Splint etched out a moderate living at his job which provided him a humble home for his three children. His job was with the local government and he dealt with the less than desirables of society. He had seen most everything and nothing really shocked him. His only bright spot in the day was going home and being with his children. Since his wife's passing they all had become much closer.
The children missed their mother and talked about her often around the dinner table. Splint had to make sure that they stuck to their strict diets due to their illness. Their mother had passed along a defective gene that caused their nervous system to react violently if they consumed cheap wood.
One evening after the children had fallen asleep in their beds he thought about the day when a cure was discovered for their illness. He opened a bottle of his favorite beverage and propped up his feet as he stared into the night’s sky. It was late in the evening when his buddy paid him a visit. He told Splint that there was a specialist that could potentially help his children. The excitement of the opportunity made him rush inside and begin their travel plans.
The morning’s sun peered into their home and the children soon rose from their slumber. Splint told them the exciting news and that they would be leaving soon to visit the specialist. Since he didn’t have transpiration, they would have to walk the great distance.
The journey was long and proved to be an adventure as a chemical bomb nearly took the lives of his two youngest children. Thankfully the wind was blowing away from them and saved their lives. Splint had learned his lesson to always bring their portable respirators. The remainder of the trip was uneventful and after two days they arrived at their destination, the OCP office. He eagerly entered the building and made his way to the receptionist and asked for Dr. Pine.
The receptionist called the names of his children and they all moved into a room where Dr. Pine was waiting on their arrival. One by one he reviewed their records and gave them a full examination. The expressionless look on his face didn’t give Splint any indication if he could or would provide any positive feedback on a cure.
The Dr. completed the last examination and sat for a few minutes putting together his response. “Mr. Splinter, I have some bad news.” Splints stomach began to knot as he prepared for the worst. “It is my medical opinion, here at Oak, Cedar and Pine, that your children are cursed with a birth defect just recently identified as Composite-Titus. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the birth defect and the only method of treatment is designing a proper diet. I suggest that you switch them to a synthetic wood supplement to keep their nervous system in check.” Mr. Splint has a tough time processing the diagnosis as if he was trying to fill out a favorable response. He finally blurts out, “We’re termites dammit, we are supposed to eat wood, not consume synthetic wood supplements.” He shook his head in disbelief as he wondered if his insurance would cover such a radical treatment.
He then asked the Dr. what would have caused this terrible birth defect. “I am saddened to say that the glue used to hold cheap wood together is the problem. It seems that more and more young adolescents in the colony are experimenting with this mind-altering substance.” Splint cannot believe his ears and he realize that his wild youth and dabbling in illegal substances caused the damage in his children and not his wife. Mr. Splinter leaves the office with his children and they head towards home. Luckily the Dr. gave him a prescription he could fill at the local pharmacy.
Several days later Mr. Splinter is back to work and assisting a new client that is addicted to cheap wood glue. This addict smokes, snorts, injects and licks his way into a mind-altering state
several times a day. Splint cannot believe the level of addictiveness that this pure form of glue has caused on the streets of the colony. He can only hope that adolescents wake up and heed the warnings of cheap glue addition.
Our story takes us to another solar system millions of light years from our own. This solar system is composed of four planets that revolve around a central sun. The third planet from the warm orb is intriguing as there are satellites in orbit. Could this be an indication of intelligent life?
Meanwhile, back on Earth, a man named Jay pulls into his driveway. He opens the garage door and notices his wife’s car is missing and figures she is still at work. He gets to the door and has issues with the lock and drops his keys. A loud sigh emanates from him as he picks them up and fumbles with the lock until it opens. The door opens quickly and four cats greet him meowing and purring. Their anxious nature is an obvious sign that they want their dinner and a hearty treat. “Just give me a moment and you will get some treats.” Jay finishes the cats nightly feeding and heads for the couch with hard pretzel and mustard in hand. He maneuvers the food and condiment around him as his body relaxes into the comfortable couch. The remote isn’t where it should be on the coffee table and that is when reality slaps him in the face. “What in the hell is that?”
Sitting in the middle of the family room is a car sized craft. He is entranced by the glimmering stainless-steel shell and it draws him nearby. There is a note taped on the transparent dome of the craft. It is written in what appears to be crayon and has his name on it misspelled, “Jae”. He shakes his head in amazement as he reads the note aloud. “Please grab ahold of the handles marked A and B.” A mumble of what the Hell comes from his mouth and in the craft he jumps. He grasps the handles and they are crisp to the touch. A tingling sensation in his fingers soon turns into burning and he realizes that his hands are stuck to the handles. The dome of the craft closes and through the wall they phase as they ascend into outer space.
