Gadda Da Vida
Mark A Davis
"Sometimes I help out the S.I.S.B.," said Grandpa Anarchy, earth's oldest active hero. "Especially Jennie Nova and her friend Llahna. But this is the first time they've had me run a mission for them without an actual member coming along." He gripped the steering wheel of the space ship, even though it flew itself, and stared out into the starry night. "Of course, you and I aren't actual members of the S.I.S.B. -- you gotta be young and female for that."
As he always did, Grandpa Anarchy wore a rumpled gray suit with an anarchy symbol stitched in silver over the left breast.
The ship was sleek and smooth and silver, with comfortable bucket seats and digital readouts. The computer ran the ship, but this was only a small scout ship, not the fancy war vessel that Grandpa's friends normally used, with it's sentient A.I. and teleporters and clone rebirth vats. Their mission was a simple one -- to check out a planet that was thought to be uninhabited, and then return with a report.
His sidekick, a young boy named Evander the Explorer, called out, "There's a closet back here full of silver bikinis and go-go boots."
"Well, that's their uniform," Grandpa said.
"Oh, I know," said Evander. "I was a huge fan of Major Tom and Destiny Nova. They formed the Society for Intergalactic Space Babes!"
"Ideally," said Grandpa, I'd have brought a female sidekick along, and then you could have abandoned me and joined their group to explore space. That's how it usually goes."
"Explore space in a silver bikini? I don't think so." Evander returned to the front seat. The boy was six feet tall and well muscled, with closely-cropped brown hair and a square jaw. He wore the kind of retro space suit that would have made Buck Rogers proud. "Now if I could date an alien space babe -- one like Sally Stardust, with green hair -- that'd be awesome!" He pulled a picture from his suit and placed it on the ship dash. "Isn't she beautiful? I'd bang her in a second!"
The girl pictured had green hair, solid blue eyes, pale skin, and antenna -- but was otherwise a sexy space babe in a silver bikini.
"Yeah, sure," Grandpa muttered.
"I'm really excited to be exploring out in space!" said Evander. "My goal is to sleep with an alien babe, and since we're working for the space babes, that's bound to happen! I mean, I was hoping we'd get have missions halfway across the galaxy, but I didn't really think it'd happen so quickly. So what are we looking for anyway?"
Even as he said this, the planet in question appeared in the view port -- a blue-green planet very similar to earth, but with unfamiliar land masses. Grandpa gripped the steering wheel tighter. The ship entered orbit, then began to descend.
"5E?" asked Evander.
"A division of the Eieio (pronounced Ee-Yow) Empire government," Grandpa said. "The Space Babes work for them, so that's who we're really working for. It stands for Eieio Empire Endowment and Encouragement Enforcement...."
He paused. An alarm was sounding. Red lights lit the cockpit. "What is it?" asked Evander.
"WARNING!" a computer voice boomed out. "ENGINES ARE WITHOUT POWER. WARNING!"
"We've lost all engine power!" Grandpa exclaimed. "I don't know what to do -- I'm not actually a pilot! The computer's supposed to take care of everything!"
The computer repeated, "WARNING! ENGINES ARE WITHOUT POWER! WARNING!"
The two watched, helpless, as their ship plummeted to the planet surface.
Grandpa awoke in a field of grass and flowers. He was not surprised to awake from a hard ship crash -- he was used to surviving impossible situations, or at least being revived after death. But he expected to be in great pain, and he was not. He felt -- normal.
He sat up. In fact, he felt better than normal -- younger, stronger, in better health. He blinked. There was ship debris all around him. He was also stark naked.
There was no sign of his clothing anywhere. The ship was utterly destroyed, reduces to chunks of smoldering metal. But around him birds sang and chirped in the trees. It was a warm, sunny day. He flexed his arms, then glanced down at his crotch. That part of him felt revitalized, too.
There was a moan nearby. He approached a pile of debris to find his sidekick buried beneath it. He knelt down, then paused. The person looked like his sidekick, to a degree -- that is, the face was similar to Evander's, but with more delicate features, and framed by long, auburn hair. This was clearly a young woman, there was no mistaking it. For one thing, she was also naked, and her breasts were fully exposed. Grandpa glanced away, feeling something stir within him that he hadn't felt in years. He felt ashamed. She looked to be all of sixteen or seventeen, and he was over a century old. Also he assumed she was really Evander -- quite apart from the facial similarities, there should be no other human on the planet.
The girl opened her eyes. "Grandpa?" she asked. "What happened? Did we crash?"
Grandpa Anarchy frowned. How did one explain this?
A large metal beam lay across the girl's neck and shoulders. Her legs and arms were also pinned. "Yes. We crashed," Grandpa replied. "Your body... um... I don't know how to put this...."
