I’m Coy. I crash-landed my spaceship on this Pacific island hundreds of years ago. Captain Plucky and her friend Lmao became stranded trying to rescue me, and Deadpan came later. Deadpan and Lmao are comedians.
We eventually got the internet and landed a gig helping writer David Davis make Alien Resort comics for newspapers. A group called the Beacons of Night said we were taking jobs from Earthlings. Mr. Davis went to prison for hiring us, and now we’re in charge of writing the comics.
I write regular posts to keep readers up to date. This introduction will always be at the top of the Developing Story (home) page. The most recent post update immediately follows. And if I tell a joke at the end of a post, it’s not part of the story; it’s just something the comedians want me to say.
Be sure to visit the Alien Resort Museum page, which has clippings of our comics from Earth newspapers.
And if you want to catch up on the current episode or learn about previous episodes, including how I met and married Susan of Alpha Pegasi, or the birth of Princess, the daughter of Plucky and Deadpan, you can go to the Read a Single Episode page.
Susan, I, and the others have enjoyed your company through all the ups and downs of life at Alien Resort. Unfortunately the story is about to enter spoiler territory and everything that follows is reserved for the big screen. Thank you for following the blog and adding your likes and comments. And remember what Deadpan said when he began a new career making airlocks: One door shuts and another one opens.
“Dad’s changing and you’re not ready for that,” Princess continued. “Dad isn’t rejecting you like he used to, and this is unfamiliar to you. Now you’re the one who’s required to make a change. And it isn’t a small change either. You’re going to have to be a lot more giving. You’re going to need to be vulnerable, lovable, attentive, and compromising. The question now is whether you’ll be able to do that.” When I told Deadpan I needed to find my missing shoe, he told me to hop to it.
Plucky said she wasn’t feeling well so Susan and I offered to walk home with her and Princess. On the way home, Princess asked Plucky why she didn’t want to go with her father and her on the boat. “We’ve never done anything as a family before. Dad’s getting better, and you’re withdrawing. What’s up?” Plucky repeated that she had too much work to do, and Princess replied: “Mom, I know you better than that.” The enemy once tied a rope to Lmao’s spaceship. He says: “What a jerk.”
“We caught these over by the sandbar,” said Lmao. “I’m thinking about having a fish fry.” When Princess asked what a sandbar is, Plucky said to Deadpan: “Why don’t you take Princess out in the boat and show her the sandbar?” Deadpan thought for a moment, then replied: “Why don’t you come too?” Plucky looked surprised, even embarrassed. “I don’t think so,” she said. “I have a lot of work to do.” When Lmao and I were reminiscing about a wild game dinner, he said: “We split a gut.”
“I never wanted my daughter to become my therapist,” Plucky is saying to Susan and me. “But I can’t just ignore what I know to be excellent insight and helpful advice.” We’re sitting with Plucky and Princess in the clubhouse area of the bar and grill. Princess had just suggested that her mother structure father and daughter activities to complement Deadpan’s therapy. “She takes after you,” I reply, just as Lmao and Deadpan walk in, pulling a cooler full of live fish. When I told Lmao I wanted to build a deep sea habitat, he said I shouldn’t let anyone burst my bubble.
I wrote the agent and told her I was working on a treatment for an Alien Resort screenplay. The possibility that my effort might fail will no longer get in my way. Plucky told me that I had been thinking like a child. I realize now that failure isn’t something to take personally. It isn’t a statement about you; it’s just a fact of life. And most importantly for me, with a fear of failure instilled by my father, it isn’t a statement that you aren’t lovable. Lmao’s almost finished cleaning his shirt; he says the rest is gravy.
“And you might fail,” Plucky continued. “You might put a lot of effort into writing a treatment and find that you’re in over your head. Or the agent might say this isn’t what she had in mind or a producer might say this will never make a good movie. But as bad as failure is, it isn’t bad enough to use as an excuse to talk yourself out of trying to succeed. It just means that you would have an opportunity to revise or to use a different approach.” Deadpan has a picture of a llama that looks very realistic. He says it’s a spitting image.
“When I hear my father’s voice telling me I’m going to fail, I feel like I don’t deserve success.” Plucky sat down facing me. “You don’t,” she said. “We only deserve what we’ve earned. I think there’s another reason you’re trying to talk yourself out of replying to the agent. I think you’re trying to compensate for your fear of failure. Because of your father’s criticism, you think you’re going to fail. And then your reasoning is that as long as you’re going to fail, why not just undermine yourself.” Deadpan found dust mites on Mars; he says he’s still scratching his head.
“A movie about us sounds exciting.” Plucky came over as soon as I forwarded her the email from the agent. “Are you going to write her back?” “I don’t know,” I replied. “Right now, all of this has me overwhelmed.” Plucky thought for a minute. “A movie about us is the opportunity of a lifetime. Let’s talk about your doubts.” We both knew what she was getting at; we had discussed it many times. Anyone who has read my posts knows that my father used to tell me I would never amount to anything. The agent’s request for a treatment was presenting an opportunity, and once again my father’s voice was holding me back. I asked Deadpan why someone would become a storm chaser; he said it puts a roof over your head.
This morning I received a surprise email, and I’m not sure what to think. Apparently a literary agent has been reading my blog posts and she says our story might make a nice movie. She asked if I could write a treatment. Now my anxiety is building. I looked up what a treatment is but that’s about as far as I’ve gone. One minute I’m thinking how great it would be to have a movie made about us and the next minute I realize that everything depends on me. When Lmao heard they were looking for actors for a jungle movie, he said: “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.”
“You’re not bad; you’re just little,” Princess told the boy. By now his anger was gone, his eyes were fixed on Princess and his mouth was agape. She continued: “As you get older you’ll more and more learn to control yourself and work things out.” I turned to Plucky: “She sounds just like you.” When I asked Deadpan how he beat me on the test, he said he took a page out of my book.
