||City of IF
Free online storygaming
|The Powers That Be
Joined: 19 May 2005
Location: Santa Monica, CA
|Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 10:56 pm Post subject: The Whole Story
|Here, for your convenience, you will find the entire story of Abduction! in one place.
All right, I’ll tell you how it all started. But the thing you need to understand is, I was drunk at the time. I mean, really drunk. Pretty much blitzed out of my mind. I’m just saying, it’s possible I hallucinated the whole thing, and by no means could you use what I’m about to tell you as, say, evidence that I’m off my rocker. Understood? Okay then.
It was a Wednesday night, 10 o’clock, maybe 10:30. I was sitting at O’Malley’s, you know, the place on Cedar, about a half mile from my house. I was alone, at the table by the fire. I stopped in after work for a beer. One beer, you understand? I’d been at the plant until 10, trying to make the damn books work out, but it just wasn’t going to happen. We had three or four months left, and then there wouldn’t be any options. I was going to have to shut the place down and put 65 people out of work. So I was pretty upset, and I figured, yeah, I could use a beer. Besides, Colleen, the pub owner, used to work for me and she’s always good for a free round.
So I’m having my one beer, feeling pretty crappy about things, when who should walk in but Chuck Aleno. He’s got his girlfriend, Mandy, with him; they’re kind of a cute couple. I wanted to be alone, so I turned toward the fire, but he spotted me right off. He bellowed out (you know Chuck, always bellowing), “Hey, is that Frank Brill hiding in the corner? It is you! What’s a great man like Frank doing drinking alone? Bartender, three of whatever my friend here is having, on me.”
“Hi Chuck, hey Mandy,” I offered. “Have a seat.” I tried for a cheerful grin, but I must’ve missed by a lot, because Chuck gave me a concerned look.
“Hey Frank,” he said, still using that theater voice, “are those hemorrhoids acting up again? ‘Cause I’m telling you, I’ve got the perfect stuff for…”
“Uh, no Chuck, I’m fine, really. How’re you doing?”
Chuck gave me a big smile and said, loud enough for the whole place to hear, “Well, I’ll tell you, Frank. I’m doing great, and it’s all thanks to you!” One thing was clear, this wasn’t the first bar Chuck had been in that night. “Two years ago,” he continued, “I was nothing. No job, no money, no direction. And then Frank Brill took a chance on me. Gave me a job at the plant, and changed my life. Without that job, I’d be out on the street. And I never would have met Mandy here. I owe it all to you, Frank, and so does everyone else in that plant.”
That’s when I decided I was going to keep drinking. Chuck kept buying, he and Mandy kept singing my praises, and I kept feeling worse. Finally, closing time came, and I got up. The bartender gave me a look, but I told her not to worry. “I’m walking tonight, Jackie, I’ll be all right.”
As I headed to the door, Chuck called after me, “Wait up, Frank, I’ll join you.” Turning to Mandy, he said, “I gotta get home before Agnes gets suspicious. Love ya, babe.”
Chuck and I stumbled down the road toward our homes. Tadpole Hollow's a pretty small town, and Cedar Road was completely empty, which was good, because I’ll tell you, we needed that whole roadway as a sidewalk.
After a few minutes, I saw a pair of headlights approaching. I started to tell Chuck to stop puking in the middle of the road and get over to the side, but then I noticed something strange. “Chuck!” I called. “Do you see that?”
Chuck looked up (slowly) and said, “Whoa, check out those lights. There must be a dozen of ‘em. Oh, wait.” He squinted. “Yeah, just two. Oh hey, you know what, I bet that’s Crowley! She’s been talking about getting that new SUV, the Ford Excessive. Her husband swore he’d leave her if she got one, but she really wanted it. Yeah, I’m sure that’s her. Hey, maybe she’ll give us a ride!”
“Chuck, are you nuts?” I asked. “Those ‘headlights’ are 20 feet in the air.”
“Nah, you’re drunk, the Excessive’s headlights are only 12 feet off the ground. Yeah, two lanes wide, 24 cylinders, it’s a sweet ride…hey, you know what, Frank? I think you’re right about those lights. Huh. Maybe Crowley got the raised suspension…”
The lights were moving closer, but at a sedate pace, giving us time to contemplate them. When they got pretty near, I noticed something else. “Hey, Chuck?”
“The Ford Excessive, does it have a completely silent engine?”
“I don’t think so, unless that’s an add-on. Hey, Frank?” Chuck added.
Chuck craned his neck up - the lights were almost directly over us now. “What do you think we should do?”
|The Powers That Be
Joined: 19 May 2005
Location: Santa Monica, CA
|Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 10:59 pm Post subject:
With the lights nearly upon us (well, except for being 20 feet over our heads), I turned to Chuck. “Chuck, I think we should get ou – what the hell are you doing?”
With his head craned far back, Chuck swayed in slight circles with his mouth gaping open and his hands waving wildly over his head. He said, “Frank, I figure, we’re really wasted, right? And we’ve been walking for half an hour, and made it what? About 20 feet. Now, maybe those lights are something weird from outer space come to take us away. Or maybe there’s a car around here somewhere and I just ain’t seeing straight. Either way, I’d rather ride than walk right now. Hey, down here!”
He had a point. What the hell, I thought, and raised my arms to flag down the whatever-it-was.
When the lights were directly overhead, they stopped. Chuck’s head was so far back that he finally lost his balance, slowly tipped backward, and fell to the ground with a thud. Completely unfazed, he just lay there, still waving his arms, still yelling. “Down here! C’mon man, give us a lift!”
After a moment, I saw something descend from the lights. As it got closer, I realized what it was: a big claw on a cable, like in those arcade games where you have to grab the stuffed toy. The claw clunked down to the ground and closed on nothing. Then it was pulled up a few feet, moved over toward Chuck, dropped down again and scooped him up. “Whoo-hoo!” he yelled. “Got me a ride! Thanks buddy!” The claw started to pull him up. Slowly, he rose out of sight.
Then the claw came down again, with Chuck still held tight. It opened, apparently to drop him, but he was hanging on for dear life. “Hey, come on, no fair! Just give me a ride!” The claw shook, first lightly, then hard, and Chuck lost his grip and fell to the grass, just off the road. “Aw, this sucks,” he pouted, and then he started snoring.
The claw lifted again and came in my direction. I decided that maybe waving my hands hadn’t been such a good idea after all, and I started to run. I made it about three steps before I tripped and fell. It wasn’t long before the claw got me. It pulled me into the air, higher and higher. I could see Chuck below me, sleeping peacefully. And then I blacked out.
Two things greeted me when I woke up. The first was a splitting headache. The second was a pair of voices, whispering to each other.
“Shh, he’s waking up.”
“Ok, you ready?”
I tried to open my eyes, but the light was unbearable, making my head swim and my stomach lurch. I squeezed them shut tight, but not before I got a glimpse of my abductors. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why my head swam and my stomach lurched.
One of the things came toward me (well, its voice did anyway). The next words will be burned in my memory for as long as I live, and maybe longer. “Prepare the anal probe,” it intoned.
“Yes, yes, the anal probe,” said the other one. “Which one?”
“The extra large rotary model,” the first voice responded. At that, my eyes snapped open of their own accord, and I tried to scream, to get up, to run away. But I ended up just staring slack-jawed at my attackers.
Imagine a hundred-pound Twinkie (that was the bigger one, maybe an 80-pound Twinkie for the other). Now slap the radiator from a ’79 Trans Am on top of it, hard, so the Twinkie gets squished a little and the goo starts oozing out from the ends. And give it lots of long wiggly arms, like earthworms all covered in Velcro. That’s the best I can describe them. No eyes, no nose, no mouth that I could see. But they could talk, and these two just kept saying, “Anal probe, yes, yes, the anal probe” as they approached me. I tried to back away, but I was strapped down to the floor of the room.
Suddenly, just as the bigger one nearly reached me, I heard this horrible loud growling spitting sound from somewhere outside: “GRREOOOWIDNNFNNFIFRU,” or something like that. The creatures jumped back, gave little “Eek!”s of surprise, and scooted over to the corner of the room. Just then, another creature, twice as big as these two (meaning, you know, a 200-pound Twinkie), came into view in the doorway. As it entered the room, its voice suddenly switched to English, a woman’s voice. “RROGFRRERknow you’re in there, girls, so come OH DEAR LORD what have you been doing?! How many times did we tell you not to play with the human? Apologize to our guest at once!”
“Yes, mommy,” said the smaller creatures as they scooted back into view. “We’re sorry we teased you, Mr. Human. We didn’t really have the anal probe.”
“Anal pro - oh girls, I don’t believe you, you are in such big trouble. But right now, untie the poor man and go put on your assimilation suits. And tell your father that our guest is awake.”
When the girl-creatures had untied me and skedaddled from the room, the mother said, “I’m so sorry about this. The last thing we wanted to do was scare you. Excuse me a moment while I make myself more presentable.”
There was a small click then, and suddenly a big balloon appeared from nowhere and completely engulfed the creature. The balloon deflated until it was tight around her form, and then it started to bulge and pinch and thrash about like a Hefty bag with a cat inside. The thrashings slowed as the balloon took on a completely different shape, and then pop! two legs suddenly shot out of the thing, pop! two arms followed behind, and pop! a head formed out of the top. The shape kept changing for a bit longer, and finally poppity pop pop! fingers, toes, eyes, ears, all the little details popped out, and a perfectly recognizable human women (wearing a comfortable yet fashionable ensemble, no less) was standing before me. Her skin color and facial features seemed a blend of all human races, so she wouldn’t really stand out anywhere. Well, except for the fact that she stood barely 5 feet tall and weighed at least 300 pounds. She looked up at me and spoke in the same voice she’d had back when she was the big Twinkie-Trans Am-Velcro thing.
“There, that’s much better. We didn’t mean to scare you with our true forms, so sorry. My, but you’re much taller than you seemed before – wait a minute…” She looked down at herself and yelled out, “GIRLS! Get in here this minute!”
A moment later, two human girls, ages 8 and 12 perhaps, of the same indeterminate race as their mother but with perfectly average body proportions, ran through the door. They looked at their mother with shock that quickly dissolved into giggles. “That’s a good look for you, Mom,” said the older one.
The mother stamped her foot, causing her entire body to ripple like an earthquake had hit it. “Which of you fiddled with my simsuit? Come on, out with it!”
Through their laughter, the girls denied any wrongdoing. The younger one said, “I did see Daddy fiddling with one of the suits earlier.”
“And where is your-” the mother started, but at that moment, a man stepped into the room. He was wearing a tailored Armani suit and he was, except for one detail, perfectly ordinary-looking, someone who would fit in on any continent. The one odd detail was that his head was about three times too big for his body. And growing.
“Hi girls,” he said. “What’s all the ruckus?”
“Daddy,” squealed the little one, pointing at his rapidly ballooning head, “you’ve put your simsuit on wrong again!”
The mother gave an exasperated groan. “All right girls, pop your father’s head. And when you’ve done that, I’m gonna pop him one.”
The girls ran out of the room. I was just standing there in shock, staring at this man’s extraordinary head as his eyes got literally as big as saucers. At some point, I noticed that he was starting to float up off the floor. The girls came back, each carrying an enormous needle. “Carefully, now!” said their mother. The girls jumped up, trying to reach him, but he was really floating now, his head gently bouncing off the ceiling. Finally, the older girl grabbed his legs and pulled him down, and the other jammed her needle hard into his left eye, a move that made me jump up and yelp in sympathetic pain. The very next moment, we all threw ourselves down to the ground as the man shot through the air at great speed, bouncing off the walls and emitting a loud hissing sound as his head deflated.
Eventually, the hissing stopped and I heard the thud of a body hitting the floor. I looked up to see the man, now with a normal-sized head, stand up and brush himself off. “Thanks girls.” He looked at his wife and a big smile broke across his face. “Wow, honey, you look-”
“Why did you do this to my suit?!” she shot back.
He was taken aback by her anger. “Well, I just thought that we could, you know - ” and then, giving a quick look at his daughters, trailed off with, “I, uh, I’ll tell you later.”
