The Universe at Large
Why Ludwig von Koopa Should Have Stayed in Bed Today:
A Science Fiction Parody

By Fun Guy Fungi

Chapter 3: Getting a Little Off-Topic

“Well, you see, ah, we thought they were free sample,” Turn said in the interrogation room, thinking quickly. Unfortunately, it is a well documented phenomenon that if you think quickly, you do not think well. This was the case here.

“They had price tags on them,” one of the cops said, leaning in a hard wooden chair. Although Iggy, Ludwig, and Turn didn’t know it, not only had the cops completely taken advantage of them by not reading them their rights, they had also had the bad luck to be a part of the infamous LAPD. How the LAPD has jurisdiction in a sunny, beach-filled area is unknown, since LA long ago went to smog. In Los Angeles, you see, the primary color is gray. This is largely due to the endless smoke hanging over the city, the effects of which are like looking through a piece of gray cellophane. Therefore, any beaches anywhere near LA are no longer sunny, but instead dark as if it was night during both the day and the night. Anyway, the police force is not normally seen in a good light. Our heroes were experiencing this firsthand. They had, however, stolen two pairs of jeans right off the rack, so really it was their fault.

“Well, you see, in our area, a price tag means that the clothes are free to take. We come from a distant area.”

“Where is this distant area?” Turn thought back to the occasional Earth TV program he had picked up on The Imagination’s entertainment center, and came up with the first name he could think of, straight out of some show about a moose and squirrel.



“Popsylvania. That’s where we’re from.”

“Wasn’t that the fictional country in ‘The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show’?”

“Aaah… no.” Iggy had had just about enough of Turn’s quick thinking, and said the only Earth name he could remember.

“He’s joking,” Iggy said, “we’re from Brooklyn. We came to visit some relatives, and needed some clothes, and, well, we were short on cash. So we had to steal some jeans, you see.” The cops thought for a minute, then decided the only punishment they needed was 48 hours in jail. Unfortunately, Turn thought this was in Ulata Gamma hours, which meant it would be another three Earth years. He used the emergency transmitter he had installed into the lid of a jar of instant coffee to call Matt the computer and gave him a certain code. It is recommended by the travel part of the secret forum of LLF to always carry a special jar of instant coffee. This particular jar was his lucky jar, which he never got rid of. He would just refill the jar with the always-useful instant coffee. As such, he had installed all sorts of useful things into it, such as transmitters, some dehydrated water (just add water: not one of Space-o-tron™’s better ideas), and a miniature grenade. He would have used the grenade, but those things cost an awful lot of money, and he had a better plan. They sat there in the holding cell for an hour or two, after which the wall facing the outside in the cell exploded inward. The Imagination burst in, and Turn, Ludwig, and Iggy all jumped in and took off into the night. This meant that they now had an escape charge on them, but as the Earthlings had not yet achieved space travel, the crew of The Imagination was relatively safe. Before they left, however, Turn insisted that they pay a little visit to the most intelligent race on Earth.

They found a few housecats in the alleys in the downtown area, and, thanks to the Insta-Translators in their ears, they were able to understand them.

“Yes, we are a very intelligent race, though we try to keep that particular fact hidden,” a gray tabby cat was telling them in a pleasant British accent. “How did you come about finding out that information?”

“You’re in an old guide to sentient organisms that I happen to have. It was written by a guy who came to Earth once and immediately saw the most intelligent organisms for what they were,” Turn was saying. “Now, could you tell us what this young boy’s special powers are?” Turn brought Ludwig forward. The gray tabby called in a few of his lesser cats, and they measured him, examined his muscular structure, took DNA samples, and other general tests. They disappeared into their trash can/labs, and within a few minutes, they popped out again.

“Ve must announce zat, due to za lack of technology zat ve have access to,” a black cat told them in a German accent, “ve are unable to find out vat, if any, special powers he has at za moment.”

“Well, it does show up on my ship’s scanners, so I’m assuming that they are simply really hard to find. Now, how could we get this technology?”

