The third episode of my latest sci-fi work in progress.

Here's the next piece from the upcoming Brent Bolster book. The first episode is here, the second part is here.

If you're not familiar with Brent and the others, this is sci-fi comedy with elements of Star Trek, Douglas Adams, and more. The first book has been 99 cents/ 99 pence for quite a while now, and there's a link after the chapter below.

Earth

“Nothing really. It’s not worth mentioning.” Rawlgeeb smoothed down his clothes, looking around airily. “I wonder how Vince is getting on in his new job.”

Brent growled under his breath. “Give it up, Rawlgeeb. Spill the beans. Now.”

“All right, but there’s really not much to tell. I tore the ligaments in my ankles. It was just a silly accident, that’s all. End of story.”

“Another date?”

Rawlgeeb nodded primly. “Yes.”

“And how’s Breamell? Still in one piece?”

“Of course she is. I was the only one hit by the truck.”

The smirk slid from Brent’s face. “What? I thought you invited her over to your new place last night. How the hell did you get hit by a truck?”

“I cooked,” Rawlgeeb said, making his mouth a straight line as if the matter was settled.

“Oh, no,” Brent chuckled. “Come on, Rawlgeeb. You have to give me more than that.”

“I do not. I don’t have to tell you anything, but suffice to say, you should never carry an alligator in an elevator. Not a live one anyway.” He held up his hands. “The way some humans make a fuss about even the smallest things, it’s laughable. It wasn’t even a very big animal, and I told the woman it was securely wrapped, but she insisted on pressing the emergency button, and that only made matters worse.”

“So which lucky devil had the pleasure of being trapped in the elevator with you and the gator? One of your new neighbors?”

“Mrs. Owens from the apartment above mine. I’d thought she was quite well-mannered. She’d always made a point of saying good morning or good afternoon when she saw me. But judging by the cursing she came up with, her politeness was little more than a veneer to conceal the rough-necked space dock roustabout within. And she’s a respected ophthalmologist, or so I’d been led to believe.”

“Doctors are the worst,” Brent said. “They have a God complex. All of them.”

“More Freud?”

“Personal experience,” Brent said darkly. “The smarter people are on paper, the dumber they turn out to be in real life.”

“Things not going well between you and Doctor Granger?”

Brent grunted. “Me and Ellen are fine. Solid as a rock. But if there’s one thing I can’t stomach it’s all the…you know.”

“The romance? The sweet talk?”

“The smiling,” Brent muttered. “Every damned minute of every damned day. Grinning from ear to ear, beaming like a complete idiot, it makes my face ache just to think about it.”

“Oh, don’t be so harsh on yourself. When you smile, you don’t look all that bad.”

“Really?”

“A half-wit, possibly, but not a complete idiot.”

“Ha-ha,” Brent drawled. “Well, you’re not looking so hot from where I’m sitting. You still haven’t told me how you got hit by a truck, and you know I won’t quit asking until you tell me, so you may as well get it over with. Come on, Rawlgeeb. Alien up.”

Rawlgeeb drummed his fingers on the desk. “Okay. It took me quite a while to get Mrs. Owens calmed down, and by the way, some of the things she said to me were just plain racist. I’ll bet she says all the right things about Gloabons to her middle-class friends, but she apparently isn’t too keen on living alongside me, I can tell you.”

“Did she complain about the noise you make?”

“How did you know that?”

“Just a hunch,” Brent replied. “I’m guessing that you’ve been brushing up on your sitcoms, am I right?”

Rawlgeeb stared. “Most of the time, you can hardly find your way to work in the mornings, but sometimes, just sometimes, your investigative skills seem to…to actually exist.”

“Give me some credit. I was doing this job for a long time before you came along. I know how to watch people, to observe their reactions and figure out what makes them tick.”

“Enlighten me.” Rawlgeeb leaned back in his chair. “I’ll bet you just made a lucky guess, but if you can prove to me that you deduced Mrs. Owens’ complaint using only your powers of detection, I’ll tell you how I hurt my leg.”

“Deal. It’s very simple, Rawlgeeb. Most people don’t take much notice of Gloabons these days. Sure, they might give them a wide berth in a coffee shop, but on the whole, folks have gotten used to the green skin and the condescending attitude.”

“And that’s exactly the kind of smart remark I’d expect from a human,” Rawlgeeb said.

“You see?” Brent held his hands wide. “You Gloabons have a sense of superiority fitted as standard, but hey, we’re used to that on Earth. We’ve always lived under a ruling elite of one sort or another. As far as most people are concerned, they’ve just changed color and lost a little body hair, that’s all. But there’s one thing that most humans have yet to experience, and that’s Gloabon laughter. Boy, one of these days, I must make a recording of it. I could use it to deter telemarketers. A quick chuckle from you, and they’d never call again.”

“So that face you pull when I laugh, that’s not a wry smile?”

Brent shook his head. “It’s called wincing, and that noise you might be able to hear is my teeth grinding together.”

“Dear me,” Rawlgeeb muttered, his shoulders slumping. “All this time, I thought we were sharing jokes, but you were…in pain?”

“Forget about it. I get the same way every time I see a man with a mullet.”

“The fish?”

“The haircut.” Brent shuddered. “Gives me flashbacks to a nasty little case I worked, tracking down a bunch of hardline nineties revivalists. They wanted to bring back cargo pants and make bandannas compulsory, can you believe it?”

“I’m not sure,” Rawlgeeb replied slowly. “Do you want to hear my story or not?”

“You have the floor.”

Rawlgeeb licked his lips. “Well, while I endured the tirade of invective from my neighbor, the elevator lurched into motion, plummeting downward. Mrs. Owens screamed, clutching onto my arm for dear life, and so it was no wonder that the alligator escaped from my grip. After that, I’m afraid things took a turn for the worse.”

