Read by Richard
Audio edited by Jana
Story by Bertie
Greetings Fellow Earthlings, and anyone else who happens to be listening.
This is Richard, and In a moment I’m going to be handing it over to Astropup who will regale us with the first of a two-part adventure set mainly on Planet Earth. If you are new to Storynory, I’d better explain that Astropup is a space travelling hound who recounts his adventures in English with the benefit of some alien technology. It’s actually a little box in his collar that enables him to speak to us. His companions are a laid-back human called Marlow, and a parrot. The parrot is fluent in many languages even without a thingymajig. Opinion is sharply divided on the Parrot’s true nature. Some say he is a genius, others call him a deluded megalomaniac.
Now we have to thank Tadeus and Alma for prompting this story. They wrote to Storynory saying:
We just finished listening to the series about the Parrot as President of the World. Now we have heard about his missions getting to Ulan 40. I recall that they get there in the story "The Best Hotdog in the Universe". But, now I remember that they never do go back to earth to report about what happened. The only time they get close to earth is to collect Luna, their space tourist. Then, the video game addiction starts right after the story about Astropup meeting his younger self. So do they never go home to earth? Or do they report back to the president?
Well Tadeus and Alma, to answer your question, we must turn to Astropup himself.
Good Day to you. Or Good Evening, depending on where you are.
Or if you are travelling in space, where there are no days or evenings, only eternal blackness, Good Whatever.
I've whizzed around the Universe and had so many adventures that I get muddled up sometimes about which one was which. Fortunately, my friend the Parrot has a fantastic memory, so I can usually check the details.
For example, before I told you the story called "The Invasion of the Bird Brains," I asked the Parrot, "Was that the second or the third time we saved the world from aliens?"
And when I was preparing our story, "The Day of the Parrot," I made sure that it was the Ninja Cat Commandos who were after the Parrot and not the Ginger Cat Commandos who hail from a different galaxy altogether.
And when it comes to nerdy details like the accuracy of a particular type of laser gun or the top speed of a Warp 7 StarShip, Marlow is my go-to guy. He can also name all the Doctor Who actors in the correct order, not that I would ever need to know that.
But even my two trusty comrades let stuff slip their minds sometimes, as I shall now explain.
We were in orbit around the planet Earth. Round and round we went, like some demented pooch chasing his tail. It was only on the umpteenth orbit that Marlow asked:
"Hey, aren't we supposed to be on some critical mission to save the world again?"
"I suppose you're right," said the Parrot, "but even my brilliant brain can't keep up with all the times we've had to prevent destruction striking Planet Earth."
"Have there been more than three times?" I asked because you see, I can only count to three, and I can't conceive of anything happening more than three times.
"Yes, more than three times," confirmed the Parrot."
Ouch! That was a mind-boggling thought, and it hurt my brain!
We eventually recalled that the President of the World had personally instructed us to visit Planet Ulan 40. She wanted us to form an alliance with the inhabitants of that far-off world against our common enemy, the vicious cat people. Our orders were to report back urgently to the President herself, Miss Georgina Shrub.
"Did we complete the mission?" I asked.
"Well, I do recall dropping in on Ulan 40," said Marlow. "It was run by pigs. And we met their leader, The Right Honorable Sir Porky, Prime Minister, and First Lord of The Planet Ulan 40, but we forgot to ask him about joining us in the struggle against the Cat People."
"Yes," agreed the Parrot. "That one thing slipped our minds."
"Oh, oh, I remember now," I woofed. "We talked to Sir Porky about working together to sell super scrummy hotdogs to planet Earth."
If you have heard our story, the Best Hotdogs in the Universe, you might recall that Planet Ulan 40 is famous for its hotdogs. They happen to be a veggie recipe cooked by pigs, but even I, a gastronomic dog, could not tell them from the real deal. When we recalled this adventure, the Parrot grew very excited. He flapped his wings and squawked:
"That's right! How could I forget? It's our chance to get mega-rich, real quick! We'll be trillionaires in no time! Ten per cent of the interplanetary hotdog business has got to be worth a fortune!"
"Grrrrrrreat!" I growled. "Let's report to the shrub woman right now!"