The mother threw up her hands. “Girls, come help me fix this thing. And you,” she gave her husband a murderous look, “explain to our guest where he is and who we are. I’m sure he’s about to have a nervous breakdown.”
She wasn’t far off. My head was swimming, and it wasn’t from the hangover. Who – and what – were these insane creatures? And where the hell was I? For the first time, I noticed my surroundings. In general, I was reminded of the living room of a corporate housing apartment: beige carpeting, beige walls, beige shades over the windows. As far as the furnishings, though, it looked like an Ikea store had exploded in there. There were half-assembled tables, chairs, futon frames, and even a big entertainment center sitting approximately where you’d expect them to be. The rest of the pieces were scattered around randomly, with no way to tell which board or dowel or little plastic doohickey went with which piece of furniture. Many of the pieces were badly dented and chipped, as if they’d been hit repeatedly with a sledgehammer. Pictorial instruction sheets were strewn around the floor.
“Well,” said the man, and I turned my attention back to him. “I’m sure you have many questions. But first let me introduce myself and my family. We’ve been using the name McMahmoudski. Trying to blend in anywhere, you know. I’m thinking we might need to reconsider that one, though…”
“What…are you?” I managed, remembering I had a voice.
“Ah, yes, more on that in a minute. Anyway, my name’s Rudy, my lovely wife is Trudy, the older girl is Judy, and the little one-”
As he spoke, the little one came racing into the room and shrieked, “I’m Bootie!” With that, she began to dance around the room, singing “Bootie bootie bootie, bootie bootie bootie” while shaking hers about, until Rudy scooped her up in his arms.
“Esmeralda,” he mock-scolded, “you are a silly little girl. Now go help your mother, and then you and your sister need to get to bed.”
Esmeralda gave me a wink and a smile, said “Good night, Mr. Human Person!” and danced back out of the room.
Rudy turned back to me. “Now, Mr. Brill. You’ve probably guessed by now that we’re not exactly human. Actually, we are from a grand confederation of planets all over the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s called the, well, the Grand Confederation of Planets. And you are a guest aboard our spaceship.”
“Spaceship?” I asked, pinching myself harder and harder, but to no avail.
“Why yes, check it out,” Rudy said, stepping to the window. He pulled up the shade, and sure enough, black space was outside, and I could see the Earth the way it always looks in the astronaut pictures. “Take a good look at your planet, Mr. Brill, because things are about to change for your people!”
Fear welled up in me, and I blurted out, “Oh God, you’re here to exterminate the human race, aren’t you?”
Rudy gaped at me, clearly shocked. “Exterminate? What do you take us for, monsters? We would never even consider such a thing!”
Trudy walked in at that moment. In just a few minutes, she had gained 8 inches and lost 170 pounds. She had long red hair, green eyes - basically, she was gorgeous. “Why is everyone in this family trying to scare poor Mr. Brill?” she asked. Turning to me, she added, “Mr. Brill, genocide is a serious intergalactic crime. And it’s hard to keep that kind of thing a secret for long.”
“Oh,” I said, not yet completely comfortable. “Then, are you planning to enslave us all and make us do your evil bidding?” Immediately, I cursed myself for possibly giving them ideas.
But Rudy just laughed. “No, no, no, nothing like that. I mean, slavery’s not technically illegal, but oh, the paperwork!”
“Only the big Numarean syndicates can really afford to enslave entire planets,” added Trudy. “And it’s only worth it if the slaves have, you know, actual skills. So you humans have nothing at all to worry about”. She patted my leg reassuringly.
“Ok,” I said, feeling a bit calmer. But just to be sure – “And the, uh, the anal probe?”
“Oh, those girls!” Trudy shook her head, exasperated. “No, Mr. Brill. We won’t be doing anything of the sort. There’s nothing inside the human body that we’re interested in, and believe me, we’ve looked.”
“Well then, why are you here? And why did you abduct me?”
Trudy said, “Ok. Mr. Brill, we are…I guess you’d call us prospectors. Twenty-five years ago, Rudy and I quit our jobs, bought this ship, and set off in search of our fortune. There are a lot of planets out there and you just need to find the right one. What we found, Mr. Brill, was your Earth.”
“Yeah, lucky us,” said Rudy, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Rudy, don’t be like that, things have finally turned around for us,” said Trudy. Turning back to me, she went on. “This planet looked perfect. As soon as we saw it, we staked our claim.”
“Staked your claim? Like to a mine or something?”
Trudy nodded. “It’s basically like that. We discovered your planet, registered our claim with the Confederation, and were granted the rights to anything of value that we find here.”
“What do you mean, ‘granted the rights’?” I asked. “The Earth isn’t your planet, it belongs to us humans!”
“Ha! You should have thought of that when you decided not to file for membership in the Confederation,” said Rudy.
“Calm down, dear,” said Trudy. “Now I understand that this is very sudden, but I assure you it’s all proper and legal. Anything on Earth that somebody somewhere else wants, we own. Now Mr. Brill – may I call you Frank?” she added as I stood up, enraged. “I assure you, we’re not here to take anything without compensating your race appropriately. After all, we’ve been here for almost 20 years, and we haven’t taken anything from you, right?”
“Well, I don’t really know,” I said, not sure what to make of all of this. “What about all this furniture here?”
“Bought and paid for!” said Rudy. “I’ve got the receipt here, uh, somewhere or other. We got it to make our home comfortable for you. And it will be, as soon as I figure out these instructions – say, can you maybe help me with that? You’re human, you must understand how this Ikea stuff goes together. My knowledge of science and engineering is advanced thousands of years beyond your own, but this has me stumped .”
“Yeah, sure, whatever,” I said, not paying any attention. I was wondering about something else. “So what kind of valuable stuff are you taking? Like all our gold and jewelry and art and stuff?”
“No, nobody wants any of that,” said Trudy. “See, that’s always the hard part, figuring out what has value. There are hundreds of species in the Confederation, all completely different from each other, and you never know what might take off. So a bath-towel to one species may be a refreshing snack to another and a life-saving medication for a third. We’ve spent 20 years taking samples of, well, everything your planet has to offer and sending it all off for market testing.”
“And nothing!” snapped Rudy, looking up from the board he was holding. “Everything on your planet is crap. Just like this Ikea stuff.” He held up the board and an instruction sheet. “Look at this. Is it a shelf, or a side wall, or the top? I can’t tell and the instructions don’t say. Is it a puzzle of some kind, Frank, a twisted human joke? What’s the secret? You must know; please tell me. Why do they do this? Why, why?!” His voice dissolved into sobs.
Trudy let out an exasperated sigh. “Rudy, control yourself! And it’s not all crap. There was one item, once.” She sighed again. “The Furby.”
Rudy stopped banging pieces of wood together long enough to let out a long, tortured moan.
“The Furby?” I asked. “You mean those weird electronic stuffed animals that were a big fad a few years back?”
“Yes, well, you didn’t really believe humans were buying those, did you?” Trudy asked with a laugh. “But to one alien race, they were incredibly valuable. Until the Furby came along, their race had never had a really effective laxative. It was a revelation for them. They couldn’t get enough of those things, and they’d pay top dollar to get them. For a time, it looked like we’d be - well, not rich, but able to make a decent living off of your Earth.”
“So what happened?”
Rudy let out another moan before answering. “They evolved. Abandoned their corporeal forms and became beings of pure light, energy and wisdom. The bastards.
“Beings of light, energy and wisdom don’t need laxatives, do they? The whole market dried up, just like that. And then they had the gall to offer ‘compensation’ to all their vendors for lost business. They’d provide the answer to one question, any question, free of charge. What a joke.
“My friend Bronkie actually decided to take them up on it. I told him it was a waste of time, but no, he figures that with all that wisdom, they’ll be able to help him. ‘What do I need to do to be truly happy?’ he asks. And what’s their answer? ‘Follow your heart,’ they say! I mean, that’s the best they can do? Beings of light, energy and wisdom, my butt.” Rudy was really getting worked up now, flailing his arms (still holding the board) as he spoke. I started backing away from him, fearing decapitation if he let the thing go.
“But Bronkie buys into the whole thing. The second he gets his answer, he says OK, tears his heart right out of his foot with his bare claws, and tosses it on the ground in front of him. I mean, how rude is that? So his heart goes squargling off in some random direction and Bronkie follows right along after it. Most ridiculous thing I’ve ever -”
“Rudy, you’re rambling,” said Trudy. “Can we please stay on topic? We’re supposed to be explaining to Frank why he’s here.”
“You know, I saw Bronkie last time we were home,” Rudy continued, undeterred. “He’s still at it, following that heart of his wherever it goes. It was pretty funny, actually. He stopped for just a moment to say hi to me and his heart squelched onto a departing shuttle just before it left the planet. By the time he noticed, the shuttle had already taken off. I thought Bronkie was going to have a heart attack right there – which, now that I think about it, was impossible, given, well, you know. Finally he flags down a space-taxi and tells the driver, ‘Follow that heart!’ So the driver says -”
“That’s it!” yelled Trudy. “Go to bed, Rudy. Now. I’ll finish up with Frank here and we’ll talk about this later.”
Rudy heard her this time. “All right, I’m going. Frank, listen to what she tells you. You’re important to us – we really need your help.” He took one last look at the board in his hands, threw it down in disgust and stomped out of the room.
“There, that’s better. Alone at last,” said Trudy, turning back toward me. “Frank, I’m so sorry about how our first meeting has gone. We wanted to make you feel comfortable and relaxed while we explained our situation to you, but it’s all gotten so crazy. I can’t even imagine how disconcerting this has been for you – look at you, you’re so tense and wound up.”
She wasn’t wrong. By this time, I was sure this was all real, but that didn’t make me feel any better. My head was pounding and my body was starting to shiver uncontrollably like those shock patients on the medical shows on TV.
Trudy moved around behind me. “Here, let me help you,” she said. She began to massage my shoulders gently. “Yes, you are tense, Frank. Now, I’m going to tell you why we need your help and then I’m going to let you rest. Tomorrow, we’ll set you back down at your home. I promise we won’t harm you in any way – oh yes, that’s better, I can feel it. You’ve got such strong muscles, Frank, do you work out? Anyway, I also promise that we won’t ask you to do anything that you don’t want to do. Ok, are you ready for me to finish our story?”
As she kneaded my muscles more firmly, the tension really was melting away and I started to relax. “Yes, all right,” I said, genuinely curious. What in the world could these strange creatures need from me?
“We’re running out of time, Frank,” Trudy said. I could feel her warm breath on my neck as she spoke. “From the time we staked our claim, we were given 20 years to demonstrate the economic value of your planet. Now we only have a few months left, and if we don’t have a viable product soon, we’ll lose our claim and the Earth will be fair game for anyone else.
“But here’s the thing, Frank: we’ve found something. Something amazing. It’s not like the Furbys or most other exports, with just one or two interested species. Nobody’s ever seen market test results like this before. There are no fewer than 27 different alien races that want this thing – they all want it for different reasons, but they all want it. And we only tested it against 30 races. For all we know, there may be 50 others that want it too. It’s going to be the biggest blockbuster anybody’s ever seen. And we’re all going to be rich, just unbelievably wealthy. Not just me and my family, but you humans too. But we have to act fast. We need to get it out, in quantity, before our claim expires. Because if we don’t, somebody else will come along and get it for themselves. And believe me, there are a lot of prospectors out there that you do not want claiming your planet.”
As she spoke, she was moving closer and closer to me. Her body was pressing against my back now, and I was having a hard time concentrating on her words. I forced myself to ask, “What is this thing that everyone wants so bad?”
I could feel her lips brushing against my ear as she whispered the answer. “It’s your product, Frank. You make it every day in your factory.”
|The Powers That Be
Joined: 19 May 2005
Location: Santa Monica, CA
|Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:01 pm Post subject:
“Rubber cement,” I said.
“Yes,” purred Trudy.
“Rubber cement.” It wasn’t sinking in.