Susan and Plucky headed toward the scene of the argument and I followed. “I hate you,” the boy said to his sister. “He pushed me down,” the girl said to Susan. Susan started to say something to the boy but Princess stepped between them and faced the boy: “I wonder if you feel hurt because your sister wants to be my friend.” The boy looked surprised and some of the anger drained from his face. Princess continued: “I know you’re mad but we don’t push. We all get angry sometimes but we can work things out.” When the tiger got angry, Lmao said: “You don’t need to bite my head off.”
Susan texted me from the daycare area saying she had forgotten her tote bag. Upon arriving I observed about a dozen children playing with sand pails. Two of them, I have learned, are a twin boy and girl the same age as Princess. These are the children of the captain of the king’s cruise ship and they’re here regularly. Princess and the girl have become friends but I’m not so sure about the brother. Today I’m watching as he stands over them, looking upset. I can’t make out what he’s saying except for the last word, which he shouts as he stomps his foot: “Alien.” The parents knew it wouldn’t be easy: they saw the writing on the wall.
Lmao’s routine isn’t considered adult comedy but it is nevertheless recommended for adult audiences. Sometimes tourists bring their children along on the king’s cruise and need someone to watch them during the comedy act. Plucky and Susan have turned this into a business opportunity and set up a daycare for the three hours during which the tourists attend the fifty minute Time Travel Comedy Show. As an added benefit, Princess has other children to play with. When I told Deadpan they were going to add a leap second, he asked: “When’s the big day?”
I’m sitting with Plucky and Susan on the patio of the pavilion, where the tourists are beginning to emerge from the very first time travel and comedy act. They’re gathering around a digital clock that Deadpan has set up in a kiosk just outside the pavilion door. Excitement would be an understatement as they run all around, taking pictures of the clock, selfies, and even pictures of us. “Actual time travel; I can’t believe it,” one of the tourists exclaims. “It didn’t hurt a bit,” another one jokes. Another one says: “My wife has been texting me for three hours asking where I am.” When I told Lmao that I’m double jointed, he said I should pat myself on the back.
“After breakfast,” Lmao explained, “I’ll perform a fifty-minute comedy act in the pavilion. When the tourists emerge after the show, the afternoon will be half over. They will have traveled forward in time three hours, and anyone wearing a watch will need to reset it.” Princess rolled her eyes: “Borrrring,” We laughed. “For us, yes,” her mother told her. “But Earthlings have never done anything like that.” Deadpan’s building a three-legged robot; he says it’s two steps forward and one step back.
“Deadpan and I have an idea,” Lmao said. “Promise not to laugh.” Everyone laughed. “You tell them,” Lmao said to Deadpan. “I enjoy time travel,” Deadpan replied, “And I think the tourists would enjoy it too. What if we added an after breakfast program for the tourists to send them forward a few hours in time? Do you think they would like that?” When Deadpan said he wanted to make a miniature flying saucer, Lmao said it sounded like a pie in the sky.
Lmao’s Bar and Grill is vibrant and bustling three mornings a week. These are the days when the king’s overnight cruise boat drops anchor and the tourists come ashore for breakfast. The money is welcome at a time when our comics business has matured into the maintenance of a loyal but stagnant customer base. Money was the topic of discussion one night as we sat around in the clubhouse area of the restaurant. When I told Lmao that I was going to buy a bunch of canvas sacks, he said: “Moneybags”.
I’m trying to decide who benefited the most from last night’s conversation. Princess gets to keep her phone: Deadpan will install an app that gives Plucky a notification and copy every time her daughter sends a message. Deadpan’s therapy is working: he’s making a conscious effort to improve his social skills. Plucky says her life is changing before her eyes: The cycle of father-daughter disinterest is showing its first signs of wear. And as for me, I’m getting a free lesson in Psych 101. When I told Deadpan that we ran out of DNA samples, he said there’s always a fly in the ointment.
Deadpan continued: “I have an app that might provide a compromise solution.” I averted my eyes; I didn’t want to make him self-conscious. This was Deadpan’s online therapy in action. According to Plucky, the solution to his loneliness was to acquire social skills, and he was just now, at this moment, taking his first step by joining our conversation. What pleased Plucky even more, I knew, was that his contribution dealt directly with an issue that had arisen between her and their daughter. When the robot claimed to be stereo, Deadpan said it was talking out of both sides of its mouth.
What happened next surprised everyone. Up until now, when we all got together, our conversation would follow a familiar dynamic: While the rest of us talked, Deadpan would remain on the sidelines, looking at his phone or occasionally speaking off-subject about his latest project. But today, as Plucky and their daughter went back and forth about Princess losing her phone privileges, Deadpan watched interestedly, then said: “I have an idea.” I asked Lmao if he still remembers his school song: he says it was only yay long.
“You’re too hard on me,” Princess said to her mother. “If sharing things with friends is so bad, then why do all their parents allow it?” Plucky pulled a chair over and motioned for her daughter to sit down. “I was your age once,” she said, “And I know things that you don’t know. When you make mistakes, they follow you around forever. Especially nowadays. You ask someone for a job and they say you’re the one who passed that trash around on the internet, and I’m not going to hire you.” Lmao never did jump off a cliff; he says it was just a bluff.
Princess ran out of the room and Plucky dragged a chair to our table. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said. “I shouldn’t have given her a phone in the first place. I had heard stories of kids passing trash back and forth but I thought Princess was smarter than that.” Princess crept in behind her mother. “You don’t need to tell the whole world, Mom,” she cried. “Funny you should say that,” Plucky replied. “Because when you throw things out on the internet, that’s exactly what you’re doing.” I asked Deadpan what he thinks about audiobooks; he said he’s heard horror stories.
When breakfast is over and the tourists have boarded their ship for the return trip to the king’s island, Lmao’s Bar and Grill becomes our clubhouse. This evening Deadpan, Susan, and I were sitting at a table when Princess stormed into the room. Plucky followed close behind, and the two faced off. “I hate you,” Princess said to her mother. “Then you’ll just have to hate me,” Plucky replied. “You’re not getting your phone back.” When I asked Deadpan to use a cuss word in a sentence, he said: “Right now my mind is a blank.”
