Don Webb responds to Challenge 66
“The Inadvertent Intervention of the Floon”
A part of Challenge 66 is provided for context. The response follows.
NewB, “Bling Bling”
“...a good idea,” Bill said, gesturing at the T-shirt Kevin had just pulled over his head.
“You may feel more comfortable wearing clothes, but the Torathians will be offended if you go to a diplomatic meeting wearing them. They consider all garments, however flimsy, to be armor.”
“Which means,” Kevin said, “they’ll think I don’t trust them.”
“Exactly. And the last thing we need is another misunderstanding. We were lucky to get this meeting arranged after what Percy pulled.”
Kevin contemplated the situation. Suddenly he perked up. “Y’know, I’m looking forward to this meeting now. I’ve been hoping to see Lana naked for a long time.”
Bill grinned. “I’m sure this isn’t the setting you had in mind.”
“Yeah, the Torathians will pr...”
Kevin opened the door for Lana and politely followed her into the antechamber of the Quarters for Extraterrestrial Diplomacy, popularly known as the “conference room.” A glance at the double-paned, airtight windows on the far wall showed they were mostly green: the leaves, fronds and vines typical of the Torathians’ jungle world.
Between the windows stood a large door leading to a combination airlock and decontamination chamber. Biology, not atmosphere, was the reason for the security measures. The Exo-Biology Department strongly doubted the necessity of subjecting Kevin and Lana to soapings and showers on their way to and from their meetings with the Torathians, but no one was taking any chances at this stage of contact with the space aliens.
Kevin and Lana put down their briefcases and glanced at Bill, sitting behind a desk with his feet perched nonchalantly on the desktop. Kevin looked at Lana and blushed. She blushed back. Kevin fumbled with a button on his jacket. Lana fumbled with one on hers.
“Shall I break out a deck of cards?” asked Bill. “You could do this with a game of poker, but you don’t want to keep the Torathians waiting.”
The two young ambassadors’ blushes extended to their necks. They fumbled more expeditiously with fastenings and carefully folded each article of clothing as they removed it and put it on a chair.
At last Kevin and Lana beheld one another in Adamite splendor. Lana blushed from her neck to her waist. Kevin blushed from his waist to his kneecaps.
“I think it’s time for that shower,” observed Bill, dryly. He handed them their documents sealed in watertight bags. “I’ve heard of ministers without portfolio, but ambassadors without underwear? That’s a new one. Har, har.”
Kevin and Lana shot Bill a mortified glare and trudged nakedly toward the airlock.
They finally emerged into the conference room. It was filled with small trees reminiscent of a tropical rain forest, and the air was warm and humid. The Torathian delegation emerged from behind some large flowering plants. The chief representative, with a beetle-like wave of his antennae, greeted them sibilantly: “Greetingss, Earth diplomatss. Your unclothed sstate showss you come in peace. You thuss do honor to all Torathia.”
Kevin hoped that the Torathians did not know how to interpret Earthlings’ blushes. Lana’s covered her shoulders while Kevin’s mottled his elbows. “Greetings,” they replied in unison.
Lana continued: “We look forward to confirming permanent relations between Torathia and...”
Just at that moment Kevin espied a small creature descending from a tree frond on a strand of spider-like silk. But it was not a spider. It was a fuzzy, brown-and-orange striped quadruped about two centimeters in length. It had two short, pink eyestalks and four little webbed feet.
“What a cute little...” thought Kevin. And then he realized with dismay that it was descending, unbeknownst to Lana, directly onto the cornucopious roundness of the ambassadress’ undressed right breast. Instinctively he swept the small being from her sumptuous starboard globe into the palm of his hand.
Lana, sensing the subtle effleurement of her dexter prominence and unmindful of the unusual fuzzy quality of the touch, blushed stroboscopically. She instinctively whirled from the Torathian ambassador to Kevin: “Not here, you lech!” And promptly belted him one on his left ribs and right arm.
Kevin folded to the floor, still cradling protectively the warm Torathian fuzzy. But at the same time the Torathian delegation erupted in tentacle-waving, whistles and shrieks of alarm.
“You are wearing armor!” gasped a Torathian ambassador. “No one can ssurvive contact with the dread floon !”
“How did it get in here?” squeaked another Torathian. “Ssuch an intersstellar incident! Are there more? Are we all doomed? Quick, a sspecimen box.” Two Torathians promptly fetched two long poles with which to hasten the floon from Kevin’s prostrate hand into a transparent cubical receptacle, where it sat, beholding the panic with a somewhat befuddled air.
“No, we are not wearing armor,” protested Lana. “We must be naturally impervious to that cute little... uh... the floon’s effects. Oh, and are you all right, Kevin? Sorry about that.”
“Moan,” moaned Kevin, from his place on the floor.
“You ssee,” lisped the Torathian ambassador, slowly regaining his aplomb, “we ssuffer acute allergic reactionss to contact with the floon. Fortunately, the animal iss rare. Thiss one musst have sstowed away in one of the florb treess. Indeed, it iss not unlike beingss known to you Earthlingss, fabled in ssong and sstory. Do you not warn your children:
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumiouss Banderssnatch.
“And doess not one of your national athemss ssing:
A ssix-foot bunch of ripe bananass.
I ssee deadly black tarantlass.
“Tarantla... er... Tarantulas are not deadly,” replied Lana, interrupting the ambassador in mid-warble. “They don’t bite humans, only insects.”
The chief representative stiffened in a mixture of formality and shock. The rest of the Torathians tried to hide behind each other. “My point exactly. Nonethelessss, we musst esscort you to the Dissarmoring Chamber.”
“Can we at least keep the floon ?” asked Lana. Two Torathians seized the poles with alacrity and used them to scoot the protective cubicle across the floor. As she picked it up, the floon waved its little eyestalks at her.
Lana smiled. “Greetings, floonie !”
Response copyright © 2003 by Don Webb