This is a piece written for the Short Story Competition 2017, run by Wine Tourism Spain.
When I saw the deliciously quirky theme of "the possible relationship between wine and extraterrestrial life", I just had to have a go.
I hope all you Earthoomans and Extraterrestrials enjoy it!
Whines, Wines and Wins
On a planet far away, Ag and Ig were upset.
“Earth? Why?” Ig whined.
Ag scowled. “You know our joy-ride through the giant globe worms?”
“Yeah. That was great!”
“The worms complained. We’re being punished.” Ag shrugged.
“But. Earthoomans have skin-sacks. Lumpy arms and legs! Appendages! Opposable thumbs! Genders! Mucous membranes! They’re vile!” Ig cried.
They protested the punishment, to no avail. A short time later, Ag and Ig found themselves teleported to Earth, clad in customised Earthooman skin-suits.
Ag took a moment to adjust – oxygen racing up the nostrils and into the lungs, sunshine and the female skin-suit.
Ig managed a lurching walk and tripped over the male skin-suit arms. “Why do I get the extra appendage?” He grumbled.
“Because you couldn’t handle the version with more wobbles!” Ag retorted. “Listen. The All-Purpose Intergalactic Guide says this is a ‘wineyard’ where they make ‘wine’. This Earthooman structure is a ‘ruined castle’; it’s also called ‘architecture’ which is characteristic of this part of Earth, called ‘Spain’. Earthoomans come here in a recreational activity called ‘tourism’. Isn’t this interesting?”
“WineTourismSpain.” Ig flapped his skin-suit arms experimentally to the sky.
“Wine is made of fermented grapes. It holds many subtle flavours.” Ag was beginning to enjoy this. As punishments went, it wasn’t too bad. It would all be useful at the next intergalactic pub quiz.
Ig shuffled his skin-suit feet and marvelled at their ungainliness.
At that moment, a female Earthooman came around a corner, followed by seven others. “Hello. Are you here for the wine tour?” She bared her teeth in greeting, and Ag and Ig mimicked her politely and nodded.
Over the next few weeks, Ag and Ig learnt to use their opposable thumbs and hold glasses. They sat at big wooden tables in cool dining rooms in different towns. They stood in dark cellars surrounded by hundreds of barrels. They learnt to smell the different smells in the different wines, and breathe them in; to swirl a sip and feel the wine talk to their tongues – whispering secrets of the ground it grew in, of the winds, and of the sky. They sipped under the light of the sun and the stars.
One day, Ig was terribly smug when he identified the note of cherry in one bottle of wine before anyone else in the group – even the Wine Snob.
Later that same day, Ag and Ig were summonsed to a wormhole-conference with their home authorities.
“This Earth. Worth invading?”
Ag and Ig exchanged a glance. Invasion?
They spoke over each other hurriedly.
“Opposable thumbs! Look!”
“Too hot for our real bodies!”
“It’s all architecture and agriculture! So backwards!”
“We’ll all be whining for home!”
There was a long pause. “You’ve been suffering then.”
“Oh yes!” They nodded sadly.
“Fine. Stay there for a while longer.” The wormhole-conference connection was cut.
Ag and Ig exhaled at each other. Then smiled.
“I hear Andalucia’s nice,” said Ag.
They went to see it for themselves.