Vegetable City

“Zorg,” the alien mother said. “You need to eat your metal flakes and pebbles, or you won’t get any Citha floss.”

“I don’t wanna,” Zorg said. “It’s yucky.”

“It will help you grow big and round and strong like your daddy,” the alien mother said.

“Don’t wanna,” Zorg said. “I wanna stay little.”

“Zorg,” his father said. “You need to eat your structables. If you eat three bites, you won’t have to eat any more. You can do that, right?”

“I won’t!” Zorg said. “They’re too yucky. I won’t eat them.”

“Then you’re going to bed early,” the alien father said. “Go get your pajamas on.”

Zorg stomped out of the kitchen. But, he didn’t go to his room. He snuck out to the shuttle bay and crept into the spaceship. He entered a random string of numbers and letters and cheered when the ship took off. He would find a place where there were no structables. Maybe they would build everything out of Citha floss?

The light above the communications device started to flash. His parents were trying to call him. Still angry, Zorg refused to answer it. Instead, he watched the monitor. It was displaying pictures of the blue and green planet he’d be visiting soon. Was it made of water? Gases? He suddenly wished his parents were here. They would know.

He realized that he was alone far from home and he didn’t really know where he was going. He considered picking up the communication device after all, but just then the ship landed with a gentle thunk. The monitor displayed his surroundings. It was so green and strange.

There were no swirling gas vapors like at home. He tugged on his environmental suit and went outside. The light was so bright it was nearly painful. The ship was in a green cloud thing at the edge of a small flat green area filled with tall strange animals.   High above, they were surrounded by towering buildings made entirely of structables.

It was a city made of structables. Did they live in them and eat them too? Surely there was something else edible here. Zorg watched a large fluffy animal chew on the green stuff. Zorg plucked a piece of the green stuff and took a small bite. It burned his mouth. He spit it out quickly.

That was terrible! Was he going to die? He waited for a moment. Nope, he seemed to be okay. He watched the fluffy thing come closer. He looked up at it. Did the fluff taste like Citha floss?

Feeling brave, Zorg reached out and grabbed a few of the fibers and pulled.   They came loose with a jerk. The fluffy thing made a high-pitched noise and then turned grumbled. Zorg backed up a step just as it snapped its sharp teeth at him. Zorg turned and ran.

He reached the green cloud place just before the fluffy thing caught him, but it had been a near thing. It had caught the edge of his suit at one point, but its teeth slid off.   Zorg clutched the fluff to his chest as he fumbled at the door mechanism with a shaky hand.

There was a whistling noise, and the fluffy beast huffed and turned away.   Zorg watched it go. He popped the fluff in his mouth. It was flavorless and terribly chewy. He spit it out in disgust. He was ready to go home. He’d be happy to leave the lifetime supply of structables far, far behind.

He entered the ship and took off his suit. Then, with a sigh, he picked up the communications device.   “Mom? Dad?” he said

“Zorg?” his father said.

“I wanna come home,” Zorg said.

“I’ll give you the numbers. Are you ready to enter them into the navigation system?”

“Yes,” Zorg said. He entered the numbers as his father said them. The ship leapt back into space. “Am I going to be in trouble when I get home?” he asked.

“Yes,” his father said. “You broke one of our safety rules.”

“What will happen?” Zorg asked.

“Early bedtime and no Citha floss for a week,” his father said.

“Do you still love me?” Zorg asked.

“Your mom and I will always love you,” his father said. “That’s why we want you to be safe and healthy and happy.”

“But you make me eat yucky structables,” Zorg said.

“They help you to be healthy,” his father said. “You know that.”

“I know, but I don’t like them. Can I have Citha floss when the week is up?” Zorg asked.

“If you eat three bites of structables every day before that,” his father said.

“Okay,” Zorg said. “But only three bites.”