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Back to Small Galaxy (a Serialized Web Novel)
Posted: 12/1/2010 11:17
Last Updated: 1/1/2011 1:17

Chapter 4: The Morning

Bacon doesn't fix things, but it can be a comfort.

Randall slept deeply that night. Much more deeply than he thought he would. Much more deeply than he had in quite a while. Maybe his brain had just given up on comprehending the universe after a long day. Maybe he just didn't know enough to be stressed out.

Randall awoke to the smell of bacon.

He pulled the blanket over his head. Maybe if he closed his eyes hard enough, he'd fall asleep again and wake back up in a world where the events of the prior day hadn't happened. Sadly the universe did not want to acquiesce to his desires.

Randall pulled himself out of bed and got dressed.

As he walked out into the main area of his apartment, he saw Ruth, now wearing one of his shirts and a pair of his sweat pants, making breakfast in the kitchen. She was wearing a pair of headphones, and dancing around a bit while flipping the bacon. She looked up once she noticed him and pulled out the earbuds.

"Good morning," she smiled. She held up a strip of pork, "Bacon?"

He walked over and took the bacon. Eating it he forced his brain to yet again come to terms with reality. His job really did blow up yesterday. It really was because a girl from outer space crashed a spaceship into it on her attempt to go to a concert. She really was right now, in his kitchen, wearing clothes out of his laundry basket, making bacon.

"Why are you wearing my clothes?" asked Randall, suppressing a yawn.

Ruth cocked her head at him. "Is that seriously your first response? A pretty girl offers you bacon and you ask why she's wearing your clothes? I think you have a defect." She put down the tongs she'd been holding and looked at him. "It's because I had one set of clothes. I wasn't planning on staying on this planet the night, let alone longer."

He sighed and picked up another piece of bacon.

"Sorry, it's just a bit disconcerting," apologized Randall. "Do you have any sort of plan for getting home?" He began to eat the second piece of bacon. Bacon was good. It really did make everything better. On many levels he was sure that if he had enough bacon, he could keep himself from panicking about anything... except maybe heart attacks.

Ruth returned to flipping bacon.

"Well, I've thought about it," she answered. With her freehand she pointed to a small phone like device on the counter. "I've tried using my phone, but I can't get a signal... what I need to do is get somewhere where I can get reception."

Randall picked up the device.

It was small, black, and plastic. Opening it up, there was a simple keypad and screen. Other than the fact that the configuration of keys was a bit weird, it was recognizably a phone. A phone flashing that was flashing "No Signal." It was also a phone he knew that he shouldn't be able to read because the letters were definitely not in any script he'd seen before in his life.

"Why can I read that?" he asked.

Ruth giggled and pulled her hair behind her left ear. On it was a large purple earring. "The translator. I told you I didn't speak English yesterday but someone was a bit of a skeptic." She stuck her tongue out at him. "It makes it so anyone in some radius of the device can understand any language."

Randall nodded in understanding. "How does it work?"

She gave him an odd look. "I have no idea. I work in a music store." With that she removed the last of the bacon from the frying pan and put it on a plate. Turning off the stove, she turned to him and picked up a piece of bacon.

"You're very good at getting me sidetracked," continued Ruth with a wink.

She picked up the plate of bacon and walked into the living room. Putting it down on the coffee table, she sat down and continued to eat. "The problem with my phone is that on a primitive world like this there aren't any satellites. If my ship hadn't blown up, it would have used it's built in systems as a relay..." Ruth made a sad face.

"So what then?" he asked.

Ruth continued to munch on bacon. "Well, what I need to do is find a place I can get reception. If anyone else on the planet has a ship... or at least the comm systems from one... I would just need to get close enough to it to make a call and get a ride out of here. The only problem is that I only know one person who lives on Earth who might be able to help me... and he's a bit far away and I would need help getting there."

"Where is he?" asked Randall.

Ruth shrugged her shoulders together and attempted to give Randall her best puppy dog eyes. In the over-sized shirt and pants it really was a mind numbing effect, and Randall had to fight the urge to do whatever she wanted. Then Ruth smiled... which made it all the more difficult.

"London," she said quietly.

Randall laughed. "Good luck!" He opened the cupboard and pulled out a tin of coffee grounds and a filter. He began to slowly and methodically making his morning coffee. He needed coffee to think. Bacon was good, but coffee... coffee was life blood.

Ruth pouted at him.

He wondered if she had any idea how effective that pout was. Randall was entirely unsure why this woman he'd met less than 24 hours before had somehow gained this much power over him, but there it was. He decided to pull together all of his resolve though and not let her have her way.

This was highly unlikely to work.

