Beware of the Leopard

November 16, 2017 Jon Bounds

Given the infinite expanse of the universe, where everything that can exist does exist, it was not perhaps inevitable but certainly possible that an Englishman who wanted to would eventually find a planet where there was a ready supply of something almost exactly like tea.

Arthur sat down in the cafe, he removed his cup from his bag. He’d picked it up on Duteronemous-Alpha, it wasn’t bone china - but he liked it. The picture on the side reminded him of the hills outside his house on earth, even though it was no-doubt really something else, some being from a planet he hadn’t heard of.

“Can I have what he’s having?” said Arthur to the waiter, who was humanoid, but slightly too blue for complete comfort.

“A ginnan tonix? Of course sir” said the waiter.

“And may I have it in this?” Arthur handed the cup over. The waiter smiled, but it Arthur didn’t know if it was a genuine smile or an eye-rolling smile of courtesy like once got for complaining that his pamplemousse was just a grapefruit. It could of course been just another expression that the Babel fish, great as it was at language, couldn’t help with. It didn’t really matter to Dent, he felt out of place everywhere.

To Arthur it tasted good, he felt the heat hit the back of the throat, he let the slight grittiness roll on his tongue, he wasn’t sure that it was refreshing but it was better than he’d had in years. The waiter hovered expectantly, so Arthur told him that it was just what he’d been looking for.

“I’m glad sir,” said the waiter, “It’s not often we get an alien willing to try our planet’s speciality.”

Halfway through a new gulp, Arthur paused. He held the liquid in his mouth. Hamster-like he smiled and nodded. His eyes didn’t.

“Exquisite though it is, the urine of our megabrew-o-cows is an acquired taste.”

Arthur held on, unsure of whether having swallowed the liquid would be worse than continuing to taste it longer than necessary.

“Especially warm and fresh like that.”