The best kept secret in this part of the ocean is Lmao’s Bar and Grill. The building served as our gift shop when we hosted a cruise excursion. After that, Lmao kept the gift shop going for the king’s sailors who wanted to buy souvenirs during their supply runs. When the king started a private overnight cruise sailing from his port, Lmao added a kitchen and dining area. Susan and I dropped by this morning for breakfast, and I mentioned to her that I thought Lmao looked a little harried. Lmao wanted to open a business once before; he says he kept waiting for a sign.
“Your father has a psychosis,” Plucky told Princess. “And now he’s getting help.” Plucky arranged for Deadpan to engage in daily telemedicine sessions with a mainland psychologist. “Hopefully at some point,” she said to Susan and me, “We’ll help him go through and sort his belongings. For now we’re going to treat him like we always do. The psychologist will help him work on his social skills to overcome his loneliness. Then he’ll no longer require a secondary attachment to physical objects. This is a process that will take some time.” Lmao couldn’t wait to eat his hamburger; he said it was dead meat.
Deadpan invited me to observe him in communication with lifeforms on an exoplanet. “Come over any morning,” he said. “Around 5 a.m. I’m always in the laboratory because that’s the best time to reach them.” This morning I took him up on his offer, and made my way through the shack and stepped into the laboratory. Deadpan was clearly talking to someone, although I didn’t hear a reply, or even static. I looked a little closer, sighed, and told him: “Deadpan, it isn’t plugged in.” When Lmao said that ground control didn’t answer him, Deadpan asked if he was talking down to them.
One of Deadpan’s projects over the years has been to communicate with lifeforms on exoplanets. I’ve always thought that if anyone were to make such a breakthrough, it would be Deadpan. Before arriving here, he lived in an alternate universe, which gives him a broad perspective on the cosmos. And his mindless dedication has resulted in success in other projects he has undertaken. Still, I was surprised when he showed up this morning at my door, out of breath, and announced: “I did it. I communicated with lifeforms on an exoplanet.” When Lmao didn’t get funding for his underground research project, he said he was thinking about just crawling into a hole.
“I don’t want you to become your father’s psychologist,” Plucky said to her daughter. Over a game of chess Princess had asked Deadpan why he kept so many things. “It’s called hoarding,” she said when he didn’t reply. “And it means you’re lonely. It means you form attachments to physical objects.” Plucky explained to Princess that a licensed psychologist would be able to figure out why her father was distancing himself from others and could work with him on strategies to change that behavior. Deadpan’s working on a radar project and asked if he could bounce something off me.
“Our daughter needs your attention,” Plucky said to Deadpan. “And shouting through a window isn’t going to work.” Deadpan sat listening quietly after joining our conversation in response to a terse text message from Plucky. Deadpan agreed to allow me to come over and help him move things around so that he and Princess could once again play chess. “This won’t solve his problem,” Plucky told me later. “But when it prevents him from interacting with our child is where I draw the line.” When I told Lmao that the ants want to come to the birthday party, he said: “Let them eat cake.”
When Susan and I are sitting with Princess, her favorite topic of conversation is her father. I have learned more about Deadpan from her than I learned in the hundred or more years I have known him. Everyone including Princess is aware of his inability to relate on a personal level, but when she speaks of him, she speaks as if his flaws don’t exist. One day, however, she had just returned from her father’s shack and told us: “Dad has too many things. Today he was in his laboratory, and I couldn’t find a way back there and we couldn’t play chess. I had to knock on a window to tell him I was there.” Lmao used to spend a lot of money at the cleaners; he says he was sitting on a gold mine.
Before Susan’s mother left, we gave her a phone to stay in touch with us. She called once to thank us for letting her stay here then added she couldn’t talk for long. After that we didn’t hear anything. We were about to pay them a visit when Susan’s father knocked on the door, looking worried. “One of my komodo dragons is sick,” he said. “Mary said we might be able to look up on the internet what to do.” Deadpan and I had fun learning about neurons; he says that’s what memories are made of.
“Mary, what’s come over you?” Susan’s mother was finishing up a spreadsheet when I led Susan’s father into the control room. She didn’t notice him at first, then jumped up as soon as he approached her desk. He took her hand but stood staring at the computer screen. “We don’t know anything about the Earth’s internet,” he said. Susan came to her mother’s rescue: “Papa, we’re living in a different time now. The internet helps us all lead better lives.” He frowned. “Maybe you,” he said. “But not us. C’mon, Mary, let’s go.” I asked Deadpan how astronauts got into space. He says they stood on the shoulders of giants.
The inhabitants of Susan’s planet are known for their mathematical ability. Susan showed her mother the computer buttons, and by the next morning her mother had produced an inventory spreadsheet for Susan’s Machetes. In the afternoon one of my pigeons arrived with a note from Susan’s father. He said he was almost finished with the roof and would be dropping by here soon to bring his wife back home. When I asked Lmao how many arithmetic classes he attended, he said he could count them on one hand.
“Mother and I stayed up late last night,” Susan is telling me. “She said she had a revelation. She said she now realizes that I have a right to live my own life in my own way. Plucky says that Mother changed because I put on the dress. She says I finally took myself out of child mode where I was always trying to keep my mother from being mad.” Later in the day, Susan was sitting at her computer when her mother walked in and looked over her shoulder. “Would you do something for me, Susan,” her mother asked. “Would you show me how that works?” I asked Deadpan if he thinks he might become a fortune teller someday. He said he doesn’t have a crystal ball.
Susan ran out of the room, and I followed her to Plucky’s spaceship. Plucky let us in and Susan burst into tears. “Go get the dress,” Plucky instructed me. When I returned, Plucky was talking to Susan about boundaries: “You will need to maintain your position no matter what your mother says.” Plucky helped her put on the dress and Lmao added some makeup and jewelry. When we all returned to my ship, Susan’s mother looked surprised. “The dress will have to do, I suppose,” she said. “But just look at those earrings.” I told Lmao that I would like to be a drummer but I don’t have rhythm. He said: “Listen to your heart.”
