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About the Author

David White tells us: "I've been a resident of New Orleans for a number of years. I will enjoy the money from this first publication of my short fiction, which I'll either blow on booze and coffee—or start a fund to produce my screenplay (which I, stupidly, plan to also direct). Occasionally, I promote gothic/industrial bands, as that's what I'm into. When not writing, I watch a lot of indie films." [last DOSFFH story, published 9/2002. Here, Deep Outside SFFH transitions seamlessly into Far Sector SFFH—same magazine, different name, some changes in team and management. While DOSFFH was jointly owned by John T. Cullen and Brian Callahan, FSSFFH is the sole property of John T. Cullen. The next story—One is False; Nothing is True by Linda J. Dunn, December 2002—appears under the Far Sector SFFH masthead—JTC 2012.]

Deep Outside SFFH 1998-2002 pioneering online professional SFFH magazine - we made history!

The Adventures of Space Death, the Worst Band in the Galaxy

by David White

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"Hey, what's our situation?" Balstok, the lead vocalist, grumbled as he sat in front of a bunch of the ship's instruments, none of which he had the faintest understanding of.

Balstok looked more like a manager than what one would normally expect from a lead singer for an infamous rock act. He wore a cheap, galactic business suit, with various stains on a neo-artistic tie. He developed this somewhat unorthodox look while majoring in economics at the University of Fiscal Fidelity, located on the near spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. One night, while working out an equation for determining which combinations of plaids and pastels allowed for the maximum of phone numbers from females at the end of the night, he accidentally stumbled upon a theorem that would predict the effect of a large number of convenience stores on any planet's economy. Later, when he tried to publish his findings, his colleagues laughed him out of the school and the embarrassment kept him from finding work. Ten years later, when it was shown that his theorem could have effectively predicted the downfall of Mecka 5.6, Balstok had managed to leave the incident behind him and form the band Space Death after an especially heavy night of binge drinking.

"I'm not sure. Let me try and find the control panel that tells us those kind of things," Slugbait responded. He cruised across the cabin and started scraping off debris that was covering the readout.

Slugbait was the brains of the operation, i.e. manager. He arranged the tours, booked the shows and made sure that the instruments, which were carried in a different spaceship, arrived safely at their next performance. However, he liked to think that what made him truly indispensable were his little touches, which mainly consisted of yelling "encore" after each song with occasional calls for "Freebird."

"I'm not sure where we are. I can't seem to find the navigation computer," he stated a minute later.

"Less attention to that and more attention on the important focuses that are important to focus on," Balstok stumbled out. "I just hope we get there soon, I looked in the mini-fridge and we're down to our last six pack."

Slugbait continued his search for the navigation computer.

Seeing that this didn't have the desired effect of panic, Balstok tried to appeal to his sense of order, "So, where exactly are we supposed to be playing?"

"Mecka 5.6," Slugbait grunted as he lifted something heavy and slimy off one of the instrument panels.

"Oh yeah?" Balstok reminisced. "I once had a theorem that could have saved that planet from certain..."


"Guys," said the voice of Vladzal from the bridge's bathroom, immediately followed by the rest of Vladzal. "I don't think I want to play drums anymore. I was just thinking and I can no longer ignore the ethical, err, problems that it raises."

Balstok belched, "Good God, I forgot he was back there."

"Who was it last time?" Slugbait sighed.

"Don't you remember? That was the fascinating discussion about why we have to use deodorant despite its environmental dubiousness."

Slugbait rolled his eyes. "I think I was trying to block that from my memory," he said as he tried to remove various uneaten and now mutated foods from the navigation panel. "Okay. Vladzal, what kind of fish are you?"

"I'm a platzfish, which is equivalent to a space salmon," he said as if reading from a teleprompter.

"Which explains why you keep trying to swim upstream every time you take a bath," Balstok zinged.

Slugbait glared at Balstok and nearly got his hand taken off as one of the piles of mutated food lunged for it. After a quick check to make sure all his fingers were there, "Right. Well, it really boils down to Darwinism."

