Down Under and Over There
by Bill Kowaleski
Table of Contents|
parts 1, 2, 3 4
Sean and Cindy spent the next two days considering locations around the world where they might want to live. Sean feared that the Sirians might trace his internet activity when they finally tracked him to Hawaii. He broke into one of the many unoccupied condos owned by snowbirds who only visited Hawaii a few months per year. The resort offered high speed internet to all units and never shut it off.
Sean was able to use a disposable Chromebook and search the internet anonymously. In their condo, they visited sites about Thailand, booked flights to Bangkok, and created a complete, false trail to throw off the Sirian authorities. But in the other condo, they were narrowing their choices to two.
“I’m leaning toward Australia,” said Sean as they sat, cheek-to-cheek looking at the tiny Chromebook screen. I think it’ll be easier than Portugal for you: familiar language, nice climate, laid-back culture.”
Cindy stared at the screen, but instead of seeing the kangaroos and koalas it displayed, she saw a busy kitchen full of fryers with donuts crawling down a long conveyer belt. She saw Brad Olsen smiling at her, putting his arm around her shoulder and giving her a hug. She shuddered and turned her face to Sean’s.
“I could still go back to Wisconsin, couldn’t I?”
“Sure, babe, any time. But not me. I can’t ever go there again. They’ll leave sensors that will alert Sirian Drug Enforcement if I’m within a kilometer of town.”
“Okay, Australia it is, then. Let’s live in the Blue Mountains. That looks nice, all forested and rural. It’ll be more like home for me.”
Sean nodded and smiled. He wrapped his arm around her waist and said, “So you can resist Brad’s charms and the lure of his donuts?”
Cindy laughed. “Brad’s a nice guy, but when I think about leaving you, about going back there and making donuts... No way!”
* * *
Sheriff Gustafson paced nervously through the fryers and packaging station in the back of the Mini-Mart where Brad Olsen made his donuts. It was mid-afternoon, and so no one was working yet.
The two cooks came in at midnight and made the day’s batch in time for the first customers at 6am. On their respective ways home, they dropped off donuts at other shops that had contracts with Brad. But no donuts were going to Sirius Prime yet, and that was why two Sirians were due to arrive any minute; they were getting impatient, and Gustafson was getting worried.
Gerry Andersson, who had operated the town sawmill for as long as anyone could remember, had made disguises for them. Gerry was himself a Sirian, the first who had ever arrived in the north woods, and the discoverer of the euphoric effect of oak resin on the Sirian body.
Gerry loved his adopted home - he’d even become an avid Green Bay Packers fan. Only a very few people knew his true identity, and he planned to keep it that way.
At 4:00 pm sharp, the Mini-Mart door opened and two young, attractive people entered. The man was blond and slim, dressed in jeans and a blaze-orange hunting jacket. He could have passed for Brad’s brother. But Gustafson’s eyes quickly migrated to the woman. She was a stunner: tall, slender, flowing dark blond hair, delicate features, prominent green eyes, dressed in tight dark jeans and a matching denim jacket, looking no more than twenty years old.
Brad dashed around the counter to greet them. The male said, “I don’t understand this bright orange. I thought we were trying to blend in, not attract attention.”
Brad laughed. “That’s how you blend in around here. I didn’t catch your names?”
“Seth,” the male said.
“Nefertu,” said the woman. “You must be Brad. I was informed that you were most attractive, and I must agree with that.”
“Nefertu, please!” Seth mumbled under his breath, just loud enough for Brad to hear.
“Well, you’re pretty nice yourself,” said Brad. “Gerry’s outdone himself this time. He takes a lot of pride in his work.”
“He had trouble masking my green eyes,” she said. “So he decided to accentuate them instead. Very clever. But enough of this chatter. Let’s take a look at your facility.”
Brad led them into the back, introduced them to Gustafson and opened his mouth to explain the operation, but Nefertu interrupted. “This is comical! How are you going to make a thousand dozen per day in here?”
Gustafson took a step forward and said, “Obviously we gotta build a new facility. But we need financing, and for that we need a business plan, and for that we gotta identify our customers, and that’s where we run into a stone wall.”
Nefertu and Seth turned to face each other and chirped and whistled in their birdlike language. After a long minute, Nefertu turned back to Gustafson. “We are confident that we can sell a thousand dozen per day, more if we want to. We’ve tried your samples and we know your product is excellent. But we were under the impression that you ran a significant business. This is... how shall I say it? This is what you Earthlings call a cottage industry!”
“Hey!” said Brad. “It’s how we do things up here. We’re not in Chicago or the Twin Cities. We meet local demand just fine.”
Nefertu waived her delicate hand and said, “Yes, I’m sure you are right, but we must reconsider. Surely there are larger scale operations we could negotiate with.”
“Now wait just a goldarn minute there!” shouted Gustafson. “Negotiate with some big chain like Dunkin’ or Krispy Kreme? And just how’re you gonna present yourselves? ‘Hi there mister executive, we’re space aliens from Sirius Prime and we wanna buy a whole buncha donuts’”
Seth tugged Nefertu’s arm and walked her into the store. They huddled quite some time before returning.
“I admit,” said Nefertu, “that revealing ourselves in a public way would be inappropriate. It would create pandemonium.”
“There ya go,” said Gustafson. “Better to just work with us. Brad and I will put together a plan with the amount of gold we’d need you to front us so we can get this thing off the ground.”
Nefertu replied, “We certainly did not come here expecting a plea for funds. We’ll have to return to Sirius Prime and talk this over with Commander Inmohotep.”
“I will return at once,” said Seth. “Nefertu, do you wish to join me?”
“No, she said. I want to spend a little time here, get to know more about these creatures. Maybe the Sheriff can take you to the transporter. Brad, where could I go to learn more about your culture?”
Brad said, “Well, there’s exactly one place in town where you can rub elbows with the locals. That’s the Tall Timber. Do you Sirians like an ice cold beer?”
Nefertu wrapped her arm around Brad’s waist and squeezed tightly. “There’s only one way to find out. Let’s go!”
Gustafson directed Seth to his Tahoe, saying as they walked outside, “She gets right to the point, doesn’t she?”
“Some of us find humans very attractive,” said Seth. “And we’re notoriously direct, as you’ve already observed. Myself, I’m dreading spending time here. But I think Nefertu is going to adapt just fine.”
“So who are you guys anyway?” asked Gustafson. “You don’t act like those agents I met on Sirius Prime.”
“Oh, no, they have been reassigned. Quite frankly, I believe that Commander Inmohotep doesn’t fully trust them. We are junior agents on our first assignment. Tell me, do you have suspicions as to who might be our smuggler?”
“Well, maybe. But let’s wait for the Commander before I name any names ’cause it isn’t gonna be easy to track your perp down.”
* * *
Copyright © 2016 by Bill Kowaleski