Author: Richard M. O’Donnell, Sr.
The toddler unclipped his seatbelt and floated away, gurgling and laughing as he drifted toward the… The what, Lady Maggie Durante wondered. There was no ceiling in the Vista–View space lounge. Just a sphere of glass and a grand view of the Earth that gets old fast when your spaceship has been delayed.
That’s what I get for marrying an explorer.
She never expected him to find something, much less an entire planet. What she had expected from him was to stay out there while she ruled the fiefdom from the safety of her penthouse on 5th Avenue Canal, New York, New York.
Maggie let Jimmy Junior’s tether feed out until he hovered over Africa, and then she reeled him in like a fish, a dead blobfish if truth be told. His father’s religion forbid gene manipulation and God had not been kind to his gene pool. Ironically, her husband’s bulbous nose had saved his life. “The natives took one look at my snout and welcomed me into the tribe. I’m one-hundred-ten percent sure they will think Junior is as beautiful as I am.”
“But are you certain it is safe to move there?”
“One-hundred-ten percent certain!”
Maggie’s fellow colonists applauded when she tucked Jimmy back in his highchair. His escape had given them a two-minute distraction from their ten hours and… Maggie glanced at the time on her reader. …ten hours, twenty-two minutes wait.
“Drink,” Jimmy demanded. Maggie opened a pack of one-hundred percent juice and popped the nipple. Jimmy took one swig and spit it out. Beads of juice shot toward a farmer in overalls.
“Space-vac!” she ordered. An Instant-Clean ® machine flew over and sucked the juice out of the air. Jimmy began to whine, so Maggie held him on her lap and began to read from a new book on her reader, “Boots and Saddles: Or Life in Dakota with General Custer, by Elizabeth Bacon Custer.” She sighed. “Daddy says he is one-hundred-ten percent sure the natives will be friendly. Custer was one-hundred-ten percent sure he’d win at the Little Big Horn, too.”
A naval officer glided into the lounge and everyone stirred with anticipation. “We will board momentarily. Lord Durante has approved the repair specs personally via the intergalactic network.” He smiled. “Lord Durante has spared no expense where your safety is concerned. He assured me that everything is one-hundred percent A-OK in the colony. He awaits our arrival.”
A wave of relief spread around the room, but the message chilled Maggie.
“Lord Durante said that?” asked Maggie.
“Said what, Milady?”
“Said, one-hundred percent A-OK.”
“Verbatim. You can’t do better than one-hundred percent.”
Maggie waited until everyone had left the lounge. Then she grabbed Jimmy and caught the first elevator back to Earth. She didn’t stop until she found a hotel with a secure inter-galactic Wi-Fi. Lord Durante always exaggerated one-hundred-ten percent of the time. Something was wrong. “Daddy,” yelled Jimmy when Lord Durante’s hologram appeared in the room. As Jimmy tried to hug the hologram, Maggie listened to her husband’s broadcast.
“I hope to God you knew I was lying and did not board the Jimmy Junior. I was one-hundred-ten percent wrong. I admit it. There’s trouble, but with the a hundred Marines and a thousand settlers on board, we should have the numbers to–” An explosion rocked the monitor on his side of the transmission and Lord Durante almost fell down. “Maggie!” he shouted. “Know all those books you read about Custer, the old west and the Trail of Tears? Well, damn the internet. The natives read them, too!”