“Well I was walkin’ home from Willie P.’s one night after knockin’ back a few sixpacks of his homebrew, so make no mistake, I was pretty sloshed. Walkin’ next to Old Man J.’s field, all of a sudden I see the field erupt into flames, and I was thinkin’ maybe Willie slipped a little of the ol’ Lucy D. in there (he’s known to do it, the joker).
“But no, this was the real deal. Stepping up to the flames I could feel them singin’ off my arm hairs. I walked over to the pit and who should jump out but the damned old Devil himself. A bit shorter than I’d imagined, he came about up to my knee.
“‘Make a wish!’ he cried, with a voice like rocks scraping against rocks.
“‘No sir,’ I said, ‘I know how this works, I make a wish and you take my soul. No thanks!’
“‘It’s not like that,’ he said, ‘If you want, you can just do me a favor instead. 24 hours after the wish if the favor’s not done, I’ll take your soul! Now, WISH!’
“‘Well alright,’ I said, and my drunken mind went the only place it could, ‘I wish I had another beer!’
“POOF! All the flames were gone and didn’t even leave a scorch mark. In my hand I held a nice cool Natural Light, maybe the greatest beer on God’s Green Earth.
“In my head, I hear the voice of that damn Devil, and he’s sayin’ ‘In return, you gotta steal somethin’!’ I don’t think much about it though, so I head on home.
“Next day I’m having my traditional day-after-visitin’-Willie hangover breakfast at Waffle House, when I suddenly remember my promise. At this point I’m still half-convinced it’s the onset of the ol’ Delirium Tremens, but just to be safe I stick the fork in my pocket and walk out.
“When I get back to the field, sure enough, flames shoot up, the ground cracks open and out jumps the devil. I toss the fork at his feet, casually, like I’m a movie gangster.
“‘Not quite what I was expecting,’ he growled, ‘But it’ll do. Now, your next wish!’
“‘Well, my car’s a bit shot. How ’bout a nice new Ferrari?’
“‘Consider it done!’ shouted the Devil, and sure enough, when I turned around there was a shiny new car with the keys in the ignition.
“‘This time,’ the Devil grinned, ‘You gotta kill somethin’.’
“I looked down, thinkin’ it over. I started pacing around and I accidentally stepped on a fresh little dandelion, and as you can imagine that made me feel right awful.
“But the Devil was even more upset than me. ‘When I said “Kill Somethin'” I didn’t mean a flower!’ he shouted, grimacing, ‘Bah. You won’t fool me next time! Now, your final wish!’
“‘Well, the car’s nice,’ I said, ‘But what’s a good car without a nice garage to park it in? I wish for a brand new mansion!’
“‘Done!’ shouted the devil, ‘Now, as payment for this, you gotta kill somebody.‘”
“Oh my God,” she said, staring at the storyteller with wide-eyed wonder. “What’d you do then?”
He took a long, slow sip of his beer. “I’m not proud to tell you this, but I thought about that long and hard, and I came to a decision.
“‘Nah, not gonna happen,’ I said, and kicked that bastard right back down the hole and went home to my nice new mansion.”
The discovery of faster-than-light travel came about in much the same way as most great scientific discoveries in the universe: as the result of a night of drunken debauchery. After an overly dramatic space battle wherein they completely destroyed the armada of their mortal enemies, the X’th’qulikans, the crew of the battleship Crybabyslobberpuss proceeded to get totally smashed. After waking up, they discovered that they were a few dozen light years away from their original location.
Unfortunately, they had somehow managed to park themselves around the X’th’qulikans’ home planet, and so their important discovery was not reported for centuries until an eccentric collector bought the disk containing the Crybabyslobberpuss‘ starship data from a X’th’qulikan caffeine addict whose great-great-great-great-grandfather had fought in the war and had handed down the disk as a family heirloom for generations until this X’th’qulikan in question really needed his next fix at any cost.
But I digress.
