Welcome to Earth

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Ace woke with a start. He could feel Betty shaking, which was weird because the inertial dampeners kept vibrations to a minimum while in outer space. The ship only felt like that when they were flying through a planet's atmosphere. Or driving on the ground.

"Sumbitch!" Ace jumped out of bed and tapped a few commands on the data screen next to his bed. He called up the vital stats on the ship and wiped the sleep out of his eyes. He blinked hard and rubbed his eyes again. The screen read:

System calibrated and reading in local nomenclatureElevation: 337 feet above sea levelLocale: 35.514377, -89.262863 - Interstate 40 - "Music Highway," Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge, Brownsville, Tennessee, United States of America, North American Continent, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, Off Limits Sector of Space, Solar SystemGround speed: 74 miles per hour

"That crazy son of a bitch!" Ace tripped over his boots as he stormed out of his cabin. He continued cursing as he bounded down the corridor, in his socks and underwear, towards the cockpit.

Ace burst in and was shocked to see a strange man sitting in the driver's seat. The driver was an older human male with gray-blonde hair sticking out in tufts under a used-to-be-white mesh-backed hat. Emblazoned on the hat was an anchor and the words, "Pussy Admiral" written in puffy letters. He had a potbelly covered by a wrinkled flannel shirt and jeans with engine grease stains on the thighs. The man didn't notice Ace had barged in because he was singing Rockaway Beach by the Ramones at the top of his lungs.

"What the shit is this?" Ace yelled.

The man glanced back at Ace and giggled when his eyes passed over Ace's underwear, then turned back to the road. He never stopped singing. When the final cymbal hit rang out the man finally spoke.

"Glad you're up! Have a seat, man!" It was Ivan's voice.

"Ivan?" Ace sat down in the co-pilot seat.

"Yup!" the old trucker—Ivan—turned and flashed a smile. A few teeth were missing, and he hadn't shaved in about a week.

"Yeah! I pulled out one of the dazzlers from the Mustache Supernova gear we're hauling," Ivan said. "I rigged it to make me look like a real Earth trucker!"

Mustache Supernova were known throughout the galaxy for their epic stage shows. Ace and Ivan's job was to haul most of the stage gear from one show to the next. This included the personal holographic projectors (or "dazzlers" as they were more commonly known) that each member wore on stage. Every few songs the band would morph into different mythical beasts, and now Ivan had used a dazzler to disguise himself as a human trucker.

It was a smart move. A talking chimpanzee would raise a lot of eyebrows, but it didn't change the fact that Ace felt betrayed.

Ace looked out the window next to him and saw a lush forest whisking by at seventy miles per hour. On the road ahead was the tail end of a semi-tractor trailer that had mudflaps depicting a little mustachioed cowboy holding pistols. The words "Back Off" were written in fat block letters above the image. The bumper sported a rectangular sticker that read, "How's My Driving? Call 1-800-EAT ME." The fact that Ace could read the words meant his translator implant was working. Although he didn't really understand what it actually implied.

"We gotta get some of those," Ivan said.

"What?" Ace asked.

"Some of those mudflaps. They're hilarious!" Ivan reached over and hit a switch. Windows on the driver's side of the cabin started to open, and fresh air whooshed in.

Ivan closed his eyes, breathing in. "Ah! Smell that? That's fresh Earth air! We're here! Oh wow, I love this song!"

Just then another Ramones song (Beat on the Brat) started playing on the sound system.

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