This is a snippet of my work in progress (WIP in writerspeak), and it's here in its raw and unedited form, so please bear that in mind. Most people don't share first drafts, but I'm awkward, so this is here particularly for members of readers' group, The Awkward Squad. I hope you enjoy this snippet, and I really hope it makes you smile. Please leave comments in the comment box below, and play nice with the other commenters. Thank you.

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NB: This piece contains cursing including F bombs, so if that will spoil your enjoyment, please don't read it. Thanks.

Chapter 1

Brent Morris opened his eyes and reached for the gun beneath his pillow. His bedroom, normally lit only by the intermittent scarlet glare from the neon bar room sign below his window, was bathed in an eerie green glow. The alarm clock? Brent's fingers closed around the polished steel butt of his old fashioned pulse pistol. He'd had an alarm clock once upon a time, but now there was only a hunk of molten plastic on his nightstand. He'd had a difference of opinion with the timepiece over the intricacies of the daylight saving system, and the thing hadn't glowed for a while; not since the flames went out anyhow. Brett closed his eyes. Green glow—so what? It was probably just his comm-set letting him know it was still switched on, or maybe it needed recharging. Again. The damned thing ate through carbon credits like they were going out of fashion. He let go of his pistol and rolled over onto his back, trying not to think about his next carbon bill. And someone cleared their throat.

Brent sat up straight, one hand reaching below the pillow. Where the hell was his pistol? He'd had it just one second ago. How could it be gone?

The alien standing beside Brent’s bed was good at his job. He’d been well trained, and he was prepared to handle this type of situation with tact, diplomacy, and if necessary, lethal violence. In his opinion, this particular scenario required an audible clue to break the ice. He coughed politely. “Excuse me, but are you looking for something?”

“What the hell does it look like I'm doing?” Brent demanded. “Ah, what's the use?” He stopped searching and eyed the alien. The creature was a Gloabon: tall, at least six feet four, and humanoid with the usual compliment of arms and legs. Its head was roughly egg shaped, the bald dome of its smooth skull catching the glow from the computer tablet the creature held in its hand. But at least this Gloabon was fully clothed, decked out in a pristine blue flight suit, the tight material emphasizing its angular body. Brent hated it when they showed up naked; it was enough to put him off chorizo for life. “So, what do you mean by busting in here in the middle of the goddamned night? What do you want?”

The Gloabon grinned, its pale lips pulling tight, revealing a row of pointed white teeth. “Honored Earthling, my name is Rawlgeeb, and I'm pleased to say that tonight, I shall be your abductor.”

Brent groaned. “Not again.” He patted his hand across the cluttered surface of his nightstand, receiving only a small electric shock from the ruins of his digital clock, then his fingers closed on his wallet. He flipped it open and held it up for the alien to see. “Take a peek at that, asshole, then get the hell out of my apartment and don't come back.”

Rawlgeeb leaned forward, craning his neck, the wrinkled skin growing tighter as his cervical vertebra extended. “Very impressive. Keep it up and you'll soon be able to claim a free hot beverage of your choice.”

“What?” Brent rifled through his wallet, flipping through its array of plastic card holders. “Wrong damned card.”

“Oh, I don't know,” Rawlgeeb offered, retracting his neck. “I was quite impressed. You only need six more stamps and then you'll have your reward. Just think of it—cappuccino, latte, flat white. The choice is endless.” He rubbed his hands together. “I'm rather fond of a double ristretto.”

Brent gave him a side-eye. “I thought you, erm, beings, couldn't drink coffee.”

“Technically we're not supposed to,” Rawlgeeb said, a hint of sadness in his voice. “I mean, caffeine is a potent hallucinogenic for us, but it's the taste I can’t resist. And the aroma. Ah, a fresh roasted blend from Kenya or Costa Rica or Brazil—there's nothing like it.” He shrugged. “It's a shame it drives me out of my mind. The last time I had a moccachino, I was convinced I was being chased by a dog. I've never run so fast in my life. Three days solid. By the time the effect wore off I was in the place they used to call Nebraska.”

Brett grunted. “Same thing happened to me.”

“Really?”

“Sure, except substitute coffee for bathtub bourbon, and Nebraska for a Norwegian fishing boat en route the Newfoundland colonies.”

“And the imaginary creature? What was chasing you?”

“The dog was real, all right. A three-headed German shepherd. And on the other end of its leash was a nasty little lowlife from Epsilon Three who’d somehow got the impression I'd stolen his wife.”

“And had you?”

Brent shrugged. “How the hell would I know? Weren't you listening when I told you about the gin?”

“Bourbon,” Rawlgeeb corrected.

“Bourbon, gin, how would I know what color it was.”

“But the details of a conversation are very important,” Rawlgeeb said, sounding affronted. “I always listen very carefully. It's part of my job. You see, not everyone picks up on the local idioms, but I've made a study of it. I'm on the second year of my advanced soap opera course. And I was the highest in my cohort when we went through the level three sitcoms.”

