This is a little story I
finally wrote, after thinking about it over 4 or 5 years. Just never
sat down and started it.
So, I was sitting one day,
had writers block for the main story I was writing, and decided it was
time to try "Force".
I needed a change of "scenery"
as it were.
you, you REALLY don't want to read this one.
OK, but don't say you weren't
Force Of Habit
Jake is my best friend.
© by Jim Dove w/a Danlen
All Rights Reserved
That probably says a lot
about me, but. . . . . . .
Tall, lanky, deep blue eyes,
red hair that stood straight up most of the time, and always a smile on
his face. He definitely stood out in a crowd, especially among the
Quarstuniums, who were only about 3 feet tall, on average, and a very light
lavender color. But really nice, as aliens go.
Me, I'm just your better-than-average
galactic gambler. Usually pretty good at it. I'm 5'8", 210
lbs, and gray hair with a lot of head poking through. And, I tend
to like wearing bright colored jump suits, or Synthalon tops and bell bottoms.
People usually underestimate
Anyway, we beat around the
Aquarius galaxy together for quite a few years. We ended up settling
down on Quarstun purely by accident.
OK, not quite by accident.
I'm not sure how we came to
be friends, and really don't even remember how we met the first time.
Jake kinda grew on you. He was just that kinda guy.
Actually, I do seem to remember
us meeting at a Ploystot table on Sardonium 4.
Now Sardonia is known as the
gambling empire of the 5th quadrant in the Blavistorian sector of space.
I had gone there to play 12 card Ploystot.
Strange card game, using
a deck of 127 cards, it was nevertheless an interesting one.
Never did quite figure out what some of the symbols were on the cards though,
but I just 'knew' what needed to be played.
'Course, the fact that the
Blavistors were a bit slow in the mental department helped a lot.
Strange, though, they never got tired of losing! But then, they lived on
a world rich in carbon based clear crystals. You could pick them
up just lying on the ground anywhere.
Let me rephrase that - THEY
could pick them up just lying on the ground anywhere!
But, YOU had best have paperwork
indicating you came about them fair and square, or their equivalent of
a customs agent was quick to lop off your nose!!
Mind you now, I actually
only saw one or two individuals with no noses, but that was all it took
to convince me to keep it honest. After all, strangers ALWAYS won
at the Ploystot tables!
Sorry, I got sidetracked.
Jake was also playing Ploystot
when I sat down across from him. Usually I was pretty good at it,
but Jake just beat the pants off me! I simply could not win playing against
Game after game, he would
come up with the winning strategy at the very last minute of play.
I just couldn't win.
I ended up losing 35 kg of
carbon based clear crystals - all I could afford to lose, and still have
enough to take me to the next destination in this galaxy. Wasn't
sure yet where that would be, but I had to have enough to get there.
I finally gave up, since
it was just the two of us left playing anyway (except for the 12 Blavistors
still trying to win). I knew when I was beaten.
Jake scooped up his 430 kg
of carbon based clear crystals, and, being the friendly type, invited me
to have a drink with him.
Me, being the thirsty, and
hungry type, gladly accepted. After all, if I had to buy food, and
drink, I wouldn't have enough left to get me to the next destination -
wherever that was going to be.
We sat down at a table next
to the briffle bar. Briffle was the Blavistors' equivalent of alcohol
on any other world.
Jake ordered a purple Briffle,
and a well done 453g wassosr steak. Ordered me a purple Briffle too.
He got his steak, and proceeded
to cut into it. It started to slither across his plate.
He immediately called his
waiter, who instantly rolled into a ball (did I mention that the Blavistors'
had no legs) and rolled over to us. Jake told it that the wassosr
was still moving, but that he had ordered it WELL DONE, not medium rare!
The waiter apologized profusely,
took the plate, and, rolling itself into a ball while holding the plate
out to the side, rolled itself into the kitchen - all without dropping
anything! (Did I mention that they had these amazing arms that could
rotate because of their hyper articulated shoulder joints?)
