Gloobtang was a miracle. His body allowed him to concoct almost anything as long as we could offer him trace samples and explain what we wanted. He found samples of weed and other drugs in our lungs and hair follicles when we were dipped in the green ooze. The ooze was to immunize us against micro organisms living on planet 42b, Gloob explained earnestly. I had a feeling there was more to it than that. When Utsha said he wanted to smoke a joint, Gloob scanned his memories to figure out which specific drug he was referring to. It was disturbing to watch Gloobtang squirt food and dab out of his tentacles. But we quickly got over it. We learned that everything in that hut was fashioned from a red clay-like substance Gloob could squirt out of his tentacles. Even the bowls he was serving us with was fashioned from that clay. But most fascinating part of all, he did not seem to possess any fixed number of tentacles. He could sprout two thick powerful tentacles or hundreds of slithery weak ones suited for delicate tasks. It was incredible to watch him sprout them at will.
We learned that his race was called Gnarengs. They were highly intelligent and extremely unsociable. Their planet of origin was called Flogmuk, but each Gnareng had its own solitary planet. It was a rite of passage for his kind to go searching for their own homes in a deserted planet. As we gathered from Gloob, his kind can survive in extreme conditions and are completely self sufficient as long as they have enough exposure to sunlight. They had no need for mates, and could reproduce asexually. Me and Utsha couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of Gloob. Unlimited drugs, your very own planet, no need for a second gender… The fucker lived like some sort of space prince.
Gloob was ten times more curious about us than we were about him. He badgered us with endless questions about how humans lived their lives. He had a futuristic computer lab with screens that covered a single wall of his 50 foot tall hut from ground up. The instruments looked too sophisticated to be made out of Gloob’s clay. The physical interface of the system contained many circular holes that responded to Gloob’s tentacles. The most astonishing part is that he had endless notes on human culture and behavior in his computers. Movies dating back to decades, heaps of comic books, artwork, music, tv shows. It was insane.
Me and Utsha smoked the dab Gloob made for us on the first day from a clay pipe. It was the strongest high I had ever experienced. We had endless discussions on religion, politics, the fragility of human lives, sex, art and music. Gloob listened intently and silently. His tentacles quivered whenever we spoke of grand emotions. We soon learned that Gloob’s kind were not a very emotional race. And Gloob found humans highly intriguing because of our ability to love, hate, rage and despair. He had difficulty grasping the concept of revenge, and he wondered why we were so obsessed with getting jobs and complaining about them incessantly later on. His bafflement with pornography was hilarious. He informed us that no other race in the observable universe were as obsessed with mating rituals as humans. It took me a while to realize he was referring to internet porn. I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed for our species and tried to convince Gloob that pornography was a form of art. I think he believed me, but I’m not too sure.
Utsha and I took long walks on the beach near Gloob’s hut while discussing human nature with our alien friend. Gloob wouldn’t take us away too far from his hut. There were dangers lurking everywhere in Planet 42b, and Gloob didn’t fancy our chances out there without his protection. Also, he had clear instructions from the Pyramid man to make sure we weren’t hurt. I wasn’t surprised to learn that he knew the strange hobo. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that me and Utsha landed within the walking distance of Gloob’s hut. That crazy old man must have programmed the coordinates into the Pyramid to make sure we ended up exactly where we were supposed to be. I had a feeling Gloob knew a lot about the Pyramids, the pipes and the hobo himself. But he wasn’t sharing any information except that me and Utsha were supposed to wait for the crazy old man to arrive.
And after what seemed like a few weeks, the crazy old man finally did arrive. Utsha and I were inhaling dab fumes from a clay pipe heated by one of Gloob’s tiny blowtorches we found in his lab.
While we were smoking, I noticed all our smoke gathering together in one corner of the room. Utsha elbowed me and pointed at it. “Look it’s happening again! I think we can crossover to our home planet.” There was a bright flash and a loud crack, then the crazy old bastard appeared in Gloob’s hut. The hobo who had given me the Pyramid. He was fighting off a very pissed off Samin, trying with all his might to keep her from clawing his eyes out. “Samin calm the fuck down!” I yelled. She stopped and looked at me and Utsha. Then gaped around the hut looking confused. “How the hell did I get here?” The old hobo let go of Samin and then sat down in the corner. He pulled out my pipe and pyramid from his pockets and threw them on the floor. “I was in your friend’s room. Looking for the door and key,” he said, pointing at the pipe and pyramid. “Some mercenaries came sniffing after, I don’t know how they found out I was there. I was about to bolt from your place then this young lady attacked me from behind. Where is Gloob, by the way? Have you lot been dipped in the green ooze yet?” He paused to look around for Gloob, who emerged from the next room with some more dab and creamy soup. “I was just making essential nutrients for our friends here. Aah, who is this young lady. Pleasure to meet your acquaintance.” Gloob had offered Samin a tentacle, I’m guessing he was trying to mimic a human handshake. Samin stared at him for a second then fainted. “Off to the ooze tubes with her,” said the pyramid man. “I had hoped that the females of the race would be more accepting of other species. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said Gloob. Even his sighs sounded gravelly.
