Dedicated to Emmanuel whose family supports us on Patreon.
This is Richard, and welcome to Storynory. In a moment I’m going to be handing over to Astropup, who will finish telling his latest adventure. If you recall, Astropup, the Parrot, and Marlow reported back to the President of the World after their visit to the Planet Ulan 40. They want to set up an interplanetary hotdog business supplying a continuous stream of vegan hotdogs to Planet Earth via a wormhole in space. The President seems unable to help them.
Some people say that the President is not really in charge, but in fact, her every move is controlled by alien lizards disguised as humans. Some commentators even think the president herself is a lizard. But of course, that’s a crazy theory - or is it?
The leading lizard theorist is Micky King the Hotdog Billionaire. Astropup and his friends are keen to meet him. So let’s return to our space-travelling truth seeker, Astropup, to find out the answers to some of these mysteries.
Ever since the mention of lizards taking over the world, I had noticed that certain people were more irritable than usual. Marlow was not his usual easy-going self.
"Honestly," he moaned. "We're wasting our time with Micky King, the Hotdog Billionaire. He's lost his mind. Only Crazies believe lizards have taken over the world."
"Hey!" I woofed, "Are you calling me CRAAAAZZY? Because I believe Lizards have taken over the world. The only thing is, the nice president lady is not a lizard. And don't let anyone say that she is."
And the Parrot squawked: "How do you know she's not a lizard?"
"Because she doesn't smell like one," I replied.
"Perhaps she's better disguised than the others," said Marlow with a silly snigger.
"GRRRRR! Don't you dare call our lovely President a lizard? She's not, and that's final!" I insisted. "I really like her. She has the best policies of any politician. She loves dogs."
All-day long, Marlow and I bickered over politics and lizards. Meanwhile, the Parrot was on his phone, doing what he called "fact-checking." And so we passed the time until we reached the VIP Gate of the stadium in the early evening. VIP stands for Very Important Persons, which is what we were. Micky King, the Hotdog Billionaire, was to deliver a speech against the lizards. An ocean of not very important people was excited to hear him speak. But we VIPs didn't have to wait in line. Our famous names were on the special guest list. We breezed through security into a big room where they served drinks and hotdogs. I like being a VIP. The food is grrrrreat!
"One benefit of being rich and famous," said the Parrot, "Is that you never have to pay for anything."
The free food was a little taste of our future. We weren't rich yet, but we were planning to be, just as soon as we inked our deal with the Hotdog Billionaire.
The Parrot fluttered above the crowd of VIPs, scanning for our host. The hotdog billionaire wasn't hard to spot because he had a big round head, just like the picture on the front of the hotdog stands. So we followed the Parrot's flight path until we were in front of him.
"Hey, you're the space guys! Glad you could make it," he told us. "Maybe you'd care to give the crowd an update on your mission!"
"I would love to," replied the Parrot, who never missed a chance for free publicity.
Neither Marlow nor I knew what the Parrot was going to squawk about. "I hope he puts paid to that idiotic lizard theory," said Marlow.
"I hope he says that Sauria Macartney looks like a lizard, smells like a lizard, and is a lizard," I growled. Sauria Macartney was the President's chief of staff, whom I did not like.
The rally was like a pop concert. The crowd broke into chants:
"Kill the Lizards! Kill the Lizards!"
Eventually, the warm-up speakers did their thing. Most of them accused the President of the world of being a lying, cheating lizard, which was NOT true. However, they hailed Micky King for feeding the people on a diet of truth and hotdogs.
At last, the host announced a wise and widely-travelled guest. The crowd went wild with cheers for the Parrot.
"Greetings, Fellow Earthlings!" rasped the Parrot as he fluttered behind the microphone, "My crew and I have travelled across the Universe and seen many wonderful things. As the prophet said, "Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind."
"My vital message to you tonight is this: I have fact-checked the theory that lizards have taken over the world. Having followed the science, I can now say conclusively that the lizard theory ... is TRUE!!!! Lizards have taken over the world! My anonymous source on another planet, who is entirely reliable and trustworthy, has confirmed it in granular detail. The Lizard people can disguise themselves as humans and have indeed been planning to take over the world for some time."
There were cheers across the stadium and chants of "No More Lizards!"
"But! But!," said the Parrot - "As a speaker of truth, I must push back and make one correction. Today, we met the president of the world, Georgina Shrub, and she is not a lizard."
Judging by the boos, this part of the message did not go down so well.
"However, the people around her ARE lizards, and they are controlling her every move."
The booing subsided.
"And you know what the lizards are most afraid of?" He shrugged his wings and waited for answers.
There were shouts of "The Truth!", and "Micky King!" and "Not Georgina Shrub!"
"What they are most afraid of," said the Parrot over the noise, "surprisingly, is dogs! It turns out that dogs can detect lizards with their noses, and that's why they have banned our furry friends from the Palace."
At this point, I bounced onto the stage and barked into a microphone, "WOOFF! THAT'S RIGHT!"
The Parrot told me to sit and be a good dog before continuing his speech:
"I tried to come up with a way that dogs could save the world - but unfortunately, I could not think of one. However, my brilliant brain is never stumped for long. I have found a solution, and I will soon defeat the Lizards!"
The crowd went wild. After that speech, even Micky King, with his funny one-liners and pledges of cheap hotdogs, was a letdown.
The following morning, I went down to the Presidential Palace for a one-dog protest.
"Oy, You Lizards! Clear off!" I barked.
I didn't achieve much, but at least I felt better.
It was late afternoon, and my voice was rough from barking since dawn. I began to tooter back to our hotel to see if Marlow had bought any dog treats. On my way, I noticed that many humans were irritable and fidgety. Some looked like they were about to explode!
