You know what the best part of living on board a space station is? For me, I get to explore all sorts of different planets. And when you only need to show up once an Earth week to do an Earth hour-long show, you can imagine all the free time you got on your hands!
Yesterday, I rented a space suit to go walking on a tiny deserted moon the station passed a while back. I invited Numar and Bibble to come along with me, and they accepted the invitation. After all, it's no fun--let alone safe--to go wandering aimlessly without a friend. The space suits were designed for humanoid bodies, so Numar could fit just fine (Pipa would probably need help because of her four legs, but based on my observations, when Pipa walks, you'd forget she had four legs). For Bibble, all he had to do was pull off the helmet, climb right in, and shut the safety lid.
I gotta confess this, but there wasn't really anything worth seeing on the moon, unless you like jumping into craters in hopes that one of them will lead to an underground city or something like that. But we actually had a fun time jumping around on the moon, playing with its relatively weak gravity (I bet it's weaker than Earth's moon).
"You hanging in there, Bibble?" said Numar
"This is the best day of my life right now!" he said excitedly, "I think the only way to make it greater would be you tossing me up into the air, and catch me as I come flying down!"
"I think that's gonna be a challenge..." I muttered.
Indeed, while Bibble was a cute little fella, he was nowhere near lightweight. Numar and I took turns holding him up in that disembodied space helmet, but it was, obviously, a challenge. And then, as I feared would happen sooner or later, I dropped the helmet. The safety lid flew open, and Bibble was exposed to...whatever was making up the atmosphere. Screaming, he held on for dear life to my space suit with his suction cup tentacles. As quickly as possible, we made for the transport ship Hendrix to shuttle us back to the Woodstock, bringing our exploration to an abrupt end.
Everything was normal for the first few days after the incident. I was in the green room with Pipa, who was waiting for her board test to begin. If the computer gave her a passing grade, she'd be officially a Woodstock DJ. She was seated on the couch opposite me, reading the copy of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" I got her to help her understand fiction. There was a special transparent window shade on the top of our headsets that, when pulled down over the eyes, translated printed matter into the user's language, obviously making reading a whole lot easier. Things got a bit quiet: time for an icebreaker.
"So, you ready for your board test? Think they're gonna let you into the club?" I asked.
"Should," said Pipa, "I mean, I've done this before, back on Nona. I don't see how different this one will be."
"Well for one thing, you're playing your music for the whole universe now (at least the ones who agreed to receive our airwaves)."
Pipa's pupils shrank and she dropped her book. I think her heart (wherever that is) skipped a beat too. Then there was a long pause.
"UGH!" she grunted, "I almost forgot about that!" So much for the concept of aliens being superior to us humans intelligence-wise...
Just then, Numar appeared through the door leading to the hallway. From the look on her face, it seemed something strange was happening.
"Something strange is happening!" she exclaimed. OH, I'm good!
"Bibble?" I queried.
We were all worried about Bibble since that episode on that moon, at one level or another. Like I said, nothing significant happened the first few days after the incident, but now something WAS happening. I followed Numar to the door to Bibble's bedroom (All DJs were encouraged to get a bedroom, to save on carpool gas money). She pinched closed the equivalent of her nose, implying that I should do the same. And she was right: as soon as we entered Bibble's room, there was an atrocious stench like you wouldn't believe! I mean, when we went in, we couldn't wait to get the hell out of there, it was that terrible! So we did.
Numar shut the door and let go of her nose-equivalent as I let go of mine. Then we both took deep breaths of the fresh air in the hallways.
"Do you think that smell came from that moon we visited?" I said.
"It sure looks like it," said Numar.
"Well then why now and not like the few days between now and when we got back?"
"...I dunno. I just work here."
"Well we gotta do something! We can't have him walk...moving around smelling like that all day!" Then I thought of something, "You wait here, I'm gonna get a space helmet."
I did just that. When I came back with the helmet, Numar had her arms crossed, and a 'what are we going to do now' face on.
"One of us is going in that foul-odered room, and it's not going to be me!" she proposed.
"Well I don't wanna go in there either," I responded.
"In that case, we're screwed."
"No we're not. Let's do fingers for it. Two out of three?"
I set the helmet down and we began. Rock Paper Scissors was a well known game throughout the universe, even for those without fingers. On some planets, there are more than three official choices to pick, and it can get difficult to remember what beats what. But gimme the classic three-choice setup any day.
There was a tie on the first go, then Numar beat me on the other two. I ran into Bibble's room and came out as soon as possible, with Bibble inside the helmet. It was a bit lighter than before (but not by much), probably because I wasn't in a space suit this time around. On the plus side, it kept the bad smell contained for the time being. Now we just needed to de-stench him.
My first thought was to give him a bath. The bathrooms that came with our bedrooms are just toilets and sinks, so that wasn't an option. However, there's a communal shower area downstairs, near the front of the station. But because it's communal, it's all one big room with several shower heads on the ceiling, and no separating walls. Yes, that does sound uncomfortable, but to be fair, several alien races on board the Woodstock don't wear clothing. Anyway, I slipped back to my room to grab some swimming trunks and a few human soaps and brushes; If I'm going to clean an alien, I might as well use the stuff I'm familiar with first.
