By A.M. Stickel, BP Editor
A special place for tall people
Harv Boyle was in
trouble, and not just because he’d forgotten his anniversary again. (After the
first 3 years, what was the point, anyway?) He had more important things on his
mind, like his upcoming assignment on Earth.
However, step #1 a
day late was a stop at Magic Mall’s NQA (No Questions Asked) HQ for a waif-1000.
He hoped Millie would be
impressed with little Dudu, although the toddler was gender undeclared. It
spewed, shat, peed and bawled just like the real thing; plus, for a small extra
fee, it even stank like him. Dudu would be good company for Millie while he was
away for the next two years. Sparing no expense, Harv opted for the bonus Vomit Comet
all-purpose household drone
that came with the rent-a-child. The child-minding drone not only removed
messes, but processed same into useable garden fertilizer. He and Millie had a grow-yer-own
planter (with actual earth!)
on the window side of their 12-by-12-by-12-foot colony living space with a view
of Mars Port in all its rusty splendor.
Harv knew that the
VC drone worked because he’d already used it. He’d been conversing with Professor
Emritsur’s pregnant daughter, Amanita, in line ahead of him at Mall Security, a
brand new nursing bra in her see-through tote. When a robo-cop pat-down had
brought up her most recent meal, Harv had merely dialed the VC’s setting to inhale.
Unfortunately, it also sucked up
Amanita’s waist-length black hair, while dispensing a pleasant flowery
fragrance…right under the flashing MARS NEEDS FAMILIES banner hanging overhead.
“Don’t worry, honorat.
It was just a wig,” said the girl. “What a sweet lil’ baby!” She patted the top
of Dudu’s head. The rent-a-child stared at her, solemn-eyed, like a normal
“It’s a belated
anniversary present,” said gray-clad Harv, blushing as only a redhead can. “Hi,
The banner showed
a line of smiling, tall, long-limbed, mostly pale passengers of all ages
exiting The Space Fairy orbital
shuttle. As he apologized, Harv couldn’t help noticing that none of the
pictured passengers remotely resembled Amanita. At 6 feet, the girl was short,
as well as dark and curvaceous. The top of her bald head sported an elaborate
tattoo in red ink, courtesy of her recent visit to Magic Mall’s Pal-A Bu-Tay
Salon. She had long
red-painted dagger-nails, and wore spiky red heels and clingy red silk pajamas
with gold trim. The reds were all shades. Her smile revealed pointy white
teeth, rimmed in gold, between crimson upper and ruby lower lips.
“Say, listen, honora
Emritsur, would you mind meeting my Millie? I’m going Earth-side soon, so she
could use some help with Dudu here. And she’d love your baby. You could talk
fashion all day long too.”
brightened, and patted her bulging belly. “Call me ‘Ami’. Sidney’s papa was a
basketball player back on Earth. He was aboard the Arabian Knight with the
rest of the Spirits team on his way to Mars when they had that stowaway
problem. The only part of him that got to Mars was his frozen sperm. When they
called for volunteer mamas, how could I refuse? The Spirits team logo is
tattooed on my head. My son and I would be delighted to spend time with Millie…especially
if that handy drone-thing helps out. Lead on to your digs.”
The pair glided
off down the sterile colony corridors, Dudu between them, Amanita graceful in
spite of her pregnancy and perilous footwear. None of the colonists they passed
gave her outrageous attire a second glance.
After a few
minutes of thought, Harv spoke up. “Ami, it’s a shame how half the team
sacrificed themselves before the Robo-doc figured out a fix to the problem.”
“Well, no one
wanted their limbs amputated to reduce the load. I mean…tall is everything,
isn’t it? The bariatric
solution—wow! Who knew how simple it was to have everyone aboard nearly stop
eating…although I’d have hated that. No one’s ever going to staple this gut of
mine, Harv! I’d have let them space me first.”
“Yeah, I remember
the news vids of those guys disembarking. They looked like a bunch of walking
“At least that
half of the Spirits lived,” said Ami, “and the other half will live on through
uncomfortably, then said, “Don’t mention the Arabian Knight around
“She was one of
the stowaways…and paid a high price for it. We can’t have kids of our own, and—”
walking and let go of Dudu’s hand. She put her hands on her hips, scowling.
“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”
“Look, I can tell
you’re just like your dad, and really care about people. Please come meet
Millie. She’s so lonely. We’re almost there…”
A few Mars weeks
later, from Harv’s quarters, Ami (nursing Sidney) and Millie (leaning against
Dudu) watched The Space Fairy shuttle
depart Mars Port, carrying Agent Boyle up to the Bastet. The VC drone hovered
nearby. Then Sidney burped, Dudu
farted, and Millie rolled in the window box planter.
“I’ll miss him,”
said Ami, “won’t you, Millie?”
Millie, purring as the VC drone vacuumed catnip and dirt from her fur. The Tail End.