The Cello Has Its Say (Four Novellas)




Notes from a Confused Alien
I arrived on planet 1222 or “Earth,” as the locals call it, last week, in the middle of their night. I immediately located an establishment that provides sustenance. Although the life forms in the establishment, did not seem to find my façade pleasing to the eye, they did accept that I was one of them, so please tell Zork and Badelbits, “good job.”
I fueled on a substance combination called a “Grand Slam” which consisted of grease, the fried menses of a female earthling, a flat dehydrated wheat substance with a sugary spread, what appeared to be some sort of grease soaked root vegetable and the flesh of a deceased earthling which had been cut into thin strips and fried in its own carcass fat. The meal was accompanied by a hot bean juice which I found to be a stimulant.
I am afraid we overestimated the value of the paper slips with which I was provided. I presented several of them to the servant that served me my fuel and discovered that it wanted more. The fuel cost me ten of the paper slips. When I asked an earthling sitting next to me where I could obtain more of the paper slips, I was told to “get a job.”
I returned to the craft and disassembled it and buried the pieces as per your instructions. I found the weather to be quite cold and located a shelter called, Motel 6. The earthling behind the desk charged me sixty-five paper slips (they are called dollars.) for a pod which it called a room. It also insisted that I give it 100 additional dollars to “hold” for as long as I inhabited the pod. I am not sure what value there was in holding the dollars. I can only speculate that there may be some joy found in the fondling of the such.
I asked the creature where I could find a job and it said something about Craigslist. I asked him where I would find this list and he told me, the internet. I did not wish to appear uninformed and so I decided to go searching for this internet in the morning.
I found my pod to be sufficient. The resting pad was made from a primitively constructed foam and there was a small extra room that contained a bin with two knobs that dispensed water. There was also a larger bin with a drainage system and a sprinkler at the top of it. There was a bar of scented fat that came wrapped in vegetation carcass. I determined that this was for cleansing as the fat lathered when I rubbed it in my hands and appeared to clean them. I washed my facade in the larger bin and found the smell of the fat bar quite pleasing and relaxing.
I counted my dollars and found that I had 2000. I had already used 85 and given 100 away. I realized my $100 might not be returned if the front desk earthling decided it liked holding them. I would need to obtain a job soon. I assumed a job was a device that created paper slips.
There was a box facing the bed that resembled a command post. I attempted to turn it on with my mind, but it did not work. Instead, I located a control that looks much like the kind used for locating a space ship. I pressed the on button and a film began to play.
There was one earthling standing in front of a group of other earthlings. From what I could surmise the creature standing in front of the room was a male and the group of individuals he was about to address were females. The camera kept panning from the male to the females and then back to the male. Some of the females appeared to be sweating from their eyes. The male said one of their names and everyone gasped, and some sort of audial signal played in the background. The female stepped forward and the male presented her with some vegetation.
The male proceeded to present vegetation to several other females. Some of the females did not receive vegetation and spoke of their bitter disappointment. From what I was able to infer, the vegetation contained some sort of protein or nutrient lacking in the planets diet.
I fell asleep to the sound of one of the females whaling about not receiving the vegetation in the back of what appeared to be a crudely designed ship.
The next morning, I put on my earth uniform and headed out of the pod. I walked until I arrived at a stand that dispensed bean juice. While I was there, I asked the earthling who poured it for me for directions to the internet. It made a strange noise and told me to go across the road to a place called the library, where they would be able to help me.
I arrived at the library where a female earthling pointed out a small box in the corner which would take me to the internet. The box appeared to be some sort of particle transporter and I pushed the on button and stood in front of it screaming, “Craigslist,” but nothing happened.
The creature returned and told me that they did not have Google Voice. She pushed a button and a screen came up that looked exactly like pictures I have seen of the “knowledge Expressway” that existed on Gorbong a hundred years ago. She typed the word Craigslist into the top bar and a list of various subjects appeared. I selected the one that said jobs.
“Wait, those jobs are in San Francisco,” the creature insisted. She clicked on a link that said Los Angeles. Now all you do is choose what kind of a job you’re interested in and click on it. If you want to know if a job is near you, you can look on Google Earth.”
“What is Google Earth?” I asked.
“Google is a search engine and Earth is the planet you are on,” a creature standing next to us said. He made a strange noise after he spoke.
I began to search for a job. I was hoping to find an inexpensive one, or maybe just a used one. The jobs were divided into categories. I didn’t understand why they would be divided as such, but I did not want to blow my cover. I began looking under a category called “customer service.” I clicked on an ad that said, “911 Emergency Operator Trainee.” The advertisement asked if I wanted to help people and make a difference every day.” I assumed this job machine could produce a lot of dollars. It said to email my resume via Craigslist.
