by David A. Ross


Everyone on the peace-loving planet of Cellelofrates was a writer, an astronaut, vegetarian, asexual, wore Birkenstocks and drank flavored mocha. It was now the year 9595 and the Cellelofrateans had elected 9595 as President. 9595 was an astronaut and a 'Hard Liner.'

The nearby planet of Abadan Siran had grown hostile toward peaceful Cellelofrates because her citizens were all writers, happy, millionaires from playing roulette, and most of all because they lived in harmony. Filled with jealousy and bitterness, the leader of Abadan Siran whose name was also Abadan Siran sent an unmanned space capsule and programmed it to crash into the planet's coffee factory. Coffee was Cellelofrates' symbol of intellectual achievement. Its citizens were outraged. Immediately, 9595 called for air strikes, but the Council of Writers insisted that before they could do so, they must get organized.

"What do we have to get organized for when we know who did this?" demanded the Astronaut Right.

"Because we have to be sure we know what we're dealing with," explained the Council of Writers. While the debate raged, Abadan Siran launched another unmanned space capsule that crashed into the roulette center -- Cellelofrates' symbol of financial might. The Astronaut Right was furious.

"You Council of Writers sure don't love your planet, do you?" they charged. "Had we launched an air strike, we wouldn't have gotten hit a second time!"

"Tell us," questioned the Writers, "if you were so sure who did it, then why weren't you ready for when they hit us again?"

"Because we were too busy arguing with you nitwits," returned the leaders of the Astronaut Right. After more point-counter point debate, both sides agreed to get organized. Let me stop and say something. By now, everyone who knows the history of Cellelofrates knows that launching air strikes was impossible because the only defense they had were its submarines that were crewless and submerged. However, as the Council of Astronauts & Writers argued over these things, they finally agreed to get organized. These discussions took an interesting turn when the subject of who should organize them arose. Some suggested the commemorative saint, Bacha Barbickowitz, others volunteered the great, Dr. Semantic while still others chose the great activist Jan Whitman-Graham.

During these lively and stimulating exchanges of ideas on the floor of the Council, Abadan Siran struck again. This time an unmanned capsule crashed into the publishing house. Publishing was the crucible of Cellelofrates' culture since everyone was a writer.

9595 and the Astronaut Right mobilized the Submarine Fleet and entered into a temporary compromise with the Council of Writers to manufacture an air force. Now that both sides had taken action, they returned to their search of finding that right person to organize them. Their selection was a surprise choice by the name of Dr. Shibboleth Shimon who had led Earth's anti-terrorists efforts. At his commencement, he addressed the citizens of Cellelofrates.

"Furz, vemuz git ogadized..." After listening to Dr. Shimon's views on getting organized, the Astronaut Right was left with severe reservations about him. They began digging and found out that he was related to Abadan Siran and that their families had been enemies for thousands of years. As a result, the Astronaut Right requested a probe into Dr. Shimon. Reluctantly, the Council of Writers agreed, but warned that this would take time away from, 'getting ogadized.' No sooner did the investigation begin when Abadan Siran hit Cellelofrates a fourth time. This time he fired a larger capsule and knocked out all of Cellelofrates' submarines docked in port. Although submarines were an endearing symbol of Cellelofrates' history, it meant the entire planet's defense had been wiped out. 9595 was crestfallen that these things had transpired during his term in office when he had held such high hopes for the Astronaut Right. Feeling upset, he lashed into the Council of Writers and yelled, "Had we been 'ogadized,' none of this would have ever happened!"




David Ross introduced himself and his story to me by saying he had begun his series of stories about the going-ons on the planet Cellelofrates in a protest against certain literary editors who kept telling him he was bereft and would come to a bad end as a writer. Apparently, they insisted his use of humor and sense of structure in his writing was just plain wrong. So, he began a series of stories even more wrong.

And ended up with a list of credits "limited," he says, to about ninety pieces published.

Well, not only did we appreciate the humor in this short story, we thought that starting a whole story series inspired in protest and ending up with ninety publication credits was, well, just too wickedly subversive and amusing.

Perhaps we're just bereft, too. Indeed, we are occasionally and inexplicably accused of being so. Hasn't stopped us yet.

He did supply us with his standard writer bio (which you can read here), but I felt that how he introduced himself to me was worth repeating as a way to introduce him to our amenable readers.

Some of whom, I'd bet, probably do get occasionally accused of a certain amount of bereftness themselves.

Inexplicably, of course.   

  -- m.b.



August 2002. Now available online: Portraits of Salespeople, a collection of stories by David A. Ross.