It may have been somewhat ridiculous to say, but Hoth was cold this time of year. Most wampas were hibernating, but not Frank. Frank couldn’t sleep. He was recently divorced and very lonely.
Frank lived just east of what appeared to be a new settlement of humans. Each morning as his coffee was brewing, he’d venture out into the cold, making his way up and over the ridge to watch from a distance as these new residents built gigantic power generators and used massive equipment to dig deep tunnels beneath the surface. Keeping to themselves, they seemed harmless enough.
But his first interaction with humans was not to have been a pleasant one. He’d been outside and away from his cave a few clicks. Having finished an after-dinner coffee, he was visiting the “facilities” and reading the latest edition of “The Hoth Review” that he’d missed the previous morning. Turning the page to the “personals,” he was struck in the skull by a falling object from a cargo cruiser stirring up a blinding snowstorm as it passed overhead. Growling toward the sky, he rubbed the sore spot and watched the dusty flakes settle. When all was calm again, the glimmering sun cast a sparkling beam upon the assaulting item, which lay only a few feet from where Frank was crouched. He finished his business and investigated the object. Lifting it from the snow and brushing it clean, he could see it was a bottle of Aberlour 16 Years Old Scotch whisky.
Now, as was said, Frank was a lonely wampa, but like everyone and everything else in the galaxy, he’d heard of Scotch whisky. He knew it was an exceptional beverage concocted by humans in another galaxy far, far away. He’d heard it was a highly prized drink that often sat on the top shelves of both low and high cantinas throughout the known worlds. You could find it there in Mos Eisely, the little smuggler town on Tatooine (although most often, only the likes of Scoresby and Dewar’s would be found available), and you could order it up in Coruscant, the former capital city of the old republic, being sure to have at your fingertips various editions of The Balvenie, Glenmorangie, The Macallan, and Lagavulin (which he’d read in a review somewhere was a favorite of the latest crazy guy floating around the galaxy named Vader). And yet, Frank could never visit places like these, so the opportunity to enjoy Scotch whisky had always been a fast-fleeting dream. But no longer. The object that had first visited him as an enemy was now a welcomed friend.
Still soothing his head, he made his way back to the cave, intending to give the whisky a try.
Only moments after the cork cleared the bottle’s neck, the little corner of the lair where Frank was sitting became awash in the lovely scent of citrus. He lowered his giant head to the bottle and smelled something he’d not smelled since his days in Hoth’s southern hemisphere—flowers. Yes, Hoth has flowers at certain times of the year, but only for a few days, and they are quite rare.
With gigantic hands, Frank maneuvered carefully to hold the bottle with two fingers and take a sip. This was the only option, as his ex-wife had taken all the glassware. And though he was a bulky and clumsy fellow, he tipped and savored with sophisticated style, savoring the warming liquid. The palate was sweet, with hints of caramel, or perhaps, brown sugar and a little vanilla with spice.
Oh my, he thought before speaking with tragically prophetic discernment, “I know a few wampas who would give their right arm for some of this.”
As he swallowed the wonderful elixir, the finish was short but clean and sweet, revealing the spice—it was cinnamon. Frank was the happiest he’d been in a very long time.
He went to take another sip when he heard the sound of what he believed was a grunting taun-taun in a gallop. He capped the bottle and buried it in the snow. Creeping from the mouth of his cave (which was virtually impossible to see now that the wind had picked up and the snow was being driven across the landscape), he ventured up and over a slope to discover he’d heard correctly. Atop a taun-taun was a human rider with a communications device on his arm and a viewing device in his hand. He was talking with someone while he scanned the landscape.
Frank ducked swiftly as the rider’s scan passed his position.
“What is he looking for?” Frank wondered. And then he knew. He was looking for the bottle of Aberlour.
“Oh no,” Frank whispered. “These humans must have an incredible sense of smell. He must know that I have it. He must have smelled the Aberlour from my cave.” Frank knew that if this lonely rider found him, he would most certainly call others, and the sanctity of his home would be overrun, and his new treasure would be stolen away. Frank’s inner unreasonable voices emerged in the fragility of his lonely estate. There was only one thing to do.
Frank waited for the rider to be distracted with his communication device when he crept over the slope, crouching low against the snowy scape. And just as the taun-taun signaled the rider to his attack, Frank lunged, knocking the rider clean from the taun-taun and unconscious into the snow. Frank grabbed the noisy (and smelly, by the way) taun-taun and made sure it wouldn’t be able to testify for the rider.
Back in the cave, having imprisoned the rider upside down by freezing his feet to the lair ceiling, Frank sat down in another room to contemplate. And he ate. He always ate when he was nervous.
What do I do? he thought. Although he was lonely and sometimes driven to a bit of loopiness, even in solitude, he was generally a positive guy. “Maybe when he wakes up,” Frank wondered aloud, “maybe, we could talk about this. Maybe he’ll be reasonable and let me keep the Scotch. He looks reasonable enough. But, oh dear, I really gave him a good one out there. I don’t know what came over me.” But the soft-spoken voices of insanity often present in the minds of lonely wampas in the middle of a tundra began to urge, He’s not going to be happy when he wakes up. “Oh, dear,” he self-replied. “But I really want to keep this Scotch. I’ll never get to Coruscant or anywhere like that. He’s not going to be happy.”
While the thoughts rattled in his head, he heard a jostling in the other room. He took another nervous bite and went to investigate. There on the ground, the rider had freed himself with some sort of glowing stick. Frank rushed to grab him when he felt the excruciating and yet almost numbing warm of the glow stick pass through his shoulder, lopping his arm off completely. Frank rolled backward in agony as the rider scrambled up and out of the cave to freedom.
Lying there on the floor next to his arm, Frank’s only thought, Where’s the Aberlour? The room turned black as he faded into unconsciousness.
He wasn’t out long. And when he awoke, he remembered the recent events, but he didn’t care about his arm. He didn’t care about the rider. He rolled over and started to crawl feverishly back toward the other room. Surprised but unconcerned, he noticed no blood flow from his shoulder. The glow stick had cauterized the wound. He scratched and clawed along with his good arm, eventually ending near where he’d buried his prize in the snow.
“Ah,” he sighed. “There you are.”
He jostled to a seated position against the wall, and using his teeth to pull the cork, he held the bottle and sipped.
“At least he didn’t find you,” he whispered. And there in the quiet, with only the sound of the wind-driven snow swirling and carrying whiny calls of “Ben! Ben!” from the rider outside, Frank smiled with positivity and took another sip.
“I didn’t need that arm,” he sighed. “At least he didn’t find you.”