Jeneira yawned, rubbed her bleary eyes, and shoved her Ogrin hooves into a pair of tatty old slippers. Her day started like any other as she padded into the bathroom. She made her way from room to room of her modest Neohome while brushing her teeth generously with a Medicinal Toothbrush (Neogitus was a pain). Jeneira clutched a mug of coffee as her favourite band, M*YNCI, provided background music on the radio.
Once she had finally changed into her uniform for work – located behind the couch – she walked, dragging her feet, from Chia Close to the spacecraft she boarded each morning for Kreludor. Jeneira hated Kreludan food more than Jhudora hates holidays, so she packed a sandwich in her rucksack and went to take her usual seat at the back of the craft.
The problem was that it was already occupied.
“Dexter!” she shrieked upon seeing her best friend, who was getting mud all over her headrest. “That’s my seat you’re making dirty!”
Dexter, being from Meridell Farm, loved nothing more than dirt – and playing in it. The Rainbow Yurble seemed unrepentant.
“What’s wrong, Jen? I don’t see your name on the seat.” His eyes danced teasingly.
Grumbling, Jeneira took the seat next to him and folded her arms.
“What – are – you – doing – here?” she hissed.
“Chill out, Jen,” said Dexter, grinning. “Farmer Sid gave me today off... apparently it’s the yearly dung festival or something. He sure does love his dung, always makes sure we return it after the tour. I think he counts it...” He trailed off, looking thoughtful.
Dexter worked as a tour guide on the Pick Your Own farm, under the managerial skills of Farmer Sid, the well-known Gelert. Suddenly the Yurble jumped, being brought back into the present as the spacecraft jolted, though still not taking off.
“Oh, and seeing as I had a day off, I decided that I’d visit you at work. I’ve never been to Kreludor before.” His smile was so eager and dazzling that Jeneira couldn’t tell him no.
Instead she settled for scolding by means of angry whispers as more and more passengers climbed aboard. Soon all of the seats were full and the noise of the spacecraft engine was muffled by loud conversations. Jeneira scrunched her eyes tightly shut and retrieved some cotton wool from her rucksack to block out the noise of Dexter and disgruntled passengers. Jeneira swore that her routines would not be disturbed by this enthusiastic Yurble.
At exactly 8.55 NST, Jeneira clambered out of the spacecraft, followed closely by Dexter, whose legs wobbled shakily on the moon’s surface. He re-adjusted his oxygen tank nervously.
“Dexter,” Jeneira said tentatively, “you do know that you can’t stay with me at work, right? Café Kreludor won’t tolerate any visitors just sitting around all day, buying nothing.” The Yellow Ogrin worked as a waitress in Café Kreludor.
However, Dexter’s spirits remained high.
“S’okay, Jen! I’ll buy something and stay there for half the day, and then maybe I’ll go explore the moon.”
Jeneira hadn’t the heart to tell him that Kreludor offered little by way of tourist attractions.
Magnic, the Orange Grundo who ran Café Kreludor, greeted Jen with a solitary nod as she entered, before handing her a pair of roller-skates – the only article of clothing for the uniform that she didn’t bring home. Jeneira’s groan was audible, as roller-skating and balance were certainly not her strong points.
Dexter waved goodbye cheerfully, took a seat in the corner of the café and beckoned her over by clicking his fingers rudely – just to annoy her. With a face like thunder, Jeneira skated over and took his order of one Frosted Moon Cookie.
Twenty minutes later, and Café Kreludor was crammed to bursting point with customers. Jeneira had to shout to make her orders heard by Magnic, and every time she made her way to the kitchen, sweltering fumes of cooking swooshed into her face. To make matters worse, they were already running out of the cookies that her friend had ordered earlier.
“Just get those Orange Rambus Burgers to Table 6, will ya?!” Magnic had yelled at one particularly tense moment when he had noticed Jeneira resting by the coffee-maker.
“All right, all right!” she had snapped angrily, her furious mutterings inaudible over the din.
“Anything else?” she snarled to the Moehog and Kacheek seated at the table. Her tone was prickly.
“Um, yes, I –” the Moehog began, before faltering as he saw the expression on Jeneira’s face.
“Yes?” the Ogrin urged impatiently, her feet aching.
The Kacheek interrupted.
“Actually, I ordered a Frosted Moon Cookie with my tea and there is still no sign of it.”
Jeneira groaned inwardly.
“I’m sorry, we’re all out of those; is there something else you would like?”
