“If You Don’t Help Us, We’re Doomed” by Cole Haddon

ET Kid Gets Rocket, by Steve Cartwright
Illustration: “ET Kid Gets Rocket” by Steve Cartwright (c) 2005

When the Solinarians asked me to save their planet, I told them it would cost at least $10,000,000,000,000 credits. “Plus expenses,” I added. We’d met for lunch at Hammerhead Hank’s Intergalactic Multi-Ethnic Bar and Grill, and I was eating the Telexu squid burger with pickled yenkils on the side. “Plus, it’d be nice to maybe have a city named after me, or a public holiday. But not one of those holidays nobody celebrates. I want to be the holiday everybody gets a day off work for.”

Genezel Ho, the Solinarian rep I was meeting with, was eating rice noodles with a thamboso-bat cream sauce that gives me diarrhea. He paused from the disgusting, appetite-killing slurping noises he was making and lifted his snout from the plate. “The Solinarian people do not labor as other races do,” he said, boastfully. “We are what you would call a utopian society.”

“Well, partner, it ain’t so u-to-pian anymore, is it?” I said, and tossed a pickled yenkil in my mouth. “What with the Frondian battle globe in geo-synchronous orbit above your capital and all, huh?”

No,” admitted Genezel. With his snout, he made his specie’s equivalent of a frown. “No, I suppose you are correct in your assessment.”

“Damn right I am,” I laughed, and swallowed the last bite of my squid burger. “Now, do we got a deal, hombres?”

Genezel looked at Sombozel, his aide, who wasn’t eating — something crazy about a fast that wouldn’t be broken until his people were free. The two of them seemed confused. “We do not know this word, ‘hombre.’ But yes,” he said, sadly, “we have a deal.”

“Hot damn!” I said, and with my hands mimed two guns that I fired twice into each of their ventral crests. Genezel looked a little unnerved, so I shook his tentacle to shut him up before he started yapping again. “Now, I’m a little overbooked right now, so how’s June for you guys?”

“But that is two months away,” cried Sombozel. “Our people are dying! We’re living beings, just like you, and you have the ability to aid us.” His tentacles shook with the want to thrash me, which is a feeling a lot of people get around me. “How can you be so in-human?”

I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at the moron, even though his naiveté was endearing enough. “Whoa, partner,” I said, pointing at his multiple eye-clusters and twenty-four tentacles. “I don’t think you are in any position to call me ‘inhuman.’ ”

The Solinarians blinked at me, all 124 eyes apiece, and I think Sombozel was about to start weeping. I felt bad for him, the way he kept salivating when the wait-bot brought our plates. “Okay, okay, okay,” I said. “I’m not a complete arsehole here.” I consulted my data pad. “How does next month sound?”

“We must insist upon immediate action.”

I looked at my data pad again. The ticker said that the Pongan Patriots had defeated the Walbanash-Walbadeeb Walbords 1,049 to 418, which made me chuckle. “Well, partner,” I finally said, “the best I can do is next week, Thursday. And it’ll take two weeks to complete the job.”

“Is there no way to expedite the process?”

There was a special episode of my favorite holo-vid show, Quirk & Quark, on tonight. “Well, there is one way.”

“Anything, Mr. Jablonowski-Sanderson-Ti. Anything at all”

With a sigh, I stuffed the data pad back into my vest and said, “It’s a lot to ask. I really couldn’t.”

“We said anything.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” I was shaking my head. “This is a big anything.”

“Please, Mr. Jablonowski-Sanderson-Ti. Time is of the utmost importance.”

“Okay, okay, okay,” I said, and sighed dramatically. “I get it already. All I’ll need for what you’re asking is…” They both leaned forward, and the tiny, toothed maws at the end of their snouts panted with anticipation. “All I need from you is…your planet.”

“Excuse me?” the two Solinarians said in perfect unison. Then, again together, “Excuse us?”

I started to explain, “Not the whole planet, you see. Just the name.”

Sombozel’s sagittal cluster of eyes gaped at me, unbelieving. Genezel, chuckled incredulously — incredulously, I swear — and asked me, “You would like us to name our planet after you?”

Palms up, I set my hands on the table. “Precisely.”

“You would like us to name our planet Jablonski-Sanderson-Ti?” he repeated.

“That is what I’m saying.”

Genezel’s snout stood up and twitched, which I believe was a smile of sorts. “We have,” he said, “as you humans say, a deal.”

“Hot damn!” I cried out, and vigorously shook each of their snouts until realizing it was not their tentacles I had in my hands. Before I left, I ordered another squid burger to go, then slipped away when it was time to pay the tab. It was a long flight to Solinariax, and I had a planet to save. *

About the Author: Cole Haddon currently resides in Michigan, but the half of his heart that is Australian will always yearn for Sydney, where he spends much of his year. He has won the Roy W. Cowden Fellowship and the Lawrence Kasdan Scholarship and his work has appeared in Permafrost and the Copperfield Review. At the moment, he is diligently completing a final draft of a new novel and struggling to pay his bills.
(c) 2005 Cole Haddon colehaddon@yahoo.com

About the Artist: Steve Cartwright says it’s well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so he typed this with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. He has been staff writer and artist for two local newspapers, the Atlanta Suburban Reporter and the Fulton County  News-Daily. Steve does art and graphic design in Adobe Photoshop (please view some at his web site). The other mediums he uses are: charcoal (messy, but strongly sets a mood, usually brooding); colored pencils (loves the way the colors blend); colored pens; and pen-and-ink. The subjects he draws are eclectic, everything from pristine rural scenes to unsettling surrealism. Steve is a staff member of Skyline magazine in New York. His art has been published in magazines such as Georgia Journal; Potpourri; Georgia State Review; the Clay Tablet; Poets, Artists & Madmen; New Writer’s; Talebones; Indigenous Fiction; Liquid Ohio; Contraband; In the Spirit of the Buffalo; Starblade; Medicinal Purposes; Skylark; The MacGuffin; RescueCats; Good Dog; Fantasy, Folklore & Fairytales; Clark Atlanta University; Country Folk; The Legions of Light Magazine; Tropical Fish Hobbyist; Urban Spaghetti; Heist; Spellbound; Atlanta Buckhead; Appalachian Heritage; Iconoclast; Outer  Darkness; Skyline; and others. His art work has appeared in Seeing Through Symbols, a literary anthology published by Chrysalis Books. He’s been a contributing artist for Creative Loafing, an Atlanta weekly with a circulation of 300,000; and Shroder Publishing’s three monthlies in Atlanta, with a combined circulation of 28,000. He does art for the Red Cross in Atlanta, Meals On Wheels, and the City of Atlanta. Part of these assignments is to (usually quickly) illustrate a short story or article. Steve’s art also has appeared on several commercial web sites, such as Wee Ones and  Ron’s Marbles & Things. He did computer animation for the Matrix board at the Atlanta Stadium, depicting the Braves and the Falcons. Please hurry with your response — that  mackerel’s killin’ him!
Contact: Steve  Cartwright; 2333  Ben  Hill  Rd., East  Point,  GA.,  USA,  30344.  404-767-1576. .
Web site www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright

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