It was soon discovered that the secret to faster-than-light travel was the simple extension of one of the most widely known facts in the universe. Just as you might find yourself lying in a strange gutter (or bed) on an unfamiliar side of town (or even in an entirely different town) after a raging bender, it turns out that starship crews who get completely blackout wasted tend to find themselves in entirely different sectors of the galaxy after waking up the next daycycle. Nobody is really able to discern the method of actual travel — the inevitable meddling with the ship’s controls by the drunks leaves any computer data completely undecipherable.
Of course, this method of transportation is incredibly unreliable as the crew really has no idea where they’ll end up. Which is where another well-known fact about drunk people comes into play: they love fatty, fried foods. The crew almost invariably awakens somewhere near a franchise of McGarbilax’s 25-Hour Diner, guaranteeing that they will, at least, be near some semblance of civilization.
“Got any spare change?” asked the Bum as the Truck Driver pushed passed him into the bar.
“The usual?” asked the Bartender as he entered.
“What else?” grunted the Truck Driver, sliding onto the stool. “I don’t know why you work in this dump,” he said, shaking his head.
“We all have to pay the rent somehow,” shrugged the Bartender, mixing up the drink.
“Tell me about it,” sighed the Truck Driver, “But you could do so much more! You’re the Wise Old Man for God’s sake! Couldn’t you have been a professor or a therapist or something?”
“I was self-taught,” sighed the Bartender, “No degree, no fancy title. But hey, you’re not exactly the Playboy Millionaire either!”
“Maybe not,” admitted the Truck Driver, “The Fool got there first, somehow.”
“I heard it was the Trickster,” said the Bartender. “He decided to become a Con Man, then he and the Fool worked together, did some embezzling and fraud, made millions. Of course, then he got arrested and the Fool got to keep all the money. Been living it up ever since, doesn’t give two shits about anything.”
“Hell, man,” laughed the Truck Driver, “why couldn’t that have been us? Ah well, at least I’m still doing what I was meant to. Driving a truck is sort of like being a Wanderer. I get to travel a lot, anyway.”
“Things sure have changed,” sighed the Bartender. “Have you seen the Mother and the Child recently? Now that’s sad.”
The Truck Driver nodded. Back when humanity was young, the Child was all sweetness and light, instead of the snotty little shit he was today. One could almost forgive the Mother for turning from the strong, supportive parent she once was to the henpecking, controlling woman she had become.
“What we need is a Hero to come along and set things right,” the Truck Driver sighed.
The Bartender smiled wistfully. “Every day I wish it more and more. It’s such a shame he was killed back in World War II.”
Humanity had its first official contact with extraterrestrials in the mid 21st century. Apparently, they had been monitoring our television broadcasts for decades, watching our culture and waiting for us to show that we had something worth contributing to the intergalactic community.
What finally got them was a certain beer ad created in the late 20th century. They had been interested in the invention of beer for quite some time, it being apparently unique in the galaxy, but it wasn’t until they saw this commercial that they really felt they had to try it.
Unfortunately, when they got here they landed in St. Louis. Sorely disappointed at the quality of the beverage they found, they destroyed the city and were just about ready to blow up the entire planet as well, until a small group of alien exiles who’d been living in Germany radioed them and told them to give beer a second chance.
The expeditionary force headed over to Berlin, was greatly overjoyed at what they found and proceeded to get completely trashed. Humanity will never forget the events of that infamous night, the so-called Überverrücktefremdebetrunknenberlinernacht.
The next day the aliens met with the UN, bringing premium alcoholic beverages from across the galaxy. Pretty soon all the delegates were wearing lampshades on their heads and the treaty had been signed that made Earth a member of the Galactic Federation. The rest, as they say, is history.
Though I’m pretty sure they just say that because everyone was too drunk to remember what happened.
“Hey man, you OK? You look a little down.”
“I guess you could say that.”
“You know what your problem is?”
