Earth is for humans, not alien freaks! A Giant Leap story.
Author's note: Alien Honeymoon features characters that were introduced in Space Diner Proposal. You are invited to acquaint yourself with them by reading that story here on Vocal:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking, Captain Jorge Jefferson. It is 2:40 PM on a bright, sunny southeast Texas afternoon. The temperature outside is fifty degrees Fahrenheit, or ten degrees Celsius, and the weather service indicates skies will remain clear through the evening, with breezes out of the northwest at eight knots. Please keep your harnesses fastened while we taxi to our gate at the Great Americas Space Port. On behalf of my copilot, Captain Morgan, and the entire flight crew, I'd like to thank you for flying with Lunar-Orbital Shuttle Transport. At LOST, people are our most important payload."
Larissa Springer Raumschiff side-eyed her new husband with a smirk. "Don't say it."
"What?" Dermond asked innocently, eyes fixed on the air nozzle above him. "That his copilot is a bottle of rum? I wouldn't think of mentioning it!"
Larissa spluttered, ducking her chin and covering her mouth. "Sure you wouldn't."
"Sir, please sit down and re-fasten your seatbelt," the in-flight safety officer said from her rear-facing seat.
As Larissa glanced over her shoulder to see who the officer had admonished, Dermond muttered, "It's their own fault for giving such ambiguous and hard to follow instructions. Keep your harnesses fastened—oh, that's a toughie."
"I think he heard you!" Larissa hissed with a conspiratorial grin.
Dermond craned his neck to see over his seat back. "He's far enough back you should be able to get away before he accosts you."
"Me? I didn't say anything—you did!"
The craft came to a stop, and the two retrieved their carry-on bags from the compartment. They hurried off the shuttle snickering to each other.
As they exited the long jetway, a woman remarked, "That's a really pretty dress. I like your embroidered marigolds."
Larissa thanked her, and Dermond led the way onto the moving sidewalk.
"Wow, look at all the plants!" Larissa said, sniffing. "The air feels different here."
"There she is!" a bullhorn blared as they entered the main concourse. "Welcome to Earth, Space Baby!"
"Space Baby?" Larissa mouthed to Dermond, wide-eyed.
The crowd shouldering each other to peer down at them from the mezzanine level cheered. Schoolchildren showered the concourse with yellow rose petals while a college band arrayed on the staircases broke into The Eyes of Texas Are upon You. Red, white, and blue bunting and pennants hung around a podium near the base of the escalators.
A tall man on the podium beckoned at them and squawked his bullhorn, adding, "Come over here and say Howdy to the folks, Miss Springer." He winced and shrugged. "I'm sorry, I meant Mrs. Raumschiff."
"Did you know about this?" asked Larissa.
Dermond shook his head, holding out his free hand, palm up. "How would I know about this?"
"You know about things."
Two men wearing bone-colored cowboy hats and dark suits flanked the couple. "If you'll come with us, Ma'am, Sir."
The crowd parted, allowing the pair of Texas Rangers to guide Larissa and Dermond toward the podium. As they made their way there, the man with the bullhorn continued.
"You folks look more excited than the crowd we had at the governor's mansion's New Year's Eve fireworks show the other night! I reckon that's because y'all are real people, not lobbyists and jaded politicians."
The concourse reverberated with cheers and whistles.
Larissa and Dermond ascended the four steps, and the speaker extended his hand. "Pleased to meet you, Larissa Springer Raumschiff. I'm Larry Atwater, the governor of Texas."
Atwater laughed. "You can call me Lariat—it's one of my nicer nicknames. The press has other nicknames for me, but we won't talk about those. You look a little stunned, Larissa, like you weren't aware you had this many fans."
"Fans? I'm just a waitress at the Lone Star Diner."
"Well, yes, but it's the first—and only—Texas diner in orbit, and you were the first baby born in space. How does that feel?"
"I, um, I don't remember how it felt being born. I suppose it was pretty much like being born here?"
The governor laughed again. "I guess that was a silly question."
A tomato splattered against the corner of the lectern, causing everyone on the podium to jump.
"Go home!" a man yelled from the crowd.
Several people around him joined in with catcalls and additional tomatoes.
"Go back to space, Space Baby!"
"Earth is for humans, not alien freaks like you!"
"I'm human!" Larissa declared indignantly. She brushed a bit of tomato pulp from her marigold dress.
The hecklers chanted.
"We don't want your radiation, We don't need aliens or wormholes, Three-eyed mutants up on our moon, Spacemen, leave earthlings alone—"
"Security," Atwater barked through his bullhorn, "escort those people to someplace they can reflect on being more peaceable individuals."
"Why do they think I'm not human?"
The governor lowered his bullhorn. "Ignore the crazies. We've got a thousand people here that love you, Larissa Springer. Raumschiff."
A SWAT team rounded up the troublemakers and escorted them unceremoniously out of the area.
