Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Road to Helicon

Flash Fiction challenge from Terrible Minds.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

It happened last Saturday. My husband had business on Helicon and asked me if I would like to go with him and take our daughter to the beach. Helicon is not my favorite planet, but its beaches are nice so I agreed to go.
When we arrived at the spaceport, we rented a ground vehicle for the day. I dropped my husband off at the factory and then drove to Shetle Beach. My daughter, Amalia, had a great time dodging waves, chasing beach birds, and building sand castles. She even made friends with a cute little beast that made Amalia laugh.

The trouble started when we returned to our vehicle. As soon as I opened the door for Amalia, the animal jumped in first. I tried to shoo it out and, when that failed, tried to push it out.  That beast would not budge. I finally decided to pick it up and discovered that the little creature weighed a ton! Okay, probably not a ton, but it weighed more than I could lift.  

A passing patrol officer noticed my struggles and stopped to ask what was the problem.  I explained the situation to him and asked for his help.  He smiled and informed me that there are strict rules regarding dumping animals on Helicon and that I must follow the appropriate procedure.

“Well, then, what do I do?” I asked. “I need to get to the Varret factory by 5:00 GST to pick up my husband.”

“This won’t take long,” said the officer, pulling a capsule from his pocket. “Just fill out this Temporary Host form, indicating you have an animal in your vehicle. This will allow you to transport the animal while you are here on Helicon.”

“But I don’t want to transport the animal! I want to remove it.”

“And so you shall. But first you need a permit to have it in your vehicle before you can get the proper permit to get it out.”

This was annoying, but I had no choice.  I opened the capsule, unrolled the film, and signed my name at the bottom. I gave it back to the officer, who shook his head.

“Take this with you to any patrol station and obtain an Emergency Removal Order. This will allow you to request a disposal unit to remove the animal.”

“You mean I have to drive around with this thing?”

“Yes, ma’am” said the officer. “That’s why I gave you the TH form. Now you are free to go anywhere on Helicon with the animal for the duration of your visit.”

I thanked him for his assistance and turned to put Amalia in the vehicle. She was already inside sitting next to the beast; she was thrilled.

“Amalia, “ I said, “we are not keeping this thing.”  I looked at the animal.
“Don’t get too cute.”
The beastie responded by licking my hand.
“Tasting me, are you?” I muttered.

The onboard map showed the nearest patrol station was only 6.3 kilometers away.
Good! I thought. Let’s get this done.
When I entered the parking port, I pulled up to the information kiosk and explained my problem to the information officer.  She only smiled and shook her head.

“But I have here the TH form from the beach officer which he said would get me the ERO form,” I said, holding out the capsule.

“That’s true, dear,” she said. “But first the animal needs an Anti Disease Test clearance. Without that, it cannot be removed from the vehicle.”  She looked more closely at Amalia. “Has that child been in close contact with the animal? If so, she will also need an ADT clearance.”

Alarmed, I pulled Amalia onto my lap.
“No, she will not need an ADT clearance. How do I get one for the animal?”

The information officer tut-tutted as she handed me another capsule.

“Take this around the corner to the Operational Hazard office. Someone there will test the animal–and your daughter, if you wish.”

What could I do? I drove to the OH office where they inspected the capsule, inspected the animal, and tried to inspect my daughter. The look on my face–which I inherited from mothers everywhere–unnerved them. In the end, they gave the animal–which they said was a lylen–the ADT clearance; and gave me another document to sign. This one was an OH affidavit stating that I did not knowingly with malicious intent lure the animal into my vehicle. Then they issued me an Entry Level License. This would allow me to take the animal to a shelter where a team of technicians would remove it from the vehicle.

Thanks to the onboard map, I found the “Indigenous Species Shelter and Recreation Area” in record time.  The lylen grew agitated as I pulled into the parking port.  It started bouncing up and down on the seat, which made the whole car vibrate. I exited the vehicle, taking Amalia with me. By now the vehicle was bucking so wildly I could barely touch the door panel. Once the door opened, the lylen sprang outside. It immediately ran to a large pen holding several other lylens doing whatever it is lylens do when they are not charming small children.  A man in a green jumpsuit hurried over.

“Hey!” he shouted. “You can’t dump animals on Helicon!”

“But I was told to come here,” I said. “I have all the necessary forms.”

“Hmm,” he said, looking distressed. “Do you have the TH?”

“Yes.”
“The ERO?”

“Yes.”

“The ADT and the OH?”

“Yes, and I even have the ELL. What more do I have to do?”

The officer opened and read all the capsules I had given him.  Then he smiled and waved me off.
“Have a nice day.”


That evening, as we were leaving the spaceport, I noticed a large sign flashing overhead.  “Leaving Helicon, the Planet of Best Intentions.”

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