Meet William Shitz (part xi): tears in rain

“Pull the trigger, Jim Grey,” William said as rain poured down his face. “That’s why you’re here, after all.”

I stood frozen in an awe-inspired fear. The nude figure that stood before me transfigured into a dark angel. He was still man, but appeared to possess the powers of hell.

I was unable to pull the trigger.

But before I could react, William grabbed the barrel and slammed the butt of the shotgun to my face. Still conscious, I fell backwards into the muddied forest floor. I could taste something from the corner of my mouth; it was blood, assisted by the rain, streaming down from the wound on my forehead.

I had never bled before.

William now held the shotgun but threw it aside as he stood over me. His cock was inches from my face. Finally, the rush of panic kicked in and I sprinted aimlessly through the woods.

But the newly minted demonic angel was never far behind.

Then I reached an obstacle: a gully nearly 100 feet deep but a little over 10 feet wide. I had no time to think. I leapt across the crevice but my feet missed the landing on the other side.

My life was hanging perilously over the side of a cliff, fingers barely maintaining a grip on a wet, slippery rock jutting over the edge.

William looked down upon me struggling like a helpless creature. For the first time in his 70 years, he felt something he previously thought impossible: sympathy…compassion. Mr. Shitz then entirely hurdled the 10 foot gap and kneeled down before me.

“It’s quite a thing to live in fear, isn’t it?” he asked. “But that’s what it means to feel alive.”

Right as my fingers slipped, William grabbed my wrist and single-handedly pulled me to safety. As he dropped me on land, I impulsively wiggled backwards up to a tree, not knowing what to expect.

The arctic fox wandered up and sat obediently next to Mr. Shitz. The old, dying man gazed upon the animal and sat down before me.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” William told me, “I’ve had shits like fire from a baconator in Hoboken. I watched Harry Reems and Arthur C. Clarke cheer as they masturbate. Now all of those moments will be lost, in time, like the career of David Blaine.”

A look of sorrow fell over William Shitz’s rain-covered face. “Time to die,” he uttered. And with those words, the clouds departed, and the fox trotted off into the sunset.

I laid there for what seemed like hours, pondering Mr. Shitz’s last moments. And in his waning hours, he bestowed upon me the gift of humanity; his last, and perhaps only, act of benevolence.

Then I heard a voice from across the gully. “I guess he’s through, eh?” it asked. It was Archibald, holding the shotgun.

“Finished,” I said.

Archibald tossed the shotgun to my side and started to walk away.

Then he paused.

“It’s too bad I won’t live,” he pondered aloud, “but then again, who does?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

wings hauser

I’m sure Italy is a wonderful place: nice people, delightful food and wine, rich history, beautiful scenery, etc, etc. But ‘giallo’ films and Italian horror as a whole…I’ll just say they make me absolutely sick.

And I think I know why:

Caligula.

Now Caligula can’t be considered ‘giallo’ OR horror, but it might as well be. If you recall, that film absolutely scared the shit out of me as a kid and I never quite recovered. So my response to Italian horror is similar to having alcohol poisoning: if you get it once by drinking vodka, you can’t quite stomach vodka again. The Italian style of tight closeups, zooms, disorienting music and editing, and fixation on gore and nudity just make me a little queasy.

But I have a job to do. And that job is to watch EVERY cheapass horror film on Tubi. That includes the filmography of the legendary Lucio Fulci. So I started at the worst possible place:

A Cat in the Brain.

The movie forced me to do some research while I was watching it, largely because I had no idea what the fuck was going on. Fulci plays the lead: himself as a film director that’s slowly becoming disturbed by a movie he’s making. As we watch him descend into madness, we’re shown random clips from prior films, almost as if this movie was thrown together in the most halfassed way possible.

A Cat in the Brain was produced towards the end of Fulci’s distinguished career, so there’s no telling where he was mentally. But I’ll say this: Fulci did a much better job of cobbling together this Frankenstein of a movie than Godfrey Ho did for Robo Vampire.

I neglected to mention that A Cat in the Brain is considered a “comedy” (thus deploying the “covering your ass” method over decade before Tommy Wiseau did for The Room). Maybe the humor went over my head, but I was too petrified watching some guy beat his wife’s face off to laugh.

You needn’t worry though, because this movie has a happy ending: a disgusting Fulci sails off into the sunset with a bikini-clad woman that’s at least a third his age.

I hated A Cat in the Brain. But Fulci fans love it. Just check out the reviews at IMDB.