“I vould suggest the Alpha Centaurians. Zhey’re only a few light years avay, and zhey’re relatively advanced.” Turn thanked them for their time and ran back to the ship.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, Mr. Strat?” the tabby asked Turn. Turn sighed, then gave them a jar of instant coffee. “We have no need for this. We want some kind of fish. Tuna, salmon, halibut, or other kinds of fish are what we need. It is food that we seek.” Turn thought for a moment, then ducked inside The Imagination for a moment and came back out with a covered plate of steaming smoked halibut.

“What’d you bring that along for?” Iggy asked.

“Well, I didn’t know if there was anything edible on this planet, so I brought along some food in case I got hungry.” Iggy and Ludwig shook their heads at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation, but got inside the ship anyway and tried to go to Alpha Centauri. However, they were slightly delayed by a huge interstellar war.

Once they had put a few extra light years between them and Earth, they ran straight into an Oonorthian battle cruiser. As luck would have it, it was in the middle of the largest interstellar battle in history. The battle cruiser they hit was about to unleash electric death upon The Imagination for dinging its paint job, but somebody else zapped the cruiser first. It was then that the trio first saw the sheer size of the battle. There were easily a million sleek battle cruisers over the planet Oonorth for each side, and another million were on their way. The leaders of the two sides were in the capital ship Blaster to see if they could peacefully resolve their differences. The Imagination tried to escape, but the Oonorthian space shield prevented them from leaving the gravitational fields of the star they orbited around. As the two leaders eyed each other over the table in a much-cliched scene, the visiting leader, who hailed from the planet Slarn, slowly tightened his grip around the Space-o-tron™ Laser-o-matic in his holster. Inside The Imagination, Matt started playing the imaginative game Dungeons & Dragons with Ludwig and Iggy, who were both nerds to a degree, and rolled the electronic dice. Turn started sweating large, round drops, and walked over to the box of Space-o-tron™ stuff that he had and pulled out an endlessly useful Space-o-tron™ Time Continuum Cone that he used in the beginning of this story.

The Space-o-tron™ Corporation is a remarkable company. It creates the best technology in space that every serious tourist of the universe must have. Unlike most other technology companies, this one’s products have a 99% success rate, which means that the complaint division of the company is the only part of it that ever went bankrupt. By far its most remarkable invention is the Time Continuum Cone, which turns time backwards, and occasionally sideways.

It works because the inhabitants of Universes #1-57 can only move forward in time. They can move freely in three-dimensional space, but not in four-dimensional space (the fourth dimension being, of course, time). The Time Continuum Cone works by being very odd. Inside the cone, hidden from normal view, is a sentient micro-organism. Upon pressing the button, it does the oddest thing it can think of, such as doing the chicken dance with a mercury-soaked sock in its mouth. There is a certain pattern that all living organisms follow that space-time has set out for them. It predicts their movements, and as such, space-time has remained stable. However, if the micro-organism is really, really weird, it breaks the prediction and there is an area of unreality around it. Once this happens, the cone shoots the area of non-time forward, thus turning the target area into an area where time does not move forward. Time, however, is constantly moving. Therefore, if time isn’t moving forward, it must be moving backward and as such the target area goes back in time. It is thus a time machine of sorts. The 1% failure rate is caused by the micro-organism either not being weird enough or time moving sideways, which, if it happens, causes the target area to slide into an alternate universe and simultaneously be smote by the space-time continuum for making a fool out of it.

Turn fingered the cone in his hand. It was always a comfort to know that if he messed up, he could always try to fix it with the cone. Of course, that doesn’t always work, but he felt it had a high enough success rate to try. Meanwhile on the computer interface, the screen had a large pair of ten-sided dice with a number above it that read “34”.

“Level 34! I get to attack first!” Matt exclaimed. Ludwig hit the keyboard in frustration, which of course caused something really bad to happen.

