Well, jet-lag has passed, a new job is lined up, and I just spent my weekend hanging out with a bunch of drunk anime geeks.
You know what else I did? This, which is based partly on a dream I had while overseas:
The tetladon moulded the top of its head into the face of a laughing child again. As its stubby fingers scratched against the rubbery red carapace of its scalp, its pudgy and placid audience stood dumb-eyed, singing a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ to the creature. The stout, red-shelled beast finally stopped. Aiming its second face at the tourists, it winced and pressed its digits against the sides of its head. The child’s mouth moved up and down. Applause followed shortly thereafter.
Richard watched the display as he swept up discarded drink cups and bits of fruit paste. Lethargically lifting his broom and dustbin up, he took himself around to another tent to sweep up the fliers and bags and other bits of trash patrons left lying around. Waves of bipeds and tri-peds and quadrupeds passed him by, hand-in-hand or hand-in-claw as they lined up for games and overpriced foods.
Bored, he wiped his brow and cast a quick glance at the twin dwarf stars orbiting each other. He looked over to see a balloon-decorated sevnan leering at the Ferris wheel in the distance. The blue and yellow-furred thing left him nostalgic. Save for its rows of vicious teeth and the long and flat horn that shot up like a knife’s blade from its scalp, it very much resembled a giraffe from Earth, a world he now missed more dearly than before.
He had been there for too long. The thrill of being on another world was gone. He needed familiarity, craved the mundane sights and sounds of his home-world. He missed long winters and the smell of diesel and skyscrapers. Moreover, pickles; pickled foods in general was illegal on all of Hastan. It was so small a thing, but all Richard could think of was how badly he needed a bowl of kimchi.
A flabby hand clasped his shoulder. He jolted and turned around. Turut, his supervisor, stood behind him with a smug grin. Dwarfish and rotund, the orange humanoid frog barely fit the bright red suit jacket, pants, and half-buttoned shirt it wore proudly. Adjusting the oversized top hat with its incredibly long fingers, the wide-eyed manager smiled from one side of its face to the next.
“Good job cleaning the gazebos,” the swollen thing said, drumming its belly jovially. “I’ll need you at the bathrooms by the water slides in five.”
“Yes, sir,” he said distantly.
One of the wide and long hands of Richard’s boss struck him across the side. “Clear your head, boy. I have the High Scanner flying in this afternoon and I need you at your best.”
Richard nodded; Turut continued his speech, but he barely heard it. He cast a lingering glance towards one of the few humans on staff, a girl from New Jamaica working behind the sweets counter. Black hair fell loose over a round, dark face that lit up no matter who or what approached her. He couldn’t wait for his break, so he could chat with her and the couple from East Quezon about matters back home.
Turut caught his stare, and its fat mouth spread into a grin. The bulbous boss seized Richard’s arm, pulling the human away. “Oh-ho!” it said, leading him along, “I had a feeling!”
As though slapped, the startled janitor jerked his head back, “What?”
“Love-struck for that dark girl at the concession stand, are you?” the thing chuckled, jabbing one of its long fingers into the human boy’s stomach. “Well stay clear of her, my child, for she’s a loose one, so Ahlmut tells me.”
“I have,” he said, putting his hands up and remembering his formalities, “no idea, what you’re talking about, Good Turut. With all due respect, I –”
The thing did not hear him. “You know what you need? A Levennan girl.”
“I’d rather not, Good Turut.”
“Why not? They’re not so different from Earth girls.”
“Except for the metal diets and the ritual murders.”
“Those are East Islanders, and they’re silly. Levennan girls from the Hodak peninsula though? Slender and the colour of gems, attentive as can be? A boy like you would melt.”
“I should get back to work before the High Scanner arrives, Good Turut.”
Dejectedly, his supervisor slapped him on the back and gave a nod, darting round a corner and leaving him alone. Richard sighed. He stared up at the double-stars once again and set off for the bathrooms. A tall manoid covered in body paint juggled live animals in front of a gaggle of children as Richard walked by and thought about kimchi.
Back in the saddle again.
See you next time,
EDIT: May 20, 2012. Made minor edits.