During the second epoch of the Bronze Age, the kingdom of Uggapaggo was ruled by the warrior-poet Hargtock. Hargtock was a really vain and whenever his armies conquered some other nation, he would force its occupants to build statues and monuments about how great he was. It was on such a project in the nation Blarboth that a young man named Chobbs was being forced to toil at the construction of a monolith with Hargtock’s face carved into it. While pulling large blocks from one side of the lot to the other, Chobbs decided to make small-talk with the soldiers on guard.
“So,” Chobbs said, “You guys are from Uggapaggo, eh? What’s that like?”
One of the soldiers struck Chobbs with his whip them said “Lot’s of hills. I like conquering flat places like this. I hate hills.”
“Oh yeah,” said Chobbs. “Hills are a nuisance. Once when I was a kid we went on a field trip down to Batagavia and it was all hills everywhere. I was so tired by the end of the day.”
Another whip struck Chobbs’s back and drew blood. “Yeah, Batagavia is worse than Uggapaggo for this hills. Uggapaggo has plenty of hills, but Batagavia is worse.”
“Well that’s something at least,” said Chobbs. “At least you’re better off in Uggapaggo than in Batagavia.”
The first soldier whipped Chobbs again and said “True. Thing is, I can never decide if it is better to live at the bottom of the hill or the top. At the bottom, you’ve got a nice downhill walk at the end of the day when you get home, but if you ever want to go out anywhere, you’re looking at an uphill trudge,” he whipped Chobbs again and continued. “But if you live on top of the hill, you always get a downhill walk when you leave home, but at the end of a long day of work you don’t want to have to walk up a hill.”
Chobbs wiped the sweat from his forehead with his bloodied arm and said “Yeah, it’s a tough decision.”
And so the soldiers and Chobbs passed their time as the monolith slowly took shape.
Meanwhile up in Outer Space, the alien king Plasglack was addressing his citizens. “I hate the humans so much,” he said. “Just knowing that they’re down there pisses me off. They’re stupid, and contemptible, and ugly. And I don’t even really mind the ugly part, y’know? It’s like… they’re a different species. They’re supposed to look different than us. I can totally accept that. We’ve made peace with tons of aliens that, from our point of view, by our standards, are pretty gross, right? But these guys. These humans, man. It’s like… the fact that they’re such jerks just makes me think about how terrible they are, including their ugliness. I mean, I don’t want to be a dick and go around making fun of people for their looks, but they really irritate me and the ugliness is just another thing I can grasp onto when I vent, y’know?”
The assembled crowd stomped their feet, which is how they show approval on that planet. The king continued his oration. “Well, at this point, I’m just thinking we ought to go down there and kill them or something. Just like, get a bunch of guys together and fly down to that ‘Earth’ or whatever they call it and just… just freakin’ go crazy. Like shooting and punching… the whole thing.” The crowd stomped their feet some more and invasion plans were drawn up.
Back on Earth months had passed and Chobbs was just finishing up the monument by putting the last stone slab in place. “I get what you mean,” he was saying to a soldier who was whipping him in the face. “Tall trees look nice and stately, but you feel they make your house look smaller. And a small tree would compliment the house, but the branches rattle against the window while you’re trying to sleep. Not an easy decision…”
With the last piece in place all the soldiers whipped Chobbs one last time and they gathered around the monument in a semi-circle to admire their work. It looked pretty good and everyone thought so.
“I have to admit,” said Chobbs, “All this time it kinda seemed like this Hargtock guy was kind of a prick, what with conquering my nation and forcing me into manual labor and all, but looking at this monument, he must have something going for him.”
The soldiers were proud to see their noble ruler’s greatness acknowledged by a heathen savage and they all grinned and felt warm inside. Which made what happened next hurt even more. An alien spacecraft came along and blew up the monument.
“Noooooooooo!” shouted Chobbs.
The spaceship landed and the army of Plasglack filed out and started slapping every human they could find. The Uggapaggoan soldiers were dumbstruck for a moment, but quickly snapped into action, drew their swords and charged. The human soldiers fought bravely, but the aliens had technology that they couldn’t even comprehend. Rocketpacks allowed them to soar over the landscape. Pain-Rays mowed down their enemies dozens at a time. Force-Shields deflected the spears and stones thrown by the humans. The alien Nano-Thermoses didn’t do much as far as the battle was concerned, but they kept the alien’s drinks cold really efficiently and seeing that was bound to have made the humans jealous and hurt morale a bit.
But the aliens sure hadn’t counted on Chobbs. He was enraged. He had spent years of his life on that monument, his own two hands had cut every stone, pulled it into place and fixed it there with mortar (the soldiers had been too lazy to bother having more than one slave). And most importantly of all, Chobbs had completely forgotten what life was like when not in a state of constant soul-searing pain, so the alien army’s attacks flowed over him completely unnoticed. He was able to get into alien bases and blow them up like they’d done to the monument. Usually he muttered something along the lines of “How d’you like that?” as he did it.
The aliens couldn’t gain any ground with Chobbs around. When the human soldiers realized what a destructive force he was, they began to follow Chobbs wherever he went making the attacks even more efficient. Plasglack himself eventually sent the message that the mission was too costly. With their invasion plans foiled, the aliens retreated. But they left scabies behind. Scabies is an infection genetically designed by spiteful aliens. But on the upside, Chobbs didn’t get it! He had already died from all those wounds he didn’t notice.
Patrick D Ryall, the D is for Acquisitions