The L Squad Chapter One: 13 Pillows

I haven’t posted anything here for awhile, which is probably obvious by the post dates. I have been diligently working on the follow-up to The L Squad, The L Squad: Phase Two. The simple fact that I’m working on a follow-up is probably somewhat of a spoiler. I finished it recently and have been working on rewriting it. I didn’t follow Mitch Hedberg’s advice to simply make a copy as it needs a lot of work. There were a plethora of redundancy issues, typos, length issues like it being 190+ pages when it should be closer to 150 given the target audience, incoherent ramblings… Yeah, like this. I decided to I should post something on this blog before the cob webs started to grow. I’m pretty sure that is not what’s meant by the world wide web. Since I have been writing and rewriting and rewriting and… a book instead of blog-appropriate material, I thought it would be a swell idea to slap the first chapter of the book that started it all (All of what? This chaos here and, I hope, lots of future stuff.) onto NobbinBlog for the reading enjoyment of anybody who actually reads it and enjoys it. I know that’s asking for a lot. At least read it. Without any preamble or preface, except for the preamble and preface I’ve typed, here is the first chapter of The L Squad entitled Chapter One: 13 Pillows.

Chapter One:
13 Pillows

“Splorg. Splorg! SPLORG!!!” The deep voice echoed through the darkness.

Abby couldn’t see anything in the seemingly endless caves. The thunderous boom made by each slowly approaching step sent waves of terror through her little body. She tried to run, but her legs wouldn’t work. She could only stumble through the black abyss. She kicked a rock and tripped. The steps got closer. She willed herself back to her feet. The fear forced her legs to move. She ran through the blackness. She hit a wall and collapsed. She couldn’t get up. She struggled to get up, but could only lie there shaking. Something brushed her face. She couldn’t see what it was, but she knew if she didn’t get up now she would never get up again.

Abby jerked and jumped up trembling and gasping for breath as she looked around in terror. Hitch was sitting on her bed caressing her face. Charlie, her tricolored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was curled up at the foot of the bed. Charlie perked her ears, lifted her head and cocked it slightly to the right when Abby jumped. Hitch put his hand on hers.

“Another bad dream?” He asked.

“Yeah. Was it obvious?”

Hitch just nodded his head. “The mines of LambaBad, again?”

“Nasga, please,” said Abby. “It was so beautiful when it was Nasga.”

“It didn’t have uranium mines before it was LambaBad,” said Hitch.

“That’s why I want to remember it as Nasga. That won’t ever happen here, will it, Hitch? He can’t find us on Earth, can he?” Abby asked, with a shiver.

“I hope not,” said Hitch. “That’s why we do this. That’s why Rad exists, just in case.”

“I hate when you call it that,” said Abby. “’Rad’ is a slang word humans used here in the 1980s. The R.A.D. is an important organization. It’s our job to make sure that what happened on Nasga and…” She paused as a wave of melancholy washed over her. “Yamfenn doesn’t happen on Earth.”

“You are such a nerd. How have we been best friends for so long?” Hitch asked. “On two planets, no less?”

“Because you’re the luckiest guy in the universe,” Abby said, with a smirk on her pink face, which wrinkled her yellow stripes and white blaze. A little jerk of attitude wiggled the curly antennae perched atop her head. They both laughed.

“Oh plurg! Speaking of Rad we have to get going. We forgot to request a wake-up call,” said Hitch. “It’s 11:30. If we blow another mission Captain Grek is going to flip his flop.”

“I don’t think you’ve completely grasped the American idiom. It’s ‘flip his top’ or ‘flip his lid,’” Abby said. “Even Kip overslept?”

“Even Kip. It’s probably flight weariness,” Hitch said. “The way George flies we’re lucky to get anywhere alive.”

“If it weren’t for George we would never have escaped LambaBad, or out-flown the Lambads and made it to Earth,” Abby reminded her friend. “Isn’t he also the same pilot who saved a furry little alien floating aimlessly around the Iisneent Solar System in a malfunctioning pod?”

“That’s all true. I’ll never forget him saving my life,” said Hitch. “That’s why I requested he be the one to pilot our escape ship. I just wish he had landed it, oh, in one piece.”

“I think the Lambads had more to do with that than George,” said Abby.

“All right, you win,” said Hitch. “Let’s get out of here. As captain of this squad, Captain Grek is due to take the biggest bite out of my booty.”

“Hey, nobody wants to be around Captain Grek when he’s angry,” said Abby, pinching her nose. She gathered up her things and called to Charlie, “Come on, Charlie. Leash!”

Charlie jumped up and ran toward Abby at, “Come on, Charlie.” When she heard “Leash!” she stopped in her tracks and stood up on her hind legs. “Seriously? Come on. I’ll be ever so good,” Charlie pleaded, in her English accent.