As the craft ascends into the atmosphere, Jay sees his wife pull up into the driveway and gawk in amazement. She can only muster “Honey pick up a gallon of milk on your way home” as the craft disappears from her sight. Jay tries to relax as his stomach feels as though he is on an express elevator. His legs begin to float into the air as the craft breaks into space and the Earth shrinks behind him. The solar system rolls past and he realizes that Pluto has been left behind as the speed increases. The images outside of the space vehicles dome start to smear as they must be traveling at some great speed. It is hard for Jay to fathom how much time has transpired and the distance they have traveled. His eyes become heavy with sleep as he falls into a light slumber.
Jay is jolted from his nap and it takes his mind a few moments to grasp he was hijacked by a space craft. The mouth drool from his rest drips down to the floor. He rubs the sides of his mouth on his shirt and then shakes his head back and forth violently. The morning ritual does the trick and his eyes notice bright lights emanating from outside the crafts dome. It is not hard to miss the lights as they are coming from the large blue planet that the craft is descending to. A smile appears on his face as he knows this is Earth and hopes that his journey was only for some strange alien experiment.
Small dwellings appear scattered across the landscape. The craft turns and glides closer to the ground like a 747 coming in for a landing. The clouds skim past his vision and an anxious feeling appears in his belly because he is close to being home. High rise buildings are soon visible and it looks like downtown Dayton. The craft gently lands on the ground and the dome pulls back. The handles soon release their grip on his hands and he flexes them for a few minutes. His legs swing out of the craft and on the ground where he finally stands and stretches for several more minutes.
As he walks the streets there is an absence of people and vehicles. His frustration is increasing as he cannot locate a cab to take him home. His wife would come and get him if he could only locate a pay phone. After pounding several more streets he yells aloud, “Where the Hell am I?” Much to his surprise he hears what sounds like mooing behind him. Jay turns around and there is a bull standing fully bipedal. The bull continues with more moos and grunts and a look of confusion appears on Jay’s face. The bull’s one-way conversation continues for several more minutes and suddenly stops. He slaps himself upside his big cranium and runs into a local shop.
The bull returns with a small device in his hoof and motions for Jay to take the device and place it in his ear. He cautiously installs the ear piece and it becomes alive with movement. After a few moments of awkward ear tickles, the movements stop and the ear piece is snug in his canal. His equilibrium is thrown out of control and he finds himself flat on his back. The spinning in his head soon stops and he regains his footing. The bull speaks loudly, “Well old chap, so nice to finally meet a human. I have heard so much about your race but till now I had only seen pictures.” Jay is so amazed by the spectacle of speech from a bull that he nearly soils his clean underwear. He blurts out, “You’re not supposed to talk.” The bull replies with, “Well, since you have a translator in your ear, you can understand all of my grunts. The whole situation may seem a bit odd, but we are not all that different from you.” Jay responds, “You’re just a dream in my warped mind and I will soon awaken and have my coffee with milk.” Chuckling loudly the bull can barely keep from choking. “You my friend are in for a huge surprise. But first I would like you to meet my family and have some dinner. You should feel special as my wife doesn’t make her famous barbecued cud for just anyone.”
The house is well furnished with pottery and strange paintings. Jay finds the paintings especially interesting because it appears they are signed with crude scratches and symbols. He asks the bull, “What do the scratches and symbols on all of the paintings mean?” The bull looks puzzled and then realizes he forgot something. He leaves the room and Jay wonders if he offended his bull host. The bull returns from an adjacent room with something in his hoof. “My son, you must have these for your eyes.” Jay removes the contact lenses from the bull’s hoof. He inserts them into his eyes and they take a moment to adjust. He asks the bull, “What exactly do the contacts do?” The bull responds, “You will now be able to read our writing.” Intrigued by the technology, Jay reads the name aloud, Bo Vine. The bull responds, “He is the original
founder of this planet. He came from far away to start this colony. The race started with one female egg and one male egg. Once these eggs hatched, he nursed them both into adulthood. They soon became parents and over time the population grew.”