I’ll be glad when Susan’s father finishes their roof and Susan’s mother can go back home. I like her mother, but living with both of them is tense. Today everything came to a head. The king’s ship arrived with a dress that Susan had ordered. I thought the dress looked nice: it was somewhat high-fashion but would complement Susan well. When her mother walked into the room and saw Susan holding the dress, Susan’s face fell. In an all-knowing tone her mother said, “You don’t really mean to wear that, do you?” I told Deadpan that I don’t know what anyone sees in impressionism, and he replied: “Different strokes.”
“Did you really need to paint these walls lilac?” Susan’s mother arrived this morning and Susan showed her to the guest room. Susan said to me: “Just wait until Deadpan gets here; he’s bringing me a load of steel. Mother doesn’t think a wife should work.” When Deadpan brought the boxes into the living room, Susan said: “This is steel for my machetes, Mom.” “Oh really, Susan,” her mother replied. “Must you?” I asked Lmao if the bug spoiled his paint job; he says that was just a drop in the bucket.
The king’s supply ship brought sheets of steel, lengths of wood, and modern cutting tools. “When I made my original machete,” Susan said, “I used metal remnants from our spaceship and worked day after day forming it with rocks.” Susan and I received some news today. Her father stopped by and said he was putting a new roof on their house. He asked if Susan’s mother could stay with us for a few days. “Of course,” I replied. I didn’t notice that Susan remained silent the whole time we spoke. To observe a moment of silence is a solemn event; Lmao says it’s nothing to sneeze at.
Susan reached down beside her chair and brought up her machete. “I’m glad you love me,” I joked. She smiled, then said: “See how nice this is?” She slid her finger along the blade. “I spent a year making this machete. I used it to carve my bower from the thicket. Now I want to make more, a lot more. And I want to sell them over the internet. Will you help me get started?” Aware of the pitfalls of mansplaining, I replied: “Just tell me what I need to do.” I told Lmao that his new knife is very nice. He said thank you but it’s a double-edged sword.
Our spaceship is possibly the nicest spaceship in the universe. Susan has been decorating ever since she became my wife, adding home improvement items with every visit of the king’s supply ship. Today she said: “Now that everything’s the way I want it to be, there’s something I want to do that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I want to start a business.” Deadpan began a new career making airlocks. He says one door shuts and another one opens.
When Susan tells me that I remind her of her father it makes me feel proud. This feeling precedes what I learned from Plucky and Princess, and exists independently of what I’ve learned from actually meeting my father-in-law. Instead, my feeling arises from knowing that Susan feels protected and loved. And I’ll also admit that Susan’s feelings add to my own sense of worthiness, which has faced considerable challenges in the past. Deadpan’s robot likes to cuddle cats; he says it has a soft spot for them.
After Princess went out to play, Plucky analyzed what the child had said: “Princess has learned that a girl’s relationship with her father is the source of her self esteem. The way a father acts toward his daughter demonstrates to her just what she does or doesn’t deserve. But it’s not like a magic spell that can’t be broken. If the child is smart like Princess, and if her mother or a therapist can make her aware of the dynamic, then the child can use her power of will to set her own path.” Lmao got lost once and forest rescue couldn’t find him. He says he was up a creek.
Princess pointed to herself. “And this is where the cycle ends.” She looked at Plucky. “You’re the smartest mother in the world. If you didn’t know psychology, I would be walking around in the dark. Dad’s emotional distance feels like rejection but I’m going to avoid the trap that you fell into. Someday I’ll look for a husband who’s capable of loving me, in spite of the risk that I’ll be rejected again.” I told Lmao to imagine if we recycled everything. He said it would be dog eat dog.
When Plucky joined us in the living room, Princess said to her: “I think I’m starting to see the difference between you and Dad versus Aunt Susan and Uncle Coy. It has to do with that post you wrote last year.” Plucky turned to Susan and me and said: “She’s referring to a post I wrote about Deadpan when I was subbing for you on the Alien Resort website. I explained that my father, like Deadpan, was emotionally distant. As a child I interpreted this as rejection. Determined not to be rejected again, I chose men where closeness, and therefore rejection, was unlikely. Ironically my life became one of rejection. And I ended up with men just like my father.” I asked Lmao if he ever thinks about the past and he replied: “Do you mean up until now?”
I couldn’t help but wonder what Princess was thinking when she asked her question. “Aunt Susan and I are kind to each other,” I answered, “because that’s how you act when you’re in love.” Susan added: “I learned about getting along by watching my mother and father. While they didn’t always agree, my father listened to my mother, shared what he was doing, and asked for her opinion. My mother admired my father, asked him for advice, and took an interest in his work. This is the example I learned from, and this is why I’m good to Uncle Coy.” Princess thought for a minute, then replied: “When my father comes over, he doesn’t stay very long.” When I asked Lmao about his new scuba partner, he said he seems nice on the surface.
While everyone here contributes to the operation and maintenance of Alien Resort, nobody works harder than Plucky. Nearly every day, Susan and I visit Plucky’s spaceship and sit with Princess while Plucky works on various projects. For us this isn’t a chore but rather a delight: Princess is the smartest child there ever was, and she asks us an endless barrage of questions that we’re glad to try to answer. Today she asked: “Why are you and Aunt Susan so good to each other?” Lmao used to like sitting around in the back yard; he says it was right up his alley.
We watched on radar as Susan’s brother Lucas sailed away from the island. Plucky activated the GoFundMe force field behind him about the time that Susan’s father knocked at the door. “I’m not blaming my son for the problems of the human race,” he said. “But his genes sure didn’t help matters.” About a week later I got an email from the king. He said some men showed up at his office with a phony title deed. They insisted they were now the owners of Alien Resort island. They said they bought the island from a Baron von der Clere. When I asked Deadpan if he still goes back in time, he said: “That’s history.”
