Right beside the moon of planet Aqueous Uteterux, a gray octopus-shaped ship hovers. The owner of this stadium-wide craft, Sal Malbehavior, Supreme Emperor of Crime, runs his empire of extortion, murder, and drug trafficking from that celestial location. Beneath the ship, on the planet below, the various governments, armies, and police departments comply with Sal’s will. Through a combination of logistics and an advanced arsenal of weaponry from other universes, Sal maintains his status as a powerful tyrant.
Not any different than the homogeneous inhabitants of Aqueous Uteterux, Sal has an appearance somewhat similar to Earth’s great barracuda. Both sides of his face have a silver hue, whereas the middle portion has dark gray, green, and chalk-white markings. But, in lieu of fins, he has a torso, arms, and legs. Standing upright, the portly crime boss is about five feet and two inches. What the being lacks in height, he makes up for in gigantic nefarious activities. Bedecked in a double-breasted gray chalk stripe suit, he looks ominous walking around his soldiers. All of whom are wearing battle fatigues.
What’s more, there is another important detail about Sal and his army’s attire. Held by brown leather straps, all of them tote a set of two gray Aqua-Lung-like canisters. Their clothes-covered dorsal fins sit between the containers. Furthermore, four clear tubes from those objects pump water into the ichthyo-beings’ gills.
Drinking a glass of rum in a snifter, he evaluates his minions who are taller and stronger than he, holding MIA Megavolt Rifles. The force from those weapons with the appearance of any tactical armament could turn anything into an ash heap. Moreover, he observes a muscular 6-foot tall twenty-one-year-old with purple spiky dreads, golden skin, and a black leather motorcycle outfit, trying to free himself from the clutches of two big henchmen.
Sal walks around his huge ocean-colored office. Between sips of his beverage, he reveals his fangs and speaks to the young prisoner in Wavean, a foreign language that sounds similar to gargling. Fortunately, being plurilingual, the captive understands Sal’s utterances.
“Well, you’re Laser Razemore.”
“That’s my birth name. My friends call me either Laser or Zap. Feel free to call me your undertaker, you obese globefish.”
Laughs shoot out from the platoon holding weapons in Laser’s direction.
“Kid, you got more nerve than a champion fighter in a rigged match. Such nerve is commendable. You should work for my mob.”
“That’s okay. I prefer being a simple courier. Shipping supplies to colonies is fine by me.”
“Save your ill-conceived lies for Border Patrol Agents. Simple courier, my tail fin, you were genetically designed by scientists for the military on planet Terraexium. Along with your other aptitudes, you can fly and repair any spacecraft around. Your job was to evacuate soldiers and civilians. Gaggles of gabbers and gawkers say you were the greatest at getting people out of some threat-beset areas.”
“Being that you know so much about me, can you guess the title of my favorite song?”
“Enough with the wit to cover your snit. A few years ago, you weren’t so amusing when you zapped a hole in your superior officer’s head.”
“Listen, toothy, Captain Babylon Hazard was no different than you. He was a bedeviled despot. Killing him saved countless worlds from being raped, pillaged, and enslaved.”
“You’re making my two dorsal fins and five spines all warm. The tribulations that you amassed in the past don’t fascinate me. More interestingly, nowadays, you’re just a rogue cosmos messenger with a soft soul for charitable underdog causes, transporting legal or illegal products for a minuscule heliotrope bankroll. Afraid of a court-martial and a firing squad, you live no differently than a migratory animal.”
“You still didn’t tell me anything about my favorite song.”
“Perhaps it’s ‘Steal from the Big Dealers’ by Babe Made Off with the Scofflaws. The group is from that environmentally doddery planet. What’s it called?”
“For your info, the group is from Ertha-Feuer. By the way, that’s a good guess, but the song, same as your existence, is wrong.”
“Enough with the quiz show quips. All I know is, you were transporting Miraclecea. Those cylinders marked fishmeal are filled with pills that can cure people who are addicted to the drug I sell. No one on my watch is giving up Elationith. Addiction is profitable, and I enjoy being rich.
“To live on planet Aqueous Uteterux is to hate it. No joke, the whole place is a cold fishbowl. Down in the pollution-abused water, you got your cities. The only difference between it and an aquarium is that the residents, with artificial devices, can also live and work on the land. I give the disgruntled dimwits a vacation from living in that cesspool. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, your meaning is clear as the abyss around your otoliths.”
“My head may be an abyss, but I am not void-headed enough to work for Religious Pledge Reg, formerly known as Sledgehammer Reg. Remove that innocent look off your kisser. He was the one who gave you the Miraclecea. Yeah, I knew Reg from the time you were a notion in some geneticist’s mind. Back in those days, Reg was a ruthless fish. Then, unfortunately, his kid sister OD’d on Elationith. Quite a few laps around the ocean ago, poor Reg lost it. He became a pious anti-drug nut.”
“Out of the two, you’re the nut who’s killing your own species for profit.”
“Profit is another subject for discussion. Let me not forget, you also have valuable cases of wine from planet Chalgob’s Bellacota Vineyards in that metallic blowfly laughingly referred to as a ship.”
“Okay, take all of the Miraclecea. Destroy it if you want. But don’t put your orifice anywhere near the wine. I got a serious buyer, a real oenophile.”
Timed to coincide with the last syllable of his declaration, Laser elbows his captors. Both of them keel over. Determined to increase the agony, Laser kicks their knees with his thick black combat boots. Trained in the ancient battle style of Bamyou, Laser uses the multi-digit hatchet technique and swings his hands in the air. Those precise moves dislodge his opponents’ much-needed water tubes.
