Space Girl Blues
by Bruce Pavalon
A young man with a troubled past falls in love with a young woman who believes she’s been abducted by aliens and that one of her alien abductors has fallen in love with her.
Chapter 18: Made to be Broken
Anini dumped a tray of raw bagels into the boiling malted water. Aaron entered the bakery through the back door and walked up to her.
“Good morning,” said Anini. “I thought you’d come in early to bake.”
“I had this bizarre dream last night that I have to tell you about,” said Aaron.
Anini scooped the bagels out of the water and dumped them into the sink. “I have to tell you something, too.”
“What? Is it about last night?”
“Last night? What happened last night?”
“Oh... Nothing. What do you want to tell me?”
“Everything is messed up, Aaron. They know where I am. I have to move on.”
“What?! You’re leaving? That’s why you trained me to bake!”
“It’s the least I could do for you. You can have my job. It pays more, and in three months you’ll have benefits.”
“I don’t want benefits. I want you.”
Anini stacked the boiled bagels on baking racks while saying, “A different place, a different time... Who knows... But not here and not now.”
“I can’t believe this.”
“Get changed and prep the front. We need to be ready for the morning rush.”
“First, let me tell you about my dream.”
“Is this really important?”
“It was about you.”
“In dreams, people aren’t necessarily who they physically appear to be.”
“Sometimes in reality people aren’t who they appear to be either.”
“Ain’t that the truth.”
“In my dream, you were pregnant and giving birth. I was holding your hand, and that guy Nikoli was helping deliver the baby.”
Anini closed the oven door and flipped the switch, causing the oven to rotate. “Jealousy rears its ugly head.”
“It’s not jealousy. I’m honestly worried about you. When the baby was born, you know what color it was?”
“No. Green. And then Nikoli turned into the Green Giant.”
Anini laughed. “Ho, ho, ho...”
“It’s not funny,” said Aaron. “Nikoli is the Green Giant! He’s an alien! He’s your guy. Together, we can stop him, and you can stop running.”
“I don’t think so, Aaron. You just had a silly dream. That’s all. You’re taking it way too literally.”
“After all the stories you’ve told me, you think my dream is silly?”
“It obviously means more to you than it does to me.”
“How can you trust that guy, Nikoli?”
“I don’t trust anyone, Aaron, and I especially don’t trust your dream.”
“You’ve got to believe me about this. I believed everything you told me about the aliens and the abductions and the corporate mascots. This guy Nikoli isn’t right. He’s the guy you’ve been running from, and together, we can get rid of him forever.”
“Nikoli is just a guy who is really into lasers and the occult. He’s not an alien. He’s just weird, and for your information, I’m only interested in him intellectually. Beyond his lasers and his ideas, I find him to be a little bit creepy.”
Aaron folded his arms. “I don’t believe you.”
Anini huffed. “Believe what you want to believe, and until you confront your own demons, you can’t help me confront mine. Now, get changed, and get to work.”
Aaron dropped his arms, turned, went to his locker, and put on an apron. For the first time, he felt as if he had been duped. If anyone was an alien it was Nikoli, and yet Anini seemed totally unconcerned. He shot Anini an angry look then went to the front of the bakery and prepped the counter as he had been instructed to do.
* * *
The irony of it all was that he knew she was right. He needed to confront his own demons, and until he did, he couldn’t tell the difference between a real memory and a false memory. But he wasn’t going to let her demons go so easily, especially after the ride she had taken him on.
Aaron worked and reviewed everything that had happened between him and Anini over and over again until he felt crazy. He didn’t say anything to Anini, and she didn’t say anything to him. They both knew their jobs, and the morning rush went smoothly. He couldn’t believe that she was actually going to leave, and if it was true, he wasn’t going to let her go quietly.
The morning rush went smoothly. Then as Aaron was filling a bag with bagels for a customer, Nikoli entered the bakery and walked up to Aaron.
