By Floyd Looney
Nobody had ever dreamed anything so fantastic. No science fiction writer had ever dared to open their minds to this possibility. It happened nevertheless.
The Instant Launch Drive allowed humans to pop out of normal space and pop back anywhere, even in other galaxies. It was a shocking development. The cost of space travel was now almost nothing and Earth was soon abandoned.
We all got our own planets!
Yep. They deliver mail here and everything, the kids even get picked up by the school bus in the morning. Okay, not morning for everyone since we all live in different time zones on our planets. Some worlds even have two Suns and don’t get to see the dark much. Anyways, it is like a little bit of the suburbs on our own 36 billion acres. Oh and private school, of course, think I’m nuts or something?
No zoning laws and no pesky, evil Home Owners Association!
So there I was. Sitting on 844 West Park, that’s my planets name and its address with the Inter-Galactic Postal Federation. I don’t have any kids and my wife is always working for the Andromeda Christian Association. It’s a busy job but at least she comes home every day, like I have mentioned it’s a short commute.
Well, still I get bored. I am a writer but sometimes there is just nothing to write about, especially when your life is almost perfect. Whose life isn’t perfect these days?
Just doddering around the house one day I found a catalogue, obviously delivered by the punctual postal-bot. It was all about pets! Pets from twenty million worlds, just scanning through it would take lifetimes. This was going to take a while.
After just a few minutes the catalogue blinked, it accessed my bio and told me that my world and my bio suggested I would be perfect for a pet Gort.
A gort? What is a gort? I asked. I consulted the e-catalogue from InterGalactic PetMax Corporation.
Up on the screen popped the picture of possibly the cutest little animal I had ever seen. It had reptilian scales, in reddish and bluish hues on its forehead, six legs and the bottom of its thick tail. On the top of the tail, back and a mane around its neck it had thick orange fur.
Originally found on Planet 323 Aurora
Sweet natured hybrid of mammal and reptile (as far as can be determined) makes a wonderful pet for those living in temperate climates on blue-green planets.
Like I said I was bored and the video of the people playing with their gorts, they seemed intelligent, had me sold. I sent off my digi-cash and expected that within two days I would be the proud new owner of a baby gort.
I was very excited.
I had no inkling that there might be some kind of problem coming.
Maybe I should have at least done a search on the Inter-Galactic Information Exchange, I suppose. Hindsight is at least 20/20, the old saying goes, but a little foresight at the time would have been helpful.
Then one day the doorbell rang and I found a box on the doorstep, out front I saw a postal-bot blink out of regular space and time. I picked up the box, noticing the tiny air recirculation unit blinking away in the green, and carried it inside.
I sat it on the dining room table and pulled off the attached booklet that was titled ‘Proper Care & Feeding of a Gort’. I looked at it a moment and tossed it on the table and tore into opening the box from the top. It wasn’t exactly made of cardboard so I found the hinge and opened it up, finding a very happy-looking baby gort looking up at me.
“Hi” I said lifting him up in my hands. “Who is your new daddy?”
Okay, I admit to talking baby talk. The gort was that adorable and he wagged his tail and hopped up and down and tried to lick me. I almost forgot it wasn’t a strange looking dog for a moment before I taught it to play fetch.
As a matter of fact I almost forgot that I hadn’t mentioned a new pet to my wife, I resolved to break it to her when she got home from her job. Meanwhile I had to find the booklet and see what kind of food the gort would eat. I hope it was something we had on this planet.
I opened up the first few pages of Proper Care & Feeding of a Gort and found the table of contents. Scanning down the list I found that there were several categories, but I skipped to the part about feeding baby gorts.
Baby Gort – nutrition
Baby Gorts need proper nourishment to maintain a healthy, normal life. The first thing a baby gort should want as food, upon delivery by us, is vita-biscuits. Vita-Biscuits happen to be the most common food in the universe because it comes standard in survival packs aboard every spaceship ever produced.
Vita-Biscuits, something everyone has, why this could be the beginning of a perfect friendship.
I fed the gort several of them before the wife got home. I had hidden him in another room of the house but the moment she saw my goofy grin she knew something was up. I couldn’t hold it in, I simply told her the whole story. She looked at me as if I had lost my marbles, so I got defensive and laid down the law.
