Mayonnaise Murders Part 2 is HERE!

Mayonnaise Murders

 

The Mayonnaise Murders Part 2 is here! I know it’s been almost a year since Part 1, but I wanted to get this just right. I’m really hoping you’ll find it worth the wait. I’m not kidding, I had a ball writing this, so if you have half as much fun reading it as I did writing it then I’ll consider it a win.

Stay tuned for details about the upcoming book release party right here in Detroit

Meanwhile, take a ride with Chapter 1. For your patience. Oh, and for those of you who have not yet read Part 1, it’s on sale for just 99 cents for the next two weeks right here.

Happy reading…

 

Got a Gerruh on my Tail

“Hey you’re a critter right? Yeah, that’s cool. Real cool.”

“What? Oh, yeah. I’m a critter. You’re real observant. So what’s that you have in your hand, kid?”

The smile stretched wider as his eyes did a quick survey to make sure nobody else was standing near. Then he leaned in close.

“You know they’re sayin on the news that this shit ain’t real man, that it don’t even exist. But once you try it?”

He shook his head back and forth real slow, adding emphasis to what he was about to say.

 “Dude.” 

If MayoMadd wasn’t real then I needed somebody to tell me right quick why the Gerruh, the  most notorious enforcer-types from Planet 10’s Vivacious 5 sector, were steady trackin me and Vee  down here in Pueblo, Colorado, which is in the USA, which is on Earth, which is where we really don’t belong. Just answer me that. Not that Vivacious 5 is the kind of place anybody would mistake for a vacation destination, and I understand that. Matter of fact, Vivacious 5  is pretty much what you’d call your basic sewer of a community in a lotta ways, especially when you compare it to those nose-stuck-up-in-the-air suburban resort communities like Very Very. I oughta know ’cause I’m a V5 kid to the bone. But let’s just say Pueblo ain’t exactly a reason to leave home either, all right? Especially when home is a hefty number of light years away.

So this is more or less what’s amblin through my brain as me and Vee are screeching around a corner on a kinda stolen motorcycle, while also wondering if all the police in this town are on break at the same time in the middle of the afternoon on this skillet hot day because by now surely somebody is seeing this movie-style chase goin on in their neighborhood and I’m doin every illegal maneuver I can to get their attention. But then isn’t that just the way it always goes? When you’re speedin on the way to a job interview you get lights flashin like it’s Christmas morning, but when you got a pair of murderous killers closing in on your butt in broad daylight then they just can’t seem to be bothered. And another thing…

VIIIIIIIIIIDDDD!!!”

Oh. Shit. That looks like a…

“Head down, dammit!”

“Vid, dearest, exactly how do you expect me to do that when we are on a motorcycle. I’m willing to do all I can to help, but it just seems like…”

Hang on!”

Vee isn’t that big, but that woman has got to be one of the strongest critters I’ve ever met. When I said ‘hang on’ she squeezed so tight she damned near broke a rib. But if we had run into that garbage truck that was pulling out of the alley up ahead we both would have broken a lot more than a few ribs. Why I didn’t see it first since I was the one doing my best at driving this thing I don’t know, and I’m sure it doesn’t inspire a whole lotta confidence in Vee, but right then? At that very minute? I really didn’t have a lot of time to be analyzing my reflexes because the Gerruh were closin in quick and I didn’t even wanna think about what it meant if they caught up. Just the thought of that kinda consequence is what inspired me to figure out how to drive a motorcycle as quick as I did, after I kinda borrowed it without asking. Yeah, I know. Reinforcing the old stereotypes about critters isn’t what I had in mind, especially since I’m a detective, but it was an emergency. They’ll get it back. And it’s not like these Earth purebreds are gonna ever feel real equal towards our kind no matter what we do, even though they’re the ones created us.

Anyway, when you really absolutely gotta do a thing, it’s amazing how you manage to find a way. And as it turns out, me and Vee’s near-death experience with the trash truck turned out to be a beautiful gift delivered just in time because even though we squeaked by with just a few feet to spare between the front of the truck and a parked car, the Gerruh didn’t have that kinda luck because they were driving a full-sized car and cars don’t do real well negotiating tight spaces at insanely high speeds. The sound of those tires screeching behind us, and the image in my mind of the look I knew had to be twisting up their pale little faces, was just plain sweet. But it wasn’t the kinda sweet that could last.

