Chapter 14, "A Chapter Full of Useless Filler"
In the days following the trial, the mood around the Zmeephish-Q lunch table at school resembled that of a ten-year-old who's just been told that he can't go to summer camp, and not only that, his best friend is moving across the country. And also his hamster just died. And his pants are too tight. And he's coming down with a horrific stomach flu. Oh, and also his mom is making brussel sprouts and tofu for dinner, and there's no desert because she's on a diet and won't allow sugar in the house. And his dad's job is relocating him to Spain, so dad won't even be around to kick a soccer ball with, and mom's going to have to work double shifts to pick up the slack because dad's paycheck only comes in once a month, and that's if the transfer hits the bank account in time, and she just found out she's pregnant so it's going to be really tough times. And also he totally just stubbed his toe on an uneven sidewalk panel.
So when Tabitha (who was still speaking to me for some reason) mentioned that she would be hosting a party after we graduated next week, and did I want to go, I was like, "YES I DO," even though in my heart I really didn't, I just wanted something to think about other than how miserable my alien almost-family felt right now.
"Really?" She stammered, her entire spine lengthening as she spoke the word.
"I mean, yeah, sure, I guess. Are any aliens going to attack us?" It seemed a reasonable query to me, but Xlormp jabbed me in the ribs anyway.
"Um. I don't think so?" Tabitha promised certainly.
"Fantastic! I'm totally in." I reached out my hand to high-five her. She high-fived me back, but a little reluctantly. Christopher dropped the sandwich she'd been biting in order to swiftly slap my hand as well before it dropped back to my side. I grinned at her, and she grinned back.
"I'm coming too, Tabitha," Christopher mentioned.
"I shall program the date into my memory banks, and also be in attendance," Hector 2.0 clanked.
"Can I come?" Klaxie pondered aloud, and Xlormp jabbed him in the alien ribs.
"Uh," Tabitha eloquently spoke, "I don't know, I'll have to ask my mom."
Klaxie seemed ever so slightly despondent, as if he knew in his heart that this was a put down of the worst kind. As if Tabitha knew, somehow, that he was different from her, and she was shunning him for it. It hurt. Like a knife. Or anyway, that's what I figured he felt. I reached for the banana on my lunch tray and began to peel it, deep in thought regarding Klaxie's sadness.
"Don't eat that," Xlormp croaked, snatching the fruit away from me. "Schmeertz poisoned it."
Schmeertz waved pleasantly from the end of the table, and Candy waved, too. I waved back. I'd felt a lot more friendly towards Schmeertz since he kind of stood up for me. The sort of friendly that makes waving an okay thing, despite banana poisoning.
Xlormp flew me home in his spaceship, after having me clean it thoroughly, inside and out. I never felt more connected to him than when he demanded I perform laborious tasks like that. I don't think I've mentioned it recently, so just in case you've forgotten, Xlormp is the most eye-burningly hot individual creature with the ability to stand upright. He would be in People's list of hottest people if he were actually a person. In fact, I heard they were considering making a whole extra category just for Xlormp. "Aliens that defy logical attractiveness standards."
Anyway, we were flying home, which really doesn't take that long, but Xlormp decided to take the scenic route because he wanted to talk to me about Things.
"Our sources have uncovered that the Tallybonkers plan to attack sometime this week," he mumbled stoutly.
"This week is pretty dang soon," I acknowledged. "Do you think they'll descend upon my class at graduation, and steal a bunch of freshly graduated brains?"
"It would behoove you not to give them any ideas," Xlormp admonished.
"Sorry." I hung my head in deep sadness and shame.
"Anyway, I think you should stay with Klaxie until we've taken them out."
I rolled my eyes. "Xlormp! No! It's boring at his place. He and Monica play card games all day. And then when they get sick of doing that, they darn socks. Socks! He is the only freaking alien in the entire universe that even has socks."
Xlormp shrugged. "I can see how you may find socks uninteresting."
"Frig, I have a very important question for you," he prefaced.
"See, the thing is, Earth girls seem to be extremely fixated on shoes. And yet socks are boring. What is the difference? They both go on your feet."
The question threw me for a loop. I admit I had no answer. His logic was sound and concrete, like a cinder block of logic.
"Why don't I stay with Christopher?" I replied.
Xlormp wiggled a tentacle. "That didn't answer my question, I don't think."
"It makes more sense that way, I mean, now that you don't hate each other so much, and she's got all those weapons, and anyway I totally know that she's your 'source'."
Xlormp landed the spaceship on my front lawn, and we exited. "Are we still talking about socks?" He questioned, notably confused. He was so massively sexy when he was confused. I considered thrusting a toe in his ear appendage. But I didn't.
"No, Xlormp, we're talking about me not having to stay with Klaxie. So in a way, yes, we're kind of still talking about socks."
"Well, I think it's a fabulous idea, Frig staying with me," Christopher inserted, hopping out of her tree, walkie-talkie in hand.
"Agreed," Hector 2.0 buzzed in agreement over the device.
"I can't eat anymore pants," Lou declared mournfully. The hobo sat, slumped over in his lawn chair. I felt a pang of guilt. Here I was thinking about not wanting to play Old Maid, and meanwhile, the one dude who'd been consistently nice to me since I moved to Spatulas sat mourning the pets he maybe couldn't even remember. Someone needed to do something about it. Someone needed to find Lamp, Limbo and Larry. Determination swelled in my swelly place.
"Xlormp, I'm going with Christopher. We're going to figure out a Plan. With a capital 'P'."
"And that rhymes with 'C' and that stands for 'Cool'!" Christopher shouted a little too loudly.
"What?" I said.
"Pop culture reference #34,584,201," explained the disembodied voice of Hector 2.0.
"He's been cataloging everything," Christopher said, hooking her arm through mine and waving at Xlormp. "My car's right over there, I'll take it from here, dude!"
I turned to wave as well. It appeared that Xlormp was dealing with a wide range of varying emotions right now, and he wasn't sure what to do with any of them. I gave him a furtive thumbs up, but he didn't seem to notice. He beamed back onto the spaceship without a second glance, and was gone.
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