Gloob wrapped one of his many tentacles around Samin’s waist and carried her body too the ooze room. I dreaded the moment she’d come to her senses. I turned to the pyramid man. “You owe us and explanation. What’s your name? How did we get here? What’s going on? And most importantly, who the fuck are you and what do you want with me?”
“Sheesh. I was almost killed by your ghastly girlfriend. Let me settle down first. Is that some dab I see? You already have Gloob making dabs for you? I couldn’t get him to do that in ages. He must really like you guys.”
Utsha was about to offer the man some dab but I slapped his hands away. “No, no smoking up. No vanishing acts. Tell us what’s going on RIGHT FUCKING NOW!” I screamed. I could feel one of the veins in my temples throbbing violently.
“Very well,” sighed the old hobo. “I don’t know where to begin, it’s such a long and complex story. I suppose I should start with my name. I am called Risalat. I used to have a last name but I seemed to have forgotten what it is. I am the only Risalat who has a pyramid, therefore I have no need for last names.” He paused and sat down on the floor. “I am a record-keeper of sorts, for the Chief of Lorpens. They are a highly advanced and ancient alien race. I was charged to brief you on a super secret mission from my Lorpen boss. The pyramids are a door of sorts, to certain places that have landing facilities for the portals. Like in this planet. Or on Earth.” He paused and turned around, Gloob had shuffled into the room. He offered us all a bowl of creamy white liquid. Risalat took a deep swig from his bowl and kissed one of Gloob’s tentacles. “Good to see you, old friend,” he said to Gloob. His voice was filled with affection. “You were telling us a story, old man.” Utsha said, handing him his clay pipe. Risalat took a long drag and pointed at the first pipe he had given me in a seedy bar in Kakrail. The one with moving patterns. “That right there, needs to be handled very carefully. If you smoke from that you’re going to open up a portal within three feet of your pyramid. It’s a security feature I thought you might enjoy. I suggested it when it was being built.”
“Suggest it to whom? Who builds these things?”
“Eranpi, Chief of the Lorpens and Supreme Authority of the Tradium. Also one of the most revered scientists in the universe. You should see some of the stuff he’s working on right now. I’m not allowed to talk about them, but let me tell you it boggles the mind.”
“Why me? Why not some scientist who has better understanding of this stuff?” I asked curiously. It was a question that had been bugging me for quite some time.
“Eranpi, Chief of the Lorpens and Supreme Authority of the Tradium has no need for Earth scientists. Their science is way beyond what humans will ever achieve. You have been picked because of reasons known to Eranpi himself. He will explain to you in person once we reach the Lorpen citadel.”
“What’s the mission you wanted to brief us on? And how do we know this Lorpen emperor of yours isn’t going to put us up in a zoo, or do horrific experiments on us?”
“Well firstly, I was supposed to brief just you. Your stupid friends hitched a ride anyway. The Lorpen home planet Grochma is in grievous danger from terrorists. The very people who have sent mercenaries after me, while I was looking for the pyramid and the key in your room. Eranpi and a bunch of others escaped their home planet to evade persecution. He wants his people to know that was wrongfully judged; and that Melkraph, the Supreme ruler of Grochma, is a vile self-serving dictator who is leading Grochma to sure destruction.”
“And how am I supposed to help with that? Even if all your crazy alien shit is true, I’m no military expert. Zero experience in warfare, that too inter-planetary warfare between aliens.”
“Eranpi doesn’t need your help with the war. There is no war, as of yet. He needs your help preventing one. He wants you to craft an advertising campaign to get his message across to his people.”
“You’re shitting me.” I had seen some pretty incredible stuff in the past couple of days, but I still found it hard to believe that alien race would hire me for an advertising campaign. Gloob being able to squirt drugs out of his tentacles was one thing, but this was by far the most ridiculous shit I had heard in my lifetime.
“Earth has much more seasoned advertisers and publicists with experience working for governments and warlords. I am an amateur compared to those guys. And aren’t there advertisers on his planet? Why does have to hire an Earthling?”
“I have offered Eranpi 10,000 options from three different planets. You are the one he picked. If you want to know why, you have to ask him yourself,” shrugged Risalat.