This made the third time in three weeks that me and Vee had managed to give the Gerruh the slip, but Pueblo wasn’t what you’d call a big city and there was no way we could keep this up for much longer. They were gonna find us for sure unless we figured something out. The Gerruh never, ever gave up.  And  there were two of them.

Thing is, I still say it didn’t make a whole lotta sense why they were so locked onto us  in the first place. I mean, OK maybe I could understand why they might be a little pissed after that move we pulled a few weeks back with that story we got placed in Planet 10’s Daily Screamer 24-hour electronic feed stream. The story which kinda involved them in the MayoMadd plot designed to get all Earth kids addicted to an alien drug. The story which managed to find itself broadcast and rebroadcast at the front end of each cycle for a week, setting some kind of record.

OK. Sure. I can see that.

But we never said they were runnin the operation or anything like that. All we said was that they were kind of heading up an operation getting to the bottom of the whole mess which, well, they were. Whoever their anonymous employer was had hired them to shut down the MayoMadd operation. But when me and Vee put their names on Front Street (even if nobody on Earth seemed to believe the story because it came from a Planet 10 source and who in their right mind gives any credibility to those  people, right?) it kinda put a crimp in the Gerruh’s operation because their effectiveness has always been tied in with their being able to operate in the dark. We had just shined the sun on their ass and managed to vindicate ourselves back home in the process so the home team would know we weren’t wanted drug criminals like some were trying to make us out to be.

And besides, me and Vee wouldn’t have had to do what we did if the Gerruh hadn’t forced our hand by leaning on us to funnel them information from the inside when they knew the position we were in. I have never taken kindly to being strong-armed into doing anything. If you want me to do something, just ask me nicely. I’m old-fashioned like that. Doesn’t mean I’m going to say ‘yes’, but at least I’ll give you a smile and I’m less likely to do whatever I can to screw up your life beyond repair.

So getting back to our seat-of-the-pants getaway drama, I kept speeding for several blocks, then zigged and zagged in and out of several streets and alleyways. As we were  cruising down one particularly busted up alley, I noticed a garage door gaping wide open, practically yelling at us to come inside. From what I could tell in those few moments the house that belonged to this garage was vacant and had probably been so for awhile. I pulled inside, then found a way to drag the rickety door all the way down so we couldn’t be seen from the alley. Weren’t many actual doors left anymore, which made me wonder how long this place had been vacant. There was a broken window facing out onto a weed-choked backyard full of litter, and the smell inside was a nostril-punishing mix of somethin like gasoline (can’t believe they still use that down here) and somethin else that crawled up and died, all amplified by the heat. But at least the window gave us some light and whoever might come cruising down the alley wouldn’t be able to see real good past the wood fence surrounding the entire corrupted mess. We got off the bike and I rolled it over into a corner and leaned it against a wall.

“Vid, you know I love you sweetheart, but we have to do something.”

“So what we were just doing back there, you don’t count that as ‘something’ ?”

“Always the smartass you are, hey? OK. Let’s pretend I’m the grownup and you’re the first grader who needs to have everything made bite-size so you can understand what the big people are discussing. OK, Mr. Vid? How’s that?”

“Well, I’d say you got the pretend part right.”

Vee sighed, making sure it was dramatic.

“Look, Vid, it’s hot and it stinks in here. I don’t even know what this smell is, and I’m used to bad smells because I’m a V-5 kid just like you, but whatever this is has my nose in pain, dear.”

“So…you want me to do something about the smell in this garage?”

“I want you to stop playing stupid. OK? That’s what I want. We got that story into the Screamer back home, which was a good thing. But true to form, the news stations down here took it as a joke, which means not a whole lot has changed for our situation unless we either figure out a way to stow ourselves away – again – on another transport freighter and get back to Planet 10, or we figure out a way to get these idiots to realize that this isn’t any joke. In other words, sweet Vid, we have to do something, hey? We can’t spend the rest of our days running from the Gerruh and hiding out in stinky garages in Pueblo because we both know that means our days are severely limited.”

“And your suggestion is?”

“My suggestion is we need to make ourselves some friends.”

“Babe, you know I don’t play well with others.”

“OK, first?”

