It was one of those 33rd century days where the sun beat down on the inhabitants of the Earth with one of the highly intensive beams of light for which it is famous for. On those kind of days, most of the residents of the city of Hugopolis, in the country that used to be known as the United States of America, tended to head up north to their cabins in the lake district, if finances permitted them such a luxury. It was especially important for them since, being canine beings, an outer layer of thick fur had implanted itself on their bodies, as it had for more than a millennium. In such situations, the only thing they could think of during the increasingly hot summers of future time was making sure they kept cool, quickly and constantly. Vis, the constant and continued use of the beach.
On this particular day, a group of young puppies had spent several hours grafting together sand, rocks and seashells in what, in their naïve youthful hopes, would serve as a lasting monument to their greatness for future generations. But it was destined to last not even for that afternoon.
Shortly after its completion, the castle, victim of fate as it was, was brutally stomped upon by a heavily booted foot, connected to a long brown limb, which was part of a matching set encased in a dark black bikini, monogrammed in white with the initials “J.B.” on both parts. Jefferson Ball, adventuress, businesswoman, and heroic savior of the universe (at least in her own mind) was on the prowl, looking to advance, for her own selfish reasons, her record of sexual conquests. And, for Jefferson, her own desires always came ahead of everyone else’s.
This is why she did not notice her treacherous desecration of the little kingdom of sand until she was abruptly surrounded on all sides by four miniature specimens of canine humanity, two of each gender, who furiously growled at her. This ended when Jefferson, pushing the darker fur at the top of her head up with a well muscled limb, growled back at them with a greater ferocity.
“Beat it, kids!” Jefferson said, with all the innate sensitivity that was available to her. “You bother me!”
“You stomped on our castle!” said one of the boys, a grey furred youth, with a subtle hint as to Jefferson’s malediction.
Jefferson, with all the strength she could muster through her blue eyes, looked at the ruined wreck of the castle very closely. Her response? An indifferent shrug.
“Tough!” she said, with as much sentimentality as before. “You should know better than to build it where people walk!” She pulled off her boots, shook out a considerable portion of sand, and then placed them back on her feet. “A body could collect enough sand in their shoes with you guys around to make up their OWN beach!”
Feeling a small pain in her left leg, she glanced down again, where a small white female was kicking at the leg with her own as if it were a blown car tire.
“Bully! Bully! Bully!” was all that was being said, but the anger encompassed feelings that were more profane.
Tired of being a target for such abuse, as it was cutting into her valuable boy watching time, Jefferson scooped up her miniature nemeses in one fell swoop, gave them a quick juggler’s toss, and deposited them back on the ground.
“Now get this, punks!” she snapped at them. “Jefferson Ball does what she wants, when she wants and when it is that she wants to do it. And I don’t appreciate being called out for little lapses of taste and judgment for every little thing I do! So if you don’t want little black eyes and little black lips, you get out of my way and get out of here!”
There was nothing for them to do, being small, defenseless children, but cry and run away, which was what they did.
Satisfied with herself, Jefferson continued on her way, until running into her best friend, business partner and moral consciousness, Hamilton Pomeranian.
Having crammed her slightly dumpy body into a none too slimming orange bikini in emulation of her friend, Hamilton now stood directly in her path. The scowl on her face communicated her severe and ever present disgust with her friend’s actions in a way few words could.
“What was that all about, Jefferson?” Hamilton demanded.
“Whatever do you mean?” answered Jefferson, feigning innocence, like the beach bunny she only appeared to be.
“You know what you did!” said Hamilton, pointing back to the ruin of where the magnificent structure of sand once stood.
Jefferson turned back and looked at the area. Then she said, simply:
“It was in my path.”
“Yes.” answered Hamilton. “But you easily could have walked around it. You didn’t have to go crush the artistic desires and dreams of innocent children!”
