Prose Header

Don’t Forget the Pastries

by Bill Kowaleski

Sex, Oak and Rock’n Roll
appears in issue 581.

part 1

Deputy Jim Walsh picked up the phone on the third ring. “Hey, Stenny! Oh ya? Where would that be? Ah, that rental cabin about two miles down county road DK, right? OK, we’ll take a look.”

County Road DK sign

Sheriff Gustafson looked up from his desk as the stocky, crew-cut Deputy replaced the receiver in its cradle. “Sean and Cindy are staying in that cabin right now. What’s up?”

“Stenny says he was hunting nearby and found something weird in the woods. ‘Weird,’ that’s his way of saying it. But when he described it, I knew what it was right away: one of those transport devices Sean used to use to send logs to his planet.”

“No way!” said Gustafson. “He’d never do that again. They’d catch him for sure.”

“What I thought, Ollie. But there it is. Maybe we got some new oak loggers out there.”

“Well, isn’t that just great,” sighed Gustafson. He scratched his bushy grey mustache, stood, and hitched his belt buckle up his considerable gut. “OK, Jim, let’s go on out there and see what’s up.”

* * *

Cindy stood by the window of the cabin, peering out into the woods, but the transporter was too far away to be visible. “We gotta get that thing back inside before somebody sees it.”

“No, babe,” said Sean as he turned to face Cindy. “Wait. I want to see whether Sirian Drug Enforcement catches wind of those logs coming in. They’ll come right back through that same transporter if they do, and I want to be able to deny that I know anything about it.”

“But you said you spiffed it or something...”

Sean laughed. “Spoofed. I spoofed its hardware address. When those things are manufactured, they each get a unique address wired in. It identifies them and makes it easy to trace them back to where they are. But my clanmates figured out how to spoof the address. Sirian Drug Enforcement is gonna think those logs came from somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy!”

“OK,” Cindy said. “So what’s the problem then? Let’s roll it back into the cabin now.”

“Cindy, I’m not so sure I trust my clanmates a hundred percent. This might be a setup. SDE might be waiting for those logs on the other side of that transporter. Or maybe the spoofing didn’t work. Let’s give it a little time. So what if somebody sees the transporter? It just looks like a big drain pipe on wheels.”

Cindy nodded. Sean always thought things through, saw every angle, considered every risk. He was not only drop-dead handsome — He looks like Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”, some of the older women would say — he made her feel safe, like nothing bad could ever happen to her while he was around.

Sean walked to the window and put an arm around Cindy’s waist. “My God, you’re looking fantastic right now. You’re still the hottest girl in Wisconsin, with that golden hair and perfect body. And how did you get into those shorts? They look spray-painted on!”

She giggled. “Well, I used to make my living by looking good, you know. And I’m hardly a girl. I just turned thirty.”

He put his mouth to her ear and whispered, “Well then, old lady, how would you feel about our doing something interesting to pass the time until it’s safe to drag that thing back in?”

* * *

When Gustafson and Walsh arrived at the cabin, they split up. Walsh knocked on the door to talk with Sean and Cindy, while Gustafson crashed into the forest to find the transporter.

Despite loud pounding, despite shouting his identity, Walsh got no response from inside the cabin. As he pounded on the door, he could hear the Sheriff call to him from a distance, though he couldn’t make out the words.

Walsh turned away from the cabin and starting walking toward the sound of Gustafson’s voice. The sun was low in the sky, probably less than an hour from dropping below the horizon. It peeked through the trees where they thinned as he walked to the southwest. The trunks of large oaks made it impossible to see very far ahead.

Walsh called out, “Ollie, you out there?” But he heard no reply. Suddenly, just as he passed between two particularly large trees, he broke into a clearing, and there was the transporter. It was making a noise — a high pitched whine that slowly descended, slowly reduced in volume. It was as though a jet engine had just been shut off and was winding down. But he saw no sign of Gustafson.

Inside the cabin, Sean froze. Cindy opened her eyes and said, “Hey, don’t stop now!”

He pushed the covers off of them, sprang into the air, whirled, grabbed his jeans, and slipped them on — all in one amazing acrobatic flow. Cindy gasped. As many times as she’d seen Sean’s athleticism, his very un-human abilities were still a shock. And they were also a reminder that the man she loved was an alien from another world.

“Sean, what?”

“I heard the transporter. They’re coming!” Then he was out the door.

Cindy pulled on a pair of sweatpants and sighed, “Oh, well, guess I can see if Jim is still out there.”

* * *

Walsh searched the area surrounding the transporter, walking in widening circles until it got too dark to see. He called the Sheriff’s cell phone number over and over. He called the station. He called the State Police branch. Finally he found himself back at the cabin, where he could see Cindy through the window of the brightly-lit kitchen.

She answered the door, saying, “Jim, you see Sean out there?”

“Well, right now I’m trying to find Ollie. He disappeared right after he called out something to me from the woods.”

Just then Walsh heard brush crackling behind him. “Ollie?” he said as he turned.

But it was Sean who emerged from the darkness. “Hey Jim,” he said. “Just taking a walk...”

“You see Ollie out there?”

“No, why do you ask?”

“We were investigating a report that Stenny saw one of those log transporters just beyond your cabin. Ollie called out to me from the woods about an hour ago, but since then there’s been no sign of him anywhere.”

