“This doesn’t make any sense.” Tim tweaked a Flibberty-boo’s proboscis because he knew it freaked them out. The alien flapped the ring of spindly things around the lower part of his body. Green, pink, and yellow streaks ran up, down, and around it’s middle, and the top with the nose-trunk-snout thing looked like a purple Q-tip.
“It takes away points when you torment them that way,” said Nate.
“Shush, Bradley,” said Jack.
The four dudes walked among the aliens in the facilities and accommodations district on the Filberjeebians’ planet Bidgee-widgee, or something like that. Tim could never get the names right and Jack always goofed them up on purpose. They passed by nourishment booths, bath pools, sleeping tubes, and leisure flats, the Flibberty-boos milling about and taking full advantage.
“But why the hell do we need points at all?” Tim tweaked another one, and it tumbled away squeaking and snorting. He held his belly and laughed.
“The more Tim messes with them, the more Nate gets upset,” said Nate.
Tim put on his dumbass face, upper lip curled above his teeth, lower lip hitched to the side. “Well, garsh. Maybe Nate should speak for himself.” He dropped the face. “I’ll make up the points, but why do we need points at all? I’ve had to do a lot of things to get passage. We’ve told stories, put on a talent show, eaten worms—but wandering around the planet kissing alien ass for points is demeaning.”
“More demeaning than being slurped by a Glurkilurk?” asked Jack.
“That was quick, and we didn’t agree to it,” said Tim.
They passed by more nourishment pillars, a disinfecting slider, some contraptions they didn’t understand, and an excretory elimination chamber.
“Keep quiet, Bradley,” said Jack.
Bradley giggled louder.
Jack eyeballed him sternly. “Shut up.” He turned to Tim. “They have to fit the ship with a section compatible to human life support, and they demanded points for it. It’s just their way.”
“Hopefully the ventilation will carry away your stink,” said Nate.
Tim feinted a lunge, causing Nate to flinch. “I’m going to drop you into an excretory elimination tank if your not careful, pal.”
Nate poked a flibberty-boo in his middle, the equivalent of a human wave. “Nate is very glad to meet you.”
“BAWK Nate BAWK BAWK.” The flibberty-boo prodded him in the ribs with a spindle.
“You, too,” said Nate.
“Seriously, dude.” Tim poked Nate in the middle. “You sound like an idiot when you refer to yourself in third person.”
“Nate has noted your comment. However, Nate also mentions that third person translates better for these aliens.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Tim threw back his arms. “We’re getting about one word in ten from these guys. The translator’s bawking like a rabid chicken.”
“Maybe if you’d bathe—”
“For all you know, there telling you to shove off. Bawk bawk, Nate, and the horse you rode in on.”
Nate put on that smug little grin that made Tim want to rub his face in a cat box. “Nate understands them plenty well.”
Tim scoffed. “Moron.”
Bradley grinned. “This is like—”
“Bradley.” Jack gripped his shoulder. “Keep it to yourself, bud.”
For once Jack couldn’t tolerate Bradley, but didn’t seem to care about Tim and Nate’s bickering. Jack jabbed one of the aliens himself. After a few bawks, it slipped into a nourishment booth.
They each poked a few more of them, getting similar undecipherable results, Bradley laughing hysterically and Jack hushing him up.
“How many more to go?” asked Tim.
“We’re making progress,” said Jack. “A few more each, at least.”
“This makes no sense,” said Tim. He poked one next to a ramp up to some open platform, several levers at its base.
“BAWK BAWK BAWK Tim BAWK.” It waddled up the ramp.
Nate laughed. “Did he really just say that?”
“What? What did he say?” asked Tim.
“Nate’s pretty sure you don’t want to know.”
“Stop talking like a dumbass and tell me.”
“Nate’s pretty sure he said you’re dumb and you look like a space pig.”
“That little bastard.” Tim followed the alien up the ramp. “Hey! Flibbery-boo. I’m gonna adjust your flibberty-jibbet.”
The alien went through a door at the top, but when Tim tried it, it wouldn’t open. He pounded on it. “Come on outta there, coward.”
He looked down at the others, and something about the look in their eyes disturbed him. Bradley squealed and rolled on the floor.
“The jagoff locked the door. What the hell is this thing, anyway?” Tim realized a large panel on the ground had moved away to reveal a bathing pool. “Wait. What?” He looked down at Jack, who wore a shit-eating grin. “No!”
Tim turned to run down the ramp, but Jack kicked a lever and the entire deck dropped from beneath him, held on by hinges. Tim flailed for a grab hold, and for a brief moment he felt like a cartoon character just before he fell off a cliff.
He plunged into the liquid, a sour, salty mess of chemicals. His eyes closed tight, he felt the bottom on his shoes and pushed up. He came to the surface and splashed to the edge, holding himself against the side with his forearms.
He looked up and snarled at Jack, who returned it with a triumphant smile.
“Did we even need any points?” asked Tim.
Jack shook his head no.
“The Flibberty-bastards were in on it too?”
“I knew it didn’t make sense.” Tim pushed the wet hair from his eyes. “Tim is not happy.”