I wondered what that last sentence meant. I decided I would have to ask around to learn more earthling language. I was loathed to ask the earthling who had helped me locate the machine, as it seemed rather suspicious of me.
I began walking around the planet to see what I could find out about these creatures. As I walked through the streets, I noticed that they each seemed to be carrying a small monitor. They stared at the monitor almost constantly as they walked, sat or took nourishment. They seemed to have some sort of emotional relationship with the monitor. They would often make gestures or make exclamations at the tiny screens. I looked around at the ships that rolled by and I noticed the earthlings operating them were also looking at these monitors. I assume that the creatures were getting some sort of instructions from their commanders on the device. I decided to look in to obtaining a monitor of my own.
I eventually found a large building to which many earthlings gravitated on foot and by ship. The ships here are very simply designed and remind me a bit of the ships I have seen in my historical memory log. They did not seem capable of any kind of levitation. The other odd thing I noticed was that the ships all seemed to simply be for getting around the planet, but they contained only the captain. Apparently, each earthling has its own personal ship.
I entered the building to find dozens of earthlings milling about. Several packs of cubs traveled together. They squawked and made threatening faces when they saw me. They all had personal monitors and starred into them with amusement and fascination. One of them held her device up to my face for a nanosecond and squawked hysterically afterword.
The building was full of small, transparent pods. Many of the pods contained element protectors of various colors and sizes. Many of the protectors did not look like they would cover much of an earthling’s body. Apparently, the government of this planet does not issue protectors, one must buy them.
I walked into one of the pods and a servant earthling approached me.
“Hi there, size ten?”
“Size ten,” I said bowing. I assumed that it was some sort of acknowledgement.
“You know what would be really pretty on you, is some of our pastel collection. I have a really cute pants set in a ten.”
It told me that it’s name was Grace and handed me several protectors and sent me to a small pod where it instructed me to try them on. I went into the pod and made sure they fit on my façade. There was a reflective device in the pod. It had a curved shape.
“Hello, do you need any help in there?” I heard Grace say.
I was not sure what it meant, exactly. I assumed it thought I was not capable of dressing myself.
“I do not require assistance,” I said.
I stepped out of the small pod in the new protector.
“Oh, my God, that is really cute on you. I have these clip-ons that would be perfect with that. Let me go grab them.”
It ran off and returned with two small objects made from a hard mineral. It handed them to me. I regarded them with curiosity.
“You can try them on if you want,” It said touching it’s own hearing receptacles. I gathered the objects were designed to enhance to one’s hearing.
I attempted to attach them to the openings of my receptacles, but she gave me an odd look and said they should be hanging from the lobes. I attached them to the lobes and felt confused. The devices seemed to weigh my receptacles down; they did not improve my hearing.
“How do you like them?”
“I don’t think I shall require them,” I said noticing that they did not make my audio reception any better.
I followed it to a counter where it put some digits into the machine that calculates how many dollars one owes.
“So, do you have any fun plans for the weekend,” Grace asked.
I wasn’t sure what fun meant, but I thought it might be an opportunity to probe this earthling for information.
I don’t have fun plans this weekend I said. Do you have fun plans this weekend? Well, my boyfriend and I are going to this gin festival thing in Santa Barbara. Have you been to a gin festival?
“I haven’t. What does one do at such a festival?
“You just, you know …drink Martinis and listen to music.”
I made a mental note to obtain one of these martinis and consume it.
“They have a band there called the Mojabones that I like,” Grace said.
“I wish you good luck on your mission,” I said.
Thanks,” it said. She charged me $200 for the four protector sets I had chosen.
“Do you have any jobs here,” I asked wondering if they might also sell the devices.
“Um, we don’t have any right now,” it said.
“Do you know anywhere in this place where I could get one?”
“I think Sunglass Hut is hiring.”
“What is their location?”
“On the second floor.”
It handed me the bag of protectors and thanked me.
I headed upstairs on a moving staircase. I am not complaining, but it is terribly slow and inconvenient not to be able to simply launch myself from place to place.
I located the establishment of which Grace had spoken. It was a small pod in the middle of the walkway. As I approached it, I noticed that the only thing on display were shields for one’s visionary receptacles. I approached the pod, assuming that the jobs were simply located in the back area.
“Hey, how’s it going,” the young servant earthling behind the counter asked.
“Size 10, “I said.
It gave me a strange look and asked how it could be of assistance.
“Yes, I’d like a job please.”
“Um, were not hiring right now.”
I wondered what hiring meant.
“Oh, I was told that you had some jobs here.”
“No, sorry. I know that Pinnacle Research is hiring, you may want to try there.”
The earthling instructed me to go to the third floor to find the establishment where they were alleged to have jobs in stock.
I rode the moving staircase to the third floor and located a large pod that had the name Pinnacle Research on it. I entered to find a female earthling sitting behind a desk.
“Size ten,” I said.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes, I would like a job please.”
