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About the Author

David S. White has been a resident of New Orleans for a number of years. He will enjoy the money from this first publication of his short fiction, which he will either blow on booze and coffee or start a fund to produce his screenplay (which he, stupidly, plans to also direct). Occasionally, he promotes gothic/industrial bands, as that's what he's into. When not writing, he watches a lot of indie films and is currently trying to keep his new year's resolution to see 52 films, in the theater, this year. His website is HERE and HERE. If you wish to send him money (that he will use to make a movie) or hate mail please email him at dsw@cyberpenguin.org.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Outside In: Review by A.L. Sirois

The Adventures of Space Death, the Worst Band in the Galaxy

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* * *

Several hundred years ago, a man named Krelig invented a food substitute wrapped in a thin flour like covering that he could heat in less than a minute, and a way to cover nachos with a radioactive cheese lard without immediate death as the result. Krelig saw the great potential in selling these useless, but tasty, food products to passing space voyagers whom were traveling the galactic byway that ran right past Mecka 5.6. In addition to those, he took common items, which every space voyager needed, and a lot of other useless crap that no one needed, hats with cliché expressions silk-screened on them and horoscopes in little plastic tubes, etc., marked up the price a hundred percent and opened up the galaxy's first convenience store.

This was such a huge success that more convenience stores popped up. Eventually, the whole planet contained so many "quik stops," "EZ serves," and "stop and goz" that the point of no return was reached where the economy could support nothing but convenience stores. This effect is commonly called "The Quikie Mart Event Horizon," first theorized by the economist Balstok Griffen. For a short time, as the theorem states, Mecka 5.6 became the richest planet in the galaxy.

However, all too soon, the problem arose that, since every citizen now owned a convenience store, there was no one left to work in them and keep them open twenty-four hours, which competition demanded. It took the planet of Roboticia to offer a solution, or rather sell them a solution, and, in doing so, became the richest planet in the galaxy.

Several generations later, the robots revolted, took over the convenience stores, and made the planet inhospitable to the humanoid citizens of Mecka 5.6. The former populace fled to the nearby planet of Mecka 5.61 and banned any Meckain from owning a convenience store. Their second decree was that, one day, they would have vengeance.

* * *

"We hired you to play a, err, as a surprise for Mecka 5.6," Ugop stumbled.

Slugbait laughed, "They certainly will be surprised if they're not expecting us. You know of our reputation?"

Ugop answered, "I do indeed."

"We've been banned from playing some places until the population growth has risen enough to compensate for the loss caused by one of our shows," Slugbait mumbled.

Diasion chimed, "We've caused riots."

"Wars," Balstok smiled and buffed his fingernails on his chest.

"In fact," Slugbait added, "I'm surprised that we get booked at all. Must be because we have such a rocking sound that only the hardcore mothers can groove on."

High fives went all around the bridge.

Ugop nodded. "That's why we want you to play. We can't stand the populace of Mecka 5.6."

"Oh," Slugbait responded. "So this isn't a good surprise?"

"No."

"We don't really do that, we only play shows were we will be appreciated. I'm offended that you are saying you only hired us because we suck," Slugbait declared.

Ugop was quick to respond. "Of course, we are willing to reward you handsomely for your efforts."

Balstok slurred, "Reward? What reward?"

Ugop paused for effect. "The Golden Beer Can of Togowe."

Jaws dropped to the floor. Eventually, even Vladzal, who had no idea what was going on, dropped his jaw because he didn't want to feel left out. A collective reverence went through the group, like they had just been offered the keys to the Forbidden City.

"An infinite amount of beer." Slugbait rubbed his hands. "Well, a job's a job. Computer, where are our instruments and how soon can we have them set up?"

Sigmund, who had been occupied preparing notes that he would later use for publication of an article in The Galactic Journal of Psychology, whirred to life again. "I will comply, but may I suggest another form of payment. Besides the obvious physiological effects of alcohol, this group in particular..."

"Shut up, Sig, before I make your parts into a vibrator." Diasion smiled at Chub as she said this to convey the private sentiment.

"I don't understand," Slugbait addressed Ugop. "I thought the Can was destroyed after we played our show there."

Ugop answered, "That's a legend. Actually, we stole it with the thought of drowning in our own misery. Fortunately, we thought of this plan before we did."

"Some luck," Balstok scoffed.

"Destroy Mecka 5.6 and The Golden Beer Can is yours. A sample of the beer is being transported to your ship's hold as we speak. Consider it a down payment. We'll speak again when the job is complete. Ugop out." The view screen went blank.

Balstok walked over to the control panel to order a round of beers for himself. "I'm so excited that I've sobered up. I mean, you always dream of something like this when you're a kid or something, but I never thought it could really happen."

"Uh, guys," Sigmund's voice contained a little more static than usual. "I am afraid there is a small problem and I don't want you to take this out on me. We all know about the levels of latent aggression onboard, and since none of you will take my advice or even look at some Rorschach inkblots, I do not want anyone to get ideas of turning my circuits into anything other than the job they were originally designed to do."

"If they were designed to be a major pain in the ass, mission accomplished. Spit it out, you glorified excuse for a toaster," Slugbait suggested.

If Sigmund had pores, they would have sweated, "I am afraid that I just checked on the position of our instruments and it seems they they've been shipped to somewhere on the outskirts of the Crab Head Nebula."

"Hey guys, what's going on?" said Peter as he walked onto the bridge.

Sigmund's lights flashed and processes that were rarely used started a flurry of activity. "According to my records, the cargo ship was given the order for those coordinates by Peter."

The only sound that could be heard after that was the noise of heads turning to stare at Peter.

* * *

Peter's full name was Peter Tchaicoughsky. He was born on Pobiv, a planet renowned for the musical ability of its people. For instance, Emperor Vbone of the Council of Seven, who controls the majority of the trade throughout the galaxy, banned anyone that is not a native of Pobiv from attempting to play any instrument in his presence.

Upon birth, a new infant of Pobiv is set in front of a table containing every known instrument in the galaxy and it's said that the baby will pick the instrument that it'll become a virtuoso on. It's known as the "Pobivian Virtuoso Rule" (there aren't great writers on Pobiv, just musicians).

When Peter was born, the ritual of instruments was performed. He immediately picked the harp and began to play. It made such an awful sound that an entire floor of the hospital was evacuated.

After that, he was allowed to go through every instrument as the doctors tried desperately to find where his musical talent lie, until one day, the doctors gave Peter the last instrument left, the guitar. The death toll from the resulting noise never was accurately calculated.

* * *

"I knew I had a good reason to distrust you," Chub threw at Peter. "You've probably been planning this for some time now."

Peter gave her a puzzled expression. "Who are you?"

"She's mine and she's right," answered Diasion. "It all makes sense now. Somehow you knew that we would be offered the Can of Togowe, so you sent our instruments off to who knows where. You're probably going to kill us and eat our flesh in an attempt to digest our skill for music, then go play the show yourself."

"Yuck! You know that I'm a vegetarian." Peter stuck out his tongue.

"Sorry, I've been watching a lot of horror movies lately," Diasion smiled.

Sigmund's speakers cracked to life. "I have determined the precise coordinates of the other ship. Verifying."

"Get on with it," Diasion barked. "Stupid machine isn't fit to be a wrist watch."

Sigmund seemed to moan. "Perhaps mother was right. I should have chosen the easy life of a governmental defense computer. You people just don't appreciate how amazingly hard it was to figure out where that ship is."

Slugbait wondered aloud, "I'm just trying to figure out how you have a mother."

"It's a long story really..."

Diasion interrupted, "I'm warning you."

"Yes. Sorry. The other ship is in orbit around the planet of Pobiv."

Slugbait thought about this for a second. "Sigmund," he commanded. "Lay in a course for Pobiv at warp nine."

Everyone looked at him.

"Sorry, I've just always wanted to say that."

(continued)

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