“I know. You’re not my babe.”

“Thank you. Second? Learn.”

 

2

That night we slept in the garage, stink and all. Vee was right, which I didn’t like to admit, but it was obvious. The next day, we both woke up on opposite sides of the garage and hungry as hell because we hadn’t eaten anything in nearly two days while trying to dodge the Gerruh. I sat up and tried to dust myself off, but whatever it was that had attached itself to my clothes wasn’t coming off so easy, and it sure wasn’t dust. To say this place was filthy would be like saying it’s slightly wet in the ocean. I looked over at Vee, who was doing her best to remain ladylike. When she saw I was awake she shot me a look that would have sliced through a rock like a ripe melon.

At least it wasn’t quite so hot. Yet.

“What? You’re blaming me?”

“Aren’t you the one drove us in here?”

“So you’d rather still be out there playing in traffic with the Gerruh?”

Vee started to say something else smart-assed, but then she just closed her eyes and sighed. Again.

“I dunno, Vid. I guess I’m just tired. We have to do something, OK? We can’t keep going on like this.”

“I know, I know. I heard you the first time yesterday. And I think I’ve got an answer. I need to make a call.”

“A call? Call to who?”

“To somebody I think could be a friend. A cop. In Denver.”

“”Wait…whoa…what? A cop? In Denver? What the…when did this happen? And why don’t I know anything about this…friend?”

“Well, probably because he’s not actually a friend yet. Matter of fact I’ve never met the guy. Never talked to him either. Didn’t even know who he was until a few weeks ago, and that was kinda by accident. Anyway that’s when I got to thinking this guy might turn out to be useful one day and so I kinda filed it away in the back of my head for a time like this.”

“Oh. So you filed it away in your head. I see. And so how many other playmates do you have that you haven’t told me about, Vid? Seems kind of strange what with you being a grown man and all.”

“Hey that’s hittin’ below the belt, Vee.”

“Believe me, dear, there’s nothing of interest to me below the belt.”

“Hey!”

Vee put up her palms in surrender.

“Told you I was tired, sweetie. And  now I’m confused and, I have to tell you, a little bit pissed off. You and me? We’re supposed to share things. We’ve always been like that with each other, right? And now you’re telling me…”

“OK, OK. You made your point babe…”

“What did I say about…”

“Comrade. That better? Now listen to what I’m trying to tell you here. This guy, his name is Detective Bobby Soames, all right? And I know he’s a human detective here on Earth which makes him different from me as a critter detective from V-5. And you know good and well I know how these purebloods like to look down on us. But I heard somethin that made me think maybe this guy could be a little different.”

“Heard something like what, Vid?”

“Like how he has more than a regular cop-type interest in what’s going on with the MayoMadd. I don’t know how much he knows, but I’m guessing he may know enough to want to hear us out about what’s really going on. Let’s just say I overheard some things, some very interesting things, between Rodeo and Haley.”

“How did you get close enough to a conversation between those two without anybody seeing you, Vid?”

“I have my ways, dear. I may be just a V-5 detective, but that still puts me ahead of most of these mud heads down here on Earth. You gotta remember the biggest weakness these purebloods have when it comes to us is they think they’re so much better than us. They think we’re stupid. That means they let their guard down sometimes, and when they do…”

“OK Mister Super Detective, what did you find out?”

“That this guy Soames is the one who took out Big Rodeo, who was Rodeo’s old man. He was a drug dealer too. Real role model for the kid too, as you can tell. Anyway, turns out he’s now putting a tail on the kid, and that tells me he’s suspecting something. That and the fact that he’s doing this even after what those jokes who call themselves reporters said on the stream about how this is all nothing to be worried about even though it made the front page back on V-5.”

“So you’re thinking…?”

“I’m saying we give this guy a call. Reach out to him, you know? Feel him out. See if maybe he’s willing to talk to us. Besides, I am still a detective. Whether they look down on us or not, there should still be some professional courtesy.”

“Courtesy. Right. But how are you going to get to him? You have his direct line or something?”

“Why do I need his direct line when I can just call the Denver Police Department? I mean, since he works for the Denver Police then I assume maybe that might be the easiest place to reach him, right?”

