Chapter 18, "In Which There is Much Yelling"
I had no idea how much I'd missed the cold, unemotional, silvery glare of a spaceship until I was on Klaxie's. I felt at peace somehow, like everything was going to be okay. Like maybe life didn't suck so bad after all, if there could be such a thing as rides in spaceships at the end of the day.
Of course, I thought all of this in the fleeting silent moments between Limbo and Larry (who had finally woken up) haranguing Candy, which only caused her to do The Worm all over the cabin, while Lou watched on, clapping merrily and humming the tune to the Happy Days theme song.
Klaxie put the ship on autopilot and came to stand by me, crossing several of his tentacles across his chest. "This is pretty ridiculous, Frig," he said. "I usually keep a much tighter ship."
Monica stood right behind him, her arms also firmly crossed with a glare of non-approval. She was just as gaggingly beautiful as I'd remembered. I wanted to pour acid over her face just as badly as I'd remembered.
It didn't take us long to get to the Haberdash residence, and thank goodness for that, because I think Klaxie was on the verge of tears. He'd obviously never ridden in the same spaceship as a fledgling hobo rock band before. So who could blame him?
"What is your plan?" I asked Klaxie.
"I plan to knock on the door and ask for Schmeertz back," Klaxie replied.
"Your plan is stupid," I informed him helpfully.
Klaxie said nothing, probably because he was too impressed by my extreme correctness.
We beamed down (just Klaxie and me, he decided he wasn't even going to try dealing with the burgeoning hoe-down that was happening amongst the other passengers), and using our respective propulsion limbs, made our way to the front door. Where we knocked.
Christopher answered, looking warily to me and then to Klaxie. "What?" she said, in a tone I found to be ever so slightly too rude.
"Um," Klaxie began eloquently, "We need our alien back."
Christopher stared at him. Then she stared at me. She looked like she was still crying over Mr. Wiffletonbutt or whatever. "No," she said.
Klaxie seemed genuinely upset that his plan at not worked out. "Well, you see," he continued, "the thing is, we need him."
"No. He's a threat. He tried to blow up everyone at The Place," Christopher said. "We just barely got Frig out alive."
Klaxie rounded on me, his demeanor abruptly furious. "What were you doing at The Place, Frig?"
I didn't know how to answer. I'd never seen Klaxie angry before. He was normally a pretty laid back dude.
"I was...getting cake?" It seemed kind of stupid now that I said it out loud, especially with Klaxie looking like he wanted to rip my face off.
Klaxie laughed, the sound hitting my ears like a mallet of pain and suffering. This was not a good laugh. This was an "oh my god, why are you so stupid" laugh.
Christopher shoved herself in between me and Klaxie, staring down the darkly slimy alien. "Listen. Going to The Place was my idea. Leave her alone."
"Well, then, you're a moron," Klaxie said to Christopher.
"Klaxie!" I cried, appallingly appalled.
"Do you even know how many aliens come and go at The Place? How many enemies we have there?" He shook his head, momentarily covering his face with his flippers in alien exasperation. "Xlormp dragged all of us away, Frig, from a place where we were happy, so that he could protect you from alien threats. 'She'll be okay now,' he said that to me as we were flying off, tears glinting in his eyes, and you repay him by looking for alien cake?" For a moment, it looked like he might try to slap me. Christopher stood her ground, keeping me blocked best she could. But Klaxie let out a roar, turning roughly on his foot flippers and huffily slithering away from us.
I felt Christopher relax her stance a little. "I'm sorry, Frig," she whispered. "I didn't mean to get you in trouble."
I didn't know how to feel. At first, I felt angry, and I wanted to say, "Well, at least you weren't the one who left me with no decent explanation!" But I didn't. I felt...overwhelmed. I had so many new questions. If Xlormp wasn't just being an enormous jerk-wad, and he really did love me, why wasn't he with Klaxie, looking for Schmeertz? Wouldn't he want to see me? I wanted to call out to Klaxie, I wanted a lot of things, I kind of wanted some socks because my feet were getting cold.
"Christopher," I said softly, so softly that maybe if you didn't know any better, you might think my voice was actually a baby kitten, "Can we just have Schmeertz back and go?"
She turned to look at me, a pained expression tugging at her face. "I can't, Frig," she said. "I'm sorry. He's too dangerous."
I groaned. I just wanted to get out of here. I wanted to see Xlormp again. I wanted to feel his slime on my nose, to lavish in his vaguely off-putting embrace.
Just then, Mr. Haberdash poked his head out the window. "Christopher, you worthless thing, there is an alien on the phone."
My head jerked up. An alien? But I dared not dream...aliens probably called the Haberdashes all the time...
Christopher took the phone from him, and he went back inside. "Hello?" she truncated stabbingly. She made faces, as if listening to words entering her brain via the pathway of her ear. "Oh, no, I'm sorry, she's unavailable." More listening. "Yeah, she's actually dead." A nod, and a sniff. "Okay, well, have a nice day." She hung up.
"Who was that?" I asked.
"Oh, just some alien trying to sell me some Sploober repellent. As if I need that when I've got my Sploober-blaster." She sighed happily for a moment, then continued. "It's kind of weird, he asked for you, actually."
I gasped. "Me?"
"And you...told him I was dead?"
"Oh, yeah," Christopher nodded. "I always tell salespeople that to get them off the phone."
"That was no salesperson," Klaxie announced from right behind me, which scared the crap out of me and I jumped, like, three feet in the air or something. I had not heard him come back this way at all.
But his words meant something to me. "What do you mean?" I asked. Because I didn't know exactly what they meant.
"Sploober repellent. That's Xlormp's bit. He used to do that as a kid, prank calling the neighbors and stuff."
My head boggled and goggled and swam. Things were starting to come together in a bad, really crappy way.
Klaxie continued: "And you just told him that Frig is dead."
Christopher shrugged. "Oops?"
Klaxie roared, grabbing my hand and dragging me back to the spaceship. "Frig, come with me. If I know Xlormp, he's going to do something stupid."
"Like signing up for clog dancing classes?" I guessed.
Klaxie did not respond, he just kept with the dragging.
"What about Schmeertz?" I asked.
"We'll worry about him later," Klaxie fumed, as the ship's teleportation beams consumed our corporeal bodies.
Some more chapters, if you can handle it.