“Right about now,” Deadpan said to Susan, “Your father is escorting your brother to his ship. If he ever returns, the king will send men and they’ll put him on trial.” Susan protested: “But what if you made a mistake?” Deadpan replied: “He entered through the thatched roof. He used this to cut a hole.” He reached into the cloth bag. Susan gasped: “That’s my machete. How did he get that?” She gazed at the machete, then dropped to the couch: “He was in our closet.” Lmao says that when they told him the price of the cookie, he coughed up some dough.
I let police chief Deadpan in and Susan joined us in the living room. “I was making the rounds,” Deadpan said, “and I observed Lucas exiting the gift shop at a time when the gift shop was closed. I called out and he started to run. I demobilized him with my mini static electric generator and then I cuffed him. I secured the items he had dropped, including this cash box.” Susan began to cry, and I put my arm around her. But at that moment, Deadpan was the one I really wanted to hug. Lmao says a robber once gave him some advice; the robber said to reach for the sky.
This is where things stand: Susan’s brother Lucas is living in an outbuilding near the edge of our property. On most days, he does nothing but play video games. He tells Susan that the whole world is against him, and she hangs on his every word. Needless to say, our marriage is strained. Yesterday she showed him around the gift shop, and today I don’t know where he is. As I’m recording this, somebody’s knocking at the door: it’s police chief Deadpan. In one hand he’s carrying a cloth bag and in the other he’s holding what looks like the cash box from the gift shop. When Lmao was asked what a policeman does, he replied: “Search me.”
Susan’s brother Lucas told her that he has dedicated his life to helping people. She says he travels from island to island bringing people things that stores aren’t allowed to sell. “That’s called smuggling,” I told her. “And taking your father’s komodo dragon–that’s called stealing.” According to Susan’s father, Lucas steals because he feels entitled to have whatever he wants: “His mother let him do as he pleased, and stood in the way of my efforts to raise him into a responsible adult.” When I told Lmao I wanted to play cops and robbers, he said: “Don’t let me stop you.”
A rift has developed between Susan and me, and I don’t know how to fix it. Her father and I would like nothing more than to escort Lucas to his boat and see him off forever. Susan says he’s her long lost brother and that regardless of his faults, he doesn’t have anyone to love him and he deserves a chance. I could easily tell Susan that I’m the one in charge here and Lucas has to go, but I understand the world well enough to know that my life would become unbearable. I therefore consented to a short-term arrangement where Lucas would set up quarters in the outbuilding. When the enemy attacked during lunch, Deadpan said they ordered it to go.
Susan looked at her father, then at the stranger: “Are you Lucas?” “My dear sister,” he replied. “You were beautiful as a baby. And 60,000 years hasn’t changed that.” He looked at me. “And you must be the man of the house.” He laughed. This is going to be a problem, I said to myself. “My name’s Coy,” I told him. “Don’t man of the house me.” He blinked, then quickly regained his composure. “Okay, all right. No hard feelings there.” He turned to Susan’s father and grinned: “Why don’t you have a seat, old man. We’re going to be here awhile.” Deadpan doesn’t know if his new toy will sell; he says it’s a cat and mouse game.
Susan’s father stood in front of our table, his eyes fixed on his son. “I caught him stealing one of my komodo dragons. There’s nothing wrong with his boat. Which is where he’s headed right now, and then he’s leaving the island.” My father-in-law thumped his stick. “Are you coming with me or do I have to drag you?” Lucas smirked, folded his arms, and leaned back in his chair. “Not so fast old man,” he said. “Let’s find out what my sister here has to say about that.” When a thief asked Lmao for his date of birth, Lmao said he wasn’t born yesterday.
“My name is Baron von der Clere.” I had regained my composure and led the stranger to a chair on the patio. Susan brought masks along with a basin and towels to attend to numerous scratches on his face and arms. “I lost both engines and arrived adrift on the windward side of your island.” He said he owned a shipping company and had been attending to his fleet. Just then I heard a sound behind me: Susan’s father, stick in hand, walked up to us and said: “Don’t believe anything he tells you. My son is nothing but a crook.” When Deadpan said he used to own a tennis court, Lmao asked: “What was your net worth?”
Alien Resort island has eight residents: the four of us, Princess, my wife Susan, and her parents. In our wildest dreams Susan and I could never have imagined that a surprise visitor would come knocking on our door. When someone knocked this morning, my thought was that Lmao had returned from fishing and was bringing back my poles. When I opened the door and saw a muddied and disheveled stranger standing on the patio, my mind went into crisis mode. When I told Lmao that he spends a lot of time in the woods, he said: “Bear with me.”
We live on the leeward side of Alien Resort island, and the weather here is beautiful. The opposite side of the island, on the contrary, faces a stiff and unrelenting wind. Due to the weather there, and a shore lined with jagged rocks, the area is charted as unnavigable. Nevertheless, a review of last week’s radar history has led Plucky to believe that a boat may have come ashore. Deadpan will dispatch a drone to confirm what we believe is probably a derelict ship. When I asked Lmao how his boat ride went, he said he had to bail.
My wife Susan is usually cheerful and upbeat. But this morning I noticed she was teary-eyed and I asked her what was wrong. She replied that ever since her father disclosed that her brother left the island sixty thousand years ago, she hasn’t been able to get her brother off her mind. I put my arm around her and said I can’t imagine what it must be like not knowing what happened to him. I added that I’m intrigued by what Heather the anthropologist said: Lucas made landfall and his genes became part of the human genome. Deadpan says the footprints he discovered won’t make him famous; he’s going to use them as stepping stones.
The child welfare administrator whom Princess had just addressed stood frozen. Another of them said, “She can’t be serious.” “But she’s too little to be sarcastic,” said another. Plucky said to the ladies: “Why don’t you go ahead and set sail and I’ll contact the king.” She did, and later the king sent her a copy of his decision informing the ladies that the case of Princess had been grandfathered, and that she would continue her life and home schooling education on Alien Resort island. Lmao says that if he ever goes back to beauty school, he’ll have to take a makeup exam.
