Breakdown

By Dwayne MacInnes

T'mai felt the shudder as the propulsion unit's fuel-line ruptured. Alarms and lights flashed inside the cabin alerting T'mai that he would need to take immediate action to shut down the main engines before the saucer-shaped spacecraft exploded into a small nova. Almost unconsciously, the space traveler flipped switches, pushed buttons, and visually scanned dials.

T'mai whistled in dismay. The damage could have been a lot worse and the back-up batteries were unharmed and fully charged. However, the location for such a breakdown could not have happened in a more unsatisfactory area of space.

This part of the galaxy was in the fringe area and hospitable planets were far and few between. Most of the habitable world's populations comprised of wild and dangerous life forms. Rumors of survey parties visiting such worlds and never returning were standard warnings against traveling through such remote and perilous areas.

Nonetheless, T'mai felt the risks were worth the gains if he could take the shortcut through the fringe and reach the Consortium's semi-rotational speculation meeting early. Unfortunately, the equivalent to a tire blowout left him stranded in the cold remorseless vastness of space.

Sure, the saucer could limp to a planet, but the chances of finding any help were remote and fraught with danger. Few of the worlds in the sector had reached sufficient technical skills to offer the rudimentary materials T'mai would need to repair his ship. None would be forthcoming with help to launch his damaged craft back into space. The curious inhabitants tended to kill those they did not understand or worse yet kept their forlorn captives caged up like a wild zoological specimen for their own primitive studies.

T'mai scanned the dials and digital scanners again. The fuel-line's rupture had damaged the food stores. The lack of rations would further limit his options of possible planets on which to land. The readout from the navigational computer listing those worlds only made T'mai's situation worse. The only possible candidate for T'mai to limp his crippled craft to was the worse of the lot. A place the primitives of the planet called Earth.

With the lack of the navigational shields, the saucer-shaped craft would be visible to the various RADAR units. These units the locals used to keep an ever present vigilance against each other. This sad and inhospitable world had not even evolved to the point where they were not a danger to themselves. T'mai shuddered to think of the approaching day when these primitives ventured beyond their own solar system.

As the shiny saucer fluttered out of the sky in a barely controlled descent, T'mai recalled the story of the survey vessel crippled by a similar incident as his. As the survey vessel descended during one of the planet's electrical storms, a primitive's aircraft fired its rockets and shot the vessel down near a habitation they called Roswellnewmexico. No one ever heard from the craft or crew after its hasty mayday and warning.

Saucer Ship

T'mai noted with some satisfaction that though he was on the same continental mass he was far from the reported location of the lost survey vessel. With careful skill, the saucer landed behind two wooden structures on the outskirts of a local habitation center.

T'mai exited the craft and visually scanned the damage. The local star by now had descended below the horizon .T'mai used a small light to illuminate the damaged area. Fortunately, if T'mai could obtain the correct material and food stores he could easily repair the fuel-line. It would take only a few moments to patch the rupture and have his craft safely spaceward.

The main concern was; could T'mai finish his work before the locals located his craft and made him one of their specimens. T'mai stifled a shudder, he had work to do and such thoughts would not assist in his need to find the materials he required.

T'mai grabbed his dimensional carrying case and donned his standard exploratory kit. He quickly scanned the structures for some forms of life. It appeared no locals resided in the domiciles. A quick survey around the perimeter, T'mai figured would be all he needed before he began his exploration of the interiors.

The small spaceman was halfway through his circuit when he heard a small party behind him call out to him. T'mai froze as his translator crackled in his hearing orifice the word "Hey!" being shouted from a local behind him.

T'mai slowly turned around. More than likely the Earthlings would have their primitive, yet lethal weaponry trained on him. T'mai knew that he did not stand a chance for survival on such a remote and dangerous world.

"No one lives there kid," the translator crackled again. T'mai turned to see that one of the Earthlings was addressing him. The primitive was a third again taller than T'mai though most in his group were about the same size as the space traveler. What astounded T'mai the most was that all the smaller Earthlings wore various disguises. Was this a ritual for greeting strangers?

