by Christopher Walsh
The helmet. The helmet made him feel strong. He'd feel its perfect ball-ish roundness (ignoring the flattening of his head of hair) and pleasurably shiver. It was meant to be on his head. He was meant to be in this chair, at this panel, on this bridge, on this ship.
Gunner's Mate First Class Philip Asshole was finally, blessedly, home. As were Randall Asshole, William Asshole, Zachary Asshole, Hortense Asshole, Aloysius Asshole, Dan Asshole, Nico Asshole, Joseph Fripripskavitski (he'd taken his wife's name), Bruce Asshole, Owen Asshole and so many others. Now if Phillip could just get better at targeting, he'd be golden...
Family reunions were always a blast for the Assholes. Good, wholesome fun for all, even though their three-legged races were for crap. And the park would never let them put up their "Proud To Be Assholes" banner. And their barbecue tasted questionable. But it was FUN. Then it was fun, but a little harder to have fun. Then it was more less-fun. Then it was less-fun still. Then Assholes, and everyone else on Planet Spaceball, realized the less-fun was coming from it being harder to breathe. Then harder. Then harder. Then harder. It wasn't hard for just them. Trees seemed to sigh. Then the trees died. Then the sky was seemingly thinner, and less turquoiuse (with ever-less-vivid sunsets, not holding a candle to the plaid-colored sunsets of their youth).
Then one day it happened. The Assholes had come from far and wide, in their sphere-shaped cars, spherical hoverers, shelled bicycles, and rolling bubbles (anything that was round and could move), and were wheezing their way through their latest gathering (taking lots of breaks to crack open cans of V-Aerate; they couldn't afford Perri-Air) when the noon-time sun above Planet Spaceball was eclipsed. Everyone looked up.
"Wow! It's Spaceball One!" said the family matriarch, Clementine Asshole.
"And Spaceball Two!" said Lila Asshole.
"What?" said Dan.
"Sorry, I forgot my eyes were crossed," said Lila.
"It's huge!" said Owen, who gaped. The ship crossed the sky, and kept crossing it, and kept crossing it, as the Assholes watched and stayed impressed Assholes. "They finally launched it! Didn't think it was going to see the light of day."
"It's going to see ALL the light of day if it's that big," said Ian Asshole, the family cynic.
Philip Asshole didn't have to say anything. This Asshole had two thumbs and the knowledge that he HAD to get on that ship.
So he did.
Philip convinced the whole family that Spaceball One was the perfect place to have the NEXT Asshole family reunion, so why not make a trip to it? They'd just have to wait until they could get to it. That was accomplished easily enough; they just had to wait for it to land. After Spaceball One's test runs, the orbiting SpaceCrane above Planet Spaceball grabbed the ship, tilted it perpendicular to the planet, and lowered, lowered, lowered it until it set the ship gently, ever so gently, engines-first on the ground at Spaceball Space Central for final work. (Also, not that the Assholes or anyone else could prove it, but there being far less atmosphere made this far less dangerous to the ship.)
Camera-festooned and going "Ooooh" and "Ahhh," the Assholes joined the tourists who were milling about Spaceball Space Central and gawking at the immense cranes rising up alongside the towering ship, where workers seemingly the size of space-ants used their tools to make the vessel even better at the flying-through-space-and-terrifying-our-e
"Hey!" Hortense Asshole said. "They're hiring!"
The sign "HAVE A BALL. SOMEWHERE ELSE." was set up above a table with job applications and official-looking, grey-clad and grey-hatted officials standing around looking official (turned out they were good at THAT job, at least), and paperwork being sorted by white-clad and white-helmeted workers.
The helmet. Philip immediately coveted the helmet. He wanted to have the chance to rub it whenever he could. And remembered to covet the chance to rub his own helmet, because rubbing anyone else's would just be weird.
Philip, Randall, William, Zachary, Hortense, Aloysius, Dan, Nico, Lila, Joseph, Bruce, Owen and others walked as confidently as they could up to the table while Clementine watched proudly and Ian rolled his eyes, and Philip said "I would like to join!"
"Sure. Fine," the sitting man said, "Here, fill out that and that and that and that and that and that and that and that." The other Assholes fanned out along the table. Philip did his best to see the paper properly, he'd need to fill this out VERY correctly, just focus, focus...
