by Bill Kowaleski
Creative Destruction is a sequel to the novel Brighter Than the Stars, in which Earthlings meet technologically advanced space aliens. The Cygnians come only to do business, but their schemes to sell fusion-powered generators become contentious and competitive.
Many human and alien characters return from the previous novel, including Jim McDermott and his team, who try to reduce the risk of societal upheaval that the new technologies threaten. Meanwhile, many different groups are either plotting to steal the technical advances for their own purposes or trying to destroy it and drive the Cygnians off of Earth.
|Cast of Characters and Species||Table of Contents|
Chapter 18: Miles Reaches the Breaking Point
Miles Martin leapt into the air, nearly upending his laptop. Maria hurried in from the bathroom, where she was drying off from her shower. He’d finally laid down the law: hygiene or he wouldn’t touch her. At first, she’d felt like a traitor to her beliefs, but she had to admit that smelling nice made her feel better about herself, and Miles seemed able to get aroused without a lot of chemical assistance now, an even bigger incentive.
“What’s all the excitement in here, handsome?”
“I’ve been doing searches on generators, furnaces, fusion, and so forth for weeks, and I finally found something; an article in a newspaper from...” — he looked again at his laptop, slightly askew from his leap. He adjusted the screen, and read — “Botsawinna, I think is the name of the country, or maybe that’s the city.”
“Botswana, in southern Africa, you mean!”
He knew she thought he was stupid, or at least burdened by an appalling lack of education, but he also knew that she tolerated his faults for his lean, muscular body, the attention he paid her, and his father’s continuing flow of funding and support. But most of all, he met a need she had never known she had, a need even more intense than her attachment to all her causes, a need he knew well and shamelessly exploited.
“It’s in Africa? That’s odd,” Miles said.
“Where did you think... oh never mind. Tell me more.”
“They talk about these amazing generators people are buying, coming up from Joburg, down from Luanda, to get them. I never heard of Joburg... Anyway, here’s the good part: ‘generators based on the principle of nuclear fusion’!”
“What?” She pushed him away from the computer, sat, wrapped only in a towel, and read the article closely. “We’ve got to find someone who has one of those things, find out more about it. But where else could they come from but those aliens? They must be sneaking them into Africa, trying to disrupt the economy. That’s where they’re going to start their invasion!”
Her eyes lit up in an ecstasy of revelation. He’d seen it before, and he knew she was unreachable once that light was in her eyes. It didn’t seem nearly as obvious to him: all they knew was that some nuclear fusion generators were appearing in Africa. Where was the evidence for an invasion, or even for an alien origin for the generators? “It’s a pretty serious accusation. We should get some facts first.”
“Yeah, sure, we’ll find someone who has one. Ask Darrell to get on it.”
Darrell was one of the paid political operatives that Miles’ father had brought in. Miles called him immediately.
“Huh?” Darrell mumbled, sounding confused and very recently asleep.
“Hey, Darrell, Miles. Did I wake you?”
“Uh, yeah? Dude, it’s like nine a.m., who’s awake at this hour?”
“Sure, Darrell, I know you’re not a morning person and all, but here’s a link. Take a look. Maria would like you to get a hold of someone with one of the generators and find out where he got it, what it looks like, you know, stuff like that.”
“Generators!” Darrell sneered. “Tell that bitch I don’t do grunt work. Let some lowlife arrange electronics for events, I’m a political organizer. I lobby important people, I develop strategy, I—”
“Hey, dude, everyone knows that. You need to read the article, then I think you’re gonna see it’s like the most important thing in the universe.”
Darrell mumbled something incoherent and dropped the phone, creating an ear-splitting clank followed by a display on Miles’ phone indicating that the call had terminated.
“Did he call me a bitch? I distinctly heard that!”
“He sure did. He’s such a flaming asshole. Why haven’t we replaced him? He doesn’t get up until noon, and he’s always in a foul mood.”
“Maybe we keep him because he always gets the job done. Maybe we keep him because he arranged the press conferences, got great attendance at all of them, effectively lobbied Congress, wrote the Alien Repatriation Act himself, and is on the verge of getting it passed. Maybe that’s why we keep him.”
She had a way of talking down to him that he despised, but his contract, as he liked to call it, was almost at an end, and his father had promised him an immediate controlling interest in the business if he persevered. He only hoped he could avoid strangling her to death when his day of freedom arrived. And now there was something else: Jason, his new love. Every moment he ached to be with him. Maria was nothing more than an obstacle.
As was her way, she realized she’d made him angry and immediately tried to backtrack. “I’m sorry, sweetie, I shouldn’t bark at you. Can I make it up to you?”
She threw the towel on the floor and sat on his lap. Oh no, he thought, more bedroom duty, yet another thing he couldn’t wait to put an end to.
Two hours later, Darrell called. “Miles, I talked to a guy in Gaborone who has one of those things. He described it, told me where it came from, a place called Cygnus Prime. He thinks that’s maybe in eastern Europe. Hah! But hey, that’s the proof we’ve been looking for. Those aliens are sneaking them into Africa. Gotta love the deviousness of it. I’ll write something for Maria and get a press conference going for tomorrow. Gonna get this bill passed now, for sure. Thinking about toughening it up a bit, but got a feeling the xenophobes will do that for us. Hey, tell that bitch to memorize what I write. No more off the reservation. She needs to play her role.”
“OK, thanks, Darrell, I’ll tell her.”
Maria had overheard enough to be bristling with excitement. “He’s got the evidence we need, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah, says they come from Cygnus Prime. Guy in Garbalony or someplace like that told him. He’s writing something for you to say at the press conference, says just to read it.”
Her face tightened in anger. “I’ll do what I want. I lead this movement; it’s mine, not his. He’s just the help.”
Of all her delusions, Miles found this one to be the most absurd. She was nothing but a puppet on strings, and she had no clue how completely she was being manipulated, how often he’d subtly steered her away from some cockeyed idea or scheme that was at variance with the plans and strategies of the real powers behind Aliens Out. The sexual and romantic hold he had on her was the key to that control, but pretending to be her loyal lover, pretending to care for her, even pretending to find her attractive was slowly driving him insane. He couldn’t do it much longer. He wondered if he could even do it one more day.
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski