Chapter 8, "Learning About Aliens: A Rope of Sand"
After three hours of alien hunting lessons from Hector, I had begun thinking that maybe it wasn't as cool an idea as I had originally led myself to believe. We hadn't picked up a single shiny weapon, mixed any deadly poisons, or gone anywhere awesome. All of Christopher's suggestions got shot down, so about an hour ago, she'd fallen asleep.
Right now, Hector had a map spread out between the two of us, and he was detailing the history of centuries of intergalactic struggle. I had learned about a ton of alien races, none of which were Zmeephish-Quians, none of which interested me in the slightest, because they weren't the cool ones. I knew there had to be aliens out there that did cool, powerful things, like breath fire or create portals to other worlds. But the ones Hector told me about did lame things, like police relations between planets, or smell vaguely of pickles.
Christopher snorted in her sleep and rolled over. She looked like she was having a lot more fun than I was.
"Hey, Hector?" I said, interrupting a monologue about a race of aliens that collected stamps.
"I think I'm ready to call it quits for today." I was also ready to clobber myself over the head with a sledge hammer, just for something interesting to do, but I didn't tell him that part.
He flashed me a knowing grin. "It's too much for one day, isn't it?"
I nodded. He didn't even realize how correct he was.
"I had a feeling this would get to you. Alien hunting is not for the weak."
"Tabasco salad!" Christopher sputtered, bolting abruptly upright.
"Morning, sleepyhead," Hector condescended.
Christopher wiped a strand of drool from her cheek. "What'd I miss?"
"Nothing at all," I correctly asserted.
"Hey, I believe we learned quite an important lesson on why you shouldn't anger the Crackenfranks," Hector corrected.
"Oh, you told her about the 'Pickle People'?" Christopher groaned, doing that air-quoting thing like I did that one time. "They are the most useless species in existence."
"Well, Christopher, we can't all be fans of horribly dangerous things, now, can we?"
She stuck her tongue out at him.
"Oh, that's nice, very mature," Hector goaded. "I'm telling dad."
"Fine, I'll tell dad you're educating a civilian," Christopher retorted.
"Okay, guys, I think it's time for me to go home," I said, standing up and letting the blood re-enter my legs. It tingled painfully, like the pain in my heart that I kept trying to repress or something. Only more tingly. "I'll let myself out."
I stood up while the two continued to bicker in a sibling sort of way. Siblings, I thought to myself. I'm glad I never had any. I gathered my things (which really consisted of nothing, but people always say how they gather their things when they're leaving a place), and made my way to the door. I opened the door, stepped through it, closed the door behind me, and hopped into Marcy.
But before I could rev up her teensy motor, I heard the door open again. Christopher strode briskly toward my Magical Wagon of Destiny (just something I'm trying out in place of "plywood fairy wagon"). She leaned over and whispered, "If you want to get some real education? Meet me in twenty minutes at the park."
I wasn't sure what she had planned, but it had to be better than pickle scented aliens. I nodded, and she nodded, and we shared a nodding pact of understanding, and I drove off.
** ** **
Twenty minutes is a long time when you don't have much of anything to do to kill the time. I thought about going home, but Lou would probably make me clean his toes. That was his new favorite thing. Cleaning toes and bitching about snails. So instead, I just went straight to the park.
The last time I was here, I'd nearly had my brains eaten to death. The memory was crappy, but most memories are, at least the ones about almost dying. I've found this to be the case in my many years on this planet, anyway.
The sun shone through the trees, as suns are wont to do, and I wondered to myself if anyone had ever considered telling the sun to knock it off with all the shining all the time. All it ever did was keep us alive and living on the Earth, and really, that seemed pointless when the Earth felt the need to gift you with heavenly alien boyfriends and then snatch them away.
My heart felt heavy. What was this business? I had been doing so well with the anger and hatred. I had no desire to feel feelings. Those hurt. Like stabbing, painful things. Cactuses or something. I didn't like it at all.
Luckily, Christopher showed up a few minutes early, so I didn't have to be alone with my misery for that long. She had a big grin on her face, as if she were happy to see me or something. In my weakened, feeling state, I realized that I actually enjoyed hanging out with her sometimes. And not just because I needed her in case I ever got into a dire situation again.
"Frig, I have a special treat for you. I'm taking you to The Place." She flashed her shiny teeth at me, in a smiley way.
"What's The Place?" I asked.
"Here, I brought you this," she shoved a map in my hand. "Hector doesn't want me to show you The Place, but I left him at home this time. He thinks I'm just running to the store."
We wandered around for a while. I didn't bother checking my map, because I figured Christopher knew what she was doing. But it started to get late, and we didn't seem to be getting anywhere, and Christopher refused to tell me exactly where we were going.
"Hmm," she said, stopping mid-walk.
"What?" I asked.
"I can't find it today."
"Sometimes it just refuses to be found." She looked down at her own map, puzzled. "I guess we'll just have to try again tomorrow. Drive me home?"
I nodded. Well, that was a pointless waste of time. I know Christopher was only trying to help, but her trek to nowhere ended up being just as thrilling as Hector's history lesson. What I mean is, it was pretty lame. I drove her back home, resolved to get more interesting stuff out of her tomorrow.
THERE ARE OTHER CHAPTERS, YOU KNOW. SHEESH.