“Yesterday,” Damitol said.
“She can’t be much older than us, Testicleeze.”
“What’s her post-flork?”
“A mewber,” she said.
“Oh yuckers.” He groaned with disgust. “They lick themselves.”
“A cabal of mewbers came real quick. I saw ‘em take her away.”
“Did they all lick her? I mean, they do it like, all over,” he said.
“Testicleeze, keep your mind out of the gutter.”
“Gross, Damitol. I’d never want to flork into a mugly mewber.”
Testicleeze and Damitol had remained friends since leaving their containment beakers. They liked to believe that their gestation tubes had been racked side by side, but the grinzats never told anyone details like that. Or how long they’d have before florking.
“I liked Nella,” Damitol said. “I can’t believe she’s a mewber now.”
“What do you think we’ll be?”
Everyone asked that question as the age of florking approached. The huge uncertainty in the exact time that would occur made it a top concern for every late teen sooner rather than later.
“Probably not a mewber. They wouldn’t make up two batches of them so close together,” she said. “Would they?”
“You’re asking me? Geez, I wish they’d give us an instruction manual. At least I’d understand that.”
“Hey, I wanna do something. Something different.”
“Like what?” he asked.
“Take a joy ride.”
“You’ve always talked about places you wanted to see,” she said.
“I’ve got a list. But they’re all over the galaxy. We’ve got no vehicle.”
“Nella had a hop-junger.”
“Mewbers can’t drive, Damitol.”
“Exactly. She doesn’t need the hop-junger now.”
“Ohhhh . . . but I can’t pilot it.”
“Nella taught me,” Damitol said.
Grinzat rules prohibited unauthorized trips, but they happened. Especially as teens got closer to florking. Any pending demerits got wiped after the transformation. Nella had considered taking a joy ride across the galaxy last year, but she would’ve lost her hop-junger and her license and gotten a passel of demerits.
Damitol didn’t have a license to lose. Or a hop-junger, for that matter. She didn’t care about demerits. Florking would come too soon for the bad points to matter.
“OK, then,” Testicleeze said. “We better go now, before the grinzats figure out where she left it.”
Testicleeze retrieved a few supplies, a few technotoys he’d made, and his wish list of exotic locations. Damitol brought dried travel food. They met at the hanger and located Nella’s hop-junger suspended in its slot, charged and ready to go. Refueling didn’t concern them; the junger had plenty of compact trizortium pellets stored in a bin.
She floated into the self-molding pilot’s seat and set the containment field, securing her body in the seat and her aura within the cockpit. Then she flipped switches to secure Testicleeze in his seat.
“I’ve put in the first coordinate,” he said. “Let’s go.”
The junger slid between dimensions and for a moment they existed both in Nella’s hanger slot and deep space. When they stabilized, Damitol yipped with delight.
Waves of every color hung in space before them. All around them brilliant hues glowed in their whole visual range: from bright ultraviolet to deep infrared. Strands of blue knitted through jade green and bright chortzel sheets, with hotter colors taking another part of the vista: soft yellow, coral, vermillion, and the even warmer quadrilles that faded into the invisible red end of the spectrum.
“It’s brill, Testicleeze, and so beautiful.”
Stay tuned for the next stop in the joy rides of Damitol and Testicleeze.
Image of Cassiopeia A in infrared from NASA.