The Cheese Sandwich and the End of the World, Part Five

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-Missing  something? Read part onepart twopart three, and part four to catch up.

 

 

A general panic arose on the bridge.

“Turn that,” bluuurguh, “thing off,” bluuurguh, “NOW,” the captain managed. He dearly wanted the cheese that he had been promised in one piece.

Frip was trying to clean the vomit out of his eyes.

“Captain, there’s no off switch,” he blurted through tears, “how in the worlds am I supposed to fix that?!”

If the captain had not been so preoccupied with empting his stomach, he might have had Frip ejected.

“Figure it,” bluuurguh, “out!”

“We can’t turn the ship now that the laser’s been fired up and locked on target,” Kik shouted, “and the manual override is on the fritz!”

While they were sorting out the problem with the laser on the bridge, people were in serious danger of dying in the galley down below.

Whenever the captain had cheese brought on board, he had a standing order that a team of four trustworthy crew members, the Cheese Team, should inspect and secure the cheese room beforehand. Not knowing that the cheese had spoiled and the smell had reached lethal proportions, the team had charged into the galley and passed out before they could even reach the cold storage.

Gurn was oblivious to his crew members’ impending doom. His hammock swayed gently; his mouth gaped heavy with snores that could fell a smallish Jarkop, or at least a medium Rinfin. Then he turned in his sleep, as he was wont to do, and fell out of his hammock and onto the galley floor, as he was also wont to do at least a dozen times per nap.

Gurn pushed himself up, grumbling. He stopped grumbling when he saw the pale faces of the Cheese Team lying on the floor in front of him. He shook one of them awake.

“What’s this,” Gurn demanded, “and why are you all on the floor?”

“Get us out,” she managed to whisper.

Gurn couldn’t smell what was wrong for the life of him, but carried each crew member out anyway. They sat in the hallway, gasping and vomiting while Gurn watched them, looking disgusted.

“I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” he protested, dodging projectile vomit and icy glares.

“What,” Luplop, the captain of the Cheese Team managed, wiping her chin, “in the name of all the worlds have you done to the cheese?”

Gurn looked offended.

“Me? I didn’t do anything. I don’t understand what you’re fromping on about.”

“The cheese is ruined! Unless you have a hundred rotting Rinfin carcasses in there, the cheese is destroyed. I would think even a Goberarian could smell that stench.”

Gurn gulped a tremendous gulp. Captain Tentorp would have him ejected for ruining his beloved cheese.

“What are we going to do,” Gurn whined. It was a most unbecoming whine, but Goberarians are not becoming creatures.

Luplop shook her head. She knew even though Gurn was responsible, Captain Tentorp would have them all ejected.

“We could try eating it,” Bob piped up. Bob was not brilliant.

“Yeah, and how would that work,” Roth growled, “it nearly killed us by the smell alone.”

“We should eject the cheese,” Gede said, “and send it to some Earth town. The captain will think the humans managed to steal his precious cheese and blow them to the worlds to come.”

Roth, Luplop, and Gurn nodded in dubious agreement.It was not the best plan, but it would have to do. Bob pouted and began drawing pictures in the vomit on the floor with his finger.

“It’s settled. Everyone, go clean yourselves up and get in full protective gear. Meet back here in fifteen minutes. Gurn,” here Luplop turned to glare at the Goberarian. “Gurn, start loading the cheese into sacks.”

Gurn acted as if he was intending to do just that all along, when really he was thinking of taking another nap.”

“And if I catch you napping,” she warned, “I will eject you myself.”

Gurn slunk off to do as he was told.

Back on the bridge, the captain had stopped vomiting. He sat in his chair, trying his best to berate Frip and the other members of the crew, but his voice had been reduced to a whisper. He raised his first-right hand in a fist and shook it at the crew in general.

“If nobody can turn off the laser,” he whisper-screamed, “everyone will be ejected. I don’t care if I have to run this ship myself!”

He sank back into his chair with a groan.

Something pinged and popped. The laser was ready to fire. A few of the crew members began crying, and some tried to run, slipping and falling in the vomit that covered most of the bridge.

Alarms began to sound.

Then someone cried, “Captain, look!”

From behind the Earth, the remaining Medilarian pirate ship limped into view. The pirates had been trying to work out where to land with their fried equipment, and thus were unaware of the Splinter’s proximity until it was too late.

The laser fired directly into the unsuspecting pirate ship with such force as to reduce it to oblivion. The crew on the bridge of the Splinter gaped. Tentorp began to cry. His precious cheese, saved.