Well, technically, I really am the man in the house. I might have said it in a way that upset my wife because she very quickly had zipped to her mothers’ home world.
Well, I still had my gort, my cute, lovable gort. I knew my wife would come home in a few days, she always came home. She knew I often said stupid things, but she would forgive me like she always did. Besides, if she was gone long enough to get me worried, it’d only take seconds to be knocking on the Mom-in-law’s door.
Anyway, I was busy. I had to give my gort a name. It had to be something that really worked, something new and different. Nothing came to mind. Dang, where did my writing abilities run away to?
Before I had even entered the room where I had secured my gort I knew there was something different going on. I heard gort noises. Multiple gort noises! I entered the room to find four gorts sitting in the floor looking up at me. Cool. Weird.
Those were the first two thoughts that entered my mind. I had no idea at the time how not cool this was at the time and how very very weird this definitely was.
Finding the booklet again I found the ‘table of contents’ again. I turned the pages until I found “reproduction” and read on.
Gorts are an asexual species. This means they can reproduce without sex. That means it takes only one gort to have baby gorts. Gorts of any age can make baby gorts, usually in threes and usually because they are being fed something they should not be eating. The list is very long (see our website for details) but the most common are tulips, strawberries and ice cream.
Ah, after a search of the house I noticed that tulips were missing from the front and side gardens, this probably happened while we were playing fetch. Well this wasn’t that big a problem, I can deal with having four gorts. Four gorts is just four times the cuteness and four times the playing and four times more interesting.
People can be stupid about their pets. Boy, can we ever.
So I took them outside to play and every time I threw a stick they would fall all over each other trying to pick them up. Piled up gorts are very cute, by the way.
The next morning I noticed that the four gorts were a lot bigger than they had been and I found the booklet that had come with the box once more. According to the Proper Care & Feeding of Gorts booklet, scrolling through to page 44 paragraph 7 I found this tidbit.
Full disclosure requires InterGalactic PetMax Corporation to state that on certain planets with very rich soils, the gort can consume the soil itself. In this situation the gorts might grow astoundingly quick, Compound TTaC interacts with the gort metabolism and produces some unpredictable side effects.
Well, that certainly might be something to put near the front don’t you think? It is always possible that it was a very rare occurrence I guess. I doubted they would deliberately hide such information in the footnotes if it was really common.
By the end of the day those four large gorts had become twenty gorts and the babies would certainly be ginormous by tomorrow. This was not going to be easy, I guess I would just lock them up inside to keep them from absorbing from the soil. When my wife said I had made a rash decision without consulting her, she probably had no idea how right she was.
They dug through the floor. When I awoke and looked outside my beautiful landscape was marred by the sight of a herd of gorts. They had gotten huge, they also weren’t too cute any more. They looked like dinosaurs with fur on top and they were apparently eating the dirt. They were literally eating the planet that was my home.
I was very alarmed. The bottom floor of the house had no floor and entire walls were open to the outside. I decided to get on the Information Exchange and find out about gort infestations and how far this might go.
The results made me wish I hadn’t looked.
There were dozens of news articles and websites about planets having to be evacuated and placed in quarantine because of gorts. The InterGalactic Legislative Assembly was considering a ban on their sale and delivery by the InterGalactic Postal Federation.
My wife would not be happy. I skimmed through the Exchange, looking for any way to stop the gorts from destroying my home planet. Finally I found out that their only natural predator were the Eagle Wasps. So I found the original catalogue and looked them up.
They looked vicious. The entry said they hunted in groups and could kill gorts by attacking them with their talons. At that moment one wing of the house collapsed as several gorts ran right through the bottom of it. I was intent, I would order some of these Eagle Wasps and save my home planet and then I would show my wife I could fix my mistakes.
I sent the order. They were three times more expensive than the gort had been. I awoke the next day to find that my second floor bedroom was basically a house on stilts. The herd had more than trebled in size from what I saw, there was no grass in sight anywhere, just rocks and dirt, it looked like a crater.
The Postal-bot paid no attention to the devastation as he dropped off the package. I opened it eagerly after flinging the booklet on top of it. Three sets of eyes looked up at me and one of them made a loud squawking noise. I dumped them out on my bed and they looked around and stretched their wings.