Jefferson sighed softly to herself. It was commonplace- too commonplace, in fact- for Hamilton to call her out for her supposed lack of concern for other people. It wasn’t that she didn’t care, but that she just preferred, as a professional hero type, to prioritize situations where she could take heroic action without messing up her fur. Hamilton, being the pure hearted pragmatic type, was not likely to understand this, and never would, as far as her friend was concerned.
It was with this in mind that Jefferson raised and arched her eyebrows, crossed her arms in place, and resumed the verbal sparring she was accustomed to engaging in with her best friend.
“Look, Ham…” Jefferson began. “…I got priorities, and they’re not the same as other people’s…”
“Darn right they’re not!” snapped Hamilton, crossing her own arms. “You’ve got to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around you, Jefferson Ball!”
“I have never once said that it did!”
“But everything you do speaks volumes otherwise!”
“Just shut up and let me talk, you oversexed idiot! You can’t just assume everyone was put on this Earth to serve your whims and encourage all of your paranoid speculations!”
“Such as what?”
“That the boys are all out to get you just ‘cause you get turned down once out of a 'thousand' times…”
“Hamilton, if you don’t stop, I’ll smash in your lips!”
“Oh, you’d really beat up your only 'real' friend in the world, huh?”
“I would. I sure WOULD.”
Hamilton should have been intimidated by that last remark, but she wasn’t. She knew better. Jeff might be bigger than her, but she could put her to shame when it came to pistol-whipping. This only made Jeff even more eager to kick her butt.
This confrontation was, however, interrupted by a giant white form, the mother of one of the kids Jefferson had wronged, clearly. She grabbed Jefferson and spun her around.
“Jefferson Ball?” she demanded loudly.
“Yep,” replied the owner of the name. “What can I do you for? An autograph, perhaps?”
Perhaps not. The female raised her giant fist and conked Jefferson on the head. Her body went straight down into the Earth, with only her head remaining above ground.
Hamilton, relieved that for once she did not have to be the one to give Jefferson her just desserts, attempted futilely to suppress a titter which exploded into a full scale laugh that paralyzed her on the ground.
“Shut up, you backstabbing traitor!” Jefferson growled humorlessly at her friend, before bellowing even more loudly to anyone in general:
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
Despite the fact that Jeff weighed only a petite 150 pounds, it took several hours for the lifeguard staff to extricate her from her predicament. For one thing, none of them was strong or delicate enough to lift her out; for another, even with Jefferson’s own formidable and fearsome physical strength, she was unable to spring herself loose due to the mechanics of her imprisonment. Eventually, however, they found a way to get her out by having a cherry picker scoop her up out of the ground, a humiliating experience that did little to salve the wounds to our heroine’s ego.
Once freed, Jefferson stormed off to find the false friend who had deserted her. She found Hamilton in the bar of the hotel where they were staying, where her associate was nursing what was obviously not her first pina colada.
“Oh, hi Jeff.” Hamilton said, in a half-drunken voice.
“Don’t you ‘Hi, Jeff’ me, you…” She searched her limited vocabulary for a word which could describe her associate that was neither profane nor blasphemous, and after a long period of time she found it.
Hamilton, still somewhat sober, was quickly on her feet.
“That, madam…” she said, insulted, “…is one thing I’m not!”
“Then prove it!” snarled Jeff, as a rubbernecking crowd gathered around them, expecting a fight. “Take back everything you said about me today!”
"I WON’T!” declared Hamilton. “Because all of it is TRUE! You haven’t done a thing to earn my friendship, and you never WILL! As far as I’m concerned, you can ROT IN HELL!”
Jefferson, furious, lunged at her best friend, only to have that smaller creature slip underneath her with the grace and agility of the ex-soldier she was, again in spite of her mild inebriation. Then she sauntered defiantly away and upstairs to her (or rather, their) room.
“Hamilton Pomeranian!” Jefferson thundered. “You get back here and get what’s coming to you!” And she sped off in pursuit of her now ex-chum.
In her anger, she did not notice the small white dog wearing the red cape, gold chains and black leotards who was now standing in her path. And likewise, she did not notice her booted foot crunching down on the figure’s bare toes- until it was too late and the creature yelped, almost dropping the heavy wand she was carrying.