"Are you kidding me?!" Lila Asshole said.
"Sorry. Not hiring. See the sign," said another sitting man farther down the table. Philip and the rest of the family looked up at the sign, and saw that it also said "NOT AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. WE DON'T HAVE TO BE. WE'RE EVIL."
Enraged, Lila Asshole said "No exceptions? No chances? You'd deny that?"
"Sorry, we're hiring only bearded ladies," he said. "We've met our quota."
Ian Asshole smirked. "I guess they're bigger assholes than us," he said.
Philip wasn't happy about what had happened, but with a serious look he finished filling in his application and handed it to the man, who handed it to one of the grey-clad men. Who looked at it. Then looked at Philip. And looked at it again. And looked at him again.
"...Phil?" the grey-clad man said, boomingly.
He then said, still boomingly, "Philip Frederick Misha Ralph Asshole? Is that you?"
All the Assholes stared at the grey-clad man. Boomingly (somehow, even though it involved only moving his hand and not actually saying anything), he pointed to the almost invisible name tag on the front of his uniform that said "MAJOR ASSHOLE."
"I can't believe I remember you! Hello, cousin! I'll come over there so I can hug you!" He did. Then, all (boomingly) business, he turned back to one of the table men and asked "Who have you hired?"
"Him and him and him and him and him and him and him and him and him and him and..."
"Good, I'll get them started," said Major Asshole. "This way!"
"Um, wait," said Nico Asshole, "how will we walk in that thing when it's standing on its end?"
"Don't worry," said Major Asshole, "the artificial gravity inside works almost ALL THE TIME."
Through. The Assholes moved through the bowels of Spaceball One. Through the hatchway, the airlocks, the gangplanks overlooking the nuclear reactors, the storage compartments, the hangars, the mess hall, the food generators, the ceremonial deck, the squash courts, the aquarium, the child care center, the elementary school, the middle school, the high school, the polytechnic institute, the college, the library, the HabiTrail maze, the McDonald's, the all-purpose chapel ("Choose Your Own Religious Experience!" and "Where is your god now? RIGHT HERE!" trumpeted the signs next to the door), the spa, the bank, the Akbar and Jeff Spaceball One Snack Hut ("Where the elite meet to eat reheated meaty treats"), the zoo, the bathroom, the dance hall, some tents but the Assholes weren't in the mood for a circus, the movie theater, the BallWoodGardensCenter shopping mall, the gym, the rubber chicken factory, and the radio station. They gawked.
"Here we are!" said Major Asshole. "Wardrobe. Uniforms are ready for you. Work the sleeves so they're loose enough to do the 'Hail Skroob!" salute."
"The sal...you mean we might really meet President Skroob?!" said William Asshole.
"Yes! You'll sometimes see him running by."
"Wow," said Aloysius.
On came the outfits. On came the helmets. Philip shivered.
"And now to training!" said Major Asshole.
Which they did. What they did? They did enough to keep their jobs. And their helmets.
...dammit, his targeting wasn't good enough. Maybe, he thought, Lila would've had better skills...
"Careful you idiot!" boomed the completely different booming voice of Lord Dark Helmet. "I said across her nose, not up it!"
Cripes. His bad. He had to face up to it. Philip stopped firing, turned from his post, raised his visor and said, "Sorry sir! I'm doing my best!"
"Who made that man a gunner?"
"I did sir. He's my cousin." Bless the man, coming to Philip's defense like that even in the face of Lord Helmet.
"Who is he?" asked Lord Helmet.
"He's an Asshole sir," Col. Sandurz said.
And Philip relaxed. That would be all the explanation needed. He looked over at Randall, William, Zachary, Hortense, Aloysius, Dan, Nico, Joseph, Bruce, Owen and all the others as they prepared to do more of their jobs. Jobs they could be proud of. Jobs their family could be proud of. And when all of them (except that one non-Asshole) stood and proudly yelled "Yo!" when Lord Helmet asked "How many assholes do we have on this ship, anyway?," Philip felt better still. Good. OK. Time to return to work. Happily, he pictured firing the perfect shot and prepared to do so as, echoing through the bridge, were the words "Keep firing, Assholes!"
1,513 words. Yes, this is fanfic based on this. And yes, I had too much fun writing it.