“That’s right. Isn’t it amazing?” She squeezed my shoulders, hard.
“You want rubber cement. The whole galaxy. They want rubber cement.”
“More than anything else. And not just any rubber cement, Frank,” she whispered breathlessly. “Your rubber cement. They want the BrillCo 9000 All-Natural Non-Toxic Two-Coat Rubber Cement with the Lemon-Fresh Scent. In the 8 ounce can.”
She started stroking my hair. "Frank, do you realize that your rubber cement is the only known substance impervious to a Rogovian disruptor beam? The Groggnurs are ready to order enough to coat their entire fleet! But wait, it gets better. We’ve discovered the only projectile in the galaxy that can both penetrate the Groggnurian cement shield and damage their ships. And do you know what that projectile is, Frank?”
“Uh, no, Trudy. No I don’t.”
“Oh Frank,” she squealed, hugging me tight. “It’s your 8 ounce cans! Think of the possibilities!”
I pulled away then and turned around to look at her. I was going to tell her that I wouldn’t participate in anything so unethical as war profiteering, but I was immediately distracted by her face, made even more lovely by the flush in her cheeks. “Trudy, um, uh, what I mean is, er…”
She barely noticed my stammering in her growing excitement. “It just goes on and on, Frank. The starving Restocm in the Ewes sector want it for fertilizer: it makes the G’kzz plant grow to 12 times its normal size!"
She was up on her feet now. “The tiny Blektpinn people of Vurramukker can hibernate in it, and they’ll finally be safe from the Glumptious Thneewackers. Every hibernation cycle, thousands of sleeping Blektpinns get gobbled up, but no more. Rubber cement is invisible to Thneewackers! They’ll never find the little Blektpinns!”
At this point – I swear it on my mother’s grave – Trudy, who was already pacing around the room in her excitement, began doing something that looked suspiciously like hip-hop dancing. I was sure it was my imagination and was rubbing my eyes when suddenly she started rapping:
Rub it on a Corstee and his porvums will get bigger!
Feed it to a Ra-na-nam and watch her gain more vigor!
Cement sprayed on a Pixto’s wig will make it 10 times wigger,
And a Glumpet-Gun shoots straighter with it painted on the trigger!
The Chaulkners like to spill it ‘cause it’s so much fun to clean,
When mixed with Comgok urine, it’s a lovely shade of green!
Pour it on a Rromnogoggol from Rumni-13
And it makes so beneficial a mutation in her gene!
The Pulkas swear that having it around brings them good luck!
A Crink I know has said it ups the mileage of his truck!
The Hoola-Poolas think it helps their poolas come unstuck,
The Treek’na people love it ‘cause it makes them want to –
CRASH! Trudy had backflipped onto the half-finished coffee table, which collapsed under her weight, dumping her onto the floor and rudely interrupting her rap. I helped her up and then asked the question that had been forming in my mind. “So what does rubber cement do for your people?”
Trudy looked around and then leaned in close to me. In a conspiratorial whisper, she said “I haven’t tried it, but apparently when mixed into our queeq-na, it has a strong intoxicating effect on us. Don’t tell Rudy or the kids – I don’t want the girls fooling around with something like that, and I don’t trust Rudy to control himself around it. We’re going to be handling huge quantities of the stuff, after all.”
I said, “Ok, so how does this work?”
“Oh, it’s very simple for you, Frank. I’m prepared to give you a purchase order for your entire production capacity for the next month. We’ll pay your regular wholesale price.”
“Now wait a minute,” I said indignantly. “If the demand for rubber cement is so incredibly high, you should be willing to pay a lot more than that! What’s in it for me?”
“Oh, Frank,” she said, sidling up next to me and burying her hands in my hair. “Don’t be greedy. I promise, this is just the beginning. And right now, what’s in it for you is that you get to stay in business. Yes, I know about your financial difficulties. And besides, I already have a quote from your sales department, and it says that the price is guaranteed for 30 days. You’re not going to go back on that, are you? Frank, if things go well over the next month, this first order will just be a drop in the bucket. I promise.” With those last words, she kissed me, lightly, on the lips.
“Sleep on it, Frank,” she said, pulling away. “We’ll talk again in the morning, and then we’ll get you right back home where you belong. We’re going to be rich rich rich, Frank!” And she turned and left the room.
I stared after her for a few moments before eventually lying down on the mattress. I was sure I would never be able to sleep again, but almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, I started dozing. I dreamed all night, sometimes of rubber cement and Twinkies, but mostly of Trudy and that kiss.
I awoke to the sounds of hammering. I looked up and was amazed at the transformation of my room. All the furniture was assembled perfectly. There was no sign of the chips or cracks I had seen on the various pieces the night before. Every piece looked like it looks in the Ikea store. I traced the source of the hammering: it was the little girl, Esmeralda, putting the final touches on the coffee table, the same coffee table that Trudy had broken during her mad break-dance. The table showed no hint of damage now, though.
Esmeralda saw me, smiled, and said “Good morning, Mr. Human Person. Please tell Daddy that you did all this – I think he’d be embarrassed if he knew it was me.” She looked around the perfectly-arranged room, nodded, and danced away, giving me a wave as she left the room.
I decided to explore the rest of the ship, but just as I was about to step through the doorway, Rudy stepped in. “Good morning, Mr. Brill! I hope you slept well. Trudy didn’t bore you too much, I trust? Good. My, but you’ve done a wonderful job with this furniture. The place looks marvelous! You must teach me your secret sometime.
“Anyway,” he went on, “we should really be getting you back home. I have here a purchase order for 30,000 gallons of BrillCo 9000 Rubber Cement, at $2.29 per 8 ounce bottle, to be delivered in 30 days. Do we have a deal, Mr. Brill?”
Thirty thousand gallons. I couldn’t believe it. I quickly ran through some math in my head, and decided we could just about produce that much if I added a shift and ran production through weekends. This was almost 9 million dollars in sales – I’d never done that much business in a quarter, much less a month! If this all worked out, my factory and all the employees’ jobs were saved.
I didn’t know how I’d explain this to the accountant or production foreman, but I’d figure something out. “Yeah, sure, Rudy. We’ve got a deal.” I took the proffered PO with trembling fingers.
It was still before dawn when Rudy and Trudy dropped me off at my house (and I’ll tell you, riding that claw down was twice as scary as riding it up). I rushed inside, showered, changed and practically ran down Cedar to O’Malley’s to pick up my car. On the way, I found Chuck still sleeping peacefully by the side of the road. I nudged him awake.
“Hey, Frank!” Chuck said as he stretched and rubbed his eyes. “What happened to you last night? I had some crazy dream!”
“Uh, yeah, I bet you did – you were pretty drunk, and you fell asleep right here. I would have dragged you home, but you looked so peaceful lying there.”
“No problem, Frank,” Chuck waved away my apology. “This patch of grass right here is my favorite Friday night sleeping spot. But I guess last night wasn’t Friday, huh? Hmm. Listen, Frank, I may be calling in sick today – I, uh, feel something coming on.”
“Yeah, no problem, Chuck, just get home and get some rest.”
“All right! You are the greatest, man!” Chuck pulled me into an unexpected bear hug, and I nearly gagged on the smell of alcohol that still clung to him. Finally he released me and I continued on to my car. I was trembling with excitement as I drove to the factory.
I felt the usual twinge of pride as I turned into the drive and passed the BrillCo sign, with the company slogan, “We’re Rubber and We’re Glue, Stick with Us and We’ll Stretch for You!” (I came up with that one myself). The guard waved me through with a “Good morning, Mr. Brill” and I rolled into my parking spot by the main entrance. I marched in, clutching the PO in my trembling fist, and headed down the hall. I was the first one in the office. It would be a few hours before I could gather my senior staff to announce the good news. I opened up the office safe, put the PO inside (between the notebooks containing the secret recipes for our Lemon-Fresh Cement Scent and our Extra-Gooey Rubberized Slime) and went to my office. I glanced at the morning paper and chuckled – the big news of the day was that old Mrs. Schmuckler had gone missing again and her children were worried. No doubt she’d turn up in one of the two bars in town, and tomorrow’s paper would report that she had “no memory of entering the establishment or ordering the bottle of scotch that was found empty at her table.” Nothing much ever happens in this town – well, nothing much until now. I decided to try to get some work done.
Twenty minutes later, I found myself pacing, alternately fantasizing about Trudy and huge piles of money. Occasionally, I’d find Trudy hiding in the big piles of money. I shook myself out of my reverie, wiped the drool from my chin, and decided I had to get out. I went out behind the factory and started on the path that wound its way up Hidden Hill. I figured a nice morning hike would clear my mind.
I reached the top of the hill and gazed over the town of Tadpole Hollow spread out below me. It was a beautiful spring morning. The just-risen sun was warm on my face, but the light breeze kept me comfortable. Looking west, a hint of dark cloud was barely visible on the horizon, carrying the suggestion of an late-afternoon thunderstorm. I could see the town square, where the farmer’s market was just being set up. Some early-rising kids were heading toward a distant field to play some ball before school. All in all, it was shaping up to be a perfect day.
I’ve lived in this town all my life and love my home more every year. That’s one reason this deal was so important to me, and why I was so willing to believe Rudy and Trudy. Tadpole Hollow has taken a lot of hits the last several years, and I wasn’t sure that it could survive losing BrillCo. From up here, I could see the husk of Bill Fogerty’s premium organic ice cream factory (you may remember it as “Farmer Billy’s Custard”) that had been the pride and joy of the community for so many years, until it was discovered that Farmer Billy was pumping effluent into Muckwater Swamp on the edge of his property. The EPA nearly shut him down until he made a deal to clean up the contaminated water. That’s when Billy had his stroke of genius: since they were cleaning the water anyway, why not latch onto the bottled water craze? Going straight after the disaffected youth market, they started bottling “MuckWater” with the slogan, “Straight from the swamp to you!” They even went so far as to add a little greenish-brown color to the water, to give it that authentic swampy look. Every 100th bottle had a little rubber frog in it (that was BrillCo rubber, another lost product line).
I chuckled at the memory, noting that the dark cloud was getting closer rather faster than I had expected. I figured I should get back down to the factory soon; my staff was probably starting to arrive.
MuckWater sold like hotcakes. Before long it was the best-selling drink among teens, outstripping Coke and Pepsi combined. Kids everywhere were slurping down filthy-looking water, usually making sure to do so in front of their parents and teachers. Farmer Billy, who’d gone from local hero to despised dumper, was lionized all over again. To great fanfare, he broke ground on a new MuckWater plant on the other side of the swamp. It was half-finished when the swamp dried up for good (Farmer Billy was never known for taking the long view). Billy tried to go on by coloring municipal tap water and selling that, but he ran afoul of truth in advertising laws (it wasn’t “straight from the swamp” any more, was it?), sales plummeted, and the company went belly-up. All that was left now were the decaying buildings and Muckwater Meadows, where the baseball game was just getting underway. I hated to think what would happen if BrillCo met the same fate.
I noticed the black cloud again – it was really moving very fast. It was just a single little cumulonimbus cloud, surrounded by clear blue sky. Most disturbing of all, it was headed my way and nearly upon me. I didn’t know what was happening, and didn’t really want to wait around to find out. I started back toward the path, but the cloud altered its trajectory and moved to intercept. Its shadow fell over me as it passed directly overhead and stopped. I was reminded of cartoon losers with their own personal little rainclouds. Sure enough, no sooner had I conjured that image when the cloud opened up and rain started falling. I held out my hand, suppressing an incredulous smile, and watched the rain splatter onto my palm.
Then I gasped in horror. Where the rain touched my palm, a wisp of smoke rose from me, and I saw that my skin in that spot had disappeared. I looked down and saw that bits of me (and my clothes) were disappearing into little trails of smoke everywhere that the rain touched me. I tried to run, but the cloud simply followed and stayed directly overhead as more and more of me dissolved away. Through the cloud of fog that surrounded me, I could vaguely see my bones and innards appear and then evaporate away. The fog thickened and I saw nothing more.