Vee squinted her eyes and pinched those luscious lips of hers together, which meant she knew I was right and didn’t want to admit it. Vee didn’t like to be caught saying stupid things. Which was why it was so much fun on those rare occasions when I got to be the one doing the catching.

“Still got that phone of yours?” I asked.

She glared at me for a long moment, then reached inside her purse and tossed it at me. I winked, which turned out to be a huge mistake. She slapped the hell outta me before my wink was even complete.

“Thanks…”

“For the phone or the slap?”

“Both, I guess.”

“Just make the call already, Vid.”

For once, I followed orders. The phone, one of those new types with a built-in satellite-linked charger that could suck in enough juice to operate from just about any location, rang a couple times before being picked up. Somebody with a deep, gruff voice answered on the other end. I asked for Soames and started to say why I was calling but the line clicked off and suddenly I was listening to some really terrible music. I figure if they made their inmates listen to this crap on a 24-hour basis they’d lose at least half of them to suicide and save the citizens a ton of money for thug room and board. Actually nobody had used money on Earth, P-10, or anywhere else for close to 50 years. Now we had those damned handprint scanners where your DNA was registered with the Central Repository of records, which was linked to all the banks. You couldn’t buy a peanut if that handprint didn’t clear you.

“This is Soames.”

The voice sounded almost too gentle to belong to a police detective. Not feminine-type gentle, but gentle like someone who hasn’t spent enough time on the wrong side of the tracks to be sittin where he was sittin. I cleared my throat, and noticed Vee was giving me the get-on-with-it-already look.

“Hello? This is Soames. Who’s this?”

“This is Detective Bobby Soames, right?”

“I just said so. Who’s this?”

I cleared my throat again, and wondered why it was suddenly feeling so dry.

“Yeah, this is Detective Vid from V-5 Sector, Planet 10. I have some information I think you may find interesting about a certain case.”

“V-5? What the hell brings you all the way down here? Aren’t you a bit out of your jurisdiction?”

“Don’t worry, friend, I’m not tryin to step on any toes here, and I’m not workin a case behind your back. Wouldn’t quite make sense for me to call you if I was, now would it?”

Soames chuckled, which was a good sign. Meant I wasn’t dealing with a hardass.

“OK, so which case is this you’re talking about?”

“You’ve been following that Rodeo guy around, right? The drug dealer?”

“Yeah. I have. So how did you know that?”

“I’m a detective too.”

I could hear the rise in tension by the change in his voice.

“So what about it? And why do you care? You haven’t got enough drug dealers back on Planet 10 to keep you busy so you got to come down to Denver to get your rush?”

“That’s funny, but no. Look, I’m serious here, detective. I just wanna help is all, and trust me when I say if we can work together on this thing we’ll be taking one big giant bite outta crime down here as well as up there. Hey, you remember that crime dog? McWooff or somethin like that? Used to crack me up. But anyway I was sayin it would make things  a whole lot safer for critters and humans alike. Isn’t that reason enough for you to hear me out? This isn’t some anonymous junkie source callin you up hopin to collect some prize money for the info, all right? Like I said, I’m a detective too. It upsets me when things are out of kilter, and right now I’m tellin you things are about to get outta kilter to a degree you can’t even imagine.”

For a good while all I could hear over the line was the background noise from Soames’ office and him breathin slow and steady. I started to break the silence, but decided against it. Somethin told me it was better to let him take his time. I noticed Vee giving me a questioning look, wanting to know what was going on. I shrugged, and she rolled her eyes.

“Give me your badge number. And your V-5 code.”

“Huh? Are you…?”

“I ask you again and we’re through, understand? And you can stop sounding indignant. You think I’m supposed to know you’re a critter detective because you sound so honest and upright over the phone?”

He had a point.

“V345J10. That’s the badge. V-5 code is JAZZYHUMP 29556.”

“You’re kiddin me about that code, right? I mean, seriously?”

“I guess somebody in the Critter Registration Bureau developed a sense of humor when I was born. What can I say? It’s not a crime. Run the code, Soames. You’ll see it’s for real.”

“Jesus…”

“No, that’s somebody else’s code. Pretty sure about that.”

The line clicked off and the bad music was back. Whoever chose this soundtrack was either deaf or just plain mean. Luckily I didn’t have to listen to it for long.

“OK, it all checks out, Detective Jazzy Hump.”