The girl's eyes went wide. "I'm injured, aren't I?" she asked. "Is it bad? Tell me, Grandpa; give it to me straight -- I can take it."
"No, you seem... perfectly healthy, It's just...." Grandpa's voice faltered. "That is... um... I mean you're not...."
"Am I going to die?" the girl asked.
"No," Grandpa said firmly. "Look, let's get you free from there. That's the first thing."
Soon the girl was free. She stared down at her body in horror. "Grandpa, what's happened to me?" she cried out, her voice going higher. "Why am I a girl?"
"That's... one question which I am rarely asked," said Grandpa. "Although on reflection, it's not as rare as you'd think. I don't know the answer. What I do know is that we crashed, but we're somehow just fine... except that you're a girl."
"Crashing spaceships don't cause people to change genders!" the girl said, beginning to panic.
"Not normally, in my experience," Grandpa replied. "Although I can't say I've been in a lot of spaceship crashes, so perhaps the sample size is too small...."
"This doesn't make any sense!"
"Now, calm down, girl," Grandpa said. He thought of her as the girl because trying to reconcile the image of this naked girl with that of his former sidekick Evander the Explorer hurt his brain. "Panicking won't solve anything. The good news is that we registered your physical and genetic profile with 5E before we left, so assuming we get off this planet they can always transform you back. Let's explore this place and see what we can find. We really don't got much choice in the matter anyway, and we probably want to find shelter before nightfall. There aren't any pieces of the ship large enough to suffice...."
The grass was soft beneath their bare feet. Insects buzzed, but no mosquitoes or wasps bothered them. Butterflies drifted on sunlight. The whole planet seemed to be more curated park than actual wilderness.
"There's something weird about this place," Grandpa said. "It's too perfect. It reminds me of something, but I'm not sure exactly what..."
"You know, Grandpa," girl Evander said. "It's not just me that's changed. You look a lot younger and more muscular, too. More... viral."
"Viral!" exclaimed Grandpa. "Why, I ain't been viral in a whale's age!"
They wandered through meadows filled with clover and bright flowers. They crested a hill. Below them was a valley with a lake. The smooth surface of the water was like crystal. There were snow-capped mountains in the distance. Grandpa knew that nature could be picturesque, but this scene reminded him of a Bob Ross painting, full of happy rocks and happy trees. It was a little too perfect to be real.
He glanced up. "Now that's a strange-looking fruit," he said. Branches of the tree hung low with very large, white fruit that was almost box-shaped.
Grandpa picked one. "Careful," said the girl. "We don't know what's safe to eat."
"I have a feeling that everything is safe on this planet," Grandpa replied. He pried down the sides of the boxy fruit, which peeled back like a banana. Inside was revealed a more obviously box-like interior. It looked like a large, square nut, but this also opened, like a box from Chinese take-out.
"Why, it's a fried chicken lunch!" Grandpa exclaimed. He pulled a chicken breast from the box and bit into it. "Tastes just like chicken!" he exclaimed. "More than that -- it tastes like the best fried chicken I've ever had!"
"Are you sure this is safe to eat?" asked the girl. "If it turns you into a woman too, don't come crying to me."
"I think I'm safe," Grandpa replied. "I don't know what it is about this planet, but everything seems designed to make us as comfortable as possible. I don't think we'll starve, at any rate."
They sat in the grass and ate lunch, then continued to explore. They followed a stream and soon came upon a small pool. Steam arose from the water, which bubbled up from underground. With moss-covered rocks that encircled the pool, it seemed like a natural hot tub.
"A natural hot springs!" Grandpa exclaimed. "Hotcha! I don't know about you, but I'm getting in!"
Grandpa tested the water, then stepped in. "What if it's a trap?" asked the girl.
"This whole planet is a trap," Grandpa replied. "But a very comfortable one." He sunk to his neck in the steaming water. "Oh, that feels amazing! Why, there's sand at the bottom of the pool, and rocks that form a ledge to sit on...."
The girl folded her arms beneath her breasts. "Grandpa," she said, "we're stranded on a very weird alien world, and however pleasant and accommodating it might be, we've been trapped here against our will and I've been transformed into a freakin' girl! I can't help but feel that you're not taking this seriously enough!"
Grandpa Anarchy stared up at the girl. "Oh, I know all that," he said. "This planet is a cage -- a very pretty cage created to keep us comfortable, but a cage nonetheless. But that don't mean I can't enjoy a relaxing soak in a natural hot springs. You should join me -- I mean, we're already naked, so why not?"
The girl sighed, but eventually she did slip into the pool and sank up to her neck. Water soaked her hair.
After a relaxing bath, the two climbed from the pool. There were no towels, but they dried quickly in the warm air. They continued their search, but very quickly came across something new.
