The Courtship of Veddy's Father

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The future of two unlucky terraformers rests in their ability to navigate an on-line dating service.

Submitted: August 01, 2017

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Submitted: August 01, 2017

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THE COURTSHIP OF VEDDY'S FATHER

By

Brian P. Baldwin

 

“Do it man!”

Geldron hesitated to punch in the last digit on the screen. Pulling his ID Card Key from the slot he spun away saying, “I can’t do it!”

Veddy clambered up onto a discarded Space Pak carton grabbing Geldron by the shoulders. Geldron was always surprised by the child sized man’s strength.

“Geld, you’ve gotta do it! It’s our only way off this rock!”

Geldron turned away from him, his hands sweating, watching thick atmospheric dust clumping on his skin. Ask me to shoot our way out, or rob the credit exchange he thought, anything but this.

Pleading he said, “I’m no good at this stuff Veddy. There’s got to be another way”

Hopping off the carton and blocking Geldron’s path way from the Vid Term, Veddy held up one of his little hands. He was half his friend’s height but dauntless about what he wanted. “Get your ass back over there and call or we’ll be stuck here forever!”

A portly Toscallan walking to seek shelter from the blowing sand called out, “If that was my kid, he’d think twice about talking to me like that.”

Geldron patted Veddy on the head with one hand while restraining him from pulling out his gun with the other. Veddy looked so intense, Geldron had to snicker seeing him looking so mean in his little sailor suit. Veddy was a Zeltron with hormone problems. He looked like an eight year old boy and, like now, they used it to their advantage.

“It’s the medication,” he called out clapping his hand over Veddy’s mouth to prevent a barrage of insults. “He’s not usually like this,” he said waiting for the Toscallan to enter on of the sand blasted establishments on the weather beaten street before releasing his friend.

“You should ‘a let me stun the fat bastard at least,” he said holstering his weapon.

Geldron looked around nervously hoping they wouldn’t be surprised like that again. Slumping against the wall he said, “I don’t know why you don’t just pull that thing out and shoot me! You’re making me die a slow death as it is. You can’t keep losing your temper like that.”

Veddy threw up his tiny arms shouting, “What the hell do you expect me to do? This place is killing me just as much and you’re trying to blow our one shot at getting out of here!”

“I’m sorry it turned out this way, but this isn’t helping,” said Geldron trying to look pathetic.

Calming himself, Veddy sat down on the packing carton saying, “It’s those damned atmosphere processors and my allergies Geld. They’re killing me, churning up all the dust everywhere. There isn’t a drop of moisture in the air. I’d cry if I didn’t already know my tear ducts are bone dry.”

“I know, I know. It’s hard on everyone, but you can’t let it get to you.”

“I just want out of here and this,” he said pointing to the Public Vid Term uplink, “Is the only way.”

“I don’t know if I can do it Veddy.”

“You have to! No one’s gonna’ believe you’re the kid. It’s the only way, you owe me man!”

Geldron slumping further against the wall, slipping deeper into depression knowing his friend was right. When he brought the brochure home for the first time Veddy faked interest in it and eventually threw it out. Later he explained it was too good to be true, but Geldron insisted anything would be better than where they were.

In the beginning each had set out from their home world to become interplanetary travelers, but became stuck between planets on a pre colony space station used for logistic staging where they met. Each had used what precious money they had, bought tickets for the great unknown not realizing that taking the shuttle as far as it would take you, wasn’t far enough. It was just supposed to be a layover. Soon after, they needed jobs to make enough to leave and then that turned into enough for a place to live. Slowly life on the station was dragging them deeper into the seedy side of life. Just trying to get by with little prospect for the future. They decided to combine their efforts and get the hell out of there.

That’s when Geldron found the brochure. It offered a new life, a chance to tame a new planet. A new beginning for the right hard working beings who would put up the cash to come and open small businesses. Once convinced they could do it, Geldron refused to let the idea die. He insisted all they needed to do was choose a business. Of course Veedy was always interested in something shady, but Geldron persevered, convincing him those struggling on a new world would need relaxation more so than anyone else. The colony business data base listed the beach resort and they would own a monopoly.

Canting his head with a painful look he mumbled, “All right. All right. I admit it OK. It’s all my fault. Satisfied?”

“No!”

“I know I made a mistake but-“

“You call this a mistake? We used out life’s savings to get here and what do we have to show for it? We’re the proud owners of a beach resort on a planet that has no water!”

Geldron was stung by the reminder. He felt the guilt every day and was sure Veddy knew it. “You saw the brochure; it wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

“Yeah, but you’re the one that brought the damned thing home in the first place. I wouldn’t’ve gone along with it, but you begged me. You said it was the chance of a lifetime.”

Geldron sunk into depression at his friends hard words. If he could go back and change it, he would, no matter how miserable they had been on the station. Veddy was right though, all he wanted to do was cry and wallow in misery, but the dry air would rob him of his moisture before he felt a tear on his cheek.