Now Jake, being the observant
type, noticed that I had started to drool at the sight of the wassosr steak.
Also being the understanding type, he kinda figured I couldn't afford to
part with any of the carbon based clear crystals I still had, and still
have enough to get to wherever I was going next, wherever that might be.
Also being the generous type,
he smiled, called the waiter, and ordered me a 453g wassosr steak - well
done. Again being the observant type, he just knew from the way I
quickly moved my chair away from the table when his steak started to wander,
that I wanted one well done too.
Jake was a really special
While waiting, we proceeded
to consume about a dozen purple Briffles before our steaks arrived.
Oh, don't worry. Briffle
was just slightly stronger than plain water. Seems the Blavistor
beings couldn't handle anything stronger than that! But it did taste good.
Then we just started talking.
I asked him "How come you could beat me every hand, when I'm normally very
good at ploystot? How can you play so well, er, ah, actually, I don't know
your name. "
So Jake introduced himself.
Said "My name's Jake. I actually don't know how come I can play so
well. It just sorta happens. Force of habit!"
Well, that started our friendship.
He, being the accommodating type, asked me, "Hey, ya wanna beat around
the galaxy with me for a while, in my souped up '21 Star Cruiser?"
"You're only kidding, right
Jake?" to which he replied, "Nope! Gets kinda lonely travelin' by
myself. Wouldn't mind havin' somebody aboard ship with me."
Wow, would I! I had only
heard of those ships, and to actually know someone who really had one -
WOW! And I was invited along!
Not wanting to let him see
how excited I was, I simply replied, "Sure Jake! Ought to be fun.
Count me in as crew!" But I'm sure the big grin on my face, and the
fact that I was kinda jumpin' up and down, probably gave me away!
So began what, to date, is
a 165 year old friendship!
In '42, Jake decided to try
his luck at the races. So we ended up at the dirt oval on Watasbro.
It was there that the late model ground hugging monocars raced. Those
little transports were a blast to watch.
Balanced on one wheel, gyros
spinning, they would race around the 10 qwar track at a dizzying speed
of . 02 qwar/sec. That speed was just fast enough to force (reasonably)
clean air into their hyperquafs.
Now you gotta understand
- they needed (reasonably) clean air! The slightest amount of dust or dirt
or debris entering the hyperquaf, and, well, you didn't want to be too
close to the action - except Jake, he liked it up close!
Lets just say that there
was usually only one monocar left at the end of the race. And most
races lasted only about one lap! And it was usually won by whoever got
out front first!
The current champion had
only won two races! There wasn't any second place driver!
As usual, Jake picked five
winners in five races. Asked how he did it, his standard reply was,
"Force of habit!"
His whole life he spent doing
things by habit. It worked well for him!
Jake had developed quite a
reputation by this time, as the (known) universe's most successful gambler.
In 50 years of gambling, he had only lost twice! As a result, beings sought
him out to bet against.
He became the bet! Bookies
would only accept bets that Jake would lose - never that he would win!
The odds were staggering
- 125 billion to 1! But still, there were those willing to risk all they
owned on the off chance they would be THE ONE who beat Jake! In fact, whole
planets went together to bet he would lose.
Jake always took those bets.
He could afford to loose - but never did.
In '58, we ended up at the
planet Zzzkq, in the Frzzqrm star system. We did a little of everything
there - cards, cars, and finally, Zwkqrls.
Zwkqrls were their world's
equivalent of dogs - except they had five legs! We never quite figured
out how they managed to run like they did, but they were FAST!
So, Jake, being Jake, just
had to place a bet. He looked at the list, and picked one.
Well, you can guess - he
won as usual. Even though he picked a long shot, 49,000 to 1, he
The Zzzkq's, who up to that
point had never heard of Jake, just had to ask him how he picked the winner.
His standard reply, "Force
of habit. "
Well, they just had to see
him do his thing, so he was invited to partake of all their games of chance.
Cards - he won every hand.