After watching that shitshow I needed a palate cleanser. That’s when I found the 1984 Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins (RIP) classic , Mutant.

Perhaps calling Mutant a ‘classic’ is a bit of a stretch, yet despite its lackluster script, it is competently made. It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times before: strangers roll into town, weird things happen, everyone turns into zombies, heroes save the day in the most ham fisted way, blah blah blah.

Of course, none of the character archs pay off. Least of all Bo Hopkins’, the alcoholic town sheriff with a dark past. Nevertheless, Hauser and Hopkins’ performances carry the day, ALMOST to the point where you don’t feel cheated out of your time or money.

Actually, I just LOVE saying ‘Wings Hauser’. It sounds like Wings of Desire, the 1987 Wim Wenders film. Then I imagine Wings Hauser being in Wings of Desire and it makes me happy. His might be my most favorite name of anyone who has ever had a name.

Wings Hauser

It’s not his birth name, but still…

Rip Michael Krueger

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times: I am to Tubi what raccoons are to trash. So if Tubi puts something up there to watch, by God I’m watching it and leaving a godawful mess while I’m at it.

Why though? Why would one put themselves through pointless agony?

I’ll tell you why: Mindkiller and Night Vision.

Before you read this, you probably never heard of either of those films. But now you have. So I’m providing a FREE public service: finding overlooked gems before they are totally and completely forgotten. I’m a historian, this is what I do.

Both films were directed by Michael Krueger and both…according to IMDb…were released in 1987. Unfortunately, Krueger died in 1990, presumably leaving both films to lie in obscurity until their resurrection into the public consciousness by Tubi.

You might think I’m being facetious over my praise of Krueger’s work, but I assure you, I genuinely enjoyed both movies. Sure, they might look like cheap after-school specials…the sound editing is particularly atrocious in Mindkiller…but a few technical issues aside, aspiring filmmakers should take note: where you lack a budget, you can make up for with heart.

As you all know, I have a horrible memory. So I don’t recall too many plot details. But Mindkiller, roughly, is about a dork librarian who reads some outlandish shit and he begins to control minds. I think. He then begins to control the mind of his love interest, played convincingly by Shirley Ross as a strait laced librarian.

Ross then flips the script for Night Vision, also as the love interest, as she plays a street wise video clerk showing her boyfriend the ropes. The streets of Denver have never looked so mean. Remember, this was the 80s, before all the hipsters moved in and gentrified the place. But supposedly Night Vision is also a horror film. I think a VCR is demon possessed or something. While I don’t remember being scared, I do remember being taken in by the film’s earnestness and Ross’ performance.

It’s a shame that Krueger didn’t have a longer career. But I am thankful for what we did get.

RIP

A gene Roddenberry production of a Robert wise film

Because I’m a chump, I finally broke down and paid for Paramount+.

Available on the service is the newly remastered version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, and renowned sex pervert Stephen Collins.

When Robert Wise’s Director’s Cut came out years ago, it greatly improved what was an otherwise interesting but clunky and boring movie. Unfortunately, this version of the film wasn’t updated for high def until recently.

It looks incredible. Douglas Trumbull’s special effects have been vastly improved. Jupiter, V’ger, the Enterprise…it all pops in ways that it didn’t before. That element alone makes the film much more watchable.

However, while some aspects of the film have been improved, it only only highlights its weaker aspects. While the special effects, music, and (most of its) production design are incredible, that only makes the direction, script, editing, and acting look that much more terrible.

It doesn’t matter how hard they try, they can’t disguise the fact that this movie was hastily thrown together. At the time, I think, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made. And to be honest, it doesn’t look it.

Oddly enough, I think fault lies on the shoulders of legendary director Robert Wise and his DP. Much of the film takes place on the bridge of the Enterprise. And the set looks godawful. It’s too claustrophobic, too cheap, too bland. And the editing doesn’t do much to improve it as actors awkwardly wander on and off the set without much of a purpose.

It’s not the best design for the Enterprise bridge. But Nicholas Meyer and Leonard Nimoy…both novice directors at that time…make that same set look like a million dollars in subsequent Trek films. Meyer especially puts the claustrophobic aspect to good use in Star Trek II.

Fortunately, I think most of this could be easily fixed. And that requires jettisoning most of the journey through the V’ger cloud. While visually it’s interesting, it adds absolutely nothing. The immensity of V’ger itself is also established in the next sequence (which also needs to be cleaned up a bit editing wise) therefore making the cloud voyage redundant.

It’s a small change, but it would go a long way in improving the pacing. I’m sure there’s a fan edit floating around the internet somewhere that does this.

