Not your usual spa vacation
“Oh look, Luma. I adore how they hold that “
“It’s not polite to watch. Turn your heads, little one. Let’s move on.”
George and Mary sat at a table, the remainder of lunch in front of them.
“Did you hear them? They think we’re cute. I’m so annoyed by all this, this watching us all the time.” George threw the rest of his sandwich on the ground. “It’s degrading, that’s what it is. Like we’re animals or something. Can’t go anywhere, can’t talk to our friends, no TV, no phone, no internet. I’m beginning to regret this trip, Mary.”
“The brochure sure didn’t say anything about these accommodations. I’m going to complain first chance I get. You can be sure the travel agency hears about this. It’ll be all over the net. I’m going to post it everywhere.”
Two caretakers wandered by, glanced at Mary and George. One picked up George’s discarded sandwich with a gloved appendage. Then the caretakers continued on their way across the dirt yard. When they reached the gate at the other side, they looked back at the couple.
‘What are you looking at, you freaks?” George shook his fist at the caretakers.
“George, that won’t help. We need to be nice. You never know what they might do if we make them angry.”
The caretakers exited without a further glance.
Some years ago, George and Mary signed on to tour the planet of Genorador. For a small sum, they were guaranteed a tour of Genorador, also known as Planet 99X, gourmet meals every day, a five-star hotel every night, and native guides every step of the way. They had saved for years for this opportunity. The trip sold out in hours.
The actual journey took four light years. They traveled with two hundred others to Planet 99X. Once they landed in the green water on the red planet surrounded by the orange rings, all on board knew something was wrong.
The native guides never got to the rocket. No tour vehicles arrived as scheduled. The first gourmet meal they were served consisted of beef jerky and water. Yes, they were in trouble.
Harry and George rallied some of the tour members to revolt. They met in the rocket’s dining area the first night on Planet 99X.
“Folks, we are in trouble.Things aren’t exactly what we expected.” Harry took the floor first. “We need to stick together. We don’t know what to expect from the inhabitants here. We are a long ways from home, and have no way of knowing when we’ll see our planet again.”
The entire crowd murmured and squirmed in their seats.
“You’re right, Harry. We need to watch out for each other. But, hey everyone, we’re Earth inhabitants. We’ve been through lots worse than this. We can handle anything these loony tunes can dish out.”
Cheers and whistles met George’s speech. The men went back and forth with speeches the rest of the night, which lasted at least two earth days on Planet 99X.
But soon the tour participants were taken away from the rocket in groups. They were promised tours of the planet by native guides. Harry and his wife, Julie, were taken with George and Mary. That was two Genoradorian days ago. George and Mary haven’t seen Harry and Julie since that day.
“Here they come again. I can’t handle this, George.” Mary turned her back to George.
A group huddled outside the fence. They pointed at George and Mary.
“Look at them. Why is that one turned around? What does that mean?” The little Genoradorian checked the brochure. “It says here that an action like that can indicate shyness, or could also indicate anger.”
“I think we need to just wait. Perhaps if we wait that one will turn around. Get your device ready to capture the image.”
Three Genoradorians camped out on the bench outside the fence. They spied on George and Mary for a time. They muttered in the language of the Genoradorians, a high pitched sort of squeaking.
George glared at the beings outside the fence. He jumped up on the table and yelled at them. Mary grabbed George’s hand and pulled him down.
“For heaven’s sake, George. Behave.”
The visitors used their device and captured images of George on the table. Their heads watched and focused at the same time. Six heads on three bodies swiveled and turned to get glimpses of George and Mary.
“Perfect! Just like we read in the history books. We now have proof of the anger behavior.”
The visitors moved on to the next exhibit.
Harry and Julie sat side by side on a bench. They were in a cage surrounded by trees. Harry poked Julie in the ribs.
“They’re back. Look pretty.”
“You’re kidding. I look a wreck.” Julie walked up to a tree and banged her head against it.
“Stop it. Don’t let them see you so weak.”
“I can’t help it. This is crazy. We’re in a zoo, Harry. We’re people, not animals.”
The beings from Planet 99X spied on Harry and Julie. The cage had been specially designed to look like a park on Earth. The Genoradorians had done their research.
“Where are they? There are supposed to be two in this cage also. One has black hair and one has red hair.” A large being with multiple appendages pointed all of them in multiple directions.
“There they are. Behind the trees over there. See them?” The Genoradorian waved one appendage toward the cage.
Harry and Julie ran from tree to tree. Suddenly the visitors heard a strange sound they had never heard before. They looked at their ‘Earth to Planet 99X Translation Guide’ on their voice translation device. Seems that the sound they heard was called ‘laughter’. “Laughter was a sound that Earth people sometimes emitted when they played or were nervous or were afraid.” said the guide. Since it was hard to tell what was happening here, the planet inhabitants were confused by the situation.
“I didn’t understand. What was happening there?” One of the Genoradorians said as it glided away. There were more exhibits ahead. It was a waste of time to linger here.