Then he sat bolt upright in his chair. The cheese! Where would he put it all? His cheese room was quite full. But that cheese was trash compared to this earth’s cheese. He’d heard wild tales as a young sprout of the wonderful things humans call “cows” and “goats” and “sheep” that produced delicious milk the humans turned into heavenly cheese.

Cheese with exotic names like “Camembert” and “Asiago” and “mild cheddar.”

The captain motioned for a fetcher and croaked his instructions, dispatching him to the galley.

After all that, everything went smoothly. The Cheese Team ejected the spoiled cheese in an escape pod and Bob along with it.

Accidentally, of course.

The fetcher arrived at the galley just as the team was finished deodorizing, delivering the captain’s instructions to dump the cheese and prep the room. No one ever suspected a thing.

The government delivered the cheese as promised. The rest of the humans were unaware they had almost been obliterated, or indeed that anything out of the ordinary had happened.

The Admiral was quite pleased with the alternative solar system, although she never let Tentorp know it. The planet she chose was riddled with soothing sulfuric springs and much less expensive to decorate. She was able to buy a whole flock of purdles with the extra money. They eventually ate her.

Frip lost 37% of his vision in one eye and took to wearing an eye patch because he thought it made him look rather distinguished. It did.

 

Bob and the escape pod containing the rotten cheese melted after entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The cheese did not. It boiled and frothed, writhing like a living thing, then burst into tiny pellets raining all over the town of Oakville, Washington. The citizens of the town fell violently ill, but no one actually died. They blamed it on the government, the government blamed it on nature, and several articles were written on the subject by self-proclaimed experts. It remains a mystery to this day.

And the captain. Tentorp Amadeus Olid was finally happy. He eventually retired and lived on Earth’s Moon.

It is, after all, made of cheese.

 

 

The End.

 

 

 

The Cheese Sandwich and the End of the World, Part Four

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-Trying to get your bearings? Read part onepart two, and part three. We’ll wait.

By the time the captain reached the bridge, he was feeling rather queasy. His stomach gurgled as he walked over to his mother’s hologram. She was sitting on a large, ornate chair and scratching Bobo behind her stubby black horns.

“Stand up straight and look me in the eye,” she snapped. “Why haven’t you gotten rid of that planet yet? I have my contractors and my designers and all sorts of people on standby while you are out playing with pirates. I mean really, Tentorp, pull yourself together.”

She sipped a sunset colored liquid from a thin-stemmed glass before continuing.

“You are a disappointment to me, Tenny, I just cannot comprehend why you can’t do this one, tiny little thing for me. Well? What have you to say for yourself?”

By this time, the captain was the color of pea soup.

“Admiral, I will attend to the matter at once,” he stifled a burp, “don’t worry about another thing.”

“See that you do,” the Admiral sniffed, and Tentorp could have sworn that purdle smirked at him just before the hologram ceased projecting. He leaned on the nearest crew member’s head, Kik, for support.

“Captain, are you feeling well?”

Kik, the ship’s navigator, was not at all worried for his irritable captain’s well-being. He was worried the captain might spew chunks on him.

“Set a course for Earth, Kik, and be quick about it.”

The captain toddled over to his seat and fell into it, moaning. The crew worked in silence, every one of them afraid to incur the captain’s literally vomitus wrath.

The sun they had hidden behind was the Earth’s Sun, so they arrived at their destination before the captain had a chance to run to his cabin and lie down.

“Sir, we are holding at a safe distance from the planet’s blast radius. What are your orders?”

The captain peeled himself from his chair, sweat dribbling down his face and back. He stumbled over to Frip’s chair. Frip was nervous, having never pushed the button before, not even once in the battle against the pirates. He had been feeling useless up to this point, and he wished he could go back to that feeling instead of the one he was experiencing: stomach-knotting, pants-wetting dread.

A face appeared on the large screen in the front of the bridge.

A human face.

The words it squeaked were English, a language only a few crew members, including the captain, could speak or understand.

“Hello, I am a representative of the leaders of this planet. We have taken the liberty of first communication. What brings you to our solar system?”

The face was male, with a brownish sort of beard and brownish sort of hair. It was a pale, sweaty face, and the captain was in no mood to listen to it speak.

“Earth man, hear this: I am blowing up your planet. It’s not that I want to, but my mother insists; you know how that is. So I must blow your planet to smithereens.”

The captain wobbled and shivered off the urge to vomit.

“Before I scatter you and your kind to the outer reaches of the universe, I must ask you a very important question: do you have any Roquefort?”