It was a bed. It sat in a beautiful clearing beneath the cover of a large tree. It wasn't just any bed, either -- larger than a king-sized mattress, in the shape of a valentine, with red and pink and white satin sheets and pillows and comforters.
Grandpa frowned. "Now that," he said, "is taken straight out of a love hotel, I'd swear."
"What, are we supposed to sleep together on it?" the girl asked.
"Do you want to?" Grandpa asked.
"No!" the girl exclaimed. "Not a chance!"
"Me neither," Grandpa said. "But this confirms what I've been suspecting all along." He stepped into the clearing and called out, "Okay Yahweh or Elohim or whatever you're calling yourself! The jig is up! Come out where we can see you!"
In a blinding flash of light, god appeared.
He shined so brightly that it hurt to look at him. It was like staring into the sun. He cast shadows on the ground in all directions. But what you could see, in quick glances and sidelong views, was not exactly what you might expect. The man was tall enough, and balding, with a white beard -- but that beard was scraggly and unkempt, and his robes were tattered and torn. If the gods dwell on Mount Olympus, then this was the god who slept in the gutter and begged for change during the day so that he could afford a bottle of nectar.
"I AM YAHWEH!" the god boomed. "WHO DARES SUMMON ME?"
"Hah!" Grandpa barked. He danced a little jig around the clearing. "One of the Shaggy Gods! I knew it! These jokers all think they're the one true god of Israel -- call themselves Yahweh or Elohim or Jehovah. They all model themselves after the god of the Bible."
"I DO NOT!" the god exclaimed. "I AM THE ONE TRUE YAHWEH, YOUR LORD AND GOD!"
"Let's get one thing straight: you ain't no god of mine," Grandpa snarled. He glanced at his sidekick. "They set up a garden of Eden on some paradise world somewhere, then try to trap an Adam an an Eve so that they can play out the whole creation myth all over again."
The girl's eyes grew wide with horror. "Wait a minute. Doesn't that make me...."
"Yes. You're Eve," Grandpa said. "Mother to an entire race of humans -- at least, if this joker gets his way." He paused, then added, "This planet, Dilmun -- that's probably some ancient word for Eden, isn't it?"
"WHAT IF IT IS?" the god replied. "BY THE WAY, THIS IS NOT THE PLANET YOU WERE ORBITING. WE ARE SIXTY MILLION LIGHT YEARS DISTANCE FROM DILMUN. I HAVE SEEDED MANY PLANETS IN THIS MANNER, EACH WITH ITS OWN ADAM AND EVE, PROGENITORS OF A NEW RACE OF PEOPLE, FAR FROM THE PRYING EYES OF ANY WHO MIGHT SEEK TO INTERFERE."
"We're not going to participate, you know," Grandpa said. "We refuse to take part in your little Bible fantasies."
"OH," said the god, "I DO NOT NEED WILLING PARTICIPANTS. I AM GOD; I CAN MAKE YOU DO AS I WISH."
Grandpa Anarchy charged the god suddenly. He flew at him, swinging. His fist collided with the god's chin, driving him back. The god stumbled, more from shock than from any actual injury. He rubbed his chin.
"HOW DARE YOU?" he bellowed. "I AM YOUR GOD!"
"I told you, Moron -- you ain't no god of mine!" Grandpa snarled. "I'll strike you as often and as hard as it pleases me to do so! I'm a hero -- I punch people more powerful than me for a living, and I've been doing it for over a hundred years, and no tin pot, delusional, faux-divine Yahweh wannabe is gonna stop me!"
"Yeah!" Evander replied, raising her fists. "Same here!"
Yahweh glared at Grandpa Anarchy and Evander the Explorer, fury in his eyes. "YOU TWO ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE THE ADAM AND EVE OF THIS NEW WORLD!"
"Well, good," said Grandpa, "because I...."
There was a flash. Grandpa found himself gripping the steering wheel of their spaceship, and staring through thick glass at a sea of stars. He blinked.
"Well!" he said. "That worked out better than we probably could have hoped." He grinned. "Now that's how you deal with a god! Stupid Shaggy Gods, always trying to recreate the garden of Eden! I ain't having it! Now we just need to get back to S.I.B.S. headquarters and file our report explaining why people near Dilmun are disappearing, and to warn everyone to steer clear of that stupid planet -- unless, you know, some young couple wants to be trapped in a garden of Eden...."
"Um," a feminine voice said. Grandpa frowned. A familiar naked girl sat in the passenger seat. Belatedly, Grandpa realized he was also naked.
"Well, crap," Grandpa said after a few moments. "Mind you, the S.I.S.B. can change you back... but I'm gonna look like a danged fool in a silver bikini and go-go boots...."