The Committee Of Capture, Knowledge, and Management of Intelligent Life Forms
Jiatian Yuan | Art by Audrey Wong
In the large employee lounge of a medium-sized spaceship hurtling through the Milky Way at a small fraction of the speed of light, two intelligent life forms were busy doing their jobs.
Gleebyeet Pleejreet, a Bloopzorpian, and the larger of the two, was fast asleep on the couch. His green, slimy face twitched in satisfaction while three flaps of dark purple eyelids fluttered over three black eyeballs. Gleeb smiled in his sleep and smacked his fat green lips. He was dreaming about a bowl of Space Rocks.
Clyde, also a Bloopzorpian, was less green, less purple, and less large than his work partner Gleeb. Despite his vertical shortcomings, Clyde prided himself on being the better employee. He often remarked, only half jokingly, that he was more efficient and more professional than Gleeb. At this moment, Clyde was efficiently devouring the last two packages of Space Rocks and had his three eyes professionally glued to his tentacle-held device, which was displaying the latest episode of Clyde’s favorite soap opera.
The show’s heroine was a nubile female Bloopzorpian choosing between two suitors: one large, and one less so. When she chose to eject herself into deep space to asphyxiate in the tentacled embrace of the larger Bloopzorpian rather than accept the smaller Bloopzorpian’s tentacle in marriage, Clyde pounded the table in frustration. A bowl of Space Rocks clattered to the floor.
“Mmmph?” grumbled Gleeb, slumber interrupted.
“Go back to sleep,” seethed Clyde, who was frantically sweeping the fallen Space Rocks back into his bowl to enjoy later.
However, Gleeb was already awake and peering out the port hole. “Clyde, buddy! Look! That’s the planet where we have to pick up our guy!”
Clyde scowled. “You don’t know if that message was real or not,” he pointed out through a mouthful of half chewed Space Rocks.
“There’s no harm in checking it out.”
“No harm? Shouldn’t we be doing our jobs properly, like the Boss told us to? According to the procedure, we should just scan the planet for specimens!”
“Clyde, buddy, chill out. We’ll still be doing everything Boss told us to do, just, uh, taking a little detour too.”
Clyde crossed his tentacles in front of his chest and sighed. There was no point arguing with Gleeb. He lamented over the fact that had he been assigned a less inept work partner, he could have been discovering the next big species.
Clyde and Gleeb worked for a Bloopzorpian government organization called the Committee Of Capture, Knowledge, and Management of Intelligent Life Forms. Although the acronym of this English translation was somewhat unflattering, the first letters of every word in the Committee’s name spelled out “ZOO” in written Bloopzorpian. This was a far more descriptive acronym: the Committee’s purpose was to scour the galaxy for exotic intelligent life to display in the Bloopzorpian Alien Life Laboratory and Zoo.
Clyde and Gleeb were contractors for the Committee. Their purpose was to land on every godforsaken planet assigned to them and capture anything that breathed.
Despite his current low standing in the Committee’s complicated hierarchy, Clyde was destined for success. His father was a renowned astrobiologist; his father’s father, one of the Committee’s first ever recruits, had discovered the Quildrur species living on Quildrur, Bloopzorp’s neighboring planet. Clyde often dreamed of achieving the level of success his grandfather had. He could already imagine it, next to the Quildrur enclosure: his beautiful specimens frolicking in their beautiful exhibit, with a beautiful bronze plaque labeled “The Clydes (discovered by Clyde).”
Gleeb’s absurd “detour” would waste valuable time in Clyde’s search for the next big species, but as a magnanimous team player, Clyde had no choice but to sigh and oblige.
“Fine,” grumbled Clyde. “We can go search for your guy.”
“Sweet! Thanks, buddy, I knew you’d understand.”
Whistling, Gleeb punched a few buttons on the cockpit’s dashboard (conveniently relocated to a corner of the employee lounge, next to the kitchenette).
“Initiating landing sequence,” chirped a mechanical voice.