The sweaty faced man had passed out right after the captain had stated his intentions to blow up the planet, and nobody had wanted to replace him, as most of the staff of the top-secret government facility had also passed out or ran away screaming in mortal terror.

Then a soft face with a pointed chin and curly gray hair popped on the screen.

“What’s your name, sir?”

“Captain Tentorp of the S. S. Splinter, human. Do you have any Gouda?”

“Well captain, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Marge. And yes, we have all kinds of cheeses down here. Our Gouda is quite Gouda,” she said, winking.

The captain, although nauseous, could still appreciate a cheese pun.

“That’s a Gouda joke, human, but I still have to blow up your planet. I’d like to take some cheese with me as a memento. Do you have a recommendation?”

The captain’s stomach gurgled.

“I must say I do. Do you see this solar system here,” she pointed at a star chart of a system far, far away from Earth. “This system would be much better for your mother. There are some lovely, warm, uninhabited planets she might like. Then you wouldn’t have to blow us up and we would be more than happy to supply you with a good deal of cheese.”

The captain’s stomach burbled.

“I don’t want to disappoint mother,” he grimaced.

“I understand, captain. As a mother, if my son found out the home I preferred was inhabited with creatures that would most assuredly fight back should I try to exterminate them, I would thank him to find me a new one.”

“Human, did you threaten me?”

“Oh no captain, I wouldn’t dare threaten a nice alien such as yourself,” Marge smiled.

The captain’s stomach rumbled.

“Then I accept your offer, on the condition you render to me 5,000 pounds of cheese,”he blurted, doing his best not to heave.

“1,000.”

“2,500.”

“Done.”

The captain managed a pained smile.

“Human, I shall send a shuttle down for the cheese to whatever coordinates you provide. End communication.”

“Nice to meet you too, captain,” Marge nodded. Her face disappeared and coordinates popped up in her place.

The captain gripped the back of Frip’s chair and spewed hot, spoiled cheese all over the poor Yamagorn. Frip yelped and tried to stand, but he slipped on the mess and fell back into his seat, tail unfurled. The captain, in trying to catch his balance, stepped on Frip’s tail.

Frip howled and slammed his hands on the panel in front of him.

A whirring, humming sound indicated that the giant laser had begun to warm up.

Frip had pressed the button.

The Cheese Sandwich and the End of the World, Part Three

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-Just joining us? Read parts one and two.

 

The captain barked orders left and right, whipping the bridge into a frenzy of activity.

“Kik, bring us out of the holding pattern and fire up the reserve boosters. Rip, divert all power to the engines. The shields will be useless if they catch us anyway. Hode,” here the captain paused, as if the words he was about to say carried the weight of the worlds with them.

“Hode, get your fromping bulk out of my chair.”

Hode was Director of Holograms, and had been trying to fix the flicker in the captain’s map, but had been distracted by all the activity on the bridge and unfortunately sat in the captain’s chair. Poor Hode ran away as fast as his three legs could carry him.

The captain considered throwing a boot at Hode’s head, but the pirates were more important than self-gratification.

He jerked a boot off the nearest crew member and threw it anyway. He missed.

With the pirates gaining fast, the Splinter tried every maneuver in the book, and some that were not. The Splinter, though nimble, was a small expedition ship and not equipped to fight, even with Frip’s giant laser, which was mostly for small things like mining and blowing up planets.

The captain twirled his first-right hand’s fingers through his beard as he stared at the map. Deep lines creased his forehead. He jabbed at the map, using his fingers to zero in on a bright point not far in front of them. His brown eyes narrowed, his lips pressed together in a long, thin line as he considered his next move. He flicked his second hands to throw the map onto the large screen that hovered near the front of the bridge where all the crew could see it.

Pointing, he said, “We hide on this sun.”

The crew gasped as one.

“Captain, it’s too dangerous! We’ll burn!”

“The magnetic field alone will wreak havoc with our equipment!”

The captain held up all of his hands to silence the protests.

“The Medilarian’s shields aren’t as strong as ours. If we divert all power back to the shields, and hover just above the surface for less than five minutes, we can make it. Equipment can be recalibrated. We cannot. If our faces melt off while we hide from the enemy, so be it.”

The crew was understandably confused by the captain’s less than motivational speech, but they followed his orders.