“Okay, let me get you an application. It handed me a form. “
Fill this out and come back tomorrow at 9:00 am for a group interview.”
I returned to my pod at the Motel 6 and puzzled over the form. I felt a grumbling in my abdominal region, and I looked around for a tablet. Then I remembered that my façade required earthling nourishment. I was about to head over to Denny’s, when I heard a small squeak behind me.
I turned to find a tiny, but very attractive creature standing there. It couldn’t have been more than a few centimeters tall and he couldn’t have weighed more than a couple of ounces. It had impressively large hearing receptacles and a long and pink olfactory sensor that looked like it must be very efficient. He had an extensive tail that looked quite strong.
“Size Ten,” I said.
“Um, you mean am I a size ten,” the creature inquired.
“I um, just meant, um can I help you, ma’am?”
“I’m actually a sir,” it said.
“Oh, I apologize,” I said with a respectful bow.
“It’s okay. So, uh what planet are you from anyway?”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” I said. I began slowly making my way towards the desk where I had stored my Zorptron 12000.
“I saw you land your ship last night. My family and I stay in the hollowed-out log right near where you landed.”
“You have mistaken me for someone else,” I said reaching into the desk for the tiny tool.
“Look, I know it was definitely you, I…”
With this I pulled out the Zorptron and began shooting at him. He darted under the bed and I ducked down and looked for him. It was very dark, so I turned on my beams. When I saw him, I attempted to shoot again but he leapt onto the underside of the bed.
“Look, calm down, lady. I don’t want to hurt you. I come in peace. I ‘m not going to tell anyone what I saw. Please, put that thing down.”
I set the tool on the desk and he poked his head out from under the bed.
“Can I come out?”
I nodded and he slowly crept back into the room.
“My, name is EEK Ebson, what is yours?
“My name is Sally Smith.”
“Come on, sister, what’s your real name?
“That is my real name.”
He just looked at me.
“It’s Zoup Frostbite.”
“What planet are you from?”
“I’m from Gorbong. It’s not in this galaxy.”
“I see. “
“How about you? Where are you from?”
“From here.”
“You’re an earthling?”
“How come you’re so physically dissimilar?”
“What do you mean? I look pretty similar to everyone else in my family.”.
“Well, I mean all the other earthlings I have seen look like this façade I am wearing. They have been tall and walk on two feet. Their bodies are largely furless. They have unsymmetrical faces and they move around quite slowly. They have tiny hearing receptacles and olfactory sensors that are not particularly powerful. Their heads are large, but their eyes are small and many of them cover their eyes with transparent shields. You are small, fast and agile.”
“Right, we’re different species. They’re humans and I’m a rat.”
“I see. That’s very interesting. So, I take it you have a different function on earth than a human would?”
“Yeah, our function is to try to take care of our families and their job is to try to kill us by beating us to death or poisoning us or luring us into traps with little pieces of cheese.”
“That’s ghastly,” I said, wondering what cheese was. “Why would they want to do something like that?”
“Well, ya see they consider us pest. I mean they basically built their houses and office buildings right on top of where our homes were. If we didn’t leave voluntarily, they would try to kill us. They killed all the vegetation we used to eat, so we had to resort to stealing food from them.”
“So, why don’t you retaliate?”
“Well, they have all the power on this planet.”
“But, why and how did such weak creatures come to take control of an entire planet?”
“Well, ya see in spite of all their other flaws, humans have one thing that other species don’t; opposable thumbs. “
“What are opposable thumbs?”
“That stubby digit on your hand there.”
“Really, what good are these things?”
“They can open doors and cans of food and dumpster lids. They can pick you up they can kill you. Everything in this stupid world is designed by and for the opposably thumbed,” EEK asserted.
I wanted to ask him more, but I could see he was getting all worked up.
“I was just headed out to Denny’s, would you like me to bring you anything?”
“Look, since you’re going out, how about getting a pizza. I mean you could bring it back to the room and we could share it. “
EEK directed me to a pizza parlor that was about 500 earth centimeters away. There were two humans standing in the back conversing when I arrived at Penoli’s Pizza Parlor. The tall thin human greeted me as I walked up to the counter.
“Hey, how ya doin’?”
“Hey,” I said. (I am never going to master the art of greetings on this planet.)
“What can I do for you?”
“I should like a pizza.”
“Okay, what kind of pizza should you like?
“What kinds do you have?”
It rolled its eyes and handed me a piece of paper with various pictures on it.
One picture was of a flat circular item with fungus growing on it. Another one had discs of earthling flesh on it. Another had a combination of bright green and purple vegetation. I chose it and ordered a large as there were two of us.
“What to drink?” the earthling asked.
“Um, two martinis please.”
“We, don’t serve martini’s here ma’am. There is a liquor store a block away. Your pizza is gonna take about 20 minutes……

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