“She must be put in boarding school; home schooling just won’t do.” We were gathered (distancing) at the pier waiting for the ladies to embark. Princess had remained with her father, or so everyone thought. She popped up from behind Plucky’s dress and said to the lady: “I agree. If I stay here, I might trip over a light saber or receive excess quality time. It’s better that I go off somewhere and enjoy the benefit of dumbing down and classroom structure and become the subject of peer group pressure and girl bullying. Then they can give me drugs to make me docile.” Lmao figured graffiti was coming back in style; he said he saw the writing on the wall.
“This just won’t do.” The other ladies in the child welfare group nodded in agreement. We were taking them on a tour of our non-restricted areas and we were standing in front of Deadpan’s shack. One of them shrieked and pointed to the side yard. Deadpan had built a virtual reality headset, a metal box with flashing lights that he wore on his head. He had just come out the side door and begun running around the yard slashing with a metal stick. “That’s my Dad,” Princess said. Lmao thinks lasers are educational; he says that’s how he cut his teeth.
I contacted the king about the email Plucky received from the child welfare agency. “They’re just a bunch of busybodies,” he wrote me back. “They can’t do much except get everyone riled up.” When I asked what we should do next, he wrote: “Why don’t you let them see for themselves?” I brought the news to Plucky and Princess that a contingent of administrators wanted to visit Alien Resort. Princess listened thoughtfully, then said: “My next post on Living in a Spaceship will be called: The Invasion of the Busybodies.” Deadpan once thought about staying at an underwater hotel but he decided it was too much of a dive.
Plucky called Princess into the living room: “Somebody sent me an email about your blog.” Princess jumped up and down and clapped her hands. “Goody goody hooray,” she said. “They’re going to buy a souvenir from my store.” Plucky sighed. “Sit down,” she said. “This message came from a welfare agency.” Princess turned serious, then brightened again and asked: “Is this the part where the mean old witch comes and takes me away?” Deadpan asked a witch for cooking lessons; he says he stirred up a hornet’s nest.
Somebody on the king’s main island looked at Blog by Princess and became concerned. Plucky received an email from a welfare agency stating that they have a number of questions concerning the “environment in which the child is situated”. No child, they said, should be living in a spaceship. They added that they were especially concerned about education, since their records showed no enrollment by a child who lives in a spaceship. When Deadpan’s robot complained about being obsolete, Deadpan said it was just letting off steam.
I’m looking at the internet’s newest website; it’s called Blog by Princess–Living In a Spaceship. The About page says: “I’m a real princess and I live in a spaceship with my mother and my uncle Lmao. My father was a prince in an alternate universe and now he lives in a shack by the lagoon.” Plucky is supervising the effort, and the account and email are in her name. I just got a text from Plucky wanting to see me right away. Lmao still hasn’t written his autobiography; he says that’s the story of his life.
“There’s no stopping her.” Plucky dropped by the next day and told us that ever since they left here, all Princess has talked about is starting a blog. “She didn’t even know what she was going to write about so I asked her what she was interested in. She said she knew she needed a subject that would keep her motivated but it also had to be one that would interest her readers. ‘Mom,’ she said finally, ‘I’m going to write about living in a spaceship’.” When I asked Lmao if he had any ideas for his spare time, he replied: “I could write a book.”
I was thinking about what I was going to post when Plucky and Princess dropped by to visit. While Susan and Plucky were talking, Princess came over to my desk and asked me what I was doing. When I told her I made regular posts on the internet, her eyes got big and she said: “I want to do that too. Can I Mommy?” Plucky replied that there are certain responsibilities with having a blog, and certain hazards, but she would think about it. Princess jumped up and down and clapped her hands. “I only said I would think about it.” When Deadpan worked for 23 hours straight, he said he was calling it a day.
When I first heard that Susan’s family’s genes had become part of the human genome, I thought it sounded like something out of science fiction. Then I realized that this was one of those plotlines that was just too unbelievable to become a subject of fiction. The Beacons of Night, finding it difficult to explain to their followers just who should be considered Earthlings, are calling it junk science. And Heather has an interesting topic to submit to the Journal of Anthropology. I asked Lmao if he ever uses an ellipsis and he replied: “To make a long story short, yes.”
My wife’s family landed on Alien Resort island sixty thousand years ago: a father, mother, adult son, and the infant Susan. Because of animosity between father and son, and thanks to a spaceship whose design for water landings rendered it a seaworthy craft, the son set sail out over an unknown ocean. “He made landfall,” the anthropologist Heather told Susan and me. “And his genes became part of the human genome.” Deadpan once invented a heat shield; he says it never caught fire.
“This might not make any difference,” Susan’s father said to the anthropologist Heather. “But I‘m going to give you some family history.” He looked at Susan. “You were too young to remember your brother. And it was easier for us to tell you that you had a brother that died. But the truth is that he and I had a quarrel, and he set sail across the ocean. We never heard from him again.” Susan gripped my hand. Then finally, Heather broke the silence: “I have work to do,” she said quietly. Lmao says that if he ever goes on an ocean cruise, he would like to play bridge.
“We never had any contact with humans,” Susan’s mother said to Heather. We were inside the grass hut where Susan grew up. Heather looked all about, wide-eyed. The room contained nothing more than handmade household items, but I imagine that as an anthropologist, she must have been fascinated to be looking at a decor that no one on Earth had ever envisioned. “There’s one thing I should probably mention,” Susan’s father added quietly. Lmao says he learned how to make furniture so he would have something to fall back on.
The anthropologist Heather stopped by our spaceship this morning, doffed her pith helmet, then stood just inside the door taking notes. She commented on a plant we had in the window sill, stating that it looked South American. Susan replied that the seeds for the plant came from Alpha Pegasi: “My parents have grown these plants in this island’s mountains for as long as I can remember.” Heather added some notes, and without looking up, said: “Next will be a trip to the mountains.” Deadpan knows how to bind pages together; he says he learned it from a book.
