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Rated: E · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2228664
Space aliens in need of trout.
Zarf Meridian, captain of the alien ship Polaris V from the Planet Loll, shook his hunter green antennae and sighed:

“We must have wild rainbow trout!  We must!  That is the only thing that will save us!”

Everyone on the ship’s bridge heard Zarf’s squeaky voice.  No one looked up, though--none of the beleaguered crew from a planet in the vicinity of the Crab Nebula.  They were in search of a particular protein, one that would ward off an infection they picked up on planet Alpha Centauri Six.  Rainbow trout had that protein.  First Officer Xenon used the galactic search engine, Googolplex, to ascertain this fact.  He, of course, had given this information to his Captain.  Now, they were cruising high in the atmosphere of a pretty blue planet called Earth, above a continent called North America, above a state called Pennsylvania--the northeastern part to be specific.  Yet with fuel low, hope was fading.

“C’mon, c’mon,” squeaked Zarf.  You found the fish, all right.  Surely you can find where the fish swim!”

Zarf was leaning over his first officer in impatience.  In doing so, his antennae kept tapping Xenon’s bald head, leaving behind puckers of orange perspiration.

“Ah, ha! I found it!” Xenon triumphed.  “Seems we’re over a region rich in anthracite coal, and there’s a creek down there rich with wild rainbow trout.  It’s called Bowman Creek--says here on Googolplex that it is one of the few creeks in Pennsylvania rich with rainbow!”

“Oh I hope so,” lamented Zarf, “You know we’re low on fuel, and with the entire engineering staff down with this Alpha bug, no one is strong enough to make new fuel.”

“We’ll have some soon, Captain,” a now cool and collected Xenon lowed.  All we have to do now is land this thing, see stores for some fishing gear, and then go fish.”

“Uh, huh,” piped Zarf, clearing his throat like a bent whistle.  “Make sure you bring some nets.”


They landed in a forest clearing near a cliff of limestone outcropping.  Zarf and Xenon, along with two enlisted Lolls, looked down at Bowman Creek.

“Ah, there it is, First Officer--a pretty sight, would not you say?”

“I would indeed Captain...”

His voice trailed off because he became distracted by a sudden concern, one that should have been trivial in light of the trials and challenges of space flight, but one which persisted, nevertheless, to gnaw like an Orion stunted mole on a Betelgeuse root.

And then the truth was unmasked.

“There’s no way down Captain.” 

Zarf edged his way closer to the precipice, a barely audible whistling emanating from his right nostril.

He tried hard to maintain his command image, yet his antennae shook oddly, betraying a not-too-suppressed shaking of an ovoid head.

“What is this?  Mister Xenon!!”  Zarf reddened, his plaintive squeak edged with more than a modicum of frustration.  “We come this far, yet we cannot get to the creek, being so close?

Suddenly, there was a lot of running around.  Both of the enlisted Lolls advanced far in opposite directions searching for a path leading down.  Zarf and Xenon eyed one another narrowly.  Xenon actually got down on all fours, crawled to the edge of the precipice, and gazed down studiously at the creek below, as if that would somehow solve their dilemma.  He spit, and was amazed he could see it hit the water.

Xenon got up and brushed off some limestone debris.

“Notice the topography, Captain, the cliffs, the way the creek forms oblique angles...”

Zarf cut him off with swift swiping motion of his webbed hand to the midpoint of his throat.  Xenon fell silent looking like he swallowed Alpha canaries.  Both of the Lolls returned with news that this was not a good day today, news that no path was found.  The four surveyed the Pennsylvania beauty, the myriad pines in the distance and the long and winding path leading back to the clearing where they had let their ship.  Their ship they could not see.  Far below, Bowman Creek flow, all right, yet they could only stand and watch.


The four sat on the limestone precipice, legs dangling, secured by safely lines insisted on by Captain Meridian.  Each held a fishing pole that reached out into the chasm that was, an imposing and seemingly mocking space that was not outer space, yet a space that kept them from any close relationship with the waters they so desperately sought, waters longed for because of the rainbow trout within.

The sun began to set, the light began to ebb.  There was silence for the most part except for a screech, now and then, from a hawk in search of prey.

Finally, Zarf succinctly shattered the silence:

“Anyone have any bites yet?”

There were some closed-mouth grunts from the other there, and they all signaled, No, by shaking their heads.

The Captain continued:

“Good thing we have these fishing poles!”

“Yeah,” Xenon rejoined, “And good thing we have really long fishing line.”

836 Words
Writer’s Cramp Winner
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