Cobbling Together a Plan

This is my favorite time of year. Everyone means so well. They mean to get back in touch with relatives they haven't spoken to in a year. They mean to spend more time with their family. They mean to stick to their New Year's Resolutions this time around. So many good intentions, and it's so easy to collect them.

That's why I volunteer so much. It lets you get in touch with all those good intentions. Take all this bell-ringing I do. The money I hand off to the Salvation Army, and I'm sure it makes someone's life better, but the good intentions that people hand off with the money I keep for myself, take home every day, and melt down into little solid blocks. (It's amazing how many good intentions you can keep stored in a furry red hat.)

After they cool, I take these little rounded blocks of shiny gold, gleaming with the best that humanity has to offer, and lay them down in my basement, ten blocks wide, and stretching on and on into the bottomless depths. For, you see, I am building a road—a road straight to hell. When it gets there, I will use it to summon a demon, and that will make my life better. I'm almost there, and I think I should make it this year, right around Christmas eve. Phenomenal cosmic power and rulership over my fellow man—that'll be my Christmas present to myself.

Hallowhat?

"Zexxnar, why are you plotting a course that way? There is nothing of interest out there—the stars are too sparse."

"No, Raqqmip, you are incorrect. There is a small world known as Dirt to its inhabitants, and it is the correct time in the solar cycle for their festival of refueling."

"Festival of refueling?"

"Indeed, on my last pass through this spiral arm I discovered it. On an orbit of their star, they have a festival where the larvae of their species visit the dwellings of the adults, and demand concentrated fructose on threat of dire consequences. It appears that the threats are mostly a ritual formality, as I did not see any vaporizations even when the fructose was denied."

"Interesting…we could refuel our entire storage tanks in this manner. But wait, you mentioned the young of their species—how are we to acquire the fructose?"

"That is not a problem. By fortuitous accident, my last visit coincided with their festival, and I was given fructose merely for being present. Along with the ritual of threatening, there is a ritual masquerade, presumably to hide the identity of the criminals making these threats. They assumed my appearance was merely part of this masquerade. I received numerous compliments regarding the mere existence of my lower arms, and one of the breeders exuded a cloud of ethanol and proposed that we should copulate."

"They can exude ethanol at will? What sort of monsters are these?"

"Well, that is a minor detail I had left out, but my research after the fact indicates that this fructose is for consumption by the young…"

"Great Gazorbokan! A race powered by fructose! Can they fly to other stars at will?"

"No, strangely enough. They appear bound to their own planet. Their only contact with galactic civilization had been with the free clinic the Antarean proctologists have set up in orbit about their homeworld."

"They have no idea of the power of fructose?"

"None. They consume it, and with no ill effects. When we visit, we shall have to take our own food supplies with us, for they do not seem to have selenium carbide wafers available anywhere. I suspect their biology could be most enlightening, but I would be very reluctant to have such a high-powered furnace of a being on board the same ship as ourselves."

"At last you show some good judgment."