Day 332: The Heart of Language (Four Dudes Flashback)

They’d been thrown somewhere galaxies away from home for several weeks, and there was no graceful way to say it.

“Tim, you stink,” said Jack.

“Shit too.”

As instructed by their host aliens, the dudes sorted through a big pile of stuff while a couple of the lurpeedurps fiddled with the translator thingy. Rocks, gadgets, bundles of hair—hair grew on everything on the planet—and a gajillion other things.

Jack hadn’t a clue what the aliens were really called, but they were basically big hairy rolls of fat with no visible head, face, or feet, who lurpeedurped from place to place. They did have little arms that popped out of fat creases, little rubbery fingers that stretched and contracted to manipulate things.

“He’s right,” said Nate. “You literally smell like a toilet.”

Tim lunged at Nate, and Jack jumped between them.

“Get bent, asshat.” Tim eased off, stuck his nose in the air, and feigned refinement. “I have a distinctively natural odor. Like daisies.”

“I’m serious, Tim.” Jack held his nose. “You don’t just stink, you smell like a wet dog that slept with pigs and rolled in road kill after an all night bender with Yukon Jack.”

“You guys don’t exactly smell like roses.” He nudged Bradley. “What do you think?”

Bradley smiled stupidly and wrinkled his nose. “I once met a shepherd in the Himalayas who smelled like that.”

“Oh, yeah?” Tim picked up a piece of metal and threw it in a scrap pile. “Who asked you?”

“You did,” said Nate.

“It’s an expression, dumbass.”

“Tim,” Jack tossed a fleshy object with levers and glowing bumps into the ‘gadget’ pile, then started dividing the fleshy ones from the hard ones. “I’m serious, man. We’re going to suffocate if you don’t clean up.”

Tim tossed a fuzzy strap on the scrap pile. Nate picked it up and placed it in a pile of cloth-like stuff, then Bradley put it in with the ‘useful stuff.’ Jack shook his head and let it be.

‘Excuuuuse me,” said Tim. “Our accommodations haven’t exactly been furnished with showers since we left earth.”

“We have to make do with alien equipment.” Nate examined a gadget that looked like a sea urchin with curly wires coming out the spines. He threw it in Jack’s fleshy pile.

“I’m not taking one of their urine baths,” said Tim.

“It’s not urine,” said Nate.

“How do you know?” asked Tim. “It sure ain’t water.”

“You could have done the Zorbots’ cleaning chamber,” said Jack.


“BAWK BAWK BAWK.” The translator buzzed and chirped. Jack couldn’t tell which lurpeedurp was talking. “BAWK speak BAWK BAWK BAWK sort BAWK. What BAWK?”

Jack shook his head and held his hands out. “No hablo bawk-bawk, Senor Lurpeedurp.”

The lurpeedurps jiggled and croaked.

“What the hell are we doing, anyway?” asked Nate. He threw a rubbery ring on the scrap pile.

Tim picked up the ring and threw it in the ‘round things’ pile.

“I like this game,” said Bradley. “It reminds me of my days as a pharmacist.”

“This is stupid,” said Tim. “I don’t know what most of this stuff is.”

“No kidding,” said Jack. He dropped a chunk of fluff that looked like the disgusting food the lurpeedurps had given them earlier. “Hey. Lurpeedurps. Why are we doing this?”

The lurpeedurps fiddled with the translator, and an onslaught of ‘bawks’ came from it with only a few English words.

“I think I’ve got it,” said Nate. “They’re building the translation capabilities by recording our discussion. The sorting was supposed to focus our words on the attributes of all this stuff.”

“Affirm BAWK.”

Jack chuckled. “And it’s so tedious we’ve hardly said a word about any of it.”

“BAWK BAWK conclude BAWK.”

“It’s done?” asked Jack.

“BAWK affirm.”

“Can we keep playing?” asked Bradley.

“Knock yourself out,” said Jack.

“You got what you need?” asked Nate.

“BAWK adjusted BAWK BAWK foundation.”

“What’s that mean?” asked Tim.

Nate guffawed. “It means they’re using Tim’s stench as the entire basis of our language.”


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