“You wanted to see me, Captain?”
Thirteen tons of toxic ooze wearing a folded paper hat turned around in his chair. “How are the ships faring?”
Benton Longfellow looked around the room, keeping himself from making eye contact with a half-digested man’s eyes within the ooze. “Well, you see…”
“Is that some sort of joke?Making fun of how I have no eyes, are you?”
Benton held his hands out. “No! I…”
“I won’t have non-gooists on my ship, Longfellow. Word has spread that you have some paper towel in your private chambers, as well as a bottle of spray cleaner.”
Benton backed up, holding his hands out. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding, here. We all just need to calm down and think about things.” He prayed that he hadn’t taken the wad of old tissue out of his pockets during that made-for-tv movie the other night. He’d never been as moved in his life as he had been by that group of disintegrated orphan war veterans who needed to save their local tax collection agency from the hands of a greedy old woman. Never.
The ooze made a slurping noise as it trickled off its chair, splattering against the floor. “Longfellow, I had my doubts about you since I first brought you on board. First of all, you suggested using ships in space, where there wasn’t any water. Second, you put up sails, and when told there wasn’t any air, you suggested adding more sails. Third, you read independent comic books that don’t even involve super heroes!”
Benton flinched. He thought he’d be safe by hiding the comics under a pile of animal pornography! “I was just keeping those for a friend! I have no interest in real human stories told in breathtakingly honest ways! None at all!”
“Really?” He produced a graphic novel from within his slimy frame, holding it up in the air. “Let’s see. The story of a young mother’s trails to raise her child above the poverty and racial-hatred of her home town, even though the child died of dysentery eight years ago. Doesn’t sound like anything you would read, does it?”
A single bead of sweat dribbled down his brow, but he kept himself from wiping it away. “Can’t say…it does. Who’d want to hear about all of the tender personal moments and crushing failures someone in that situation would endure, all told with the candor of someone who’d gone through it? That would be terrible…”
He looked outside, watching as the stars and planets stood perfectly still as the sails continued to accomplish nothing. The captain caught his wandering gaze as he turned it back.
“Thinking about the unsung plight of the everyday man?”
“No! Certainly not about writing a blog about it, either!”
The pile of ooze quivered at the word, loosing a strange hissing as it did so, like the sound of distant, repetitive techno. “Do not dare use that name on my ship! It’s a bad omen to mention it, bringing chaos and ruin onto the sailors that mention it. I’ve lost many a good ooze to the siren-call of recording his own thoughts on a public journal that no one would ever be bored enough to read. You wouldn’t know anything about that sort of thing, though, would you?”
Benton stammered, running for the door, but two winged cat-people blocked the way. They snarled behind their fishbowl helmets.
He turned back to the ooze, seeing his scathing red font glowing from the screen of a computer in front of it. A layer of slime tapped at the buttons. “I can tolerate a man desiring the eradication of my race, one who intends to scour us from the face of the universe. What I can’t tolerate is someone who keeps a public journal about silly animal stories. Guards!”
The cat-men reached out to grab him, but then discovered that wearing a fishbowl does not make you able to breathe in space, and they suffocated. Benton was thankful that he didn’t know that, turning back to the Captain with a sneer, pulling the old tissues from his pocket.
“I can’t wait to hear the comments on this!”