The night before I started eighth grade our parents had some friends over, as Sundays were typically free of any of my sister Sara’s music lessons. Mr. Schmausheizer used to work at the same insurance law firm as my dad but left for the slightly more glamorous world of copyright law. Dad had been at Martin & Herman since he graduated law school, had just been promoted to junior partner, and at 36 he was the youngest to ever have that title. I got the sense that was the real reason he decided to have them over now. He was riding high and ready to show himself off for once, along with the usual parading of Sara’s captivating voice.
I always felt my shoulders tense up when I walked offstage.
I loved being the center of attention up there. Put a bass in my hand, push me into the spotlight and I could keep going for days on pure contagious energy. There’s something different about playing when I’m in front of a crowd of one or one thousand, it feels like a reason to play out loud, get my music to the world rather than just listening to the melodies inside my head. It’s a relief.
Every time Professor Catchto returned to the Galactic Research Institute was a bittersweet reminder of the vibrant academic community that slowly disappeared over the past three thousand years. There were pictures of all past Skantar Prize winners lining the walls, with a slightly thinner layer of dust signaling the more recent ones as she moved closer to the single open office. There were only two people left doing work that would be considered for the Skantar Prize, and Todd would be disqualified from future consideration if he lost for a fifth time. The professor knew this desperation was why Todd suddenly risked sending Zap to Earth, and she was not looking forward to sharing this development with Stravelle.
[All dialogue, with the exception of specific nouns, has been translated to English]
Zap Ack got to Earth on May 14th, just in time for the summer movie season. He was the first of the Mitchonese to visit the source of the universe’s best entertainment and Hollywood’s biggest intergalactic fan.
The Mitchonese, as the name would suggest, lived on Mitchone, a desert planet deep in the Milky Way galaxy, exactly 28,368.43 light years away from where Zap died in a parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. The next day in the newspaper, a young reporter, Miss Perri Chants, would describe him as “…a small purple creature that looked relatively human from a distance but upon closer inspection revealed soft, tentacle-like appendages with only four fingers instead of ordinary arms, and only slightly more rigid legs, sparsely dotted with pink freckles. Witnesses described it standing upright before being attacked by Mrs. Wattle. Its face was almost identical to one of ours, except missing ears, any hair and covered in a dense pattern of those same pink freckles. It was just familiar enough that you could pass it on the street and not look twice, especially when wearing the porkpie hat and corduroy jacket that laid on the ground next to its body.”