I felt something, though. I felt absolute bliss, total joy, an indescribably intense sense of well-being. I realized that I had died, and this was either Heaven, Nirvana, or both of them mixed together like the chocolate-swirl ice cream of happiness. If this was what eternity would be like, it was a pity I hadn’t killed myself long ago.
Alas, I was mistaken: I was not to remain in this euphoric state forever. Slowly, awareness of my body came back to me. I found myself once again surrounded by fog, but now it was thinning, adsorbing onto me and re-forming into my body. As my vision cleared, I looked around and found that I was inside some sort of glass tube. And I was tied to a chair.
Looking outside the tube, I saw that I was clearly out in space again. This time, there was no attempt to disguise anything – the chamber had the round windows and metal rungs and control panels that one expects to see in a spaceship. Additionally, it contained two aliens who had also made no attempt to disguise their nature. Below, they were a mass of tentacles that looked like nothing so much as a bowl of fried calamari. On top were their heads, which looked exactly, to the tiniest detail, like llama heads (I knew because when I was a boy, I used to spend miserable summers working on my uncle’s llama farm).
The glass tube opened, and the smaller alien wheeled me across the room. The larger one approached me then and spoke.
“Welcome, Mr. Brill. We hope your journey was not too unsettling,” said the creature in perfect English, apparently through some translation device, since the voice and the movements of its mouth didn’t match up.
“Uh…yeah,” I said hopefully. “Maybe if I did it again, you know, to get used to it.”
“Perhaps later, Mr. Brill,” said the creature, not noticing my crestfallen expression. “Right now, we have something to discuss with you. Tell us about the Rugelachs.”
“Yes! Don’t play dumb with me. I know you’ve had contact. Tell us about the Rugelachs!”
“Ok,” I replied, a bit perplexed. “It’s some kind of sour cream-based dough, and then you put in a nut filling and roll it up. Actually, I avoid contact with rugelachs. I’m allergic to the nuts.”
Thre creature turned to look at her colleague. “Mitzclom, are you sure there’s nothing wrong with the Dissolv-o-Porter? I believe we have scrambled Mr. Brill’s brains.”
“I have checked and rechecked the machine, your Exalted Omnipotence! But I am sure you must be correct, as you are infallible and most wise, and I will gladly eject myself into space for my error if you so request it!” groveled Mitzclom.
“No no,” the head monster said, waving her tentacle in Mitzclom’s direction while turning back to me. “The…Rugelachs…”, she continued (the translated voice was female, and that’s all I had to go on), speaking slowly and loudly as an Ugly American might speak to a foreign tourist. “You…met…with…them. What…did…they…want… from…you?”
The last bit of euphoria had faded from me and I was getting annoyed. “They…wanted… me…to…eat…them…” I said snidely. “But I wouldn’t. So there! Seriously, what the hell are you talking about?
“Is this translator working right? Mitzclom?” said the creature, banging the side of her mouth with her claw.
“Your humble servant was certain the translators were working properly, Clazpho…er, your Resplendent Monumentousness!” wheedled Mitzclom (in a male-sounding voice). “But I am sure you are right and I have grievously erred – you should undoubtedly flay my hide and dip my shredded and bleeding body in an acid bath!”
“Perhaps later. Now look, human, this…is a Rugelach,” said Clazpho, punching some buttons and twiddling a knob. Suddenly, an image appeared in the air in front of me, a picture of a big Twinkie-looking thing – it was Trudy, or some other of her kind. “Now tell me of your encounter with these aliens,” she continued.
I decided to play dumb. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. I don’t know what’s going on, but I think you’ve got the wrong guy. But I’m curious: if that’s a Rugelach, what does that make you, a Hamentashen?”
Clazpho stared at me for a long moment and then turned very slowly toward Mitzclom, who immediately threw himself prostrate to the ground. “I have no memory of giving this information to the human, your Most Excellent Bodaciousness, but I must have done so nonetheless, and I am certain you should roast me on a spit until I am cooked to a nice golden brown. May I note, however, that this may explain yesterday’s encounter on Earth with the human female in the food shop…”
Clazpho cut him off. “She was a GCP spy, Mitzclom, trying to find us. There is no question!”
“Yes, of course you are right, O Clazpho the Colossal,” replied Mitzclom, nearly licking the floor with each word, “but when she said, ‘I do love the Rugelachs, but right now I’m looking for Hamentashen,’ I wonder if…”
“A spy, Mitzclom, nothing but a spy! We were right to capture her, and she will stay on our ship until I say we are done with her.”
Mitzclom began to beg for punishment again, but Clazpho had turned her attention back to me. “In the meantime, we have this human to deal with. And Mr. Brill is going to tell us what the Rugelachs have found. You know what to do, Mitzclom.” I didn’t like the sound of that, but I was determined not to tell the Hamentashen anything. I’ve always prided myself on my willpower, and I was ready to put it to the test.
As Mitzclom scurried out of the room, Clazpho picked up a large bowl that was sitting near her on a table. There was a clattering of metal as she rummaged through the bowl while walking over to me. I craned my neck to see what was in the bowl, and when I did, my heart sunk. It looked like the dental kit from hell. I saw serrated blades, sharp points, barbs, wire, and broken glass, all mixed in together. Eventually, Clazpho found what she was looking for and held it up, inches from my nose. The gleaming metal object looked like a cross between one of those rabbit corkscrews and a nutcracker. She paused for a moment, appraising it.
That was it for me. I cracked. I told her everything. I told her about Rudy, Trudy and the kids. I told her about the rubber cement, and the PO, and the deadline that the Rugelachs were under. I told her about my secret feelings for Trudy and about my fond memories of my old ’79 Trans Am.
The whole time, Clazpho just stood there, mouth slightly open, holding up that torture tool. Her paralysis just unnerved me all the more, and I racked my brain for more things to confess.
I told her about the time in 1st grade when I pulled on Peggy Paisley’s pigtails. I told her about the time in 10th grade when I pulled off Peggy Paisley’s panties. I told her about the time a few years ago when I staved off Peggy Paisley’s paternity suit. I told her about everything bad I’d ever done. Eventually, I ran out of things to say and fell silent.
There was a long pause. Finally, Clazpho said, “Huh. Well, that was easier than I expected.” Then she tossed the metal instrument into her mouth and started chewing. Holding the bowl out to me, she asked, “Hungry?”
“All right, Mr. Brill,” she continued, after I declined her offer. “Now we can get down to business.”
Just then Mitzclom reappeared, carrying a tray of what looked suspiciously like cookies and milk. “I have the materials, O Clazpho the …”
“That won’t be necessary, Mitzclom. Mr. Brill already decided to tell us what he knows.”
“This is marvelous! You are truly the Queen of Competent Coercion! I shall dispense with the instruments of torture at once,” said Mitzclom, turning on a dime and exiting again.
“Now, Mr. Brill,” said Clazpho, turning back to me. “If I understand it correctly, you have in your possession the prize of the galaxy, the biggest thing since sliced Homclarad, and for this, the Rugelach have offered you,” and here she smirked and shook her head, “your wholesale price? Does this really seem fair to you?
“It’s a big galaxy, Mr. Brill, and it’s going to need a lot of rubber cement. The output of your little factory will not be sufficient to meet that demand. I expect that within 5 of your years, the entire surface of your planet will be covered with rubber cement factories, each one pushing out product as fast as it can. And you’re giving that all away for a few measly dollars?
“I am prepared to make you a much better offer, Mr. Brill. I want you to work for me.”
“I don’t get it,” I said. “Trudy and Rudy…uh, the Rugelachs have the rights to this planet, right? And we’ve already agreed to terms. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to stall, Mr. Brill. You have equipment problems, or you can’t get an ingredient in time. You don’t quite make the delivery date. The Rugelachs’ planetary claim expires – tough break – but luckily, I am here to file my claim the next day. You sell me your rubber cement and we’re off and running.”
Suddenly, I got it. Clazpho and Mitzclom were claim jumpers. “Now wait a minute, I’m an honest man. I couldn’t do that to the Rugelachs. What I’m getting at is, what’s in it for me?”
Clazpho laughed. “How would you like to rule the world, Mr. Brill? Someone will have to run things when the Earth is converted into a giant rubber cement factory. All I care about is the product – I don’t want to run the place. I want you to be the Governor of Earth, with complete authority over, well, everything (as long as product keeps shipping). And all you have to do for me is this one small thing. How does that sound?”
Well, this was a surprise. Governor of Earth. Absolute power. I had to admit, it had a nice ring to it. Then again, I had to remember that I was bargaining with a big llama-squid who had me tied to a chair. “What happens if I turn you down?”
“Oh, Mr. Brill, try not to focus on the negative. I’m offering you an incredible opportunity. I believe it would be…unwise of you to refuse.
“I’m going to give you some time to think about it, Mr. Brill. I have an errand to run. When I return, I will ask you for your answer. Mitzclom!”
Mitzclom scurried back into the room. “I apologize, your Magnanimous Magnificence, for not anticipating your need for me and appearing before you were forced to call out. I recommend that you cut my head off and nail it to a skateboard so I can reach you more rapidly!”
“Mitzclom,” said Clazpho, ignoring the bizarre request, “bring the prisoner. I have decided that the spy cannot harm us, despite the fact that she is most assuredly a spy! I shall wipe her memory and return her to the planet.”
Praising this decision to the heavens, Mitzclom ran off. He reappeared a moment later with poor old Mrs. Schmuckler, who was bedraggled and apparently in shock. When she saw me, however, she brightened and said, “Mr. Brill! Imagine seeing you here. What are you doing in my dream?”
I forced myself not to laugh, and replied, “Good morning, Mrs. Schmuckler. Don’t mind me – it’s almost time for you to wake up.”
“Oh good,” she said. “Well, perhaps I’ll see you later.”
“Enough, spy! No exchanging coded messages with our new business partner,” Clazpho cut in, grabbing Mrs. Schmuckler and pushing her into the Dissolv-o-Porter. “Mitzclom, send us down!”
“I am already doing so,” said Mitzclom. Sure enough, fog was already swirling around the two bodies as they dissipated. “Have a good trip, O Clazpho…” and, turning away from his master as she disappeared, he finished, “…the Giant Jackass!”
|The Powers That Be
Joined: 19 May 2005
Location: Santa Monica, CA
|Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:33 pm Post subject:
Mitzclom’s sudden change of tone caught my attention for a moment, but it wasn’t long before I reverted to wallowing in self-pity. Why oh why did I have to go out for that walk? Everything had been going so well. And now I didn’t have the foggiest idea what to do, or what might happen next.
C’mon, Brill, focus. You’ve got to get yourself out of this. I’d been tempted momentarily by Clazpho’s offer, but the straps on my wrists and the veiled threats reminded me that this was not the ideal business partner. I looked over at Mitzclom, who’d plopped himself down next to the bowl of Hamentashen-snacks. He grabbed a handful (well, tentacle-full, really), tossed them into his mouth, and slowly chewed while staring at a large picture of (I guessed) Clazpho that adorned the far wall. After a long moment, he began to spit.
When I say that he spit, you must not think of the expectorations of one of our Earth-llamas. Nor should you envision a baseball player, cheek full of chewing tobacco, spraying randomly and letting half the juice dribble down his chin and drip on his shoes. No, Mitzclom raised spitting to an art form. Perfectly round little pellets of viscous silver-gray saliva shot across the room and slammed (splat!) onto the picture, with a bare minimum of spattering. At first I thought the aim was random, but eventually, when I noticed that the Clazpho in the picture now sported two pointy spit-horns and a handlebar spit-moustache, I realized that Mitzclom had total control over the trajectory of each individual loogy. As he started hanging spit-hoops from Clazpho’s llama-ears, I was struck again by the urgent thought: I have got to get out of this place.
“Uh, Mitzclom?” I asked tentatively. A terribly clever plan had hatched in my brain, and I wasted no time implementing it.
Slowly, he turned his llama-head around to face me. “What, human?”