Susan and I met her father at the barrier and told him about the results of the DNA test. “It sounds like somebody made a mistake,” he said. “We’re not Earthlings in any sense of the word. Your mother and I never saw an Earthling until the day of your wedding.” I emailed the king and he recommended we meet with an anthropologist. Susan’s family agreed, and a few days later, we went down to the pier to welcome Heather. Lmao once hid from a rescue party because he heard they were out to get him.
“Your DNA is about what I expected,” Deadpan told me as he flipped through a ream or so of paper he referred to as the summary. “A mish-mash of ancient galactic civilizations.” Then he turned to Susan. “I don’t know what to think about yours. Some similarities to Coy’s, but…” He looked at me. “Go on,” I said. He turned to a page nearly covered with highlights, then said to Susan: “Your DNA is part human.” When I thanked Lmao for testing my new suntan lotion, he said it was no skin off his back.
Deadpan’s shack is largely impassable because the rooms are crowded with junk and trash. In the back is a laboratory where he spends most of his time, working in secret. We never know the nature of his projects until he finishes them, is forced to reveal them (like the Alien Search computer game), or requires our help or participation. Today he dropped by and told us that he wants to construct a model of our genome in case we get sick. Susan and I gave him DNA samples. When Lmao asked what DNA is, Deadpan said it’s one of those little things in life that makes a difference.
Plucky was shocked when Deadpan texted her to bring Princess to his shack to play chess. Her first thought was that no baby should go to a dump like that. That thought lasted about a second; she gathered Princess and carried her to the shack, almost running. On their return trip, she asked Princess what she was going to do when her father got tired of getting beat at chess and Princess replied: “That’s why I’m going to have you buy me some video games.” I asked Deadpan how far you can see with a good telescope; he said the sky’s the limit.
Plucky, holding Princess, led Deadpan into the control room. “The master control’s emitting a warning,” Plucky said. “I’ve tried everything.” Princess raised a finger. “Check the secondary thermistor.” Deadpan grunted. “It sounds like the secondary thermistor,” he told Plucky. Princess sat and watched as he made the repair, handing him tools that he reflexively accepted. As he was leaving, she said: “Daddy, I’ll bet I can beat you at chess.” When I told Lmao that I liked how he fixed my roof, he said he nailed it.
Plucky told me she gave up trying to make Deadpan love her a long time ago. However, she’s determined he isn’t going to ignore their child. She texted him that a system on her spaceship had gone into overload and he needed to come right away. She was holding Princess when she answered the door. “Is that my Daddy?” the baby asked, and Plucky nearly dropped her. Deadpan shrugged. “On my planet,” he said, “Baby talk means the baby talks.” Lmao didn’t want to visit the baby chicks because he didn’t want to have to walk on eggshells.
Susan and I headed toward the lagoon to tell Deadpan about his daughter’s birth. When we knocked on the door of his shack, a siren went off. He opened the door then pulled down on an iron lever and the siren stopped. He invited us in but we were only able to stand just inside the door, as the floor was strewn with pizza boxes, empty bottles and electronic parts. When we gave him the news, he asked if we wanted to go to the bar and grill and get something to eat. When I told Deadpan that his house was messy, he said: “That’s rubbish.”
At 3:10 a.m. PDT the baby girl called Princess arrived into the world. The name Princess was suggested by the father Deadpan because he was a prince in his alternate universe. Plucky told him that a name should identify who a baby is rather than what she is, but assented anyway because the idea for the name came from Deadpan and because she likes the name too. As she held the baby, her question to Susan and the queen’s midwife was: “Where’s Deadpan?” I asked Lmao if he ever gave a baby a pacifier and he replied: “Yes, for crying out loud.”
“You’re fortunate,” Plucky says to Susan. “Your father was strict but he was able to relate to you on a personal level. And Coy loves you. When I was on my home planet, I spent my time trying to make guys love me. And they, like Deadpan and my father, were the type that never could. Our daughter, born an Earthling, will someday go out on her own, and I’m worried that the cycle is going to continue.” Lmao’s family was in the cement business but he didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps.
For as long as I’ve known Deadpan, I can’t say that we’ve ever become friends. We’ll engage in long, friendly conversations but they’re always about some project he’s working on and never about any of us. For me this is okay because I’m open to different forms of engagement. But a father needs to be able to relate to his children, especially a daughter, because this is the bond that becomes the source of her self-image. Deadpan says we need to look for new ways to entertain ourselves but we keep kicking the can down the road.
“My baby’s gestation period will be short, a matter of weeks,” Plucky said. “And I already know that it’s going to be a girl.” She sighed. “I’m not worried for myself; I can figure out what I need to know about raising a child. I’m thinking more about the girl’s future.” She closed her eyes. “Deadpan, you mean,” I replied. A tear ran down her cheek. “He’s just like my father.” When Plucky asked Lmao for tips on raising a newborn, he said maybe there’s a secret formula.
“Thanks for coming by,” Plucky said as she let me in. “I haven’t been doing so well lately.” Gloomy is a word I have never associated with Plucky, but I can’t think of a better way to describe her as she motioned for me to have a seat. “What’s wrong?” She sighed then replied sardonically: “What could possibly go wrong when I have Deadpan as a lover?” She paused, as if looking for words; then she wiped a tear and stated: “I’m pregnant.” When Lmao witnessed a birth, he said it was a once in a lifetime.
Plucky and I are managers. Not in any formal sense of course, but over the years we’ve assumed a division of duties that works to maintain Alien Resort on an even keel. In a nutshell, she takes care of the technological and interpersonal issues and I manage the business matters and outside communications. Sometimes I don’t see her for a few days but we nonetheless maintain contact in one way or another throughout the course of the day. Recently I became concerned because she hadn’t responded to my emails; I decided to pay her a visit. I asked Lmao what his first day on the job was like. He says they showed him who’s the boss.