Marlow started to run through all the computer checks to prepare our ship for the return to Planet Earth. Now I was impatient for home.
But first, we had to dive through the Earth's atmosphere. Every time we do that, I suffer the worst travel sickness. EEUHHHHHHHH!!!
( Space dive and splash Sound FX)
We splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just half a mile off the coast of Los Angeles. Soon, we were quickly and efficiently picked up by the Chinese Navy.
Like all returning space travellers, the official ones anyway, we had to spend two weeks in quarantine - which was rather pleasant because they sent me to a 5-star kennel in Beverly Hills. I'm glad to say we hadn't brought back any nasty bugs on our space travels - but while we were locked up in luxury, an over-zealous customs official destroyed our sausage tree from Ulan 40. We had planned to present it to the World President.
After they released us, they sent a limo that dropped us off at the Presidential Palace. First, we walked through a metal detector thingy at the gate to check that we had not concealed any weapons in our clothes, fur, or feathers. Next, an agent of the Secret Service gave us a grilling.
"I'm sorry," he said, pointing to a sign of a four-legged friend with a big red X drawn over him, "No dogs."
I began to whimper, and Marlow explained that I had a personal invitation from the President of the World to meet her in the Bone Shaped Office.
After some toing and froing, they agreed I could come in, but only on the lead.
"This dog has served his planet all over the Universe, and you are putting him on a leash?" complained Marlow.
"Sorry, sir, rules and regulations," replied the Secret Serviceman.
But I didn't mind, just so long as I could come along. What we dogs hate is being left behind. You, humans, don't realise it, but we're miserable when you are gone!
So I am honoured to say that I have met the President of the World, Georgina Shrub. She was just GRRRRRRRRRREAT! Her first words were, "I love dogs!" What a wonderful slogan!
I rolled on my back while she scratched my chest and tickled my chin.
"I'm sorry I've not got any treats," she said. But I didn't mind. I was too busy soaking up the love to worry about filling my tummy. And then she said, "They told me I wasn't allowed to keep my dogs in the palace."
"But if you're the president, why don't you make the rules?" asked Marlow.
"Good question," she said with a sigh. "I wish I knew the answer to that."
When we settled down, she was very keen to hear our story. However, the Parrot was unusually quiet and let Marlow do the talking.
"We've been on quite a trip," he told her. "Among other experiences, we went back in time and met Mr Sherlock Holmes."
"How fascinating. I've always wanted to meet the famous detective," said the President.
While we were chatting, an extraordinary person came through the door without knocking. The President scrunched up her face in annoyance and then said, as if she was trying to keep calm, "This is Sauria Macartney, my Chief of Staff."
I could sense that Sauria Macartney was a peculiar person and that my new best friend, the President, did not care for her. GRRRR! Marlow clamped my muzzle with his hand before I could get a proper snarl out. Oh Well, I suppose you have to watch your manners when you are in the Presidential Palace.
"Mr Marlow here was just explaining that he and his companions, Commander Parrot and Astropup, met Sherlock Holmes on their space travels"
"How very interesting," agreed Sauria.
Marlow continued. "We also visited a planet where a rather unusual fellow called Buddy turned me into a dog. It was a most unpleasant experience. Fortunately, my canine state was temporary."
"What an adventure!" exclaimed the President.
"Next, we had a touching episode when Commander Parrot fell in love with a feathered girlfriend caged by intelligent lizards. We rescued her from the Planet of the Lizards and..."
The President leaned forward: "Sorry to interrupt you, Mr Marlow, but you just mentioned a planet inhabited by intelligent lizards. That could be rather important. Could you tell us more about that?"
"Well, yes," said Marlow. "The Lizards walk around on two feet, have advanced technology, and live in cities just like humans."
He did not get any further before Sauria jumped in and said firmly. "That's highly classified information. Top Secret. Don't mention it outside of this room."
"If you say so," said Marlow, bemused, before continuing. "Eventually, we arrived at Planet Ulan 40, which is what you want to hear about most of all. I'm sorry to disappoint you; the pigs who run the planet aren't interested in fighting the Cat People. They do, however, have an intriguing proposal. Ulan 40 is a perfect paradise for lovers of hotdogs. They literally grow on trees up there. And, as my friend Astropup will confirm, the hotdogs from Ulan 40 are simply the best in the Universe."