“I’ve, uh, thought about it, and I want to accept your boss’s most generous offer. I would love to work with the two of you. And, you know, become the Governor of Earth and all that. Sounds, um, great! I’m so excited, in fact, that I want to get back to the factory right away and start delaying production. Lots of sabotage to do! So if you’ll just untie me and get me into the smoky thingamajig, I’ll get right on that, ok?”
I swear that it seemed terribly clever at the time, but you must remember that I was tied up, exhausted, and generally under a great deal of stress.
Mitzclom just stared at me for a long moment. Then he slowly turned his head back around and resumed chomping and spitting.
“No really,” I called to him, sounding more desperate than I intended. “I’ve got equipment to break, chemical labels to change, recipes to alter. So much to do. I, uh, oh yeah! I don’t think Clazpho will be pleased if that cement gets delivered because you wouldn’t let me get back and ruin it!”
This got Mitzclom’s attention. The chewing noises got louder, and then he spat with such tremendous force that he dented the metal bulkhead opposite him (giving Clazpho the cutest little dimple in the process). He got up and skittered across the floor toward me. He didn’t stop until his face was inches from my own – it was all I could do to avoid passing out from the stench of his breath.
“Let me explain something to you very clearly, human. Claz-f***…” he said, imbuing the name with all the virulent hostility he could muster, “may be just as stupid and gullible as you think. But do not for one minute compare me in any way to that, that person, and do not believe that I am so easily fooled.
“Now, let’s try this again. What is your answer?”
The confidence was draining out of me at a tremendous rate. “Um, well, yes? I mean, yes! I do accept!” In for a penny, in for a pound.
I don’t know if llamas can smirk, but it turns out that Hamentashen can. “All right then, let’s proceed,” said Mitzclom. But instead of untying me, he made his way to a storage cabinet across the room and rooted around in the drawers. Eventually, he seemed to find what he was looking for – he held up a pink gumball-sized sphere, examined it, tossed it into his mouth, and began to chew. Turning toward me, he said, “Hold still, human.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. I was protesting, “Hey, you’re supposed to be untying me…” when he spit one more time. This time, though, his target was my forehead. The pink projectile slammed into my face with tremendous force, and I felt alien saliva start to dribble down between my eyes. “What’s the big idea!” I shouted. “Keep your disgusting habits to yourself!”
Mitzclom ignored me. When I was done raving and trying to pull my arms free to wipe my face, he said, “There, that should be enough time. Now, human, are you going to join with us against the Rugelachs?”
I said, “Yes, I’ve already told you twice, yes I am.” Well, that’s what I meant to say, anyway. What came out of my mouth was, “No, of course not, I’m just trying to get you to release me so I can run away, soil myself, get a tinfoil hat and spend the rest of my life hiding from aliens. Well, llama-shaped aliens, anyway. I may still help out Rudy and Trudy, I haven’t really thought through all of that yet. Is there anything else you’d like to know?” I felt my heart sink into my stomach as I forced my lips together.
Mitzclom made a braying, choking sound that I interpreted as laughter. “Now we’re getting somewhere,” he said. “You didn’t really think we would let you go without testing you with truth tonic, did you? Even Clazpho” – here he turned and spat once more, turning his mistress’s nose pink – “wouldn’t be so simple.”
I sank down in the chair as far as I could, given the constraints, and was just about to have a good cry when one last desperate idea came into my head. “Why do you work for Clazpho, anyway? It seems like she treats you terribly, making you grovel like that. How often does she beat you, anyway?”
Even though Mitzclom was completely alien, I could see the pent-up rage in him welling up to the surface. “How often does she beat me? Ha! How often?! Stupid human. Feast your eyes on this!” He lifted a few tentacles, grabbed onto what I had thought was his skin but now realized was clothing, and pulled it up so I could see his actual flesh underneath. A shocked gasp escaped me as I took in the repulsive view. The mottled mauve skin was lined with what looked like recent scar tissue, from the edges of which a pus-like material was oozing. I had to turn away after a moment, and I felt a sympathetic rage toward Clazpho welling up inside me.
“Yes, that’s right,” said Mitzclom, “don’t look. Avert your eyes! Oh, woe is me! How can I go back home looking like this? Not a mark on me! Skin like a newborn baby’s! Oh, the humiliation!
“‘I see, Mr. Mitzclom,’” he continued, affecting the imperious voice of a skeptical interviewer. “’On your resume here it says you’ve spent the last three seasons interning on a Fortuneship, serving under a registered Fleet Captain. Most impressive, if it is to be believed. But I can see from here that you have all your tentacles. And your eyes and ears, too. Do you think me a fool, Mr. Mitzclom?! Get out of my office before I throw you out!’ Oh, I’m ruined!” He buried his face in his tentacles and started bawling, soggy llama-tears spattering loudly on the metal floor.
The feeling of complete disorientation and confusion was starting to feel like an old friend – it was almost comforting at this point to feel its return. “Wait a minute, Mitzclom. You want Clazpho to beat and torture you?”
Mitzclom blew his nose loudly and looked up at me. “Of course, human, what kind of question is that? A spot on a Fortuneship is the most presitigious position an intern can have on his resume – I’m one of twelve who were selected out of sixteen million applicants. But Fortuneship captains are notoriously brutal and sadistic masters who are prone to horrific violence. They torture interns for any perceived mistake, and they perceive a lot of mistakes. The only ones who come back unscathed are the sniveling weaklings who run and hide from their punishment until the captain forgets about it (Fortuneship captains are not known for their long memories). Returning interns are judged almost entirely by how much punishment they’ve managed to endure. The most famous Fortuneship intern of all is Reetzpoop, who is now our Supreme Overlord. His entire body consists of a small sac of internal organs and a single eyeball. And three hairs. That’s it. Oh, he is truly a Hamentashen’s Hamentashen! I worship him. My goal was to match his achievement. But then I got stuck with Clazpho. And now my dreams are shattered.” He started crying again.
“So what does Clazpho do to you when you make a big mistake?” I asked.
He looked up again, and this time I could see that his anger was directed at me. “I do not make ‘big mistakes’, or little mistakes, or any sort of mistakes.” he said haughtily. “I am extremely good at what I do.”
The piled-up confusion was giving me a nice buzz at this point. “So you’re upset that she doesn’t beat you when you make mistakes, but you don’t actually make mistakes? I don’t get it. Why don’t you screw up on purpose?”
Now Mitzclom looked confused. “I don’t understand you, human.”
“Well, if you were to do something wrong intentionally, maybe you could get her to beat you.”
“Perhaps my translator is not working. You are not making any sense.”
“I mean mess up. Don’t do what she tells you. Do the opposite. Do it wrong.”
“Still not following.”
I sighed. I knew this was leading somewhere good, I just needed to figure out how to get there. “Ok, Mitzclom, what were your orders when Clazpho left earlier?”
Mitzclom pondered. “I am to keep you tied in that chair and not let you out of my sight.”
“Ok, great.” Ooh, this was perfect. “So let’s just suppose that, say, you got very sick and fell unconscious. And I somehow managed to get out of the chair and get over to the smoky transporter thingy and get out of here. What would happen when Clazpho came back?”
“She would be infuriated. She would have no choice but to punish me most severely.” Clazpho brightened for a moment at the idea, but it didn’t last. “But I am not sick and I will not fall unconscious.”
“Ok, now let’s suppose that you didn’t get sick, but that you accidentally – accidentally, you see – untied me and I escaped. What then?”
“Well, the result would be the same. But what’s the point of all this? Are you simply trying to upset me even more?”
“No, no, hear me out. Now let’s say that you untied me but – now listen carefully, this is very important – it wasn’t really an accident. What then?”
Mitzclom waved his tentacles impatiently and said, “You still don’t make any sen…oh, wait a minute. Not an accident. Untied, escaped…not an accident.” Mitzclom was silent for a long moment. Then, suddenly, he leaped up high in the air and shouted, “On purpose! Human, you are a genius!” He came over and untied my bindings. “Wonderful, this will have to work. Go now, quickly!”
I jumped up and ran over to the Dissolv-o-Porter. Next to it was a touchpad covered with alien symbols and flanked by some buttons and levers. “Uh, Mitzclom, I can’t work this thing.”
Mitzclom visibly deflated. “Oh, no, our beautiful plan, ruined! Thanks for nothing, human, for getting me all excited – ”
“Mitzclom!” I interrupted. “I’ve got a crazy idea. What if you work it for me and send me back home.”
“Now why would I do such a thi – oh, of course, right!” Mitzclom scooted to the controls, helped me into the tube, and started pushing, pulling and tapping controls.
After a few painfully long moments, the air around me turned smoky and I could see my body begin to dissolve away. I was preparing myself for the bliss of transport when I heard Mitzclom’s voice, seeming far away, say “Uh-oh!” I looked around frantically and noticed that some of the smoke in the tube was starting to congeal. I panicked, thinking the transport was failing, but looking down, my body was still disappearing. But then what was that body that was taking shape in here with me? The realization hit me and I panicked still more.
Clazpho was returning. As I was melting, she was solidifying. There must have been some overlap between us, because I could feel her solidifying in my arms and legs. Her llama-face was coming into focus just an inch from my own. Her eyes formed, became solid, and widened hugely as she saw me. In the instant before I dissolved completely, she got her mouth back and I heard, “MITZCLOM!” Then I was gone.
I reformed a few moments later, back on the hilltop. I was shaking so badly that I collapsed in a heap and stayed there for several minutes. Then a voice inside my head said, Get moving, Brill! She’ll come back! I forced myself to stand up. I scanned my body to make sure all my parts were here and they were all human. I gave a quick sigh of relief and looked around me.
I could head back to my office, get inside where no claws or rainclouds could reach me. But if the Hamentashen came looking for me, that would be the obvious place. Down in the town square, the farmer’s market was going strong now – maybe I’d be safer in a crowd. My eyes wandered past the market to the far end of the square, where the Hollow Heraldhad its offices. The newspaper's editor, Joel Hahn, was a friend of mine. Maybe I should visit him and tell him my story. If all these aliens were trying to use me to take over the world, shouldn’t people know about that?
I thought for a moment and made my decision. I scanned the sky for clouds but didn’t see anything – perhaps Clazpho was otherwise occupied, dealing with Mitzclom. But I wasn’t going to wait around to find out. I scratched the itch on the back of my neck with my left index tentacle, and started down the hill.
|The Powers That Be
Joined: 19 May 2005
Location: Santa Monica, CA
|Posted: Sat May 20, 2006 2:14 pm Post subject:
As I made my way back to the factory, I worked to collect my scattered thoughts. I knew I wasn’t going to have anything to do with those deranged llama-things, the Hamentashen. But why would I work with the Rugelachs? After all, they did abduct me first, and they didn’t seem a whole lot more sane than their rivals. What possible reason did I have for cooperating with them?
Nine million dollars.
I tried to push the persistent thought out of my head. Had I actually seen any money? No! What if we were to ramp production up, produce the cement, and then nobody was there to receive it? Could Rudy and Trudy be playing some bizarre alien practical joke on me? Maybe I’d turn up on some twisted reality show, “Totally Human Video”, with the whole galaxy having a good guffaw at my expense.
Yes, yes, Trudy certainly seemed…nice. But really, what did I know about her? Let’s see, she was married with children and in her true form she was a huge Twinkie monster. Yeah, that relationship was bound to go somewhere. This whole thing was crazy – I should just throw away that PO, get extraordinarily drunk, and forget any of this nonsense had ever happened.
And go out of business.
And there it was. As soon as I remembered the alternative, I knew I wouldn’t give this up. Maybe it was a hoax, maybe the whole thing would come crashing down around me and I’d end up in a straitjacket for the rest of my life, but the alternative was slow, inexorable decline and the loss of something I’d spent my entire adult life building. By God, I wasn’t going to go down that way without a fight!
I was at the factory door now. I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and reached out, now filled with a firm resolve, to push open the door.
Left index tentacle.