“Is Anini around?” asked Nikoli. Nikoli flicked his wrist, and a bouquet of flowers appeared in his hand. “I’ve got something for her.”
“Listen, Nikoli, I’ve been on to you from the moment you played ‘Greensleeves’. You stole the idea to cover ‘Greensleeves’ right out of my brain.”
Nikoli laughed. “Greensleeves isn’t exactly an obscure song. It’s over four hundred years old.”
“Whatever. You stole that idea from me.”
“How do you suppose I did that: mind meld?”
“I’m going to expose you for what you really are.”
“Do what thou wilt.” Nikoli waved his hand through the air in front of Aaron’s face and recited William Blake’s poem The Fly: “Little fly, thy summer’s play my thoughtless hand has brush’d away.”
“A mosquito my libido,” responded Aaron, quoting Kurt Cobain.
“Am I not a fly like thee, or art not thou a man like me?”
“The poetry recital has been very nice, guys. Now can I have my bagels?” said the customer Aaron had been helping.
“I’ve had enough of this,” said Aaron, still holding the customer’s half-filled bag of bagels. He placed the bag down and walked into the back room. Anini was sweeping the baking area. Aaron reached into Anini’s locker and grabbed her stun gun and Maglite-like laser.
“What are you doing?” asked Anini.
“I’m going to expose Nikoli for what he really is once and for all.”
“Don’t...” said Anini, but Aaron did not respond to her. Anini dropped the broom and quickly ran after Aaron as he rushed into the dining area. Holding the bouquet of flowers, Nikoli waited behind the customer.
“What about my bagels?” demanded the customer to Aaron.
“Step aside,” Aaron commanded the customer. The customer moved away from the counter.
Anini pushed the door open between the baking area and the dining area. “Aaron, don’t...”
Aaron lunged at Nikoli, hitting him with the stun gun. Nikoli dropped the flowers and screamed. His body convulsed, and he fell to the ground.
“Forget the bagels,” said the customer, and he ran out of the bakery.
Aaron gawked at Nikoli, then turned and looked at Anini. Anini turned and went back into the back room, slamming the door behind her.
Nikoli slowly got up. “Wait, Anini...” he called out.
Aaron stepped toward the back room, but Nikoli kicked his feet out from beneath him, causing Aaron to fall to the ground.
Aaron tried to scramble to his feet, but Nikoli kicked him in the stomach. “You thought you could get rid of me by shocking me?” said Nikoli.
Aaron tried to get up, but Nikoli kicked him again, knocking Anini’s laser out of Aaron’s apron. The laser hit the floor and the batteries popped out. “She’s mine,” said Nikoli. Nikoli cocked his foot back to kick Aaron again, but Aaron caught Nikoli’s foot and pulled, causing Nikoli to fall to the floor. Aaron scrambled to his feet and ran into the back room.
Wearing her snowmobile suit and holding her umbrella, Anini ran out the backdoor. “You’re the baker now,” she said as she left the bagel bakery.
Aaron rushed out the door. “Anini!” he desperately screamed, but she was already gone. He thought of running after her but realized if he left the bakery, neither of them would have jobs to come back to. He returned to the bakery and walked back into the dining area. The TV hanging from the ceiling was playing CNN for nobody; Nikoli and all the customers were gone.
Aaron straightened up the dining area. He picked up the stun gun and touched the shocking device. Nothing happened. He looked at the battery charge indicator light. The batteries were dead. He whacked the side of the stun gun, and the battery indicator light flickered. The stun gun was broken. Nikoli had faked him out. In Aaron’s mind, there was only one reason Nikoli would’ve faked being shocked; Nikoli was an alien.
He picked up Anini’s Maglite-like laser and reloaded the batteries. He pointed it at the customers half filled bag of bagels and pressed the button. A green laser beam shot out of the device onto the bag of bagels. The bag turned red and burst into flames. Aaron released the button. He grabbed the flaming bag, threw it into the sink and turned on the water, extinguishing the fire. Aaron pocketed the laser and finished cleaning up the bakery.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon