A p r i l   2 0 0 1

Guest Writer

Part three: The opposite direction
by Jess Gulbranson

In Part One, Mel lost his motel in a poker game and wandered the streets. In Part Two, he worked odd jobs to make ends meet, then discovered strange coincidences regarding a man named Dimpe.

Part Three: The opposite direction
The station would probably be busy on an early Sunday evening, so Mel skirted it, walked around the train yard, and came onto Dimpe's train from the east. There didn't appear to be anyone around, though Mel did see the silhouette of watchman Stu off near the station.

Mel rounded the stationary train car and saw that no one was inside the well-lit vestibule. He stepped in and listened for a moment, not even hearing breathing. Mel went through the counter and opened the concealed door, which was so well-made it uttered not a squeak. The inside of the office was lit only by a green glass banker's lamp on the desk.

Then Mel heard something shift from the direction of the far wall. Then came a rasp of pages being turned. He looked closer at the wall and saw that it was another of the concealed doors; Dimpe was probably in there on the crapper. Mel snuck silently past the desk and slipped the latch down over the door. It struck him as odd: Why was there a latch on the outside of the bathroom door? Mel didn't quite want to know. He slipped the doorstop under as well, and went to work as quietly as possible.

Inside the filing cabinet was the greatest collection of personal profiles and sordid details that Mel had ever seen -- and that was quite a lot. This Dimpe had been busy. The last drawer of the filing cabinet contained the attaché case that Mel had seen before, and also some small sealed crates the size of cigar boxes.

Mel, feeling like a film noir spy, took the attaché case and set it on the desk. The lock was a simple lever tumbler, and Mel jimmied it with a knotty little piece of wire that he kept for just that purpose. Inside was a strange collection of objects.

The first thing Mel picked up was what looked like a metal fish skeleton with a hinged box for a head. He tossed it back in and picked up a crystal ball. Fortune telling, no shit, Mel thought. The ball was somewhat milky and dark on the inside, like it had impurities or was a cat's-eye marble. Weird. The rest of the stuff was just junk, except for what appeared to be an old Buck Rogers ray gun.

Probably an antique toy, and broken too, Mel thought. But in the dark, a gun-shaped object can work as well as the real thing. Mel stuck it into the sleeve of his red sweatshirt.

Underneath the toy gun was the white card that Dimpe said was his alien driver's license. Mel held it close to his face and looked at the tiny dots. Just like Braille. Mel couldn't understand it, and before he could do anything more, the door to the office opened. In walked two extra-ugly aliens.

Their heads were squat and scaly, green, about the size of a baseball and held only two mindless-looking goggle eyes that were as pure blue as Sinatra's. The heads stuck up on short, thin necks which sprouted out of bodies that looked like suits of armor. Or robot bodies that were covered in motor oil.

Mel cursed and, without anything better in mind, pulled the ray gun from his sleeve and yelled while pulling the trigger in hope of startling the aliens. As he dove clumsily behind the desk, he realized that he had done more than startle. The alien he pointed the "toy" at now had a rather large hole punched through its robot body. The inside of the gaping hole smoked and sparked as the alien fell to the ground with a clank.

Mel hunkered down behind the desk as he heard what sounded like someone's voice on an answering machine: Please accept the apologies of the Rigelian Consortium, Faben Dimpe. All charges of smuggling restricted artifacts have been cleared. Your period of exile is officially terminated. Please allow this honor guard to escort you to a transport.

Mel did not quite believe it. He raised his head above the desk and saw the unfallen alien standing impassively, holding out a compact black box with a red light. The same voice came out of the box, repeating the message.

Just then Mel realized someone was pounding on the bathroom door and shouting. Dimpe wanted out and was telling Mel so in a most scatological way: "Hold on, numbfuck," Mel replied. "There's someone who wants to see you."

Mel unlatched the door and Dimpe came barreling out. His fat face was red and sweating. Dimpe moved toward the alien and held out his palms. "I'm ready," Dimpe said, clapping his palms and opening them wide again.

The alien took one look at Dimpe's display and its hand shot out in what looked startlingly like a karate chop, smacking Dimpe on the neck and knocking him to the ground -- unconscious.

Mel walked over to the alien and tried to walk past it through the door, but it swiveled its metallic bulk to block him. Mel stepped back and looked at the thing. It was again motionless. He had a sudden flash of inspiration and realized that he held the alien ID. He held it up and smiled like a credit card ad, then extended his palms as he had seen Dimpe do.

"Beam me up, fucker," Mel said. "May the force be with you."

Then he clapped his hands and opened them, again in mimicry of the man on the floor. With blinding speed, the alien reached out again and, for a moment, Mel thought he was getting the chop-sockey treatment, too. But the alien just placed a metal clip of some kind onto Mel's red sweatshirt, then grabbed his arm with an implacable grip. In a moment he realized the fallen alien had risen and was holding his other arm.

"Let go of me, you alien fuckers!" cried Mel, his worst Star Trek nightmare coming true. He felt his body buzz as the office faded from sight, replaced by a steely gray corridor.

The twin aliens released him and began walking the down the corridor, the other direction from where they had been facing. As Mel spun to watch them, he noticed the window. It opened onto a great vista of space, with stars in unfamiliar formations, the light of a strange sun shining. Mel allowed his jaw to fall slack and stared through what he supposed he should call a porthole.

"No shit!" said Mel.

Mel didn't feel like following the greasy robot aliens. The only option -- after he took his fill of the panoramic cosmic view -- was to go the opposite direction.

Find out more about Mel in our archives.

site design / management / host: ae
© 2001-2005 nwdrizzle.com / all rights reserved.