“Watch where you’re going, dingbat!” Jefferson snapped at her while cursing beneath her breath. “Now get out of the way before I nip your neck!”
“FOOL!” answered the creature. “Thou has trod upon the toes of Valencia, Queen Of The Mages! Thy penalty will be as harsh and as fatal as thy impudence!”
“Yeah, yeah!” Jefferson said dismissively. “Give me your number and I’ll…”
“SILENCE, MORTAL!” ordered the spirit. “I am well aware of thou and thine activities, and thy actions shall not go unpunished! When thou least expects it, thou shalt face punishment worse than anything thou couldst imagine!”
“Don’t you “Silence, mortal” me, you little wand waver!” Jefferson returned. “Jefferson Ball doesn’t buy into your hoary old superstitious BUNK! It’ll take far more than that to scare me, kid!”
“Another rudeness!” snapped Valencia. “Mortal, thou uncoils the very depths of my fury…”
“Of course I do!” Jefferson cut her off. “And I’ll probably keep on doing it unless you either get out of my way or I BREAK YOUR NECK!”
And with that, the furious heroine of outer space stormed past the being from another even higher plane of existence, unaware of what that being was prepared to do to gain her vengeance.
Following consumption of two Manhattans and a Cosmopolitan in the hotel bar, Valencia, Queen Of The Mages, retired to her room to plot her revenge against that foul fiend, Jefferson Ball. And, after a consultation of her heavy book of spells, she found what she needed.
“Of course!” she said as she observed the spell on the page. “’Death By Human Hands’! And since those beings have not existed here for thousands of years, I can commit the deed through one of them and no one shall suspect that I was involved at all!” The laugh that followed this statement only underlined her malicious intentions.
For she not only had a human being in mind to do the deed, it was of a particular type from whom she felt Ms. Ball would find it quite hard to extricate herself…
His name, quite simply, was Paul. He stood over six feet tall, weighed 250 pounds, and was well proportioned in all his features. His one outstanding feature was his skin color, a dark black that resembled the exterior of a particularly exotic and decadent chocolate candy. He was the kind of human being that in more enlightened times would be known as “African-American”, but he was never called that. In 1850, in Georgia, his type of people were more likely to be referred to rudely when they were not being treated with a barbaric tyranny that even the ancient Romans would have found excessive.
Paul was an unpaid day laborer (or, if you prefer, a slave) on Charles Stovall’s cotton plantation, located halfway between Atlanta and Savannah. Even though he received no monetary remuneration for his work, and was sorely abused for even minor infractions against the will and aims of his master, he was almost perversely happy. Having been denied the right to read, write and think for himself, Paul was locked within the confines of a daily routine- laboring in the fields during the week, making merriment with his friends on Saturday evenings, and worshipping his Lord and Savior, whom he was convinced would eventually “deliver” him, on Sundays. As far as he was concerned, there was no finer way for a body to live, and wouldn’t “’low” no one to vary it in any way.
But that fateful evening, it was. As soon as Paul entered his cabin and fell asleep that evening, he would be transported beyond his control far into the future and commence an adventure even he would find hard to believe…
Almost as soon as Valencia finished her Gothic chant, the black skinned man named Paul landed on top of one of the two twin beds in her hotel room.
“Arise, demon!” Valencia commanded him. “Prepare for your mission!”
The simple-minded human being had, of course, no idea what she was talking about, and figured the only sure fire way was to ask her.
“Wha’ you talkin’ ‘bout, Miz Lady?” Paul said. “I’se no demon, I is simply a field han’…”
“What you are in your homeland, fool, is of no consequence to me!” the witch answered. “I have summoned you here to perform a service for me, and you will be returned to your native land once it is performed. But until that time comes, you are to perform those duties entirely to my satisfaction, and in due time. Do you understand?”
“I s’pose I does…” said Paul, twisting his hat in his hands, “only I des’ wants to know why y’chose me fer this job!”
