A traveller’s tale with a difference from George Wills – we think it’s out of this world!!

The Courier

. . . . twenty-five, twenty-seven, twenty-nine, thirty-one. Welcome back on board, ladies and gentlemen.

…thirty-three, thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-eight. Who’s missing from this seat? Oh, sorry, Mrs. Johnson, forgetful of me, I apologise.

…forty, forty-two, forty-four. Who was sitting here? Oh, not Mr, Keenan again, him and his little problem!

…Forty-six, forty-eight, fifty.

Anyway, while we’re waiting for him and the other late-comers, I have something to tell you. Some-one bring the others up to date when they get here, please. As you all know, this is the last of the splendid optional excursions we have arranged for you on your holiday. Now, before we set off, for those of you who haven’t heard already, I have some good news for you and some bad news. Please stop crying, Mrs. Johnston.

When we leave for Earth on Monday, ship’s time – yes, sad, isn’t it, Mrs …. Mrs. De Valk, yes, I’ll miss you too. Never mind, you could come on one of our other trips next year, we’d love to see you back, you’re like part of the family now. Anyway, as I was saying, when we leave on Monday I am afraid we won’t have that nice Mr. Johnston with us. That was the bad news, not the good news. Please stop crying, Mrs. Johnston, you’re upsetting people!

Now as you will remember, ladies and gentlemen, we advise you in our brochure, our legal people insisted on it, yes, killjoys, aren’t they, the brochure did tell you that although the natives here are quite civilised and friendly for thirty months from their thirty-two, really quite the sort of person you would like your daughter to marry, if you could tell the men from the women, that is, you will remember that we did tell you that in the mating season they become somewhat, well, irrational?

Pardon? Yes, we did tell you, Mrs. Johnston, and we can prove it!

Well that wasn’t good enough for our Mr. Johnston. His little phrase-book and he decided to tell a mature adult native, a male in its prime, just what he thought about the part they played in that last little misunderstanding, over what they did to Saturn and the Moon all those years ago. As if it mattered, we weren’t using them! Really! Arguing politics with them, and at the start of the mating season!

Anyway, I am told that later, in the height of the season, all the proteins and trace elements it got out of poor Mr. Johnston will help it produce truly spectacular colours and crests that are really a magnet for the females – he’ll have no trouble pulling the chicks next month! Please, Mrs, Johnston, will you stop crying, please! Oh, your honeymoon, was it? Oh dear, never mind.

Well anyway, now to the good news. Because of Mr. Johnston being . . sorry, having been, well, such a big man, and what with there not being much of him left to take home, we can each add an extra two point four kilos to our luggage allowance. Yes. ‘oh, goody’, I heard someone say. Oh, there must be something you want, Mrs. Johnston.

So we are allowing you an extra hour on the surface at our next stop, Erendos, for some extra shopping. For those of you who haven’t been to Erendos before, I recommend those awfully naughty little phallic statues they are so famous for. Yes, I know it’s no substitute, Mrs. Johnston, but it’s an ill-wind and all that. Yes, I know you claim we didn’t actually tell you that this is the mating season, Mrs. Johnston, but it was all explained to you on Thursday during that fascinating visit to the ranches where they put their children for safety during the season so they don’t go the way your husband did.

What was that, Mrs. Johnston? Well, you should have come with us on Thursday; you were both on my list. If you must go wandering off hand-in-hand through the woods instead of staying with the group you can’t hold us responsible for what you might miss, it says so on the back of your ticket. If you had come with us on Thursday you would have heard that delightful gentleman telling us all about it.

Pardon? A female? Are you sure? Oops, silly me! Thank you, Mrs. Teesland, well, I said you couldn’t tell them apart, didn’t I? Oh, and when you put all your other bits and pieces in the luggage bay later, try to avoid the yellow bag at the back, the one with ‘A souvenir from Fraxxit’ on it. That’s what’s left of Mr. Johnston in there and he’s losing weight – you keep spilling him.

Yes, I agree it’s in bad taste, Mrs. Johnston, but it was all we had, and take my word for it, it will be much easier to get him through customs like that, otherwise you won’t see him again for years.

Ah, here’s that naughty Mr. Keenan – now plug him in, somebody, and tell him what he’s missed. Well, try!  Well that’s all of you on board now, just update one another on what’s been missed. Everyone belted in? Someone help Mr, Keenan, please! Good, we’re moving at last. Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you look out of the right-hand ports as we lift off you’ll see . . . . .

©George Wills 2016


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