caveat emptor.jpg

“Jerry Macmillan?”

He smiled at the woman seated in the cubicle in front of him. “Yes, that would be me.”

She glanced at the passport in her hand. “Where are you going?”

“Mars, of course, or isn’t that what is written on my ticket?”

“Is this your first time on Mars?”

“No, this is not my first time.”

“How long do you plan on staying there?”

“What has that got to do with anything?”

“A minute please,” she said as she dialed a number, and began to speak quietly with someone called Smith.

Jerry sighed, and rubbed his chin. He glanced behind him. There were not many people in the queue in the departure lounge. He knew why because it was not the weekend yet. Otherwise, the crowd this morning would have been quite large.

At that moment, he saw four men walking briskly into the departure lounge. There was something about their black suits, their gait, and the way they stared at him. They stopped right in front of him.

“Are you Mr. Macmillan?” Smith asked.

He nodded with a frown on his face. “Yes. How can I help you?”

“You purchased a ticket to Mars?” Smith showed him the same documents he had submitted to the woman.


“You need to come with us,” Smith said, grabbing his arm.

“Excuse me, what is the meaning of this?” Jerry panicked as the men led him away.

“Just calm down, and come with us, Mr. Macmillan,” Smith said firmly.

They took him to a room that had a metal seat, and a table, and pushed him into the seat. He looked at the four men who had circled him. “Can you tell me what this is all about?”

“We have received a report on your activities, Mr. Macmillan,” Smith replied with a frown.

“What activities are you talking about?”

“What do you do for a living Mr. Macmillan?”

“I am a businessman.”

“What kind of business do you do?”

“I buy, and sell stuff.” 

“You mean you have the money to purchase your goods for sale?”

“Yes, of course.”

“And what you sell belongs to you?”

“Of course, why would I want to sell what is not mine?”

“That is what we would like to know, Mr. Macmillan.”

“What are you talking about?”

“There is a credit inflow of seventy trillion dollars in your account,” Smith said, waving a document at him.

“So? Is it a crime now to have money in one’s account?”

“It isn’t, but it could be when the source is suspicious.”

“What is suspicious about me having money in my own goddamn account?” Jerry was losing his patience.

“Seventy trillion dollars, Mr. Macmillan. That is a whole lot of money.” Smith crossed his arms, and stared into Jerry’s eyes, clearly intending to intimidate him for an answer. “Where did you get it from?”

“I already told you that I am a businessman. I do business. I buy, and sell stuff.”

“And what did you sell this time to make such an amount of money?”

“What is this all about?”

“You are a dubious businessman Mr. Macmillan.”

“Me? A dubious businessman? You can’t be serious. I am a legitimate businessman. You can ask around.”

“We don’t need to, there is already a complaint against you.”

“A complaint against me?” Jerry repeated, bewildered. “No, that cannot be true. Maybe you should take me to whoever made this claim.”

“There is no need to go anywhere, Mr. Macmillan. The complainant is right here.”


The four men stood aside, leaving Jerry to wonder what was happening when the wall close to the door began to glow. A blue, and green portal appeared, and a being stepped out of it.

The being was about four feet tall. It had a flat head with eyeballs planted on the top. There were two vertical slits on the face that served as nose, while a single horizontal slit represented the mouth. A total of four appendages protruded from the side of its body, each of which had three digits, making a total of twelve digits. It stood on three legs, each with three digits.

On seeing the being, Jerry tried to stand up. One of the men pushed him back into the chair. “Stay where you are, Mr. Macmillan.”

The being blinked around the room. “Gentlemen, thank you for apprehending this criminal.”

“Please don’t mention it, Ghryu,” Smith said. “You were lucky to inform us on time.”

“Where did you find him?” Ghryu asked.

“He was in the departure lounge ready to board a flight to Mars.”

“Mars?” Ghryu repeated. He turned to look at Jerry. “So, you thought you could flee Earth?”

“Flee? Why should I flee? I am just going for a short visit there.”

“And why are you going there?”

“Is it a crime to travel to Mars for leisure?”

“On a Monday?”

“Look Ghryu, last time I checked, there is no law against travelling to Mars on any day of the week,” Jerry spat.

“Not when you are a dubious businessman,” Smith said.

“I am a legitimate businessman,” Jerry retorted, waving his finger.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Ghryu said.

“And why should I be?”

“Why should you be? Okay, let me remind you then. Didn’t you sell Planet Earth to me?”

“Yes I did, what is wrong with that?”

“You never told me that you were not the rightful owner of the planet. You deceived me.”

“I didn’t. As I recall, you wanted a planet that was rich in resources. And I told you that planet Earth was fit for your needs.”

“You took the liberty of selling Earth?” Smith raised an eyebrow.

Jerry shrugged. “What do you expect? I am a businessman.”

“You are a dubious businessman,” Ghryu spat.

“What wrong did I do to you?” Jerry asked.

“You never told me that Planet Earth is on the verge of extinction. The resources have been severely depleted.” 

Jerry shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, you cannot blame me for that. Blame mankind. And you should have checked out the planet before thinking of buying it. How is that my problem?”

“Of course it is your problem!”

“No, it is not my problem. It is your problem, Ghryu.”

“So, you feel justified in selling away planet Earth?” Smith asked.

“Why not? After all, like the ugly alien just said, the planet is already on the verge of collapse.”

The four men exchanged glances. “You mean Earth is going to collapse?” Smith asked.

“What? You did not know that? It’s only a matter of time before Earth would be no more.”

Ghryu, and Jerry watched in surprise as the four men dashed towards the door.

“Hey. Where do you think you are going?” Jerry shouted.

“Mars, or any other planet, of course,” Smith replied before fleeing the room. “Who wants to stay here, and wait for the planet to collapse?”



Lamees Alhassar