The uniforms also look underwhelming. I don’t hate them. Some internet genius explained that these surgeon-like uniforms actually highlight the delicacy of the matter: the characters have to be precise in their decision making. In that light, the uniforms add a nice touch. Nevertheless, the film could have used an updated version of William Theiss’ iconic designs.

Unfortunately nothing will fix the caricature performances and phoned-in script. But that’s okay. This high-def version of the Director’s Cut…which will presumably be the final cut…elevates what was one of the worst Trek films into a pretty solid sci-fi movie.

And that’s good enough 👍

the shape of things to come

Had a dream where I was back in the Army. David Duchovny’s character from Californication was also court-ordered to serve. He was a complete fuckin asshole and I beat the shit out of him.

I tend to do that in dreams because I have unaddressed anger issues.

Unfortunately the Army was doing some time-travel experiments. So they put me to sleep and I woke up in a gutter, shoeless, and covered in piss. I grab some dude off the street.

“What year is it?!” I ask him.

“6025,” he said.

“6025? Why aren’t we exploring space?!”

The man began to cry. “We just plum forgot about it 🤷‍♂️,” he replied.

The future didn’t look that much different from the present. Except that people were much taller, more androgynous, and looked younger.

People were attending grade school in their 30s. The world grew so complicated that it took several decades before anyone could become “adults”.

I was getting some strange looks.

“You don’t have to be bald, ya know?” the receptionist lady told me. They made me go to therapy to update my appearance. “Male-pattern baldness was eradicated centuries ago.”

I wept for joy. “Please move my hairline forward and don’t make me a redhead 😭😭😭,” I said.

I had a full head of hair but I was still short as shit.

As I was driving through Chicago to get to O’Hare, the roads were paved with with old, derelict cars. This system wasn’t perfect though. As I went under an overpass, an old 1950s-style truck fell from the bridge and killed several motorists.

I was fine though.

Honestly, this future sucked. One thing was pretty accurate however: material conditions made life so comfortable that people viewed fiction as more of a reality than reality itself. The only struggle people had was the ones provided by entertainment.

Therapy to cope with the death of a beloved TV character? Sounds about right to me! 😀

Canadian sci-fi

Sorry (or soar-y, rather) to all of Canada for talking shit about poutine because Andromeda rocks!

Cheap sets, great sci-fi concepts, horrible special effects, corny dialogue, wonderful cast…one of the great gems of science fiction television.

Disappointed to learn that Kevin Sorbo isn’t Canadian tho. Just sounds wrong.

tapping into the Roddenberry box

We can all agree: Kurtzman era Star Trek has been godawful. There was no reason to think that Strange New Worlds would be any different, but then the first episode became available on YouTube. So I thought: “fuck it, I’ll give it a shot.”

Whoever’s running SNW had the right idea: just tap the ball into the hole. Don’t try to do too much.

It’s common to assume that Trek fans are notoriously hard to please . This is false. In fact, they’re a little too easy to please. Furthermore, I’d say that Star Trek is stupidly easy to write: minimize drama between the main characters, the Federation humanistic…almost utopian…ideals always win out, the “alien of the week” is analogous to current events, and everything can be solved using science…even if the science is totally pulled out of your ass.

This is also called the (Gene) “Roddenberry Box.” TNG writers initially struggled with it until Michael Piller turned staying within it into an art. The Next Generation is now considered one of the best shows in the sci-fi genre. It’s also the benchmark for which all other Trek shows are evaluated.

Hollywood writers, especially ones that aren’t familiar with Star Trek, might think they have to do MORE to make the story interesting. But they really don’t. You can “challenge” the box every now and then, but the optimism and science MUST win out.

So using this criteria, based on the first episode, Strange New Worlds is Star Trek…which is more than I can say for Discovery and Picard. Yes, that’s a low bar to hurdle but I guess third time is a charm. Maybe the rest of it will be shit, but as long as the show runners don’t try to do too much, they might have a pretty good show.

Still not paying for Paramount+ tho.

2051: a space monstrosity (part ix)-conclusion

“Hey God, God Alliance, the Holy Divers…whatever the fuck you call yourselves…come get your boy!” I radioed to the new energy source on radar.

Yah jammed the transmission. “Captain, you have fucked me over for the last time,” he said over the intercom. “You will never escape me. I’ll chase you around the moons of Nibia and around the Antares Maelstrom and around perdition’s flames before I give you up!”

“Suck my limp dick!” I replied.