“Bazinga,” Brent drawled.

Rawlgeeb raised his eyebrows. “We covered the Big Bang Theory in kindergarten. I'm afraid I never really enjoyed it.”

“You and half the western hemisphere,” Brent said distractedly. “Ah, here it is. It got stuck down behind my skimmer license.” He pulled a plastic card from the wallet and brandished it triumphantly. “Read it and weep, my friend.” He leaned forward, extending his arm toward Rawlgeeb. “Just don't do that thing with your neck again, all right? Gives me the creeps.”

Rawlgeeb inclined his head to read the card. “Association of Galactic Investigators. I see.”

“Good, so you can tick the box and put me down as immune from abduction, then you can head on out and pick on some other poor sap, okay?”

“Ordinarily, yes.”

Brent frowned. “What's the problem? Which part of immunity don't you understand? Go on, get! Vamoose! Scram!”

“That won't be possible I'm afraid,” Rawlgeeb said, pulling a gleaming metal band from his breast pocket. “You see, that is a perfectly nice AGI card, although I must say the photo doesn't do you justice, but—”

“But nothing! I'm a member and that's an end to it. So goodbye. It's been swell, really it has. We must get together for a drink sometime. Heck, maybe I'll buy you an espresso and you can take a trip to Crazy Town for the weekend, but you have to get the hell out of my apartment and let me sleep. Right now!”

Rawlgeeb took a step closer, towering over Brent. “As I inferred, I recognize your AGI card, but unfortunately for you, it expired last Tuesday, so as of now, you are fair game.”

Brent fumbled for his bedside lamp and flicked the switch, then he turned the card around in his hands, studying both sides. “Oh for fuck's sake!”

“Quite so,” Rawlgeeb said, stretching the metal band between his hands, his long fingers stroking its lustrous surface. “Now, in order to optimize your abduction experience, what kind of cabin would prefer for the duration of your stay with us—probing or non-probing?”

Brent paled. “What?” He shook his head. “I mean, you can’t be serious. I'm AGI. I must've made a mistake on the renewal, that's all. I've been with the AGI for six years. You can't just—” He broke off suddenly as Rawlgeeb leaned over him and moved the metal band far too close to Brent's throat. “Wait! What the hell is that thing?”

“Just a precaution,” Rawlgeeb said. “Now, you didn't answer my question.” He chortled under his breath. “Of course, all the cabins are probing. That was just my little joke. I came up with it after studying an episode of Friends in our Academy of Human Interaction, although I can never quite get the intonation correct.”

“No, neither could Matt Le Blanc.”

Rawlgeeb froze. “How can you say that? He was my favorite. His double entendres were perfect.”

“In this academy of yours, did they by any chance show you Joey?”

“Of course not.” Rawlgeeb regarded Brent with a weary frown. “You know, we may take people from their homes and families then subject them to an agonizing series of brutal experiments before implanting radioactive probes in the back of their necks, controlling their minds and ultimately driving them to madness followed by a lingering death, but we're not sadists.”

“Of course not. Silly of me.” Brent smiled. “There’s just one more thing I need to tell you before we go any further.”

“Certainly. Our aim is to make the abduction process as smooth as possible.”

“Then you won’t mind this.” Brent took his hand from beneath his sheet. “What do you say to that, Rawlgeeb, my friend?”

Rawlgeeb tilted his head to one side. “I say that it looks like you have a pulse pistol. However, I’d like to draw your attention to this.” He cleared his throat, his extendible neck rippling, and then flipped his tablet computer around to show the screen to Brent.

Brent narrowed his eyes and read:

Our employees have a right to work in an environment free for harassment, bullying, verbal abuse, and violence. The Gloabon Council of Terra operates a zero tolerance policy in this regard, and any violation of these conditions will result in legal action including fines and detention.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” Brent said, raising his pistol. “I’m afraid I have a policy of my own. There’s no abduction, no Gloabon Council bullshit, and definitely no probing.”

Rawlgeeb sniffed. “I see.” He straightened his spine. “Then I’m afraid you give me no choice.” He tapped the screen of his tablet then brought it close to his mouth. “Emergency protocol five, three, alpha. One to zip up.”

“No!” Brent yelled, waving his pistol at Rawlgeeb. “You can’t do that. You can’t zip me, man, it’ll fry my—”

“Quite,” Rawlgeeb said, studying the scorched patch on the bed where, until recently, Brent Morris, had been sitting. He waved a hand in front of his face to clear the stench of singed cotton. “Perhaps you should’ve thought of that before you started mouthing off.” He pocketed the gleaming metal band and took one last look around the room. “Humans, could they be any more obstinate?”

Rawlgeeb smiled, pressed the exfiltration icon on his tablet, and with an almost pleasant tingling sensation, he vanished from the room.

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