If This is a Wrong Number,
Why Did You Materialize on my Ottoman?
The way back to Mooburg was so simple. I'm surprised we didn't come up with it before. The idea was to convert ourselves to Graviton particles, call home (the telephone was the only thing in the hotel room that worked) and then transmit ourselves via fiberoptic cable to Mooburg. We could worry about transforming ourselves back into ourselves when we got there.
"Perfect," I said.
"Not so perfect," said Smike. "I've done this before. You've probably noticed that I now look like a chicken."
"You laid an egg this morning. It was good with the rye toast."
"Hmmmm. You did eat a lot of oats and hay. And you kept whinneying in your sleep."
I saw what he meant. Once you turn yourself into a graviton particle, there's no telling how you'd end up each morning. It was the downside of the new Electrophotonic Fluid-Glide Shapeshifting Miasma technology now sweeping the Gamma Quadrant.
Still, it was better than hanging around the "Thumbs Sized While You Wait" Hotel and 24/7 Black Sabbath.
Here, generally, are the steps for transmitting yourself back to earth from Fridlap (the name, we learned, not only for the molton-hot volcanic sinus drippings found around here, but also of the planet itself) to earth:
1. Call room service and order a 50-gallon vat of Fridlapian zgwaotch. Zgwaotch is sort of a cross between crunchy peanut butter and bomb-grade plutonium. It tastes like road tar, and you have to be careful when spreading it on your toast.
2. Cover your entire body with zgwaotch (not forgetting major orifices). Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon, or the Fridlapian equivalent. If the experiment doesn't work, at least you'll smell good.
3. Go down to the hotel's laundry room and have yourself passed three or four times through the sheet-ironing machine. If you don't have a sheet-ironing machine, go lie down on the street and wait for a steamroller to show up.
4. Rent a 4-million-megahertz Atom Smasher. We were lucky enough to have one in the lobby. They were using it to dispense ice. If you don't have an Atom Smasher, look in the Yellow Pages under Smashers, Atom.
5. Climb into the Atom Smasher, push the button, and get smashed. This stage is in no way similar to your high school senior prom night.
You are now a Grade 2 Graviton Particle. The rest of this is pretty technical, so I'll just zoom right through it. Standing as close as possible to the telephone speaker, we were sucked through the hotel switchboard into the fiberoptic distribution system and from there into the Intergalactic Cable System to Earth. You'd be surprised how many space vehicles get hung up on those cables. Not to mention those complex orbits! It's a truckload of spaghetti out there.
To make a long story short, we were downloaded as a modem burst to my home phone, leaving a faint image on the phone's display of an aardvark screaming.
Fortunately the dog was there to pick up the phone. In two seconds, out popped two slightly compressed Graviton particles. I was home at last!
Suddenly, there was a knock on the front door. (Sound of running Graviton energy field. Sound of door opening.)
I know what you're thinking. He's going to open the door and it will be the Manitoba Minister of Tourism standing there, and he'll suck the stupid aardvark back into outer space. Right?
Not on your tintype! It was Mles Shoescrapings, a local vibrating fluid bed salesman in a plaid suit.
"Good Morning Mrs. Graviuton Particle," he said, putting his foot in the door. "Could I take a few minutes of your time to demonstrate our new, top-of-the-line Acme Electro-Shift Vibrating Fluid Bed?"
He brushed past me into the living room, took out a bag of dirt, and poured it on the living room carpet.
"We could have used you a couple of days ago." I said. "You're going to clean that up, aren't you?"
I don't think he heard me. He was chattering away about passing a process gas directly through a bed of solids via a perforated plate and the new, improved recirculated gas and closed-loop systems available for solvent recovery when I noticed a look of unbelievable horror pass over his face.
At the same time, I heard a sound like one of those multi-armed balloons being blown up.
I looked down and I seemed to be growing, with astounding speed and volumitude, an udder.
"Smike," I said, sprouting a horn as I spoke. "I have met the enemy, and he is me!"