Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I feel great. Manual labor really isn't my thing, but I don't mind doing it if I have to. And the food's good, and it's nice to be surrounded by friendly--well, friendlyish--faces. But what's really giving me that warm glow is knowing what dipshits Fehnruller and Alterjio are.

Here's what happened. I walked around that yellow lake until I found where it flowed out. I figured, if this place is anything like Earth, they'll have towns and stuff where water is. Assuming there are towns. Anyway, it was better than sitting around waiting for mushrooms to form on me.

I followed the river downstream. All the vegetation around here was the same dark blue-purple color. Lost in the Radicchio Forest. It was weird because my eyes kept expecting green; I had to stop myself from squinting all the time. I wish I could describe more, but it's so dim and foggy at ground level that I really couldn't see much. I did keep hearing a sound like a ring-for-service bell off in the distance.

Anyway. After a few hours walk down the river, I started hearing faint noises ahead, like chopping and grunting and stuff. I moved closer, carefully, and saw a fence in front of me, about head height. It looked kind of like a snow fence, only with wider slats. Definitely mass-produced, so we were talking about some kind of civilization here. I looked through.

Farming. There were aliens farming. Only these weren't the green, tailed, black-maned claw-handed humanoids like Alterjio, who lived up in the sky cities. These were lavender froglike humanoids. The field on the other side of the fence was some kind of purple cornlike stalked crop, but I could see other things in adjacent fields (not quite as much mist here). I stood there for a while and watched them work and chirp back and forth at each other, and then looked for a gate.

One difference between this place and an Earth farm was that they didn't go for straight lines here; the lines of crops radiated out from little pools that were scattered around the field.

The nearest gate was along the riverbank. I went and leaned on it and called, "Hello!" to the frog guys. They freaked out, all ducking into identical crouches, leaping into pools, and chirping some more at each other. One of them recovered faster than the others, and loped toward me, carrying his--hoe? Spade?--like he could use it as a weapon. And he also let out this massive croak that brought a bunch of other frog guys running behind him.

I didn't run, or anything, so he slowed down as he neared the gate. His eyes were kind of bugged out, but that could have been normal for him. I held my hands open in the traditional look-I'm-harmless gesture, and he chirped at me, definitely puzzled. I said, "There's no way we can speak each other's language. Look, we've got completely different throats," and tapped my neck. My idea was not so much to communicate with him as it was to let him know that I was an intelligent being and not just an animal.

It worked out okay. We started trying to get ideas across by sign language (nodding for 'yes', slashing gesture for 'no', etc.), and the first thing I did once we had any kind of rapport going was to offer to work. Once they were convinced I meant it, they gave me some lifting-and-carrying type jobs; I guess that's all I could be trusted with.

So that was fine. I've been here for a few days now, doing gruntwork in return for room and board. The food, as I mentioned, is decent and plentiful. These frog guys seem to have dietary habits similar to humans. They sleep in heated ponds, so I'm not exactly sharing the bunkhouse with them, but I've got a pile of old sacks and stuff in one of the sheds. It's nice here. The Frogians (or whatever) treat me well. Plus I've sent out an e-mail with my location as best I can describe it, so I have some hope I'm not going to be here forever.

None of which is the funny part. The funny part is this: I was pushing a wheelbarrow through this one field, and recognized the crop. It was even green and not purple. I got the nearest Frogian's attention and pointed at the plants quizzically. He blinked a couple of times and gestured at the clothes he was wearing and a nearby coil of rope. I grinned, and then mimed tearing off a couple of leaves, rolling them up, and smoking them.

He let out a little croak and made emphatic slashing gestures. Ah hah! So it does work the same and they even know about it!

I smiled at the guy and got back to work, but my mind was racing. I imagined the entire sequence of events.

Way back when, some of the sky-city aliens come to Earth. Not sure why. They meet Fehnruller and take him back to their home planet. He and Alterjio come up with a scheme of raiding Earth, stealing a bunch of marijuana, and bringing it back to sell to all the other aliens, in a store. The fact that they have a store implies to me that recreational drugs aren't illegal here.

But they are worried about the law! Why? Maybe because they stole a bunch of spaceships and blew the crap out of another planet, and kidnapped Ingrid and me into slavery. Mostly the spaceships, probably.

And the whole time, marijuana was growing on the surface of their own damn planet. The only way that makes sense is if they didn't know about it. I did consider that maybe I'd stumbled upon a branch of Fehnruller's operation, but no. Fehnruller and Alterjio haven't been at it long enough to have this much pot growing down here.

God, imagine all the time and trouble they could have saved themselves if only they'd asked anyone with a clue on this planet. This whole enterprise could have been legal and probably more profitable; all it would have taken was a bit of botanical research. But oh no.

And now I'm going to stop typing, because I just saw a shooting star overhead, and, in this cloud cover, there's only one thing that can be.

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