“It’s Vid, Soames.”

“Sure thing, Hump. So listen, you got plans for tonight?”

“I guess I do now. But you need to know it’s not just me that’s coming. I’ve got a partner. Name’s Vee. She’s a page scratcher for the…”

“The Daily Screamer! The one who wrote that piece? Shit, she’s with you? You say she’s your partner?”

“Yeah. She is.”

“OK this is officially nuts. But whatever. Look, I’m sending you the directions to this bar I know. The Cricket Lounge. It’s safe enough.”

“Safe enough?”

“We’ll be fine. The two of you meet me there at 7 tonite.”

 

3

The Cricket wasn’t exactly what you’d call an upscale type location, and after the nearly two-hour ride on that motorcycle from Pueblo back to Denver for this meetup with Soames, I gotta say I was hoping for something a bit more comfy. The place looked like a beige brick box from the outside, and on the inside it looked like what you’d expect to find on the inside of a beige brick box that had the nerve to call itself “America’s Finest Drinking Establishment.” Remarkably quiet for a bar, though. Just the low hum of a handful of patrons  mixed in with the large stream monitor embedded in the wall behind the bar. Maybe because it was a weekday evening.

But I’m guessing the man had his reasons for choosing the place, and I wasn’t in the mood to complain, or at least not a whole lot. Vee was more than ready to complain, however, and it cost me two stiff drinks to get her calmed down before Soames showed up. I’m just glad the man was late. We were the only critters in the joint, seated in a cramped booth in the far corner in the back nearest the swinging doors. I was facing front so when I saw a short and stocky guy come through, dark hair and eyes almost as dark and intense as the Gerruh’s, I figured this must be the one. Plus he was looking all around the room, obviously searching for someone. I raised a hand. He caught the signal, grinned (which surprised me), then came over and sat down across from us.

“Soames?” I asked.

“Yep. You Vid and Vee?”

“How’d you guess? You sayin we don’t look like the normal clientele?”

“OK, don’t get started on that profiling thing. I treat everybody equal. Always have. You can ask around and you’ll always hear the same thing about me.”

“Already did the checkin’, Soames. You think I woulda called if I hadn’t? I repeat; I’m a detective just like you. We don’t have trainin’ wheels just ’cause we’re from V-5, man. Matter of fact, I defy any one of your guys to come on up to P-10 and see if it’s as easy as you all seem to think it is.”

Ahem.”

That was Vee, and I already knew what she was gonna say.

“We just rode two hours coming down here on a motorcycle in the summer heat after spending the night in a dirty garage behind an abandoned house in Pueblo. And that was after being chased around town by the Gerruh on this same motorcycle. Now here we are in America’s Finest Drinking Establishment. To do what? To argue who has the toughest cops with the toughest job? Really?”

Soames grinned. Nodded his head.

“With all due respect, m’am, I don’t think it was me got that diversion started.”

“With all due respect, you’re exactly right.”

Vee gives me a look like I’m her little brother who just had a tantrum about  not having enough ice cream in my cone. Embarrassing. I extended my hand across the table to Soames. He reciprocated.

“Good enough for me,” he said. “Now what you got?”

“You want a drink first?”

“Not while I’m on the job. What you got?”

“Fine. So you say you saw the article, right? I’m talking about the original one from the Daily Screamer, not that bad comedy report they ran down here on the stations and in the Post tryin to make fun. The original.”

“I absolutely saw it. That’s why I got interested when you said you had Vee with you. By the way, I’ve been reading your stuff for awhile, m’am, and I consider myself a fan. You do good work. Could probably teach some of these clowns down here a thing or two about what reporters do.”

We were definitely getting off on the right foot, and I was thankful for that. Reaching out to Soames had been a long shot, even though we were both detectives. Truth of it was that there had never been a whole lot of respect between detectives on the Mother Rock and detectives back home for the same reason that would explain why the Post  and the stream stations ran that Screamer  piece all butchered and hacked; because the pure bloods thought we weren’t much more than a bad joke. A bad joke they created. That’s the way it had always been and likely always will be. So it was good to see Soames hadn’t soaked up the bad vibes. It said to me he tried to think at least somewhat for himself, which could be dangerous on a planet full of thoughtless idiots, but I’d like to think that kinda danger paid good dividends.