A few minutes later, the spaceship groaned to a halt as its ancient landing gear scraped four jagged furrows into the dust. Although this planet was certainly not “teeming with life,” it appeared the most promising out of all the planets in the solar system. Impressive ruins of an imposing skyline loomed over the horizon, which Clyde knew (after years of experience) indicated the presence of a once-great civilization. However, given the planet’s barren, dusty landscape, Clyde doubted any of its members still existed.
Clyde narrowed his eyes and turned to Gleeb. “Tell me more about ‘our guy.’ Who are we even supposed to pick up?”
“Well, Boss didn’t say a whole lot in that message, but from what I know, he was a Committee intern who landed here a while back and got stuck ‘cuz his ship left without him.”
“And Boss wants this fool back?”
Gleeb shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. He’s gonna be our new recruit,” he added, black eyes glimmering.
Clyde scoffed. He couldn’t believe the Committee had fallen so far, to the point where they were willing to recruit halfwits who didn’t even manage to make it back home. It was no wonder that his own work partner was so incompetent. “Our new recruit can’t even show up on time, huh?” he remarked.
“Actually,” said Gleeb, tapping the porthole, “he’s right there.”
Clyde rubbed his eyes and blinked. The Bloopzorpian stood right in front of their spaceship’s outer airlock door, where there had been nothing but dust a second ago. He could only have appeared out of a hole in the ground.
“We better let this guy in.” Gleeb pulled a lever, and the outer airlock door rattled open. After a second’s thought, he pulled the lever for the inner airlock door too. “He’s alive out there, so we should be fine too,” Gleeb pointed out to a horrified Clyde.
“Oh boy,” mumbled Clyde as the door jerked open.
The door shuddered to a stop halfway up. “Hellooo?” ventured the newcomer in choppy, awkward Bloopzorpian. “The door is not working and I am unable to enter the premises.”
Gleeb pushed the door with all four tentacles and it slid up with a screech, revealing a Bloopzorpian less green, less purple, and of even smaller stature than Clyde. Two of this Bloopzorpian’s four tentacles hung limply at his side and his tail flopped on the floor, flaccid. He opened its mouth to speak.
“Greetings, fellow members of my species! My name is Klingon and I am an alien, just like you.” Klingon grinned and nodded eagerly at his fellow aliens.
Clyde squinted suspiciously at the newcomer. Although he spoke passable Bloopzorpian, his voice was tinny and mechanical, like the speaker of a poor quality tentacle-held-device.
“I have been stranded on this barren planet for three revolutions around its star. I can assure you that no organisms survive here!” At this assertion, Klingon raised a tentacle to his lumpy green forehead in an awkward salute.
Gleeb grinned exaggeratedly and saluted back. He approached Klingon and draped a friendly tentacle around his shoulder. “Well, buddy, since you’re one of our kind, make yourself at home, alright? We’ve got snacks in the employee lounge.”
“Thank you for your hospitality,” replied Klingon. “But I am not hungry. I would like to relieve myself first. Where is the lavatory, pray tell?”
“Go through the employee lounge to the hallway. The can’s behind the first door on the right.”
“Noted.” Klingon nodded and scuffled into the employee lounge.
Once Klingon was out of sight, Clyde turned to Gleeb, hoping desperately to make some sense out of the situation. To Clyde’s surprise, Gleeb looked bemused and not outraged or horrified.
“He’s a nutcase,” Clyde hissed. “Are we seriously going to bring this guy back with us?”
“Of course! He’s hilarious!” giggled Gleeb, adding in a grave voice, “I would like to relieve myself.”
“Stop being so immature! We can’t keep him— this broken down place is small enough with the two of us.”
“Clyde, buddy, chill out. It’ll take us two days tops to get to Boss’s hangar. We’ll tag him and drop him off there.”
Clyde was about to question why they would need to tag a member of their own species, when he heard a yelp and a thud from the employee lounge.
“Everything going okay there, buddy?” Gleeb called.
“I slipped on a small, colorful, rotund object. I am fine now.”
“Okay, buddy,” said Gleeb, before hearing another crash, a crackle of static, and the clatter of a bowl of Space Rocks falling to the floor.
