ON VERIDIDIAN, YOU GET USED TO SEEING STRANGE things. If you’re unlucky, it’s in your bathroom mirror first thing in the morning. Verididian moss has been known to take root overnight in the oddest places and it objects loudly to any attempts to move it. I thought I was beyond considering anything strange after fifteen years here. Then, one morning, my mirror made my heart miss a beat.

This isn’t a hideous tale of disfigurement, not at this point anyway. What I saw, reflected, was the hull of an Earth vessel passing over the light well of my bathroom. Strange, because I hadn’t seen one in five years. Stranger still, because I was the Consul-General of Verididian and I didn’t know a thing about it.

“Jeremy, you wretched sloth!” I screamed as I grabbed my ceremonial uniform from a hook, shoved my feet into my boots, and ran out into the tunnel. “Jeremy, you better have a damned good answer for this or I’ll send that rock you use for a head on a long vacation!”

I tried to regain some decorum. I had attracted a fair amount of attention from passersby. But decorum wasn’t easy since I was stumbling down the hall in my underwear, tall boots undone and flapping with every step. I stuffed a loose boob back into my bra and straightened my back. Human anatomy was a bit of a mystery to the locals and with all the eye-swivelling, I began to feel modest for my whole species.

“Jeremy!” I yelled as I charged round a bend in the tunnel. I thumped right into him and sent him and his component rocks rolling across the floor. “Oh Flurst!” I cried gripping my knee. For a little guy, he was solid.

As Jeremy gathered himself together, I spotted an invitation on the floor. Ranek’s—the Royal Advisor—scroll marked the top. I snatched it up and began to read as I pulled on my trousers and fastened my boots. “…to formally welcome Under-Consul Drummond at the arrivals hall tomorrow…”

I turned on the scattered rocks that were Jeremy. “Ranek summoned you to his office to collect this didn’t he?”

Jeremy’s head rock nodded.

“He summoned you yesterday and you’ve been delivering it ever since?”

Jeremy’s head nodded again.

I clenched my fists. “For Flurst’s sake, Jeremy! You have to learn to delegate!” Then remembering it paid to be precise, I added, “And NOT to another rock sloth!” I hobbled on down the tunnel, struggling into my jacket, and cursing Ranek’s attempt to keep me in the dark.

Still wrestling with fastenings and hair I joined the official greeting line in the arrivals hall.

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