Vladzal stared in a confused silence.

"Your drums are made of Godian Beaver Shark, which is far less evolved than you are. So, by playing on them, you are merely enforcing the theory."

The confused silence didn't waver.

"In other words, it's only natural," Slugbait sighed.

Vladzal scratched his head. "Okay. I guess so. So, I can still play the drums then?"

"Yes," exclaimed Slugbait as he tried to pit one pile of mutated food against another pile of mutated space food in a battle to the death, and thereby free access to the navigation computer. "You don't see Balstok worrying about whether he's got harmony or not."

"HEY!" Balstok burped.

The battle of mutated food was over before it started, and the outcome had at last revealed the long sought navigation computer. When the victor looked up to receive what it considered a richly deserved laurel crown, it saw that the situation was hopeless and proceeded to sulkily ooze off.

Slugbait removed the loser from the console. "Computer!"

"Sigmund, the onboard navigator and psychologist, here. You know, I could tell you something about the significance of that sulking, partially eaten hot-dog that is currently crawling down my console. I think Freud said it best..."

"Shut up," Slugbait quipped.

"I strongly suggest that you and I have a discussion about anger management," continued Sigmund. "Do you feel that your parents never listened to you? Is that why you lash out?"

"Well, there was that one time... None of your damn business!" Slugbait yelled. "Just tell me where we are."

"We were about to get somewhere that is on no space chart. But, very well, I will comply," Sigmund sighed, if computers could sigh. "We are currently on course for Mecka 5.6 with a projected ETA of thirty minutes. However, I could call ahead and make an appointment with a colleague on nearby Mecka 5.61 if you don't feel as if you can talk to me because of our working relationship."

"Shut up or I'll tear you apart and use what's left to build a video game," Slugbait threatened.

Vladzal looked up expectantly.

Balstok shook his head.

"If you are quite through your psychotic fits," Sigmund said, while flashing lights and doing the general things that an onboard ship computer does, when it's doing something other than its immediate action. "We have a message coming in from Mecka 5.61. Shall I put it on the viewer?"

Slugbait glared at the Sigmund. "It better not be because of a call you made."

"No. This is unexpected."

"Well, put it up, you poor excuse for a radio," blurted Balstok.

The image of a thin, pasty-faced man with wild hair that stuck out at all angles appeared on the view screen. "Hello? You must be Space Death?"

Suddenly Diasion, the band's square player (incorporating the newly discovered, eighth note: K), stepped out from her sleeping quarters, followed closely by Chub, her new lover and band roadie. "Whoa, who's this guy then? He looks like he hasn't seen the sun in years. And you guys wonder why I'm a lesbian. To me, you all look like that."

"Shhh," sounded Slugbait. He turned his attention to the view screen, "That depends on who the hell you are and what you want."

The man answered, "Excuse me. I'm Ugop, the president of the planet that hired you."

"You don't look like any robot I've ever seen, mayonnaise face," Diasion shot.

Slugbait glared at Diasion and then back at Ugop, "I'm afraid she's right. Mecka 5.6 hired us."

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Several hundred years ago, a man named Krelig invented a food substitute wrapped in a thin flour like covering that he could heat in less than a minute, and a way to cover nachos with a radioactive cheese lard without immediate death as the result. Krelig saw the great potential in selling these useless, but tasty, food products to passing space voyagers whom were traveling the galactic byway that ran right past Mecka 5.6. In addition to those, he took common items, which every space voyager needed, and a lot of other useless crap that no one needed, hats with cliché expressions silk-screened on them and horoscopes in little plastic tubes, etc., marked up the price a hundred percent and opened up the galaxy's first convenience store.

This was such a huge success that more convenience stores popped up. Eventually, the whole planet contained so many "quik stops," "EZ serves," and "stop and goz" that the point of no return was reached where the economy could support nothing but convenience stores. This effect is commonly called "The Quikie Mart Event Horizon," first theorized by the economist Balstok Griffen. For a short time, as the theorem states, Mecka 5.6 became the richest planet in the galaxy.

