I write books. Sometimes.

INVOICE # 9077

December 23, 5065. 7:00 a.m.

The excitement accompanying an intergalactic shipment always raised Xbarg’s cerebral cortizonial histone levels to 6.5. He found this both exhilarating and slightly nauseating. Nonetheless, he hastily removed the irregular-shaped container from the individually-packed delivery pod and brushed away the anti-magnetic cushioning material. The metal was dented on one side, maiming the otherwise commercial face of the spokesman embossed on its shiny exterior. The laceration, which swallowed the man’s nose and half of his mouth, rendered the figure almost unrecognizable. Not that Xbarg would have recognized him anyway. All humans looked the same.

Xbarg hoped that the indent, undoubtedly impairing the package’s integrity, hadn’t damaged its contents. Starting at the edge of the dent, Xbarg pried the package open, mutilating the remainder of the man printed on the carton. He peered inside, staring at the globulous yellow mass that he’d apparently just purchased. Xbarg furrowed his furry temple. The shade looked better online.

Even so, he was enthusiastic about his purchase. He’d read that this insulation was the best that intergalactic photoelectronic transfers could buy, with heat preservation properties that were so impressive that one could survive for over two weeks outside the Novadermic atmosphere, if the strandee could figure out how to breathe, that is.

Xbarg reached one of his frontal tentacles into the box to remove the ball of insulation. As he pulled on the lumpy, wiggly wad, the material stretched, resembling an immense piece of jaundiced taffy. The ooze was thick and doughy. It squished around his tentacle, filling the gaps between his sucker appendages, and he could feel the snug coagulation trapping his body heat. The instant warmth was impressive. The material continued to stretch and elongate as he attempted to lift it out of the box. He excitedly jabbed another ribbed limb into the container, pulling mounds of gelatinous gel onto the ship’s floor. He wriggled his suckers with happy astonishment. He couldn’t believe how much insulation the manufacturing company had managed to pack into one small container. Xbarg panted as he hastily scooped the resistant substance until his tentacles were sore from the strain of tugging. The package still looked as full as it had when it first arrived. He would never make any progress at this rate, perhaps he could dump it out.

Xbarg lifted the box, inverted it, and vigorously shook. With a heavy thud, the large, uneven glob of insulation hit the floor, nearly cracking the temperature tolerant tiles. Xbarg eyed the uncooperative mass, contemplating how to maneuver it into its destined wall cavities. Seconds later, he wasn’t nearly as concerned about the particulars when, with a loud pop, the insulation morphed from a relatively confined blob into a quickly expanding monstrosity. Xbarg watched in dismay as the sides of the small heap morphed upward like a tidal wave, sweeping aside his chair and pushing the electronic tools from his desk. He grabbed the metal box the insulation had been delivered in, and rushed toward the growing, putrid abundance, hoping to contain it, but it was no use. With another hearty pop, the heap violently tripled in size, pushing the box from his grasp and shoving Xbarg into the wall behind him. The back of Xbarg’s head shell hit the ship’s control panel, causing a motion stabilizer to malfunction and repeatedly broadcast an equipment maintenance warning. Xbarg was pinned between the ship’s wall and the growing glutinous insulation.