At Least the Natives are Friendly
by Jeff Baker
Zack could hear the scraping sounds echoing from the other driveways as he joined his neighbors in attacking an icy car window with a scraper.
“Swell,” he grumbled through the scarf covering his mouth. “Eighteen light-years from Earth and I still have to do this every morning.”
He looked around the neighborhood, rows of irregularly-shaped domed houses reminding Zack of the houses in that ancient Dr. Seuss Christmas cartoon. Snow in the yards and on the roofs, oddly-formed pink trees and driveways shoveled clear by neighbor kids, some of them with furry faces.
Streets clear, thank heaven, he mused. That was one good thing about living and working on a planet where it was winter four fifths of the year.
He pulled down his scarf and blew into the air; he could see his breath just like back on Earth. Oh well, at least the pay was good.
Zack had shipped out on a star freighter when he was sixteen and had worked his way across the solar systems as far away as he could get from his abusive family. He hadn’t minded being on his own and when the opportunity to run the warehouse on Blumenstuck had come up he’d jumped on it, When he’d been told it was winter most of the year there, he’d shrugged.
What the hey! Just like Wisconsin. Scraping the car window every morning was a pain, but the job wasn’t bad and it paid well and the Earth people shared the world with the Olarni, who had arrived on the planet two hundred years earlier, seeking a colder world. They liked the cold and were basically furry humanoids.
And some of them liked the Earth people.
Zack grinned. That was the real fringe benefit, one that made him stick with the job and the cold mornings.
He came home every evening to a sweet, warm, furry pan-sexual Olarni man who would make any world Zack was on feel like home.
Emidos had been raised on Blumenstuck and he loved it as he loved Zack.
And they both laughed at the name the icy world had been given by the Earth colonists who had seen it hanging in space like a flower. “ Blumenstuck” meant “flower piece.”
“Really cold for a flower,” they would laugh.
Zack was grinning as he finished scraping the windows and started the car.