Pete, flushed and sweaty from running across the playground, huffed as he caught up with his friend. “Mom said that they’re spreading space junk all over the atmosphere, and aliens’ll get really mad. Maybe annihilate us all cause of it.”
Bert crossed his arms and shifted onto one leg, bracing himself on the chain-link fence. “Aw, that’s stupid. Those NASA folks are experts. They know what they’re doing. Sides, we’re alone in the universe.” He pointed at the blue sky. “Not even plants up there. Just lots of rocks flying about in gi-norous empty space.”
His hand perched on his hips, Pete’s cheeks darkened. “That’s what you say. But I’m positive that aliens exist. I read a whole book on alien abductions. Really cool.”
Bert lowered his gaze and narrowed his eyes. “You’d be okay with getting dissected and studied, and then put back together and sent home to have weird dreams for the rest of your life?”
Pete shrugged. “I’d go to an analyst. Mom’s analyst tells her what her dreams mean and where she’s really from—”
“Please. I’d die if I had to tell anyone my dreams.”
Bert scrunched his eyebrows together and kicked a stone. “Still, I’d rather take a chance on being dissected than believe we’re alone.”
Sticking the edge of his tennis shoe into the fifth row of links, Pete hefted himself up and climbed to the top. He swung a leg over and perched on the bar. “What’s so bad about being alone? Even if there were aliens, we’d just be a speck to them.” He peered down. “You saw what Mr. James showed us…solar systems, galaxies, universes…it went on and on. We’re lost in it all—invisible.”
Bert propped his hand over his eyes, blocking the sun. “You’d better get down. They upped the suspension time.”
Pete laughed. “Suspension? Who cares? I’d just listen to music and watch stuff. Better than listening to teachers yammer on about things I’ll have to fact check later. Like it matters.”
Bert leaned on the fence, his face tired and drawn. He wiped his sweaty brow. “I guess that’s why I like aliens. Maybe they’d care. Maybe they’d think we do matter—even though we’re just a tiny speck in the universe.”
A man called from across the yard. “Hey! Off that fence, boy, or I’ll have you running laps after school.”
Pete scrambled down and frowned, his gaze darting from the cement to the angry teacher. “Geesh. You’d think he owned it!”
Bert squinted at the man who turned and strode away. “Kinda does. He’s in charge of the yard—he’ll get blamed if we damage school property.”
A shrill bell rang, sending a flurry of students to the door.
Pete slumped across the yard. “Who cares?”
Bert followed along beside his friend, watching the teachers line up, waiting for their students. “I think they do.”
Zuri, dressed in a battered mechanical exoskeleton, hefted a large cylindrical object over his shoulder and nodded to the Cresta before him. “Thanks, Uv. I heard they don’t make these parts anymore.”
Uv bowed with his four tentacles wrapped daintily behind his thick middle. His stained bio-suit bulged at the seams with every move. “Think nothing of it. I always like to serve my faithful customers with special care.”
Zuri started toward the ship’s open bay door. He stopped and turned around. “Just one little question.”
Uv’s bulbous blue eyes blinked in innocence. “Yes?”
“Just outta curiosity—where’d you find it?” He shifted the tube further back on his square shoulder. “I looked everywhere.”
Uv’s thick lips wobbled in a perky grin. “Well, normally, I don’t give away my secrets—but you’re one of a kind, Zuri. I don’t mind being like clear water with you.” He glanced aside.
Two Crestas consulted a console to the right and spoke in low murmurs.
Twitching Zuri’s arm, Uv motioned him closer to the bay door. They stopped at a large color-coated map of their sector. Uv tapped a section on the left. “You can’t see it, but there’s a speck here that’s quite valuable. A tiny system in what they call the Milky Way.” He shuddered. “Don’t ask me what they were thinking. Disgusting name.”
Zuri frowned and leaned in. “You mean Earth? I’ve been there. Barbaric. Full of wild animals and wilder people.”
Uv’s eyes widened. “When were you there?”
“Centuries ago.” Zuri patted his chest. “I’ve had almost all new parts put in since then.”
Uv pursed his lips. “Looks like you might need a few more soon.” He shook himself. “Well, anyway, they’ve gotten past the crust…put primitive vessels into space…and dropped parts along the way.”
Zuri tilted his head, his gaze swerving to the object on his shoulder, his eyebrows arching. “This comes from—”
“We had to make alterations to make the blasted thing useful. But, as far as raw parts are concerned, Earth is a fertile field.” His lips puffed into a smile. “Crestas make the most of every situation.”
Zuri thrust out his own chest. “Ingots are famous for resourcefulness.” He turned and strutted toward the door. “I’ll have to make a return visit to that planet.” He waved and chuckled. “Never know what a little speck might offer.”
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
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