“These guys are extremely helpful,” said Bradley. The aliens looked like pineapples chopped in half, yellow but with a more bluish skin, several banjo-like appendages around the curve and something that looked like a stepladder made of twisted balloons protruding from the base of their fronts. Bradley loved pineapple. He smiled.
“It almost feels normal here,” said Tim. The four dudes sat in a line in fairly comfortable resting basins—don’t ask what the drains are for—which were the closest things the kibblesnitches had to chairs.
Bradley giggled. The translator had named this species with a long string of incomprehensible syllables, and Jack distilled it down to kibblesnitch. For the last two days, Jack continuously recited the Jabberwocky lines with ‘Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious kibblesnitch!’
“This is a lot better than the Omaha DMV,” said Nate. “They took our credentials and put us right in line.”
“But what are these?” Jack held up the plasticky chip they gave them for identification.
“Maybe they’ve got circuitry in them. Or magnetic media,” said Bradley. He was pretty certain he had one of these implanted in his brain from his second abduction. The one where the aliens were all Bronco fans.
“Well, it’s been almost forty-five minutes,” said Tim. “You’d think an advanced alien species could speed things up a bit.”
There were about ten kibblesnitches in front of them, and they chattered using a structure in the middle of their flat side that looked like a waving anemone, purple against the yellow of their body. The translator picked up seemingly nonsensical phrases like “straightening the crimps for leniency” and “seeping through troubled fibers.” As far as Bradley could tell, theirs was an excretory culture, which influenced most of their business.
They finally got called up to a kibblesnitch at a revolving table. Tim put his chip on the table and the others did the same. “Here you go,” he said. “We’d like four licenses to fly standard spaceships.”
“Tell them you were a pilot on earth,” whispered Nate.
“Back off, jerk,” said Tim. He addressed the alien again. “Um. Yeah. Er… I have three years experience piloting earth vessels.”
The kibblesnitch squeaked as one of it’s banjo-thingies scooped up the chips. It looked at them a long time. “You have to go through licensing first.”
“What’s this?” asked Tim and Nate at the same time.
“This is license activation.” The kibblesnitch instructed them to wait in the same seats to be called. Twenty-seven minutes later they were called to another revolving table.
They laid down the chips. “Can we get four space piloting licenses, please?” asked Tim.
The alien looked over their chips. “I’m sorry, but you will need your license eligibility validated before we can give you a license.”
“Where do we go for that?” asked Nate.
“License activation,” said the kibblesnitch. “Would you like an appointment?”
“We’ll wait,” said Tim.
They went back and forth between the two tables several times. “This reminds me of a dating service in Munich,” said Bradley.
Ultimately Tim was the one to burst. Without warning, he stood up, accosted the first alien, and demanded they get their licenses immediately, and if they couldn’t, he insisted the kibblesnitch go through it with them.
“Look,” said Tim. “Let us sign the paperwork and get our licenses. We’re on a schedule, so how long will it take?”
“Entire process can be done in thirty five seconds,” said the kibblesnitch.
“If that’s all we had to do, why the hell did you give us the runaround and make us wait so long?” asked Jack.
“Human protocol interpreter indicated that it was expected.”