After spending nearly half an Earth hour of brushing, scrubbing, shampooing and rinsing, I wrapped Bibble up in a towel and we emerged from the communal shower. I put him and the towel back into the space helmet, and went back upstairs and down through the dining hall--an ingenious shortcut if any--back to the green room. Here was Otho, sitting emotionlessly, staring at the many wall-mounted clocks, and the window that looked out into the vast reaches of Space. The studio door opened and out came Pipa, fresh off her board test.
"You're back!" she said, "Numar came by and told me the story."
"Where is Numar?" I said.
"She's down in the arcade. Presumably trying to beat your PAC-MAN score."
Yeah. Good luck with that.
"So you get the smell off Bibble yet?"
That was my cue to open the helmet and unwrap the towel, setting Bibble free. There was a long pause...and the scent of the room slowly began to change. The excited expressions on our faces slowly began to fade.
"Oh no. It's STILL THERE!" I exclaimed, quickly putting Bibble back into the helmet.
Then Otho said something quietly: "Otho has smelled worse." Then he walked into the studio and slammed the door shut.
As the Earth days passed, with the stench being unbearable whenever Bibble was in the area, he decided to take drastic measures. As much as possible, he stayed in his room. Whenever he needed to leave, to do his show for example, he would climb into his space helmet and roll his way down the hallways. Sometimes, if he was in a hurry, one of the other aliens would carry him to the studio. To my surprise and my comfort, the bad smell curse-thing wasn't contagious: my towel wasn't affected, and neither were the stray disembodied tentacles he used to store music.
I decided to take another shot at getting the stench off Bibble: if boring old soap isn't gonna work, then laundry detergent might. They haven't been animal tested, sure, but have they ever been alien tested? Only one way to find out. With Bibble once again in the helmet, I took him to the laundry room, also downstairs. I was getting ready to throw him in the washing machine alongside a dash of detergent, when a worrisome thought came to me: that's an air-tight cabin! As soon as it fills with water, he would suffocate! A small price for everything indeed.
It should go without saying, but I think it was safe to say that, as this point, we've all had it with Bibble stinking up the whole place. Having been responsible for dropping the helmet and exposing Bibble to the stinky atmosphere of that moon, I knew I had to do something, but I didn't know what. I figured a few minutes of watching TV would at least clear my head or give me an idea, whichever came first. Another program was about to start at the top of the hour, but that was the same time as my show was supposed to start. I began my show and walked out of the studio the moment I put on The Rolling Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knockin"; a seven-minute song like that should buy me enough time. On the TV was a nature show on skunks, and how the stench they let off can be pretty hard to...unless...that's it! TOMATO SAUCE! Now I wish I would've put on a longer track...
After going back to the studio to conclude my show, I went to the parking garage for the next carpool bound for Earth. Once on my home base in Gramercy, I hit the streets for the closest warehouse club that sold tomato sauce; I figured a box full of that stuff would do the trick. Thankfully, I found one at a place that I was a member of. And before I knew it, I was once again in the carpool on its way back to the Woodstock.
But once back on the Woodstock, everybody was in panic. The bad smell surrounding Bibble started to seep through the cracks in the space helmet's safety lid, meaning that even inside the helmet, hardly an alien goes past without having to pinch shut their nose-equivalents. As for Bibble himself? His face started to look a bit more green than red. He was suffocating from his own odor; now that was bad! Fortunately, the doctor arrived with the medicine.
I found Bibble in his room, sobbing and muttering in song "I don't wanna die...I sometimes wish I'd never born at all" under his breath. Then he looked up and saw me and the box full of tomato sauce cans.
"Todd! Are you here to save me?"
"Is this box full of the finest miracle formula on this side of the Milky Way?"
There was only one answer.
I was not going into that communal shower again, so I threw Bibble into a makeshift bathtub: a huge Rubbermaid container I borrowed from home. It was filled to the brim with every last drop of the tomato sauce. If this doesn't relieve him of this little disease he has, then I just threw a generous amount of money down the drain.
After three minutes (or so) of swimming around in that thick sauce, several aliens gathered outside the door to Bibble's room, waiting for us to rinse off the excess sauce and come out. And we did. Bibble was, at last, out of his room without the space helmet on. The bad smell was gone; now he smelled of tomatoes! The aliens who had arms and hands clapped them: it was clear that they were happy to have them back.
"I think we all know who to thank for this," said Numar, and they all looked at me.
"Don't thank me," I declared, "Thank the tomato sauce. I'm just the guy who got Bibble into this mess in the first place."
I looked at Pipa, who was looking all giddy...apparently about something else entirely. In her hand was a piece of paper: the results of her board test!
"Oh yeah! The test! How'd you do?" I asked.
She unfolded the paper and turned it around so we could see. It read 'B+ YOU'RE IN!'
I looked up to Bibble, sitting atop my head again, and said "Looks like we got a lot to ketchup on!"
And we all laughed.