Flash Friday 13/11/2015: Renting Space
Tony was expecting the postman when he opened the door; he didn’t expect the two blue-skinned, scaly, clothed humanoids standing there, beaming him a cheerful smile and waving.
“Hi, how are you?” the female of the couple chirped. She immediately grabbed hold of Tony’s hand. “Gosh, it’s so good to see you. Hyrac was saying how he hoped our new housemate wouldn’t be too unappealing.”
“You have no idea,” Hyrac said. He was broad and well-built, beaming a giant smile. “Only last week did we have a house viewing where one of the housemates spored! Can you imagine? Living with a giant sentient fungi. Must do your lungs no favours.”
“Uhm,” Tony began. “Uh.”
“Anyway,” the female said. “My name is Loula, and this is Hyrac. It’s great to meet you. So, do you mind if we check out our rooms now, or…?”
“Great!” Loula barged past with excitement, knocking him with her suitcase. “Just so long as the room isn’t on fire, then we shouldn’t have a problem.”
“Don’t ask about the fire thing,” Hyrac said, as he too stepped in. “There are certain insurances you have to take out when you live with a fire slug. Did you say the room was in the attic?”
“The attic?” Tony repeated. Then, after something clicked in his head: “Wait, you’re not here because of the ad I put out in the newspaper, are you?”
“Of course we are! Your ad said that you had ‘two spacious attic spots’ going, and that all sexual orientations, races, ages, and legal aliens were welcome.”
“When I said ‘aliens’, I didn’t mean–”
“I mean, after seeing that,” Hyrac said, “we knew we found a winner. A safe haven on an otherwise xenophobic planet.
“We’ve seen your war movies,” Loula said, as she peered curiously up the stairs. “All those moments where you slaughter aliens en-masse. Like that one war documentary. What was it called again? Star Wars?”
“And Star Trek, too!” Hyrac added. “Man, I don’t know what we did to piss you guys off.”
“Well, if you ask me, I think it’s a long string of violence that started due to the events covered extensively in Independence Day and War of the Worlds. Anyone would be up in arms if that happened to them.”
Tony frowned. “But those are just for entertainment.”
Loula grimaced. “Watching war documentaries for entertainment. No wonder you guys get such bad rep. Well, it’s not like we can go anywhere else, at this point.”
“Listen,” Hyrac said. “Have you ever heard of something called ‘the Porulian Crackdown Policy’? More importantly, have your police?”
Tony shook his head.
“Exactly — that’s why we’re here. So I take it we go up these stairs?”
“Wait, hold on.” Tony put a hand on Hyrac’s retreating shoulder. “What’s this Porulian thing?”
“Thing? Buddy, that’s us! That’s our race. We were peaceful space travellers until our homeworld got locked up with a planetary shield and all the stragglers scooped up and sent home. Why? We don’t know. All we do know is that there’s a few of us still on the run, and we need to set up home in a backwater planet to transmit communications and intel. Like this one, for example. So, let’s check this room out!”
Tony went to object, but before he could, he was chasing two aliens up the stairs. By the time he had got to the top, Loula had already discovered the attic room, peering around it with curiosity.
It wasn’t much, but it could have easily been a home. Two beds were parallel to one another, each of them equipped with a bedside table. In the middle of the room against the far wall was a shared wardrobe, over which was a round window squeezed in tight as the roof peaked around it.
After Tony had entered via the ladder, Loula shot him a look.
“You said it was roomy,” she said.
“Yes, well…it’s not exactly a massive room, but it’s still spacious. There’s enough for your luggage and any additional furniture you might have brought along. I think the last tenants here were musicians, so they definitely made sure they had room for…what’s that?”
Loula was showing Hyrac a small hand-held device. “You think he knows about these?”
“I highly doubt it.”
“Awesome.” Loula started punching in data. “That always makes it more fun.”
Before Tony could say anything else, Loula had hit a larger, red button on the device. With a sudden, deep boom, the room expanded dramatically, so much so that it looked like it could house an entire store, let alone two people.
“See what I mean, Hyrac?” Loula beamed, pointing at Tony’s stunned face. “Man, sometimes I wish we didn’t leave the camera back at the Porulian bust in Trucon VII. What’s your name again?”
“Tony,” he managed.
“Alright, Tony, lemme make a stab in the dark. You guys think a container’s inside has gotta be the same size and shape as its outside, right?”
Tony nodded, slowly.
Loula whistled. “Yeah, we hit a backwater planet alright. Listen, the quicker you guys invent these things, the better. Makes apartment living so much nicer. So, now that we’ve got all the room we need — let’s set up our base!”
“Your base? You only brought small suitcases.”
“What?” Loula smirked, tapping the device. “You don’t think this works on them, too?”
“So you’re going to set up a rebel base in my attic? Is this what you’re about to do?”
“Now, now,” Hyrac said in a soft tone. “We understand how daunting this might be for a primitive being such as yourself. Therefore, allow me to perform the traditional Porulian tradition of improving cross-specie relations.”
Hyrac picked up his suitcase and opened it towards Tony.
“Sorry,” Tony said, transfixed at its contents. “What’s this?”
Tony nodded to himself, slowly. Then, he finally managed: “So, do you want me to show you two where the bathroom is?”