Sunday, January 18, 2015

Last Stop Diner (An intergalactic tale for the whole family)



At the end of the universe there is a diner which has the distinct honor of being the only and last one there. There used to be two, but one was hit by an asteroid and they didn't have the insurance to cover the damages. So the Last Stop Diner truly became a last stop. It has lovely views of black nothingness that if stared at for too long will cause a sane man to go insane and an insane man to commit acts of sanity. So it's best not to look longer than 42.3 seconds. Any longer and the diner may have to toss you out into the voids of space.

However, if you go on the back deck you'll find a beautiful view of a glittering galaxy as it slowly gets pulled in by a black hole filled with swirling stars and dying worlds. Truly, one of the most romantic views if you like that sort thing. Not many people realize that the Last Stop is there. It's not very large, and is reminiscent of a human 1950's diner. This is because the owner had a deep affection for shows that came from planet Earth. It wasn't the most popular of planets as far as vacation destinations went, but they produced some truly original viewing content. Reumli, the owner, especially loved the color aesthetics of the 1950's diner. It was a shame for everyone else then, that his race generally only saw in shades of green.

"Today's the day I'm going to do it." Said Vlark, a young Nebulian cargo flyer as he stared into his cup of synthetic coffee.

"Do what?" Asked Reumli as he whipped down the already clean bar counter.

"I'm going to go into the End."

"You say that every week."

Reumli smiled comfortably. The conversation was one he had with Vlark every time he visited. And every time the young man would drink his coffee and then tug his cap on and continue on with his job. He wouldn't even look in the direction of the End for longer than a few seconds.

"I mean it this time. I'm going to prove that the End isn't the End. There's something beyond it, I just know it."

"Whatever you say Mack." That was Reumli's favorite earthling expression. He wished more people liked it.

"There is something beyond the End."

This was a new voice. Both Reumli and Vlark turned their attention to an elderly gentleman sitting a few chairs down. Reumli had never seen him before. He was a Sentri, a race of blue skinned people that gradually turned white as they aged. This man was so pale as to appear almost translucent. Reumli snorted one of his four nostrils and rubbed the counter harder.

"There's nothing there except madness left by people who stare at it too long."

"That's not true." Said the Sentri. "There's  a world there. I've seen it."

Vlark looked at Reumli, and both shifted uncomfortably. Had the old man stared too long into the End? One never knew what sort of insanity came of staring into it. Once, a woman threw water onto herself and then did cartwheels on the walls before crashing through a window.

"Oh really?" Vlark slapped his hat on. He was getting ready to leave. Reumli took his empty cup to clean it. He wondered if he'd have to use it on the Sentri when he snapped.

"Sure." The Sentri shrugged his shoulders as if it were a normal fact. "About two gigga lights from where this place is. It's got a lovely ocean."

"What does it look like?" Vlark was standing up, but lingering. Reumli  narrowed his yellow eyes. He didn't like where this conversation was going. He liked the Nebulian. He made good, boring conversation and always showed up on time. Plus, he paid. He didn't want to lose on of this best customers. The Sentri turned his blue gaze to the young Nebulian.

"It's the color of the universe. It's swirls with purples and blues and blacks. When it crashes on the black sand the white foam looks like baby stars. You should go see it."

Vlark stared at the End. It was as if a pane of glass was separating the wall of blackness from the rest of the universe. Except there was no pane, and getting there took less than three minutes. However most people went mad long before that, and crashed their ships into things before floating off into the void. Reumli laughed, and Vlark shook his head, tugging his cap before turning away.

"If that's true, how did you keep from going crazy?" Vlark thought this was a good, logical question. He liked logic sometimes, especially if it made him look smart.

"Easy. You don't look at the blackness when you fly. Madness only comes for the first twenty miles. After that you don't have to worry about it. I've done if four times."

Vlark glanced back at the void and Reumli slammed the mug down, glaring his four eyes at the old Sentri.

"Look Mack--"

"My name is Theen."

"Look Mack," Snapped Reumli, loosing his patience. "Don't go making stories up to nice kids. Vlark, get going, or you'll be late on that shipment. And don't go near the End, you hear?"

"Yeah, yeah." Vlark smiled and waved. "See you next week."

Reumli didn't trust the smile. He walked around the bar and left it--something he rarely did. Theen joined him at a window on the right side of the diner where everyone docked. Vlark hopped into his cargo ship and backed out, heading the opposite direction of the End. Reumli's relief was short lived as the ship suddenly banked to the left, heading to the end of the universe. There wasn't much Reumli could do as he watched it barrel toward the blackness. The heavy cargo ship began to list from one side to the other before spiraling out of control and torpedoing its way into the End.

"He must have looked into the blackness. I told him not to." Theen sounded disappointed.

"Why did you tell him in the first place?" Reumli would miss Vlark, but he'd warned him, and he hadn't listen. Kids these days--they had no respect for good advice.

"I can't help it if people don't take my advice, now can I?" Theen shrugged his shoulders. "Why did you build a diner so close to the End, anyways?"

"It was cheap real estate."

"You know..." Theen put a hand on Reumli's neck. "You should tell the truth to your customers. We could use the business back home."

Reumli stepped away from the cold hand of the Sentri. He looked into the eyes of Theen then sniffed all four nostrils before closing them tightly.

"The only thing on our planet is that damn ocean. And you can't even swim in it. I can't make a good recommendation for it. Anyway, I have a business and a life here. I'm not leaving it any time soon."

"Suite yourself." Theen headed for the door, pausing before he opened it. "You should have picked a different disguise. You're quite ugly and you'll never impress the ladies with that belly of yours."

Reumli cursed after him and returned to his place behind the bar to wait for customers to come again. Repeat business was hard to get at the edge of the universe. Maybe he should get a better disguise. Reumli patted his round stomach as he stared at a pile of cookies for sale. Well...maybe some more advertising signs would be better.

At the edge of the universe the Last Stop Diner floats, waiting for its next repeat customer. Perhaps you'll give it a try.

The cookies are to die for.

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