The three Medilarian pirate ships were large, but made of salvaged and stitched-together parts, including the Medilarian pirates themselves. When they overtake a ship, most passengers choose to eject themselves into the dark of space rather than have a foot or an eye -or worse- taken by a pirate in need. Not many are charitable when it comes to giving up a body part they need to function properly. Medilarian’s are only as good as the last brain they stole, and as there seems to be an abundance of idiotic people, most of the Medilarian’s are quite stupid.

That is why the captain’s plan was brilliant, except for the part about the face-melting.

The Splinter sailed over the sun, but dropped down just above the surface on the other side, hovering in relative safety.

The pirates, who had half of a working shield between them, tried to follow. Two of the three ships exploded, and the third was scorched and melted so badly that they gave up their pursuit and set sail for the nearest harbor to make repairs and harvest parts from anyone unlucky enough to be close by.

The Splinter popped up just in time to escape any severe damage, and not one crew member’s face had melted. A collective cheer rose throughout the bridge.

The captain wiped the sweat off his forehead. Time to celebrate. He excused himself from the bridge and made his way to his cabin, exhausted and hungry.

Again he shut the door, again he retrieved the sandwich, and again he lifted it to his lips.

And again an untimely knock at the door.

“Sir, I’m sorry but the Admiral requests your presence.”

The captain turned purple. All he wanted in all the worlds was to eat his sandwich, and he hadn’t a moment’s peace to do it in.

“Tell her I’m on my way,” he shouted through the door.

Then he devoured the sandwich in three quick bites.

Down in the galley, Gurn snored steadily while the smell of rancid cheese drifted under the cold storage door.

The Cheese Sandwich and the End of the World, Part Two

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-Missed it? Read part one here.

A knock on the door almost startled the captain into dropping his sandwich.

“Captain, you’re needed on deck. The Admiral requests your presence.”

The captain grumbled into his beard, but put the sandwich back on the plate and into the cooling drawer of his desk. His delicious cheese sandwich would have to wait.

On the bridge, the Admiral’s hologram glowed bright green.

“You’re late,” she said, “and you look terrible. Tuck in your shirt.”

The captain blushed so hard his ears turned blue as he tucked in the corner of his shirt with his third-left hand. It had come untucked in his mad rush up the stairs to reach the bridge. He wished with all his three hearts that the teleporter was working. Splat that technician and his temperamental goat! The captain forced a smile.

“How are you, mother? You look well.”

“No time for niceties, there is work to be done. I need that filthy little planet out of my way.”

“What planet might you be referring to, mother dear?”

“Stop driveling. Remove planet X-358-932 so I can have my designers build my nice, clean planet in its place. Bobo will adore it; it will be the perfect vacation home for us when we visit the Milky Way.”

Upon hearing her name, Bobo jumped into view on the hologram. It was more of a hop, as she was the most massive purdle Tentorp had ever seen. Her scales were purplish, covering her entire body tip to tail, and her teeth were set with tiny emeralds, giving her smile an eerie glow. She growled and snapped at the captain. He took a respectful step back despite the fact that nobody ever had their head bitten off by a hologram before. Still, one could never be too careful when it came to giant purdles.

“Now Admiral, I-“the captain started to protest.

“Just blow it up and stop fromping around!”

The hologram cut out abruptly. The captain sat with a heavy thud in the nearest chair, mopping sweat off his brow with his first-right hand and ignoring the squealing of the crew member he was sitting on. His stomach burbled.

On a normal day, the captain would have given less than a teenth of a second thought to blowing up a planet, occupied or not. He loved to watch things explode. But that planet, X-358-932, or Earth, was home to some of the finest cheese-makers in the universe. Cheese. Sandwich! He stood up and bolted towards the stairs, licking his lips and rubbing all three pairs of his hands together in anticipation. The Earth problem could wait.

As soon as the captain had left the bridge, the crew member he sat on was rushed to the infirmary. The man who took his place was named Frip, and a nicer Yamagorn you will never meet. He was tall for his species, and overly orange, with bright yellow eyes and a longish tail that he kept curled up in his chair for fear someone would step on it. His job was to press the button that fired the giant laser when the captain wanted to blow something up. Frip’s predecessor had pressed that button no less than 1,597 times in the last two weeks, giving him a great sense of job security and several sore fingers.

Back in his cabin, the captain shut the door and sat at his desk. He pulled the sandwich out of the cooling drawer and smiled with all of his 49 teeth.

He opened his mouth wide.

He brought the sandwich to his lips.

Someone began beating on his door.

“Captain, you’re needed on deck! Pirates!”