“OK, so…what did you think? About the piece?”

Soames folded his hands together slowly, and that’s when I noticed how big they were, like somebody who was used to doing construction work – or boxing. Like I said, his voice was soft, but those hands told an entirely different story. He leaned across the table, those coal-black eyes of his drinking the both of us in.

“I think that if even half of what that article says is true..”

“It’s all true,” said Vee. “I don’t report half-true articles.”

Soames grinned.

“I didn’t think you did. So then I think it looks like we could be in for some rough water unless something gets done. So what are we looking at really?  I got a few friends who work in the news biz, and they tell me what gets left outta these stories is almost always better than what makes the stream.”

“Your friends are right, especially in this case. Look, you and I know there’s always been that tension between your folks and mine, and for a whole lotta reasons, but we’ve never done anything to do any of you guys harm, right? I mean generally speaking, on a big scale. Sure there’s been scuffles here and there, but overall we just mind our own business. Not that many of us even come down this way much any more because it’s just easier being back on the Ten around our own where we don’t have to put up with all the looks and everything else. You’d think it was a crime to have gills down here, and I swear if I have to hear one more snide remark about orange skin…”

“I understand that. Sure. And it’s not right.”

“Thanks. But here’s the thing, OK? I just said that none of us  have done much of anything to do any harm to any of you. But when you turn that thing around, and look at the list of what you guys have been up to…I mean damn…”

I could see Soames tensing up.

“Like I said, it’s not right. So did you call me here to pay for the sins of humanity or what?”

To be honest, I coulda used the release. But that’s not what I was here for, and I knew this was a one-shot deal that had to work. The alternative was chaos – and not for me and mine.

“No, no. That’s not what I meant at all. And I’m sorry. The only reason I’m bringin’ it up is we gotta be honest about some things for you to understand what’s goin on, because this is about more than just some bad drugs on the street. This is about settling some scores, and that’s what’s gonna make this case so tough. I know you’ve been onto Rodeo for awhile, and I know the history going back to what went down between you and his dad, Big Rodeo. Rodeo means business, and he’s a hardcore dealer. But I’m tellin you taking down guys like Rodeo and his crew is a Sunday stroll compared to what we’re looking at here.”

“Which is…?”

“You ever hear that phrase, ‘It ain’t no fun when the rabbit’s got the gun’?”

Soames chuckled. Nodded.

“Sure. I’ve heard it. Pretty funny.”

“Um-hm. OK now substitute ‘chicken’ for ‘rabbit’. And I mean a really pissed off chicken. And then you want to stir in some sympathetic types who just might prefer to take the side of the angry chickens to yours. Are you startin to get the picture yet? Is it coming clear?”

“Yeah, but that’s pretty much what was in the article. The mutant chickens want revenge on us Earthlings for what was done to them during that Bigger Better Egg experiment years ago. But until you get me some proof, those chickens have pretty much been extinct for awhile now. And what’s this about the Gerruh…”

“I can get you proof about the Chickens no problem. Eyewitness type proof. That’s the easy part. Believe me they’re here, which is why we’re here. It’s not where we wanted to be, and it wasn’t exactly a planned excursion, but here we are.”

“And the Gerruh? Because I’m telling you those guys worry me.”

“Those guys worry everybody except each other. I would say they worry their own mother except I don’t think they have one. Anyway, that part about them being ‘on the case’ to shut down the operation? That’s kinda true, but not really. Something else is going on there.”

“Something else like…”

“I mean …OK, did the article say anything about what that revenge was supposed to be? It didn’t, did it?”

“Sure it did. Didn’t it say something about that MayoMadd stuff and that’s why the Gerruh were involved in trying to shut it down, right?”

“OK, maybe it did say those things, you’re right. But me and Vee, we still think it’s a lot bigger than that. I mean, revenge is one thing, but the size and scope of this thing they have in mind goes way beyond revenge. This is about turning Earth into Planet 10 and Planet 10 into Earth, you see what I’m sayin’?”

“Not really, no. Are you saying…hey wait…”

Vee reached across the table and squeezed his hand.

“Sounds like you’re starting to see it now, hey?”

“Jesus…”

“He might be a good one to call, yeah.”

“But then if this is what they’ve got in mind, and the two of you are from Planet 10, right? So then if they manage to pull this off then doesn’t this make things better for you? Why are you even coming to me with this? Not that I’m not appreciative, but…”

“Look, we’ve got a lotta issues with you guys, and so do most critters. The list is pretty long. But critters ain ‘t evil. Not most of us anyway. And  I don’t think most critters would want to see a drugged-out Earth, or even a drugged-out Denver. Not to mention giving all that power to a crew like Deep Cluck, Johnny Beardy, Ronnie and Haley isn’t good for anybody. Those guys don’t need more power, they need therapy.”

“But what about the chickens? Don’t they factor into this thing too?”

“I thought you had to see proof before you believed they were still here.”

“OK, fine. You say you have the proof, and yeah I need to see it, but let’s assume the proof is there. If you’re right then the chickens are pretty key to this whole thing, right??

“Far as I’m concerned they are the key, but that key doesn’t open anything without Cluck and Johnny Beardy. They’ve been together in this thing for a long, long time. See, you gotta understand that Cluck pretty much left his family behind to join with the chickens. He was a nerd outcast as a kid right here on Earth and…”

“Whoa. Wait. What do you mean right here on Earth? Deep Cluck isn’t a critter like you guys?”

I grinned. Shook my head.

“Nope. Well, not exactly. Kinda yes and no. Deep Cluck is a halfbreed – and believe me there ain’t a lotta them – but he was born and bred right here on the Mother Rock in the good ole US of A. But he left here years ago. Snuck out on a transport freighter with the remaining chickens who weren’t slaughtered during the Great Poultry Uprising. And I know everybody says they were all killed, but that was just to protect some asses and assets. Don’t tell me you ain’t familiar with how that works. Suffice to say there were folks who stood to gain quite a bit if the story went out that the mutant chickens were all wiped out. And there were just as many who wouldn’t have to worry about not being left with a lot of egg on their face. So to speak.”

Soames winced, almost like some bad food was coming back on him.

“That? What you just said about the egg on the face? That was really bad. I mean really bad.”

I looked over at Vee and she was nodding. Then she started shaking her head.

“OK so it’s been a long day. Sorry. But I think I deserve a pass. Anyway, the important thing here is that you see the big picture of what’s going on, because if you wanna tackle this thing you need to know what it is you’re going up against.”

Soames nodded slowly.

“Yeah. I do. And thanks.”

“So that means…?”

“It means I’m in. Yeah. All the way.”

 

4

“It’s really quite amusing, don’t you think?”

“What’s that?”

“How they continue to think we won’t find them when their scent is so alarming. Especially here on Earth where that hideous… aroma… stands out in such particular fashion. Did they, as critters, really think they could hide it, brother?”

“Perhaps. These critters were never particularly bright on Planet 10, so I don’t imagine Earth’s atmosphere would in any way enhance their pathetically meager abilities.”

“Point taken. Then again, to their credit, I believe we must admit that stunt they managed of getting us inserted into that story in the Daily Screamer was rather clever. I would not have anticipated such an elaborate design from such feeble minds.”

“If that’s what you like to call elaborate, brother, then perhaps so. They will have to impress me quite a bit more before I am willing to award credit. Please remember there is a reason why they are an inferior species; it is because they were manufactured that way by the humans, who are the superior species. They are only capable of so much.”

A hideously misshapen grin exposing an upper row of sharp, serrated teeth stretched across the pale features of the Gerruh’s twin as the two of them sat together in their midnight black Camaro, scoping out the Cricket. Both of them wore black wrap-around shades that were nearly as dark as the shark-like eyes they concealed.

“So now you are enthralled with the magnificence of the humans, brother?”

“I would not say enthralled. Simply respectful. Our kind has encountered a variety of species throughout the universe during our existence. I daresay none of them have managed to manufacture an entirely new species of their own. Let alone a species capable of evolving, even if it is at a glacial pace.”

“I do see your point, brother. But I’m sure I need not remind you that even these humans cannot possibly compare to…”

The other twin raised his hand.

“Brother. Please. Some things should simply be taken for granted between us. Our superiority above all is certainly one of those things.”

“Agreed.”

“Agreed.”

“And so we wait.”

“Yes. We wait.”

 

This is being cross-posted at Detroit Ink Publishing.

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kaoblues
Writer and musician.

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