“Here,” said Veddy patting him on the shoulder while holding out the pamphlet. Geldron studied the picture of happy families running and playing on plush fields of wild alien flowers and vegetation. “I’m not asking you to do anything I wouldn’t do for you. We did it your way. All I’m asking is to try mine for a change.”

Geldron pulled himself together pushing off the wall to stand up. He stared at the Vid Term sticking out of the wall ominously; it’s scratched and faded paint from daily sandblasting making it seem eons older that it could possibly be. Pulling out his ID key he forced himself towards it.

“You’ll see Geld. It’ll be great. Besides we don’t have anything to lose.”

Inserting his key, he started punching in the numbers Veddy had made him memorize. He almost pulled out his key again at the last moment, but from the corner of his eye, he saw the way Veddy was watching him. The screen came to life, flashing extravagant colours with a solid tone indicating he was waiting to be connected to the other end. A computer generated image of a sleek, sexy figure hidden in shadows formed as a background to the program.

“Welcome to the Gravitational Attraction Network. Your uplink is toll free within the Delta 4732 Colony and there is no charge for browsing on the system. You only require an account to leave an Add or to answer one.”

They looked at each other shrugging. Geldron thought it wasn’t as bad as he was expecting. The music playing in the background was pleasant and after only a few moments, they were weaving and bobbing subtly to the rhythm.

A light tone sounded as the screen switched to a cascade of characters from many languages filling it up.

“If you are conversant in one of the languages displayed simply highlight it on the touch sensitive screen in the usual manner. If your species is reptilian and you have difficulty with the heat sensing touch screen press the number sign now.”

Geldron searched the choices on the screen but couldn’t decide. Veddy jumped up and down to get a better view and then tugged on Geldron’s sleeve. He pointed to the central quadrant common language they were both familiar with and Geldron selected it.

“Very good. You may now respond to questions verbally however some sections on the service have many choices and you will be required to use the key pad. If you would like to go directly into the system answer yes. If you would like more information on membership and setting up an account answer no. Make your selection now.”

Geldron looked to Veddy for suggestions and saw his small companion holding up two fingers. After pressing selection two the program spoke again.

“Please key in your colony central registration number for billing procedures and prepare to answer several questions.”

The soft music playing in the back ground helped Geldron to input his complicated code.

“For this section, please select the appropriate number on the key pad in front of you. If you are single touch one, married touch two, uncertain touch three, or if you are bound by unusual cultural or quasi-religious rules or other, touch four. Make your selection now.”

Geldron scratched his head confused by all the choices. Veddy, overcome with excitement pushed forward while jumping up and hitting the number one button on the key pad.

“Why complicate things,” he explained.

“For same Species touch one or chose from the many selections available on the screen now.”

Reaching for the number one Geldron looked for Veddy’s approval.

“For a procreative relationship touch one, for a same sex relationship touch two. Make your selection now.”

From the corner of his eye Geldron saw Veddy stretching up to reach the pad. He slapped his little friends hand away from the number two button saying, “Hey! This is difficult enough. We’re not on this thing for your amusement.”

“I was just trying to liven things up,” said Veddy grinning like a child caught in the act of cookie liberation.

“The pamphlet was specific. ‘Couples for colonization,’ not some sort of sex romp across the galaxy!”

Veddy shrugged and Geldron turned back to the Vid Term punching the number one. The process repeated itself to determine their goals in relationships and other variations on the same theme. Veddy made him pause to listen to all the categories in the fetish section before Geldron grew angry bringing them finally to Adds from women wanting stable long term relationships with sensitive men.

“Add One: Hi, this is Plenyan GAN ID 3478. I’ve just arrived here on Colony three and I’m looking for someone to help me settle in and get the sand out of some difficult spots to reach. If you think you can help, leave me a message. ‘To respond to this Add touch one. To go on to the next Add touch two.’”

They shared unenthusiastic looks, each reasoning that without an accompanying video there was no way of knowing what they’d get. It also usually meant there was something to hide. Geldron pressed two.

“Add Two: ‘My name is Bista. I’m not actually on Colony 3, but I’m on my way and I’m hoping to hook up with someone when I get there. Leave me a message at 2241.’ To respond to this Add touch one-.”

“This is useless,” sneered Veddy. “We need something quicker than this. Sounds to me like she spent everything she had on getting here and she’s looking for a place to live. Is she in for a surprise.”

Geldron was always the patient one saying, “We just have to listen to all the Adds. You can’t expect to find the perfect one right away.”

“No! No! Get back to the main menu and see if we can hook up with someone live, one-on-one.”

Geldron danced his fingers over the key pad getting them back to the main menu where he selected the on-line feature.

“Intima-netting allows you to link up with any number of on-line users to discover each other in close up being to being intimacy. To hear Adds from people currently on the system in your category touch one, to hear adds from all categories touch two.”

Geldron pushed number one.