Huh? I looked down at my left hand, still pressed against the door, and gave out a yelp. Sure enough, there it was. The second finger was gone, replaced by something that looked just like a Hamentashen tentacle. It was about the same size around as the finger, but about 9 inches long, deep-fried golden brown in color and texture, and it wiggled around in a boneless, wormy way. Most disturbingly, it seemed to be only partially under my control: if I thought hard about it, I could make it hold still, but otherwise, it wandered around and poked and stroked my hand and the door like a dog on a walk that sniffs at everything within the radius of its leash.
I stared at my hand and let out a loud moan. How could I possibly explain this?
“Mr. Brill? Is that you?” I looked up and saw Joe, the security guard, walking down the hall toward me. I whipped my hand around behind my back as quickly as I could. I realized this was a mistake just as the heavy door slammed hard into my face, knocking me off my feet.
Joe ran over, asking “Sir, are you all right?” With my normal hand, I waved off his attempts to help me up. It was hard to stand while keeping one arm hidden and I must have looked pretty foolish, because Joe said, “Sir, I think you shouldn’t try to move for a while, I can call an ambulance.”
“No! I’m fine!” I snapped. I could feel the flush of embarrassment in my face. I finally made it up, stuck my left hand in my pocket and half-walked, half-ran down the hall to my office. “Thanks anyway, Joe!” I called back to the guard, standing bewildered, still holding the door open. I stepped inside and slammed the office door behind me.
“What do I do now?” I moaned as I stared at my wriggly new extremity. How did I not notice this when I was looking myself over on the hilltop? I obviously needed to do a full inspection. Had any of my toes changed, or – “Aaaack!” I yelled as a horrible thought struck me.
“What do I do now?” I asked myself again while zipping up my fly a few minutes later, fully satisfied now that nothing really tragic had happened. Ok, I’d decided that for better or for worse, I was throwing in my lot with Rudy and Trudy. So I needed to get the factory up to full production on the BrillCo 9000 cement right away. Easy enough: I fired up my computer and scheduled an urgent staff meeting, starting in 15 minutes.
While I was typing, my eyes fell on my strange deformity again. I couldn’t go on like this very long. There was nobody I could show it to, nobody I could tell…except the Rugelachs. Maybe they had some hi-tech gizmo that would fix my finger. Plus, I needed to tell them about the Hamentashen and their nefarious plot, anyway. But how to contact them? I mulled this one over for a while until I remembered the purchase order. There had to be contact information on there. I felt myself starting to relax. Everything was falling into place now. We’d get the factory going, Rudy and Trudy would know what to do about Clazpho and my finger, and everything was going to work out just fine.
So it was that I – well, I didn’t quite have a song in my heart, but I was feeling pretty good when I retrieved the PO from the safe and entered the conference room, where my full staff was already assembled and asking each other what was happening. In truth, they were pretty worried – our financial situation wasn’t really a secret, and several of them were wondering if the axe was about to fall.
I switched the PO to my right hand, stuffed my left in my pocket, and got right down to business. “Everyone, I’m happy to say that we’ve secured a new order. It’s something I’ve been working on in secret for a while now, and it just may save us. The customer wants nine million dollars worth of BrillCo 9000 in 30 days.”
Silence. I broke into a wide grin as I surveyed the shocked expressions on my managers’ faces. “You heard me right,” I said. “I’ve got the PO right here. And we don’t have much time to lose, so I need you to get the factory ramped up to full capacity immediately.” I handed the PO with a flourish to Bill Fogerty, head of sales (hey, he may have been terrible at running an operation, but a better salesman never lived – plus, ex-felons make cheap employees).
The questions started slowly, then came faster and faster as everyone gathered round and studied the PO.
“You worked on this ‘in secret’? You’re not up to something illegal, are you Frank?”
“Frank, I’ve never heard of this Earth, Incorporated outfit. Google isn’t coming up with anything either. Where are they based?”
“You accepted a 9 million dollar order without getting partial payment up front? This isn’t some kind of money laundering scheme, is it?”
“Their phone number has 26 digits and what looks like a peace sign in the middle. Is this a joke?”
“Do I have this right? The contact is someone named McMahmoudski? Is this some kind of a joke?”
“Look at this shipping address: ‘Cedar Rd., out in front of O’Malley’s parking lot.’ This is a joke, right?”
“Frank, why do you smell like…have you been drinking?” (Damn you, Chuck and your boozy bear-hug).
Twenty minutes later, with my staff still busy screaming at each other (but mostly at me, truth be told), I realized that this might not be quite as simple as I’d envisioned. I banged my right fist on the table a couple times and shouted “People! People! Calm down! Listen to me!” It took a few minutes for everyone to give up complaining and pay attention, but eventually wonderful silence prevailed in the room. “Look, I know this is pretty irregular, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. The customer is real. I’ve met him myself. Anything unusual on the PO, we’ll just contact the customer and get it straightened—“ My smile froze as something sunk in. I turned to the head of finance, Pippy Popopoulos. “I’m sorry, Pippy, what did you say about the phone number?”
I could tell Pippy was pretty mad, because her lower lip and upper eyelids were doing the strange little coordinated dance they always do when she thinks my ideas are going to land her in prison. She grabbed the PO out of Bill’s hand and thrust it under my nose. Sure enough, what was listed as the telephone number was a long string of numbers mixed in with bizarre symbols that aren’t found on any keyboard I’ve ever seen (although I’m pretty sure I saw Prince’s adopted name on there, which started me wondering, not for the first time, about his planet of origin).
Oh God, I thought. I can’t contact Rudy and Trudy. What am I gonna do now? Surprisingly, the first thing I needed to do came to me almost immediately. But I needed to get out of this room first. I forced myself to chuckle and push the PO back to Pippy, whose lip and eyelid had graduated from waltzing and were now doing either the Charleston or the Lindy, I couldn’t remember which was which. “People, people, all right, so there are some issues we need to hammer out. Again, I’m going to ask you just to trust me. Get the factory ramped up, we don’t have any time to lose. Give me a couple days to sort everything out to your satisfaction. Worst-case, we blow some overtime and forget the whole thing, ok? Just please trust me.” I delivered this last line with all the sincerity I could muster. “Now, I have to go take care of something. Thank you all.” I walked out of the conference room and shut the door behind me.
Inside the room, there was a long moment of silence as my staff considered my words. Then all at once, as if someone rang a bell at a boxing match, they started screaming at each other again. I sighed, walked back to my office, pulled open my lower right desk drawer, and got down to business.
Three glasses of Scotch later, I felt a little better and started thinking about what to do next. I desperately needed to get in touch with the Rugelachs, but how? Go back out to O’Malley’s, where they picked me up before, and wave my arms around like an idiot? Hire one of those airplanes to fly around with a banner saying, “Rugelachs please call?”
Deep in thought, I didn’t notice the scraping sound on my desk the first couple times. After the third occurrence, I looked over just in time to see my pile of business cards burst into flame. Apparently my rogue finger, unbeknownst to me, had been rooting around in my desk drawer until it found something interesting to play with – a matchbook. “Dammit!” I yelled, pulled off my shoe, and stamped out the little paper fire. I grabbed my letter opener (the sharpest thing I had on my desk), pressed it up against my alien appendage, and screamed, “Bad finger! I should just cut you off right now! I do not need this!” In a weird way, the tentacle seemed to understand, because it dropped the matches, started shaking and cringing, and wrapped itself around my wrist, reminding me of nothing so much as a dog being punished for pooping on the carpet.
Suddenly, an idea came to me, fully formed. Now in retrospect, considering how good an idea this seemed at the time, I think it’s likely that I had a lot more of the Scotch than the three glasses I remember. Or maybe it was stress and alcohol in combination that wreaked havoc on my thought processes. But whatever the reason for it, my brilliant plan amounted to this: I was going to set my factory on fire.
Ok, it wasn’t really quite that terrible an idea (close, though). The way I figured it, Rudy and Trudy were pretty desperate to get this order of cement filled. They must be watching the factory somehow from up there in space, or at least listening to local news reports. If they thought something bad was happening, something that would jeopardize their future business, they’d simply have to contact me to find out what was going on. That’s where the fire came in.
I’d done this a few times as a chemistry student in college. Mix the right chemicals, wait for a bit, and voila! big billowing clouds of smoke. Fire alarms go off, exams get postponed, the fire department comes with the local news crews right behind (simply pulling the fire alarm doesn’t attract their attention, but lots of smoke pouring out of a window does). We explain it away as a lab mixup and no actual damage gets done, but I figured it ought to be enough to attract the attention of my alien benefactors.
I looked at my watch. Lunchtime: perfect, I should be alone in the lab. I went down the hall to the stairs (past the conference room, where the undiminished noise told me my staff was still “discussing” the PO) and made my way up to the chem lab, which was thankfully empty. I wasted no time pulling the items I needed off the shelves and mixing them up in a big beaker. I placed the beaker directly under the smoke sensor and cracked open the window for dramatic effect. Then I ran out and back down to my office to wait for the alarm.
I sat there, giggling like a schoolboy at my little stunt, watching the clock. I figured it would take about ten minutes for the reaction to take hold. It was coming up on four when my cell phone rang. I answered it automatically. “BrillCo Rubber, Frank Brill speaking.”
“Hello Frank, it’s Trudy.” I dropped the phone in shock, then scrambled around to pick it up again. “Frank? Are you there?”
“Um, uh, yeah, sorry about that, Trudy, hi!”
“Listen, Frank, I realized this morning that that…husband of mine,” said Trudy, infusing the word ‘husband’ with all the venom she could muster, “was fiddling with our printer and the PO we gave you got completely screwed up – the phone number, in particular. I wanted to give you the right number so you can get in touch with us if you need anything.”
“Oh, great, yeah, that would be good,” I said. I was completely flustered and I looked around frantically at the clock. Six minutes. Maybe there’s still time. I ran back down the hall. “We noticed the phone number problem, my staff got a good chuckle out of it.” As I passed the conference room, I heard something heavy slam into the wall inside, followed by still more screaming.
“So is everything all right, Frank? You sound a little funny,” said Trudy.
I ran up the stairs three at a time. “Do I? Huh, no, everything here is just fine, no prob-” At that moment, the fire alarm went off.
I stopped running and let out a long groan of despair, a groan that was rendered completely inaudible by the sound of the fire alarm reverberating in the stairwell. There’s that great Brill luck again, I thought. Well, there was nothing to be done but evacuate and deal with the consequences. I remembered Trudy on the line and started running again, this time to the nearest exit. As soon as I was outside and could hear again, I got back on the phone and yelled, “Hello?! Trudy! Are you still there?”
“Frank! What was that awful sound? It sounded just like one of the Snargle-birds on my home planet – they make calls like that right before they defecate on your head,” answered Trudy. “But I didn’t think you had birds like that here on Earth.”
“No, no, it was just the fire alarm going off.” I could hear different sirens now – the fire department was on its way. Employees were streaming out of the factory, pointing at the window to the chem lab. Sure enough, an impressively huge cloud of blue-black smoke was billowing out, darkening the sky above us.
“Fire alarm!” shouted Trudy. “Frank, is something wrong at your factory?”
“No, Trudy, it’s nothing. Believe me when I say that I know there’s nothing wrong here.”
“Frank, I’m looking down on your factory right now, and it sure looks like smoke is coming out of it. Please tell me what’s going on.”
“Trudy, I’m telling you, it’s fine. The factory’s fine.” I looked up and saw both the Fire Chief and Bill Fogerty bearing down on me. It was hard to decide which looked more angry. “Listen Trudy, there’s something I really need to talk to you about, but I can’t do it right now. Can we meet? Soon?”
“Uh, sure Frank. I could be at your house in, say, a couple hours. What’s going on?”
“Can’t talk now. Stay on the line though, I’m going to give you to somebody else here – please help him get the right information. And Trudy – you need to convince him you’re a legitimate business.”
I switched the phone from my left hand to my right (I had to yank pretty hard to get the tentacle out of my ear, where it had buried itself pretty deep when I wasn’t paying attention). I intercepted Bill, who was marching toward me and waving the infamous PO, and pressed the phone into his hand. “Bill, this is Trudy McMahmoudski, of Earth, Incorporated. She can answer all your questions.” Before Bill could say a word, I turned to the Fire Chief and said, “Hi Chief. So what’s happening?”