Sean stood motionless. Sirian disguises were completely undetectable and, to complete the disguise, they had to display the emotions of the wearer just like any human face. Walsh saw fear, and said, “Let’s go inside. I think you’ve got something to tell me, Inkohatum.”

They sat around the kitchen table, squeaking cheese curds they grabbed from a huge bowl Sean had taken from the refrigerator. Cindy said, “You used Sean’s Sirian name, Jim.”

“Yeah. We need to be one hundred percent honest right now. Ollie’s missing.”

“You’re right,” said Sean. “I don’t honestly know where the Sheriff is, but here’s what I’m guessing. I heard the transporter activate at the same time you were pounding on our door. I’ve been out for over an hour looking for evidence of anyone coming through that transporter, and I’ve found nothing. Ollie must have found the transporter and said something that voice-activated it. He’s probably on Sirius Prime right now.”

Cindy put her hand to her mouth and gasped.

“Ya, not good,” Sean continued. “But it gets worse. Problem is, if he tries to use that same transporter to return, he’ll end up on an uninhabitable moon of a gas giant in the Andromeda galaxy. He’d survive about one second without an environment suit.”

“What!” exclaimed Walsh. “Then we’ve got to go over there and warn him right away.”

“But, well, you see,” said Sean. “That might not be such a good idea.”

Walsh’s face was a question.

“So, uh, well, I sent some logs through that transporter. Now my clanmates were supposed to be on the other end, snatching them up and moving them to a safe place quickly. But Sirian Drug Enforcement has improved their detection techniques. If the authorities get to the Sirian-side transporter terminal quickly enough, then anybody who comes through with the same hardware ID...”

“They’re gonna think is an oak smuggler,” Walsh finished, “like Ollie!”

“Oh boy,” said Cindy, looking at Sean. “Seems like you’ve sure made a hot mess!”

“Yeah, maybe, but there’s still more,” said Sean. He took a deep breath. Then he told them.

* * *

Gustafson quickly located the large cylinder, maybe ten feet across, looking like a common drain pipe except that it was mounted on four small wheels. He stopped, walked around it, then shouted loudly so Walsh could hear him, “Jim, transporter here.”

A soothing female voice barely audible, coming from no particular direction spoke. “Transport? Confirm.”

Without thinking, Gustafson replied. “Ya, it’s a transporter.”

Only then did it hit him. Where had that voice come from? Fear and curiosity fought a brief battle with him before curiosity won out. He poked his head into the cylinder, wondering if maybe someone was inside. As he did, a whirring sound rose in volume and pitch becoming unbearably loud within seconds.

At the same time, Gustafson felt himself being pulled into the cylinder. Since he had already been leaning forward, he toppled onto his belly, halfway inside. The cylinder seemed to tilt downward, and then he slid, faster and faster, into a black, swirling abyss.

* * *

Ollie Gustafson woke surrounded by brilliant, blue-white light. For just an instant he thought he’d crossed over, and that he was at the gates of heaven. But then he saw the Sirians. There were three of them, all with huge eyes, bald heads, and long skinny fingers. They resembled the little green men whose images you could buy in Roswell, New Mexico. But the Sheriff knew they were real. He’d seen them in the woods outside his town.

And, without his incredibly effective disguise, Sean looked just like the Sirian who now stepped forward and spoke. “Identify yourself.”

“I’m Sheriff Ollie Gustafson.”

One of the other Sirians seemed to record this on a small flat tablet. The Sirian facing Gustafson said, “You have arrived via a transporter with the same hardware ID as one that recently shipped illegal oak logs to this location. You are therefore under arrest for smuggling dangerous drugs into Sirius Prime.”

Gustafson shook his head. “I’m a law enforcement officer. I was investigating this illegal shipment when that transporter just fired up and sucked me in. I most certainly didn’t ship any logs here!”

The three Sirians formed a tight knot and chirped and whistled to each other in their language. Gustafson noticed that while the one who had spoken to him had black eyes, one of the others had blue eyes, and the third Sirian had green eyes.

After what seemed like a very long time, Black-Eyes, as Gustafson decided to call him, turned and said, “We must investigate this situation further. You will be detained while we do this.”

The blue-eyed Sirian asked, “Did you just come from the Andromeda Galaxy?”

“What?” sputtered Gustafson. “I came from Earth!”

Gustafson’s answer led to another long conference of chirps and whistles. After several minutes, the Sheriff decided he needed to assert himself.

“Hey, look here. I’m in law enforcement, and I’m guessing so are you guys. Let’s work together on this. I can help you investigate on the Earth side.”

Black-Eyes turned from the tight circle of Sirians and said, “You are correct. We are members of Sirian Drug Enforcement, Interplanetary Force. But we must first perform certain tests before we can consider your offer. You will be detained in the immigration holding cells until then.”

“Hey,” said Gustafson. “I know one of your Commanders. His name is Inmohotep. You know him? He could vouch for me.”

Black-Eyes stared at Gustafson for a moment before saying, “How would you know Esteemed Commander Inmohotep?”

“He came to Earth on an operation. We caught some bad guys, Sirians actually. Then I got him connected up with a donut bakery. He sure does love donuts.”

“Really! Donuts?” said Black-Eyes. “But no. We cannot involve him in this minor matter. It would be insulting.”

“I’d like to see him again,” said Gustafson. “Maybe he’d like to see me?”

Black-Eyes chirped something to Green-Eyes who took Gustafson’s hand and said, “I will take you to the holding cell now.”

* * *

Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2015 by Bill Kowaleski

Home Page