“There are no users in your category active at this time.”

“Shit!” screeched Veddy kicking the post supporting the Vid Term. “Hit two.”

“But that one’s probably filled with desperate types. There’s no telling what we’ll get.”

Veddy grinning devilishly said, “Desperate is just what we’re looking for.”

Instead of the usual voice interaction they were used to the screen filled with a large menu divided up into small segmented squares. Each one came with a name, a graphic, and a brief system commentary of any relevant information. In the bottom corner it said page 1 of 29. Geldron looked to Veddy for help and he pulled up the empty carton to stand on for a better view. They both peered intensely dividing the screen to quickly skim over perspective Adds. Occasionally one of them would stop to touch the screen where an Add that interested them was and it would begin to play.

“Add 13. ‘Me Vorlex. Me am waiting your for good time or any time. Me single with no missing appendages and recently rehbiliat…, Ah recently rehably… Ah… Recently out of prison. Make good friend. No bright lights.’.”

“My God! Did you press that one on purpose?” asked Geldron with a shiver running up his spine. “It’s disgusting. Whatever that thing was it scared the hell out of me.”

“You gotta stop being so sensitive Geld. There were a lot worse ones I could’ve picked.”

“There’s one worse than that?”

“Yeah look here. This one comes with a disclaimer before you can look at the graphic.”

“No way!”

“I’m not kidding. It’s a Znortor Spider Creature and there’s a warning about being eaten after mating.”

“You're making that up!"

"No. I'll play it for you."

"Good God no! He said swiping Veddy's hands away. "How the hell could they let something like that get on the system. This isn't working out."

"You're too tense man. You call me impatient. I'm at least willing to give this a chance. I'll just play this one for last."

Geldron seized the controls advancing them several pages into the system. He didn't want to spoil Veddy’s fun, but he had to look out for his own interests. Veddy shot him a cold stare but it was lost on the side of Geldron’s head because he was deep into the new page of ads hoping to find something that looked normal enough to make him forget about Vorlex. He was halfway through his second column when he shouted out.

"What!" Screeched Veddy reaching for is gun.

"I got something here. It looks good!"

Then he moved to the very edge of the packing crate peering over Geldron’s shoulder reading the brief Bio, "good-looking and ready to please. Not into anything weird but might endure some occasional oddities to keep my man happy."

"Run that baby!" He shouted running his tiny hands together.

Running his finger over the add, the small box expanded outwards until consuming the entire screen. As the data downloaded they were both struck by the beauty of the humanoid. Her long bright red hair was only outdone by her glowing green eyes. It was a still image of her in motion tossing her hair back leaving it hanging in the air to cradle her soft curving oval face.

"Yes! We have a winner!" called out Veddy grabbing hold of the vid term and leaning in.

Geldron pulled him off the machine and activated the Add.

"Shellara here." She said deeply with a long sigh. "I'm a type two humanoid just entering my sexual maturity and willing to grow with the right man. I want the simple pleasures of life and enjoy travel. You can leave me a message at ID 4213."

Veddy fought his way around Geldron on grabbing hold of the screen again. "Well done Mr. Geldron! I think I'm in love." He paused seeing Shellara’s disapproving look. "Well lust for sure."

Geldron, forever suffering from fear of failure sighed deeply saying, "It won't work. She's far too good-looking for us."

He spun around folding his arms. "That's so typical of you. Christ Geld! You're so pessimistic all the time. Hell, the first time you heard the word oxymoron, you probably thought it was a cousin you hadn't met yet."

Trying to ignore Veddy’s slur he said, "We’re just setting ourselves up for disappointment. She'll spit in our faces."

“That's just what I mean. So what? We still get to talk to her and that’s better than nothing. Get her on the line!"

Geldron started the procedure for making a linkup. The automated operator told him it was going to start costing them money. This better be worth it he thought, they didn't have a lot of money to waste on just looking. He started importing his credit information while thinking about the number of times he hadn't listened to Veddy's instincts like the situation they were in now.

"Here it comes," said Geldron shaking.

The screen fizzled from interference then slowly cleared giving them a dim view of a sparsely decorated dwelling.

"Mating or dating?" called out a gravelly voice of a woman. Geldron thought she sounded more like a steam line cook then the goddess they saw earlier. Leaning closer to the screen to see where she was. Geldron cleared his throat nervously saying, "I'm sorry. What was that?"

Shellara step out of the shadows tossing her knotted hair back to view them. As she looked them up and down it became clear to them there was some embellishment in her Add. Still, Geldron had to admit, she was the best looking thing he'd seen on the planet since their arrival. She lacked the lilt and playfulness in her Add, but with probably having been out in the storm though the day he thought her surprising appearance made sense.

Shellara looked them over and paused to straighten with interest. "Hi there," she said, her seductive voice returning, "who's your little friend?"

Veddy began stroking back his jet black hair in response to her noticing him. Geldron glanced at him feeling panic for only a moment. He was confident he wouldn't jeopardize something so important.