Marco and I are natural friends. Everyone who reads my posts knows that my father used to tell me that I would never amount to anything. Marco’s father on the other hand pushed him to become an astronaut. If Marco got a 98 on a math test, his father would ask him what happened to the other two percent. Marco says he’s going to force himself to change the trajectory (but not the vocabulary) of his life once he returns to the mainland. Plucky suggested taking an interest test to find out his true passion, and to seek behavioral therapy to keep moving toward his new goal. I asked Lmao what’s the longest word he knows; he said it’s hard to say.
Marco agreed to allow me to hypnotize him and gave me permission to make the results public. As we suspected, he isn’t from another dimension. He remembers entering Earth astronaut training but he didn’t make the cut. He then set off sailing around the world in a catamaran. He was caught in a storm and got tossed about the deck. His next memory was that of Lmao pulling him from the water. Coy wondered how Deadpan beat him on a test; Deadpan says he took a page out of Coy’s book.
Deadpan and I visited Marco in the jail beneath the pier. Marco admitted he was making gunpowder, and told us he intended to use it for fuel to power my spaceship. I replied that if he could get that to work, then he must be some kind of rocket scientist, because I’ve been stranded here for three hundred years. He said he was desperate; he states that if we sent him to the mainland, they would lock him up for being delusional, and he would never get back to his own dimension. He agreed to allow Plucky to conduct a psychological exam. I told Deadpan about my idea for a miniature flying saucer; he said it sounds like a pie in the sky.
“Marco’s in jail,” Deadpan said. “I arrested him.” I invited Police Chief Deadpan in and he told me how he had discovered Marco at the beach campsite stirring a large kettle. Beside the kettle were piles of ground match heads, charcoal, and cat poop, which Deadpan recognized as ingredients for making gunpowder. He then arrested Marco on suspicion of threat to public safety. I told Lmao that I can’t ever win at violent video games. He said stop beating yourself up.
The king emailed me to say that he was unable to come up with a missing persons report that might shed light on the identity of our guest. Marco didn’t seem bothered about not knowing his own name but instead he was interested in finding out exactly when the king’s ship would arrive to pick him up. The mystery deepened this morning when Deadpan knocked at my door, early and out of breath. Lmao says they once had a new guy who never said anything; they wondered if he might be a plant.
Because Marco had become such good friends with Lmao, Plucky invited him to stay with her and Lmao. I emailed the king and received a disappointing response: the naval fleet was tied up in a mission and wouldn’t be able to pick up the delusional human for another week or two. In the meantime we were forced to listen to how he had always wanted to be an astronaut and how he volunteered for the secret mission to visit another dimension. When I asked Lmao what it was like being cloned, he said at first he was just a bundle of nerves.
“I’m an astronaut,” Marco began. “I was part of a secret mission. I blasted off from Earth but that was in another dimension. I splashed down, and ended up here, in this dimension.” I looked around at the others; they appeared to be hanging on his every word. My thoughts were: “Come on everyone, he’s either a nut job or a con man.” I couldn’t wait to notify our landlord the king and have him picked up. When I told Deadpan that my carrier promises unlimited voice calls, he said talk is cheap.
Marco stood up as we approached his campsite: Plucky, Lmao, Susan and me. He had the look of a sailor: muscular, tanned, and coarse. He didn’t seem at all surprised and motioned toward some rocks for us to have a seat. “Lmao told me there were others.” He looked at Susan. “Are you human?” I thought the question sounded personal, and my response, for me, was curt: “We’re the ones asking the questions.” I asked Deadpan what he would do if he were rich and he replied: “That’s the million dollar question.”
“Tell us about the Earthling.” It was around noon and Lmao had just gotten up and stepped out onto the patio. Looking a little surprised, he glanced at Plucky, then nodded to Susan and me. “We’re such good friends,” he began dreamily. “He’s from another dimension. I named him Marco, because he doesn’t remember his name. I found him bobbing in the ocean. He was in a life jacket.” Lmao used to wear an expensive suit; he says he had it made.
Plucky asked Lmao about his nightly disappearances and he told her that he was out getting exercise. “I’ve known Lmao for two thousand years,” she said to Susan and me. “Getting exercise is at the bottom of his list.” We decided to follow him, just to make sure nothing was wrong. He headed for the dunes, and just beyond the dunes we spotted a campfire. He stopped, and I rubbed my eyes. In the light of the campfire an Earthling was waving for him to approach. I asked Deadpan how the exercise class was going; he said he hasn’t learned squat.
Every evening Susan asks me if we can go for a walk. First, we stop at the pier to sit and watch the sunset. Then we drop by the gift shop. With the tourists gone, we’ve turned the gift shop into a clubhouse called Lmao’s Bar and Grill. But the past few nights, the door has been locked. We decided to walk up the hill to Plucky’s ship where Lmao lives and make sure everything’s okay. Plucky looked surprised to see us: “I thought he was at the gift shop.” Deadpan found dust mites on Mars; he says he’s still scratching his head.
Susan and I had the most wonderful honeymoon. We boarded a ship to the archipelago’s main island, stayed at a luxury hotel, and spent some time sightseeing. Susan insisted that I plan our activities and said she would be happy no matter what we did. She has adapted well to living in the modern world, and I’m indebted to Plucky and Lmao for the immersion they provided while she lived with them. And last night, I carried her over the threshold of what is now, our spaceship. Lmao’s new travel bag is his all time favorite; he says it’s an open and shut case.
Today’s wedding, with social distancing in effect, is being officiated by Plucky of Alien Resort. Plucky is a spaceship captain in whom I have vested the authority to join Coy of Alien Resort and Susan of Alpha Pegasi in the bonds of holy matrimony. They have just now taken their vows “to love, honor, and obey”. The rings are exchanged, Plucky looks at the bride and groom in turn, then states: “By the power vested in me by his majesty the king of the archipelago, I now pronounce you man and wife.” After everyone left the altar, I told best man Deadpan that it was a lovely wedding for a happy couple. Deadpan replied: “They go hand in hand.”