Mrs. Cow announces that dinner is ready and they head into the dining room to take their seats. She brings out a plate of hot barbecued cud and places several on Jay’s plate. He is not sure what to expect and tentatively takes a bite. The saliva in his mouth wraps around the cud and he savors the taste. “This barbecued cud is excellent and sort of tastes like chicken.” Mrs. Cow blushes a bit and says, “Well thank you.” The bull clears his throat and continues his story. “Once Bo Vine had started the race in motion, he focused his free time on his passions, music and painting. He created great masterpieces in oil and symphonies on paper. Bo Vine was disappointed that he couldn’t have concerts as he had forgotten we couldn’t play string instruments with hoofs. As time marched forward he felt that all of his knowledge should be documented for future generations. The archives of his life were completed in a series of books that now reside in the Bo Vine University.” Mrs. Cow interrupts her husband, “Would anyone like coffee?” Jay is surprised by the question and is thrilled to have a cup. She returns with a steaming hot cup of coffee. “Would you like creamer or sugar?” He nods his head in agreement for both additives. The sugar flows into his cup and when she reaches for the cream there is none left. A frown comes across her face and responds, “Oh dear, we have no creamer, but I have a substitute.” She pulls an udder out from inside her dress and squirts a stream of milk into his cup. “That should do quite nicely.” The bull cuts her off again and continues the story. “When Bo Vine was on his death bed, he told the elder bulls that there would be a day when the sun would extinguish. He instructed them when this day was near to build a space craft and visit earth for the human profit. The profit would be able to reignite the sun and save the planet. In case you haven’t figured it out, you are that human.”
The bull and Mrs. Cow revived Jay and help him off the floor. He can only shake his head and say, “I just cannot believe that I am the one you are looking for. Perhaps there is someone else on Earth that could do this for you?” They both shake their heads and reinsure him that he is the chosen profit. The bull continues, “The quest that you need to complete is not a hard one. In fact, we can go take care of it now if you are done with dinner.” Jay is unsure of the whole situation and walks outside to look up at the stars. He wonders what his wife is doing and if she is mad at him for being gone so long. He makes up his mind and tells the bull he is ready for his destiny.
They pile in the bull’s subcompact and off they go to Bo Vine University. The walls of the University are filled with oil paintings and pictures of the founder. They make their way down
several halls and eventually turn into a small room where a computer sits on a table. “The computer is going to ask you three questions that only the chosen one could answer. Are you ready?” Jay shakes his head and takes a deep breath. The first question is displayed on the monitor. What is one of America’s favorite fast-food meals? Jay quickly responds with, “A hamburger.” The computer responds with a correct answer. A quick high five with the bull and the next question is displayed. What type of dairy product do you put on a hamburger? The chosen one responds with, “Cheese.” The computer responds with another correct answer. Another round of high fives and knuckles with the bull are replaced with the last question. What pork product can be used to spice up the hamburger? Without hesitation Jay responds, “Bacon!” The computer responds with a triumphant third correct response.
They sit in their chairs and wait for what will happen next. The floor suddenly starts to shake violently and they both fall out of their chairs. They get up off the floor and a thunderous sound of grinding concrete fills the air. They rush to the exterior of the University and one of the campus buildings have been moved to the side reveling a rocket silo. The bull is ecstatic and tells Jay, “You have done it my boy. Bo Vine said that when the questions were answered correctly that a device filled with methane would ignite the dying sun.” A beeping noise consumes their ears and they rush to take cover. The ground shakes and the rocket lift out of its home and into the atmosphere. It appears that everyone is out watching the rocket reach its destination. It doesn’t take long and the explosion lights up the sky and reignites the dying sun. The celebration begins across the planet and Jay can feel the love of a colony reborn.
The planet praises Jay for saving the colony and asks how they could repay him. Jay didn’t hesitate, “If you could get me home, I would greatly appreciate it.” They pack themselves back in the sub-compact and off they head for the craft. The bull has one last bit of information for him. “The undercover operative that located you and delivered the craft has not checked in with us. We fear that he may be sick or having issues with his communication device. The last update we received stated he was starting a job at the slaughter house. Do you know of such
a place?” He shakes his head yes and assures the bull that he will try to locate him. Jay climbs into the craft and realizes he almost forgot his wife’s request. “I do have one last request and that is to get a gallon of milk.” The bull shakes his head and runs into the house. The bull returns with a container of fresh milk that is clearly from his wife. Suddenly Mrs. Cow runs out of the house like an Olympic sprinter and plants a big kiss on his lips. Jay is shocked by the event and can only mumble, “Thanks for the milk.” Securing the milk in the craft he grabs hold of the handles and the vehicle comes alive.
Several hours later he finds himself on his front lawn. His back is thankful to be standing as they watch the craft’s dome close and ascend into the atmosphere. He enters the house and finds his wife waiting for him. She bolts to him and hugs him tight. After several minutes of loving she asks, “Did the aliens probe you?” He laughs at the question and responds, “I brought you a gallon of milk from the other side of the moon.”