in keeping with the theme of the contest-but NOT an actual entry "Look, Shand, I want a pet." "Not in OUR dorm room, Joe. I'm not sharing my space with some foul Terran animal." "But studies have shown that pets relieve stress-and right now, I'm stressing pretty hard. I'm not sure I'm going to graduate!" Shand looked up from his book. "If you'd stop carousing until all hours of the night..." he began. "Look," Joe replied, "Let me run a few animals by you and see how you like them." Shand just peered at him sourly. "If you must." He resumed reading his text on sub atomic lattices. Joe came back about twenty minutes later holding a leash. "So, what do you think?" Shand looked over the top of his book. " Absolutely not. They shed fur everywhere, leave food crumbs on the floor and pee on everything." "But he's so cute!" Joe said. Shand just looked at him, eyes narrowed. "Right, no dog," Joe said. He tugged on the leash and headed back out the door. "And no cats, either!" Shand called after his retreating back. "They're just as bad and they don't obey commands!" When Joe came back, Shand was at the computer sketching out security lock-out points for the old Constitution class ships. Joe opened his mouth but Shand beat him to it. "That's a rodent." "It's a guinea pig. A type of rodent, yeah, but kinda cute and cuddly." The look of distaste on Shand's face would have soured lemons. "Rodents smell and need frequent cleaning and care. How are you going to pass your classes with a distraction like that?" Joe hung his head and turned around, heading back through the door. "And who would want a miniature pig as a pet, anyway?" Shand asked of the otherwise empty room. Shand took one look at Joe's third attempt and screamed, dashing into the bathroom and locking the door behind himself. "Get that thing OUT of here! By the Nine Gods, are you insane?" His voice was muffled but Joe could still make out what he was saying. The bathrooms was supposed to be sound-proof, but Shand was getting through the sound-proofing anyway. "It's just a snake, Shand!" Joe had to bellow to be heard. "Get it out, now!" Joe sighed and left, carrying the cage. On his next arrival, Joe merely stuck his head through the door. Shand was again reading a book, and he put his finger in it to mark his place. "Yes? What have you brought now?" "Um, well, its a bit unusual but a gentleman down on Market Street had a few. I hope it doesn't freak you out." He held the glass case in the doorway. "Her name is Sarah." "She's beautiful!" Shand exclaimed. "Can I hold her?" He set his book down absently, his place in it lost. "You're not freaked out?" Joe asked. "'Cause I passed three cadets in the hall and they all damn near fainted." "Why should I be freaked out-she's so cute!" Shand held his hand out. "Um, ok, if you want." Joe brought the glass case over and slid the lid aside. Shand reached in and carefully lifted Sarah up to his shoulder. Joe just shook his head in disbelief as he watched his Andorian roommate gently begin to scratch her back. "I think she likes me," Shand said. The tarantula leaned into his caresses.