Oh! The Humanity! – The Socialite’s Tale
Brasilia Days would have smiled in maleficent glee if smiling wouldn’t have caused her skin to begin wrinkling. She could have afforded the best rejuvenation treatments, of course, and one day she would, but there was no need to hurry such things along. She was twenty-five terran standard years old, beautiful, spoiled, extremely rich and well aware of all of those traits in herself.
“That’s wickedTM,” she said into the ship to planet communications network. “How much did we get from them?”
“Everything they had, and then some” her attorney replied. Brasilia couldn’t remember his name: Carson or Thorson or something prosaic with a -son at the end. “Mr. and Mrs. Geraldo Kevyn Schwarz have been forced to surrender everything they own and agree to pay fifty percent of their salary to you for the rest of your life, pursuant to the copyright infringement decision handed down by Judge Lohan.”
Brasilia nodded. “That should teach them to use my trademarked phrase without permission or licensing rights. What did they use it for, again?”
The attorney smiled. Brasilia made a mental note to replace him when she was next on Earth. She didn’t want her lawyer having wrinkles. They might be contagious.
“Technically, they were referring to an ancient musical play but we convinced the judge that the Schwarz family could have said ‘that is’ or ‘it’s name is’ without infringing on your trademark.”
“Whatever,” Brasilia said. She paused to sip from her Arcturan Snowball Fizz. It had gotten too warm. She gestured to a waiter. When he arrived, she said, “This drink was supposed to be one degree centigrade. It’s at least three, maybe four.”
“I apologize, Miss Days. It was one degree when I delivered it to you ten minutes ago.” She glared at him and he said, “I will get you a new one.”
“See that you do,” she said. Turning back to the attorney, she asked, “Can I sue the cruise line for not serving my drink at the right temperature?”
“Why not?” the attorney replied. “False advertising, maybe.”
“That’s wickedTM. Do it,” Brasilia said, disconnecting the transmission.
The waiter returned with a fresh Arcturan Snowball Fizz. He bowed and departed without a word.
Brasilia looked at the drink. She no longer wanted it. She rose from her lounge chair and posed in case anyone was watching. Left hip pushed out to the side, head tilted just so, right hand behind her head (but careful not to mess up her hair), left hand on her hip. She noticed seven attractive young men and two stunning women watching her. No one with an image recorder, though. “That’s not wickedTM,” she said. She was hoping to sue someone else for violating her image rights but it seemed that everyone on the ship was aware of her litigious personality. She gazed at the nine people watching her and chose a pretty young man. The women were too pretty … someone might comment that they were prettier than her.
She walked to her chosen prey and said, “Come with me.”
The man followed her back to her suite, the best on the ship of course.
“Let me see you first,” she commanded.
The man disrobed. He was in perfect form, with a penis easily in excess of twenty-five centimeters.
“That’s wickedTM,” she said. “You’ll do.”
An hour later, bored, she kicked him out of her suite.
He left without saying a word.
Brasilia went to the cage where her pet, a purebred arctic fox, lay sleeping on a cushion made of the finest Gorillanian vege-silk. “Hello, Snowy,” she cooed. The fox looked up at her drowsily, yawned widely, then turned around and went back to sleep.
Brasilia stared at the animal, a slow rage building. She summoned a porter.
Moments later, there was a discreet knock at her suite’s door.
“Enter,” she commanded.
The porter, a slender woman with dark brown skin and raven black hair, entered. Brasilia noted with ill-disguised temper that the … the servant … was almost as beautiful as she was. “This animal needs to be put down immediately. See to it.”
“Put down, Miss Days?”
“Put down,” Brasilia said. “Put to sleep. Euthanized. Exterminated. Killed.”
“Why?” the porter asked. “Did it harm someone? Is it ill?”
The heiress’s rage erupted. “How dare you question me! Do you know who I am?”
“You are Brasilia Days,” the porter replied.
“You impertinent … peon!” Brasilia screamed. “What is your name?!”
“Aliana February, Miss.”
“Well, Miss February, I’ll have you terminated! I’ll sue you and your whole damned family for insulting me! Get out, get out, get out!”
“Of course, Miss Days,” the porter said, picking up the cage with the fox. She left and closed the door quietly behind her.
* * *
Aliana heard a lamp hit the door behind her. The fox in the cage barked once in alarm.
“Don’t worry, little one,” Aliana said. “You’re safe, now.
* * *
Brasilia stared at the broken lamp. It was an original Squirrellanian Azure Crystal lamp, carved by Chipmonkian the Elder, the finest crystal sculptor of the Known Races. Brasilia very carefully stepped on one of the larger remnants and crushed it, listening to the tinkle of the breaking crystal. In spite of the risk of wrinkles, she smiled. “That’s wickedTM.”
An hour later, Brasilia was relaxing in the sonic bath when the ship … shuddered. She fumed. That was the last straw. She emerged from the bath and didn’t even bother to put on a robe. She marched to the communications screen and said, “This is Brasilia Days. Connect me to my attorney.”
“Unable to comply,” the screen replied.
“Unable to comply,” the screen replied.
“What do you mean you’re unable to comply?”
“Unable to comply,” the screen replied.
“Listen, you pitiful machine. I’m Brasilia Days and I ….”
She was interrupted as the klaxon went off. “All passengers and crew, please report to your designated lifeboats. Please remain calm. All passengers and crew, please report to your designated lifeboats. Please remain ca….” The klaxon alarm was cut off suddenly as there was an explosion deep within the ship.
Brasilia stamped her foot. “A lifeboat? It had better have champagne.”