Zzzsptz - a 13 sided, something,
with numbers on each face. Using 4 at a time, the goal was to beat
your opponents point total. Jake won every time.
Cars - Jake won. Every
Bird races - Jake won.
The Zzzkq's were finally
convinced. Jake could not be beaten!
Asked once more how he won,
his answer was always the same - "Force of habit!"
Along the way these many years,
we've both acquired wives (at least they're humanoid in appearance).
And we're quite happy with them. The fact that they're mute helps!
But, really, we are in love and happy.
In '61, we were approached
by a being from Quarstun. It seems that the whole planet had come
together and pooled their resources to bet against Jake. In effect,
they were betting their planet that they could win against him.
They asked Jake to tell them
what he was going to bet on.
Now Quarstun had a lot of
things to wager on - cars, boats, air vehicles, butterflies (big as Earth
pigeons), and various assorted animals, including horses (or their equivalent
Jake had bet on most of these
things in the past, but had never bet on a horse. So, he told them
he would try that.
It turns out that their "horse"
race included animals from about 20 different star systems, come to Quarstun
for the centennial "Race for the Dough".
What we didn't realize was
that Quarstun produced a plant, the Zzrqsm plant, that, when made into
flour, produced a dough like none other in the (known) universe.
And the plant had never been successfully grown on any other planet.
So Quarstun was the only planet in the (known) universe that had it.
Made it quite expensive for those who just had to have some!
It could be made into anything:
edible, or non-edible. It took on the characteristics of anything
it was mixed with, and the taste of anything it was cooked with.
If you wanted, say, something
that tasted like Earth chicken, you only had to add about a one cm cube
of chicken to a five liter container, and, when cooked, the whole
thing would come out tasting like chicken!
If you wanted something the
consistence of cement, you only had to add a pinch of cement to a bag of
flour, and you had some of the hardest cement known!
Now there were, over the years,
a few unfortunate incidents.
There were those who wanted,
in spite of the black label warnings on all containers of Zzrqsm flour,
to taste the raw flour. The label stated very clearly, in Quarstunium
(that might have been part of the problem) that it was only to be consumed
Well, that was OK, unless
you happened to have something strange in your mouth, or stomach, that
the raw flour would touch.
For example, there was one
being that sucked the flour in through his teeth.... Not real smart!
Turned into a pair of dentures and ended up eating himself!
Then there was the being
that had a fangpick (equivalent to an Earth toothpick) in his mouth when
he sampled the flour.... Not real smart. Turned into a tree
There were many other incidents,
but, you get the idea.
Most remarkable stuff!
So it was, that once every
Quarstun century (35 Earth years) the Quarstun's would offer a prize of
10 kg of flour to the winning animal's owner.
That's why there were so
many animals from so many different places here to race for the prize.
Jake looked over the list
of animals, and their descriptions, and, for the first time, looked puzzled.
I had never seen him sweat! But he was.
He read, and re-read the
list, and descriptions, then looked at the planets they were from.
Once again the same thing. He was dripping sweat.
Then, he smiled!
He picked what he perceived
would be the winner.
The race was started, and
35 animals ran (it was hard to describe some as "running", but at least
they were fast) for the dough!
One lap later, there was
a winner! The horse named "Phogqwr" had won handily by five lengths!
Who had Jake picked? Why
Phogqwr, of course!
The Quarstuniums couldn't
believe it! But, a bet was a bet.
Their supreme ruler, Quarste
the thirty-fifth, finally handed over the deed to the planet of Quarstun.
That's how we finally came
to settle here.
And Jake, being his usual
magnanimous self, ordered the planet to continue as they always had, and
told them he would only require . 02 percent of their annual net planetary
income, which, by their calculations, wasn't much. You see, they
had their version of the creative accountant!
Jake should have told them
gross planetary income.
Even so, we could live very
nicely on what they paid! After all, Jake was the best gambler in the (known)
Oh yes, when asked.................
final warning! You really, REALLY, don't want to read farther.
have been warned!
Hit "Next" at your own risk!