Saturn was so delightfully human, all things considered. Marlow could see Neptune trembling through the crimson, wrinkled artificial atmosphere during her evening stroll. With an ancient textbook under one arm and a cup of coffee in her right hand, Marlow searched the crumbled stone streets for Giggle Jellies.
They were hard to separate from Crumble Jellies. Crumble Jellies were toxic if not prepared correctly, although they were docile compared to the magnificent Giggle. This hunt was a necessary evil when it came to Marlow’s search for endless beauty. Marlow had already prepared seven dozen jars this last week alone, only four were faulty Crumble blends.
When she returned to Earth next month to visit her family for the holidays, Marlow would sell them out in a day. They were awful pets—smelly, nippy, and loud. However, a Giggle Jelly face cream reversed ageing in decades with a single jar. This was the only moon in the solar system that had them. Crumble Jellies in comparison were, at best, good for salad toppings or lap dogs.
Marlow stopped, spotting a Giggle three feet away. She cooed—giggles liked owls. Must be the feathers—nothing was feathered on Saturn. She knelt, dumping some of her chilled espresso on the ground. The Jelly rolled out from under his carbon cave. With splops and squeaks, he rolled over to drink.
“MARLOW!” The Giggle Jelly scurried.
Marlow sighed. She checked her intercom. “What’s the matter?” She shouted into the machine.
“I’m in a bind. Do you mind picking me up?”
Marlow looked at the cave. The Giggle Jelly was long gone, the rock sealed shut with indiscernible Saturnalia goo. “Drop your co-ordinates. I’ll be there in ten.”
Peggy didn’t drop her co-ordinates. Marlow plugged her intercom into her open-top cruiser control panel. “Take me to Pegs,” Marlow ordered. In seconds, the control panel lit up and loaded some numbers and a message: PEGGY, FIVE MINUTES, NORTHWEST. Marlow fired up her ship and sped off into the sunset.
Marlow relaxed. Peggy’s father owned the moon and the little human settlements that dotted the surface of this particular moon. They didn’t look at Marlow, creeping into their stone brick houses for the evening. She waved anyway. Peggy often was found running away to party, either in the large estate she owned or out on the towns. Peggy was made. Her pastime consisted of ship racing and making sure that Marlow didn’t harvest too many Giggle Jellies. Marlow’s job was a little more difficult: keep Peggy out of trouble. She was the sole heir of the Jelly empire. Peggy’s father paid Marlow to play bodyguard in free board and free access to Giggle Jellies, duty-free… most of the time.
HERE, the ship dinged. She got out of the car in front of a tall, metal wall building. The saloon. It was closed for the night. One ship remained, long past closing. From it, dangled a body. Marlow winced. She went to it and found the body more or less half asleep but quite fine. “Peggy? Are you all right?”
“Do I look all right? I’m stuck. Get me out.”
Without complaint, Marlow tugged on her arm, freeing her sister. Peggy stumbled to her feet. A little beaten, and a little dusty, but nothing too worrisome. Peggy was her usual bleary-eyed self. “Let’s go home, Pegs.” Marlow offered a shoulder. Peggy nodded and leaned against her.
The drive home was quiet enough. After all, they weren’t far away. Not far enough for Peggy to complain. “Why so glum?” Marlow asked. “You look like you had a fun night.” She swerved the car, driving around a clique of Ylem Ducks, wobbling like bowling pins, shrieking like hungry ostriches from the middle of the road.
Peggy winced. She straightened. “Can you cool it with the driving? It wasn’t a fun night.”
“What did you do?”
“Don’t interrogate me. You’re not Mother.”
Marlow shrugged. “I was just curious, Peg. What did you do?” She was only half interested. The moon on the belt now faced the sun. Light refracted on the wobbling atmosphere.
Peggy twitched. Marlow nearly missed the turn into the driveway. She parked, dragging twitchy Peggy around the back of the estate. Exhausted, Marlow let go of Peggy, dropping her on the concrete. “Are you okay, Pegs?” Marlow knelt by Peggy’s side. “…Pegs?”
Peggy shuddered and rolled into the pool, skull first. On impact, her body convulsed and short-circuited.
Marlow leaned out over the side of the pool, on hands and knees lest she should meet not-Peggy’s eyes. “Pegs?” Marlow cried.
“What are you going on about?” Peggy stood at the doorway, wearing a plush robe with her hair piled on her head in messy curls. “Can you shut up? I heard you freaking out in the pool. I have to work in the day, unlike you..” She stood on her toes, staring at Not-Peggy in the pool. “What did you do to my cyborg?”
Marlow stood up, cleaning the dirt off her pants, her eyes watering from dust and fatigue. “She slipped. I had to rescue her from a car accident on the other side of the moon.”
Peggy took out her phone and smiled. “Oh good. The system works. You found her in five minutes, not bad. Dad is testing to see whether you’re worth hiring after all. Didn’t need to wake me though. Get Peggy out and dry her off. Dad’s going to have a fit when he sees what you did.” She turned back to the house, stretching her arms over her head.
Marlow balled her fists. She started forward. Peggy turned, but by then, Marlow snagged Peggy’s hair and cast her into the pool with Not-Peggy. Peggy screamed for help, her robe hood snagged by Not-Peggy’s hand.
Several workers came out of the house, looking frantically for Peggy. By the time Peggy was back on land, Marlow’s ship snapped the atmosphere. They watched her ship on a speedy course to earth. They watched air seep through the new hole in the atmosphere, thousands of Giggle Jellies sucked out the ozone layer and drifting away.