Monday, September 20, 2010

An excerpt from, 'The Case of the Curious Killers.'

by Louis Bertrand Shalako


All Rights Reserved

"When he comes out, follow him every inch of the way,” he ordered the computer.

“Come aboard,” Brendan typed into the pad, then watched as the computer focused a camera on the other craft’s top hatch, clearly marked with a red 'x' by his flight comp.

Boyce would be coming in through the airlock. A small ship like that wouldn’t have a large-scale transport device, he figured. There was a little bungee-corded pocket on the right side of his seat. He put the gun in there so only he would know.

With the Glock snug as a bug in a rug, he watched the suited man, and studied him carefully through the sensors for weapons, any unusually bulky or hard objects on him. He looked pretty clean. Sim just stood there. He seemed to be licking his lips…but he could worry about that later.

"Scat,” he told the kitty, and she boogied for the back room.

“You weren’t kidding, Hartle, a very intelligent animal, why it’s almost as if she could speak sometimes,” babbled Sim.

“Shut up!” blurted Brendan.

“Unlike myself, you mean,” Brendan said into the sudden silence.

Finally the guy was here and Hartle unlocked the door for him. Standing aside he let him pass down the little corridor, closely studying the body language to try to get some kind of a clue, as to the threat level from this guy.

The helmet came off.

“I’m at a bit of a loss,” admitted Brendan, “I don’t know whether to say good morning, or good evening, or what?”

He stuck the butt of a smoke in a bowl he used for an ashtray.

“Normally we say, greetings,” the man said gruffly.

“Okay,” said Brendan non-committedly.

Boyce blanched in a crazy way when he saw the scarf sitting there on the arm of the co-pilot’s seat. Hartle scooped it up, twisted it around his neck and noted a bit of colour begin down low on the man’s neck. It crept up to his face, eyes and forehead, and he took a big deep breath. His white-skinned head and hands turned a pale shade of green. And his chin dropped a bit. Brendan tucked the ends into his shirt-top, feeling like Hugh Hefner, only younger, all muscular and tougher than whale shit. He tried real hard not to smile.

The being tried to compose itself.

“I have come to talk to you about the Princess,” he said; a harsh tone in the voice, but the thing was trying to keep its cool about it. “You are to stay away from her.”

“Oh? Really? And why is that?” asked Brendan, not trusting this guy one bit.

He stood there glowering at Hartle, then spoke again.

“She is not of your class. You are a bumpkin. She is to marry me,” said Boyce.

“Is this true?” he asked Sim.

Sim shrugged.

“Not entirely. There is pressure of a kind upon her to marry, and Boyce’s people have been pushing for a match,” admitted the Sim. “But nothing has been finalized yet, in fact far from it—as you should know, young man.”

Boyce glared at Sim.

“Stay out of this—this is between me and the troglodyte,” barked Boyce.

“He didn’t mean that, Brendan,” said Sim, and Hartle just laughed.

“Sure he did,” he quipped with a gleam in his eye.

Briefly, he considered killing Boyce where he stood, but realized it might create more problems than it would solve. Still, action was required, that much was obvious. He stood to his full height, pulled the Glock out of the seat pocket. He handed the weapon to a startled Boyce.

“Go ahead…make my day.”

Boyce held the pistol tentatively, hand visibly shaking as he looked from one to the other. Neither Sim nor Brendan spoke. Brendan just towered over him.

Brendan stood there calmly, and waited for what might happen next. It was just as he thought. The man was all bluff. He hastily put the gun down on a level spot, watching Brendan with narrowed eyes.

“So…” he said, “I can see I’m wasting my time here.”

Brendan began moving again, to usher the gentleman to the door.

“Stop in anytime,” he told the man, in as friendly a tone as he could muster.

Something clicked in. A gut-busting wrench of adrenaline hit him as he noted the set of Boyce’s head and neck, his shoulders all bunched up like that.

Just like a cat, a fuckin’ cat ready to pounce…

Brendan’s fist shot out straight from the shoulder to its fullest extension, but Boyce was fast, real fast and it merely grazed the top of his right shoulder. He fired a knee with all his might into Hartle’s groin; while not a good hit Brendan began to go over because he hit the co-pilot’s seat trying to back up. But on the way down, he managed to slam a pounding shot into the other’s solar-plexus region.

Bending, Boyce began to turn green again, but started off on a spinning kick to Hartle’s head, and tripped over a carpet seam on the cabin floor and spun into the back wall. Covering up more now, Hartle made it to fully upright again. Out pounced his flicking fist, and a little blue blood began just above Boyce’s left eye. Again the man counterattacked, Hartle began to see stars every time he got hit. Punch for punch he could only take so many hits.

Next time he fell, he coyly stayed down, with head away and ass pointing up at the idiot; and when Boyce got in a little too close to him, he tripped him up good. Perhaps a little too good—Boyce went down hard, striking a glancing blow with his head on a sharp corner. He stayed down, and Brendan had a sick feeling in the stomach. If the man came up again, he would be damned hard to handle. He’d caught the alloy corner framing of the passenger seats.

Sometimes you put a man down, he comes up twice as mad and three times as strong.

Brendan could see that he was still mostly conscious. He sprung on his inert form like a spider, getting a good pin on the fellow. Grabbed the long blonde hair and looked into the eyes.

“You wanna fuck with me mister—you bring some friends next time,” he told Boyce.

Then, slowly, so the other guy could see it, he brought his right fist back and let one go. He stood.

“Looks like he’ll be out for while,” he told the sim.

Sim stood there assessing the damage.

“Cadet, eh? They teach ‘em pretty good down there,” Brendan observed.

“Quite so,” the simulacrum ventured. “He’s also from a planet with about twice Earth’s gravity.”

“In which case I’m a very lucky young man,” noted Brendan.

(Editor's Note: I like stories with a lot of aliens fighting.)

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