Writing Prompt: You are the Leader of the Free World. The alien invaders are taking that literally.
“Do you know how much we had to pay for Azbolion 5? No? Well let me tell you this, we could have bought our collective weight in Sugared Plumbinsicles for the same ransom.” Horgol thought he was a particularly good speaker (for arguments sake we’ll say he, though technically the Frilliot are a genderless sub-species of the rather chicken-like Gobsong) especially when it came to calming the nerves of a civilisation you were about to make unanimously homeless.
“Now listen here.” President Grump coughed from out of a face full of chins, “When I said Free World, I didn’t mean Free World.”
“What difference is there? Free. Free. That’s just you saying the same word with a slight inflection of tone.” Horgol grinned at the President who found this mostly infuriating. How dare some foreigner beam down from space and claim a right to his… sorry… our world.
“Look, Earth’s not for sale.”
“Quite.” Horgol agreed, “It can hardly be called a sale when you’re giving it away!”
“Well actually…” Grump began.
“Oh, you wait and see the look on Therisaps faces! I bet at least three will be shocked and at least two more will be stunned.” Horgol gave a wet laugh as he shook his head, “Come on then, where are the papers? What needs signing? The sooner we take ownership of Earth, the sooner we can evict the lot of you and get to work building the Gibssolly Resort.”
Gibssolly was Horgol’s half Frilliot brother who had died in tragic trans-space-golfing accident. Well, they don’t call it a Half Head for no reason (a Half Head was slightly better than a Slice of Cheese but not quite as good as a Birdie which is universally agreed to be one under par).
“Hold on just a minute! I’m… we’re… not going anywhere.” Grump surveyed the room of cowering associates (cowering on account of the fact Horgol was sixteen feet tall and had one too many tentacles for their liking). The associates nodded their approval. “And I think I’m right in saying that we won’t stand for Earth being knocked down for a bloody resort to be erected in its place!”
“Feel free to take a seat if it bothers you that much.” Horgol shrugged in a way only tentacles are capable, “This is happening, the fleet are already here.”
“Well I… we… have a button.” Grump glowered at Horgol, folding his flabby arms one over the other.
“A button?” Horgol sounded uncertain for the first time since meeting Grump (when a Frilliot sounds uncertain it lets out a low pitched whine, the only purpose of which is to mask the quieter sound of gas escaping from the Frilliot’s rear ears… how embarrassing). “What does it do?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Grump said smugly.
“Yes, I would.”
“Well I’m not telling you.” there was sudden applause from at least a third of the President’s associates. This startled Horgol into letting out another high pitched whine. At this point Horgol was beyond embarrassed, he started throwing his tentacles about in a fluster, managing to knock over an annoying number of pencil pots, thirteen to be exact.
“Stop that!” Grump grumbled.
“Can we please get on with signing the papers. I really would like to leave.” Horgol was thinking about how nice a hot bath and a Pelicor-Trill Sandwich would be. Oddly enough Pelicor-Trill tastes exactly like peanut butter jelly, only with a little more crunch.
“What are you not understanding about this. We won’t…” again Grump checked the room, and the room nodded, “that’s right, we won’t be signing over Earth.”
“By the Galactic Spirit! You drive a hard bargain. I dare say advertising something for free and pressing for payment is some kind of crime. It’s like trying to drive down the already rock bottom price at a car boot sale, only this works the opposite way round.”
“Half a Quadrillion Florts.” Horgol said, somewhat begrudgingly.
“Okay, a Quadrillion Florts.” Horgol eyed the stammering President.
“Right. Two Quadrillion Florts. Final offer.”
The President’s associates were conferring uselessly between one another.
“Shouldn’t you at least tell us what we’re supposed to do when we’re evicted from Earth?” Grump asked.
“I don’t think so.”
“Okay. But how much are Florts actually worth?” Grump was a business man, and at the very least had the sense to ask of worth, not that he’d follow it through with any sort of conviction.
“Some money (which is to say at least seven pence, or more than half a kilogram of Sugared Plumbinsicles).” Horgol replied with a warm, wet smile.
“Deal.” Grump shook Horgol’s tentacle and from above the Oval Office there came a rumbling sound. A small hole opened in reality (not the ceiling) and through it fell what can only be described as a calculator with legs (or a fax machine with a face only a mother could love). “What is that?”
“Our witness.” Horgol scowled at the machine, “A representative of the Imperial Council here to oversee the signing of contracts. So…”
“So, what?” Grump looked confused.
“The papers , Earthling. The contract of Earth’s sale to the Frilliot…” Horgol added in a mutter, “On behalf of the Gobsong.” and coughed.
“Oh, we don’t actually have any papers of that description.”
“Grob feeding, Nurggle loving, Frong spelunking, son of a…” Horgol smiled, somewhat less wetly, “Not to worry. I’ll wait whilst you have them produced. How long will that take?”
The President shrugged, and from behind a chair one of the less useless associates shouted, “Some time (which is to say at least seven seconds, or the amount of time it takes to harvest more than half a kilogram of Sugared Plumbinsicles).”
Horgol sighed, “I’m starting to see why you’d want to give your world away for free.”
“But…” Grump shook himself, what was the use, he was about to seal a deal worth Two Quadrillion Florts (or some money). “I’ll see to it that the contracts are drawn up right away.” suddenly more business like Grump then went on to offer Horgol a cup of tea whilst he waited, which Horgol politely refused in favour of a bottle of Tatonic Oil he’d brought along himself.
Some time later the deal would pass (which would come to be known as the worst deal ever made in all the Universe… worse even than giving your planet away for free) and Horgol would take ownership of Earth. The Earth would then be demolished in favour of the Gibssolly Resort, and all its previous residents (dogs, whales, humanity) would be sent out in temporary (and rather uncomfortable) housing pods (which were unremarkably alike council flats).
So what exactly had gone wrong (apart from Earth being demolished, that is)? Well, it turns out Florts don’t hold traditional monetary value, but instead a value of time. Florts are credits that represent a period of time that is to be repaid through manual labour in repentance of a crime committed against the various Councils and Courts of the Universe. One Flort was the equivalent of one earthly decade. In short the Earth then owed the Universe Twenty Quadrillion Decades of unpaid manual labour, in repentance of crimes they’d never committed. Technically speaking a decade is worth more than seven pence and equivalent to more than half a kilogram of Sugared Plumbinsicles.
“Two Quadrillion Florts.” Grump rubbed his hands together, “You’ve done it again, Mr President.”
Copyright © K R Perry 2019