"If interstellar traffic is as common as you say, wouldn't there be some other spaceship on this planet you could use to signal home? Wouldn't there be some other way to make a call?" argued Randall. As he poured the water into the top of the coffee maker, he could feel his ability to assemble logical arguments growing.

Ruth flopped on her side on the futon.

"They'd have to give my phone permission to use it," replied Ruth. "If someone doesn't know me, they might not trust me. Aliens living on primitive worlds get really super paranoid. Like tin-foil hat paranoid. Like, survivalist military compound in some remote location secessionist paranoid."

Her pout resolved to a giggle with that last one.

"The good news is that Nick's ship in London already can connect to my phone... so I just need to get in range of it," continued Ruth as she sat back up. "Don't know for sure if it can reach over the Atlantic, but there's a small chance it might work from the east coast of this continent... so... what I'm proposing is... a road trip."

She gave him a hopeful look.

Randall, who had been watching the coffee pot slowly fill, turned to her with a look that clearly and unequivocally communicated a single message. A billboard could not display this message any clearer. That message, if written in twenty foot tall flaming letters would not even hope to be be any more easily communicated than this single look.

The message was simple: You have got to be kidding me.

"Oh, c'mon!" she said in an exasperated tone. "I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but you've got no work obligations - even if it's my fault - and it would be a lot of fun. Come with me on a fun road trip!" She gave him a pleading look.

The problem was, she was right.

Without his job, he really had nothing to do other than sit at home and watch television. He might be out of work for months, and frankly driving across the country might be fun. He hadn't been home to Wisconsin since he took the job either, and it wouldn't be that far out of the way to make a stop. It wasn't as if he didn't have plenty of savings put aside either. The coffee maker had finished filling it's small pot.

As Randall poured himself a cup he shrugged and simply said "Sure, why not."

Ruth jumped up with excitement. "That is so awesome! You have no idea how much fun this is going to be... and I'm going to owe you big time... well, I already sort of owe you big time... but I'll owe you even more!" She crossed the room to him and smiled, "This is going to be so much fun."

Randall sipped his coffee.

"Here's the thing though, we need to solve a particular issue before we do anything or go anywhere," continued Ruth at a rapid pace. Pinching the shoulder of the over-sized T-shirt she was wearing, she gave him a pleading look, "I need to borrow some money to buy some new clothes."

He rolled his eyes at her.

"Oh c'mon, I've got one set of clothes on this planet, and while a skirt like that is great at a concert -- not so much if we're crossing a country this size," she bargained. "It's not like I can just go around wearing your stuff. You're a head taller than I am... and frankly I'll just look silly." With that she stuck out her tongue at him.

"Don't you have any money? You were coming to Earth for a concert," replied Randall

Now it was Ruth's turn to roll her eyes at him. Grabbing her purse she pulled out a small clip of bills. "I was going to London. In England. Part of the United Kingdom." She tossed the stack to him. "These are Pounds. As in Sterling. Not so much useful around here." She stuck her tongue out at him again.

At this point he felt slightly stupid.

Ruth approached him again. "On the drive here I saw that there was both a large chain department store and a cool thrift shop within just a few blocks," she argued. "I can be deliciously ironic and shop at both of them. I'll just pick up a few things and we can hit the road. Seriously, it won't take any time at all."

Randall pulled out his wallet and handed her a few bills.

She smiled at him and bounced over to where her clothes sat piled on the floor. "Thank you so much. This should be more than enough," she said, picking up her clothes. "I'll just get dressed again, go out and buy some stuff... and then we can start getting ready to go." She looked right at Randall, "Seriously, this is going to be a lot of fun."

With that Ruth went into the bathroom to change.

Randall continued to sip his coffee, slowly waking up to full alertness. He had just agreed to take a road trip with an attractive young woman he barely knew, who was from another planet. This was not something that was exactly in his nature, but he genuinely began to feel excited about the prospect.

He also realized he was going to have to pack.

Ruth emerged from the bathroom wearing her clothes from the previous day. She slid her purple rimmed glasses on and sat down on the futon, picking up her boots. "This is going to be awesome, trust me," she said, pulling on one of her boots. "I have the utmost faith that this will be an awesome time."

Randall just sighed, "I already said yes, you don't have to keep selling it."

Ruth scrunched her nose at him. "I'm just excited, okay?" she said, lacing up the boot. "I've never been to anywhere on this planet that isn't a city. I'm going to get to see new stuff, up close, for the first time." She smiled, pulling on the other boot.

"I get it," replied Randall. "I think I do at least."

"Good," punctuated Ruth. She stood up and approached Randall, "I'll be back as soon as possible." She smirked and poked him in the nose, "Don't leave without me."

With that she walked to the front door, opened it, and closed it behind her.

Randall sat down and went back to his coffee.

Trae Dorn
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