“You say that every time and every time I acquiesce to your wishes you end up chasing something,” said Abby, as she snapped Charlie’s collar around her neck. They rushed out of room 217 of the Something Tree Hotel.

“What does ‘ak-wee-ess’ mean?” asked Hitch.

“Give in, submit, assent,” Abby said.

“Where do you get these words?” He asked.

“I read.”

“How do you know what the words mean?” asked Hitch.

“If I don’t know a word I look it up,” said Abby.

“Why doesn’t George have to wear a leash?” Charlie asked, scratching at her collar. “He’s more bonkers than me.”

George is only crazy when he’s flying. My anthropomorphizing device gave you Yamfennian-like qualities, but didn’t subdue your canine instincts,” said Abby. “You’re still a spaniel deep down.”

“What’s wrong with being a spaniel?” Charlie asked.

“Nothing. It’s wonderful to be who you are. You’re my good girl,” Abby said, while scratching Charlie behind her ear. “I love you, but your need to chase things and bark gets us into trouble.”

They reached room 219 and Hitch pounded on the door and yelled, “Let’s go, Kip. We are late.” The only response he got was a deep moan. “We’ll be in the lobby. George is getting the ship.”

They headed for the stairs.

“Can’t we take the lift just this once?” Charlie asked.

“No elevators,” said Hitch.

“Fair enough,” said Charlie, “but how about the lift?”

“Hitch hates elevators,” said Abby. “When he was a youngling he was having a pod race with his friends just off his home world of Zechisten.”

“Do you have to tell her this story?” asked Hitch.

“Yes, please,” said Charlie. “I like stories ever so much.”

“Yes,” said Abby. “We can all learn from your mistakes. I know someone else who gets too excited and rushes into things.” Abby gestured toward Charlie.

“I like to learn,” said Charlie, “especially if I can learn without getting into trouble.”

Hitch, our fearless leader, was so into the race that he zipped right past the finish line and into a wormhole that took him to the Iisneent Solar System,” Abby said. “The pod’s engine malfunctioned around Nasga. If George hadn’t found him when he did, that pod would have become his coffin. Now, he has a severe case of claustrophobia. Just walking by an elevator, for example, makes his brown fur stand on end and his pointy ears curl.”

“I’m not scared,” said Hitch. “It’s good exercise. We have to stay in shape.”

“You’re a scaredy-cat,” said Charlie. “I like to chase cats.”

Charlie feigned a lunge at Hitch. Hitch flinched and sternly said, “Charlie, sit. Stay.”

“I can’t,” said Charlie. “We’re late.”

Hitch, Abby, and Charlie reached the courtesy desk just as the attendant was hanging up the phone. She could barely see Hitch’s ears and Abby’s antennae sticking up over the desk. She stood up to see them.

“You must be room 217 & 219,” she said.

“That’s us. Sorry, we’re running a little late today,” said Hitch. “We’re just stopping by to let you know that we’re finally on our way out.”

“I’ve been informed that 13 pillows are missing from your rooms. You’ll have to pay for them before you can leave,” said the attendant.

“Peanut butter and jelly!” Hitch said, angrily, as he reached up to slam his little furry fist down on the desk.

“I prefer honey,” the attendant said. “Do you guys, like, eat pillows or something?”

“I have been known to tear asunder a pillow or two in my time,” Charlie confessed, “but I haven’t done that in days.”

“This is absurd. There aren’t even 13 pillows in a room,” Abby protested.

“Someone requested more pillows,” said the attendant. “Now, those pillows are missing.”

Meanwhile, on their ship, George was in a closet making a nice cushy nest out of 13 pillows.

While we cut away briefly to George, and his secret hideaway bed, Kip joined the others at the courtesy desk. Kip was looking a little bloodshot this morning.

Kip, did you see 13 extra pillows in your room?” Hitch asked.

“I didn’t see anything,” said Kip.

“How did you not see anything? You are literally an eyeball,” said Abby.

“I was closed most of the night,” Kip said. “Oh, don’t talk to me until I get my morning solar rays.”

I should probably explain here that Kip, short for Kipp, is a Yortian from the planet Yort, short for Yortt.

Hitch turned back to the attendant, “We are a squad from Rad, the Refugee Alien Defenders, and we’re on a very important mission. We don’t have time for this, this…”

“Piffle,” Abby added. Everyone stopped to give Abby a weird look. “It means ‘nonsense’ or ‘baloney.’ Doesn’t anybody read anymore?”

“No. Any book worth reading will eventually be made into a movie,” said the attendant.

“The book is always better than the movie,” said Abby.