“Certainly!” Valencia took a deep, calming breath, trying to find some reasonable way to explain to this inferior life form why she needed his assistance.
“I could not possibly commit the murder I want to perform with these puny little paws of mine!”
“I’se no murderer!” Paul answered, outraged. “I’se a clean living…”
“SILENCE!” commanded Valencia, as fire stormed out of her eyes and behind her back. “I have already been disrespected ONCE this evening, and if thou even DAREST to communicate such feelings to me again, thou shalt suffer the same fate as the one I brought you here to kill! Now remain silent whilst I give thou thine instructions!”
Paul could do nothing based on this command, but he still felt some confused feelings about what she was asking him to do. Yet expressing these feelings, for the time being, was out of the question.
Valencia, without wasting a second, placed a picture of Jefferson Ball in Paul’s massive hand.
“Your mission, demon…” she said, oblivious to how he felt about being addressed in this manner, “…is to track down this being and KILL her! She has wronged me and will suffer for her misdeeds!”
At the word “kill”, a staggering chill went through Paul’s spine. He knew very well what happened to black people in his world who committed the sinful act of killing. Very often, they ended up getting killed in retribution themselves, especially if the person they killed happened to have white skin. It was for this reason that he sadly began to shake his head.
“Miz Lady…” he said softly. “…I’se unable to do that. I’se no killer! I lives by the Good Book and…”
Valencia’s white fur took on a pallor of red as a heated spasm of anger seized her person.
“You are in no position to give orders or refusals, demon!”
she informed him. “You were chosen by me with an intended purpose in mind, and you will undertake this purpose IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN ALIVE! Now, remove yourself from my quarters, and do not return until you have completed your task!”
“Yes’m!” said Paul meekly.
He knew an order when he heard it. And he also knew that if he was to return home- or stay alive- he would have to follow through on it.
Jefferson, meanwhile, had managed to make her way back to the room she and Hamilton had been sharing up until now. As she expected, the door was firmly locked; Hamilton, in one of her typical fits of anger, had locked herself away from the world- and her ex-best buddy. Clearly, if Jefferson wanted access to the room that was half hers until the following morning, she would have to gain it by force.
With a firm display of strength, Jefferson placed both paws on the door and tugged on it. It would not budge. Cursing under her breath, she tried lifting it up off its hinges, but even with her strength, one that regularly toppled alien invaders and marauding robots alike, nothing happened.
“Hamilton…” she bellowed at the closed door “…stop fooling around and open this door!”
“Never!” came the answer. “Not until you apologize!”
“I have nothing to apologize for!”
“Aaah, get lost!” Jefferson said, cursing under her breath yet again. “I don’t need you!”
And she went out to take the evening air- and sleep.
Her efforts at finding shelter elsewhere in the hotel came to naught, as every other room in the facility that night was occupied. Angrily flipping the bird to the night clerk who soberly informed her of this, Jefferson stalked out of the hotel in what she hoped would be a more successful attempt to finish out the night in peaceful slumber. What she failed to notice was the incredibly large and weighty shadow behind her, and the equally weighty figure who was its owner.
Jefferson, with her pursuer behind her, strolled away from the hotel and towards the now deserted beach. She had no idea what was to befall her, at least not yet. Finally, she found a patch of sand that seemed to suit her, and she began to attempt the slumber that would erase both her inebriation and her anger.
Paul followed her soon afterward, and silently surveyed the quarry he had been assigned. Looking her over carefully to find out the difference between her top and her bottom, he silently said a prayer to his maker to ensure that he would be forgiven under the circumstances of his actions. Then he seized her by the rust colored pelt on her head and prepared to choke the life out of her with his hands.
It was at this point that Jefferson woke up.
She screamed, not one of those paranoid banshee yells that scared women used to utter in the movies, but a savage, grunting yell that was more suited to her heroic persona. The yell uttered by Paul in response was much more in keeping with the former category, as he was definitely scared of his now aroused quarry.