The Imagination was never intended to be a war craft, and Turn knew it. It had virtually no agility, and literally no weapons. It was merely a prototype, designed to see if an imagination-powered ship was feasible. Of course, Turn accidentally blew up the safe with the blueprints when he “repossessed” it, as he put it, so it is the only imagination-powered ship in the universe. He intended to keep it a peaceful craft, and almost did, until one day he ran into the Slarnian space fleet on their way to do battle with the Oonorthians. That battle just started now, as Ludwig and Iggy played Dungeons & Dragons. The Slarnians he had met before were on their way to this fateful battle, but because of the enormous distances involved, this was a year ago. The fleet was not pleased to see him, and attacked him with several largish cruisers. He only barely escaped thanks to The Imagination’s speed. After this, he decided to add one Space-o-tron™ Ultra Laser-o-matic and one missile launcher, just in case. As fate would have it, Ludwig launched both of these at the same time.

The missile flew towards the Oonorthian battle cruisers, completely unhindered due to a lack of air resistance. It impacted one of the cruisers. Eyewitnesses insist that what was left was a smoldering bolt. The Laser-o-matic beam flew towards a Slarnian ship and hit it right in the cockpit, taking out the entire crew. Of course, this caused both sides to begin firing. Inside the conference table, the guards on both sides shot the opposing leaders at exactly the same time. Had one shot the other first, the other side could have said that the murder of the other leader had been retaliation and self-defense, and they could have gotten away with it. However, the security video clearly shows them slumping to the floor at the same time. The millions of battle cruisers all opened up on the other side. There were 300,000 casualties on the first volley alone. Of course, this never should have happened, but then, nothing ever should have.

Inside The Imagination, things weren’t much better. Not only did the Holo-Projector in the control panel turn on with the Koopalings on it, Iggy got hit by a +3 Sword of Fury.

“What’s happening in there?” Lemmy demanded.

Turn replied with, “Well, Iggy just got his tail kicked, and—“


“Oh. I think somebody (coughLudwigcough) just inadvertently killed over 300,000 organisms, and the Oonorthians just lost another three dozen cruisers.”

“The who?”

“Here, I’ll send you the data in our database. They’re a warlike species that kills people an awful lot. They’re at battle with the Slarnians, another warlike race.” At this point, Turn realized he could end the madness and turn time back and prevent this entire war with the Time Continuum Cone. He took it out, pressed the button, and suddenly the room imploded.

The Imagination spun through space. The inside of it tumbled endlessly, and the comfortable sofa in the middle of the room would have surely crushed somebody had it not been bolted to the ground. The bridge gave every appearance of suddenly having been blown to pieces, but it in fact was perfectly okay. The inhabitants were another story altogether. Thanks to The Imagination’s spin through the dimensions, they had bounced off of every available surface in the ship. Turn looked out the window and saw a floating bovine animal suddenly form into several different cow-like creatures. Time had moved sideways.

“Don’t look now, guys, but there’s a cow floating outside the ship,” Turn announced. He looked at the control panels and found that the ship was in Universe #-46. Any negative universe is almost always lethal to positive universe inhabitants. They had a few scant minutes to think up of something before they all died from either being smote by space-time or from a massive overdose of underreality. Turn thought fast, and for once, got an idea that was a good idea, and was thought up quickly.

“Guys, do something really unexpected!” With that, Turn jumped on his head and stuffed the cone in his mouth, and then kicked the ceiling as he simultaneously hit his spleen repeatedly with a hardcover edition of War and Peace: The Galactic Version. The space-time continuum pattern was broken, and the reality around Turn shimmered. Iggy and Ludwig hit each other’s right elbow and then attempted to do a somersault while tugging on their earlobes and grabbing any spare cream custards they could find. Suddenly they felt the time continuum slide backward and they were back in The Imagination. All Ludwig knew was that he was in the middle of a swing at Matt’s keyboard, which, of course, he couldn’t stop. The only difference throughout this whole thing was that the cone had malformed into something resembling a drink coaster. They were still in the middle of a gigantic space battle. Once the initial volley was over, they searched for the shield generator.

