By Steven Dexheimer
Knottog let out a sigh of relief as his spacecraft landed gently in an uninhabited forest clearing. It had been a long journey from his home planet of Pertia. Correction, the weary traveler thought, his former home planet. Earth would be his new home now. Since childhood, Knottog had dreamed of traveling to another planet. Now he was here at last. The alien opened the ship’s outer hatch slowly, unsure of how his body would react to an oxygen-rich atmosphere. However, not only did he find the air breathable, it was also quite to his liking. After taking in a deep breath, Knottog ducked back inside the ship in order to change into his Earthling clothes.
Earl turned the ignition key again. The truck engine made a few feeble whirring sounds, then shuttered to a halt. With an exasperated sigh, Earl got out and poked his head under the raised hood once more. His eyes scanned the inert engine, looking for anything out of place or broken, but whatever was wrong with it seemed to be beyond his knowledge to fix. He straightened and glanced at the rundown little gas station he had pulled into ten minutes before. The sign, hung crookedly on the door, said “We’re Closed.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked it. It informed Earl that he was still out of service range. Shoving the phone back into his pocket, the luckless man considered his options. It was then that he heard a loud rustling coming from the tangle of trees across the road. From the amount of noise being made, Earl assumed that it was a deer trying to make its way out of the woods. Needless to say, he was surprised when a man burst from the tree line instead. This event wouldn’t have been overly strange to him except for the fact that the man was wearing a business suit…and his hair was green. Earl stared as the man casually brushed himself off, spotted him, smiled, and then walked across the road to join him.
“Hello,” said the stranger cheerily. “How are you today?”
“Hey,” said Earl, a little dubiously. “I’m…fine.”
“That is good to hear.”
“Uh-huh.” Earl shifted nervously.
“I was wondering,” continued the man, “if you might be able to drive me to the nearest town in your vehicle.”
“Ah no, I’m afraid I can’t. My, uh, vehicle broke down.” Earl gestured to the open hood. The strange man nodded.
“I see, and you are unable to make the necessary repairs?”
“Yeah, that’s about the size of it. I could sure use an expert right about now.”
Knottog’s face brightened. What an extraordinary coincidence! To his knowledge, no one from his former planet had ever made contact with Earth before. Yet here he was with an Earthling who had a specific need for a Pertian.
“You are in luck, sir, for I am one.” The man with the truck let out a sigh of relief.
“You’re an expert? Oh, thank goodness! Could you have a look at my engine? If you can fix it, I’ll be happy to drive you anywhere.” Knottog nodded and made his way over to the engine. He studied the machinery and frowned slightly. He knew his way around a space ship’s engine, but this looked nothing like it. Meanwhile the man had returned to the driver’s seat.
“Tell me when to turn the key!” He called out. Knottog began to fiddle with the engine; disconnecting a wire here, rerouting a belt there, and occasionally removing pieces that didn’t seem like they belonged. Finally, Knottog was satisfied. He peered around the hood and gave a wave to the man, who turned the key.
The engine exploded.
When the smoke cleared, Knottog was still standing in front of the engine, thoroughly singed, and with a look of mild surprise on his blackened face.
“I did not expect that to happen,” he said, calmly putting out the fire that was consuming his tie.
“What did you do?!” The man with the truck was furious.He stalked over to inspect what was left of his engine. “You idiot!” He bellowed. “I thought you said you were an expert!”
“I am an Ex-Pert,” said Knottog, rather indignantly.