TITLE: A Brief Encounter
By Clyde Blakely
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<I>I’ve never been in this solar system before. There’s an interesting planet…blue! This needs a closer look. </I>
“Hmmm, sensors show quite a variety of life with several large concentrations, particularly besides seas. I think I’ll beam down to this one by a bay. Good, they have buildings and, yes, life forms inside. That’s where I’ll go. I’ll stay cloaked until I know it’s okay.”
<I>Fizzle, fizzle, crack, crack, beam, beam
Interesting variety of life but they all seem to be some type of fruit and, oh, cannibalistic; the larger more mobile species are eating the smaller ones kept in bowls! Peculiar colors – I recognize red and green grapes and plums but there’s no purple fruit.
I’ve never seen walking, talking fruit before. There appears to be ranks within this species. Some have lettering, just one letter each, and others do not. The lettered beings seem to command more attention. The others address them and shake hands more often. Though no letter seems higher in rank, the “T”, “F”, “L” and others are all greeted the same. Most unusual for a change of command.</I>
Cloaked, he moves though the noisy crowd undetected, consulting the universal translator device for clues as to what’s being said. Finally the device has acquired enough information for him to listen in on conversations.
<I>Interesting, they keep talking about short subjects and laugh. Could they be referring to the small fruit they’re eating? They think this is funny? </I>
The translator device is humming now trying to work those word terms out.
“May I please have all the representatives come to the stage for pictures and assemble in the proper order under the ‘Welcome’ banner,” someone, very loud, says. It seems to be coming from nowhere.
The lettered fruits make their way through the crowd. All others turn facing the stage.
<I>Well, maybe I can figure out what’s going on here now.</I>
One particular being is having difficulty walking straight; it appears there is something wrong with his legs.
“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” A lettered fruit asks in a deep and meaningful way.
“It’s just my underwear riding up and I don’t want to pull them down in front of everyone. They’re really messed up.”
Laughter erupts for those within hearing distance and then spreads throughout the crowd.
Well, that’s a twist in the end, our space traveler thinks.
“Welcome to our first annual convention. Thank you all for dressing appropriately. Let’s give ourselves and our special guests up here a big round of applause!”
Cheers, clapping, and laughter startle our traveler.
<I>None of this is making any sense.</I?
The translator device is now smoking, unable to compute rhyme or reason to the happenings.
<I>Well, I might as well get a picture of this before I beam back out of this confusion.
Maybe Central Command will be able to make sense from the picture. The letters are arranged in words but what do they mean?</I>
<B>F R U I T OF T H E L O O M</B>
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