Live From Phobos

by Alison Pearce

“And now, live from Phobos, the entertainment satellite of the solar system, we return you to Terry…. Martian……From……Space!!!!!!’

‘Welcome back viewers,’ Terry said as the voice over and applause died down, his perfectly coiffed purple hair framing the stunningly handsome green features that had gained him an intergalactic fan base, ‘If you’ve just tuned in, today we are discussing the issues surrounding Pluto’s desperate struggle to be reinstated as a fully fledged planet so they can finally cast off the shackles of being an oppressed dwarf planet!’

The cameras panned out over the auditorium, Plutonions sat on one side of the arena, three to a chair, with legs crossed defensively and triangular faces jutting out angrily towards the Earthlings.

Mostly made up of astronomers, the Earthlings ignored the little, spider-like beings, haughtily staring forward. A small contingent of viewers from Mars, Saturn and Jupiter sat in the rows between, some shuffling their feet uncomfortably.

‘Terry, if I may make a point?’

‘Go ahead Hindle;’ Terry said smugly, ‘we’re all ears.’

Earthlings burst out laughing at the little jibe, knowing full well that the Plutonions were very sensitive about being the only species present without them.

Hindle’s grey face blanched of colour and then flushed blue with anger. The Plutonions all bared their tiny sharp teeth at the Martian talk show host, ‘I shall endeavour to ignore that Terry, I expected no less from the Earth loving Martians,’ the Martians in the audience booed and jeered, even those who were sympathetic to Pluto’s cause. Hindle went on, ‘For almost three hundred years you big planets have been keeping us from our rightful place in the solar system! August the twenty-fourth of the year 2006 was a black day indeed for inter-species relationships. Since that time, every other planet in the system has treated us like second class citizens and we will not take it anymore!’

‘Oh come off it Hindle!’ Carl Ulster, the International Astronomers Union of Earth’s spokesman drawled, ‘You have simply been relegated as a dwarf planet, not completely struck off! Frankly I believe that the whole universe is tired of Pluto’s “poor us, we’re not a real planet” moaning and groaning.’

‘And yet you consider your own moon, which is totally devoid of intelligent life, more important in the solar system than us!’

‘Some would say Pluto has no intelligent life either,’ Ulster smirked.

‘Eruk ta, boteruka!’

‘Should we have bleeped that?’ Terry turned towards his producer, ‘I think that should have been bleeped.’

‘I’ve got a question Terry.’ Rising to his feet, a huge hairy, red giant from Jupiter reached out for the potable microphone.

Terry handed it to him, ‘What’s on your mind?’

‘It seems to me that this is a lot of kerfuffle about nothing,’ he faced the Plutonions opposite him, ‘Why can’t ya all accept that there is no place for you with the real planets and try and get on with the other dwarfs?’

‘Why you rotten specist!’ an elderly female Plutonion leapt from the chair she was sharing with two others and leapt on to the giant’s face, wrapping her segmented legs around his chest and sinking her fangs into his neck.

The giant threw her to the ground with a startled curse and many in the audience jumped to their feet, shouting and yelling, as she scuttled back to her seat on the Plutonion side of the room. Many of them clapped as she sat back down and all of them looked mutinous.

‘You see Terry!’ Ulster cried out triumphantly, ‘There is simply no room in this solar system for these violent insects amongst decent, hard working primates!’

‘So now you’re an acrachnophobe Ulster?’ Hindle screeched, ‘I can’t say I’m surprised! And who is the violent species? It wasn’t Plutonions that created nuclear weaponry.’

‘Hindle? How will you handle this latest attack from the human astronomers?’ Terry, his face set in a poorly contrived mask of concern, leaned in close to the seat on the stage where Hindle was perched on top of a stack of Martian phone books.

‘I’ll tell you Terry. We are moving our planet, and our moons, to the Zeta Reticula system where we will be appreciated!’

‘That is so typical of dwarf dwellers!’ an Earth astronomer in the studio interjected loudly, ‘You want all or nothing and you have no sense of humour! Get over yourselves.’

Hindle jumped from his chair and directed the Plutonions to exit the studio to a waiting transport shuttle. Before he walked off stage, Hindle turned to the audience and snarled, ‘Screw you specist primates! You’ll regret this.’

He stalked off, ignoring the catcalls and insults flung at him.

‘This is why the Plutonions could never be taken seriously as a planet,’ Ulster claimed pompously, ‘If you can’t handle the smoke, get out of the kitchen, that’s what I say.’

“Well it certainly seems that the Plutonions were quite serious about moving systems,’ Terry addressed the spokesman directly, ‘but I have to ask how you think the United Nations President will react if the only planet that produces driktill, the ore that has enabled interstellar space flights possible, leaves the solar system?’

Silence fell across the arena as this thought sank in. Without driktill, they would all go back to being unable to travel further than their own moons. Carl Ulster stood abruptly, his face deathly pale. For a moment he looked stunned and frozen to the spot as everyone watched his reaction. His pasty face went through a varied hue of colours as he stood there, worried and undecided.

Looking as green as the Martians, Ulster suddenly took off after the Plutonions calling out desperately, ‘Wait Hindle! I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please come back.’

Totally composed, Terry turned to the nearest camera and smiled brightly, ‘Well that’s it for today folks. Tune in tomorrow as Saturn’s favourite basketball player, Saldi Iceron, faces off against two ladies from Neptune who claim he fathered both their children. See you tomorrow on ‘Terry Martian From Space’ broadcast live from Phobos!’

Copyright © 2007 Alison Pearce.
First published in our Infinitas Newsletter, September 2007 .

This page last updated 16th September 2008.