“What’s so important about this shield generator anyway?” Roy asked over the projector.

“It determines whether we live or die, but other than that, no, it’s not important,” Turn explained, starting to lose his near-endless patience. Finally something came up on the screen that had “Shield Generator” painted on its side. A few blasts of Laser-o-matic took care of it, and the trio safely made its way out of the system.

In no time, they had gotten out of the system. As it turns out, however, they really should have gotten out in some other way, as the battle now spilled over throughout the sector. Space fighters no bigger than a small car flew through the stars in the hundreds of millions, destroying each other throughout space. Laser-o-matic beams shot through the air, incinerating anything in their path. The capital ship had blown up three seconds into the battle. Turn attempted to activate the imagination drive, but Matt was simply too occupied imagining what would happen if one of those beams hit the ship. Turn activated the Plasma Drive and the ship took off and ran straight through one of the cruisers. The whole thing spiraled down to the planet below and burned up in the upper ionosphere. A gun battery finally hit The Imagination, blowing a fuse in the ship, and Matt, now no longer having to imagine what would happen, suddenly started imagining the numbers needed to compute the ship’s trajectory. The Imagination took off at over five hundred times the speed of light and was never seen anywhere near the sector again. Just as they were out of the sector the fuse that had blown came back with a vengeance and blew The Imagination out of coordination. It flew over on its side, went through space like that for about another thirty light years, and finally straightened out just in time to go into a nearby space station.

“Where is this place, I think I saw something move, hey—“ Morton was saying before Roy socked him.

“It looks like it’s a military-type area. Maybe a testing ground for new weapons,” Turn said. “Matt, what can you tell us about this place?”

“We’re the first ship to land on it in years,” Matt said. “It’s owned by the Oonorthian military, which has denied its existence for decades. The station mainframe says this place is called Oonorthian Space Station 13.”

“Wait, this place is OSS13?” Turn asked in amazement.

“What’s OSS13?” Lemmy asked in bewilderment.

“It’s a cloaked space station that was an old military testing ground for secret weapons, according to rumors. It was abandoned because the weapons became self-aware and were too powerful. The military couldn’t destroy it since it was too valuable. So they just cloaked it, since nobody would ever need to see out of it. Of course, nobody really believes it.”

“How bad is the damage to The Imagination?” Ludwig asked.

“Not too bad. Mostly minor stuff. All we need to do is wait until the imagination drive reboots, which will take a half-hour or so. We might as well explore this place while we’re at it.” Turn opened the gangway. He activated the portable Holo-Projector.

He had his jar of instant coffee.

They stepped out of The Imagination. The inside of OSS13 was rather big. If you took the Sistine Chapel, multiplied it by ten, and added three bathrooms, that would be how large the inside of OSS13 was. It had a ridiculously high ceiling, as if it had stored something that was over 80 feet tall. There was a huge cube in one corner. Something was slumped over it. Upon closer inspection, they discovered it was a gigantic humanoid robot, much like the kind in the animated movies from Earth, specifically the Japan area. There was a conspicuous hole in the chest. They looked around and discovered for the first time the dozens of giant robots in the station.

“This must have been what they were testing,” Turn speculated. A large sphere on top of the cube lit up. Something skittered across the floor at a breakneck pace.

“What was that?” Iggy asked in horror. The thing slowed down, revealing it to be a maintenance robot.

