Wade chucked a rock at the back of his pickup truck. He loved his pickup truck, it was the best one in the entire moon, literally. There was none other in the entire rocky place, no siree.
He loved that truck. He washed it, he took care of it, he drove around in it.
The job wasn’t much, but it was an honest day’s work, chucking rocks at the back of his truck, driving around to where the computer told him to, stopping, getting out, chucking more rocks.
Even an idiot could do it, but he’d get bored very quickly. Wade was the perfect kind of idiot, he could both do the job and not get bored. No siree, all he needed was his country songs and his beer and his trusty ol’ truck.
Songs were easy to obtain, and the computer could even make more up as it went! How cool was that? It claimed they were ‘formulaic’ or something and Wade just pressed a button and the damned thing spat out more singin’ just like that!
Wade was wary at first, but he liked some of the new ones the computer made so he stored them and played them on repeat.
Yeah I’ll have Callisto beer
But I don’t wanna hear
No songs about moon trucks
No no no
No more songs about moon trucks
No no no no no
He sang along to the tune, bobbing his helmet up and down. He reached out with his rake and picked a small rock. He could use that for the smaller ones, the large ones he had to use a shovel, maybe a pickaxe. It was an honest day’s work.
Wade chucked the rock at the back of his truck. It was funny how gravity was light on Callisto, being a small moon and all that, so he could chuck it far with a flick of his wrist. It took him a while to get used to it but he got it eventually, chucking rocks like an NBA VIP. Yessir.
Wade could do with a beer, right about now. He checked his watch and the computer display, he was within the route parametres. He was gonna pick up one more rock, chuck it at the back of his truck and get inside to cycle the airlock, unscrew his suit’s helmet, and drink Callisto beer.
He could practically taste it already, that sweet and sour taste that the autobrewery produced. He loved that machine back at the Hub, it was his pride and joy. It made his beer, so he took real good care of it.
Wade absent-mindedly picked up another rock. It slipped from his rake, so he leaned down to grab it with his hand.
He stretched back, and was about to chuck it towards the truck.
“Hey, wait,” someone said.
“What in God’s name?” Wade started, looking around. He turned off his music, looked around. There was no one there. He shrugged and extended his throwing arm.
“Aw it cannot be!” Wade said, freezing in place, now spinning around frantically. This time he heard it clear as day. The voice.
“Down here. In your hand.”
“Ah!” Wade got startled and dropped the rock. It fell and rolled a bit on the icy surface of the moon.
“That was rude,” the rock said.
“You can speak?” Wade asked, squinting at it. He held his pickaxe up high, ready to strike.
“Okay. Are you a rock?”
The rock sputtered. “We’re not all called rocks, you know… We’re… Okay, never mind, yes. I’m a rock.”
“Okay. I’m gonna leave you be and go back to my truck,” Wade said, stepping away to do just that.
“Wait, what? Aren’t you curious about me? I mean, you found alien life on an icy, rocky moon.”
Wade shrugged. “Not really. Do you have any beer?”
“No, I don’t have any beer. I’m a rock.”
“Do you have music? Rock and roll?” Wade snickered.
“Yes, we have music. Wanna hear?” the rock asked.
“Sure. Let me see.”
The rock made some crumbling sounds.
“It’s one of the finest ballads of my species,” the rock said proudly.
“It ain’t no country music, that’s for sure.”
“Was it the one from before? I liked those vibrations.”
“Yeah, wanna hear it again?” Wade lifted his wrist and typed on the keyboard with the other. He started the music, lowering the volume a bit. He bobbed his head to the rhythm.
“I don’t wanna hear, no songs about moooon truuuucks,” the rock sang. “Yeah, it’s nice.”
“Glad you appreciate, rock.” Wade tipped his head in a cowboy’s salute. “Well, I must be off. There’s a schedule to keep.”
“For rock samples.”
“But why are you gathering those rock samples in the first place?”
“Those scientists back home really seem to like ’em.”
“And they’re looking for what exactly?” the rock asked, as if talking to a child, presenting a string of thought.
“To find alien life or whatever. I dunno.”
“But I am alien life,” the rock exclaimed, losing its patience. “You’re found it.”
Wade pushed his chin forward. “Ungh… I dunno man. I’m not sure.”
“You’re not sure about what? From your perspective, I’m an alien. And I’m talking to you, so I’m intelligent.”
“I don’t think you are. I mean, no offence, but you’re just a rock,” Wade said, his palm up to it.
“But-But I’m speaking to you? I’m even sure I have a more extensive vocabulary than you!” the rock sputtered.
“I dunno… Nah, this cannot be.” Wade scratched the outside of his helmet, mulling it over.
“Seriously, what is there to think about? Just get me in touch with a scientist,” the rock said.
“What would a rock have to say to a scientist?” Wade asked, laughing.
“The very fact I’m able to talk is enough!” the rock said, losing its patience. “Really, man, how thick are you?”
Wade thought about it for a moment. Then he waved the comment away with a gloved hand. “Nah. I’m leaving, my beer is waiting for me in the truck.” He started to walk towards his truck.
“No, wait! Wait!” the rock’s voice became smaller and smaller as he left it behind him.
Wade climbed on his truck. He stopped, thinking it once again. He hopped back down on the ground, his boots crunching on the frozen rocks below. He reached out and picked one that was about the same size as that goddamn talking rock from earlier on, and he chucked it at the back of his truck.
There, quota met. The computer would be happy.
He climbed on his truck, went inside the familiar cabin, cycled the airlock, unscrewed his suit’s helmet, and drank Callisto beer.
“Ah, yeah!” he said, smacking his lips together with the taste of the beer on them.
He sniffed, then held on the steering wheel. The computer was happy about the day’s quota and rock samples, so he could just head on home and put his feet up.
One hand on the wheel, a beer in the other, songs in his ears and his face towards the Hub, he felt great about livin’. He’d let nothing disturb that, no siree.
“Stupid rocks and their talkin’,” Wade shook his head, driving on home.