Billy Fisher was aboard the 'Explorer', the first interstellar space mission based on the Fisher-King hyperspace unit. Perhaps it ought to be called the 'King-Fisher', he thought.
"Captain to bridge! What's our ETA?"
"Fifteen seconds to orbit, sir."
"Good. Let me know when we land." Captain Fisher returned to his game of tri-dimensional chess.
"Checkmate in three moves unless you move that knight, Dexter." Billy dropped a hint. His opponent saw what he was talking about and moved the knight. Immediately, Billy moved his queen to level 3.
"Checkmate." he said, with a hint of better-luck-next-time in his voice.
"Bridge to captain! We will be landing on the surface of Omicron Delta four in ten seconds."
"I think perhaps I'll give up on the other sex. They're just so confusing." Billy was brought back to reality by his friend, Dexter King, talking. "I mean, take Mary for instance. Her friend said that she really liked me and would I like to go out with her, but when I asked her she said no. Does she like me or not?"
"Huh?" said Billy.
"Oh, you weren't listening to a word I said, were you. Where did you go this time?"
"Captain of the starship 'Explorer.' Interstellar mission to explore the unknown reaches of the universe."
"...To explore new worlds and go where no-one has gone before. You really do watch too much TV."
"What were you talking about, anyway?"
"Oh, nothing interesting enough to keep you out of warp-drive. The opposite sex."
"What have they done this time?"
"I like Mary, and Julie says Mary likes me back. Mary says that Mary doesn't like me, but Julie says that she's just playing hard-to-get."
"Why don't you just ask her out?"
"Oh, for crying out loud! I did! She said no!"
"Then maybe she doesn't like you."
"Well, why would her best friend say she did if she didn't?"
"Okay, so maybe she is playing hard-to-get. Ask her out again."
"But what if she really doesn't like me? I'd look a right idiot."
"Well, why would Julie say she does if she doesn't?"
"Oh, I don't know. It's just too complicated. Unless, maybe, you could ask her out for me?"
"No. You know what I'm like, I'd only screw it up."
"Yea, you're probably right. Well, see you at break, then."
Billy returned to the 'Explorer.' He was clad in a space-suit, all ready to go out onto the planet's surface.
"Air lock sealed, sir."
"Ready when you are, lieutenant."
"Opening air lock now." Billy imagined he felt a breeze as a small amount of residual air escaped with a hiss. A bright blue landscape spread from horizon to horizon before him, with dark shadows and wispy dust storms. Billy sat down in the driver's seat of the two-man exploration buggy that had rolled out of another compartment of the ship.
Billy was still daydreaming on the bus that evening. He had discovered an alien civilisation where three-eyed rat-like creatures with tridents ruled an underground world. He was just about to form a peaceful treaty between the two races when someone sat down next to him. He looked around to see who it was. It was Mary Shelley, the girl that Dexter was after. Billy was faced with a decision. Should he try to ask this girl out for his friend? Or should he return to Omicron Delta four before the aliens decided to conquer the human race?
"Listen. I've got something to ask you." Mary removed her headphones and looked at Billy with perplexity.
"What is it?"
"I've got this friend who really likes you, and, well, he wanted to know if you'd go out with him."
"You know Dexter King?"
"Yes. No! Not him!"
"Why? Don't you like him?"
"Like him? I've been trying to summon up the courage to ask him out for weeks!"
* * *
"You did what?"
"I asked her out for you. That's what you wanted, isn't it?"
"Yes, yesterday morning, but I figured that she didn't really like me and I asked someone else out."
"Julie Sanderson. Mary's best friend. Oh, how could you do this to me. You must have been in wonderland when I told you!"
"She said yes..."
"Oh thanks. That's a great help. Now what am I going to do? I can't ask them both out, and whoever I don't choose will think I'm really stupid!"
"Who do you really like?"
"Oh, I don't know. They're both great girls."
"Choose one. I'll tell the other one you're not interested."
"Well, Julie is good looking, but she isn't so bright. I'll go for Mary."
"Good. Leave it to me."
* * *
"You're late, Mr Fisher. Our people abhor tardiness. However, we are certain that the treaty will be the best thing for both our races. We hope you are ready to sign."
"I certainly am. Before I do, though, I would just like to say that I am honoured to represent the human race, and delighted to be such an important part of both our histories. So, give me the contract and then we can get on with the celebrations!"
* * *
"Well, that's that all sorted out. Julie only said yes to you because she didn't want to hurt your feelings. So where are you going to take Mary?"
"How about Omicron Delta four?"