Geldron pulled Veddy tight to his side to pat him on the head and said, "Oh this is my son Vedrocan. Say hello Veddy."

Shellara canted her head to light a cigarette saying, "Oh, father and son surfing the net. I like your style."

“You got it baby!" said Veddy rubbing his hands together menacingly.

With the cigarette dangling from her lower lip she said, "What did he say?"

Grabbing hold of Veddy's ear with a vice like grip, he gave him a different swelling body part to worry about. "He asked if you had a baby, you know kids." He Couldn't tell if she believed him. Her only expression he could find was in the movements of the long cigarette and the dancing of the burning embers in the poor light. He was sure there was a clue there but didn't know how to read it.

"Cute kid."

“Pretty lady," said Veddy lusting behind his character.

“Thanks kid. You and your dad aren't bad either."

Then he managed to break Geldron’s grip on his ear but not without cost. He tipped over the carton he was standing on, sending him sprawling on the dusty ground screaming, "Shit!"

"What was that?"

“Oh, he just took a little tumble that's all."

“Is he hurt? I can't see him," she said moving closer to the screen like she might be able to look over the edge. "Tough kid. I don't hear him crying or nothing."

Geldron slipped his boot out catching Veddy in the midsection making him yelp. "There, there Veddy. I've told you to be more careful than that."

Veddy rolled out of range while fumbling with the catch on his shoulder holster. In the time it took for him to finally get it undone he had calmed down enough to realize shooting his friend wouldn't help their situation.

Shellara saw he was okay saying, "So what's it going to be dad? You just call me up to introduce me to your son?"

“Well I was thinking that maybe… Uh, or if you're not… Like maybe we could meet for a drink or something."

"Ahh drinks are fine when you're thirsty but I like the sound of something a bit better."

She was really coming on strong and he couldn't help but wonder why. "I just thought we could… you know, meet and get to know one another and take it from there."

Pouting she said, "Well you're no fun. I'd expect something a bit more from a guy with your looks."

“Please, the boy" he said embarrassed and trying to slow things down.

"All right. All right. We can keep it simple for now but I don't know how long I can control myself, Where?"

Geldron panicked trying to think of a place to meet. He never planned on getting this far and desperately started searching around him hoping something would give him an idea. Veddy was jumping up and down trying to get his attention but Geldron knew the kinds of places Veddy would come up with. There was little chance of success taking woman like her to his kind of hang out. "How about the shuttle port?" he blurted out, "they have a nice bar there on the arrivals level.

"Raising a slender long female finger to her lips, she began pondering the suggestion. "Yeah. OK. Sounds good to me. How about seven tomorrow?"

Geldron’s instincts sent his mind scrambling searching for something or some way for him to call it off while he fought for the right words Veddy tugged at the bottom of his robe.

Jumping up in front of the screen Veddy shouted, "We'll be there!" and pulled Geldron’s ID tag from the Vid-Term.

Watching her image fade Geldron reached forward grabbing the sides of the Vid-Term like it was Shellara’s shoulders to prevent her from slipping away making certain there was nothing left of her on the screen. He slumped back hard onto the packing crate almost crushing his tiny friend in the process and he raised his hands to his face rubbing vigorously in desperation; she was way out of their league.

"Why did you do that?" he moaned rubbing his hands against his side.

“What's your problem? We got what we wanted. You don't want to ruin it with a lot of talk do you?"

"But we don't know anything about her. We don't even know her last name."

Given the large toothy grin Veddy said, "Geldron, that's the kind of question you ask the next morning."

Geldron bowed his head finding no humor in his friend's words. His stomach clenched and heaved as he imagined the meeting to come. "You know I'm no good at this sort of thing. It's too much for me."

Veddy moved beside him slapping him on the side, "You worry too much Geld. There's plenty of time for talking tomorrow night when we meet her."

"What if she expects more than that?"

"That's why I'm going with you. She's less likely to come on real hard if your kid is there, and if she's the right one and the time is right, we can lay out the plan."

"You make it sound so easy but this so much that can go wrong. What if she figures out what we’re doing too soon? Then what? She could get pissed off and blow the whistle on us. Remember just planning something like this is illegal."

Groaning Veddy said, "Just relax and leave the hard stuff to me. If you think too much about it you’ll just get scared."

"I'm scared now!"

The next day they made their way to the shuttle port a short distance from their calling station to meet with Shellara. For most of the unpleasant ride on the train Geldron sat nervously looking out the window at the raging dust storms while flirting with a drink the hostess talked him into. The site of the lovely young hostess only helped remind him of his predicament making the journey more uncomfortable. Veddy was his persistently obnoxious self, hitting on the poor woman every time she came near. At one point she fetched the second officer hoping he would have Veddy put off on one of the dunes, but he was able to escape the fate by nestling close to Geldron and playing the child.