What? You’ve never heard of a Yortian? Seriously? Yortians come in two main species the Cyclopes and the Opes. Yortians start out life as one-eyed giants called Cyclopes. Through a process of maturity, that’s too gross to fully explain here, they enter the second stage of life as Opes. Basically, the eyes separate from the giants and become their own beings. Opes have arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, and a mouth. They do not eat, but instead are solar-powered; they get all their energy and nutrients from the sun. The eyelid remains attached and the eyelashes act as an Ops’s hair when open. The eyelid is tough, almost like a shell, which supplies sufficient protection for the fragile eyeball inside. The irises of the Opes come in many different colors. Kip’s iris is purple. Now, where were we?

We may have missed something during our tangent to the planet Yort and all that description. I blame you for not knowing what a Yortian is. That’s why one should always soak up all the knowledge one can, so this kind of thing won’t happen.

The attendant pointed to Charlie. “There’s also an added fee for pets.”

Charlie was indignant. She stood up on her back legs and said, “Look here, missy. I am no pet.” She grabbed her collar forcefully. “I just like to wear jewelry.”

A security guard standing in the lobby was aroused by the commotion. He walked over to the courtesy desk and tried to calm the situation. He put his hand on Hitch’s head and said, “Everybody, calm down. Let’s take a little walk to the security room. We can sort this out there.”

Abby said, “This is ridiculous. We have to go.”

When she heard the word “go” Charlie’s eyes got big and her ears perked up. She dropped back down on all fours and started running for the door. Abby was still holding the other end of Charlie’s leash and was pulled to the floor and dragged toward the door.

The attendant, thinking they were trying to escape without paying, yelled, “Security!”

Another security guard was standing by the door and seized Charlie and Abby. Four actual police officers entered the lobby. That’s what we missed. Someone in the lobby, sensing the situation was getting out of control, called the police. The person was probably xenophobic and was simply afraid of or didn’t like aliens.

Security officers had Hitch, Abby, and Charlie, leaving it was up to Kip to save the day. Kip wished Kip had Kip’s morning sun, but Kip was determined to help the squad. Kip wasn’t about to let Kip’s low energy keep Kip down. Kip charged the police officers, closed Kip’s lid, dropped to the floor, retracted Kip’s appendages into the protective shell and rolled toward them like a bowling ball. That’s a fancy maneuver popular among Yortians called the Patented Yortian Ball. The police officers casually stepped out of Kip’s way. Kip rolled safely passed them and crashed into the wall. Kip’s lid rolled back and Kip just lay there until one of the police officers picked up Kip.

They all went to jail and lived happily ever after. Except for Abby, she went to the pound. The end. I feel like something is wrong with that ending. Charlie went to the pound. Abby was sold in a pet store. No. That’s not it. There’s still something missing. Oh yeah, the rest of the story. They only went to jail for 30 years. When they were released they went to live in a retirement community called The End Of The Road Retirement Community. That’s a different story entirely and not for younglings. While I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with this story let’s check in on George.

George was in the ship, which was parked on the roof of the parking garage. Each squad in the R.A.D. has its own ship. The refugee aliens commandeered a mothership to escape LambaBad. Each mothership was host to a fleet of smaller ships. These ships were designed to hold small crews during planetary invasions. The smaller ships’ weaponry wasn’t as potent as the motherships’ but they were still well shielded and came equipped with blasters and torpedoes. They weren’t capable of long-distance space flight but were fast and sturdy. The L Squad’s ship was named the R.A.S., for Refugee Alien Ship, MacGuffin. They often referred to it as ‘the Mac’ for short.

George was tapping his tail on the terminal waiting for everyone to get on the ship. George’s eyes rotated alternately, watching all directions at once. How is that possible? Sagrian’s have two extendable and retractable antennae atop their heads. Each of the antennae holds an eye. The antennae can spin all the way around. Of course, George can only do this for a short period before he gets dizzy and vomits. George’s antennae also act as ears. No, he doesn’t see sounds. That might be kind of cool, though. He hears through the antennae, quite well, in fact. Two of his hands were combing and petting his thick, black, luxurious mustache, Herman, while the other two were on the controls anticipating liftoff.

“This is getting ridiculous,” said George. “Hitch told me we were running late and to get the Mac ready to go. We’ve been waiting here for five minutes, five minutes.”

“Maybe we should fly down there and pick them up,” said Herman.

“That’s a good idea,” said George. “This is an important mission. There’s no time to waste.”

George! That’s what I forgot. The story’s not over. George is still free. He can save the rest of them. Duh! I am pretty sure they get locked up at some point, though.

“Countdown,” said George.

“Me?” Herman asked.

Charlie’s not here,” George said.

“10, 9, 7, 6, 3, 2, 1. Liftoff,” said Herman.

“I think you skipped a few numbers,” said George.

“I’ve never got to do the countdown before. I got nervous,” said Herman. “Just go.”