However, all too soon, the problem arose that, since every citizen now owned a convenience store, there was no one left to work in them and keep them open twenty-four hours, which competition demanded. It took the planet of Roboticia to offer a solution, or rather sell them a solution, and, in doing so, became the richest planet in the galaxy.

Several generations later, the robots revolted, took over the convenience stores, and made the planet inhospitable to the humanoid citizens of Mecka 5.6. The former populace fled to the nearby planet of Mecka 5.61 and banned any Meckain from owning a convenience store. Their second decree was that, one day, they would have vengeance.

* * *

"We hired you to play a, err, as a surprise for Mecka 5.6," Ugop stumbled.

Slugbait laughed, "They certainly will be surprised if they're not expecting us. You know of our reputation?"

Ugop answered, "I do indeed."

"We've been banned from playing some places until the population growth has risen enough to compensate for the loss caused by one of our shows," Slugbait mumbled.

Diasion chimed, "We've caused riots."

"Wars," Balstok smiled and buffed his fingernails on his chest.

"In fact," Slugbait added, "I'm surprised that we get booked at all. Must be because we have such a rocking sound that only the hardcore mothers can groove on."

High fives went all around the bridge.

Ugop nodded. "That's why we want you to play. We can't stand the populace of Mecka 5.6."

"Oh," Slugbait responded. "So this isn't a good surprise?"


"We don't really do that, we only play shows were we will be appreciated. I'm offended that you are saying you only hired us because we suck," Slugbait declared.

Ugop was quick to respond. "Of course, we are willing to reward you handsomely for your efforts."

Balstok slurred, "Reward? What reward?"

Ugop paused for effect. "The Golden Beer Can of Togowe."

Jaws dropped to the floor. Eventually, even Vladzal, who had no idea what was going on, dropped his jaw because he didn't want to feel left out. A collective reverence went through the group, like they had just been offered the keys to the Forbidden City.

"An infinite amount of beer." Slugbait rubbed his hands. "Well, a job's a job. Computer, where are our instruments and how soon can we have them set up?"

Sigmund, who had been occupied preparing notes that he would later use for publication of an article in The Galactic Journal of Psychology, whirred to life again. "I will comply, but may I suggest another form of payment. Besides the obvious physiological effects of alcohol, this group in particular..."

"Shut up, Sig, before I make your parts into a vibrator." Diasion smiled at Chub as she said this to convey the private sentiment.

"I don't understand," Slugbait addressed Ugop. "I thought the Can was destroyed after we played our show there."

Ugop answered, "That's a legend. Actually, we stole it with the thought of drowning in our own misery. Fortunately, we thought of this plan before we did."

"Some luck," Balstok scoffed.

"Destroy Mecka 5.6 and The Golden Beer Can is yours. A sample of the beer is being transported to your ship's hold as we speak. Consider it a down payment. We'll speak again when the job is complete. Ugop out." The view screen went blank.

Balstok walked over to the control panel to order a round of beers for himself. "I'm so excited that I've sobered up. I mean, you always dream of something like this when you're a kid or something, but I never thought it could really happen."

"Uh, guys," Sigmund's voice contained a little more static than usual. "I am afraid there is a small problem and I don't want you to take this out on me. We all know about the levels of latent aggression onboard, and since none of you will take my advice or even look at some Rorschach inkblots, I do not want anyone to get ideas of turning my circuits into anything other than the job they were originally designed to do."

"If they were designed to be a major pain in the ass, mission accomplished. Spit it out, you glorified excuse for a toaster," Slugbait suggested.

If Sigmund had pores, they would have sweated, "I am afraid that I just checked on the position of our instruments and it seems they they've been shipped to somewhere on the outskirts of the Crab Head Nebula."

"Hey guys, what's going on?" said Peter as he walked onto the bridge.

Sigmund's lights flashed and processes that were rarely used started a flurry of activity. "According to my records, the cargo ship was given the order for those coordinates by Peter."

The only sound that could be heard after that was the noise of heads turning to stare at Peter.