The captain growled, his gray-brown skin flushing an angry rose-jam red. Shoving his sandwich back into the drawer, he stormed to the door and flung it open so hard, decks C-1 through F-3 thought the ship had hit a small asteroid.
The captain pushed past the shaking messenger, down the hall, and up the stairs. All colors of lights were flashing and three or four different alarms were beeping and trilling on the deck.  The captain paced as the crew began yelling information.

“Sir, the Medilarian pirates are hot on our wake and closing!”

“All weapon systems operational, sir!”

“Three ships pursuing armed with three hundred seventy-two guns total, sir!”

The captain sat on his own chair this time and stared at the map flickering on the table in front of him. Three red squares chasing a green circle. Outmanned and out gunned, there was only one thing to do.

Run.

The Cheese Sandwich and the End of the World, Part One

 

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Tentorp Amadeus Olid was having a bad day. He was sulking in his captain’s cabin aboard the star ship Splinter, twiddling his five-and-a-half thumbs, and watching his crew scuttle about their duties on the monitor in his desk. Everything was going smoothly, and Captain Tentorp did not like it one bit. He mashed the green loudspeaker button with his second-right fist.

“Croso you buffoon, stop sniffle-snotting, I want that glass to sparkle! Difnet, get that vomit cleaned up faster or I’ll have you ejected! Kik, stop fromping around and adjust our holding pattern 2 degrees!”

He sat back in his chair and folded his six arms across his chest with a frown; not even berating his crew had made him feel better. He massaged his temple with his first-left hand. What to do?

In times of stress and dark-dark moods, Captain Tentorp turned to his one safe haven, the one thing he loved and treasured above all else: cheese. Cheese crackers, cheese soup, cheese sandwiches, cheese-on-cheese on a stick, it didn’t matter, he loved it all. He flipped the galley’s communication switch.

“Gurn, make me a five layer cheese sandwich and have it brought to my cabin.”

The captain didn’t yell at Gurn because Gurn was a Goberarian, and you don’t aggravate them unless you want a face-full of blue mucus that melts your eyes, or at least causes severe discomfort depending on the Goberarian’s mood.

When Gurn signed on as ship’s cook, he lied. He said he was the best cook on this side of the Twizorp galaxy. Everyone knows that the Goberarians of Gamruth are stupid, self-important creatures (and for some reason all their names begin with the letter “G”), but what they don’t know is that Goberarians are also terrible cooks. That is, unless you like socks for breakfast and cast-iron bricks for dinner.

When Gurn heard the captain’s request, he rolled out of his hammock and fell on the galley floor, face first. He performed an awkward roll to his feet and strutted to cold storage like he had just jumped off the NeverEnding tower and landed on his feet, which is, of course, impossible, but that wouldn’t stop a Goberarian from trying.

Gurn opened the door to cold storage with a flourish and stepped inside. He danced around and pretended to juggle a tomato and two lemons, but dropped them on the first pass. Shrugging, he reached the door at the opposite end of the room. The door had been crafted with the utmost care. With three locks and an alarm that went off if the temperature was even a teenth of a degree off, the door was a cheese enthusiast’s dream.

The alarm had been beeping for eleven days. When Gurn unlocked the last lock and opened the door, the smell would have killed him on the spot if Goberarians had a sense of smell, or even a nose, which everyone knows they do not.

Gurn chose five cheeses off the many shelves and waltzed back to the galley, forgetting to lock the door. He scooped and sliced and molded a cheese tower of five layers and sandwiched it between two slices of pungent grut bread, then placed it on a plate and cushioned it with some feathery herbs just for pretty. He rang for a fetcher and sent the sandwich on its way to the captain, then tried to hop back into his hammock. He succeeded on the seventh try.

The fetcher ran with the stinky sandwich from the galley on deck G-1 to the captain’s cabin on C-1. By the time he managed to get to the cabin, the captain was in a mood most foul. The fetcher knocked on the captain’s door.

“If that is my sandwich, get in here NOW,” the captain thundered. “If not, GO AWAY!”

The fetcher burst through the door before the captain had finished screaming. He placed the plate gingerly on the small table by the door.

“Five layer cheese sandwich, as re-“

“GET OUT!”

The fetcher ran through the still open door and straight into the wall, slumping to the ground. He picked himself up and ran to hide underneath the towels in the laundry room on L-1 for the rest of the day.

The captain slammed the door and turned to the cheese sandwich on the small table. It smelled a little stronger than usual, but he decided that must be the yok-yok cheese he picked up in Orion’s Belt. Licking his lips, he reached for the sandwich with his second-arms, and lifted it to his mouth.