I asked myself how these little things could possibly match or eat one of those big gorts rampaging over my planet? I frantically found the e-booklet and typed in feeding baby Eagle Wasps.
The first thing you should feed a baby Eagle Wasp should you want them to grow into mighty gort hunters is honey and vita-biscuits. Wearily I was able to mix them up into a paste and then I opened the windows, you could hear the lumbering herds, they stretched for miles into the distance.
I noted no growth in the Eagle Wasps before I fell asleep. When I woke up they were gone and I looked out the window. Flying creatures the size of passenger aircraft were swooping down and grabbing the huge orange-purplish gorts in their talons and flying off with them. Somehow there seemed to be six of these flying creatures.
I checked the booklet. Yep, they came from the same planet as the gort and they were also asexual reproducers. Their reproduction rate would depend on the availability of their foodstuff. Well, they had plenty of that. I reckoned the largest of the gorts weighed at least 3 and half tons by now.
The following day I was able to discern that there were somehow gorts and Eagle Wasps covering a big swath of my home planet. The gorts were still growing in size and numbers as were the Eagle Wasps. This was not going well, I needed to find more information if I was going to save the planet.
The InterGalactic Information Exchange soon provided the information I needed, it seems that while Eagle Wasps preyed on gorts they were intelligent enough to allow gorts to reproduce so that their food never ran out. What I needed was Grabweed. Grabweed grew on several worlds and apparently was a giant green vine than snapped up gorts and other prey and grew larger and larger.
1 week later.
I need a fresh approach to solving this problem. Most of the planet was now covered by giant vines and the entire eco-system now consisted of almost nothing but the vines, gorts and Eagle Wasps. That is when I received a message from the InterGalactic Investment Conglomerate, which was almost deleted as junk mail. The subject line is what got me to open it up and read.
Your gort problem can be solved!
Turns out the IGIC owns the IG PetMax Corporation. Funny how that works out, it seems they want to offer me “alien population control measures”. I looked at the list aghast. Everything from poison gas, robot flame throwers to nuclear strikes was stated, with a price. For the premium level, they offered to send an army to take care of them problem.
I’d have to mortgage my planet to afford that. How much would it be worth now anyway in this condition? I’d have to go all out. No half measures this time, being wimpy is just going to make the problem worse.
The next day as tanks and aircraft and armored-clad mercenaries appeared all over the planet I wondered if I could ever explain this to my wife. She had sent messages and I had tried to answer them without letting on what was going on. Apparently she had also gotten the idea that I didn’t want her to come back yet.
I put my face in my palms. How had this happened? How could it have possibly gotten to this point, so out of hand?
I heard explosions and yells. The army was falling back. The officer in charge ran up to me, out of breath.
“We have a problem. We’ve destroyed much of the vine using X-Ray bombs but this has caused the Eagle Wasps to mutate. We’re not sure if we can hang on much longer, I need your permission to nuke their nesting sites”.
I nodded and buried my face again. Oh man.
The next day they finally had gotten a handle on the aliens. I still had no idea how to explain to my wife that I had mortgaged the planet, destroyed large portions of it so that it might become uninhabitable.
The payments were going to shackle my great grand kids. Geesh!
If I ever have kids, now that I think about it, which is not a sure thing, face it, at this point.
A few days later it was more or less over. I paid a company to reseed the forests and restock the lakes with fish. At least I could repair part of this continent and rebuild the house. It looked almost normal when my wife finally came home. She was still a little distant but at least we were making progress.
My writing was going better too. I was writing an erotic time traveling war-romance novel, those mercenaries were a big inspiration and dissolved my writers block. If the story sold well, I might even be able to repair the rest of the planet and pay off the mortgage. Maybe.
I hadn’t noticed the cage she carried into the house. It looked nearly identical to the old house, even the furnishing and paint.
“Honey what is that?” pointing at the green ferret-looking thing that was staring at me, hungrily.
“Isn’t he cute? My mom bought me a pet to cheer me up. I mean I was away for a month, wasn’t I? He’s called a zert”
Zert: All zerts are born pregnant as their entire species is considered female. The species had a peculiar penchant to destroy and kill anything giving off masculine hormones. They are furry and cute when they are young but within several months they begin their growth spurt and become as large as tigers.
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