For well over an hour, I was stuck answering questions about our chem lab, about certain very similar fire alarms that happened at the University several years earlier, and about appropriate levels of daytime alcohol consumption for presidents of manufacturing facilities. It was all very unpleasant, but finally it was agreed that there were no real grounds to arrest me as long as BrillCo paid for the expense of mobilizing the THFD and agreed to do an internal investigation and identify the perpetrator of the hoax. As soon as the mess was cleared up, I ran to Bill’s office.
“Are we ok now, Bill?”
Bill had a look on his face I’d never seen before, a sort of dreamy expression. “Yeah, Frank, yeah. Everything’s all right. That Ms. McMahmoudski is very…pleasant. Everything seems to be in order. I’ve already made sure the whole team is behind this. We’ll be cranking out cement like nobody’s business. Hey, sorry about all that stuff before in the conference room. We should’ve trusted you, Frank.”
“No problem, Bill. It was a pretty big thing to dump on you all at once, especially when the paperwork wasn’t in order. Thanks for getting everyone moving. Listen, I have some business to attend to at home, so I need to take off early today. Will you let everyone know?”
“Yeah, no problem, Frank. Hey, what are you going to do about that fire alarm prank? If you ask me, I think it was probably Aleno. I don’t think he takes this job seriously.”
“You think Chuck’s responsible? Oh, Bill, I don’t know about that. But I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks again!” I headed back to my office, grabbed my briefcase, and made for my car. It had been about 2 hours since my phone call with Trudy, and I was anxious to get home for our meeting. I was getting tired of keeping my hand hidden, especially since my tentacle seemed to have found the hole in my pocket.
There was no evidence, looking from the driveway, that anyone had been to my house yet. I let myself in, planning to sit, try to relax, and rehearse what I would say to Trudy when she showed up. I closed the door behind me, turned and started toward the living room when my foot hit something. Whatever it was clattered loudly across the tile floor of the entry and banged into the far wall. I froze and looked around, but didn’t see anyone. I peered across at the object, which was now rolling back toward me slowly, and I recognized it immediately. It was an 8 ounce can of BrillCo cement. Bemused, I picked it up and noticed that it was quite empty.
“Frank?” The voice came from down the hall, in the direction of my bedroom. “Frank, is that you?” It was definitely Trudy’s voice, but it had a strange, mellow quality to it.
“Um, yeah, I’m here. Is that you, Trudy?” I called.
She giggled. “Of course it’s me, silly. Come on, I’m in here. You said you needed to talk?” The way she said the word ‘talk’ made me a little nervous, but I found myself getting a bit excited too. The tentacle must have felt something as well, because it was pointing toward her voice, almost pulling me along.
I jammed my hand back in my pocket and headed down the hall. As I passed by the bathroom, I noticed another empty can of rubber cement abandoned on the carpet. What was it Trudy had said about the Rugelach’s use for the stuff? All I remembered was something about “mixing it in their queeq-na,” whatever the heck that was supposed to mean.
I got to the bedroom door and looked inside. Sure enough, there was Trudy, looking even more ravishing than I’d remembered. She was lying on my bed, wearing an astonishing dress that was cut down to here and slit up to there. She must have kicked off her shoes because they were lying across the room by my dresser. Her right hand was draped sensuously across the pillow, and her left was dipped into yet another can of rubber cement, her fingers languidly tracing figure-eight patterns in the gooey liquid.
“There you are, Frank,” she purred. “Now, what was it you wanted to talk about?”
Hmm, that was a good question. I would have answered her, except for two problems. I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be telling her. And it was hard to talk at all with my mouth gaping open the way it was. Fortunately, my substantial self-control kicked in and I was able to stall, saying “Uuhhhhh, oooooaaaaahhhhmmmm…”
“Oh Frank!” Trudy interrupted me in mid-moan. She jumped off the bed and flung her arms around me. “I’m so bored on this planet. Let’s just go away, you and me, together, and get out of this place!”
This time I had no trouble thinking of the obvious question, and I was even able to ask it. “Huh?”
She held me tighter, and I could feel her breasts pressed against me, trying to force their way out of her dress. “It seemed so exciting, being a prospector – ‘we’ll explore the galaxy,’ he said, and I was swept up in the romance of it all. Then we got here, and we’ve been here for years, stuck in that ship almost all the time. No adventure, no excitement. I’m tired of it. I want to see the galaxy! I want to fly by Altair and see the Sukero Space Harvest. I want to go to Tau Ceti Betty’s and eat her Sweaty Spaghetti. I want to do it all, Frank! Come with me! Just the two of us. We’ll take the emergency module, it’ll get us to a ship-shop. We’ll fill it with rubber cement – that’ll be all the money we’ll ever need. Let’s do it, Frank!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I would have pinched myself, but Trudy was biting my ear hard enough that I knew I was awake. “But…but what about Rudy? And the kids?”
“Oh, they don’t need me. Rudy’s an idiot, but he really is a good father. They’re going to be just fine, especially with the rubber cement deal. But oh, Frank,” and here she backed away and looked up at me with entreating eyes, “Rudy’s not what I need. I need a real man. A man like you, Frank.”
Trudy stepped back to the bed, lowered herself onto it, and stretched out onto her back. She looked up at me and said, “Take me, Frank. Take me now!”
|The Powers That Be
Joined: 19 May 2005
Location: Santa Monica, CA
|Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:01 pm Post subject:
Let me make it clear that I am not proud of what happened next. I mean, I suspected there was a possibility that Trudy might be ever so slightly…impaired by the cement she’d, uh, well, whatever it was she’d done with it. Aw hell, who am I kidding, she was high as a kite and I knew it. Plus, I had no intention of actually running off with her and a ship full of the stuff. I had a large vision in my head of the two of us sitting at the bar in that cantina from Star Wars as she slurped? snorted? smeared? applied the last bit of cement, turned to me and said, “I need another can, Frank.” She didn’t look good. Her eyes were sunken deeper than my spirits and her skin had an unhealthy sallow tone, which could have been a problem with her simsuit settings but I didn’t think so.
“That was the last one,” I said. “You’ve gone through our whole supply. Except for the hundred cans you gave to that Frtznrple guy.”
A lascivious smile played over her pale wilted lips. “Mmm, yeah, Frtznrple. Oh, don’t look at me like that, he’s just a friend. You’re just jealous because he has a huge dreklop.”
“I am not jealous!” I snapped. “All I know is that that friend of yours has the last of our supply and we’re stuck here on this hellhole with no ship and no money. And…and I don’t think you really love me.” My eyes teared up as I choked out the last words.
“Don’t be a jerk, Frank,” Trudy said, coldly waving off my anguish. “Just go find me some more cement. I need it real bad; I think I’m crashing.”
“More cement! Have you forgotten where we are? This planet is crap. It’s literally made of crap, a big steaming stinking crap dumped out by that same, whatchamacallit, Brobdingnag that used our ship as a toothpick last week. There’s no cement here, you crazy drunken wh--”
“Hey, pretty lady,” said a voice by my ear, “is this guy bothering you?” I looked around to see a huge menacing furry apelike thing sitting at the next stool, brandishing some sort of scary-looking weapon in his tiny little T. Rex arms. He came up close, leaned over me until his nose was less than an inch from mine and whispered in a surprisingly sexy tone, “I want to lick your skin, Frank. I love having a tongue, and I’m going to use it.”
I shook my head, blinked several times and looked around in confusion. I was back in my home, the reverie broken, and Trudy was crawling over the bed toward me. From this vantage point, I could see deep into her incredible cleavage. The view was mesmerizing.
Walk away, Frank. Nothing to see here, said the voice of reason in my head. I ordered my body to turn around and leave the room, but my legs staged a mutiny and stayed put. My hands joined the uprising (so to speak) and unbuttoned my shirt. Trudy wrapped her arms around my hips and pulled me toward her until my stomach was pressed against her face. Then, true to the apeosaur’s word, she licked me, starting at my navel and working her way up toward my throat.
Now as it happens, I am an extremely ticklish person, always have been. As soon as Trudy’s tongue touched my skin, I started wriggling. I bit my own tongue to keep from laughing and tried to hold still, but I couldn’t control myself. My body convulsed and I tried to push her away. Strange little squeaking noises escaped me. Trudy, apparently mistaking my reaction for passion, went faster, lapping at me with the ardor of an overeager puppy whose owner has just returned after a long day dealing with crazed aliens. I writhed and squirmed until I couldn’t take it any more. I grabbed Trudy and threw her backwards onto the bed. She sat up, with a look of surprise on her face that slowly transformed into something more like a leer. She said, “Ooh, Frankie likes to play rough, doesn’t he!”
I paused for a split second and said (look, I told you I’m not proud of myself), “That’s right baby, he does.” I jumped on top of her and kissed her roughly on the lips (which were thankfully full and rosy, not at all like in my daydream). She responded in kind and we played tonsil hockey for several minutes. Then I worked my way downward, passionately kissing her neck and breasts.
You have to understand the situation I was in. In that simsuit, with those settings, Trudy was quite possibly the most ravishing woman on Earth. Add to that the fact that I’d been completely celibate since my divorce several years back, as long as you don’t count that time with Peggy Paisley in the closet at her lawyer’s office after we’d signed the final settlement papers (that suit was ridiculous, by the way: the boy looks nothing like me), and can you really blame me? I mean, really, could you resist if you were in my place, with Trudy’s tongue in your ear and her hand slowly, slowly working its way down your stomach and diving under your waistband?
With my face still nestled between her breasts, I shifted my hips to allow her easier access and started working my hands under her back to undo her dress. I had the zipper halfway down when Trudy suddenly yelped and shivered. For a second, I thought she was ticklish too, but the yelp turned into moans of pleasure and the shiver changed into a rhythmic, incredibly erotic rolling motion, broad enough that I was almost thrown off her at first.
Stunned by the aggressiveness of her reactions, I stopped what I was doing for a moment, lifted my head and just watched her, curious. Initially, this had no effect on either her gyrations or her exclamations. “Oh Frank, yes! You’re amazing! Wha-wha-wha-oh yes yes yes! What are you doing? Oooh, oh, wait, aaaahh, no, wait, wait, how. Mmmm. Human…ooh!…not…possib….No! Wait! How are you doing that?!” Suddenly, she stopped moving. Her eyes snapped open wide and fixed on my face. Then, very fast, she reached over and seized my left wrist. She yanked hard, trying to pull my hand out from under her, but something was holding it fast. I yelped in pain as she tugged again, even harder this time. There was a wet squelching sound that I don’t like to think about very much and my hand came free. The sudden release combined with the force of Trudy’s pull to flip me off of her and over the side of the bed. I fell awkwardly to the floor and half-lay, half-hung there with Trudy’s hand still clamped to my wrist.
“Hamentashen!” The word came out as a strangled whisper. There was a slight pause, during which I realized what Trudy was seeing. Then I screamed in pain as Trudy yanked on my wrist again, pulling me back up onto the bed and nearly dislocating my shoulder in the process. She climbed on top of me, effectively pinning me down, and shoved my hand into my face. The tentacle, slick with some strange alien bodily fluid I’d never seen before and never want to see again, was trembling uncontrollably and seemed to be hiding from Trudy behind my palm.
“You’re not Frank!” she screamed, her face inches from mine with only the offending tentacle between us. “You’re a Hamentashen spy! Why are you here and what have you done with the real Frank?” She seemed perfectly sober now as she twisted my wrist painfully. “Answer me!”
“It-it’s not what you think!” I gasped. “It’s me, Frank, really!”
Trudy shook her head. “Oh, I’m such a fool. I should have realized the moment you took your shirt off. All that flab, just hanging there like that – that’s not normal, even for a human. That’s one crummy simsuit you’re wearing, spy.”
“No no, I’m Frank! This…thing,” I said, jerking my head at the tentacle, “it was an accident. It’s what I needed to talk to you about. And hey! I’m not that flabby!”
