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A One Horse Town

Tombstone II was a mining town on the wild frontiers of space,
Where Whisky and Martian moonshine were consumed by the case,
At first it had a brothel, a casino and three bars,
But then came the settlers and the prospectors’ last hoorah.


Boomtown turned respectable,
Mob rule got the elbow,
Lewd behaviour was deemed unacceptable,
As was vulgar innuendo.


Homesteads were built on the edge of town,
As more staked a claim,
Air-tight sprawled suburbia,
In the endless sulphuric rain.


With one solitary form of transport,
They called their hoverbus “Horse”,
It took the ladies shopping, the kids to school,
And ferried their growing workforce.


*
Then came a treaty with the neighbours,
On the nearby planet of Grok,
Their arrival did no favours,
To the short-lived belle époque,


Hushed whispers and disapproving glances
From all who passed by,
The tentacles they could live with,
But, my God, all those eyes!


The grunts and whistles and slurring,
Whenever they tried to speak,
Set intolerance and xenophobia stirring,
Compounded by their horrid physique.


They were banned from eating in public,
It made their fellow diners feel sick,
With the sight, the smells and noises,
Ugh! Their dietary habits were amoebic.


*
One morning Mrs Jackson got a call,
From Horse’s early driver,
The only hoverbus had broken down,
And the mechanic couldn’t revive her.


Now little Timmy was a good lad,
And really not a skiver,
But a day off got the thumbs-down,
As she dressed him like a deep-sea diver.


A packed lunch and his satchel,
Filled with electronic books,
With attendance at school contractual,
He gave her a dirty look.


She licked her hanky and rubbed,
At a smudge on the side of his nose,
Then pulled on his acid-proof outfit,
Lest he should decompose.


She strapped on the oxygen tank,
And checked the gas with a hiss,
Pausing with a fishbowl helmet,
She gave him a goodbye kiss.


With his head in a dome,
And his heart in his mouth,
Timmy turned to leave,
The airlock groaned and opened,
And he turned in hope of reprieve.


But his mother waved goodbye,
Through the window by the top deck,
And the boy set off for school,
On the second-furthest trek.


*
He was halfway there when disaster struck,
And he slipped on his metal-clad foot,
Landing on his back he ran out of luck,
As his air supply went caput.


The rain fell hard and unrelenting,
The severed hose flailed about,
With precious oxygen rapidly venting,
The little boy wheezed and passed out.


The choir warmed up for the angels’ songs,
As they weighed up the cost
Timmy’s life flashed its rights and wrongs,
And it seemed that all was lost.


*
K’chuck-Grun-Phewphoo had the furthest to walk,
Trotting in six thick rubber waders,
He was fed up with behind-the-back talk,
About his family being alien invaders.


Yet his parents felt he should integrate,
Get a human-based education,
Detractors thought he should emigrate,
And called him an overgrown crustacean.


K’chuck-Grun-Phewphoo spotted the crumpled shape,
And then he saw him twitch,
It was the unmistakable form an ape,
There, at the base of a ditch.


Six legs made light work of the slope,
And he tapped a tentacle on the glass,
An eye flickered open and registered hope,
As Timmy recognised one of his class.


In order to save Timmy from certain death,
K’chuck-Grun-Phewphoo used his alien powers
His huge lungs drew a deep breath,
It was one that could last him for hours.

He unplugged the hose from his own tank,
And used a spare tentacle to block up the pipe,
As the oxygen flowed Timmy smiled in thanks,
Forgetting his previous gripe.

 

*
K’chuck-Grun-Phewphoo was hailed a hero,
Became Timmy’s newfound best friend,
The event opened a window,
No more differences to transcend.


There was a Grok and human alliance,
Harmony below acid showers,
They shared strong bonds with defiance,
And partied into the small hours.


Alienist attitudes were all in the past,
And Tombstone II abandoned former hostilities,
But somehow you just know,
It couldn’t last,
And so came the reptiles from Alpha Centauri B.

 

Copyright ©DJBurnham 2009 All Rights Reserved

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