Incapacitated, the two goons fall and gasp as their fluid gushes everywhere. Mindful of their associates’ perilous situation, a few other soldiers run over and provide new canisters.
Less than a second elapses before a few thugs seize Laser. As tall and strong as the young man is, he cannot take all of them down. Cocked and ready, the soldiers on both sides are eager to discharge body-burning bolts from their rifles.
“Let your blasters nap. This guy is my worm. I wanna see him dangle for a while. Get the mangle manacles and plop him in the pewdiepie chair over there. Let him stay until he abides and joins my syndicate. Either that or we show him how my enemies die.”
Held by cuffs that mechanically twist and lacerate the skin if there is an attempt to escape, Laser scowls at his captors.
“Tell your buyer to drink water. The wine belongs to us now. Bring in the cases, boys. Give every crew member a bottle of this high-class vino. Drink up, Sphyrna-Guys. Laser’s buying.”
“How stereotypical of you ichthyo-imbibers.”
“Raise’em high for Mr. Laser Razemore, our generous guest.”
“You’re a damn son of a piranha. Denying drug-addled people a cure for your poison is not good enough. You have to take my last means of getting some lilac backs. Come on, Sal, open your wallet, and share some mercy. Allow me to support my girlfriend.”
“Do you mean Evey Regen Three? She’s the gyno-robo-droid with human memories. Those engrams give her independent thoughts and feelings. Aren’t they from your former lady and fellow officer who died of ionizing radiation exposure?”
“Can’t you peep in some other window for a change?”
“My sources tell me that she’s quite the slice of pie for hungry guys. Except for a buzz haircut and almond eyes that have a peach hue, her voluptuous body’s all silver. Enough of this wine will make me forget that she’s not genetic. Wasn’t she made with that new kind of metal that feels the same as real flesh? Everything about her supposedly feels authentic. Isn’t that right? ”
“Do you know what feels absolutely real?”
“What? Come on, tell me.”
“My fist in your fish-foul face.”
“Stop buttering my gills with your words of love.”
Over the course of seventeen minutes, Sal and his soldiers gulp the wine with the abandon of Bacchus. Getting drunk makes them all laugh and ridicule Laser. Unable to escape, the prisoner grits his teeth throughout the harangue.
“Wait, there is something…,” Sal cries out. The crime lord believes the whole room is in a washing machine during the spin cycle. “You drugged the wine!”
“Can’t say I enjoy killing you. It’s a sin, you know. Can’t say I enjoy the existence of dealers who assassinate the minds, hearts, and spirits of people, either. Yeah, that wine was computer-created to look, smell, and taste authentic. But, in actuality, it’s a lethal toxin. I knew you bottom feeders couldn’t resist taking every bottle.”
“I didn’t have to pull your ship in with my electric tethers. I could’ve missile-fisted you to pieces smaller than quarks. I could’ve tracked down the Mini Interstellar Wheeler that was flying behind you. Evey was on it. I spared her…. Spare me.”
“Did you spare those people who became substance-spellbound monsters, willing to steal and kill for more Elationith?”
“Say farewell to your last chance for a fine life, kid. I’m going to put you in a casket. Around the time you’re a buffet for parasites, Evey will serve my desires.”
Unsteadily, Sal pulls out a Remming Tigerfish Revolver from his desk. Each attempt at aiming the olive-silver weapon that shoots razortooth bullets is ineffectual.
Almost simultaneously, the gangster and his henchmen fall like dead tree leaves.
No longer concerned with his captors, Laser turns his attention to communicating by telepathic means.
“Evey, are you there? Are you there? Did you hear everything? Oh, come on, you mean to tell me this expensive computer implant in my brain is sea-lily-stupid. Damn, if this Cybernetic Cerebral Relayer doesn’t work, what’s the point of it?”
“Honey, honey, I’m right outside of that ugly ship. Relax, the Transmitter is working. Boy, I am pleased to hear you communicate in English again. Wavean coming out of your mouth hurts my ears.”
“How’s your craft holding up?”
The Mini Interstellar Wheeler, which looks no different from an atom diagram, is attempting to enter through a port.
“It’s running out of fuel, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll be inside soon. Even as we speak, I’m opening the hatch. Don’t worry. Thanks to me, Sal’s computer anti-raider system is useless. Also, judging from the Pellucidoscope, the entire organic crew was wiped out by the wine. So, my love, in a short amount of time, I’ll find those kissable lips of yours.”
“Good, I’m looking forward to it, and to delivering the cure to those addicts below. Please hurry. These mangle manacles are tight.”
“Zap Razemore, who said anything about releasing you from the cuffs?”
Comparatively speaking, of all the known sounds on planets or intergalactic ships, Laser prefers hearing Evey’s laugh the most.
Bob McNeil is the author of Verses of Realness. Hal Sirowitz, Queens Poet Laureate, described the book as “A fantastic trip through the mind of a poet who doesn’t flinch at the truth.” McNeil was published in The Shout It Out Anthology, Brine Rights: Stanzas and Clauses for the Causes (Volume 1), San Francisco Peace and Hope, and The Self-Portrait Poetry Collection, etc. Furthermore, McNeil’s work as a professional illustrator, spoken word artist, and writer is dedicated to one cause—justice.
About the illustrator: Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, and fiction published. One recent credit is artwork in World Of Myth Magazine, Sept. 2019. See more here.