“Yeah, I know what my problem is. My problem is I have a terrible sense of self-worth. I constantly harp on my failures while ignoring my successes. Causing, of course, a never-ending spiral of failure because as I trust in my own abilities less and less I succeed less and less. Of course, it’s not really my fault. When I was young, nothing I did was ever good enough for my parents. I was the only child so all their attention was always focused on me. Whenever I screwed up, I got it big time, when my father was even around. Most of the time he was off on ‘business trips’ (at his funeral I found out he had at least 50 mistresses) leaving my mother to raise me. I mean, she tried her best, but she didn’t have the masculinizing influence that a father would have had. Plus I think she knew what he was really up to so most of the time she would just cry herself to sleep watching TV, leaving me to eat stale crackers and tuna. Actually, the tuna probably didn’t help either. There’s a lot of heavy metals in that stuff. Probably disrupted my brain real bad, probably all sorts of chemical imbalances up there now. ‘Course, things didn’t get much better when I went to college, my mom wasn’t willing to cut the apron strings, they’d call me every night. I tried sometimes to ‘accidentally’ leave my phone in my room but then I just got chewed out. Honestly it was basically like having someone watching you all the time, do you know what that’s like? Of course now that they’re gone that’s not a problem anymore and I feel relieved, but I really feel sort of guilty for feeling that way too. And honestly after having someone there all the time to force you to achieve and to support you when you fail…it’s sort of hard to deal with actually being independent. Honestly, all in all I’m pretty much just a basket case.”
“Sorry, what were you saying?”
“I was gonna say that your problem is it’s been too long since you’ve gotten drunk.”
“Yeah, actually, you’re right, that’s probably what it is.”
(Just joining us? Go back to the beginning of the story.)
Billy sat in the bar of the hotel, a drink in his hand. He was depressed. His investment had turned out to be a total waste of money. It had destroyed Dubai. Hell, he might even go to prison for it.
The bartender came up to him and put an apple juice in front of him. “It’s from her,” he said, jerking a thumb towards a previously unnoticed woman in the corner.
Billy took a flask out of his pocket and poured some liquor into the apple juice. “That’s more like it,” he said to himself as he walked over to the woman. “So, you come here often?”
“Hey,” she said.
After a moment of awkward silence, his phone rang.
“Billy, it’s the Colonel.”
“Listen, I’m safe in a bunker underneath the facility.”
The woman began to drool on Billy’s shoulder.
“If you can make it here,” continued the Colonel, we can let you in the bunker and we can wait out this nightmare. Together.”
The woman began to groan and paw at Billy. “Hold on,” he told her.
“That sounds great,” he told the Colonel, “Can I bring a friend along?”
“Oh, sure,” said the Colonel, sounding a bit dejected, “The more survivors the better.”
The woman began to nibble on Billy’s neck. “Stop that,” he told her, “I’m on the phone!”
“Anyway,” the Colonel said, “If you can make it here soon that’d be great, it’s kinda lonely down here…”
Billy shut off his phone.
I remember when I was 10 years old. My mother would send my brother and me to grandma’s house every Sunday, to “spend quality time with her”. So every Sunday, we’d trek three blocks to her house, dressed like we were going to church. Every Sunday we’d sit in her cigarette smoke filled living room, listening to her berate us at length for being the root of all her suffering and woe throughout the years with a heavy middle-European accent. She held us responsible for the pain she had been dealt both during and after the second world war in Poland. She held us responsible for her divorce, for her drinking, for her broken toilet. In her eyes, we were two of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. She spent every Sunday wearing nothing more than a horrible pink bathrobe and matching slippers with a lime green shower cap, a bottle of brandy in her left hand and a lit cigarette in the right, one leg crossed over the other. And if my brother or I made so much as a whisper, she’d leap across the room with surprising agility and hit us both with an old clothes iron. Then she’d threaten to cut off our toes if we ratted on her, “just like they used to do in the old country”. Christmas eve was always fun too. Every year was the same story. Half-way through opening presents, she’d start drinking and by the time we were done, she’d be in a drunken stupor. My mother would inevitably help her upstairs to her bedroom and put her in bed while my dad and I cleaned up the living room. Then we left her house quietly, not saying a word as we walked to the car.