George powered up the ship and launched. He got about 1.5 meters off the roof of the parking garage, which was reserved for such crafts, when he felt a sudden violent jerk. He set down the ship and did a full scan of the systems but nothing was amiss. He tried again and the same thing happened. George knew there wasn’t time for this and he had no patience for malfunctions. He turned the thrusters on full.

“What’s the plan, George?” asked Herman.

“I’m going to force it into the sky,” George said.

“That’s not a good plan,” said Herman. “Maybe we should get out and look around.”

“There’s no time,” said George.

A chain had been attached to the ship’s landing pad, anchoring it to the parking garage and impeding George’s attempted takeoff. The hotel manager ordered their ship grounded until they paid for those 13 pillows. If George took a minute to get out and fully inspect and research the problem he would have seen the chain and could have removed it, or cut it with his laser, and been off. He didn’t.

George fired the thrusters at full throttle. The chain snapped, but not before jerking the ship back down. The Mac crashed into the edge of the parking garage’s roof and tumbled down toward the ground. As it tumbled, the nose and the tail of the ship alternately collided with the 14-story hotel. Somehow, the Mac landed with its nose in the lobby of the Something Tree Hotel.

It’s fortunate that all R.A.D. vehicles, buildings, weapons, and technology were constructed with the same materials as the enormous mothership that brought them to Earth. The great majority of it is Yamfennian technology, even though it was made on Nasga. Nothing built on Earth from earthly materials would have survived that fall. The R.A.S. MacGuffin survived with only minor damage.

“Herman, are you all right?” George said to his mustache, while gently caressing it.

“I’m all right, George,” said Herman. “How are you?”

“If you’re all right, I’m all right,” said George.

“Good. Let’s get everybody else,” said Herman.

George opened the top hatch and yelled to his friends, “Did you forget we have a mission? Let’s go.”

11:47 a.m. proved to be a good time for such a gymnastic landing as no one in the hotel was seriously injured. Most guests were checked out by then. Everybody who remained inside was shaken and confused. The members of the L Squad were the first to recover. They were accustomed to George’s flying and ‘landings.’ George opened the loading hatch and they all rushed in.

Georgie Boy, you saved us again. Now, get us out of here,” Hitch said.

“You’re the best, George,” said Abby. “I was just reminding our captain of that.”

“Everybody, buckle up,” said George. “Charlie, do the honors.”

They buckled their safety belts and Charlie commenced with the countdown, “10, 9…”

“Short version,” Abby yelled.

“3,2,1,” Charlie barked out in rapid succession.

George hit the thrusters and… nothing. Nothing happened. He tried again. Again, nothing.

“What’s happening, George? Let’s move,” Hitch said.

“I’m not sure, Cap. I’m scanning now,” said George. George tapped at the terminal. A scan started and the terminal went dead.

“It looks like I’m not the only one who didn’t get a morning charge,” said Kip.

George, did you forget to plug in both sides of the battery, again?” asked Abby.

“Ahh! It’s such a weird design,” George said. “Why are there separate plugs for the outgoing power and incoming power?”

“The ships weren’t meant to be kept underground,” said Abby, “and the batteries weren’t meant to be removed so often. That’s not even to mention the fact that we had to work fast under horrible conditions.”

All R.A.D. headquarters are underground to maintain secrecy. Their bases and all equipment are, of course, solar-powered. Every base has a special room with a convertible roof that allows sunlight in to charge all batteries and the base.

“Well, I get excited to fly and I forget some of the little details,” George said. “I must have had just enough juice leftover to get down here.”

“How much power does it take to fall off a roof?” asked Charlie, looking out the window at all the damage to the hotel.

“What now, Captain?” asked Kip.

“We make a break for it,” said Hitch. “We have a mission to complete.”

Abby looked out the window at the growing number of police officers and security guards and said, “Maybe we should just give up.”

“The L Squad never gives up,” Hitch said. “Everyone to the hatch.”

Everyone, except Abby, congregated at the hatch. Hitch pulled the emergency manual release lever and the hatch opened.

“But we’re surrounded,” Abby protested.

George, Kip, and even Charlie followed Hitch running out of the ship. Keep in mind that these are aliens. Hitch is the largest at about four-feet tall, weighing in at about 95 pounds. Charlie, though technically a dog not an alien, is the smallest. When she’s walking on her hind legs, she’s stands about two-and-a-half-feet tall. Whether she’s standing on her hind legs or she’s down on all fours, she weighs about 20 pounds. Everyone else present is human, which means they’re generally much bigger and stronger.

One by one the L Squad exited the ship. One by one they were picked up by the police officers waiting at the bottom of the ramp. Charlie would have been the hardest to apprehend given her size and speed, but she was still wearing her leash. She ran between an officer’s legs, but the officer grabbed the leash as it dragged behind her. Charlie was easily pulled back. Abby exited last with her hands in the air.

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