“Looks like a simple maintenance robot. Nothing to be afraid about,” Ludwig stammered, obviously nervous. There was a screeching of metal behind them, and the robot rushed over to one of the gigantic robots. Suddenly one of them got up, despite the obvious and rather unsightly hole in its chest. This caused a large amount of panic in the ranks. Having almost no weapons, they had just about no defense, and as such, they saw two options: run away screaming like ninnies, or fight. They chose the first option. Just as they were running away into the hanger, they all realized three different things. The Koopalings on Googorn realized that since they weren’t in any personal danger, they had no reason to be screaming like ninnies. The Koopalings on OSS13 realized that they couldn’t escape like they were hoping to, since the computer needed to reboot. Turn realized he had his lucky jar of instant coffee. The first two groups stopped panicking and panicked even more, respectively. Turn took the lid off, and pulled a small object about the size of a marble out of the lid. He replaced the lid, bounced the object on the ground once, and threw it at the hole in the chest of the robot. It nestled nicely in the coordination wiring, and blew it to smithereens, being the miniature grenade he always kept in the lid of his lucky jar. Being without coordination wiring, all of the maintenance robots’ hard work restoring the robot was for naught, as the robot steered itself into a wall and crushed its own CPU.

“Not bad, Mr. Strat,” Lemmy said. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to say anything else, as right then, the sphere blinked again and another robot got up. Turn was sadly out of grenades. All three ran inside The Imagination screaming for mercy. Turn started up the weapons system and fired a missile into the robot’s head. As it had no head, the missile missed completely and took out a perfectly innocent robot that was beyond repair. The robot came closer, but couldn’t fit into the smallish entrance into the hanger. Turn took this opportunity to fire an Ultra Laser-o-matic beam into the robot’s chest. This too completely missed since part of the chest was missing and the beam took out the sphere on the cube. The robot then dropped to the floor.

“Umm… what happened?” Iggy asked.

“The sphere thing! It must have been controlling the robots! We’re saved!” Turn shouted and started dancing really, really horribly. Next to The Imagination was a large screen that suddenly flickered to life with the words “OSS13 Auxiliary Computer Loaded”. After a short pause, three more robots got up and started lumbering towards them.

“How are we going to get out of this one?” Iggy inquired. Turn said nothing, and instead chose to panic. He ran out of the ship and ran into the open area. Iggy and Ludwig reviewed the options and decided that this was the preferable choice. They too panicked and ran outside.

In a laboratory on Reescalph XIV, there was a psychological study that conclusively proved that panic is good for the mind. It relieves stress, eases tension, and gets the circulation going, all of which is extremely beneficial to most humanoid species, with the exception of the inhabitants of Aascoot 4, who get less healthy the more they exercise. They are the envy of almost every living organism in the universe, but they themselves dislike it as it means that they are sadly excluded from the Galati-Olympics. But with the exception of them, panic is good for the body, mind, and soul. It would be even more beneficial if the reason for panicking wasn’t often so hazardous to one’s health. For some reason, all species do a very healthy thing (panicking) around very unhealthy things (for example, three giant robots bristling with weapons advancing towards you). Also, another study has shown that while panicking alone is good, panicking in the face of danger results in thinking quickly. See other sections of this story for examples of thinking quickly. Although they had never heard of it, the Koopalings on Googorn were taking the study’s advice to heart, and they too were screaming once again. The result of this was an awful din of screaming, about half of which was coming from across the galaxy and was therefore a little low quality. Turn thought quickly, came up with a bad plan, and jumped behind a pile of rubble. The Koopalings, panicked as they were, still realized this plan for what it was (a bad one) and ran back to The Imagination. It was at this point that Turn came up with a slightly better plan. He used the transmitter installed in the lid of his lucky jar and, using The Imagination’s weapons, blew the device that cloaked OSS13 to pieces. He then ran all the way back to his ship, tripped on a piece of robot arm, and fell heavily on his chest. He luckily did not hit his face in any way, but he was still reduced to lying there like a moron and moaning in pain, mostly psychosomatic. One of the robots saw this and raised its arm to shoot the intruder, but it was interrupted when it was completely disintegrated by a Space-o-tron™ Zap Cannon bolt. The wall of OSS13 had been completely shot away, and several robots were sucked into deep space before the self-sealing walls took effect and closed up the gaping hole with a membranous skin. Turn got up, realized the extent of his injuries was a drop of motor oil on his shirt, and then looked out the transparent skin. There were several conspicuous objects in the sky, but most notably there was an Oonorthian battle cruiser, Class 5. Class 5 was the highest class that there was, which basically meant it was the size of a small city and had enough weapons to destroy one as well. Apparently, the battle between the Slarnians and the Oonorthians that they had accidentally started before had somehow spilled over here, light years away.

