Saturday, September 1, 2012

Captain Bebop and the Stripe-Suited Sugar Stalks

He was presumed dead.

Ten years ago on a visit to the planet Jarvis, a survey team Captain Bebop led against the advise of his executive officer was buried alive by an avalanche.  To his surprise and horror at discovering everyone else dead, Bebop survived.

Crawling from the rubble, he spent the next few weeks learning how to keep doing that.  His training had not prepared him to do it on a planet like Jarvis, however.  It was like something out of a cartoon, completely absurd.  The only thing remotely serious about it was the pit of corpses he left miles behind him.

It was the stripe-suited sugar stalks that got to Bebop.  They were everywhere.  He spent the first few weeks trying to survive and actively avoiding the bizarre stalks.  He didn't trust them.  They looked like sugar stalks, but he didn't trust them.  He ached for something sweet, but he didn't trust the stalks.

The husks on the stalks looked like pinstripe suits.  That's perhaps what unsettled him the most about them.  Growing up, he'd been terrified of well-dressed men.  They only did things like badly represent his father, uncle, and best friends in court.

There were other things he could eat, fruits and vegetables that were as recognizable as the stalks, usually a lot juicier than any he'd had before.  The first few times he had what he considered a Jarvis apple, he splattered himself thoroughly.  He was sticky for months.

But he was alive.

The animals all tried to be his friend.  At first he was terrified of even the most adorable creatures, but they kept licking him.  He'd never killed a living thing, and he wasn't about to start with these things.  Sometimes he wondered if they were simply cleaning him.

Somehow, as the years passed, Bebop survived.  He lost track of time.  He no longer thought of himself as a starship captain.  He stopped thinking of everyone he'd lost, and all those he left behind.  He stopped wondering why the rescue parties never came.  He could no longer remember what it was like for someone other than himself to respond to his verbal thoughts.

The sugar stalks kept mocking him, however.  He wondered if he'd gone mad.  He supposed it didn't matter.

He mounted the courage one day to break the husk and lick a stalk.

It tasted like bubblegum.  He hadn't had bubblegum since he was a child.  It was only appropriate.

Later that day, when he was drifting off to sleep, he wondered if he would wake up as that child.

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