“My God,” Brent breathed. “Did it bite her?”

“No, although with the way she was bawling, I was starting to think that a quick nip might shut her up.” Rawlgeeb pursed his lips. “I know that doesn’t paint me in a favorable light, but don’t forget, I have very sensitive hearing, and a full-grown woman screeching in the confines of an elevator was doing nothing for my mood.”

Brent motioned for Rawlgeeb to go on, then he reached for a pad and pen.

“You’re going to write this down?” Rawlgeeb asked. “Why?”

“For Jerry Martellini. He’s setting up a new magazine, The Overlord Weekly, and he’s always looking for new material.”

“We Gloabons are not overlords,” Rawlgeeb protested. “How many times do I have to say it? We’re just here to–”

“Foster positive working relationships in a spirit of goodwill and mutual harmony,” Brent interrupted. “Yeah, I know the spiel, and we both know it’s window dressing, so climb off your soapbox and get on with your story. We can make it into a nice little article, and if Jerry likes it, he’ll pay top dollar, plus it could be good publicity for the agency. What do you say?”

Rawlgeeb narrowed his eyes. “I get to approve the piece before you send it in?”

“Sure.”

“In that case, it was like this. The alligator started thrashing around, clearly perturbed, and at that moment, the elevator halted at the lobby. Mrs. Owens stumbled to the floor, her legs thrashing in the air, kicking out at the alligator for all she was worth, but at that point, the doors slid open, and my very expensive reptile shot out of the elevator and made a dash for it across the lobby.”

“Hold on a second,” Brent muttered, scribbling furiously. “I’m almost caught up. There.” He grinned. “What happened next?”

“I chased after the alligator because, after all, it was supposed to have been the main course of my romantic meal, and who should I run into but Breamell!”

“This is great stuff! Human, I mean, Gloabon interest. Jerry’s going to love this.” Brent turned the page over. “Crap! I just wrote on the back of my tax return. Never mind, I can make it up again later. What did you say to Breamell?”

Rawlgeeb cleared his throat. “Naturally, I smiled and said how nice it was to see her. And I think I may have asked her about her day. I usually do. I find it helps if I show an interest in her work. That’s something you may want to bear in mind with Dr. Granger.”

“Are you kidding? I have absolutely no idea what Ellen does, and I fully intend to keep it that way. But that’s beside the point. Are you telling me that with an alligator on the loose, you stopped for small talk?”

“It’s funny, but that’s almost exactly what Breamell said.” Rawlgeeb sighed while rubbing at his bicep. “Then she punched me on the arm, more or less affectionately, and said, ‘Let’s get after it.’ And we charged through the door and gave chase, but unfortunately, the sidewalk was full of people trying to run away from the alligator, and you know what humans are like when they panic. It was impossible to get through them.”

“So you detoured into the road.”

“We didn’t have much choice. The alligator was getting away, so I jumped into the road, and it all looked clear, but I wasn’t expecting the fire truck to come swooping down from above. It took me clean off my feet.”

“Ah.”

“It was one of those flying first responder vehicles, and it turns out that they’d been alerted when the emergency button had been pushed in the elevator. So you see, it was all really my neighbor’s fault. If she’d kept her head, everything would’ve been fine.”

“And what happened to the gator?”

“The emergency crew caught it. They gave it back to me eventually, but not until they’d threatened to run me in for jaywalking and then given me a lecture on endangered species. It was ridiculous. I know alligators are rare on Earth these days, that’s why the damned things are so expensive. Anyway, after all that excitement, and the pain in my ankles, I hardly felt in the mood to prepare the stupid beast.”

Brent chuckled. “At least things turned out pretty well for the gator. A happy ending. Jerry will like that. Whimsical.”

“Not really. Breamell poached it in a light stock, then we wolfed it down. We were both starving.”

“Right. Maybe I’ll leave out that part.”

“No, no,” Rawlgeeb said brightly. “That’s the best bit. We can add the recipe, and helpful tips on what to do with the leftovers. Breamell set its tongue in a kind of jelly. I could bring some in for you if you like. Delicious. Good in sandwiches.”

“Thanks, but I’ll pass.” Brent pulled his laptop toward him, studying the keys as though seeing them for the first time. “I’m going to get this typed up. Why don’t you see what you can do to drum up some business? Make a plan or something, you’re good at that.”

“Our marketing strategy certainly needs improving. I could reappraise our portfolio of online assets.”

“Go for it,” Brent said without looking up. He jabbed uncertainly at a key. “Ah, that’s what that does. Great. Who needs Vince and all his fancy hi-tech tricks? I’ve got this. No problem.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Rawlgeeb said. But as he activated his own computer, a nagging sense of doubt crept into his mind. He hadn’t admitted it to Brent, but he’d advised Vince to find another job. The agency had always struggled to make ends meet, but lately, Rawlgeeb had been hard pressed to find those metaphorical ends, let alone bring them together. Despite his best efforts, money flowed out of the business as if it had a will of its own and was determined to be free. They were heading for bankruptcy, so unless he could come up with some ideas to generate revenue very soon, Brent Bolster and Associate would soon have to close its doors for good.

Thanks for Reading 🙂

This episode will be included in my monthly anthology as an ebook along with this month's blog posts. The anthologies will only be available to my patrons on patreon where, for a few dollars a month, you can have instant access to all the ebooks as soon as I compile them. Also, the support of patrons will help me to keep writing and providing content for you all. Learn more when you head on over to patreon and check it out
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Comments on the story and questions are very welcome.

Meet Brent Bolster

The book below can all be read for free in Kindle Unlimited, or if you have Amazon Prime and own a Kindle device, you can borrow them for free, one book at a time, via the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

Book 1, Dial G for Gravity is available here

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