* * *

Peter's full name was Peter Tchaicoughsky. He was born on Pobiv, a planet renowned for the musical ability of its people. For instance, Emperor Vbone of the Council of Seven, who controls the majority of the trade throughout the galaxy, banned anyone that is not a native of Pobiv from attempting to play any instrument in his presence.

Upon birth, a new infant of Pobiv is set in front of a table containing every known instrument in the galaxy and it's said that the baby will pick the instrument that it'll become a virtuoso on. It's known as the "Pobivian Virtuoso Rule" (there aren't great writers on Pobiv, just musicians).

When Peter was born, the ritual of instruments was performed. He immediately picked the harp and began to play. It made such an awful sound that an entire floor of the hospital was evacuated.

After that, he was allowed to go through every instrument as the doctors tried desperately to find where his musical talent lie, until one day, the doctors gave Peter the last instrument left, the guitar. The death toll from the resulting noise never was accurately calculated.

* * *

"I knew I had a good reason to distrust you," Chub threw at Peter. "You've probably been planning this for some time now."

Peter gave her a puzzled expression. "Who are you?"

"She's mine and she's right," answered Diasion. "It all makes sense now. Somehow you knew that we would be offered the Can of Togowe, so you sent our instruments off to who knows where. You're probably going to kill us and eat our flesh in an attempt to digest our skill for music, then go play the show yourself."

"Yuck! You know that I'm a vegetarian." Peter stuck out his tongue.

"Sorry, I've been watching a lot of horror movies lately," Diasion smiled.

Sigmund's speakers cracked to life. "I have determined the precise coordinates of the other ship. Verifying."

"Get on with it," Diasion barked. "Stupid machine isn't fit to be a wrist watch."

Sigmund seemed to moan. "Perhaps mother was right. I should have chosen the easy life of a governmental defense computer. You people just don't appreciate how amazingly hard it was to figure out where that ship is."

Slugbait wondered aloud, "I'm just trying to figure out how you have a mother."

"It's a long story really..."

Diasion interrupted, "I'm warning you."

"Yes. Sorry. The other ship is in orbit around the planet of Pobiv."

Slugbait thought about this for a second. "Sigmund," he commanded. "Lay in a course for Pobiv at warp nine."

Everyone looked at him.

"Sorry, I've just always wanted to say that."

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At the same moment, somewhere in the Crab Head Nebula, Private Beathoven looked up from his radar screen, put down his flute and ran to the office of his commander.

Beathoven burst into the room and immediately went stiff. "Sir, I think we've got a problem."

Commander Mosart put down his pen. "This better be important son, I was just getting to the bassoons."

"Sorry, sir. But, I just detected a ship in orbit, sir."

Mosart flurried his brow and raised his voice. "I don't have time to play guessing games, son. We have ships in orbit all the time. Get on with it."

"Sorry, sir. It's not just any ship, sir," Beathoven squeaked. "It's the ship that Space Death uses to transport their instruments."

"My God!" Mosart exclaimed as he tore wildly at his symphony notes. He shot up with eyes blazing. "This is top secret information, son. Do you understand? No one is to find out about this, especially the media. We don't want to create a panic."

Fifteen minutes later, the word was out and the media had already given a name to the crisis, "The Day the Music Died." Everywhere, citizens hastily built makeshift spacecraft to carry them and their loved ones to safety. The military went on full alert to control the situation, while the press took everything the military said and tried to stir the situation up.

* * *

Peter suddenly felt the presence of many eyes staring at him. "What?"

"Don't give us 'what,' Peter," Diasion quickly lead the attack. "We all know about your little plot."

"I knew I had a good reason to distrust you," Chub spat back.

Peter glanced at her. "Why do you keep saying that?"

Chub shrugged.

Peter wheeled around, "And what plot?"

Diasion countered, "A guilty person says 'what'?"


"Ah ha, your guilt has betrayed your disguise of innocence," Diasion pointed at Peter. "Robots, arrest him."

