Luster stumbled out of the cab of his truck in a circle of puke green light. He was followed by a clattering of empty beer cans. Luster knew they were empty because he had sipped each one in the hope of a few drops of that sweet, sweet nectar. He thought he had hit the jackpot on that last one but it had turned out to be piss from his last drunk. At least it had been his own. He hoped. As the light hit his bleary retinas he felt his gorge rise and again tasted the bitter acid of his own urine. He hawked, spat and shielded his eyes as he peered upward. “Whut the hail?” Luster could dimly see something approaching him from the sky and knew immediately what it was. He had four drunk driving convictions on his record, damn cops anyway, and hadn’t had a drivers license in decades. He knew a police helicopter when he saw one. Luster lifted a hand and extended a middle finger as he hollered his disdain for authority everywhere. “Kiss my ass you bastids, I’m sober!” He hoped.
Firth watched as the man exited the vehicle and waved in their direction. He nudged Starth. “What’s he doing?”
Starth was busy being engrossed in his own fantasies. He was imagining the stories he was going to tell about his masterful score. The chicks. The acclaim. He’d be cool beyond measure and to hell with Crath. He shook off his pleasant reverie. “What? How the hell would I know. Go get ready to beam this guy in and don’t screw it up. Put him in the bathroom.”
Luster was just beginning to doubt his assumptions about the identity of the approaching aircraft. It didn’t sound like no helicopter Luster had ever seen and Luster watched a lot of TV. He considered himself an expert on the subject, among many others. He felt a tingling all over his body and was suddenly afraid. He’d experienced this before. “Oh no. It’s the DT’s!” He began flapping his arms and running around the idling pickup, slapping at his body. “It’s the DT’s! It’s the bugs come back to eat me! Lor’ help me!”
Firth slapped the controls to the Axon Beamalyzer, ‘Guaranteed Mutation Free Or Your Money Back’, and watched through the bathroom door as the glow appeared.
Luster felt himself flying. His body was light as a feather and he could feel his spirit soaring skyward. It hit him like one of Lotties canes across the forehead. The light. The tingling. The flying. “Oh shit, I’m daid. Fergive me Lor’. I’s sorry for all my sinnin’ ways. Take me into the light Lor’, take me into the light.” As his eyes whited out, Luster opened his arms wide, prepared to feel Heaven’s embrace.
The first thing Firth noticed was the smell. He’d never met a human but they all couldn’t smell this bad. Could they? He quickly closed the door and looked to Starth, still seated at the controls. “Dude, this guy stinks.” Starth could only smirk.
Luster came to his senses and looked around. White room bathed in a warm light seemingly coming from everywhere. Yep, he was in Heaven. Well, probably Heavens waiting room. The room was kinda small though. Maybe there was separate interview rooms for each person. A place to talk your way into Heaven. Luster quivered in fear for a moment but it quickly passed. Luster had been on a job interview once. It was just like this. He’d gotten the job then hadn’t he? If anyone could talk his way into the Pearly Gates it was ol’ Luster. Luster took a seat on the only piece of furniture in the room and settled in to wait, already rehearsing in his mind.
Starth and Firth approached the bathroom with trepidation. In spite of all Starth’s big talk, they were young and inexperienced in the ways of the Universe. Starth pushed Firth forward. “Go ahead. Open it.”
Firth shied back. “No way. You do it. I saw him already. Smelled him too. This was your brilliant idea so you go ahead. Unless you’re scared?”
Starth was stung. “Scared? By a human? Please.” He felt the reassuring weight of the remote in his hand. “If he so much as jumps I’ll zap him back down and we’ll split, allright?”
Firth, remembering the size and smell of the man, shook his head. “Listen, this isn’t some UFOlogist here. This guy may be crazy. He may be dangerous. He for damn sure is empty handed. Let’s beam him back now and leave. That cult in Colorado is supposed to be meeting tonight. We do a fly by, pick one up and score for sure.”
Starth hissed in negation. “No you moron. It’s not the same. You know the rules. No fans, period.”
Firth nodded his head. “Ok, if that’s what you want. I just want to remind you of why we’re here. We’re here to score, nothing more, and this guy’s got nothing. If you’re only going for style points we may come up empty.”
Starth snorted. “Nothing on him but we haven’t checked his vehicle yet. Relax, it’ll work out. We’ll score but we’ll do it cool.”