“Shut up! Stop lying to me! And get this ridiculous suit off so I can see you as you really are!” With her free hand, she grabbed a fistful of my chest hair, twisted it and pulled with all her might.
I screamed out in pain yet again. “Aaaaaugh, stop, please God, Trudy, I’m begging you, it’s me, Frank, really it’s me!”
Trudy looked confused. She gave one more small experimental tug on my chest hair and then let go. I fell back to the bed, still groaning. “Frank?” she said quizzically. “It really is you, isn’t it?” Then her eyes lit on my tentacle again and she let out a dejected sigh. “Why are you working with Hamentashen? Didn’t you trust us? What do they want from you? What can they possibly offer you that I can’t?” She spread her arms and leaned back, giving me another good look at her magnificent figure.
“Trudy, I’m not working with-”
I was cut off by a loud ringing sound.
“What’s that?” said Trudy, grabbing the eight-ounce can of cement from the bed and looking around, poised to launch it at any intruder.
“It’s the doorbell,” I said, wondering who it could be.
“The doorbell? Oh! It’s your Hamentashen friends, coming to kidnap me! Of course, this was all a setup. ‘Meet me at my place, Trudy. Come alone.’ How could I have been so blind? Well, you’re not going to take me that easy!”
She dove to the floor and started digging around underneath the bed. “Come on, I know it’s here somewhere. You thought I wouldn’t be prepared, didn’t you? Well, you thought wrong! I never go out without a Boominator.” The doorbell rang twice more.
“Trudy! Be reasonable! I’m not working with the Hamentashen. They’re my enemies too. And if they were coming here to get me, they certainly wouldn’t be ringing the damn doorbell!” My voice got louder and higher with each word, until ‘doorbell’ came out as an ear-splitting squeal. I hadn’t made a sound like that since the day I hit puberty in the middle of my solo at the junior high Christmas concert.
Trudy looked up at me from the floor, her arm still buried under the bed. “Really?” she said. “Are you telling me the truth? Because I want to believe you, I really do…”
“Ahem. Mr. Brill? Excuse me.” The strangely familiar voice came from the doorway. “The front door was open, so I let myself in. I hope that was all right.” I looked around and groaned, my voice reverting back to its normal gravelly baritone. Framed in the doorway was, undeniably, a Hamentashen, its llama-eyes surveying the scene in the bedroom. This particular Hamentashen looked strangely lopsided somehow, for reasons that eluded me at first. “Mr. Brill,” the creature continued, “I have urgent new information to share with you about our plans for taking over the rubber cement trade.”
“Aha!” screamed Trudy, jumping up from the floor, where she had been hidden from the newcomer’s view. She carried something that looked like a rolled-up woolen sock in her hand. “I knew it! You’re a lousy liar, Frank, I didn’t buy that sorry line of yours for a second.” She turned to the surprised Hamentashen and said, “You thought this would be easy, didn’t you? Well, I bet you weren’t ready for this!” She hurled the object, which flew straight and true and slammed dead center between the alien’s two llama-eyes. I cringed, expecting, well, something worthy of the name ‘Boominator’, but the thing just bounced off the intruder and fell harmlessly to the floor.
I glanced down for confirmation and said, “Hey, I’ve been looking for that sock.” Trudy cursed and dove down to look under the bed again. Just then, something whistled by my ear and splatted against the wall behind me: a huge glob of spit, clearly intended for Trudy.
“It’s a trap!” said the Hamentashen. It started lurching about awkwardly and I realized what was wrong with it. Almost all the tentacles on its left side were missing. That part of its body was now supported by two in-line roller-skates. It was trying to turn around, but every time it got the skates rolling, it overbalanced and fell over with a thump. No sooner would it pick itself up again then the whole process would repeat itself. Meanwhile, it was saying, “A trap! I should have known – it was you that taught me about deceit and trickery, after all.” It was turned around now and half-scampering, half-rolling back toward the front door. I realized who it was and opened my mouth to speak, but I was beaten to it.
“Mitzy? Is that you?” Stunned, I turned around to see Trudy standing and calling out to Mitzclom. She ran around the bed and down the hall after him. “Mitzy, wait!” she called. I shook my throbbing head in disbelief and trailed after them both. My heart was pounding an arabesque in my chest; I was sure the syncopated beat wasn’t normal.
The scene playing out in my foyer didn’t help me relax. Apparently, Mitzclom had heard Trudy’s calls, because he had stopped and was now – skitter, skitter, thump! skitter, skitter, thump! - trying to turn and face her.
“Who are you, human, that you know my name?”
“I’m not human, Mitzy silly, don’t you know me?”
Mitzclom peered at Trudy for a long moment and let out a gasp. “You! What are you doing on this soggy little planet? Wait a minute – you are Trudy McMahmoudski, Claimholder of Earth?”
“That’s right, it’s me. Gosh, how long has it been? Nine, ten years? Oh, but you’re hurt! What happened to you, Mitzy? You didn’t--”
A loud smash from above interrupted her. I looked up in time to see the skylight in the vaulted ceiling explode into a million shards. A body fell through the blizzard of glass and a voice screamed, “Eeeeeeee-yaaah!” I threw my hands up to protect myself just as the thing crashed directly onto Mitzclom and knocked him down flat. When the tinkle of falling glass subsided, Mitzclom was knocked out cold and pinned down by a slightly squished Rugelach.
That was the moment when my body and brain said, Enough! My vision blurred, my knees felt weak and I started shaking all over. My legs gave out from under me and I fainted dead away. The last thing I heard before losing consciousness was Esmeralda’s small voice saying, “Did I do good, Mommy?”
I spluttered and choked at the water splashing on my face and mouth, reviving me. Trudy stood over me, holding a glass from my kitchen. I’d apparently been out only a few minutes, because I could see Mitzclom’s still-unmoving form surrounded by glinting bits of glass.
Esmeralda was talking to her mother. “…saw the Hamentashen breaking in, I knew I had to do something. I didn’t want to mess up my simsuit, so I took it off and put it in Mr. Brill’s garage. Then I got up on the roof and tried to see what was going on. When I saw it down here turning around to attack you, I didn’t really think, I just jumped him. Oh, hi Mr. Brill! Sorry about the window. I’ll fix it, I promise. Mommy, what’s a Hamentashen doing here anyway?”
“That’s a very good question, Esmeralda,” said Trudy, looking down on me with her lips tight and fire in her eyes. “I’m hoping Mr. Brill can explain.”
I tried to sit up, but I was still too weak. I tried to speak, but all I managed was a croak: “Water.” Trudy went to the kitchen, filled the glass and returned. I sipped the water slowly until feeling came back to most of my body. I sat up and started talking. I told Trudy and Esmeralda about my encounter with Mitzclom and Clazpho and my daring escape from their ship. “So now I’m stuck with this horrible thing,” I finished miserably, pointing to the tentacle.
“Hey, that’s so cute,” Esmeralda said. She moved up closer. Her Twinkie-body was speckled with imbedded bits of glasss, but she didn’t seem troubled. My tentacle meandered this way and that, looking to escape from Trudy’s intense gaze. “Mommy, can I keep it as a pet? I mean, after we cut it off of Mr. Brill?” The tentacle gave a quick jerk and wrapped itself around my wrist again.
“Darling, we’re not cutting anything off of Mr. Brill…well, not off his hand, anyway,” Trudy said, still glaring at me. “Right now, we need to figure out what to do with Mitzclom over there. If what Mr. Brill is saying is true, Mitzy’s here to help us – wait a minute. Ezzy, if you took off your simsuit, why are you speaking in Earth-talk?”
“Oh! Well, I was in Mr. Brill’s garage and I thought I might need to be able to talk to him. So I took a couple minutes and built a translator. See?” She disgorged something from her creamy filling and held it out in her little tentacles. In the strange mish-mash of stuck-together junk, I recognized a spade, one of my work boots, a couple spark plugs, and assorted bits of wire and string. “I hope I didn’t use anything important, Mr. Brill,” she said sweetly.
“No no, it’s fine,” I said, amazed again at the little girl’s prowess. A grunt drew my attention over to Mitzclom, who was just now waking up. I dragged myself to my feet and stumbled over to him as he scrambled upright.
“Why are you here, Mitzclom?” I asked. “What ‘urgent information’ do you have?”
“Yeah, you better tell us everything you know,” said Esmeralda. “Mr. Brill here’s crazy; there’s no telling what he might do to you if you get him mad.”
Trudy and I turned to Esmeralda with quizzical looks on our faces. “What are you doing, darling?” asked Trudy.
Esmeralda’s voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “It’s called ‘good cop, bad cop’, Mommy. I saw it on a TV show yesterday. It works great, really.”
“What did I tell you about watching that Earth entertainment? Now go on out to garage and put your simsuit back on.”
“Ok, Mommy. Hey, that’s a neat dress you’re sort of wearing, can I program the same outfit in mine?”
“Go, Esmeralda!” said Trudy, pointing sternly to the front door with one hand while trying to zip up her dress with the other.
Mitzclom watched Esmeralda make her way out. When she was gone, he turned – skitter, skitter, thump! – to Trudy and said, “Is that…?”
“Yes,” said Trudy. “She is. But she doesn’t know, so please don’t say anything.”
Mitzclom made a grimace that I took for a smile. “Wow. She’s so big. And smart, too.”
“Can we get back to business, please?” said Trudy. “Answer Frank’s question: what’s going on?”
“I will talk only to Mr. Brill,” said Mitzclom, the smile evaporating from his face.
“It’s ok, Mitzclom, Trudy’s on our side,” I said.
“Our side? Our side?” sneered Mitzclom. “Your side, you mean. To me, she is the enemy. And so are you, for that matter. Have you forgotten that Clazpho and I are here to take over from ‘Trudy’ and her family?”
“Wait a minute. You came here to help me. I don’t get it.”
“It’s very simple, human. I came here to make a terrible, most unfortunate mistake, one that will no doubt force her to punish me most severely.” Mitzclom winked at me and indicated his left side. “This messing up is really working great, see? Thanks again!
“Anyway, I may be incompetent, but I am not a traitor! I am loyal to my race and loyal to my Captain and I would never intentionally do anything to harm our cause! I will not speak to you in front of this Rugelach! Now, we have wasted far too much time. Do you want my information or do you not?”
I thought for a moment, then shrugged. “Trudy, please give us a couple minutes.”
“Oh, no,” said Trudy. “This is a very nice story, Frank, but…actually, come to think of it, this is a stupid story! It makes no sense at all. If you think for one minute that I’m going to leave you two alone to plot against me and my family, you’re crazy. You can just get out of here, Mitzclom – you’re lucky we’re old friends or I wouldn’t be letting you go so easily. You know I could turn you in to the GCP authorities. Next time, I will.”
“All right, have it your way,” said Mitzclom. “If you don’t care about learning how to foil Clazpho’s latest plan, that’s not my problem. I need to get back to the ship soon anyway, so I can be there when the life support system breaks down. Terribly sloppy of me, that. So if you’re really not interested, Mr. Brill…” His voice trailed off and he started slowly for the door. He snuck occasional peeks back at me, as if hoping I would stop him.
I was just about to say something when Esmeralda burst back inside. She was back in human form (thankfully wearing appropriate clothing). “Mommy, Mommy!” she said. “In all the excitement, I forgot why I came here in the first place. Daddy sent me to get you and Mr. Brill. He said it was really important and you needed to come back to the ship right away. He’ll pick us up in the back yard.”
“Oh Ezzy,” said Trudy. “Why didn’t you say so earlier? And why didn’t he just call me? Never mind, I know why. If that man doesn’t get over his fear of telephones soon, I’ll kill him.” Trudy and Esmeralda started down the hall toward the back of the house.
I was still standing in the middle of the foyer, swiveling my head back and forth between Trudy and Mitzclom. They both stopped and looked back at me. They spoke simultaneously.
“Come on, Frank, Rudy’s waiting for us.”
“I’m leaving now, Mr. Brill. Goodbye.”