Geldron thought the hardest part of his job would be forcing himself to step into the bar. But the journey between the train and the entrance to the shuttle port subjected them to the harsh sandstorms making it easy for him to make the decision to go inside. He thought what lay in store for him inside couldn't be as bad as the weather outside.

Entering the bar, he was struck hard by the thick smoke filled stale air. He suppressed his gag reflex while looking at Veddy. His little friend was so short he suffered only a fraction of the poison Geldron was exposed to. It was amazing he thought, while watching his friend slip in and out of character, using it to force their way into the crowded establishment. Though Veddy’s act could only carry them so far sometimes, and now he was hung up with one of the more observant hostesses. Geldron glanced deep into the dark room confused by the mirrored walls and stainless steel fixtures making it difficult to see what was real or reflection. Sweeping across the back portion he caught a faint glimpse of something red.

Struggling to focus, his pulse raced fearing it might be Shellara but it was only the back of a head. He tried to get Veddy's attention to warn him but he was too far away. He knew if she turned around now and saw Veddy for what he really was, there would be no hope for them. The hair so red, so bright, glowed like a beacon, his stomach clenched. The only thing he could think of was to grab his friend and run while there was still a chance. He glanced back and forth between Veddy and the distant figure until Veddy caught his eye. In one smooth motion the little man handed the tall woman his mutant card pressing it hard into her palm along with a few credits and it was that simple. The woman handed back Veddy’s card and after examining the tip was more than happy to let them in and show them to Shellara's booth.

Geldron was both pleased and disappointed when the tall woman led them in a different direction than where he thought he had seen her. They arrived at a large booth with high-back seats and greeted Shellara with a nod. He let Veddy slip into the opposite bench first and then move in himself. He let a slight nervous smile crossed his face after seeing Shellara looking him over intensely as he sat down. Once he did, she concentrated on making eye contact but it proved too much for him and he began glancing in all directions but hers.

"This place is mostly for singles now," she explained, "it wasn't always but it's the best bar on this rock and people started to gravitate here hoping something decent would arrive. You get one of these booths and you can see all over the place in the mirrors. I get one of these all the time mostly out of habit."

Pulling himself close to the tables in a low voice Veddy said, “Any other habits?"

Pulling him back in a headlock Geldron tried covering his mouth, "Ha! Kids Eh?"

"What did he say?"

"He wanted to know what a habit is," he stammered nervously while fighting to keep his grip on Veddy.

"You seem to have to do that a lot," said Shellara are suspiciously. Tossing back her thick red hair she said, "I read on Infonet it's not good to stifle kids like that. You're supposed to encourage them to be vocal."

The fear of being caught in a lie Geldron led Veddy slip out.

"Yeah dad," said Veddy giving Geldron a hard bony elbow to the ribs.

Geldron tried making small talk but was just too unexperienced to do it convincingly. Every little lie he made up made it more difficult to come up with another. Her suspicious looks and sarcastic tone was making the hairs on his neck stand up.

"I don't know what's going on with you two," she said rising from the table. "I'll probably regret this but let's go."

Excited Veddy latched onto Geldron’s thigh making him yelp.

"What? Where?" said Geldron rubbing his leg nervously.

"Upstairs! I took a room at the Port Lodge," she said casually as though it was expected.

Veddy jumped out of his seat ready to follow her anywhere. Geldron fought holding him back shouting, "You mean now!”

Thrusting her hands on her hips in frustration she shouted back, "What the hell do you think I mean! What are you some kind of freak!"

Pleading he said, “No! No!... It’s just that I have Veddy with me. You know?”

“So what? They have a day care. I’m not a pervert you know!”

Geldron’s hands trembled as he tried to grab hold of the table and pull him from his seat. He struggled until finally pulling himself up and then was faced with trying to get his feet moving.

“Could you just give me and Veddy a moment to talk?” he asked.

With a groan she twirled dramatically walking a few feet from them. Before they got a chance to speak, she spun back saying, “I know I’m going to regret this. You better be worth it!”

Veddy had his comb out stroking his hair while gazing at himself in the reflective table. After adjusting his part he looked up saying, “We’re in man!”

“In what? Are you crazy?” he cried lunging at the table. “You almost blew it back there! What are we gonna do? The way things are going I give it ten more minutes before she’s certain there’s something wrong.”

“Simple,” said Veddy grinning deviously. “We come clean and tell her the works.”

“We can’t do that!”

“Why not? Look at her Geld, she doesn’t belong here anymore than we do. And she’s no angel either. Once we tell her what the plan is, we’ve got our ticket out of here.”

“And what if she turns us in to the Colony Commission for the reward, then what?”

“Ah. You’ve got a point there,” said Veddy slumping against a large cushion in defeat. After stroking his chin and thinking he should have shaved a second time like Geldron told him to, he sprang up. “Screw it. You don’t get anywhere in life without take a chance. Let’s go.”