Two stage security droids appeared from a dark corner of the bridge and grabbed Peter before he could protest. Diasion marched out the door, screaming orders to the robots at the top of her lungs. Chub followed, after lighting up the room with a smile.

The rest of the band looked on in shock until Slugbait broke the silence.

"There goes one crazy ass fruit bat bitch."

* * *

A little later that day...

Sigmund whirred to life. "We have arrived at Pobiv and may I say that this planet is in need of serious psychological counseling. Virtually the whole planet is exiting in makeshift spacecraft. Apparently they're all under some mass delusion. I have not been able to pinpoint the exact reason for this exodus. But, it would seem that it might have something to do with the appearance of the other ship. Each ship that passes it takes a shot at it."

"Hmmm," Slugbait contemplated as he rubbed his chin. "Good thing we invested in that extra armor after Sirius IV."

Sigmund added, "Although, I do believe that Sirius IV took the thought of you playing there a little better than these people."

Everyone was sitting in chairs facing each other arranged around the main console of the bridge. Diasion suggested that since she wasn't sure whether Peter had acted alone or not, that, for the safety of the band, they should arrange it so that everyone could suspiciously eye everyone else. Since it was generally accepted that Diasion was completely crazy, everybody agreed.

Slugbait continued to address Sigmund, "Does our ship have our instruments still?"

"I do not know. All this traffic is interfering with my sensors."

"Well, I guess you better patch us through to the planet. If there's anyone left, that is."

* * *

Private Beathoven rushed into the office of Commander Mosart for the second time. "Sir?"

Mosart looked up from shredding his arias. "What is it, private? Is everyone off the planet already? We probably don't have much time left. They," he looked up for a second, "will probably be showing up soon."

"That's just it, sir. They've shown up, sir."

"What?" Mosart whirled around, his face twitching slightly. "My God, there's no time left."

"They're hailing us, sir."

"Probably wanting to gloat. Have these rock stars no mercy?"

"No, sir." Beathoven's face twisted at the thought of his next question. "Sir, I was wondering if I could be excused to be with my wife and kids, sir. There's not much time..."

"Of course, private." Mosart opened his desk drawer, took out a small bottle and tossed it to the private. "Here. Those will make death quick and painless."

"Thank you, sir," the private frowned. "And may I say, sir, that it's been an honor to serve under you, Commander Mosart, sir."

"Call me Walfgang, son." He smiled half-heartedly. "Now go on, son. Patch them through to my desk."

The private opened his mouth to speak, closed it, then gave a final salute and hurried out of the building to his family.

Mosart returned the salute, took a dose of poison, and sat down at his desk, ready to receive the hail.

* * *

"Okay, I've got Commander Mosart on the view screen," Sigmund said as he put the face of a gray haired man, his face rippling with tension, up on the display.

Balstok whispered to Slugbait, "Geez. Look at the tension in this guys' face. We're talking wrinkle city in ten years."

"Space Death," Mosart started. "We know why you are here."

"You do?" Slugbait elated. "That's great. We thought that this might be difficult."

A look of burning anger flashed across Mosart's face. "We've beaten you, you bastards! Almost everyone has evacuated and those who remain are now dying an honorable death. You'll never take us alive."

Balstok glanced behind him to see if Mosart was talking to someone else. "Is this guy as drunk as I would like to be?"

Slugbait ignored the comment. "Look, I don't know what you're going on about. We just want to get our ship back."

Mosart's face raged even more and he held up his clenched fist to the view screen. "Do you deny your intentions to play one of your wretched music shows on our fair planet? Do you have no honor?"

Slugbait shrugged. "Yes and no."

Mosart's expression relaxed slightly. "Do you mean yes and no to both questions, or yes to the first and no to the second?"

"The second one."

Mosart thought about this for a moment and then responded, "So you do deny wanting to play a show here?"

Balstok, fed up, interjected. "We don't want to play a show here. We just want our instruments that came here by mistake, so we can play an important gig for Mecka 5.6"

Mosart chuckled. "Oh, I'm glad that's... eh... WHAT?"