Taking off his charcoal cowboy hat to point with, Atwater continued speaking to the crowd. "If anyone else brought fruit or vegetables, you can deliver them to that Texas Ranger station right over there, and they'll be glad to see that you receive proper accommodations in return."
The crowd roared with laughter.
"Well, without any further ado, Larissa Springer Raumschiff, the first baby born in space and all grown up now, it gives me great pleasure to present you with this key—to Texas, and to the Earth." Governor Atwater picked up a framed, engraved brass plaque bearing a silver key and presented it to Larissa, retaining her right hand in his long enough for news cameras to capture them together.
Calls rang out from both the floor and the mezzanine level. "Speech, speech!"
Larissa pursed her lips and ducked her head before looking up at the governor. "I've never spoken publicly," she said. "I don't know what they want me to say."
"In Texas, it's best to just take the bull by the horns." He picked up the bullhorn from the lectern and traded for her plaque. "Just tell them how much you appreciate their making you feel at home in the Lone Star State and you hope to meet each and every one of them during your visit."
"But I'm on my honeymoon! Dermond and I wouldn't have any time together if I tried to meet—"
"Just say it." Atwater nodded reassuringly. "They'll know you don't mean it literally."
Larissa kept her eyes on the broad-shouldered Texan as she raised the bullhorn and reached for Dermond to pull him close before addressing the crowd. "Um, thank you all for welcoming me and my husband so enthusiastically—"
"Attaboy, Dermond!" someone hollered from the mezzanine.
Larissa's face grew hot, and she giggled even as she squeezed his arm. "This is my first time in Texas, but I already feel at home." She paused, crinkling her nose. "That is, as long as nobody else has any tomatoes."
"What do you plan to do on your first visit to Earth, Larissa?" shouted a microphone-wielding woman in the front row with press credentials hanging around her neck.
"Does she mean, besides enjoy our honeymoon?" Dermond muttered beside her with a grin.
Larissa turned to him with mouth agape and eyes wide. "You did not just say that!"
"Just asking for clarification. Give me that bullhorn."
"No!" Larissa huffed, choking down a laugh. Composing herself, she refocused on the reporter. "I want to go to a real bookstore or a library. We have plenty to read up there, but not many physical books. I want to know what it feels like to be surrounded by them. And I want to stand on a frozen pond. You can do that, right? They freeze, and people stand on them? I've never seen that much ice in person—just enough to put in drinks. I'm a waitress, you know."
The governor nodded approvingly. "You're doing fine. Take a couple more questions, then I'll wrap up."
"We don't have a lot of frozen ponds in Texas," said another reporter. "You'll have to go up north for that. What do you want to see while you're here?"
"Everything—I want to see everything." Larissa pointed at a mural on the spaceport wall, of a bull standing under a pear tree next to an old barn with a rusty roof. "I want to see that. That's Texas, right? And a rodeo. And—I don't know what else. Why don't you tell me?"
Governor Atwater gently took the bullhorn. "You folks know as well as I do how much of Texas there is to see. A liaison from my office will make sure Larissa and Dermond get to see all they have time for and that they get as much privacy as they want. Remember, friends, this is their honeymoon."
As the three descended from the podium, the band played The Yellow Rose of Texas and the governor's security team herded the crowd to a respectable distance.
"Once again, Larissa and Dermond, congratulations and welcome to Texas." Atwater extended his hand to each of them.
"Thank you so much, Governor Atwater," said Larissa.
"Call me Lariat. Everyone at the office does." He waved for a dark-haired woman carrying a tablet in the crook of her arm to come closer. "Jennifer Randles here is going to take care of the two of you. I'll leave you in her capable hands." As he pivoted to leave, he spoke with a harsher tone. "Richard, those lunatics nearly ruined a perfectly good photo op. Let's throw the book at those sons of—"
"I'm pleased to meet you both. You can call me Jen." Wisps of crow's feet appeared as the oval-faced forty-something lady smiled. She continued in a velvety voice. "If you'll come with me, the governor's office has provided a limousine to take you to your hotel. On the way, we can figure out an itinerary that will allow you to see and do all you want and also have some down time. And your fan club has requested an appearance, if you're willing."
Larissa and Dermond followed in the wake behind Jen and the imposing bodyguard at her side.
"I have a fan club? Did you know?"
Dermond bobbled his head and gave her a palms-up shrug. "Apparently, you also have a couple new nicknames."
"Space Baby and Alien Freak. Which of your new names you like best?" Dermond grinned and waggled his eyebrows.
Larissa mustered all the mock ferocity she could. "Of my new names, I like Mrs. Raumschiff just fine. And you, Mr. Raumschiff, had better just stick with calling me Larissa."
Author's note: Larissa and Dermond are also featured in the short story Big Earth Journals. You are invited to continue reading about them here on Vocal. Follow this link: