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In my own back yard

Extirpated on September 30, 2012.

“Murrrp…?”

I awoke groggily—stickily and soggily, too, I might add, for I was covered in slime of a most yellow-green nature. I discovered myself sitting in my very own throne-like captain’s chair aboard my very own gnome-built starship. The giant alien space slug that had eaten me was nowhere to be found, nor were his two compatriots. Catlips had never come (nor had Bozo… he was dead), but somehow I had survived my intestinal journey.

“Murp.” I blinked. (I blink a lot, I know.) Through the ÅSS Goose from the Machine’s forward window I could see daylight—blue sky. Where were the cold depths of space; where were the stars? I leaned forward, peering beadily out at the scene that lay before me. I was not unlike a flabbergasted strumpenklumpt that had just been blumpenfisted by the snakiest glorpf-snake this side of γ Leonis. Grassy ground rose up in front of my ship, green and ribald. The ship was tilted drunkenly, forward and starboard, embedded halfway into the soil upon which she lay. Steam or smoke or fog (or perhaps rubber duckies) rose up around the scar she had dug into the earth. A small crowd of what appeared to be humans—although you can never be too sure—were gathering around the scene, pointing their fingers and noses and smell-phone cameras. I blinked again. Yes, definitely humans, although they didn’t look the least bit intelligent.

To the right and a few dozen smoots in front of the ship was a palatial, multi-storey mansion rising up from the ground; a broad avenue lay beyond: A boulevard of some sort? I blinked again, and murped thrice just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me as they often do. I was on Earth. And the mansion? “Murrrp…” I was home.

The Årppine Space Ship Goose from the Machine must have somehow made her way all the way back here, all by her goosey little lonesome, while I was occupied squirming my way through that Torkan slug-beast’s alimentary tract and trying my darnedest not to be digested as I went. And after arriving back on Earth, the ship must have somehow found my old home at 229B Bouillabaisse Boulevard, set a course on her own, and flown right down into my grassy, ribald back yard. I didn’t know that I had built her to be able to do that! But then I remembered that the gnomes had built her, not I: And what isn’t possible with bearded and befezzed gnomes?

Relief washed over my body like a gentle, washing wave. A good hot shower would have been better, but relief would suffice for now.

I would probably never know the truth of how I got here, but a gnomely autopilot made a good assumption—without making an ass out of you and me at the same time. Alternatively, the remote possibility existed that I had, in reality, spent the past several months out here in my back yard imagining the entire expedition to the Bagel Nebula (which was just a few degrees west of β Pictoris and a hell of a lot of light years closer). It was possible that I had confabulated each and every one of my zany adventures while actually sitting in a shoddily constructed mock-up of a starship—a mock-up which I had constructed myself, in my own back yard, out of various odds and ends that I found in my basement, nearby alleys, and refuse heaps. Fortunately, however, there was little evidence for such a possibility. That is, I blithely ignored what overwhelming evidence there was for such a possibility, and plunged forward with my belief that I had truly spent the past five months in outer space. “Murp!!” Reality be damned, I had a fable to write!

Coming back down to Earth, I sighed a sigh of sighing relief: Regardless of what had happened—nay, irregardless—I was now home. I made a mental note to never attempt to visit the Bagel Nebula again—not ever. The whole trip had been a disaster: As soon as I made the decision to go, my rocket ship was invaded by fungous hitchhikers from an as-yet-unnamed planet. A week later, I missed Sefernday and ran out of O2, and then froze to death in the deepest, darkest depths of outer space. Somehow I actually survived that, but ended up on a planet inhabited by monstrous geese. I escaped from them, whereupon my rocket ship was bombarded by fimbriated men until it crash-landed on an entire planet made from their fimbriated corpses, from which I escaped (again!) after finding an even better starship hidden under a pile of limes… only to suffer an entire week of insomnia, learn that faster-than-light travel had completely ruined my blogging schedule, and lastly get eaten alive by an Andovian slime worm from a children’s book. I then spent the entire next month sliding through that hideous alien slug’s gastrointestinal tract, being slowly digested along the way.

In as grasshopper-like a manner as I could muster (for no other reason than I felt like being a grasshopper at that particular moment), I clambered out of the Goose from the Machine through the main egress hatch and dropped to the ground. The madding crowd of people had already begun to disperse, and the sudden appearance of a giant, six-foot-tall grasshopper springing from within the mysterious spaceship set the remaining fools into a frothing panic. In less than nine seconds I was alone in my back yard. I hopped off toward my palatial abode.

“Murp, murp, murp!” Three months away from home is a long time, I realized, as I first retrieved the eighty pounds of junk mail from my mailbox, then went indoors and began stripping the thousands of cobwebs from all my corners and the inches of dust from all my flat surfaces. Going downstairs I discovered nothing remained of Moosey, my dear, beloved pet moose, other than a dusty skeleton still standing upright in the middle of the cellar. Dinglebuckey was dead too, a hamstery pile of desiccated fur, and Mooey was nowhere to be found: The starving beasts escaping from my bestiary had probably made short work of her. Indeed, returning upstairs, then going further up-up-up the stairs to my bestiary, I found only one creature still alive and present: A very, very fat kerfrumpt sat in the center of the room with an even verier satisfied look on its placid, sated face. The webbed feet and bill of a mubbleduck, similar parts from my flutch of garefowl, and a number of other beastly yet inedible animal parts were strewn about the room haphazardly. Nauga hides were everywhere. What looked like a shriveled ductal tract torn from a schtumpfenbeast hung from the windowsill; several iridescent bubbles lay popped and deflated atop a smashed glass tank: The last remnants of my juvenile shuggoths.

I sighed and deflated slightly myself. My desire to hop like a grasshopper evaporated. Nearly my entire bestiary was gone, including both my earthly and unearthly creatures. My bizarre, Pnårpy life would never be the same. I knelt down and petted my fat ol’ kerfrumpt, stroking its eating-snout and tickling it along its silithicine spine. It brilled happily, vibrating the entire room. I held the eldritch, purpurineal creature in my arms and tried not to bawl like an infant: It was all I had left.

“Murrrp… murrrp…”

Later that evening, I went to my computering room but found my Internet service had been disconnected. I stomped on downstairs to my televisioning room, but found they’d turned off my cable, too. Plodding angrily to my library on the fourth floor, I nearly yerked with rage when I found out that even my books had been shut off—every single book I owned, from Bombproof Your Horse to Cooking with Poo was now nothing more than a bound pile of blank, white pages.

Nearly ready to give up, I went to my drive-in closet and pulled out a dusty, musty old box of VHS tapes. I grinsped with glee. They appeared to still have tape in them! I pulled one out and scurried downstairs to my television and its embedded “VCR” device. “Wow… with a name like Cannibal Holocaust,” I mumblesputtered to myself, “This has to be good!” I sat down and watched it.

It wasn’t good. But it did make me hungry.