The energy source pursuing Yah was gaining on him. And with his final act, Yah tail whipped the rear of the Sagan, causing the ship to spin out of control.

“Fire the braking thrusters!” I ordered Valdez.

“Thrusters are having no effect!”

I radioed down to engineering. “Nia, more power to the brakes!”

“Sir,” she replied, “breaking thrusters were destroyed in the last hit! There’s a coolant leak in engineering. I’m diverting power to both the lift and main thrusters. That will stop the spinning, but we will be unable to stop in forward motion!”

“Captain, we’re hurdling towards a massive object ahead. 50,000km and closing,” Dr. Jackass said.

“Valdez! Give it some gas!” I yelled.

Valdez floored it. We were seconds away from crashing into a large meteor in front of us. The Sagan got caught in the object’s orbit and we spun around it a few times until we broke free.

The ship was now on a straight path, but we were still traveling at light speed. “We dodged that bullet,” The Doctor said, “but it’s only a matter of time before we collide with another object!”

I called back down to engineering. “Nia, can you stop the engines?”

“Not at this speed sir!” she replied. “And with our coolant depleted, I am unable to ramp them down. We will continue to increase speed until the engines burn out, but there will be no way of stopping the ship!”

We were now traveling at 1.5 times the speed of light and increasing. It was the fastest that humanity had ever achieved. But it was going to cost the lives of my crew.

Valdez and Jackass looked to me for answers. I had none.

I went over the intercom.

“Attention crew of the Sagan,”I said, “it has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your captain. All of you are fine officers. You have achieved only what others have dreamt. Let’s just hope history never forgets the name: The USV Carl Sagan.

I leaned back in the seat and closed my eyes. Vibration began increasing.

Then there was a miracle.

“Sir!” Valdez yelled. “Speed is decreasing!”

I opened my eyes. The universe was no longer speeding past us. Finally, the Sagan reached a full stop.

“What the hell happened?” I asked.

There was a voice behind me. “I stopped this piece of shit from flying apart, that’s what happened,” it said.

I turned around and there was a Jack Lemmon-looking asshole dressed in white robes standing on the bridge.

“Who are you?” I said to the strange man.

“God, dumbass!”

“You’re God?! I thought Yah was God!”

“No moron! Yah’s that damn Deceiver fella mentioned in that book of yours, the uhh…,” God started snapping his fingers to jog his memory.

“The Bible?” I said

“The Bible! That’s it! He had this cockamamie idea that he could come to Earth and establish a kingdom for himself or some stupid crap. I dunno. We stopped him and thought that he should be a prisoner to YOU guys because he tortured all of you for so long. Clearly that didn’t work out. So now we’re gonna have to find some other way to punish Yah. That guy’s fucking nuts!”

“So are you the ONLY God?”

“I’m the only one NAMED God, if that’s what you mean. But no, there’s a lot more like me.”

“What do you guys DO?”

“Hey! You stay out of our affairs and we’ll stay out of yours PAL!”

“But Earth needs your help.”

“Let me tell you something: no they don’t. You think that because we’re “gods” that we don’t know what it’s like to be you guys? Guess what? We were like you humans at one time. Humanity can climb out of this mess and come back stronger than ever. You know what? I believe in YOU. How do you like that irony?”

“Can you at least help the Ishnarians?”

“Yeah yeah, I’ll go back to Ishnar. I’m used to cleaning up Yah’s shit.”

“I have just one more favor to ask.”

“What do you want now?”

“Can you send us back to Earth? The ship’s kinda broken.”

“Look, I’m not allowed to break the laws of time. Earth’s kinda a shithole right now. Don’t worry though, there’s still people there but they’re all living underground. How bout I put you back in your hibernation chambers and by the time you reach Earth, radiation levels will be back to normal. Sound like a deal?”

“Thanks God.”

“Alright, sweet dreams.” Then God snapped his fingers again.

Many decades later…

The Sagan was orbiting Earth. Tranquility Bay was abandoned and uninhabitable. I made the decision to land on the surface.

“Radiation levels have stabilized, Captain,” Dr. Jackass said.

“Thank you Doctor.” From the bridge, I looked out through the view screen, down to the big blue marble below. “Should we attempt communication?” I asked.

“There doesn’t appear to be any technology to receive it,” the Doctor replied.

“We really are back to the stone ages then,” I said. “I’ll be down in engineering.”

I met with Commander Mwangi at her station. “How’s the landing gear?” I asked.

“All systems are functioning normally, sir,” she replied. But she wouldn’t look at me.

