The Stars Are Starry and Star-Covered! 3010! BEYOND!

7 Sep

Captain J.K. Stardust drops the reigns of his space horse.

“Whoaaaa, Zignut,” he says to the mechanical cylinder between his legs. The cylinder does not respond. A kid watching nearby snickers, thinking Stardust was kidding, but after Stardust kicks the cylinder with his homemade spurs and whispers to it, the kid stops smiling so much and just goes to tell an adult.

J.K. Stardust, captain of the Interstellar Exploration Response Team ship Big Borderrito© (Sponsored by On The Border!), is calling his day’s work to an end. While most StarSpace-onauts chose to be beamed down from their OTB Tasty Fleet Mothership, Stardust prefers to ride down on his space horse, which he called Zignut.

Stardust’s space horse is a mechanical kind of machine whatever pod that you can ride around in space. Its official title is an Inter-Atmospheric Transport Module.

Stardust walks into the Civic Hall of his moon colony.

“Ah,” Stardust says to himself, breathing deeply the recycled air of the Hall. “Colony, how I love thee. Your name rolls from my tongue and out into the air with the lightness and beautiful twinkling of starshine glistening off the surface of a pond.” He sighed again. “I love thee, Colony Z677512 Beta, Flip Alpha Column.” With this, Stardust smiled, threw off his space helmet, and walked to the Hall’s innermost chambers. His helmet struck the ground loudly. That helmet cost the government $6 million. The fact that nobody caught the Captain’s helmet before it hit the ground means two things: Stardust needs to be fitted for a new, $6 million helmet and that someone just lost their job.

“Hey,” Phil Jigson, the man who just lost his job, says, waving to you, the reader. He’s not very attractive, but he seems nice, most co-workers say. “Not very attractive?” Phil asks. Let’s ignore Phil for now.

Easily ignoring the peon Phil, J.K. Stardust pauses for only a moment as the pneumatic doors whoosh open and he steps into the Hall.

“Captain Stardust,” the Judge says. No one knew the Judge’s true name. There was a time when his name was known by all in the galaxy, but that was hundreds of years ago. Judge is currently being kept alive by an intricate system of cutting-edge biotechnology, almost constant infusions of fresh bodily fluids, and chicken wire.

“Yes, my liege,” Stardust says, kneeling slightly and putting his hand over his eyes. Doing these two motions at the same time throws off Stardust’s balance. He falls over like a sleepy infant. The sound of Stardust’s crumbling frame echoes throughout the enormous hall.

“Yikes,” Magistrate Jazz Feltrus whispers to his clerk, who sits on his right.

“Captain Stardust,” the Judge repeats, his double chin vibrating with the heavy timbre of his voice, like a gigantic waddle or a sleeve made of lunch meat. “You have been brought before this court for behavior unbecoming of an IERT captain. “Would you like your crimes read to you?”

“If I don’t ask for them to be read to me, can we just forget all this happened and move on?” a deafening silence. “As adults,” the Captain adds. “As adults, let’s just forget about all that’s happened and m–”

“Silence!” the Judge screams. “With or without dictation, you will be tried for your crimes.”

The Captain’s face drops. “Fine, read them. There can’t be more than four or five anyway.”

“There are sixteen.”

“Sixteen?!” Stardust exclaims. He begins to run through all the possible crimes he committed while in command of the Borderrito ©. Coming up with a number close to thirty or so, he stops counting and decides that maybe the Judge isn’t so off base. “Sixteen sounds good.”

The Judge begins. At first, the council is audibly appalled by the the charges brought against J.K. Stardust. After a while, though, they get used to it, accepting the fact that Stardust is a man of considerably low moral density and that any indiscretions he commits should not come as a surprise.

At the reading of the eleventh crime, Stardust seems visibly frustrated. “That space donkey was made for beating.” The council stops shuffling through their documents. The Judge stops reading off charges.

“Space donkey?” Judge asks. “That ‘donkey’ is a woman. That was a charge of sexual assault.”

The Captain seems lost. “So the donkey can also file paperwork?”

“No, you sexually assaulted a woman, not a donkey.”

“Oh, my.”

“You didn’t think that was a woman?”

“No, I had no idea.”

Scattered murmurs.

“Honestly,” Stardust began, “I thought I was bonin’ a space donkey.” He smiles, blushing. “Oops!”

“J.K., I’m sorry, but we have no choice but to relieve you of your command of the Big Borderitto©. You’ve brought shame to this council and to this colony and to your own family name. You may leave.”

“What to do?” Stardust thought. “What to do? My life…my life…” He walked slowly down the astro-street, moon dust sitting completely still before him. A moon tumble weed sits completely motionless. There is no oxygen on the moon (other than what’s in the self-contained colony bubbles) and there is no breeze. Stardust remembers this and tosses his “Rainy Day Kite” in a nearby trashcan. It’s in the shape of Buzz Aldrin’s prostate, from which he and all his cohorts were cloned.

An ad hanging from a sign by a shuttle terminal reads “LOOKING FOR EXPERIENCED SPACE MEN.” Stardust is exhilarated with happiness. His eyes looked down a bit further “FOR A FANTASTIC JOURNEY!” A picture of a coy looking, red-headed gentleman was placed beneath this. It seemed exactly like something Stardust would be interested in. He ran his scanner over the ad, checked the address and begin to walk.

He walked to his hover car and then drove to the place.

The building the ad leads him to is a large, monolithic construction. Its spires and sharp angles give it a very strong air of foreboding.

“This place looks like it’s for boating,” Stardust says, clearly misunderstanding the meaning of the word “foreboding.”

Stardust approaches the door. It isn’t pneumatic. Strange. He remembers from his history books that some men had to, in ancient times, push doors open to enter rooms. Until now, he was sure that this was a kind of old wive’s tale used to trick children to go to bed on time. Now he saw that it was no yarn.

Inside the hall sat the coy, red headed gentleman. He was clothed in a large silk robe that covered his entire frame lest his hands and head. That coy, red-head. Coy. Koi.

“You’ve come for the journey!” the red head calls.

“I’d like to hear more about it, yes,” Stardust says.

“It’s a fantastic journey!”

“Yes?”

“To a strange, new world!”

“Yes?” Stardust is starting to get excited. He’s beginning to hope. Could it be that his life amongst the stars wasn’t over?

“A world of ecstasy!”

“Where is this world?!”

“Heaven, dear son.”

Stardust’s shoulders slump. Even though God had formally retired some time in the late 2000’s, some of His followers still clung to his memory and the promises He once offered.

“He’s retired,” Stardust says. “He’s living in New Maine with his wife and dog.”

“Well, He–”

“–And the Heavenly Host.”

“But, you s–”

“–Howie Mandel.”

“Howie Mandel is the Heavenly Host?” the coy red-head, now confused and visibly lost, asks.

“Does it matter?” Stardust shrugs his shoulders, sighs heavily and walks out of the Church.

When he closes the door behind him, he feels that a new journey has begun, whether he likes it or not. Stardust now begins his journey of retirement.

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