The Star Tribunal


So anyway I was hauled up in front of the Pan InterGalactic Star Council and put on trial on behalf of the human race. This was done on a strictly random basis, as is always the case in these situations. It could have been anyone – I could have been a complete psychopath, or an out-and-out sociopath, a top executive from some big multinational corporation, a civil servant or even a politician. Luckily for the human race I am none of these things!


“What good stuff has the human race done?” asked the Adjudicator, who was eighteen foot tall with a face for each direction. “What great things have you invented?” Everyone in the courtroom looked at me, their faces expressionless. Two imposing-looking court officials sat at either side of the Adjudicator, each with a bag of pebbles. One bag full of white pebbles, the other full of black ones. They were solemnly waiting to count them out…


I paused for effect, deliberately stretching out the moment, just to get everyone’s attention. Not that I really needed to do this, obviously, with all the tension that was in the room, but it did gain me a bit of time to gather my thoughts. I had to play my cards right here. Or rather, I corrected myself, I had to play humanity’s cards right. A lot was riding on what I said next, obviously. It wouldn’t do to fluff this one. Unfortunately however my tactic of playing for time wasn’t bearing any fruit – my mind was still perfectly blank. It often is…


I could sense at that moment that things were going the wrong way. It was actually tangible – I could feel it in the air. Things were not looking good. I had to say something, anything. Then inspiration hit. A light-bulb went on in my brain. “We invented shopping,” I blurted out. “We’ve come up with all sorts of different type of shops selling all kinds of great stuff that you don’t really need. Anybody can just walk into one of these shops and buy a whole load of things for themselves, just so long as they have the cash in the bank or are willing to place themselves in debt. A ripple of interest spread through the court. Ears of a million different shape and size pricked up, along with a number of other types of appendage that I couldn’t even begin to recognize. A thousand alien ocular receptors stared in my direction.


“Yeah it’s great,” I continued, encouraged by the response. “Shopping’s brilliant. You can spend the best years of your life shopping for this, that and the other. You’ll all have to get pointless crappy jobs of course so that you will have the necessary dosh, but you’ll soon get used to that…” The representatives of the various multitudinous star nations stared at me. I was in full flow at this stage, “Back on planet Earth we’ve got millions upon millions of generic shopping malls wherever you go where we go to buy a shit-load of useless stupid stuff when we’re not working. And it’s great for the economy too.”


There was a lot of murmuring and head-nodding going on all around me. With those that had heads, at least. All of this was going down very well, I reckoned. It was going down a lot better than I had any right to expect, all things considered! The Adjudicator banged his gavel on the table front of him to bring the assembly to order. “Well to be perfectly honest I had already made up my mind to snuff the lot of you useless bastards no matter what you said but I’m actually starting to have second thoughts now.  Can we have shopping too, do you think? Can we have shopping malls and high street chains? Can we have product placement and special promotional offers and all that kind of stuff?”


I confidently assured the Adjudicator that they certainly could and so the human race was saved after all! Neat story, huh? And it’s true as well…








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