Who else would it be? Who made the delivery?”
The blue man leaned over his desk, perusing a list, and finally answered. “It was Billie Synth”
Jase shook his head slowly, making a tsk sound. “I happen to have it on good authority that Billie Synth has delivered the wrong goods. Tr’Bani is going to be furious. I wonder who he will take it out on this time?”
The receptionist paled and gulped loudly. “Ooh.” he exhaled, “Oh my..”
“What are you doing!” Lynn whispered fiercely at Jase, “How is this going to get me home?”
He winked and put his finger over his lips. “Shhh.”
The trembling man led them into a small circular room. Hot putrid air blasted Lynn’s senses, reminding her of her uncle’s farm, but ten times worse. There was a large creature laying on a pile of soft mauve bean bags. It was stroking the hair of a young woman, and a deep humming filled the room. Large wide eyes stared at the group when they entered, and his bovine body shifted to face them, humming stopped. The girl could have been human if you could ignore that her ears were pointed and sat on top of her head.
The woman’s ears twitched, pointed at the group, and she let out a soft hiss.
“It’s okay, my pet,” The bovine man hummed.
Without raising his head, the receptionist backed quickly out of the room, stumbling at the door briefly, and pushing it closed as he left.
Lynn watched as Jase took a breath, his face transforming into a mask of authority. An ostentatious flourish accompanied his bow, and he smiled up at the man on the beanbags.
“Your eminence, Tr’Bani,” he spoke in an overly formal voice. “I regret to inform you that you have the wrong bride. I wish to present this lovely human to you. Your correct match.”
“Oh, no! Oh, I am NOT his bride,” Lynn said, smacking Jase on the face and jumping back. She turned to the bovine and growled, “Tree Bonny, or whatever your name is, the man is a fraud. He KIDNAPPED me!”
The cat woman barred her teeth at Lynn, then snuggled into Tr’Vani.
Ignoring Lynn, he looked at Jase and asked. “Why does it speak to me?”
Dumbfounded, Lynn looked to Jase to defend her; instead, he ignored her, laughter erupting as he answered.
“She was trouble, this one,” he said conspiratorially. “Almost more trouble than this job paid.” He glanced at the cat woman and frowned. “Imagine my disappointment to learn that you had already had your goods delivered.”
Jase was pacing now, stroking his face as he frowned. “I would hate to have to report to the guild that you accepted a misrepresented package.”
Tr’Bani rose to his feet, looking worried. “OOO, I do so need my relationship with GSG to remain favorable.” He sighed and stroked the cat woman’s head gently. “But this one is oh so sweet and perfect, that other one…”
Lynn frowned, offended “hey-”
Jase stomped on her foot as he crossed in front of her. “Shut up for once,” he whispered.
Then turning to Tr’Bani, his voice returned to its formal tone. “Since you are such an honorable leader, I believe we can come to an arrangement.”
“You may approach,” Tr’Bani’s voice thrummed.
Lynn moved to step forward with Jase, and a large below erupted from Tr’bani. “Back!”
“Oh, don’t tell me-” The captain quickly covered her mouth with his hand and pushed her back.
“Keep talking, and I’ll leave you here,” he scowled.
The two men spoke in hushed tones, often gesturing back to her. Jase’s face was animated, and the Tr’Bani looked affectionately at the cat woman next to him. Nodding, the captain, made his way back to Lynn, grabbing her hand.
“Time to go now before he changes his mind!” Jase said in a hushed voice.
“You are cleared for departure,” an official voice spoke. “We hope you enjoyed your stay on ISA-5.”
“Status, Cupcake?” Jase made his way to the captain’s chair.
“Payment confirmed, sir, bonus included,” The C8K intoned.
“Excellent,” Jase laughed, turning to Lynn, “See, I had you covered all along. Now I got plenty of credits for fuel and supplies, and I will be happy to take you home. No, I will be ecstatic!”
Lynn was silent for a long time before answering. “No, I don’t think so. I believe most of that cut belongs to me.” She paused, “or should I contact this Galatic Shipping guild of yours?”
She sauntered over to the other chair and sat down. “I think I like it here.”
I’m sure there is a much better way to do this, and I will discover it at some point, but for now, enjoy my short story, inspired by Reedsy promps. I’m planning on doing this more, so if you like my writing, follow me using this link:
I’m converting this one to a script for crossroad cantina 🙂 check out my other storys at: