02. October 2022 · Comments Off on THIS IS A HONEYMOON? · Categories: Short Stories
rock in between grass and flower
Where I thought my honeymoon might be.

It seemed to Alma that a honeymoon wasn’t really supposed to consist of several weeks flying around the galaxy, trying to be first to find a valuable prize, using clues supplied on each of the first seven planets they’d be directed to.

Edward was avidly interested in finding this prize. “As an inveterate gamer,” he said, “I heard of this treasure hunt several weeks ago.”

He had eventually persuaded Alma that it would make for a fun honey-moon.

So newlyweds Alma Pedersen and Edward Whithers set off in their lovely new spaceship, on March 10, 2156. Edward told his wife that all the treasure-hunters were starting from Earth. Their first stop was on a planet the natives called Heaven, to find a clue to the next stop.

“From what I can see in the brochure,” Alma told Edward as they approached orbit, “Heaven is a lot like Earth’s Caribbean island, Guadeloupe.”

She was able to convince Edward to spend at least two days there, “For the honeymoon we never got,” she said.

Walking toward the resort-like hotel where they would stay, Alma pointed out, “I can’t help but admire those flowers.”

They took their time pacing the path, and both stopped to smell most of the blossoms.

“Those pink, orange, red, purple and blue flowers are gorgeous,” Alma noted. “And those high, snow-covered mountains in the distance are just beautiful, aren’t they?”

Without waiting for an answer, she pointed up to the sky. “The clouds are so fluffy and pure white, and the sun seems just the right temperature to make sitting outside comfortable.”

She very much wanted to stay, almost more than she wanted to win that treasure. As a matter of fact, she thought, I don’t really care if we win. But Edward does.

“Isn’t this a beautiful place?” she asked her husband again. “It looks so much like the Caribbean. I wish we could stay longer than just a couple of days.”  

“Well, I’m sorry,” Edward said, “but you know that the whole purpose of this trip is to get to the planet where the treasure is hidden before some other contestant beats us to it.”

Alma nodded, half in sorrow for the wasted beauty.

Heading up to their rooms, they decided to go for a swim before doing anything else. But as they opened the door, they saw a note on the pillow. It told them that their next destination would be the planet Hell.

Once settled into their deluxe room, they descended to the pool and, for the next two days enjoyed themselves sightseeing, eating, and swimming under the hot star, until Edward decided they’d been there long enough.

When he told her to pack up, Alma objected. “But do we really have to check out that awful industrial planet next?”

Edward nodded. “It’s where we’ll get the next clue,” he reminded her. She wondered why he was willing to stop at any place called Hell by its inhabitants, but she knew better than to challenge him about it.

________

As they stepped off the ship on Hell, the second planet on their itinerary, Alma said, “I’m reminded of the Gobi Desert, but without the breezes and the possibility of an oasis.”

Edward laughed, but Alma hadn’t really meant it as a joke. She shook her head ruefully, and hoped they wouldn’t need to stay for very long.

Before they could locate the planetary director for help in finding their way around, Edward and Alma were abducted by protestors and taken to a warehouse-like building. There they were questioned by two hard-looking female miners.

“Why have you come here?” the ladies demanded. “What’s your agenda? Are you affiliated with Management?”

With apparently no reasonable-sounding motives for being there, they were nearly pressed into hard labor in the fiery, humid mines.

Alma was soon seen to be sympathetic for their cause, and the two interrogators decided they liked her too much to toss her into the mining camp. They were already dissatisfied with the way things had been going in the mines so they told her keeping her behind would be another form of protest.

As the couple were leaving Hell, they found a note stuck in the hatch, with a clue that led them to the next planet, which was called Aroma.

Traveling on to the planet, they found humanoid people. Stepping off the ship as they landed, they were approached by several natives. Thinking these were the welcoming committee, the couple stepped forward and were hugged, one at a time, by all four natives. That’s when they realized that the natural smell of the natives was appalling. These putrid-smelling creatures loved to hug one another, as well as tourists.

Even Edward was repelled by the eagerness to share their overwhelming odor, and agreed with Alma that they couldn’t get off that planet soon enough. Before they left Aroma, they were notified that the next destination was called Heinlein.

On Heinlein,, the couple hesitated because of the previous stop. They slowly exited the ship, but found no one there to meet them. They took waiting transport into the city and encountered humanoid robots, who nearly ran them over and walked on, heedless. The robotic natives didn’t care at all where they walked, and ran into others, or stepped on them if they didn’t get out of the way in time.

Alma witnessed several unfortunate collisions of the natives with fellow tourists, and thanked God that she was young and nimble. She had needed that agility several times.

When they returned to their ship, they were handed a note by the human guide, a clue that sent them on to Flash.

_________

On Flash, they encountered a human guide who offered to show them around for the two hours they’d allotted for this planet. They met six native creatures, who gazed at them and flashed several different colored lights. Neither Alma nor Edward could work out just what these lights meant, and the guide was no help at all.

They asked to speak to a native but they where told there was no communication possible with them. These alien creatures turned into blue, green or purple lights for no discernible reason. When Edward questioned their guide, he told the couple that these inhabitants changed lights with their moods. And no one knew what those moods might be.

“The best I can tell,” he told them, “the blue lights express hunger; the green light is for happiness; yellow is for sadness, and the purple light says they’re thinking of leaving wherever they are. I don’t know anything more than that.”

Before they left Flash, their guide told them their next stop would be on a world called Woodland.

As soon as they’d disembarked on Woodland, Alma and Edward encountered what they thought looked like a lovely copse of trees. They stepped onto a path that seemed to lead through the trees. Thinking it would be restful, and might lead to an adventure, they set off along the path but suddenly they could hear whispers, and then chattering.

Alma and Edward looked all around, wondering if some travelers might be walking ahead of them, but no one who’d left their ships had gone in this direction. But before very long, Alma determined that it was the trees that were talking. Astonished, she tried to engage a couple of them in conversation, but she was ignored and it seemed that the trees simply talked to one another.

However, on the path back to their ship, they were directed by a tree to their next stop, a world everyone simply called Serpent. When they landed there, the name of the place appeared to have no Earth-like sounds at all.

There were several snakes where they landed, and the guide told them, “This world is inhabited by human-sized snakes that seem to completely ignore the tourists, mostly.” He then added, “It’s okay; the snakes rarely kill anyone,”

Alma turned to find herself standing beside a huge snake and screamed, and the guide pointed out calmly, “It’s usually the ones that scream and yell that get killed.”

When she heard this, Alma announced, “I’m going back to the ship! I’m not staying somewhere that snakes this big might kill me, rarely or not.”

_________

On their final day of travel, they landed on the planet of the treasure, and found several other ships already there. Using the clues they’d found on the previous worlds, they raced to the finish line. Edward pushed off quickly, leaving Alma to take up the rear, which she didn’t really mind.

But the Spieler announced that Chimneysweep had won. He said there were no other prizes, and that Alma and Edward had come in fifth.  

After hearing this, Edward turned and chastised Alma. “If we hadn’t stopped at that Heaven planet for two days, we might have been here first.”

But Alma didn’t for a moment regret having stopped there; it was the closest they’d come to a real honeymoon.

They boarded their ship and flew straight home, Edward in a dejected mood. But Alma was happy enough, realizing they were still alive and in love, and that they had had several quite interesting, though on occasion uncomfortable or frightening experiences.

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