(Writing prompts from Bret Anthony Johnston, via Harriet, via Megan) Spend a few minutes describing:
You, there. You weren’t supposed to see my porticalivolizzer. What? No, it’s not an umbrella. It’s a Model 24-8 porticalivolizzer. And of course I’m supposed to stand inside it. Clearly you don’t understand how personal teleporters work. No, you can’t try it right now, because I’m on an important mission.
Slash, I thought this diner dumpster would be a safe place to point port. Well, now that you know I’m an alien, what are you gonna do, huh? Oh. Sure, you can come along. You don’t have one of those homes to go back to? Well, just don’t go messin’ up my mission by howling wolf or whatever it is you sapien kids do.
You really want to know? I’m not supposed to talk about it. It’s highly classified stuff. Highly classified. Okay, I’ll tell you. I’m a secret agent sent to capture Potus’s dog. No, not “President”. That’s his name—Potus. What do you mean, his name is Obama? All right, kid, believe what you want.
What planet am I from? Not telling. I’m a secret agent, remember? My commander told me that this mission is of critical importance, and if I don’t do it wrong, I’ll finally earn my gentian badge. Hmm? Oh, no, I don’t have any other badges. The gentian badge is the lowest-level one. But shut your mouth about it, I’m gonna get it this time.
You’re hungry? You know what, me too. Let’s hope this place has better food in there than out here.
These sugar packets are delicious. I’ll give Earth that much—y’all know how to flavor your ingestibles. Back on Tiolun, all we have is nutritionally complete water. Hey, what’s the matter, kid? Let me pay the bill first. Check it out: these marbles will morph into whatever shape I want. I think ten dollars and forty-six cents is in order.
Okay, kid, what was the hurry back there? The waiter seemed normal enough to me. Claws bursting out the heels of his shoes, huh? And then you saw him crunch a cook’s neck like a juice box? Well, that ain’t related to my mission. Let’s go for a car ride.
The problem with teleporting is you don’t get to enjoy the views. You go from point A to point B without any of the decimals in between. Of course letters have decimals. You have to stop thinking like a sapien, kid. Maybe then you’ll get a gentian badge, too.
Taxi! Hey, can you take us to the beach? Yes, the dog one.
Look out the window, kid. I’ll tell ya, when you’re traveling out in space, you never get to see such a pretty parallax effect. Just glorious.
Oh yeah, driver? You get me? Ah, you’re from Ceuragoc! Nice. I’m from Tiolun. How long have you been on this side of the multiverse? Slash, that’s a long time. Don’t you miss home after six hundred years? Oh, wow, I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t know. Guess news and time don’t sync across teleportals. Do you think any of the others survived? If I see them, I’ll tell them where to find you. And no matter where they are, they’ll always live on inside you. Oh, you ate them? Well, at least you got to be with them in their last moments.
Thanks for the ride. How much do I owe you? Sorry, I’m gonna keep the kid. Have a marble.
Don’t look so stricken, you wanted to come along. Are you afraid the driver was gonna eat you, too? You’re not even two bites and a juice box. That’s not it? Then what? Oh, I didn’t even notice. You should point it out to me next time. I would have wanted to see his pigeon foot collection.
Here we are—the worst place to collect driftwood. I have it on good authority that Potus’s pooch will be here in twenty minutes. Okay, I’m just guessing. But to catch your target, you’ve gotta understand your target, and this is where we’re gonna study.
This place is packed. You sapiens have a reputation for only caring about yourselves, but I have to take that with a grain of sand. Who would have thought that your species would spend so much time throwing bouncy spheres for some-dog-else?
You want to go in the water? Sure, I’ll come with you.
The ocean waves on Earth are so funny. It’s as if someone shook a bucket, and the water never stopped moving. Tiolun’s oceans don’t crash like that. They just spin. Kind of like the water in those white bathroom bowls that sapiens use to do their laundry.
So what do you like about Earth? Yeah, that’s true, I guess you don’t have anything else to compare it to. But at least you seem to be allowed to do what you want, and you’re only a youngling. On Tiolun, only the forward engineers have that kind of freedom. Then they decide what the rest of us have to do.
Why don’t I just stay on Earth with you? What, and eat sugar packets for the rest of my life while Potus’s dog goes uncaptured? Now that you mention it, it’s not a bad idea. Once I bring him back, all they’re gonna do is take selfies with him anyway, so it’s not like anyone’s future depends on it. Except mine, of course.
Careful, kid, the ocean never picks fights with anyone its own size. Don’t go too far out.
I didn’t want to be an agent. I mean, I didn’t not want to. When they told me this was what I was gonna be, I was even excited at first. But you see, my commander acts like he wants us all gone. One time during frost training, he made us cut a palm-sized square out of our shirts, then told us we couldn’t wear anything that day except that square. This other time, he buried me in the ground up to my neck, put a dead flower in my mouth, and said I couldn’t start digging my way out until the flower had come back to life. Good thing flowers come back to life on Tiolun.
I have thought about staying here. It’d be simple, y’know. But you saw that waiter and that cab driver. There’s something connecting a person to its planet, and when that connection breaks, a lot of other things start to break, too. Earth isn’t bad, but Tiolun…Tiolun needs me. When I end up spending the night anywhere else, Tiolun is all I can dream about. That gentian badge? I don’t want it so I can wear it. I want it so I can have that taste of worthiness in my memories, so I can breathe the smell of time moving, so I can hear every footstep of mine as the sound of me climbing towards redemption.
Kinda silly, huh. Oh my galaxies, kid, look over there! It’s Potus and his dog! They’re going to their armored car. This is my one chance—kid? Where’d you go? Hey, kid?
Oh, no. Is that the kid all the way out there? It’s not moving right.
The dog just bolted after something. All I have to do is port over there and snatch it…
I can’t see the kid’s face.
Hey there, kid. Glad you’re awake. It’s amazing how a little water can zap you sapiens. Okay, it was a lot of water. But nothing that my porticalivolizzer couldn’t get through.
You’ll never guess what happened. Potus and his dog were here. I’m serious. What, you think that just because I didn’t notice murderer-waiter and foot-collector that I wouldn’t pick out a particular dog from a swarm of them?
It’s okay, don’t mention it. Really, don’t. With my masterful agent skills, I’ll find them again. But first, we should get you somewhere warm.
Step in, kid. Let’s go.
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