Intergalactic DMV

by Artemis


Ronnie clutched her flimsy appointment ticket in her hand, mindful of the flesh-like damp spots—a  product of the brewing storm overhead. Distantly, creatures as tall and thin as trees prowled the barren, cratered landscape. The line shuffled forward. Her heart flickered in hope during the split second between two lightning flashes, but the line only moved an inch. Ronnie slumped.

She was waiting at the intergalactic DMV, and it was busier than usual—an  observation she was able to make on account of the fact that it was her third time this week waiting to get into the DMV. She’d first arrived on Monday, but forgotten her cruiser license; they wouldn’t let her renew her registration without it. The second time, she forgot to take a Motrin Space PLUS Time Edition before taking a space shuttle from her planet to the moon. By the end of the flight, she was so covered in vomit that she more closely resembled a Garlactarian swamp monster than a human being—a statement which she often made about herself but had never meant quite so literally. She recuperated in a hotel. It was embarrassing, really: her planet had pumped hundreds of thousands of tilactium—the galaxy’s common currency—into their corner of the galaxy’s DMV, under the condition that the location be convenient for the inhabitants of her planet to access. And here she was wimping out over one teeny tiny rocket blast to the moon. In fairness, it wasn’t just the rocket blast; the DMV itself smelled of garlic and wet grass, a combination which stabbed the pit of her stomach.

Her only hope was that today would be different. She’d packed all her documents, taken not one, but two Motrins, and even brought lunch (the last two times she went home hungry). She wore a yellow dress brighter than her solar system’s four suns; the rain wouldn’t be stopping her today. But now, standing in a line of towering creatures decked in black and gray, she tugged the hem of her shirt self-consciously and pulled her too-thin jacket tighter around her. 

In front of her stood a lizard-being, and not one of the pretty ones with the luminescent—but deathly venomous—scales. Its gargantuan tongue dangled out of its mouth, fenced in by two golf-ball-sized teeth. The lizard-being huffed and puffed every time it trodded forward. They really should install some space heaters out here; the lizards deserved to be comfortable during the hours-long wait. Rather unhelpfully, a haze of darkness in a trench coat strolled by with his “space water” cart, boasting, “Attention, everyone. We have a two for one deal on our hands. Doesn’t matter what species you are–statistically speaking, you still need water.”

She snorted. First spring water, now space water. What was next—“seventh-dimension water”? Someone in the line behind her bumped into her. “Watch it, warmie” he growled (warmie was derogatory slang for warm-blooded).

Her eyes widened. “Sorry.”

He gave her one final sneer then started clicking at things in the air she couldn’t see.

But beyond the threatening creature behind her, there was a relatively normal looking being. He had a blue tan that brought out his emerald-green eyes, hair, and nails. He wore a satchel over his shoulder, and was nonchalantly looking around at the DMV building, the other people in line, and then her. She froze.

He gave her an endearing smile filled with razor sharp teeth. She blushed; her cheeks were suddenly spotted in purple dots. “Long wait, huh?” he chatted.

She sighed. “Too long.”

“Where you from?”

She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. “Oh, nowhere special. Just that planet down there. She pointed through a weak spot in the moon’s atmosphere at the edge of her planet peeking through the clouds. There’s only 12 billion of us living there. We practically all know each other.”

He laughed. “Didn’t take you for a small town species.”

“Well, where are you from then?”

“You’ll be jealous.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I live in the seven-planets sector. Population of my city: 4 trillion.”

“No way! They don’t let anyone in there. You must be a birth citizen.” She found herself leaning in his direction.

“No. My parents had me on the list by the time I was five. They’d been watching me and decided I was probably smart enough to get in. Took nineteen years of hard studying to actually be accepted though.”

She shook her head. “Unbelievable.”

A pause.

She ventured, “Would you, uh, mind if I joined you? I’m just awfully bored and—”

He waved her off. “Of course, of course. I’d love some company.”

She scampered in his direction, trying to hold back a smile.

“What are you here for anyway?”

“Cruiser re-registration.”

“Hm, classic. They really should make it an online process. With all the modern technology out there—”

“There’s really no reason to bog up the system with petty check-ins,” Ronnie finished.

They both paused; there was something more than electricity in the air.

Finally, Ronnie inquired, “What are you here for?”

His purple lips rose in a devilish grin.

“What?”

“It might startle you.”

“Try me.”

“I made my own ship.”

Ronnie raised her brows. “You must be a rocket scientist—literally.”

“Hardly—that’s the startling part.”

“Oh.”

He laughed. “I warned you. People tend to get skittish reading those stories about ships collapsing, people sucked into wormholes and coming out five seconds later aged hundreds of years, sunken eyes haunted from watching their friends die at a speed tenfold slower than anyone ever should….”

Ronnie shivered and held up a defensive hand. “Enough, enough. It’s okay—I made my own ship with my fourth and eighth fathers when I was a kid: a space bike.”

“Did you?”

She suddenly giggled.

“What’s so funny,” he teased.

“It’s just that… They just put space in front of everything these days, don’t they? Space notebooks, space hair dye, space mac and cheese. It’s the same damn products, just rebranded with the prices racked up!”

“I disagree.”

“Oh.” She hadn’t expected that. But she liked the challenge.

“Well, take space gum for example. Normal gum is so elastic that the second you put it through even the slightest rip in the space-time continuum it stretches the distance of one moon to another. Not very practical. But space gum hardens the second it’s out of your mouth. The engineering—it’s just splendid.”

“I admit, I didn’t know that. Never had space gum before.”

“I can give you some.”

Should I say it? She said it: “I’d like that.”

She knew what he’d say before the words left his mouth. “I don’t have any on me.”

Ronnie gazed ahead at the line of people so long they faded into the mist, then glanced back at the man. “I just realized, I never caught your name.”

“Jamie.”

“Well, do you want to get out of here?”

“Anything beats waiting for the DMV, but especially this. Are you serious?”

“Caught in space without a helmet serious.”

The storm raged on, but suddenly felt soft on her skin. Ronnie did not re-register her cruiser that day.


Artemis (she/they/he) is a high school student pursuing writing. Their favorite types of writing are short stories and poetry, and their favorite elements of writing are clever word plays and irony. When they’re not writing, they spend their days creating resin dolls and sewing clothes. To learn more about Artemis, you can visit their website at https://sites.google.com/view/artemis-writing-portfolio/home.


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