When Rigabold the pernicketness pulled into the service centre at Halls Creek there was a few cars around, but there did not appear to be enough people to fill those cars, the town really was in the middle of nowhere. He parked the big Dodge in the car park off to the side of the main building and switched the engine off.

He stepped out of the vehicle tentatively, what was about to happen was going to be his first physical interaction with humans and although he’d taken every precaution with his body swap, voice swap and attitude change there was still that little nagging thought in his mind that he’d forgotten something.

Usually Tumcuddulan’s were more confident than to have doubts, even little ones, but given the way humans treated those different to themselves such thoughts were probably justified. The thing that always amazed Rigabold, and other Tumcuddulans, was that even the self proclaimed “tolerant” humans who said they hated no one and claimed to treat everyone equally still turned into monsters when faced with someone from another planet. Peace, tranquillity, love and understanding always went out the window when it came to visitors different to them, in fact it was only those who partook in mind altering drugs that could ever handle seeing visitors from other worlds without reacting poorly.

As he walked along the side of his vehicle he noticed the reddish, orange dust of the outback had covered his lovely looking blue panels. He thought it was a pity to see such defacement of his shiny new ride but looking at the few cars he could see parked around the service centre he quickly realised that without the dust he’d look completely out of place and he didn’t want that.

Rigabold walked casually towards the large building and the door that suggested food was to be found inside. Half way across the forecourt he was greeted by another man who did not look at him twice and did not seem to suspect anything, he took that as a good sign. He was still a little hesitant as he walked through the automatic doors of the service centre but it was not enough to stop him.

One step inside the door he stopped and looked around, although he hadn’t had much experience with road houses what he was seeing was a typical example of such a place, the interiors of each place changed but what was in there was usually fairly constant. Chairs, tables, fridges, souvenirs, several serving counters for payment of food and fuel respectively, a kitchen out the back, warming ovens etc were all there. There was several small groups of people that looked like customers sitting down, possibly waiting for food.

“Can I help you sir?” came the voice from behind the serving counter about four metres in front of him. It belonged to a smallish female with blonde hair who looked to be in her mid twenties and tired.

Rigabold didn’t react immediately because he wasn’t expecting the voice but when he did he said. “Just looking for some food,” he then pointed to his left as if he was showing the the girl he’d worked out where he was going.

At the same time the girl politely pointed in the same direction and said, “Down there.”

Rigabold nodded, said thank you and headed down to the food section. There was a large menu board on the wall showing a decent selection of meals the place prepared but Rigabold was not interested in those, what he was interested in was considered fast food and if they had it they would be sitting in one of the bae maries waiting to be purchased.

Looking through the glass front of the bae marie’s with their yellowish, orange warming lights glowing over the food Rigabold scanned the warming trays looking for what he came for. There was several wrapped hamburgers in one tray, short straight chunks of fried potato that he knew they called chips in another, strangely wrapped parcels of meat that had a little sign next to them saying “Dim Sims, Steamed or Fried”. In the last tray he found what he was looking for, laying in their own warming tray was four Chiko Rolls, he could tell them by the chunky outer casing. He wasn’t entirely sure what the three things laying beside them were but they were the same length, their casing a little darker and not as chunky.

“Can I help you sir?” It was the same girl who had spoken to him at the other counter. The badge on her shirt told Rigabold her name was Catherine.

“Ah yes, Catherine.” he said addressing the girl politely, he was still getting used to his own voice and he spoke a bit slower than he needed to. “I would like the four Chiko Rolls please. And what are those things next to them?”

Catherine explained to him that the other three roll type things were called Spring Rolls, she said they tasted different to Chiko Rolls, as had other Tumcuddulans had said, but Rigabold having never tried one before decided he would see how they compared to his chosen cuisine.

“Ok, well I’ll have the three of them as well thank you Catherine.”

The look on Catherine’s face was one of slight confusion but she placed each item in it’s own separate paper tube and laid the large than usual meal on the counter for him.

“Any drinks with that sir?” Catherine asked.

Rigabold decided that it might look strange if he didn’t buy a drink with the food given that his studies showed many humans did such things and he ordered a large cartoon of spearmint flavoured milk, he’d probably throw it away without drinking it but image was everything on Earth.

After getting his drink out of the fridge behind the counter Catherine rang up the price on the cash register and told Rigabold how much he was up for.

Rigabold felt his pockets looking for money, it was one of those absent minded things many humans do looking for keys, loose change or even a wallet. The problem Rigabold had was that he didn’t remember picking up any wallet or loose change. Thankfully though the computer in the Stargazer had thought of that while he was in the Molecule Mangler and as he felt his back right pocket he also felt a wallet.

A few minutes later, and twenty dollars lighter, Rigabold was back in the Dodge with his seven paper wrapped snacks and a drink. He wasted no time in digging in.

TBC

Previous Episode here.
First Episode here.