Garn the Magnificent paced outside of the audience chamber, waiting impatiently for his turn. He hated everything about appearing at Council meetings – from the uncomfortable chairs in the anteroom to the way it could take the idiot Council hours to just ascertain the weather outside.
Finally, a gong sounded from the inner chamber and a tall, black-robed guard appeared at the door. “The Council will see you now.”
“About bloody time,” Garn snapped, adjusting his own green spider-silk robe around his shoulders.
The guard’s brows furrowed in faint disapproval. “The Council was debating matters of extreme importance.”
“Like what to order for their mid-day meal,” Garn muttered as he strode past. When the guard didn’t correct him, he figured he was right.
The Council chamber was like he remembered it – an all-white room with soaring white crystal-encrusted ceilings. A large gray stone stable took up the center of the space, with two dozen of the oldest, gloomiest beings in this part of the galaxy sat around it. Garn always figured that election to Council required surgical removal of one’s sense of humor.
“Citizen Garn,” said the Council member nearest him. “The Council of the Inter-world Alliance thanks you for your presence today.”
“It’s not like you gave me much choice,” he muttered.
“Insolence!” shouted the leader of the Council. “We should have you imprisoned for your outburst.”
“Now Esteemed one,” soothed the representative from Garn’s own home world, Cambia. “Citizen Garn simply has a rather…pithy… sense of humor.” She shot him a long, quelling glare. “I’m sure he is most happy to appear before our august group.”
“Er, of course,” Garn told them – because he might be a smart-aleck, but he was no fool. The prison food on this planet was terrible. “Always happy to be of service.”
The leader grunted but settled back into his chair. “We called you here today because we have heard that you have spent several months on Earth as of late.”
“Lords of chaos,” Garn moaned. “Not that cursed place again. I hope I never have to return.”
“Indeed,” piped up another member, an ancient Talonian. “We have heard many conflicting reports of the terrible contagion that has been raging there.”
“And imports of certain goods are at an almost standstill,” said another councilman. “The shortage of potato chips and chocolate alone have upset the trade networks in three solar systems.”
“Ah yes, many factories temporarily shut down, but I thought that things were opening back up, Garn mused.”
“Well, obviously, they haven’t,” the old Talonian snapped. “So, what’s going on there?”
Garn sighed began to describe what he had observed on Earth in detail for what felt like the hundredth time– starting with the deserted streets and empty marketplaces and ending with the closures of restaurants, schools, and stores. “At first the only eating establishment open was McDonald’s, but now many are open to something called carry-out only.”
“Most curious,” droned an extremely wrinkled Candarian. “Are there any other details you can share?”
“Well, the symptoms of the contagion seem to be coughing, fever and difficulty breathing, but from what I have observed, it also gives people a powerful compulsion to purchase all of the food and toilet paper they can find.” Garn paused for several long seconds, considering his next words carefully. “The virus seems to be more contagious in restaurants and hair salons, but not grocery stores for some reason.”
“That is most curious and troubling, indeed.” The Council Leader struck the gong at his elbow. “And it bears more investigation. I move that Citizen Garn be sent on a fact-finding mission to Earth. Do I have a second?”
Happy Thursday, Friends!