“She’ll wake up in a few seconds.” Gloob pointed at Samin’s room. “I should go speak to her. She might throw another shit-fit if she wakes up and sees Gloob,” I said. “I’ll come with you. She might feel better if she sees my manly handsome face,” said Utsha. “Sure, be my guest,” I said drily. We walked up to the room where she was hibernating in one of Gloob’s ooze tanks. “How do we get her out?” I yelled. “There’s a small lever next to the tub, pull on it.” Gloob yelled back in his gravelly voice. I pulled on the lever and the contents of the tub spilled all over the floor, including Samin in it. “I think she might require mouth to mouth,” Utsha said enthusiastically. “No, she most certainly doesn’t. Trust me, you don’t want her to wake up and find you’re kissing her.”
“Where am I?” Samin stirred weakly.
“You’re safe, don’t worry.” Utsha piped in eagerly.
I shot him a dirty look. There was a time and place for everything.
“Samin, you’re safe don’t worry. What I am about to tell you is going to knock your socks off so brace yourself. You have been transported to another planter via portal of some sort. The crazy homeless guy you attacked in my room is the one who is responsible for all this. Also, there is a giant blob creature with tentacles in the next room, he can read minds and we have been eating his tentacle juice for the last couple of days. And he can make dab out of thin air. Really good dab.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, where am I?” Samin looked around. I could sense her confusion. She had woken up hammered before, but it was always a familiar setting. Gloob’s hut on planet 42b was other-worldy. Everything was made out of the red clay like substance Gloob used to build things. Some of the objects in his house whizzed and whistled and blew smoke at will. Through the windows you could see a clear azure sky with uncountable suns. It was an eerie sight. A lot to take in.
“I’m serious, Samin. Just try not to freak out, ok?” I gave her a hand and helped her on her feet.
“I need a glass of water. I haven’t drank water in a week.”
Utsha ran out of the room like a speeding bullet, he was back with a bowl full of water. Samin drained it. “So, what’s this place again? Last thing I remember was in your apartment. Your neighbour said you hadn’t checked back in a week. I used the spare key you gave me to get inside, found a crazy homeless guy rummaging through your shit. When I asked him what he was doing he tried to run away, I grabbed him. I had him in a chokehold, then a bunch of people wearing masks broke into your room. Threatened me not move. Next thing I remember is being sucked into some kind of vortex. And then….” Samin paused to shiver. Utsha offered Samin his shawl. She wrapped it around her shoulders. “And then I was hallucinating, I saw this horrible tentacle monster covered in boils, trying to shake my hand. That’s the last thing I remember.”
“Well, I hate to break it to you. But the tentacle monster is very much real. He’s in the next room. And stop calling him names because he can read minds. Plus he’s a chill guy, he’s been keeping us fed an safe while we were stranded in this planet. Try not to faint or swear at him. He’s kind of sensitive.”
Samin walked out of the room gingerly, and met Gloob. He was holding a clay bowl full of Gloob’s essential nutrients.
“Hello!” Said Gloob in his gravelly voice.
Samin took his tentacle and shaked it without flinching and said “Hi, pleased to meet you!”
Gloob’s eyes glowed and dimmed. I sighed a breath of relief.
“If we’re done with the pleasantries, I would like to get going. After I dump you guys at the citadel I’m done with this stupid job,” yelled the hobo from outside the hut. I walked outside and offered him a little dab on a clay pipe.
“Let’s say I agree to do this. Hypothetically speaking, how would I get back home?” I asked Risalat the Hobo.
“It’s interesting how you only asked about yourself. You can use your pyramid and your glass pipe key to get back home. Don’t leave those lying around next time.”
I smirked at the man. Did he expect me to feel guilty for only thinking of myself? I patted my pockets and showed him both the pyramid and the pipe were safe and sound. A gust of cold wind blew in from the otherworldly sea and sent shivers down my spine. Planet 42b may have many suns, but they were all pretty far away and incredibly weak.
“Do this really want me to make an ad campaign for them? I mean seriously? This shit sounds absolutely ridiculous,” I said to Risalat, through chattering teeth.
“Well you won’t know unless you actually meet Eranpi, will you? Humans are not the only sentient species capable of lies. Don’t let Gloob fool you.”
“Can’t you speak without riddles?” I was starting to get pissed at him.
Risalat turned his head and looked right at me. His gaze was intense. “You’re not the kind of person who listens without riddles, Maqtoub. You are incredibly inept at spotting the obvious.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I grow tired of talking. I have been alive for far too long for this jibber jabber. I shall be leaving in an hour. Our vessel will be ready at the shores if you wish to join me. I’m now going for a solitary walk. You might want to try that sometimes. Some self-reflection would do you good.” The hobo walked away without another word.
“Fuck off,” I muttered under my breath.
Part IV coming soon!