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Rated: E · Short Story · Comedy · #2198268
Space exploration leads to an amazing discovery.

Rick and Dennis agreed that no record would be made of their visit to the planet Pie. They were wise enough in the ways of the Space Exploration Authority to know that the likely response to a truthful account would be a padded room and a battery of psychiatrists. Some strange things had been reported in the last hundred years or so of exploration but nothing came even close to the mysteries of Pie.

Rick it was who named the place, exclaiming instantly as their craft revolved to give them a close up view of it for the first time: "Looks just like a pie!" Dennis could hardly disagree, so perfect a representation of a pie did the planet afford from this angle. Its circular aspect was to be expected, of course, but the heights and depths of its surface resembled much more the bumps in a pastry covering than any hills and valleys seen before. The fact that the heights were darker in hue than the valleys, as though baked more completely, just as in a pie, sealed the issue. Pie it was named without further discussion.

It was uncanny, too, how closely the colors of the planet resembled a pie crust - generally a light tan but darkening at the crest of the hills. And neither astronaut mentioned how the rim of the planet seemed to be a long range of curled and folded mountains completely encircling the side that faced the sun. That was just a little too much like the rim of a pie where the pastry was crimped to hold to the base.

After a night spent in sleep as the ship orbited around the dark side of the planet (and the instruments seemed confused by a strange reflection from the surface - it seemed the dark side was remarkably without feature, unlike its bumpy counterpart), Rick and Dennis set out in the landing vehicle. Choosing one of the flatter areas near the center, they set the craft down without incident and disembarked.

It was a strange surface, unlike any they had encountered before. None of the usual interplanetary dust had accumulated and the ground was dry and brittle beneath their feet, sometimes breaking off into flakes as they shuffled along. Inexplicably, however, the surface was slightly springy in spite of its hard and solid appearance. They tested this, risking a few short jumps and feeling the slight give as they landed. It was as though the crust of this planet were extremely thin and contained empty spaces beneath. They tried no more jumps, afraid of breaking through to the unknown void beneath.

Dennis produced his geologist's pick, however, and carefully began an excavation, cutting down through the surface with surprising ease. In little more than an hour he had broken through and was staring at the semi-liquid, lumpy ooze on which the planet's crust floated.

"What is it?" asked Rick, bending closer for a better look.

"Impossible to tell until I've analyzed a sample," replied Dennis, reaching for an empty vial from his pack. In a few moments he had filled it with the sticky goo of the planet and they headed back to the lander. In haste they returned to the main craft and Dennis disappeared into the lab. Rick busied himself with adjustments and navigational checks as they headed for the dark side again.

It was late in the night that Dennis emerged from the lab and called Rick. "I know what it is," said the geologist.

"Well?" replied Rick, not bothering to conceal his impatience anymore. "Enough with the mystery - what the heck is it?"

Dennis paused as though choosing his words carefully. His answer was brief enough when it came, however.


Rick stared at him, unsure whether his companion had gone mad or was making some kind of joke.

"Well, blueberry pie filling, to be exact," Dennis continued. "Led me a hell of a dance while I tried to make sense of the analysis but a taste confirms it."

"You're joking, aren't you?"

"I wish I were, Rick. But don't believe me - see for yourself. Taste it. There's some in the dish on the lab bench."

Rick pushed past him and entered the lab. He saw the dish at once and picked it up to examine its dark, sticky contents. It certainly looked like pie filling and he ventured a tiny amount on the tip of his finger. A brief hesitation and he licked at the substance, tasting it thoroughly thereafter with an air of concentration.

There was no doubt about it. Blueberry; and very tasty it was, too.

They completed one more orbit of the planet, noting this time that the instruments had not lied. Pie was flat, not spherical - a disc, if quite a thick one. The reflections that seemed to confuse the instruments were caused by the perfectly flat dark side, an effect magnified by the fact of its being composed entirely of aluminum.

Breaking out of orbit, they resumed their original course as though unwilling to admit Pie's existence. And it was then that they agreed not to write of it in the log. Pie was one of those things you had to experience to believe.

It was Dennis who broke the silence that had been growing between the astronauts. "Rick," he said three days after their departure. "Just how big would an alien have to be to eat Pie?"

Word Count: 903

Author’s Note: In thinking of origins, it is inevitable that we conclude that the pie arrived from some other universe through a wormhole between the universes. Such a universe would necessarily be similar to our own since blueberries clearly exist in it as well as pie-makers. This reminds us of the idea that there may be other universes exactly like ours but where events do not take the same course.

So, somewhere in the streets of the parallel universe, a terrible accident has occurred involving a truck with a consignment of pies. One of the pies, in continuing the momentum of its journey on the truck, sailed through the precise spot where a wormhole had instantaneously appeared (and, just as quickly, closed after a few milliseconds of existence), this transporting it in a moment into our universe where it found itself in orbit around a rather surprised star.

And, if universes can be remarkably similar to our own, surely what differences there may be can consist of size as much as anything else. So there may be magnified versions of our universe or, indeed, shrunken copies that we could barely squeeze ourselves into.

There is more in heaven and on earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in our philosophy…

Another interesting thing is that Pie is a fruit pie planet.. This would indicate its discovery after the division of space into areas of influence (rather as Antarctica has been in our own time), since the fruit pie planets are all to be found in the American zone. The strange coincidence of all meat pie planets (most notably Melton Mowbray) being in the British zone stretches belief almost as far as the pie planets themselves.

It might be pertinent to mention that the illustration used in the story is not, in fact, a photo of Pie. In searching for a picture to accompany the text, I could find no decent examples of Pie and had to settle for a photograph of a planet in the British zone called Lies All Lies. Such an apparently inexplicable name becomes easier to understand when one is told that Cockney rhyming slang uses "pork pies" (or, more commonly, "porkie pies") as the substitute for "lies".

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