For the next eight minutes the customers had dithered between various refreshments until Jen could no longer take it.
“I’ll come back later,” she retorted, “maybe when you two are finished wasting time.”
She regretted it as soon as she had said it, but skated off, leaving the startled and indignant pair in her wake.
A flustered Jeneira leaned against the cold wall of the staff-only bathroom, gazing at the clock. Less than one hour to go until lunch, and she could hardly wait.
She wove carefully in and out of the tables, until Magnic stepped in front of her, blocking her path. She nearly stumbled into him. He had a face like thunder.
“Jeneira!” he said sharply. “This is the fourth complaint today I have had about you from the customers. Apparently you have been behaving unacceptably towards them. Improve your manners from now on or you won’t be returning...”
He continued to drone on, but something had caught Jen’s eye and was making her mouth hang open. Magnic smiled, evidently pleased that his lecture was going down so well.
But behind Magnic, situated in the far left corner of the café were two people Jeneira would have recognized anywhere. Many faithful years of reading magazines and newspapers and watching Neovision meant that Jeneira instantly spotted the Yurble Janitor with the lead singer of M*YNCI, Brian!
Her heart leapt to her throat, but at least it prevented her from her from breaking into bouts of girlish squealing. Immediately she began devising ways to approach them. Wait until Dexter heard this! She had always known that she would meet a celebrity, always knew that she would be famous herself –
Her trail of thought was cut off as she realized that her boss was staring at her, having stopped speaking. He sighed.
“Anyway, just take these Gooey Kreluberry Pies to Table 2, Jeneira,” he said, “And don’t take too much time.”
She grinned to herself, knowing that Table 2 was located very close to the table of the famous pair. She could easily get their autographs then without Magnic noticing!
Jeneira glided not-so-gracefully over to Table 2 with a definite spring in her skates, while balancing a plate of Kreluberry Pie precariously on each hand. She had deposited the first pie in front of one of the customers but decided that his Kougra friend could wait a few minutes, so she sidled up to Brian.
“Hi,” she gushed, “I just wanted to say I’m Jeneira, well, look at my name tag – you can call me Jen, and I am, like, one of your biggest fans! Could I, uh, get your autograph while my boss isn’t looking?” Her smile was brilliant as she held out her hoof to shake the bewildered Mynci’s paw.
“Oi! I want my pie before the Month of Celebrating, please?” the Kougra fumed at Jeneira.
The Ogrin spun around to face him.
“Wait a minute, okay? These opportunities don’t come along often, you know, and –”
It all seemed to happen like an accident in slow motion then. The pie wobbled dangerously on its plate, began to slide and then – SPLAT!
Everyone present gasped in hushed tones when they saw the Yurble Janitor, with orange jelly dripping from his mane. It was hard to read his expression, for he was growling incoherently.
Within minutes Magnic was apologizing profoundly, before glaring at Jeneira and explaining that her services were no longer required at Café Kreludor.
She hung up her skates gloomily and left the café barehoofed as the clock struck twelve. She felt it was ironic that she finally had her lunch break, but no job to take a break from. She sat, alone for once, in a crater of the moon’s surface and chugged a dented can of NeoCola she had received from the machine.
She heard soft footsteps and then Dexter’s voice.
“Wow, you must be the only pet on this moon that doesn’t eat lunch in Café Kreludor!”
“I used to,” whispered Jen faintly.
Getting no further reply, he sat down beside her.
“I heard what happened – word spreads fast, huh? Sorry you lost your job... I should never have accompanied you here, put you in a bad mood...”
Jeneira was about to weakly protest but heard another pair of footsteps. Her eyes widened and her mouth went dry as Brian, the famous member of M*YNCI whom she had idolized for so long, approached them.
“If you’re here to complain too, then don’t bother because I no longer work there.” Her tone was frostier than she had intended it to be.
To her surprise, the blue Mynci laughed.
“No, no, it’s not that at all! I wanted to let you know that I saw real star potential in you today. I mean, come on, that scene was comedy gold! I’ve been asked to make a new Neovision show, and I’m looking to recruit new talent for it. I really think that we have a place for you in our show, so just drop me a neomail if you’re interested.” He began to walk away, but turned back to add one more thing.
“Oh, and by the way, don’t worry about my friend. He takes classes for his anger now.”
With that, Brian strode off back to the café, leaving a gobsmacked Jeneira and Dexter staring after him.