In the distant past Earth people were exotic, a species quite unknown to the Genoradorians. Once they found Earth on that satellite feed that one time, the Supreme Commander then made the decision to bring the Earth specimens to Planet 99X for closer examination.
The Genoradorian society lured the Earth citizens here with the promise of a tour of Planet 99X. Then the Earth people had been grouped together in a type of zoo the Genoradorians had observed on Earth. Sequestration in the zoo exhibit was a way to observe behavior and allow citizens of Planet 99X safe observation.
Supreme Commander Randr held a summit to consider the zoo business a few days after it opened.
“Tell me, zoo watchers, what have been the observations of the Earth people since their placement in the zoo? And I have decided we need a new name for where they are. A name that is unique to Planet 99X. So first tell me about the Earth people.”
Lorte was first. He bowed and said, “Supreme Commander Randr, we note that the Earth people are showing what the translation guide states are ‘angry signs’.”
“Define for me, Lorte.” Supreme commander Randr’s multiple appendages were draped over a hovering cushion. Randr fixed an eye on a porthole. Green rain was back.
Lorte consulted on its middle arm screen and clicked a pictograph. “One Earth being name of George jumped up on a table and yelled at visitors. Others ran between things, names of trees, and were making sounds called..” Lorte clicked the screen again. “…laughter. A quite unusual sound that could be anger. Other manifestations of anger have come from other installations in the zoo area. Anger shouts, charging the fence. One Earth being, and I didn’t note the name, threw refuse at a Genoradorian.”
“This behavior must be modified. We need to stop the signs of anger. Lorte, you need to investigate what will cause the anger to stop. Proceed.” Randr waved an appendage at the next Genoradorian in line. “What is the new name for the zoo?”
Wasrte bowed. “Supreme Commander Randr, if you please, a suitable name perhaps could be
‘SPAQUAR’. It stands for space quarantine.” Wasrte clicked its middle arm screen and a pictograph showed the graphic.
“SPAQUAR. I like that sound. Simple to remember. Kind of rolls off the old olfactory gland, doesn’t it. Great. We call it SPAQUAR from now on. Change the signs immediately. Lorte, you will report in one day what measures have been taken to eliminate anger from the Earth beings. That is all.”
All the Genoradorians in the space left Supreme Commander Randr. The Supreme Commander sat and pondered his SPAQUAR.
The next day on Planet 99X all inhabitants of the SPAQUAR were treated to the gourmet meals promised on the tour.
Breakfast was eggs, bacon, toast with jam and tea.
Lunch was grilled cheese and tomato soup with a kale salad and brownies. And sweet tea.
Dinner was a steak dinner with ice cream and cheesecake for dessert. Plus champagne or pinot noir wine.
All Earth inhabitants decided the change was good. It mattered not whoever complained and whatever happened because better food suddenly appeared. And appeared again, the same every day.
“Didn’t we have this breakfast yesterday?” Mary asked. George shrugged, stuffed more bacon in his mouth. “I think we did George.”
“I don’t care if we have this every day.” He burped, ate more bacon,
Several Genoradorian days later Harry asked Julie, “Didn’t we have the grilled cheese yesterday for lunch?” He dipped the sandwich in the soup.
“I guess so. I remember the soup, the tea. Now leave me be.” Julie fell into a food coma.
After a month of Planet 99X days, the Supreme Commander Randr asked for an update on the Earth inhabitants of SPAQUAR. Lorte reported that finally all anger had disappeared from SPAQUAR. Unfortunately a new problem had arisen. The Earth inhabitants were now so lethargic from all the weight they had gained. Seems they wanted to do nothing all day but eat and sleep. Attendance at SPAQUAR had dropped off. No Genoradorian wanted to see lazy Earth inhabitants.
“Inform me, Lorte, how do you propose we solve this new crisis? Our Planet has invested much Genoradorian time and energy in the SPAQUAR. Your advice I trust.”
“I think we should send the Earthlings back, Supreme Commander. Send them back to their home planet before more revenue is lost. The next available rocket, Supreme Commander. In my humble opinion, Supreme Commander, we send another rocket to the Planet Venus. I hear there are Venusians signed on for a tour. Perhaps they should occupy SPAQUAR.”
Supreme Commander Randr thought on this for a microsecond. “I like that idea. Proceed Lorte. Make the arrangements.” Then Randr settled back into his hovering cushion and floated out of sight.
At the 20 year reunion of the great Genoradorian trip. Harry and Julie met up with George and Mary near the dessert table.
“We’ll never forget those meals they served us at the end. Where in the world did they ever get such good food?” George was finishing off the last of his cheesecake.
Harry and Julie smiled to remember those elaborate meals served in SPAQUAR.
“They sure knew how to keep us fat and happy. For a time. We were almost sad to leave.” Harry started to laugh.
Julie moved over to Mary and took her by the arm. ”Speak for yourself. I gained ten pounds in a week eating all that food. I think they must’ve imported one of our chefs. Come on, Mary. Let’s find the other women.” The two left the men and moved to the other side of the huge venue.
“Say, this cheesecake is pretty tasty. You don’t think ……”