The Bottom Line
“Where did they go?” said Ensign Miller.
Captain Cooper and the rest of the landing party approached the empty colony buildings in space suits. “We’re here to find out, Ensign,” said Cooper.
“Good Oxygen/Nitrogen balance and no hostile bacteria,” said Lieutenant Zellwegger. “Terraforming worked well. We could safely breath the planet’s atmosphere.”
“But the colonists still disappeared,” said Miller.
“It’s a bloody tragedy,” said Cooper.
“I’ll say,” said Goldfarb. InterWorld Inc, the company that funded the colony, sent along an accountant. “Reparations to the families will cost a LOT of money. It’ll severely affect The Bottom Line.”
Cooper turned away to hide his expression from Goldfarb.
They entered the colony buildings made from reddish, native stone when Goldfarb unexpectedly removed his helmet.
“Goldfarb! What are you thinking?”
Goldfarb spoke as though to a child. “I heard Zellwegger say the air is breathable. Do you know how much it costs to ship mere oxygen 267 Light Years? If I’m not consuming that expensive oxygen, I’m improving The Bottom Line.”
Minutes later, a two-foot long caterpillar waddled up to Goldfarb. It peered through huge, expressive eyes between mounds of soft fur. It had the cutest little mouth from which it said, “Ma? Ma?”
Without a thought Goldfarb picked it up and cradled it. It’s little legs waved happily. Goldfarb began to coo.
“Captain,” said Zellwegger, consulting her scanner. “I’m registering a massive increase in pheromones.”
“Goldfarb! Put it down!”
“No! It’s mine. It needs my protection. Don’t you precious?”
Cooper decided to ignore it. The creature appeared harmless. They split up and investigated the buildings. Soon, they heard an abbreviated shriek.
Miller found him first. “Captain,” he called. “You know that little cute mouth on the caterpillar? Well, It gets bigger.”
Cooper arrived seconds later. “How big?”
Miller leaned back into the bloody room. “Oh, big enough to bite off a human head.”
“Well Miller. I think you’ve discovered what happened to the colonists.”
“What about Goldfarb, sir?”
“What about him?”
“Well, he’s rather…dead, you know.”
Cooper scowled. “Miller, do you know how expensive ship’s food is? Goldfarb won’t be consuming any of it on the way back to Earth.” He smirked. “Goldfarb will be happiest knowing we’ve improved The Bottom Line.”
Written for Mondays Finish the Story. Hey Barb, I guess this will be my allocated “long story” for the month. I hope you enjoyed. Folks should look here to see what stories other folks wrote for this week’s prompts: https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/mondays-finish-the-story-august-10th-2015/