The Brent Bolster Mysteries are a heady mixture of science fiction, humor, and noir.
So if you loved Galaxy Quest, The Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf, and the tough-talking characters of noir fiction, you've come to the right place.
This is a snippet from the second Brent Bolster Mystery. We proudly present:
Dead Men Don't Disco
Brent pushed the joystick to the right and pulled back hard sending his skimmer into an elegant banking turn, the trim craft dodging neatly between two heavily armed delivery drones. “Damned things cluttering up the sky,” he muttered, “I blame Jeff Bezos the Third.”
In the passenger seat, Maisie Richmond sighed happily. “Oh, Brent, I do love the historical references in your quips.” She turned her smile on him, her eyes glistening. “But you needn’t worry about a few drones and their silly heat-seeking missiles, you’re such a good driver.”
“If you say so,” Brent replied, “I don’t like to boast.” He managed a nonchalant shrug despite the constraints of his safety harness, and on the skimmer’s entertainment system, the gentle strains of a piano gave way to the voice of the classical composer Sir Elton John.
“Volume up,” Maisie called out. “I love Your Song.”
Brent glanced at her, bathing in the warmth of her smile as the gentle melody filled the cockpit. “Me too. Ain’t that the darnedest thing? It’s my favorite.”
“Brent,” Maisie began, laying her hand gently on his arm. “There’s…there’s something I want to tell you.”
“Really?” Brent’s voice caught in his throat as the piano music swelled to a soaring crescendo. “Because, there’s something I want to say to you too.” He grinned. “But please—ladies first.”
“Always the gentleman,” Maisie purred. “Very well. It’s just this.” She took a breath, a coy smile quivering at the corners of her silky lips. Then she threw back her head and bawled, “You’re late for work!”
Brent stared at her, his hands frozen on the joystick. This couldn’t be happening, but Maisie was changing before his eyes, her skin growing green, her delicate bone structure morphing into broad curves, her lips receding into thin lines as she opened her mouth to reveal a row of pointed teeth.
“No,” Brent whispered, but there was nothing he could do. As Sir Elton crashed out a melodramatic chord, Maisie’s dark eyes hardened and the transformation was complete. She had become a Gloabon.
“Wake up, Brent!” she shouted, and Brent’s eyes snapped open, his horrified howl still ringing in his ears.
“Oh my God,” he moaned, wiping the sweat from his brow with back of his hand. “Not again.” He fumbled on the nightstand, grabbing his handset and bringing the screen close to his bleary eyes. Damned dream gets weirder every night, he thought. Elton John? Seriously? He checked the time without really taking it in. One of these days, I might figure out the alarm clock function on this contraption, he told himself. Maybe his assistant at the agency, Vince, could help him out; he was good with anything technical. The agency. Brent glared at his handset. Was it really past noon?
Sitting up, he swung his legs over the edge of the mattress, then he stood, stretching his back. And someone tapped on the window.
Brent spun around. Who could be outside? His apartment was on the third floor.
But his wall was gone, replaced by a huge window, and beyond the gleaming glass, a crowd had gathered on the sidewalk. They peered in at him, their expressions ranging from mild interest to outraged horror. “Young man!” an elderly woman shouted. “Put some clothes on! This is a decent part of town!”
Brent glanced at the showroom dummies standing alongside him. Right. The old dream-within-a-dream scenario. Naked in a department store window. It’s a classic. He waved cheerfully to the crowd. “Hi! Don’t mind me. I’ll be waking up in a second, and then I’ll be out of here. Have a good day.”
He smiled, waiting. Any minute now. Yup. Right about… Oh shit! Brent sat down heavily on the bed, grasping the sheets to cover his naked body. This was real, but how could it have happened?
The answer was already racing through his mind. The night before, he’d been working a case, investigating the theft of high-end corneal implants from Gloabondale’s department store. I was tired, he thought. Real tired. I lay down for five minutes. Five goddamned minutes! He scrabbled through the tangle of crumpled sheets, searching for his clothes. “Goddammit! Where the hell are my pants?”
Somewhere behind him, gruff voices rang out. Brent’s fingers closed around a bundle of clothes and he clutched them to his chest. There was no time to get dressed. He fled, bursting out through the wooden door at the back of the display and barging through the startled shoppers. He glimpsed movement on his right and heard boots thudding against the floor. A radio crackled static, and Brent picked up his pace. Angling to his left, he spotted a sign for the fire exit and headed toward it, diving between the colorful displays of stacked bed linen and fluffy towels. But before he could reach the door, a burly security guard stepped in front of him, his arms folded across his chest.
Brent staggered to a halt. “Vince? What the hell are you doing here?”
“Sorry, Boss, but you never paid me my salary, so this is my new gig.” Vince shook his head. “I have to take you in. I can’t let you get away. I can’t afford to lose my job. Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”
Brent narrowed his eyes. “Wait a minute.” He turned around slowly. “I’m still dreaming, aren’t I? Dammit! There’s never a spinning top around when you want one.”
Vince stepped closer, holding out a pair of handcuffs. “Make this easy on yourself, Brent. It’s time you woke up—to the truth.” He laughed, but the sound that came from his lips was the harsh bark of Gloabon laughter, and already, Vince’s cheeks were blushing a deep shade of emerald green.
“Get away from me, you lousy alien!” Brent yelled. “Leave me alone!”
He opened his eyes, and this time, his strangled cry echoed from the bare walls of his bleak bedroom. Thank God for that, he thought. Dwelling unit, sweet dwelling unit. He exhaled noisily and allowed himself a smile. He’d never been so pleased to see the paint peeling from his cracked ceiling. He was home.
“It’s showtime, folks!” he said to the refreshingly empty room, and as he sprang from his bed and headed for the bathroom, he whistled a jaunty tune. “Sat on the…roots or something,” he sang under his breath as the shower sputtered into life, then he stepped under the stream of lukewarm water. No, he thought. Not my style. Not my style at all.