Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Chance Encounter

A dark alley worthless to thugs, and filthy. Sheer unbroken walls stand to either side, a green garbage bin at the sides curiously empty, ironically surrounded by mounds of filth - what you'd normally expect; fish bones and a fair number of crushed Coke cans and the occasional dead rat and one cat.

A man walks through the alley. He is either woefully ignorant of the inhibitions any right-minded member of the American civilization would have since he was three, or woefully heedless, inspired by a confidence no doubt stemming from things hidden in the depths of his voluminous cloak. In fact, he is a curious combination of both and resembles a monster in bandages and a bowler hat, seemingly out of phase with the fashion trends of the rest of the world. At least part of the reason for this is that he is in fact a monster hidden in bandages and a bowler hat, seemingly out of phase with the fashion trends of the rest of the world. Or at least that is the description anyone with a prosaic disposition would describe him as, which indicates everyone but Ridley Scott and a few madmen in institutions somewhere or other. And he isn't just out of phase, his incipient mental dictionary holds no definition whatsoever of the word fashion, in any case.

In fact, as he cheerfully describes in his petabytic diary (a curious affectation adopted from the denizens of this otherwise appallingly primitive rock), he may be described in the parlance of this joint as an alien, which he hastens to add, is not an illegal immigrant from Ecuador or Mexico, but, rather, an unknown entity from the vicinity of M18, and would set off most metal detectors in any case given the large amounts of base metals in his biochemistry.

Today he has a rendezvous, however. Tonight, rather, he thinks, and a hundred volts course through his various pouches as intricate recording devices encrypt his very thoughts on his customized watch, which he holds up to his abdominal regions to perceive the time. Late, he thinks, and another hundred volts - no, we shall not go into this again.

Behind him a matte black Mercedes pulls over, engines silent as the moon. The odd thought courses a hundred volts - no. His moon was not silent, and had not been for several thousand years, filled with gas-bars and strip-joints as it was. No. Anyway, the matte black Mercedes pulls over. Two men emerge, dressed in black suits, black shoes, black gloves, a black tie, black sunglasses, black wigs and black teeth - no, that is just a joke, he had had to undergo five years of training before he understood the point of jokes - and, defying the cookie-cutter mould, black shirts, with little black buttons down the sides and a tiny little black pocket with a tiny little black pen. Behind these two men the doors of the Mercedes slid shut like silk.

"This is a chance encounter," the first man said. He was short and had a shock of hair that glistened in the moonlight.
"This is a chance encounter," the other man said. He was tall and he was also black. His hair did not glisten in the light.

The alien sighs, fingering its megaton energy dissipator with a free tendril. It suppresses the urge to emanate a brief puff of pheremones in consternation - it was a neurotoxin to humans and he did not really wish to kill humans, did he? And begin another war that would surely cause another embargo of wormstock for the breeding grounds? In any case he rather liked the planet, primitive backwater as it was.

"This is a chance encounter," it admits wearily.
"Down to business, then, xenoc," the second man says briskly. "One, what are you doing out here without a permit? Two, where did you get that cloak? It's contraband, you know. Third, you're going to cause a leak incident the way you dress. You look like a Victorian on crack. You know how many people we had to process for you? Who sent you here an-"

"That's the fourth point, agent Jones," the other man expostulates.

Much to the alien's surprise, the second man reddens in chagrin. "Yes. My mistake. Fourth point. Fourth point, xenoc." He is louder now, like a Adjucator on carboxyls. "Who sent you here?" He clears his throat, and resumes importantly. "Remember that we are authorized agents of the Galactic Assembly and failure to comply will result in dire consequences for your seat on the Council. We know you're here on your government's espousal, and your-"

"Jones."
"Wait, Kane. Your-"
"Jones."
The other man whirls around. "What, Kane? Look, you gotta give me some space here-"
"Article 857." The alien is visibly impressed, and he suppresses another urge to inject more lethal neurotoxins into the air. Kane is a formidable entity, with style.

"But, Kane-"
The alien nods, a curiously human gesture. Article 857, the interstellar statute on state secrets. Which can only mean the young Jones is way over his head.

At length Jones desists. He turns his scowl towards the alien, who suppresses another urge to jiggle his pheremone sacs. "As it turns out, I do have a permit," the alien eventually says. "But not one recognized by your scanners. It exists in the compactified dimensionalities, and is in fact a Chalabi-Yau space with certain attributes. I dare not extract it for fear that it might obliterate your solar system. You do understand, don't you?" He waits expectantly and watches them scramble for cover.

"Fine," the second man stammers. "But that proves nothing." The alien sighs. Nature provided well for his species's case, endowing them with 26 appendages, 10 of which had manipulator suckles. This inclination for base 26 had proved useful in the development of their own GUT, a feat the humans were nowhere near completing. But Article 45...unbelievable as it might have seemed, the Assembly had agreed to pass the Amendment for Article 45 after watching a couple of Star Trek episodes. It was sad how these humans suffered such cruel ironies. As it was the alien's civilization remained far above human civilization, except for certain individuals in the embassy.

"This cloak is not contraband by virtue of the fact that my government authorized it," he says. "In an interdimensional civilization such as ours it is all but inevitable. Necessary, even," he finishes, casting a discreet eye on the puny pockets of the humans. "How do you store anything in those pockets, anyway? That's something I never quite understood," he ventures hopefully.

The humans do not take the cue. Eventually Kane steps in and the alien feels a tingle of excitement. "And the leak factor potentialities?" he questions, voice dry and cool as a flux-storm in his home dominion.

For once the alien has no easy answer. He admits to himself, liberating more than a hundred volts in the process, that he had indeed been rather careless. But squeezing a eight foot form into a six-foot cast is no easy thing, even for interdimensional civilizations. "I like to think of it as disguise through flamboyance," it says slyly. Kane's mouth twists into a vexed smile. Jones sputters. "Who dresses up all in black, anyway? What do you pass yourselves off as? Musicians?" Kane's smile disappears, and he mutters something about too many movies. Jones shoots him an accusing glare. It really would have to look up the meaning of fashion one day.

"That doesn't excuse your carelessness," Kane says frigidly. The alien waves a tentacle dismissively. "Oh, we don't come here to quibble." He inhales. "It's not even illegal. Go on," and assumes an expectant posture.

Jone looks apoplectic. Red-faced, he storms in like a bull in an amorphous dark-matter construct retailer. "Who sent you here, xenoc?" he rages. "You do know all forms of espionage, telephatic or otherwise, is punishable by embargo, don't you?" The alien shudders. Embargoes are the primary motive force of the Assembly, which replaced the billion-strong armies it utilized before the Great Commerce Revolution.

Slowly, the alien loosens up his organ sacs, ready for the coup de grace. "Why," it says sultrily, "I got the very idea after watching one of your Star Trek episodes. Very interesting, really, and it doesn't break a single law. Not even yours, humans. I'm a tourist," he declares, and settles back to watch as all hell, indubitably and finally, breaks loose.

***

1 comment:

marcus said...

Self-indulgent. We do not approve. You should treat us with greater respect.