“What’s up with that static?” Clyde muttered to himself.
“Gee, I wonder,” said Gleeb with a twinkle in all three eyes. “Are you alright, Klingon?”
The static intensified, and Klingon replied in a voice softer and higher pitched than before, “Beep boop, zorp slorp!”
“Zorp slorp, indeed,” said Gleeb wisely, and chuckled while Clyde could only shake his head in bewilderment.
Inside the lavatory of an alien spaceship, Private [ ] was pissing himself in his alien costume.
To be fair, it was not entirely his fault. The alien costume that permitted him to hide unnoticed among aliens became a menace when one tried to unzip it from the inside, preventing him from urinating in a proper urinal. To make matters worse, his stressful job as a hero saving humanity from certain destruction did not improve the function of his pelvic floor muscles. Thus, Private [ ] had no choice but to relieve himself in the pants of his army issued uniform.
As warm, runny relief trickled down his trousers, Private [ ] couldn’t help feeling frustrated with himself. A hero who saves humanity from certain destruction does not piss himself, he thought, and hero or not, pissing oneself is always a sign of submission, weakness, and fear. But it’s alright, he consoled himself, because conquering one’s fear indicates true heroism.
Private [ ] fumbled a two-way radio out of his damp pocket and pressed a button. The small device crackled to life. Private [ ] cleared his throat and hesitated, for even though he knew what he was going to say, he needed to be quiet enough to avoid disturbing the aliens but loud enough to assert his heroism. Coming to a decision, he whisper-shouted into the radio, “Copy? Copy? Roger that!”
Private [ ]’s voice travelled half a mile away to a loudspeaker in an underground bunker, to the amusement of several hundred military personnel, including the Sergeant.
“What’s up, Private?” he drawled into the radio with a smirk. “Have you seen the aliens yet?”
“Copy, copy! Yes, sir! I’ve boarded their spaceship and infiltrated their ranks. Copy!”
“Good work, Private. Any other updates?”
“Copy, roger, yes sir! My translator broke when I fell down, but I’m picking up their language pretty fast. I told them nobody lives on Earth and they believed me. The aliens don’t suspect a thing! They plan to leave soon. You’re all safe now, thanks to me!”
Private [ ] beamed in affirmation as the bunker erupted in wild cheers. In the chaos, he heard several men yell “Private [ ], my hero” and “marry me, Private [ ],” which brought a blush to his face.
Even the Sergeant validated him. “You’ve done a great service to humanity, Private. Thanks to you, the human race survives for another day, another century, another millenium! Take a rest, Private. As a hero, you’ve earned it.”
As Private [ ] bathed in the warm, damp glory of his hero status, several hundred snickers reverberated through the dark bunker. The Sergeant abruptly disconnected his radio.
“A true hero, indeed,” he chuckled, pressing a few buttons on another device.
A few miles away, aboard an alien spaceship, Gleeb’s tentacle-held device rang merrily. He picked it up and held it to his face. “Hey, Sergeant, buddy. What’s up?”
“Everything’s good down here, Gleeb. How’s the specimen?”
“He’s doing great. He’s in the spare closet now— he doesn’t know he’s locked himself in there. Thanks for the specimen, buddy! You really saved us a lot of work.”
“Glad to be of assistance.”
“Gee, Sergeant, I wish all our missions could be this simple— we hand over the gadgets, and you guys hand over the specimen. Everybody wins!”
“It truly is a win-win situation. These translators work superbly.”
“Great to hear. Listen, Sergeant, buddy, me and Clyde have to head out soon. Gotta get the little guy to his new home! You know, I talked to my boss already, and he said the specimen would look fantastic on display next to the Quildrurs. We’ll get going now. See ya!”
“It was great talking to you, Gleeb. Fly safely.”
Humming to himself, Gleeb pressed a few buttons on the dashboard. The spaceship lifted off Earth’s surface with a sputter and a roar and hovered in place for a moment before soaring away, carrying its small human cargo to a medium-sized planet somewhere in the large, dark expanse of space.