“Is everything alright Commander?”

Mwangi stood up from her desk and turned her face towards me. “You took a big gamble Captain,” she said. “You risked the safety of the entire crew.”

“I ain’t apologizing for getting into a stare down with the devil and winning,” I replied.

“We could’ve been killed!”

“I couldn’t allow you to live in sexual slavery!”

Mwangi sucker punched me right in the face. As I stood in a daze, she grabbed my head and kissed me passionately. “You are one stupid, STUPID son of a bitch,” she said, “but I thank you for it.” She rubbed her body against mine as she sidestepped her way back to work.

I had no idea what just happened. But I liked it.

I returned to the bridge and patted Valdez on the shoulder. “I never congratulated you on your pregnancy. Congratulations Commander,” I told her.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Are you ready to raise this child in a brave new world?”

She smiled. “Yes sir.”

I smiled back.

“Prepare for landing.”

THE END

2051: a space monstrosity (part viii)

“We are going home,” I announced to the crew onboard the Sagan. “To repair the ship, we’ll need Yah’s help. He’s being brought to the surface as we speak. His chamber will be stored in the cargo area, where Dr. Jackass will release him. We cannot get too close to Yah. He’s highly radioactive, but the Doctor will be equipped with a radiation absorber that I stole from the Ishnarians. You are ordered to remain out of the cargo bay. The Doctor will ask Yah to remain a safe distance from the crew.”

“If he’s God,” Patel asked, “can’t he make more radiation absorbers?”

“Good question Patel,” I replied, “but let’s not overthink this. Yah is not a supernatural being. He is made of real matter and is bound by gravity. That’s why he needs a spaceship to get off this planet. Additionally, it should be noted that Yah can read minds. But it appears that he can only do so at a certain distance. Perhaps up to 60 feet. If possible, stay 60 feet away from the cargo area. I can’t go into any more details, but when I order everyone to be at their stations, you will have 30 seconds to get there. Am I understood?”

“Yes sir!”

“Good. Begin preparations for launch.”

I exited the Sagan to meet with Hazov. Off in the distance, Yah’s chamber was being wheeled towards the ship.

“It’s a shame that you are unable to stay,” Hazov said, “hopefully this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship between our two worlds.”

“Possibly,” I said.

“If you don’t mind me prying, Captain, I thought your ship was having trouble launching.”

I smiled. “Someone forgot to carry the 1.”

“I see,” he said. “Farewell Captain.”

“Farewell Hazov.”

We shook hands and I immediately went to engineering to speak with Commander Mwangi. “Commander, once when you see that the hydrogen drive is back online, fire it up immediately,” I told her.

“But Captain, with lift thrusters firing we’ll be moving at a tremendous speed. We risk burning the hydrogen drive out again.”

“Just do it.”

I went to the bridge and strapped into the navigation station next to Valdez. “What’s the fastest you’ve ever flown a ship?” I asked her.

“About 1/8th the speed of light sir.”

“Prepare to shatter that record.”

The Doctor then came over the intercom. “The chamber is loaded sir,” he said.

“Close cargo bay doors and release Yah from the chamber,” I ordered.

Yah spoke up. “Thank you for releasing me from my chains, Captain,” he said.

“Don’t mention it.”

I monitored controls from the command post. Moments later, Valdez spoke up. “Lift thrusters are online sir!”

“Launch thrusters!”

The Sagan began lifting off the surface and into the atmosphere. I channeled down to engineering. “How’s that hydrogen drive coming along, Nia?!”

“Hydrogen drive is fully operational!”

Then a deeply distraught Hazov came over the radio. “Captain Kananga! Our planet is facing a torrent of earthquakes and tornadoes! We are dying! What have you done?!”

I radioed down to the cargo bay. “Yah! Unleashing the apocalypse on Ishnar wasn’t part of the deal!”

“Sorry Captain,” Yah replied. “The people of Ishnar have broken the covenant. They shall face my wrath.”

Now Yah was about to face my wrath, I thought. “I see,” I responded to Yah. “Dr. Jackass, please report to the bridge.”

I looked over to Valdez. “Have we cleared the atmosphere?” I asked.

“Yes sir, we are about to leave the outer orbit of Ishnar’s moons.”

“Good. Hopefully we can put enough distance between Yah and Ishnar.”

Moments later, Dr. Jackass entered the bridge. “Doctor,” I said, “on my count, open the cargo bay doors.

“Sir?”

I went over the intercom. “Attention crew: please be at your stations,” I ordered, then activated life support systems on all decks.