"Wooof!" I agreed.
"The pigs of Ulan 40 are keen to supply Planet Earth with an almost infinite supply of vegetarian sausages, and we can help arrange it all. We can solve the entire world's nutritional problems, and the prices are attractive. We need to discuss this proposal with you in some detail."
"I think that sounds like a conversation for a commercial company," said Sauria, cutting him off.
And this was when the Parrot spoke up for the first time. "Actually," he rasped, "we were asking the President for her opinion."
The President shuffled in her chair. "Maybe I can circle back to you on that one?"
The Parrot continued to insist that the hotdog proposal was the deal of the millennium, and it was not long before Sauria announced that the President had to go to another meeting. They politely showed us the door.
We left the presidential Palace in a somewhat downcast mood. "You know," said Marlow, "I get the impression that Georgina Shrub isn't really in charge of the world or anything much... They probably let her choose what she has for lunch, but that's about it."
"Yes," I agreed. "The nice President has to follow the orders of that strange lizard woman."
"What strange Lizard woman?" asked the Parrot.
"Sauria, of course. What other lizard could you mean?"
"Why do you call her a Lizard?" asked Marlow.
"Because she was one," I said.
"No, she wasn't," said Marlow.
"Oh, yes, she was," I insisted.
"This dialectic isn't going anyway," said the Parrot. "Let's grab some breakfast."
"Oh yes, hotdogs, please!" I woofed.
And while we were standing at the Hotdog stand, we watched a TV screen. And guess who was on the telly? It was us! They had filmed us as we came out of the Presidential Palace, just five minutes earlier.
"Hey, aren't you the space guys?" asked the hotdog man as he handed Marlow the ketchup.
"Sure are," said Marlow. "How did you know?'
"I took a wild guess that you were the same man, dog and speechifying parrot."
"Talking of which," said the Parrot, "Can you tell us who owns all the hotdog stands?"
"Sure, everyone knows, Micky King is the hotdog billionaire. Now he wants to be President of the world."
"I did that job once," said the Parrot. "It was a lot of work for not much pay."
"Guess that's like most jobs," said the hotdog man.
"How can we get hold of Mr Micky?" asked Marlow.
"He's holding a rally in the stadium tonight," said the Hotdogman. "Everyone's going. We're all fed up with being bossed around by lizards, and he's the only guy who is brave enough to speak out against them."
"Lizards, you say?" asked the Parrot.
"Sure, according to Micky King, President Shrub is a lizard in disguise."
"No, she's not!!" I woofed. "That's CRAZY! She's not a lizard."
But the hotdog man did not understand my woof.
"Hey", he said, "If you guys drop by at the VIP entrance of the stadium, I'm sure you'll be able to meet Micky King. "You're famous right now."
"Thanks, we might just do that," said the Parrot.
When I had wolfed down my hotdog and cleared my throat, I felt a lot better. I asked the Parrot, "Why would we meet a loon who thinks that nice dog-loving President Shrub is a lizard in disguise? He must be barking mad, as we dogs say."
"I wouldn’t worry about him being mad,” said the Parrot, “everyone, however smart they think they are, is deluded about something. Even I, an expert in hundreds of fields, find it hard to get to the bottom of the truth sometimes. Maybe Mr. Micky is right about the Lizards. Most likely he is at least partly wrong. But at any rate, he’s the biggest mover and shaker in the global hotdog business. Let’s help him take it to the next level - let’s share our vision with him and see if he is inspired or crazy enough to join us. I see a bright, beautiful future, full of riches and nourishment! Interplanetary hotdogs!”
“Wow, “ I said, “That’s wild! Let’s hope the future comes soon.”
And if you want to hear what happened when we met Mr Micky, 'the hotdog King', you must listen to my next adventure.
Thank you Astropup. Interplanetary hotdogs, hey? Let’s hope they come with ketchup.
And we’ll be back very soon with the second part of this mouth-watering adventure. For now, from Astropup, and me, Richard Scott, at Storynory.com Goodbye.