Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

They say that Vikings never actually had horns on their helmets. Odd how that piece of trivia rises to mind at this moment of peril. I know why it’s arisen: the being attempting to end my existence has horns on his helmet – or his head looks like a knight’s full-face helm with quadruple horns set at ninety-degrees to each other. These horns are either aligned to one central on the forehead – or to ones extending forward and outward from the temples – from the examples of his race that I’ve seen.

A girder interrupts my musings: I run straight into it.

I come to lying on the ground with the helmed space barbarian looming over me, making noises like a short-circuiting loudspeaker. As my eyes focus, his head explodes and I see that there is no helmet involved – his head had horns. The spattering of alien gore snaps me fully conscious and I scoot backwards while spitting out gobs of xenobrain. I start to retch as the taste registers.

Minutes later, I’m puking bile to the accompaniment of girly laughter. That’s not funny.

Using a crunch-and-spring move I come to my feet, ready to give the lady a piece of my mind. Spinning around, I stare her straight in the second nipple pair from the top and hastily reconsider my options. Tracking my gaze upwards, I encounter an angular face of surprising charm and the greenest eyes I have ever seen. I suffer a ‘lost moment’ only men will understand before I realise that her eyes are glowing from within and while her hands are on her hips, the tail – which I presume to be hers – is pointing a Kritoralian Eviscerator at me. No wonder my erstwhile attacker’s head exploded!

“You’d be what they call a Hooman?”
She’s got a voice that is almost ULF. I can feel her speak. Is she the source of that contralto laughter? I nod.
“Goodly. I’m Persim. That me name. I be a Fune. Always wanted t’meet a Hooman.”
Here goes nothing: “Why?”
She laughs and yes, she’s the owner of the laughter.
“It’s a big night with lots o’stars. Only you lot seem to want to go find what’s behind the next one.”
I smile: “You’d be looking for a berth?”
“Yup. Got to get me off this rock before next moonrise. Otherwise one o’him what I just headshot will be my new owner.”
“New owner? What happened to your old owner?”
She points at the headless corpse: “Was ’im. Better get me gone. Was thinkin’ you might ‘elp me after I ‘elp you?”
I’ve never heard of a Fune, but then again, humanity is still coming to terms with space being multi-dimensional and chock full of aliens. The only reason Earth got left alone for so long was that we were in what was considered an uninhabited sector of an obscure dimension.
My father got out of Australia as soon as he could. Said the stars were calling him to come walk among them. I guess I inherited that wanderlust. Like Persim said: ‘go find out what’s behind the next one’.
That thought settles my answer: “I’m Doobrie. You’re welcome to a berth. Let’s go see what’s behind that one.” I point to a star low on the horizon. She looks, laughs and I get a feeling we’re going to see the back of many stars before we part ways.

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