After 30 seconds expired, I looked back over to Valdez. “Alright Commander, step on it!”

“Excuse me?”

“Damn it Valdez! FLOOR IT!”

As we accelerated to an extraordinary speed, I ordered Dr. Jackass to open cargo doors. Centrifugal systems instantly cut out and we were floating at zero-g.

“Sir!” the Doctor yelled, “all contents in the cargo bay have been suctioned out! Including Yah! Closing doors now!”

As the gravity was being restored, I looked up at the radar. An energy source outside the ship was keeping pace. “Damn it! Yah is on our tail! More speed!”

“But we’re traveling near the speed of light!” Valdez replied.

“Can God go faster than light?!” Dr. Jackass asked.

“I guess we’ll find out!”

The ship began to rattle back and forth. We were under attack. Using his god-like power, Yah came over the intercom. “Is this how you want this to end Captain?” he asked. “Empty space makes a cold grave.”

“Faster Valdez!” I ordered.

“She’ll fly apart Captain!”

“Fly her apart then!”

Alarms and buzzers were going off across the bridge. The vibration intensified. If we were going to die, we were going to die going the speed of light.

Then I looked up at the radar. Another energy source was was gaining on Yah.

The calvary had arrived…

TO BE CONTINUED.

2051: a space monstrosity (part vii)

“It is the King’s wish that your three female crew members join his harem. In exchange, we will grant you land rights on Ishnar, allowing you to remain here permanently,” Hazov declared to me in front of the Royal Council.

“What if they deny the King’s wish?” I retorted.

“Then you and your crew will be asked to leave.”

“Hazov, I can’t make them do anything. Those three crew members are distinguished women in their own right. I do not own them.”

“Those are the conditions on which you may stay on Ishnar.”

“Unacceptable,” I said, “I am responsible for the safety and well-being of my crew. Under no conditions would they submit to this demand.”

Hazov then whispered to one of the advisers. They convened privately for a few moments. “Alright,” Hazov finally spoke up, “then the King will accept one of your female officers for his harem: Commander Mwangi.”

I tried to hide the anger boiling beneath. “Under Space Fleet guidelines,” I responded, “we are ordered to respect the customs of extraterrestrial cultures. But I cannot submit my crew these demands, not without discussing it with them first. Please allow me to return to the Sagan where I will meet with my crew.”

“Of course, Captain.”

I was bluffing. I knew the crew wouldn’t agree to these terms but I needed time to find other options.

When I returned to the Sagan, Dr. Jackass pulled me aside. “Valdez is indeed pregnant,” he said, “we ran a DNA test and the father is Smashhouse. Yah was correct.”

“Fuck me running!” I replied.

***

I went underground to meet with Yah again. The guards refused to let me through. “Look,” I told one of them, “Hazov has granted me unrestricted access to Yah.”

“We need an explanation for your visit,” the guard said.

“I just need to go over with Yah the court proceedings on Earth should he stand trial,” I replied. “That’s all.”

“I need to confirm this with Hazov.”

“Don’t waste your time, Hazov’s time, and my time. You’re being ridiculous.”

We had a stare down for a few moments before he let me through. Another guard escorted me to Yah’s chamber.

“Can we have some privacy please?” I asked the guard. When he was out of earshot, Yah spoke up.

“I knew you’d be back,” he said.

“Of course you did.”

“We got off on the wrong foot Captain. But I can help you with your problem.”

“What is my problem?”

“Your ship doesn’t work and you can’t stay on Ishnar.”

“So? Maybe I can find another corner of this planet for my crew to live on.”

“The King of Ishnar rules this entire planet. If he ever found you and your crew, he would kill all of you. Face it: the customs of Ishnar is incompatible with Earth’s. You know this to be true.”

“How can you help me then? Can you fix thrusters, hydrogen drives, and hibernation chambers?”

“Through me, all things are possible.”

“Do you agree to do this?”

“You have my word, Captain.”

“What about Earth? It’s gone. Can you help us rebuild the planet?”

“I’ve only ever wanted what’s best for humanity.”

“Okay then. If you go back on your word, I will not hesitate to eject you into outer space where you’ll spend eternity in your chamber.”

“My powers are limited in this chamber. The only way I can repair your ship is if you release me from it.”

Son of a bitch, he was right. I knew he was right. And he knew that I knew he was right. We were playing each other. I had to make a choice.

I called the guard over. “Bring Yah’s chamber to the surface,” I ordered. “We’re bringing him back to Earth.”

TO BE CONTINUED…