“Matt, if you could reboot that drive anytime soon, it would be a boon to us all,” Ludwig said, starting to stop panicking and going into full-fledged abject terror.

“Hold on, guys, I’m 90% there. In the meantime, anyone up for meeting my imaginary friend-”

“Yeah, later. Right now we need you to HURRY UP!” The hanger wall next to them imploded and a Class 3 Slarnian craft started firing away. The interface on Matt read “95%”. The giant robots came slightly closer and picked up The Imagination in their gargantuan hands.

“Oh, isn’t this great,” Turn said sarcastically, “we’re about to die either by giant robots or by Zap Cannon bolts.” Suddenly The Imagination’s engines kicked in and the imagination drive activated. The ship took off, blowing off the hand of the giant robot with a burst of plasma, then going straight through a wall and into deep space. In no time, they were far enough away that they decided they could take a breather.

“Okay, guys, meet Billy!” Matt shouted gleefully. A small boy materialized next to them. “He’s a little shy, guys, so don’t push him.” The Koopalings took this in stride and just sat there, eating some snacks from the vending machine.

“Hey,” Larry realized, “aren’t we supposed to be finding Ludwig’s power or something?”

“Oh, we deserved a break from that anyway. I suppose we could go try and find it now that our ‘vacation’ is over,” Turn replied.

“Yes, remember the cats? They told us to go to Alpha Centauri,” Ludwig said without looking up from the intense Dungeons & Dragons game he was playing with Billy, Iggy, and Matt. Since they were going in completely the wrong direction, it took Turn a few minutes to turn around and head back in the direction of Alpha Centauri.

On Alpha Centauri, there is a very peculiar race that appears to be, for all intents and purposes, little balls of fluff. They are the 32nd most intelligent race in the universe, however, and have extremely advanced technology. Because of their appearance, however, they are usually not treated with much respect in the scientific community. Nevertheless, they are usually very helpful when it comes to tricky scientific questions. The Imagination flew down onto the surface of the planet, nearly ran into a blue tree, and finally stopped just before it plowed through the largest medical laboratory in the sector. The three walked down the gangway, carrying the projector.

“You need to work on your driving skills,” Iggy said, still trembling a little from the sheer abject terror of the situation. They strolled into the labs and were immediately greeted by several moving balls of fuzz. Upon closer inspection, they were revealed to be the scientists. The front ball introduced herself as Mali, and after the usual greetings from the crew of The Imagination, they walked into the laboratories.

“So you’d like us to run a few tests on the boy, huh?” Mali asked in a pleasantly light tenor. She strapped Ludwig down into the scanning machines, took several photographs of the body, then poked, prodded, and otherwise examined Ludwig’s body. She took the photographs that she had scanned in several frequencies and held them up to the light. After a few moments of looking at bones and a brain case, she slumped in a chair, defeated. Little did she know that every other scientist that they had come to had done the same thing when examining Ludwig.

“The preliminary tests show nothing. We’ll have to try something else.” Mali took a few blood samples and rushed them off to the lab, then strapped Ludwig into a wheelchair and pushed him down the hall, which was a trying task considering she was about two feet tall. Once in there, she gave Ludwig a very difficult psychological test that consisted of questions about family members Ludwig didn’t have and taking note of Ludwig’s response when asked whether or not Hawaiian Punch could be used to kill fish. After that, she sent the notes into the main lab through a vacuum tube system and wheeled Ludwig down to the medical lab, where faint yells of horror could be heard. This whole time, Turn and Iggy sat there chatting with the other Koopalings and eating the free lollipops that you get in the doctor’s office.

“I wonder what they’re doing in there,” Larry wondered.