They left the booth to join Shellara and hear for her room. Geldron was uneasy with Veddy’s final words in the booth, but he was glad one of them could make a decision. He could only find solace in the plan to come clean with her.

Giving Geldron a sly wink while passing her credit ID over the scanner she unlocked the door letting him and Veddy go in first. Geldron always well-mannered knew enough to stop just inside the threshold and wait for her. He had to shoot out a quick arm grabbing hold of Veddy who had set his sights on the mini bar. His new found relaxation coupled with the pride at coming up with a good excuse not to drop Veddy off at the day care right away left him with a pleasant almost stupid looking grin fixed on his dull features.

“Would you two boys like a drink?” she asked heading towards the bedroom potion of the suite.

Free from Geldron’s grip, Veddy continued towards the mini bar selecting an imported beer; not something he was proud of, but if there was beer from this planet there was no way he would even think about drinking it. Once the seal was broken and the beer sampled, Veddy pulled out a cigar lighting it as he slumped into one of the large plush chairs, his tiny frame almost vanishing. Geldron walked to the chair lowing himself to one knee to be close to Veddy.

“She’s going to be back in here any second,” he whispered.

“So?” said Veddy letting a plume of cigar smoke roll into Geldron’s face.

“Well don’t you think it would be better to let her in on this slowly?” He paused seeing his friend’s lack of concern. “You know, maybe feel her out first. I’m still worried she might sell us out.”

“Look! Don’t worry about it. Once we get her to sign on we can get the tickets for the shuttle and then turn them in for an earlier flight and ditch her. By the time she knows what’s happening, you and I will be on our way to a new life.”

Geldron moved carefully to the table and chairs across from him dreading Shellara’s return and what might happen once she saw Veddy for what he really was. He was nervous expecteding her to return wearing some light, flowing, possibly transparent robe, but he was pleased, and confused to see her return dressed for the rugged environment of the planet. Walking past him she winked while putting her hair in a practical tight bun meant for comfort rather than style. Geldron assumed she hadn’t noticed Veddy yet and waited impatiently for the look of shock on her face as she headed for the mini bar. He knew there was no way she could miss him now.

She payed no attention to either of them as she fished through the bar looking for a beer. After closing the door she popped the seal taking a long slurp ending with a long sigh that was part belch. Turning her head to Veddy she said, “Make sure you use an ashtray buddy.”

Geldron snapped up from his char pointing a finger at her. “You knew all the time!”

“Of course,” she said snatching the cigar from Veddy’s hand, “I know and Zeltron with hormone problems when I see one.”

Veddy held up his hands innocently.

“Oh yes little man I spotted you right away. Just look at this body,” she said running her hands down the sides of her shapely curved pelvis. “You two don’t honestly think I haven’t been approached by one of you horny little buggers before. It’s always the same. ‘I lost my mommy,’ the next thing you know they’ve got their little hands all over your ass.”

“Hey! There’s got to be some advantages for looking like this.”

She gave him a cold stare before turning her attention on Geldron. “So are you gonna tell me what all of this is about or are we going to keep playing games?”

Geldron crossed his legs defensively and looked at Veddy. “I told you we should have told her right away. I’m so sorry. I hope you’re not mad.”

Pulling out a chair from the table she sat next to him patting him on the thigh saying, “Don’t worry about it. Just tell me what this is about.”

Veddy pulled himself out of the folds of the chair and walked towards the table. “Simple babe. We’re getting off this rock. All three of us. Show her Geld.”

Geldron pulled out the brochure laying it on the table in front of her. Shellara picked it up, skimming over it quickly.

“It’s a new colony,” explained Veddy. “A good one, not like this shit hole we’re on now. I know because I had a friend check it out. This one’s legit and has everything in the brochure, but there’s a catch.” 

Lowering the brochure Shellara said, “They’re only taking families.”

“That’s right. Got to be complete ones, Mommies, Daddies, and kids. That could be us if you want off this rock.”

“Which one would I be?” she asked bluntly.

Geldron was too nervous to see the humour. “The mother of course. We aren’t weirdoes,… well not anymore.”

Veddy giggling said, “So what do you say Shellara. Are you in?”

“I’d do anything to get off this rock. Why didn’t you just tell me what you wanted in the first place?”

Veddy went to the mini bar to help himself to another beer. Returning he said, “I know it doesn’t look like it, but Geldron here is a bit of a nervous fellow. He was worried that someone might turn us in for a reward, and then we couldn’t talk about it on the Vid Term. You never know if some Cyber Geek is in there with you.”

She stroked Geldron’s leg and he responded by pulling his chair out of reach. “You look fine to me Geldron. In fact I’m a little disappointed the way this has turned out. Then again the trip to a new world might be a long one. We might have to find some way to pass the time.”

Geldron started to fidget realizing he had run out of room to move away from Shellara reaching the point where he would have to find a new place to sit. The only other thing in the room he could sit on was the bed, something he was trying to avoid.