"If you're that upset about it, maybe I can give you my contact info so you can book us on our next tour. I tell you what. When we get home, I'll personally send you some swag."

Mosart's head looked as if it was about to explode. "You bastards. You bastards."

"Well, if you're going to be that way, maybe we won't play," Balstok retorted.

Mosart eyes glazed over, as if he had remembered something. "Oh my God. The poison." He jumped up and down. "You bastards. I'll kill you."

Slugbait took his gaze off the display. "Cut transmission, Sig."

The screen went blank.

Balstok clapped his hands together. "I've never seen someone get so upset about us not playing a show."

"Never mind that," Slugbait responded. "We've got to get our instruments and hightail it back to Mecka 5.6. Sig, patch us through to the other ship's controls."

Sigmund flashed effort. "Sorry, file not found."

Just then, Chub pulled out a laser pistol and leapt out of her chair. "Nobody move or I'll blast you into atoms."

Nobody moved except for Diasion. "Don't you think you're over-reacting just a little bit, hon? It's only a glitch in the control unit of the other ship."

"Shut up, you idiot," Chub yelled.

A wounded Diasion slumped back in her chair.

Chub continued, "Sigmund, open a channel using my voice print."

"I warned you guys about..."

"Now," Chub yelled as she shot the bottom of Sigmund's console.

"Help!" Sigmund pleaded. "I am wounded."

"Just patch me through or I'll do it again," Chub demanded.

After a few seconds, a man clutching a laser rifle appeared on the view screen.

"Is everything ready over there?" Chub said to the man.

The man replied, "Everything is secure and ready."

"Why are you doing this?" Diasion questioned as tears streamed down her face. "I thought we had something special."

Chub sneered at Diasion. "Are all of you stupid? I guess I'll explain before I beam over to the other ship and destroy you." She stopped as she saw the raised hand of Balstok. "Yes?"

"Why do villains always feel the need to explain everything to the good guys, right before they leave?"

"It's in our contracts. Now to continue," she continued. "My father once owned the largest brewery on Togowe. When you played your show there and they subsequently banned alcohol, he went bankrupt. My family was ostracized. Eventually, my father, bless his heart, couldn't take it and he killed himself. Now, vengeance will be mine. Once I beam over to the other ship, with its superior armor and firepower, I will destroy you all."

Balstok wobbled. "I'm sorry, I was busy getting a drink during that last part. Would you mind repeating that?"

"Yes," Chub replied. She looked at the view screen. "Beam me over."

In an instant, light shimmered around her and, with a flash, she was gone.

Slugbait sneered at Diasion, "Great girlfriend you picked up. Next time, can you get a serial killer that will stab us to death in our sleep?"

Diasion sobbed. "Leave me alone. I really cared about her."

"So this is how I'm going to die," Balstok belched and then took another sip of beer. "Guess it's been a good run."

Slugbait slapped him on the back of his head. "Sig, fill us in."

"I am afraid that it is not much of a match."

Slugbait hung his head low.

"Uh, excuse me," Vladzal said.

Balstok choked on his beer in surprise. "God damnit, where did you come from? I keep forgetting he's even here."

"I haven't said anything for awhile." Vladzal scuttled out of his chair and looked down at his hands. "Well, uh, I meant to tell you guys. One day, I was on the other ship, playing video games like I always do, uh, you know, and I broke the weapons system. I thought I could get it fixed next time we're in a space port without you knowing, on account of the fact that we never use the thing."

Everyone stared at Vladzal.

He continued, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to."

Slugbait ran over and kissed him on a gill.

Everyone started cheering. Even Vladzal got into it, once he gave up trying to figure out what everyone was so happy about.

"Guys," Sigmund cut in. "I just got a transmission from Mecka 5.61. They want to know where we are. What should I tell them?"

Slugbait smiled and held Vladzal tightly. "Tell them to keep the Can on ice, 'cause we're on our way. But first, send a message to the other ship telling them that we are ready to accept their surrender."

Suddenly, the voice of Peter came over the ship's speakers. "Uh, can someone let me out of my room now?"

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