Before he could do anything else, she had violently wrenched herself free from his grasp, with only a few follicles lost, and had her paw deftly arched towards the left side of her body and down towards her boot, where she kept the majority of her weaponry. From this, she extracted her main weapon, a whip she affectionately referred to as “Whippy”, and cracked it at him.
She expected him to do anything except what he did next, which was to get down on his knees and beg for mercy.
Wow, she said to herself. It’s a human being! There haven’t been too many of those around recently. But what does he want here- and with me?
For Paul, the sight of this alien creature- or anyone bearing a whip, for that matter- was enough to reduce him to a whimpering, quivering mass. Where he came from, the overseer’s whip was a constantly maintained and utilized symbol of authority. It rained down blows on anyone who dared to defy him, for the vast majority of overseers and masters in 19th century Georgia were quick tempered people who could hardly be called “kind”. Therefore, when Jefferson brandished her whip, Paul reacted in the manner that had been burned into his people’s DNA for decades- a fearful attempt to save himself from a fate worse than death.
“Please, Miz Lady!” Paul begged. “Don’t whip me fo’ my mistakes! I di’n’ wan’ to do this! D’other Miz Lady, she tol’ me she wan’ me to kill you or she kill me! I don’ wanna die! Please, Miz Lady, I…”
“Relax, fella!” Jefferson cut him off. “I wasn’t trying to kill you- just trying to figure you out. I don’t think you’d be able to kill me, even if you wanted to. You haven’t got the guts, anyway. What do they call you?”
“Paul, Miz Lady.” he answered deferentially.
“Never mind the “Miz Lady” jazz, kid.” Jefferson replied. “I have a name- it’s Jefferson Ball. Everyone around here knows it, and you should, too. Now, tell me why you were trying to kill me, and who set you up to do it, before I actually do try to whip you!”
Despite the threat at the end of the sentence, Jefferson’s overall tone was friendly, even self-mocking. More importantly, the way in which she spoke to him was not the manner in which he was accustomed. In no way did she imply that she was superior to him. So though he had known her only briefly, Paul felt he could trust her.
“I would tell y’, Jef’son…” Paul told her. “But I sus’pe’t you won’t believe it.”
“You’d be surprised, if you knew what I’ve been through in my life.” Jefferson told him. “Lay it on me.”
And so, Paul told her about how he fell asleep in 1850 Georgia and woke up in this strange world. And about the strange female who brought him there. Jefferson immediately recognized her from the visual picture he painted.
“I know that girl,” she said. “Got mad just ‘cause I stepped on her foot in the bar. But I didn’t think she’d hold a grudge strong enough to kill me.”
“I certainly understands,” said Paul. “She threaten’ to kill me if I does nothin’ to kill you.”
“Nobody’s killing you, or me, or anybody else tonight,” said Jefferson. “You and I are going to see to that. And to make sure you get back to Georgia to pick the next crop.”
“Den we gotta be careful! Miz Valencia, she plum crazy!”
“Don’t worry about her!” said Jefferson, with a touch of the fox in her voice. “I can out crazy her any day!”
And so it was that the heroine of a thousand space battles and the confused and intimidated black slave began speaking, as equals, about how they were to escape from their current predicament. As Jefferson spoke with him, you would hardly have considered her the same person who had acted like a mean spirited egotist earlier that day, so absorbed was she in listening to her new friend talk. For Paul’s part, he enjoyed being with somebody who had no reservations about speaking to him as if his views and ideas really mattered. Perhaps she was right. Maybe there was more to life than this “slave” business. Maybe life would be better if he attempted to go up north on the “Underground Railroad” to the free states. And he couldn’t believe that other people thought she was selfish and self centered. What if she spoke and acted towards others the way she was with him- with respect? Jefferson thought for a moment and reasoned that the man had something going with that.
Unfortunately, this reverie was not destined to last. Valencia, looking through her crystal ball to determine why that shiftless black man had not yet returned with Jefferson’s corpse, soon spotted them. As before, anger, the primary emotion she associated with both of them, seized her petite body. Uttering a transportation spell with vicious venom, she abruptly disappeared from the room.
