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A Wonderful Bird
by Michael A. Kechula

“I just landed on Mars,” Harry told Houston Mission Control via wrist radio.

Sunspots blocked Houston’s reply.

When Harry left his spaceship to plant a flag and claim Mars for his nation, Martians grabbed him. They took him to the Emperor’s palace.

Scrutinizing Harry, the Emperor asked, “What is this strange looking creature?”

“We think it is a bird from another planet,” said an advisor.

Harry figured he better hop around and whistle like a bird. His performance was so convincing, the Emperor applauded and said, “What a wonderful bird. I want him for a pet.”

Harry was fed, bathed, groomed, and allowed to run loose through the Emperor’s magnificent palace.

Days later, as he lollygagged in the Emperor’s well-stocked harem, he radioed Houston.

“Life’s fantastic here. I’m treated like the Emperor’s favorite pet. I’m giving you two week’s notice that I’m resigning from the Space Agency. Tell my family that I’m never coming back.”

Huston responded, “Martian’s love (garbled) pets.”

“Please repeat,” Harry said. “Your message was garbled.”

Sunspots blocked Huston’s retransmissions.

When Martians tossed Harry onto blazing charcoals, he realized the missing words in Huston’s message were: TO EAT.