“Probably beating him to a pulp. I wanted to do that,” Roy complained. Suddenly Ludwig burst out of the doors, apparently no worse for wear, but looking considerably tired out. Mali announced that medical tests had also shown nothing. She had but one more solution. She would take him into the practical test room.

The practical test room in the medical labs on Alpha Centauri was a very odd-looking room. It consisted of several odds and ends that might be useful, such as a jigsaw puzzle, a VCR (but no TV), and a microwave. She then had Ludwig operate all of the various objects, taking copious notes. After she sent them up to the main lab, she announced that he should know the results in about a week.

“A week? I don’t want to wait that long!” Iggy complained. Turn whacked him on the head with his lucky jar and, after giving Mali The Imagination’s communications number, they all climbed inside.

Once inside The Imagination, Iggy brought up an interesting point.

“Hasn’t this whole thing just been jumping from planet to planet, just hoping that we’ll get what we want immediately instead of years from now?” Turn realized that it was, and decided instantly that this was simply not going to cut it. They had two options, as they saw it. They could wait for a week in space, or wait for a week in style on the alpine slopes of Mt. Lae on the ice planet Paq. Iggy, of course, looking for a vacation, chose the latter. This little expedition of theirs was cleaning out Turn’s bank account nicely, and he just hoped that he could hold out for the rest of the year without going bankrupt. Iggy did have some pretty nice ideas, though, always looking out for a vacation, which was his type of guy.

They landed on the planet a few miles from the mountain, stepped out, and were immediately greeted by a bunch of airline representatives.

“What’s this?” Ludwig asked. They explained that due to intergalactic laws, the only way you could get to Mt. Lae was by airplane. This was, unfortunately, not Turn’s element. He was used to landing wherever he pleased. The plants that he baked underneath him with the plasma drive, well, those plants could just shove off. He closed his eyes and chose a cheap ticket at random.

Hours later they were inside the airport, unable to purchase anything due to their status as third-class passengers, and therefore they sat there drinking water out of a nearby fountain and rationing Turn’s instant coffee. Finally their gate opened nearly three hours late, and they climbed inside the plane.

Inside the cramped cabin, they had problems even worse than the airport did, if it was possible.

“I can’t feel my legs!” Iggy cried.

“Join the crowd,” Turn responded. After about an hour, the hostess came by with the drink cart. They each got a single can of a drink of their choice, which isn’t much. There were about three choices total. Because of the peculiar way in which the table trays folded down, once you got anything to eat, you had to keep your trash on them, which meant that you couldn’t get out to go to the bathroom to save your life. After another three hours, the food cart came by. Normally, this would be considered lunch, but because of this particular airline, you did not get an actual lunch. It consisted of two cookies, two crackers, a hard candy, and a package of cheese that had written on it “La Petit Frommage”. Every time the airplane took off, the manager said a small prayer that nobody would figure out that that meant “The Small Cheese” in what he thought was an obscure language.

“How long does it take to fly a couple of miles, anyway?” Iggy asked in annoyance. The hostess replied that they were stacked up in a holding pattern and they would land in a few minutes. Apparently, airlines have their own special clocks, in which “a few minutes” really means “several hours”. After a long, long time, they finally touched down at the foot of Mt. Lae, got out, and rented some ski equipment. They then had to pay for a locker, which cost more than the skis, and took upon them the arduous task of putting on the equipment. Their conversation went something like this.

“Which hole does this fit onto?”

“The fifty-second.”

“The what?”

“Never mind, just put it somewhere, it’s probably useless.”

“What’s wrong with this boot?”

“I’ve got a better question: what’s wrong with this vacation?”

“That’s a good question. We haven’t had a single merry moment ever since we landed on this planet. I only stay here because I know we’ll have to get out by airplane as well.” Finally they got themselves all tied up, took a ski lift to the top of the mountain, and found that it was rather enjoyable stuff, skiing. It was just the getting there that could kill. Little did they know that they were in fact skiing into imminent danger of being simultaneously mauled, shot, and bored to death by an airline hostess who would not realize that they were in a coma.

Read on!

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