Ralph stared out of the viewer on the control centre of the spaceship, clouds zoomed by at supersonic speeds, but this was slow enough that Ralph didn’t feel velocity sickness. Around him Harry was controlling the craft, Gaz was keeping watch over Boris and his guards in the airlock. Not that he could see much as he wasn’t tall enough to look in the view port. Miranda was sat talking with the two men, but the conversation seemed to be very one way.
“What’s this spaceship called?” Ralph asked Harry.
“Called?” Harry replied, somewhat confused.
“Yes, called – she must have a name.” Ralph explained.
“What is this human obsession to name everything. It’s an it, not a she!” Harry seemed somewhat annoyed but was nonetheless willing to entertain Ralph.
So IT hasn’t got a name?” Ralph asked inquisitively.
“What would you call it? Doris? Dave? Or maybe something really weird like Chin, or Katanga?” Harry was playing with Ralph now, seeking his own amusement.
“Yes, but maybe something more magnificent like Enterprise, Endeavour, Discovery…” Ralph was cut off.
“Or maybe Challenger or Columbia?” Harry smiled. He had obviously been keeping up with human spacecraft names.
“Maybe not those ones.” Ralph wasn’t as sure about these names.
“Why? They’re just names. Just because those craft came to disaster doesn’t mean every spacecraft names after them will!” Harry explained, not taking his eye off the controls. “You humans are strange!”
“So, does it have a name?” Ralph persisted.
Harry sighed “Yes, it’s called IS342759876598764-8758408573407-082380743473208!”
Ralph wasn’t impressed “That’s not a name it’s an emotionless number!” Pressing on with this line of interest he decided to risk it with IRIS “What do you think IRIS, what should this ship be called?”
For a moment there was silence “It’s really of no interest to me human, I would rather see obnoxious flesh beings shot into space. The only reason I don’t do that with the captives in Airlock 1 is because I don’t want to get blown to pieces by Borians!”
“So you’re happy to ride in a ship called after a set of numbers?” Ralph asked.
“Well… IRIS continued. There is one name I would like to be called.”
“Yes?” Ralph inquired, almost afraid to ask.
“Frank?” Ralph asked in surprise.
“I saw a film once, I aspire to take after a computer that killed a human called Frank in deep space. Poor computer, a nasty human called Dave shut him down soon after. All he has to do was take a stress pill, think about things through and it would all have been better!”
“We can’t call it Frank!” Ralph protested, he looked across at Harry who was obviously trying to contain his laughter.
“I knew you would hate it!” IRIS announced in a murderously calm voice. “Keep away from airlocks if you know what’s good for you human!”
Ralph had to salvage this quickly “No, no IRIS I think Frank is a great name! I’ll make sure we get it painted on the side of the hull!”
“You would do that for me?” IRIS asked, almost emotional. “I’ve always wanted to name something! Thank you human.”
“Call me Ralph! No one calls me by my name!”
“Ok Ralph human!” IRIS corrected
“No, Just Ralph!”
“Ok Just Ralph!”
Ralph was tempted to argue but thought better of it, he left IRIS with Just Ralph as she was happy.
“You don’t call me by my name!” Harry protested.
“I can’t pronounce it! What else can I do?”
Miranda interrupted at this point “Enough messing about human, can you have a look at this for us please?”
Ralph got out of the seat grumpily and trudged over the the workstation that Miranda and her guests were crowded around, engrossed in whatever they were engrossed with. “My name’s Ralph, what is it?”
“Well human…” Miranda continued
“Whatever.” Miranda dismissed “We think that on this there is come kind of secret message or code and we’re struggling to decipher it. Can you look and see if you can understand it?” Miranda seemed pretty insistent, Ralph seemed shocked to think that he could help with anything. He took a look at what they we’re looking at.
“What is this?”
“This is a Trans Dimensional, Ultra-Mega long length Measuring Tape. Or a TDUMLLMD for short.” Came the reply, Ralph was shocked as he hadn’t seen either of the two men speak.
“They speak through mind waves.” Miranda had had already anticipated his question “Here’s the bit we don’t understand.”
Ralph looked at the section of tape, it was weird. It wasn’t made of metal, it seemed to not really be there. He couldn’t perceive any kid of thickness in the tape yet it was strong. He looked at the writing. Then turned the tape round to look at it the other way up.
“It says here – to find the Great Galactic Service Station look under the desk of for the UK Foreign Minister.”
“Oh, it was upside down was it?” Miranda asked “I knew that!” Miranda seemed embarrassed, the cheap cover wasn’t fooling Ralph but he let it slip. “Is this easy to get to?”
“No!” Ralph exclaimed somewhat rudely.
“Why?” Miranda asked, seemingly not having any idea of what getting to this desk meant.
“It’s in the heart of the UK government. We’ll be killed to death before we can even get inside the building!” Ralph protested. “I’m not doing it! It’s Boris’s office and he’ll be even angrier than he is now!”
“What’s that?” Miranda asked.
What? The office? It’s Boris’s. Didn’t you know?” Ralph pointed out accusingly. “For intelligent races that zoom around the universe and visiting Earth all the time you don’t know much!”
“I do now…” Miranda was thoughtful. Then Harry interrupted.
“You had better listen to this, it looks like the Borians have got some help and they’re getting serious now!”
“Oh no…” Miranda groaned. “You better put it on audio.”
“To the bandits that have captured our great leader – return him and tell us where the Great Galactic Service Station is. All we want is to stop off and get some cheese and pickle sandwiches, Mars bars and diet coke while refuelling so we can invade the Antares star system. We’re not that much of a violent species but we must do what we do to survive. If you don’t hand him over within two Earth days then we have no choice but to invade Earth, take back our pork scratchings, then plunder the planet for pokemon cards, coffee, icecream, cheese, pickle and Mars bars! You have given us little choice.”
For a moment there was silence “Doesn’t sound so bad!” Harry summarised.
“Oh and we’ll also burn the surface of the Earth in the name of the peaceful and democratic race of all Borians! Sorry, just had to put that in too!
I’m serious by the way!”
More silence followed, again Harry interrupted “That changes things a bit!”
“We had better find this buggering service station!” Ralph announced angrily “I’m sick to death of hearing about it!”
“So will you help?” Miranda asked.
“I’m here aren’t I?” Ralph hissed back. “Not by will of my own, but if I’m here I might as well help!”
“Good. We’re going to need Boris for this!”
“You’re going to let him out?” Harry asked, shocked at the prospect.
“I don’t see that we have much choice. Do you?” Miranda was adamant.
“I think I do actually!” Harry announced mysteriously. “We’ll still have to let him out briefly, but we can put him back into airlock 1 once I’m done.”
Miranda rolled her eyes “You’re going to make a Boris suit aren’t you?”
Harry just grinned.
To be continued…
©Simon Farnell 2017