Chapter 2, "Mr. Leader is Still a Jerk"
I woke up, blinking blinkily in the sharp light of non-darkness.
I did not know where I was.
"Where am I?" I asked, trying to correct that.
"Lay down, Frig, you're on our spaceship, being tended to by highly advanced alien medical technicians."
That voice. I'd heard it before. "Mr. Leader?" I hazarded.
"Yes, it is I, Mr. Leader."
I panicked a little. "What's going on? Where's Xlormp?"
"Xlormp is in his own rehabilitation center. The Winston's house blew up, so we're doing some emergency clean up to get things back in order. We wouldn't want our ruse to be broken."
I tried to think of a way a massive explosion in a house full of known space aliens could possibly be covered up, but I didn't say anything. Mr. Leader didn't like me too much. In fact, last year when the Tallybonkers were after me, he wanted to eat my brain to get them off our trail.
But I didn't have to say anything, Mr. Leader went off on a tirade without any prompting from me.
"I think it goes without saying that I consider you more than a little bit of a threat."
I wanted to say, "Well, duh," but I figured that would just piss him off.
"I've lived a long life, Frig."
I sighed. Oh, crap. I'd heard Mr. Leader yammer about his life story before, and let me tell you, it's as boring as eating salad with no croutons or dressing or cheese or anything, really, just iceberg lettuce and maybe a spork.
"Why, when I was a wee lad, I paddled across lake Smishigfan using only a hairpin and a ladle. And do you think anyone tried to eat my brain? No sirree. Nor did I have any pesky humans trying to woo me. That fripperie was for aliens who didn't know their true calling in life. I always knew my calling was to lead. Either that, or become a used vacuum salesman."
I felt my eyelids falling down over my eyeballs like heavy hammers of sleep. I wondered if Mr. Leader would even notice if I drifted off?
"And then there was that whole thing with the marmalade...I don't even want to talk about that..."
Yawn. Snooze. Chagrin.
"Ponies, now, there's something you don't see every day. Especially the one like Mighty Mafra O'Phlagerton. She was a wild thing, I'll tell you that right now..."
I glanced at the door, hoping Xlormp would burst through it, sexy alien muscles rippling seductively through his slime, and carry me away from this mind-numbing story.
"Anyway, the point is, I think you're no good for my Xlormp. He needs a real girl-slave, one that's pretty, and can hum, and has even less capacity for independent thought than you."
I nodded, hoping he was almost finished. I would have been offended, except that as long as Mr. Leader wasn't killing me, I really didn't care what he had to say.
"And anyway, I think your hair is stupid and Xlormp could do eons better."
Mr. Leader finally shut up.
"Are you finished?" I asked, just to be sure.
"Yes," he said. "And you're not dead, so good on me for saving your life. But, you know, you don't have to thank me or anything."
"Okay." I climbed off the table, like a mountain climber might climb off a mountain, except with less pulleys and more butt scootching. I would have walked to the door, except that Xlormp burst in just as I had hoped he would, at that very moment. I saw something flash through his goggling eyes, something indicating that he was pleased by my living presence.
"You're alive!" He confirmed happily.
"Indeed I am," I agreed affirmatively.
"Are you ready to go home?" He asked tentatively.
"Mr. Leader said I have stupid hair," I chastised tattlingly, pointing at the rude, dashingly hatted alien.
"I did not!" Mr. Leader protested childishly.
"Qzrudle, seriously?" Xlormp sighed.
"She started it!" Mr. Leader whined, pointing back at me.
"Okay, we're leaving now," Xlormp commanded, lifting me up into his tentacles. I would have passed out from overwhelming joy if I hadn't just woken up from being passed out.
Xlormp carried me out of the room with Mr. Leader in it, and into a room with a teleportation beaming thing.
"Is everything going to be okay, my only love?" I asked.
"Yes, there is nothing to worry about," Xlormp reassured me soothingly. "Schmeertz said he's really sorry and he promises not to try and kill you anymore. And the Winstons said they were thinking about remodeling anyway."
"Good," I said.
The transporter beam took us instantly back to Lou's cardboard mansion, where the hobo sat on the front lawn, roasting marshmallows. His face lit up when he saw us.
"Sprinkle angel!" he crowed. "Did you see the big boomy thing?"
"You mean the explosion?" I asked, hoping for one of Lou's rare moments of lucidity.
The hobo laughed and shoved my arm. "No, don't be silly, the loud, flamey thing! Happened at the Winston's, que?"
"Nope, Lou, I didn't see it," I lied, knowing he'd probably believe me.
Lou held up a flaming marshmallow on a stick.
"Que pasa ein butterscotch hamburger?" he asked innocently.
"Sure," I said gratefully, taking the marshmallow, blowing out the flames and biting into its charred, mushy deliciousness.
Xlormp followed me into the house. He slept with me now, and it's cool because Lou doesn't really know what's going on anyway. Larry the parrot sat perched on a pile of empty pizza boxes.
"Squawk, blarney bananas! Blarney bananas!"
"Hi, Larry," I said. I'm not sure why I felt compelled to talk to the bird these days. Probably because it talked to me, and made about as much sense as Lou, and I talked to Lou, didn't I?
"Maybe I shouldn't stay tonight," Xlormp said wrongly.
"The thing is, I think that you should," I said.
"Okay, you've convinced me!" Xlormp hollered, and in one swift motion, he lifted me in the air with his flippers, spun me a few times, and threw me on the bed.
I loved it when he did that.