“A little birdie told me that soon, you’ll be heading to the stars.” Moszkowski flashed a grin.
“He is a star,” said Zeen.
Marley rushed over. “So is Zorgeous over there. Zorgeous, you’ve done a fine job. I’ll wire 50,000 credits to your account.”
Zorgeous looked sad. “I don’t have an account.”
“Then you’ll get it in cold hard cash.”
Zorgeous looked even sadder. Then his middle horn began to pulsate. He seemed to grow smaller. The overhead lights reflected off him with less intensity. Creepily, his shadow seemed to shorten.
“I don’t need cash.” His blue face reddened. “I need to return home.” Zorge was in the Pavlov system, 18 light-years from Crete. Accessible with Hyperdrive Standard C. But of course, their hyperdrive was dead.
“If you take me there, Mr Marley, I have no need of wages.”
“How Zorgeous? This is an inter-system craft. Our hyperdrive is far from functional.”
“It’s not functional at all,” said Gaston Dimble.
“Zorgeous,” Moszkowski walked over, “We need beings like you here. You provide our society with…diversity. You remind us that humans aren’t the centre of the universe.”
“Perhaps the Hierophant was right,” lamented Zorgeous, “And Goramus is the centre of the universe.”
“Goramus?” Fluton looked up from his flablet.
“The capital of Zorge,” interposed Gaston.
“Oh, I’d like to go there.”
“Why?” asked Marley.
“I don’t know. Just do.”
“Where have you been? And I don’t just mean in your sleep.”
“Give it a rest,” said Fluton. “All those sleep jokes.”
“Hahaha, give it a rest. Get it, get it?” Marley jabbed him in the ribs.
“Pun was intended. Anyway, I’ve been to the Bad Ends. And when I was 15-years’-old – that’s 10 years ago – I went to Crete 581C.”
“What did you think?” Zeen was keen to know as a local.
“I’d go again.”
“And do what?”
“Visit the girlie bars.”
“You were doing that when you were 15? Us locals don’t even do that. Especially at 15. Well most of us don’t.”
“They’re really there to attract tourism,” said Moswkowski.
“I heard they just decriminalised every drug known to man and Sirian.”
“Anyway,” said Marley, “What were you doing visiting girlie bars at 15?”
“I found out about them later. I don’t have a girlfriend. Some of them hostesses are waiting for the man of their dreams.”
“And what are you going to give them in return?” Marley folded his arms.
“Just you wait and see.”
“That should be, ‘just you sleep and wait.”
“Well done Marley, your wit is on fire today.”
“I’ll give you a FaceMash.” Marley didn’t know when to stop.
“All right Chuck Marley,” Moszkowksi put his hand on his shoulder, “don’t get cocky. We all have our dreams. These are our most important assets. Without a passion, or a dream, what is worth doing?”
Marley put his hand on Fluton’s shoulder in turn. “I don’t mean to be cocky, Insomniac.”
Fluton went back to tapping on his flablet.
“Why don’t you come with us?”
Fluton stopped tapping without looking up.
Marley refilled his glass. Then he refilled his own and everyone else’s. “A toast! To new adventures.”
“To the Anaconda,” said Gaston.
“The Anaconda,” said everyone in unison.
“Why don’t we go there now?” Zeen jiggled the keys to his craft.
Before anyone could answer, the doorbell to Marley’s room sounded yet again.
“Who could this be? Everyone I know is here.”
Before Marley could look at the screen, Zeen leaped over and pressed the entry button.
The door swung open to reveal the stout frame of proprietor and bartender-in-chief of the Quasar Bar: Garibaldi.
“Now everyone I know definitely is here. Welcome Garibaldi, what a surprise.”
“Call me Gari.”
Marley didn’t think he looked like a Gari. “Come in Gari, make yourself at home. Who is looking after the bar?”
“An AI and a sentient snail.”
Marley didn’t believe him, even if it sounded half-plausible. Garibaldi must have other connections. How else could he pay the rent with such a rag-tag group of customers.
“We’re about to head to the Cretan Eye,” said Zeen.
Marley hadn’t yet made a decision, but decided to go along with Zeen.
“Come on up,” said Marley. “We won’t be here much longer.”
“Who’s we,” Garibaldi said in a gangster-like voice.
“Me and Gaston. And…” Marley looked at Fluton.
Fluton grumbled, “I’ll think about it.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Marley overenthusiastically. He turned to Zeen. “This is very generous of you.”
“How else will you get up there.”
Zeen laughed so hard he wheezed.
“Zeen Crawdex, try not to be an elitist.”
“You sound just like my teacher, Professor Moszkowski.”
“You never know, I may will be again.” Moszkowski waggled his finger.
“Then let’s go. We’ll continue the party at the Eye!”