Gral the Steadfast found himself with a few hours to fill on Talon III, so he stepped into an eating establishment next to the Interplanetary Portal Station. The planet was still in the middle of an ice age, but he remembered that the local spiced cider was warm and that while the gros-nak stew wasn’t the taste-treat of Tellurian Tentacle soup, it wasn’t half-bad.
He stood at the entrance of the tavern for several moments to let his eyes adjust to the dim lighting and was most pleased to see his erstwhile companion, Garn.
He made his way over to where his old friend sat hunched over a small hand-held video link and discreetly cleared his throat.
There was no response. As a seven-foot tall bald Dobranian with hands the size of serving platters he wasn’t used to being ignored, so he cleared his throat again – louder.
Garn jumped in his seat and finally looked up. “Gral, my good friend! It’s been ages! Sit, sit! Have a bite of refreshment!”
Gral sat and as former co-workers are known to do, they began to catch up on their lives. Gral had just finished recounting his latest adventures in the lava fields of Caldon-IV when Garn’s ‘link began to beep furiously.
“So, what have you been up to?” Gral asked as he watched his friend furtively check the small tablet.
“I have been teaching school children on Earth,” his small green friend said proudly.
“Really?” Gral rumbled. “What brought about such an…interesting turn of events?” Garn had several useful skills but interacting with small beings in order to impart knowledge wasn’t one of them.
“Well, you may not have heard, but there is a terrible contagion on Earth right now.” Garn went on to tell him about the empty markets, the closed businesses, and empty streets. “So, schools have been closed and Earthlings have been caged indoors for almost two of their months now,” he concluded.
“That’s terrible,” Gral gasped. “How have people been coping?”
“Well, from what I’ve observed, day-drinking and almost obsessive posting on social media.”
“Like the Face-book?” Garn had not been to Earth for several solar years but remembered being shown the popular Earth website for sharing pictures of kittens and children.
“Well, sure, though there are now many more fashionable platforms like Instagram and TikToK.” Garn chuckled. “The dances are quite amusing.”
Garn’s ‘link beeped again, and he smiled sheepishly. “Another update from Earth. Do you mind? I fear I have become quite addicted to following the happenings of the Kardashians and their friends.”
Gral nodded and Garn scooted his chair over so that Gral could peer over his shoulder as he scrolled through the several dozen notifications that seemed to come through every few minutes.
Gral watched in fascination as videos of small talking dogs, people dancing, and the latest health advice flashed by.
“This is madness,” he breathed. “Please tell me that this virus isn’t cured by drinking poisonous cleaning products.”
“Of course not,” Garn scoffed. “And most people know that.”
“But what of the people that don’t?”
And so, Gral and Garn pondered that unhappy thought for several moments – until the next batch of kitten photos came in from Earth.
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