She reappeared, with a flourish of fog, in front of Jefferson and Paul.
“So!” she snapped at Paul, ignoring Jefferson. “You have not fulfilled your end of our arrangement, demon! You know what that means!”
Jefferson inserted herself deftly between Valencia and Paul before anything unsavory could occur.
“Oh no, you don’t!” she said. “Paul isn’t afraid of you anymore. And he’s not doing any more “favors” for you. Isn’t that right, Paul?”
“Dat’s right, Jef’son!” answered Paul. “Miz Valencia, you wuz wrong in tryin’ to kill Jef’son! She ain’t never hurt nobody on purpose, des’ like me. So you just send me back and I’ll…”
“Enough out of you, creature!” stormed Valencia, turning her attention to Jefferson now. “I will say one thing for you, you so called “hero”. Your insolence is contagious! But I will now rid myself of both of you PERMANENTLY!”
She whipped out her wand and prepared to cast a spell on both of them. But she had reckoned without the speed and cunning of Jefferson Ball. The heroine of space, with split second timing, stepped in front of the master of magic and clamped her meaty forepaws around the smaller ones of her opponent.
“So you wish to challenge me, mortal?” Valencia said smugly. “Well, I will give you a fight you will NEVER forget!”
She wrenched her left forepaw free of Jefferson’s grasp and socked her powerfully on the jaw. Jefferson was taken aback, and therefore Valencia was able to drop her on the ground with another powerful punch. But then Jefferson’s dander was aroused. Fighting back, she pounced on the mage and wrestled with her as Paul cheered her on. It lasted for several minutes, Valencia ineptly trying to cast a spell on Jefferson, Jefferson struggling to wrap her forepaws around Valencia’s muscular throat, and both yanking precious fur from each other’s pelts. Finally, Jefferson shoved her smaller foe into the ground face first, and, before there could be any retaliation, snatched the wand from the witch’s paw and broke it in half.
“MY WAND!” shouted Valencia as she heard the snapping. As she fondled its remnants in the ground, Jefferson raised her foot and kicked her into the arms of her black friend.
“Now, you gotta do what we say now, Vally!” said Jefferson. “That is, unless you don’t want Paul here crushing you into a thousand little nuggets. Right, Paul?”
“Dat’s right, Jef’son!” said Paul, holding Valencia precariously by her cape. “And I sus’pect I can get rid o’ her and still go to Hebbin likes I planned!”
“All right!” moaned Valencia. “But, please, let me live! And return my wand to me!”
“Only if you get Paul back to his home,” Jefferson snapped. “And then make yourself scarce after you do, and never come back to my planet again!”
Valencia nodded. For once, she had no choice in the matter.
So it was that Jefferson Ball, as the sun rose that morning, bade a fond farewell to Paul the slave as he exited into a portal created just before by Valencia the mage before she made herself scarce as ordered. More than a couple of tears were shed by both, despite the seemingly vast differences in race, gender and species between them.
Jefferson’s sadness lasted only a couple of minutes before she spotted Hamilton exiting the hotel, having checked out while she was not entirely sober. Maybe there was still a chance for Jefferson to salvage the other friendship in her life.
With that thought, Jefferson walked towards Hamilton in hopes of mediating a reconciliation. She didn’t have to wait long.
“It was my fault,” Hamilton said when Jefferson attempted an apology. “I abandoned you. I got scared, and I got drunk, which is what I do when I get scared. I should have dug you up.”
“Well, it didn’t help that I was being the world’s number one fool again!” Jefferson said. “But I did help somebody out with their problems…”
“Give me some credit, will ya?” Jefferson responded. “Come on. I’ll tell you on the way back to town.”
And she began portraying the events of the previous night to her friend as they ventured towards Hamilton’s car.
When he returned to 1850 Georgia, Paul was quick to inform his friends of his travels the previous night. Nobody believed him.
-- By David Perlmutter