RED PLANET STOWAWAY CH. 7 - "TURRIBLE" NEED FOR ENLOMS
By RaShelle Workman
The sight of Malloy sends a stabbing pain to the back of your eyes. You’d like nothing more than to jump on a shuttle and get far, far away, but the saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ seems to be appropriate right now. You need to find out what the hell is going on so that you can get back to your exciting life as an accountant. The three stooges are obviously heading in the direction of the bar to get Bob. That gives you a few minutes to assess what you have to work with. So with one throbbing eye on Saleen, Peter Tan and Malloy, you grab your wallet and open it. You’re shocked to discover all that’s in there is your ID and thirty zircons.
What the hell happened to the rest of it?
Frantic, you search the rest of your pockets. There’s a piece of gum, a yellow g-string, two pieces of lint and a bit of what you think is a pretzel. Realizing you have no idea when you last ate, you shrug, toss it into your mouth and start to chew.
“Not a pretzel,” you gag, spitting it out. “How much to the Hilton here in Cydonia?” you ask the holographic media guide. With the edge of your shirt you try to wipe the taste out of your mouth.
You don’t even want to think about what it could have been.
“It is 20 enloms to the Hilton Cydonia.”
Well that’s four times as much as I have, you think.
Looking around for some cover to follow Malloy, Saleen and Peter Tan, you see a bunch of really tall guys. Trying to remain calm, you realize who they are. It’s Team Earth, the number one basketball team on your world! You remember hearing something about an exhibition game—Earth vs. Mars—some scheduled entertainment during the convention. You’d wanted to get tickets because your favorite players, Charles Barclay, Michael Jardin and Shaquille O’Nell were going to play. And now, as luck would have it, you’re four feet away from them. They appear to be heading in the direction of the bar. Putting the gum in your mouth, you duck behind them.
Peering between the bodies, trying to casually touch one of the players and still remember your life is in danger, you watch out for the three stooges and Bob. They pop out of the bar, two Peter’s arm in arm. A couple of the basketball players take notice of Saleen, whistling and so forth. You think your life is over for a moment because you see the evil grin spread over her face as she starts to walk over. But Malloy stops her.
“No Saleen. We need to find that meddling jerk . . .”
It’s still easy to hear the four of them talk. They’ve stopped in the street. All of the basketball players could have too, if they’d wanted, but they could not care less. A shoe shop has caught the attention of the players. Michael Jardin’s new shoes are on display in the window and the rest of the team is giving him grief about it. You’d love to listen, but instead eavesdrop on Malloy and the others.
“ . . . and big mouth Bob here seems to think we should head to the Hilton, so I guess we’ll start there. Right Bob?”
One of the Peters morphs into Malloy and nods. “That’s what I’m guessing sir and I am the secret weapon. I was programmed to know everything.”
“Shit, I didn’t realize a program could be so cocky, especially since you let Wallace get away,” Saleen yells, smacking him on the back of the head.
Bob morphs into Saleen and says, “I know you have a personal, intimate knowledge of my programmer and you don’t think I can be cocky?” He copies her evil grin and smacks the back of her head.
“I’m gonna kill him. Right after I kill you and if he’s told you so much about me, then he knows I’ll do it, the son-of-a-bitch!”
You watch as Malloy and Peter trip and fumble over themselves trying to keep Saleen off the morphing mutt. You also appear to be spewing bubbles from your mouth. It seems the gum wasn’t gum.
No damn way! What the hell happened the night I hit my head?
You spit out the “gum,” and use your shirt to wipe out your mouth again. Then you turn your attention back to the three stooges and Bob.
“Knock it off Saleen,” yells Malloy, purple-faced. “You may be able to kill the programmer, but we need this mangy secret weapon. Now c’mon, let’s go.”
Malloy, Saleen and Peter Tan start to walk away, but Bob doesn’t move. He morphs into you and gives you a wink. Smiling, he rapidly morphs into Charles Barclay and then Malloy before following after the others.
What the hell?
“Hey, that was me,” Charles Barclay says.
“Was that a Martian?” Michael Jardin asks.
There is a lot of talking, laughing and butt smacking as the basketball players head into the bar. You follow knowing you need money and fast. The team sits down at various tables and you suddenly have a plan. It doesn’t matter that you’ll look like an idiot in front of your favorite players; your life depends on this. Getting down on all fours, you start to search under the tables near them.
Sure enough, within seconds, Charles Barclay says, “Hey, did you lose something?”
Trying not to turn red, you say, “Yeah, I lost my twenty enloms I need for the shuttle.”
Pulling out his wallet, he says, “Oh, that’s turrible. Just turrible. Here’s a hundred. You’d better hurry.”
“Oh, really. I cou—”
“Just take it and hurry,” he says
“Thanks Charles. Good luck on the game,” you say, running like mad to catch the three stooges and Bob.
You see Malloy get on a shuttle car. You climb on the one behind them, making it right before the doors close. Watching for them, you buy a ticket that’ll take you to the Hilton and a Team Earth hat and then have a seat. While staring at the backs of Malloy, Saleen, Tan and Bob’s heads, you think about what Bob did. Was he trying to tell you something? Was he still drunk enough to be helpful to you?
Then you remember something so important that you’re shocked to realize Bob may have been trying to tell you something. President Manuel Womack’s daughter is married to Charles Barclay. Was that the where and when the assassination was going to happen? At the game.
Pushing a button on your left arm rest, an invisible drawer opens in front of you. Inside are two tiny sensory buds to be used for complimentary movies, music, local news and international news. You place one below each of your earlobes. Immediately a holographic image pops up. Using your mind, you scan the news until you find information about the game. Your mind tells it that’s the information you’re interested in and the volume comes up. It takes thirty seconds to find out the game is tomorrow and where it’ll be.
Next you look for the map of the shuttle service and find out that the game will be held at the Genesis Convention Center. It was built for this game—in honor of the peace treaty between Earth and Mars. The stop for the GCC is two before the Hilton.
After that, you check the Entertainment news and see if it’s possible to find out where the basketball players are staying. Bingo, they’re staying at the Plaza. At least that’s what the Gazareos Star says. That’s one stop before the Hilton.
You have a choice to make.
A. Continue to the Hilton and see what Malloy, Saleen and Peter Tan have planned?
B. Get off at the Genesis Convention Center. Getting there before they do may give you an edge?
C. Get off at the plaza and try to hang with the basketball players?