“OK,” said Geldron rising and starting to pace. “What do we do now?”

“We start with the easy stuff,” said Veddy. “You take Shellara’s Code Disc with your son, that’s me, to the Colony Authority offices at the Shuttle Port reception and make an application for the three of us to Colony 27.”

“Shouldn’t I go with you?” She asked.

“No. Having either you or Geldron unable to show up makes it look more natural. He can say you had to work or some crap like that. Then we can get the shuttle schedule and get out of here.”

They agreed with his plan deciding that since they were at the Shuttle Port hotel now they might as well stay there for convenience. The next day Geldron and Veddy put their plan into action by going to the Colony Authority first. They got caught up in a technicality because the Authority didn’t have them registered as a family. Veddy got Geldron to explain that his wife Shellara had come ahead to work and prepare their home for them with father and son following later, because of schooling and the like. He blamed the Authority for keeping poor records, something they were happy to agree with.

They were told their application would be rushed through because of the error and there would be a ship heading for the new colony the next day. They rushed back to let Shellara in on the news and to come up with the rest of the plan. Her being from a different sector than them meant they would have to separate and agreed to meet back at the port the next day. Veddy explained to Shellara he would keep her shuttle ticket in case she couldn’t meet them at the port. He reasoned he could leave it for her with the dispatcher and it would look more natural. She agreed and they went their separate ways.

Geldron and Veddy left the Shuttle Port Hotel looking for something more in line with their budget for the project which was very little. They spent a quiet night in a local dive each struggling for sleep and fighting back the excitement they felt for leaving this desolate world. Eventually the stress from everything they were going through caught up with them and they drifted into deep sleep only to be shocked awake by and early wakeup call left by Veddy.

Reluctantly, with the help of Veddy’s constant nagging and the view down the barrel of his gun, Geldron got ready. Veddy wouldn’t explain why they were up so early and left him. They met in the run down restaurant of the hotel lobby where Geldron had to eat faster than he could remember to keep up with his friend.

“I don’t get it Veddy. Where are we going?” asked Geldron rushing out the door behind him.

“We have to get to the Authority first and catch the early morning shuttle,” said Veddy panting to maintain his pace.

“But we aren’t supposed to meet Shellara until after lunch?”

“I know. That’s why we’re going early. We can get the jump on her and be on our way before she knows what’s happened.”

Geldron’s mouth gapped open as he stood staring at his friend. He was used to Veddy not letting him in on every detail, but this felt like betrayal. “I don’t get it. Why?”

Veddy ignored his protests until they reached the steps leading into the Authority building. Turning he said, “Look Geld! You’re just too nice a guy. She was going to do it to us. It was written all over her face.”

“You don’t know that for sure! You’re not giving her a chance!”

“That’s what I mean. You can’t be giving everyone you meet a chance because they’ll take you for everything you’ve got. You got to trust me this time. OK!”

Geldron, shuffling along beside him had lost all the spring in his step. He was forcing himself to see the possible truth in Veddy’s logic. He didn’t want to believe it, but at the outset of the ordeal he made a pact with himself for Veddy’s sake. He would follow his plan.

“OK. I’ll do it this time Veddy,” he said putting a hand on his friends shoulder. “But hold anything back on me this time-.”

Veddy smiling for the first time since they looked at their beach property said, “All you have to do Geld is go in there and I’ll play the kid like we always do, then get our tickets but cash in Shellara’s. We take the money and run.”

“But won’t they-.”

Cutting him off and pulling him towards the door he said, “Don’t worry about it. Just tell them that your wife had to close out some business and she’s going to come on a later flight.”

They entered patiently waiting in line until their turn came. As early as it was the Colony Authority staff looked haggard from being overworked. Daily they suffered the deluge of people arriving from space cities and run down societies searching for a new paradise. They were equally busy with the ones having money rushing to leave the barren crusted world terraforming had turned it into. An unhappy Authority worker signaled to them to step forward to the desk.

Geldron pushed himself toward the counter leaving Veddy back to play like a child. Within seconds Veddy could see the look of concern on Geldron’s face while knowing he was taking far too long.

“Dad,” said Veddy tugging on Geldron’s pant leg.

Geldron gave him a hush, then turned to the agent saying, “That’s fine. I’ll just have to come back.”

Veddy tugged much harder almost tearing the fabric. “What’s going on Dad!” he said gritting his teeth hard.

Geldron reached down grabbing on to him making sure to put and hand over his friend’s shoulder holster. He quickly whisked him out of the Authority offices and outside to the howling wind.

“What the fuck is going on and put me down!”

“I’ll put you down under one condition,” said Geldron weaving his head to avoid a tiny fist.

“Why?”

“Just do it Veddy, or I will carry you all day.”

Veddy could stand almost any type of humiliation except being carried and Geldron knew it. It was only a matter of time before he would give in and promise anything to be let down.

“All right! I’ll do whatever you want, just let me down!”

