Chapter 2:

The Star of the Tour

"Behold the Milky Way Gallery Wishing Star," announced a being who stood by the driver of the Space Tours Company Shuttle 42. He was tall, nearly brushing the roof of the shuttle with his whitening comb-over, and his dark eyes sat like lumps of coal in sagging sockets. He wore a black suit, a matching tie with the Space Tours Company logo at the bottom (the black letters "STC" squatting inside a red circle while random asteroids attacked from the outside), and a badge that proclaimed the being to be "Tour Guide."

All eleven passengers, most of them advanced in years, were trying to squeeze in a bit of time for sight-seeing before shoving off to meet The Artist. They turned eager eyes to peer out of the left window. A small, dark, slightly oblong rock huddled, like a little being hugging its knees, in the nothingness of space. A halo of light encircled the far side.

"It doesn't look like a star."

Tour Guide shifted his eyes, like chalk scraping against a rock, to a small being who sat in a seat one row from the front. She appeared to be about six revolutions old. Her dark skin, covered by a green jacket and floppy black pants, contrasted with the vivid orange-pink seat. She had light blue hair, which was parted into three braids, and violet eyes.

He hadn't noticed her...until now.


"How come it only has a little bit of light on one side?"

"That's a very good question, little being. The reason we are not blinded by a brilliant display of burning gases is that the core of this star is neither burning nor gaseous. The giant mirrors on the other side reflect the light of all the other stars, which gives the wishing star that halo you see."

"Are all stars like that?"

"No, this one's special."


"It's a being-made star."

"To collect wishes?"

"Very clever. Now, gentlebeings—"

"Who does it collect wishes from?"

Tour Guide felt his left eye begin to twitch. His other passengers had lost interest, returning glassy stares to the window in hopes of further visual stimulation.

He had encountered many juveniles like this, too inquisitive for their own good, mostly because their weary designers stuck them on tours like these for a few hours respite. He hated designers like that, and he hated their creations. They made his eye twitch.

"A planet we will not visit today. It's the only one in all the cosmos not in the Intergalactic Union."


"Do you even know what the Intergalactic Union is?"

The juvenile nodded. "I'm in M2. I learned about that in M1."

He rubbed his ashen forehead. "Extraordinary."

"So why is this planet not in it?"

"It's beings just refuse to accept a greater order of things than themselves, I expect. Our—"

"Is there a being on it that listens to the wishes?"

"I don't know." Tour Guide's eye twitched rhythmically with his pulse. If there was a being on that star, it was certainly better off there than in here with her.

"Then how does the star work?"

"I don't know. Now if you please, no more questions. Our next stop will be Leo on your right. Everyone will need to wear these complementary star glasses, free to you from the Space Tours Company…"

Tour Guide eyed the little being as she pushed the large glasses onto her small nose, which she pressed against the window. A mushroom-shaped fog crept from her nose, expanding on the pressurized glass. At least she had stopped asking questions.