A man with slicked-back hair was holding up the traffic and shouting: "Does anyone know my name! I can't remember who I am! Where do I live? How do I get home?"
Typically, I would have said he had gone mad from too much howling at the moon, but he was far from the only person acting strange.
I heard so many bad words! I saw so many punch ups! And that was just while I was noodling down one block of the street.
Back at the hotel room, I found Marlow lying on the bed, not looking too well, and the Parrot perched on a chair.
"What's up with the humans?' I asked. "They are acting like the world is about to end! It's not, is it? Because if it is, we must find our spaceship and leave right away."
The Parrot shook his little green head.
"Why are the humans so strange today?" I woofed.
"Because," said the Parrot. "Their mobile phones don't work."
"Oh, I see," I said. "That makes perfect sense. We dogs say that a human without a phone is like a dog without a bone."
"That doggrel contains a nugget of wisdom," conceded the Parrot. "Humans have rapidly evolved to become entirely dependent on their phones. They can't function without them. So when I hacked into the mobile internet this morning and turned it off, many people lost their minds."
"Why in the Universe did you do that?" I asked.
"Ha! For humanity's good!" squawked the Parrot! Mobile Tech companies are in league with the lizards to take over the world. They have programmed people's minds via their phones to make them believe that a giant lizard walking on two feet is a human. That's why I had to turn off the mobile internet. The people are suffering now, but they will thank me later when they see the truth!"
Things only got stranger over the following days. Families were scrapping among themselves on the street:
“It’s the lizards that turn the phones off!” a father would yell.
“You’ve got lizards on the brain, you nutter!” the mother would yell back.
Even the kids joined in:
“There is no such thing as lizards.”
“Yes, there is.”
“No there isn’t,” ect.
It did not help that the weather was hot. The burning sun seems to make people, and even dogs, madder than ever.
At least we could still hear the news on the radio. The experts of the airwaves explained that deluded people were spotting lizards walking down the street on two legs because they did NOT have their phones to give them the truth. Oh! How that claim infuriated the Parrot! But then he calmed down and said:
"It won't be long now. People can finally see the Lizards for what they are. Their phones are off, and they're learning to believe their own eyes and think for themselves again!"
Since I like to use my eyes and think for myself, I dropped by at the Presidential Palace to see what was going down. Had the Secret Service seen through the lizards' disguises yet? A few more dogs had followed my example of barking insults at the lizards each day. When a terrier recognised me, he yapped excitedly:
"Things are hotting up. A convoy of trucks carrying police dogs just sped in through the big gates."
Soon we heard loud barking from INSIDE the Palace.
"It's happening! They're clearing out the lizards!" woofed a sheepdog.
Humans, too, stopped to watch the fun. Marlow and the Parrot joined me in time to see a flying saucer take off from the Palace's roof, and then another - and then another - which made three in all - and then I lost count.
All eyes were on the giant screen up on the roof of the Palace, where President Shrub and Micky King soon appeared arm in arm, waving to the ecstatic crowd.
"Isn't it great to see folks mend their differences and make friends!" I commented.
"Naaaaa", squawked the Parrot. "It's a typical stitch-up. They're all in it together, working behind the scenes for their own benefit."
When things had calmed down, we received an invitation as three EIPs - that's Extra Important Persons - to meet the President for coffee and dog biscuits. This time, both President Shrub and Micky King the Hotdog Billionaire tickled my tummy. I'm glad to say that Sauria Macartney had flown off in her flying saucer back to the Planet of the Lizards, where she belonged.
After plenty of mutual praise, Marlow pitched our hotdog proposal:
"It's fairly straightforward. We seek 300 trillion dollars to build a wormhole through space linking Planet Earth and Planet Ulan 40. The wormhole will deliver a constant stream of vegan hotdogs feeding the world. The sausages grow on trees, native to Ulan 40. Pigs prepare the finished product, making them the undisputed Best Tasting Hotdogs in the Universe - that slogan is intergalactically trademarked. Each box contains a week's nutrition for a family of four people and one dog and one cat."
I thought I heard President Shrub's tummy rumble, but I was only setting myself up for a big disappointment.
"I'm sorry," said Micky, "The Return on Investment for my King of Hotdog stores would be two per cent of our current set-up."
"Besides," added President Shrub, "The world can't depend on a single source of food from a distant planet. What if hackers closed the wormhole?"
"Sorry, boys, I'd love to do business with you, but we'll have to pass on this one," concluded Micky.
The Parrot did not like to take "No" for an answer. He turned purple and screeched:
"You know what? I'm done with this world. It's too weird of late. I want to discover Planet Normal. Just blast me back into space. Are you coming with me, boys?"
"Of course," I woofed. "Don't leave me behind… I hate to be left!"
"And since I don't have anything else in my diary, I might as well tag along for the ride," chipped in Marlow.
Thank you Astropup. I for one am looking forward to hearing about your future space adventures.
And I’m delighted to dedicate this story to Emmanual, who is 21 months old, and also we want to thank his parents, Mariam and Peter for supporting us on Patreon.
As a family we love weekends at the Beach in the Bongo (Mazda Bongo is a campervan)
Thank you Emmanual, Mariam, and Peter. We can imagine you listening to Storynory in your Bongo!
And to all our listeners, Storynory has been around since 2005. It keeps going against all odds on a wing and a prayer. There are loads of ways you can help us keep chugging along. It helps us massively if you can tell people about us in person or on social media. Leave us nice comments in Apple Podcasts and elsewhere. Spread the word to the world about Storynory’s Free Stories !
And if you can support us financially on Patreon or by Paypal, that’s wonderful too. Just visit the front page of Storynory.com for details.
For now, From Me, Richard Scott, at Storynory.com, goodbye.