She went to her wardrobe and opened the door. She knew that there were thirty-seven outfits, neatly arranged and color coordinated with matching shoes, luggage and accessories. What does one wear to a lifeboat, she wondered. Something comfortable, obviously, but not too comfortable. After all, when she was rescued, there would be news crews and she wanted to look her best for them. Maybe she should wear something comfortable on the lifeboat and then change into something dazzling for the rescue? Oh, but how could she be sure she wouldn’t clash with another passenger … or worse, have one of them in a cheap copy of her designer outfits … or even, she could barely think of it, her colors clashed with the other people on the lifeboat.
Wait. There was a thought. How many people was she going to be sharing the lifeboat with? Hmm, she thought, not-smiling gleefully. She could sue the cruise line for that … stress due to insufficient personal space on the lifeboat. “That’s wickedTM,” she said.
Brasilia decided on a sheer black number molded to fit her body perfectly. She then packed three matching dresses in three vibrant colors, with their associated accessories, in a small travel bag. She called for a porter but there was no answer.
I’m going to have to carry my own bag, she thought to herself. I’m going to have to carry a bag like a servant? Oh, they are so going to be sued when this is over.
She picked up her bag and struggled with it. She made it to the door and opened it. There were people running by, yelling and screaming. In her suite, the noise cancellation equipment had blocked out the cacophony. Brasilia found it very disturbing.
Spotting a crew member running by in his white uniform, she called, “You, there! Boy! Come carry my bag.”
“Fuck you, lady!” the man yelled over his shoulder, not breaking stride even for a second.
Brasilia stared after him in shock. No one talked to her like that. Not even her father talked to her like that after she had sued him for emotional cruelty and taken over his entire business empire. How dare he talk to her like that? “What’s your name?!” she demanded at his fleeing back. He didn’t respond. “That’s wickedTM,” she said.
A rumbling series of explosions inside the ship made her decide it would be better to get off the ship first and sue them later. She struggled to bring her case into the passageway.
What are all these people doing on the Super Premiere Deck, she wondered. She added it to her growing list of complaints.
Finally, she flowing with the crowd, she found a lifeboat.
“Oh, there you are,” she said. “Here, boy. Take my bag and lead me to my seat.”
“Your name?” the crew member asked.
Brasilia Days stared for a moment as if slapped. “Don’t you know who I am?” she demanded.
“Ma’am?! How dare you call me ‘ma’am’! I am Brasilia Days. Now take my bag and lead me to my seat.”
“I’m sorry ma- … er … Ms. Days. You’re not on the list. This is not your lifeboat.”
“What do you mean it’s not my lifeboat. It’s a lifeboat and I demand to take my seat.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Days.” The ship bucked again. “There’s only one seat left. I can offer you a choice. If the person we’re waiting for doesn’t show up by the time we’re given the order to launch, you can have her seat. Or you can make your way to your assigned lifeboat. Do you remember which one it is … from the lifeboat drill.”
“Oh, I never go to lifeboat drills,” said Brasilia Days. “It’s always a waste of time. Now let me in.”
“I can’t do that, yet,” Ms. Days. “You can wait for a chance or you can go to your assigned lifeboat.”
“But I … I …,” she began. It was time for some waterworks, time to play the poor little rich girl. She took a deep, shuddering breath and said, “But I don’t know where I belong.”
The crew member shook his head. He looked as his computer pad and tapped a few commands. “Brasilia Days?” he asked.
She let a tear fall from one eye and nodded. Inwardly, she thought, I am so going to sue this serf and his family for everything they own. She let her mind drift to the future when she would see his family thrown out of their home, with everything they own now in her possession. She’d look at them with as much disdain as she could muster, which was considerable, and she would say, “That’s wickedTM.”
“Here we go, Ms. Days,” he said.
She picked up her bag and took a step forward but he held out his hand,
“Your lifeboat is two decks up, and three sections over. I’ve notified them that you’re here and alive so they won’t leave until the order is given. If you leave that case behind and run, you might make it. Or you can take your chances waiting here.”
“What?!” she screeched, her “poor me” routine forgotten.
“Hold the boat!” someone called running down the passageway.
Brasilia turned and saw that little peon of a porter, something February, carrying a suspiciously familiar cage.
“That’s my cage!” Brasilia said. “That’s Snowy!”
“There you are,” the crew member at the door to the lifeboat said. “We’ve been waiting.” He turned to Ms. Days and said, “Sorry, Ms., Days. This lifeboat is full with its assigned personnel. You’ll have to get to your own.”
Aliana February, Ship’s Porter Second Class, slipped by the heiress and said, “Hi, Freddie. Any problem bringing my new pet along?”
“Of course not, Ali. It’s cute. You can put its cage under your acceleration chair. It should fit.”
“I’ll give you a hundred million credits for your seat,” Brasilia Days, suddenly desperate. “It’s more than you could make in a dozen lifetimes, a hundred, a thousand lifetimes.”
“No,” Aliana said as she stored the fox’s cage under her chair.
“No. It means ‘I won’t.’ I mean, what would a peon like me do with that kind of credit? Someone like you would just sue me for it.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Days,” Freddie, the crew member at the door, said. “This boat is full and we cannot take more than the maximum allowable occupancy. I know who you are, now. Ali told me about you. Interstellar Cruise Lines doesn’t want to risk a lawsuit by carrying additional people and risking others’ lives. You’ll have to get to your own lifeboat. I’m sure you understand.”
“What?” she repeated again.
The crew member tapped a command into his computer pad. “Crewman Frederick Mays, reporting. All assigned personnel present and accounted for. Lifeboat Seven Two One ready for launch in two minutes.”
He closed the door on Brasilia.
Behind her, in the passageway, part of the level above collapsed, trapping her.
As she watched the lifeboat launch without her, all she could do was stare after it and say, “That’s wi -…”
As if the universe was reacting to that phrase, the part of the ship in which she stood exploded before she could finish.
The End … thankfully.