Luster was getting nervous. Stone sober, or as close to it as he ever got, and now he was hearing things. It sounded like voices but voices speaking a language Luster couldn’t understand. Luster screwed up his courage and knocked on what was apparently the door to the Heavenly Interview Room. “Angels, can ya’all hear me? It’s me, Luster and Ah’m ready for them Pearly Gates now. Can we get on with this? Please? Hello? Angels, can ya’all hear me?” Nothing. Luster began to sweat. Maybe this wasn’t Heaven at all. Maybe this was Hell and this was Luster’s punishment. Stuck in a tiny room with only one seat and stone cold sober for all eternity. It was unthinkable. Not the room. Luster frankly couldn’t care less, but no Beer? He began to frantically hammer at the door. “Hey Angels! I cain’t understand your Angel talk but I reckon ya’all can unnerstand me so please let me explain. I’s sorry. I never meant any of it if ya’ll just give me another chance. Hello? Angels?”
Firth and Starth shared a long look. Starth broke the silence. “Angels? What is this guy talking about?”
It was Firth’s turn to laugh. “You should try studying sometime genius. It’s religion. This guy thinks we’re a part of their religious pantheon. Thinks he’s in Heaven or something. What a moron.”
Starth snickered. “Yeah. Wait, can we use this? Make him think if he doesn’t give us what we want he’ll be damned forever?”
Firth considered. “I don’t know dude. You know we’re not supposed to scare these people. Sometimes the Brain Ray doesn’t work right and they remember stuff. We might get into trouble. If we mess up our parents will freak. I don’t need to be grounded”
Starth slapped him on the arm. “Will you stop worrying? Our parents aren’t here and I pulled the fuse on the recording systems. Still, we better be careful. The Friendly Alien bit has worked before. Maybe we should just stick to what we practiced.”
Firth regarded the bathroom door, resounding from the heavy blows. “Yeah and hope this guy doesn’t kill us both.”
Luster plopped back down while the second lucid thought of the day penetrated his abnormally thick skull. He took in his surroundings again as he spoke to the walls. “This can’t be Heaven or hell. How did I die? What was that noise? A Green light? There has to be another explanation.” He noticed the top of the chair he was sitting on lifted up, hinged at the rear. He opened it and got a whiff of … something. Something foul. Something odoriferous in the extreme. Luster had never smelled anything exactly like it before but that didn’t throw him. He knew it when he smelled it because he had smelled a lot of it. “Is that …?”
Starth reached for the handle to the bathroom door. He looked to make sure Firth was set. “You ready dude?” Firth nodded. “Ok, here we go.” Starth flung open the door and he and Firth stepped in. They took up positions on either side of the doorway, raised their arms and pointed at the man, who was now laying on the floor. “You are our prisoner Earthman. Cooperate and you won’t be hurt. Oppose us at your peril!” A scream interrupted the speech.
Luster’s moment of coherence passed as the two beings stepped into the room. They were both small, no more than four feet high, with grey skin, large bulbous heads and black eyes. Luster screamed and fainted dead away, never even hearing the melodramatic words.
Firth was first to recover his wits. “Oh shit dude. I think we killed him. What are we gonna do now?”
Starth shook his head. “I don’t know. Is he really dead? Maybe you should check him.” He pushed Firth toward the supine man.
Firth backpedaled like he was being chased by the ugly girl. “Me? Hey, this is your deal. You do it.”
Starth shook his head again. “Not me. I’m not getting near him.” He waved a delicate hand past his nose holes. “Whew. Does he smell that way because he’s dead?”
Firth looked closer. “Well, he pretty much smelled that way when we brought him onboard and I’m sure he was alive then. Wait, his chest is moving. You got a med scanner?”
Starth looked his disdain at his companion. “It’s an Axon InterGalactic Z-Speedster man. It’s got everything. But it’s not programmed for humans.”
“It’s an Axon InterGalactic Z-Speedster. It’s got everything” Firth mimicked. “Everything except a something we actually need!”
Starth tried not to look hurt. “Hey, gotta have an adult code for the re-programming. It’s supposed to cut down on the genetic experimenting by the nerds. What do you want from me? He wasn’t supposed to do this.” Both paused as the man stirred, moaned and broke wind in a loud and noxious manner. Starth started waving at his nostrils again while trying to cover his face with a thin fingered hand. “Well, at least he isn’t dead.”
Luster was dimly aware of a pain in his side. It came and went. When it came he groaned awake and tried to get away from it. When it went he dropped back into his nightmare ridden sleep. The nightmare was a repeater. A grey, shambling horror was poking him with a skewer, as he rotated over a fire, smacking its lips and muttering “Mmmmm. Human.” Luster desperately wanted to wake up but his fear and booze ravaged brain simply refused to cooperate. He slept on.