“You have to promise you won’t kill anyone or blast anything with your gun!”

“What! What’s going on!”

“Not until you promise!” he said grunting to maintain his grip on the little guy.

Veddy started struggling again only tiring himself out in the process. Finally, nodding reluctantly he said, “OK I promise. Just put me down now.”

Geldron let him loose and Veddy started brushing himself off like he was wiping shame away. Geldron waited for him to finish and held out his hand like a waiter waiting for a tip. Veddy tried to ignore him but finally blurted out an expletive about Geldron’s mother and kicked the ground before taking his gun from the holster and handing it to him.

“Now, will you tell me what the hell is going on!”

“It looks like you were right about Shellara,” said Geldron backing up. “She beat us here crying about how her husband told her to change the tickets days ago and she forgot. She’s gone Vedrocan, the tickets with her.”

Veddy dropped to his tiny knees screaming while he beat his little fits against the dirt. “That double crossing bitch! I’ll kill her!” He screamed. The fat Toscallon from a few days ago walked by them again shouting, “I told you he’d only get worse. You have to be firm with kids or this is what you get.”

Veddy kept begging to have his gun back for the entire time the Toscallon was in view, but Geldron made him stick to his promise. Eventually he cooled down and all that was left was for them to decide what to do next. Geldron decided they both needed a drink and being just outside the Shuttle Port, it seemed like the best place for it.

After struggling through the maze of departure and arrival gates they found one of the small bars near the gate they were supposed to leave from provided everything had gone their way. Geldron was hoping a drink would settle Veddy down, but being able to see all the happy passengers lined up to leave the planet they hated so much just seemed to make him worse. Geldron felt responsible. He had never seen him so depressed before, hardly taking any interest in his drink.

It was Geldron’s fault they had come to this world in the first place and now he felt responsible for them not leaving. There was no way he could have predicted Shellara’s treachery anymore than he could have known Veedy was planning something very similar. But now he was left with the little man more depressed than ever. There was little left for them and Geldron ordered several more drinks. Getting Veddy drunk was the least he could do.

“Here you go Sir,” said the waitress towering over them. “Are you sure you can pay for all this?”

With everything they had been through all the conditions were right for Geldron, although normally as easy going as anyone could be, to lose his temper. “Look lady,” he said sneering while tossing his magnetic credit square on the table. “Just give us the drinks!”

“Now that’s no way to talk to a lady, especially if you want something from her.”

Geldron frustrated turned sharply to give her a hard glare to let her know how serious he was. Looking over his should he saw the flowing red hair belonging to Shellara holding their tray of drinks.

He didn’t know if he should be mad or excited crying out, “What are you doing here!”

Setting the tray down she pulled out a chair to sit with them. Veddy was more shocked than Geldron forgetting to reach for his gun like had promised to do if he ever saw her again.

“You guys don’t look so good,” she said smiling and helping herself to one of the drinks. They continued staring at her in disbelief. “Let’s just say I have a weakness for sensitive guys.”

"But we thought you were gone,” stammered Geldron. What about the shuttle flight?”

Shellara parted her lips letting her glowing smile show through as she held up three tickets. "I couldn’t leave without you two.”

“Well we almost did,” said Geldron his head held in shame.”

“Hey don’t feel bad. I know what kind of world it is out there. I don’t blame you guys, but someone had to have trust.”

Veddy looked strange to Geldron, an expression he’d never seen before. He looked caught somewhere between suspicion and glee like a prisoner on death row that just got a reprieve but didn’t know why. “Why did you come back for us?”

Shellara took a long look at them both before saying, “I know it sounds hard to believe, but I’ve spent a lot of time on the Vid Terms trying to find someone and Geldron you’re the best I’ve seen so far.”

Geldron’s palms started sweating making it difficult for him to hang onto his drink. “Well I-.”

“You don’t have to say anything about it. We don’t have to make plans. I just want a fair chance to be with you for the trip to the new colony and see what happens. Just think you, me, and Veddy making a go of it on a new planet. At the least, we can travel there together and see what happens.”

Geldron was still in shock from the first sight of her and this built upon it. This wasn’t the same kinky girl he’s met on the Vid Term. He could see Veddy hanging on the edge of his seat hoping he would agree. Geldron wasn’t sure if he should take her seriously, but he did know that she had come back for them when there was nothing to stop her from leaving. Perhaps they had misjudged her.

Geldron put his drink down and for the first time felt sure of himself. He reached across the table taking her hand and Veddy’s saying, “Let’s get of this rock!”

They left.

Today, when you’ve saved up enough money for that once in a lifetime trip to visit the sub-tropical islands of the Renwald Colony where you can sample their long days of sun and the clear green waters. Don’t forget to make reservations at Geldron House where they say the cuisine is superb and only to be matched by the beauty of the hostess and the talent of the incredible little midget that leads the band.

 

The End


© Copyright 2017 Brian P Baldwin. All rights reserved.

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