"That's a neat costume you have there," the taller Earthling continued. "I'm surprised your parents are letting you out alone. You should join us."

T'mai stood there silently as he slowly tried to digest all that was happening. Apparently, the tall Earthling, the leader, must have figured T'mai as another disguised smaller Earthling. Some sort of child.

"I'm sorry kid, what is your name?"

"My name is T'mai," the translator responded from his chest.

"Man that is a cool costume. Voice box and everything" the Earthling sounded astounded. "Timmy, I am Dave and you really should join up with us for safety."

"Yes, Dave, you have made a good point. There is safety in numbers and I shall be happy to join your party," T'mai responded.

"Wow you really know how to play the part," Dave said as he herded the crowd down the street towards a structure with the lights on.

T'mai noticed one of the Earthlings donning a bed sheet kept up a constant wail. The concerned alien tugged on Dave's jacket.

"Pardon me, Dave but it appears one of our party members is in some pain."

Dave gave off a bark of laughter, "That's good. It is just Simon he is pretending to be a ghost."

T'mai continued walking with the group towards the house as he momentarily thought about the strange belief system where one becomes linen in the afterlife. Surely, these Earthlings must hold their bedding in high esteem.

As they reached the domicile, one of the smaller Earthlings approached the door and pushed a button. The ring of the summoning bell chimed through the house and as the door opened, the entire group as one recited a greeting, "Trick or treat."

T'Mai

The elderly Earthling at the door held a bowl brimming with what appeared to be different kinds of sweet snacks in colorful wrappers. "My, what a wonderful group of spooks we have here," the old female responded as she parceled out some snacks to each costumed Earthling. Even a few snacks found their way into T'mai's carrying case.

After each received their gift, Dave herded the Earthlings towards the next domicile. Again, some one depressed the summoning bell and again the same ritual greeting, "Trick or treat" recited. This time it was a man a little older than Dave who answered the door and he handed out little copper discs. T'mai looked at some closely. On one side, there was the profile of an Earthling's face and on the other a building of some sort. Before depositing them into his carrying case, T'mai scanned them with his composition matrix scanner on his hand.

"A few of these discs are composed of 95 % copper and 5 % zinc. However most are 97.5 % zinc and 2.5 % copper," T'mai said aloud.

Dave again broke into his barking laugh, "Or as we Earthlings call them 'pennies'."

"Pennies," T'mai replied. "Interesting things. What do you use them for?"

"Well, E.T. these are the smallest unit of money used in this country," Dave replied with a smirk.

"Ah, I see a monetary unit," T'mai said before dropping the last disc in his case. He did not know what eetee meant, but perhaps it was a term of endearment. Regardless, his foraging was proceeding along well. Before long, he would have enough snacks and discs to repair his ship sufficiently for its continued trip through space.

It indeed was not very long after that the group was returning down the street where they met up with T'mai. The night's foraging was most lucrative. The smaller Earthlings' bags were full of sugary foodstuff and some metal discs. T'mai puzzled over the ritualistic greeting "Trick or Treat" but he could not make any sense of it. However, the greeting apparently compels the occupant of a residence to offer gifts of either food or money. Because of this adventure, T'mai would recommend that there be further studies of the planet. Though such work was perilous it was worth noting that the inhabitants were interesting and not as deadly as T'mai believed.

As the group walked past the buildings that T'mai had landed his craft behind, the spaceman pulled away from the group and made his way to his stricken craft. As he figured, it did not take long before he repaired the fuel-line and replenished the food stores. The small saucer shaped spacecraft once again resumed its interstellar trek as it shot into space with a flash.

T'mai never realized that only moments after he vacated the planet, police cars and FBI vehicles descended upon the scene of his landing. The next morning as Dave read about the reported UFO sighting in the morning paper he scratched his head wondering about that strange kid he took 'Trick or treating' the previous night.

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2 Comments

We interrupt your regular programming to bring you this special Halloween special. (What do aliens have to do with Halloween???)

good reading for Halloween coming up.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on October 31, 2007 6:41 PM.

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