Inkster of the Week: Santino Hood

Thursday 7th September 2023

A very witty piece for your enjoyment this week - part sci-fi, part satire, and complete with a deliciously vicious ending!


"I will have one sugar, thank you, Michael," shouted Ymphlax through the space station's intercom.

"You want milk?" replied Michael hastily.

"Michael, if my people consume lactose, we implode on ourselves. It happened two days ago in the space station's cafeteria to a daft one of my species who wasn't looking where he was drinking. So I'm going to have to say no to milk, thank you."

"Right. How is that kid, making a speedy recovery?"

"Michael, he imploded; he's dead."

"Oh, well, on a better note, the tea is ready," said Michael, entering the classroom with the two steaming cups while trying his hardest not to spill them.

"Should we pick up where we left off?" Michael asked, setting both the cups down.

"Yes, I started to work on my public speaking and pronunciation of  your odd Earth words."

"And how is that going?"

"Very badly."

"Well, tell me which words, in particular, you’re struggling with since this is our last lesson together, and we’ll try to get those nailed down."

"Thank you, Michael. Firstly, the word ‘through.’ I am conflicted in my pronunciation of the word. I feel as if I should pronounce it differently."

"I get that word a lot with most of my students. Um, it's actually pronounced ‘through.’ Here, I’ll try to write it out so you can pronounce it easily. There you go. As you can see, we pronounce it ‘thuh-row’. Does that help?"

"It does. Thank you, Michael. I have finished the speech that you assigned me, but whenever I think about the idea of reading it aloud to my peers, I get a strange feeling in my stomach."

"You're experiencing what we call ‘butterflies.’ It's basically when it feels like butterflies are in your stomach having a rave. The real explanation is that the blood vessels surrounding your stomach constrict and the digestive muscles contract."

"That is an extraordinary response and a great metaphor, Michael. I will be sure to use it."

"Is that all that you needed help with, Ymphlax?"

"Yes, Michael. I think, thanks to your expertise in English, I am finally ready to give my election speech to all the people of Mephlonia."

"That's great, and I am pleased to have helped you with your speech. Should I send over my bank account number to you, or were you gonna pay in cash for our 10 lessons - if I remember correctly?"

"I'll be paying via a bank account number, thank you, Michael. Oh, and I mustn't forget before I depart, that I remember you saying, around 2 lessons ago, that your mother was struggling with a disease that you humans call cancer. Anyways, I whipped up a cure for that when I had a few minutes spare yesterday, so that should get her good and well in about 8 hours. Once again, thank you very much for the lessons, and I will be sure to keep in touch with you. Goodbye, Michael," he said, setting the vial of precious liquid down on the bench.

Michael stared in awe at the vial and what Ymphlax had just told him for so long that he didn't even have time to say thank you. What he had just heard was life-changing, not just for him but for the whole of planet Earth. In all the years, cancer had been one of the top three leading causes of death for the past 100 years, and before that, a student that Michael had known for only 10 days had just cured it like it was nothing. The human race had suffered from cancer, or having loved ones who had died from it.

Once Michael had comprehended what just happened, he rushed to the transport dock on the space station to catch a shuttle to Earth. He handed the ticket master a crusty, crumpled $100 banknote for the $5 ticket and vaulted over the turnstile swiftly. He ran onto the shuttle just as the door was closing and managed to squeeze through. He sat in anguish for 5 minutes, knowing what he held and how it was going to help the world, before he shot up and rushed out of the shuttle's door. He had landed in the closest shuttle to the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Sprinting, he made his way to the building and pushed past the line to the counter, where the miserable old office lady served him.

"Welcome to the World Health Organization. How may I help you?" she said in a monotone voice.

"I HAVE… THE CURE… TO CANCER!" said Michael, panting violently between words.

"Ok, if you could please take a seat and we will be right with you shor…"


As Michael finished his rant, two security guards—one large and stocky, and the other of an average build—came through a big wooden door.

"Right this way, please, sir," said the larger security guard.

"Finally, some good service," Michael said, feeling gratified.

He followed the two security guards down the long hallway, looking at the sculptures on the pillars of the world's most highly acclaimed doctors, including the likes of Dr. Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, and Dr. Edward Jenner, who developed the concept for vaccines and created the smallpox vaccine. As they approached the entrance at the end of the hallway, the two peeled off to each side of Michael and stopped at the door. Then it opened, revealing a large, almost semi-dome-shaped glass office, the size of an observatory. At the end of the dome was a large desk with a desk and a chair facing the view over Lake Geneva.

"Michael Hood, 10 Balneves Lane, Wanaka, New Zealand, I hear you have the cure for cancer?"

"How do you know that? And yes, I do. You need to call a meeting with the W.H.O right now to start getting this produced and redistributed around the world."

The man in the seat turned around, revealing the one and only X Æ A-12, son of the late Elon Musk.

"Well, Michael, that's just not what happens around here."

"Wha- what? No, you need to start the produc…"

"DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU'RE THE FIRST PERSON, MICHAEL?" shouted X Æ A-12 in a commanding tone. "Do you really think that you are the first person in over 100 years to have obtained a cure for cancer?"

"But we have to save everyone; we could save everyone who has it."

"Michael, that's not going to happen. But what’s going to happen is I'm going to let you in on a little secret of the mighty World Health Organization. We don't care about the people. Michael, do you know how much money we make every year off the donations and treatments? No, you don't, and you never will be able to comprehend the amount we have made already."

"But the people, this is just inhumane," pleaded Michael.

"Forget the people, Michael. I'm going to give you an offer. Either we can give you 50 million dollars, and you will never tell a single soul about this, or we can forcefully make sure that nobody ever finds out about it. See? Not so inhumane, right?"

"But my mum, she has cancer. What am I supposed to do to help her?"

"I'm sorry, Michael. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. But at least you won't have to worry about her treatment costs, right? Oh, wait, it all just comes back to me!"

"I’ll take the money," said Michael reluctantly, with tears forming in his eyes.

"Good boy," said X Æ A-12 in a condescending tone. "About your friend Ymphlax, you won't be seeing much of him anymore. He’s, unfortunately, going to get his first and last taste of milk tonight. Now get out of my office, don't ever come back, and certainly don't forget, Michael, we're always watching."