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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
A Felony of Birds

by Harris Tobias
The Greer Agency

by Harris Tobias
Assisted

by Harris Tobias
Hold The Anchovies

by Harris Tobias
Alien Fruit

by Harris Tobias
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

by Harris Tobias
CHRONON--Time Travel

by Harris Tobias
The Stang

by Harris Tobias


Bottoms Up

by Harris Tobias


Bottoms Up

The guy next to me seemed nervous. He kept making jerky motions. I got the feeling he was wearing a mask and it was slipping. I get ideas like that all the time. I’m a science fiction writer and I see aliens everywhere. It’s an occupational hazard, I guess. Otherwise the guy looked perfectly ordinary but you’d have to admit he was full of tics.


After a while, my curiosity got the better of me and I leaned over and said, “Hey buddy, can I buy you a drink? You look like you can use one.”


My offer set off an explosive round of twitching and jerking. Finally he answered in this mechanical voice, “That would be very kind of you but not necessary.” I signaled the bartender to pour us each a shot of whiskey. I raised my glass and said, “bottoms up” and tossed the booze down like the experienced drinker I am.


When I slapped my glass down on the bar, I noticed that my new friend hadn’t touched his drink. The glass sat in front of him exactly where the bartender left it. “You’re supposed to drink it, you know,” I said pantomiming lifting a glass to my lips.


“I’m sorry,” he said in that robotic voice, “but alcohol is bad for me.” Now my overactive imagination was convincing me that my drinking companion was either an alien or a robot disguised as a human being. When you write sci-fi for a living, you tend to view the world in terms of visitors from distant worlds or other dimensions or any of a number of  common science fiction tropes.


“Well, if you’re not going to drink it,” I said reaching for the glass. “Would you mind...?”


“Mind?” he repeated looking puzzled.


“Yes, mind if I drink it?” I said dragging the glass of amber liquid toward me.


“I do not mind,” he answered sounding like a bad speech recognition program.


 “Well then,” I said picking up the shot glass, “here’s mud in your eye,” and threw back the amber liquid in one practiced motion. When I finished, I saw my companion swiping wildly at his eyes.

 “Is the mud still there?” he asked me earnestly.


“There is no mud,” I told him. “It’s only an expression we drinkers use." He looked relieved. “If you don’t drink,” I asked him, “why are you sitting at a bar?”


“I am waiting for my ride,” he answered.

“Oh, I see. You are waiting for someone,” I said trying to engage this strange man in conversation.

“Waiting for my ride,” was his terse reply.

“Going home?” I prodded hopefully.


“Home,” he repeated and lapsed into twitchy silence.


By now my imagination was working overtime. I half expected to see a flying saucer set down in the parking lot and the poor fellow dissolve into a greenish blur. “So where is home?” I asked trying to keep the lines of communication open.

“Far,” he answered, “very far,”

“Where exactly? Alaska? Hawaii?”

“Far,” he said again flapping his arm in the direction of the ceiling.

To someone like me this was practically an admission that he was an extraterrestrial. I was getting very excited and wanted to interview him further. I needed to learn what I could about his world his spacecraft what he thought of our planet and its poor benighted creatures. I could practically taste the  Hugo awards and other accolades my books would win. I needed to keep this interview going but I also needed to excuse myself and answer nature’s urgent call from my bladder. “I’ll be right back,” I said in my friendliest voice. Patting him on his back I thought I heard a hollow metallic thump, “Don’t go anywhere.”

I staggered off to the men’s room and relieved myself. When I returned to my seat, ET was gone. I asked the bartender where he went. The barkeep, a big burley fellow looked at me uncomprehendingly.


“What man?” he said.

“The fellow I was just speaking with not two minutes ago. The man I was buying drinks for. That man,” I exclaimed barely hiding my exasperation.


“There hasn’t been anyone here but you, sir,” the bartender said. “Maybe you’ve had a few too many.”

So that was the game. The bartender was in on it. This whole bar was just a front, a meeting place for star travelers, an ET transit point. The whole thing was fixed and I just happened to stumble on it. I stared long and hard at the bartender who kept avoiding eye contact. What was he hiding? And why was he continuously adjusting and readjusting his shirt? Was that a pair of tentacles hidden away in there or a second pair of claw-like arms? “Where’re you from?’ I slurred in my friendliest manner already convinced I knew the answer.
   



2013-12-26 11:30:19
micheledutcher - I wondered about myself years ago when I looked into the night sky and wondered where the 2nd moon was. I could point to where it was supposed to be. Then my brain says: "This planet has only one satellite." At that point I started writing sci-fi, figured it would come naturally.

2013-12-23 09:29:15
I understand this story very well. I feel the same sometimes. I eevn tell people that I'm fron the Abell 520 Cluster" no comment, they think I'm nuts.


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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
A Felony of Birds

by Harris Tobias
The Greer Agency

by Harris Tobias
Assisted

by Harris Tobias
Hold The Anchovies

by Harris Tobias
Alien Fruit

by Harris Tobias
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

by Harris Tobias
CHRONON--Time Travel

by Harris Tobias
The Stang

by Harris Tobias


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