100 Not Out!
© Copyright 2004
Written for Lost Boys second competition and dedicated to the LB and his otherworldly work.
Chapter 1: Preparations.
Procol hummed to himself as he decorated the bar, all in all, he enjoyed celebrations - O.K. so it was more work, but always fun. Procol had worked for two full years at the 'Exotix Bar and Space Stop'; no it wasn't high powered, all that had gone, but hell it was fun!
The tall Harumian slung the final banner over the glass rack at the front of the bar, and then Procol took two strides back, admiring his handiwork '100 not out!' was emblazoned in gold on a shimmering silver background. Procol uttered a brief 'harrump' of satisfaction, and sighed; all was ready. Now just add the punters, mix in a few harumian cocktails, and the tills would soon fill with space credits!
He ran a scaly hand over his bald wrinkled pate, and paused long enough to scratch his head in bemusement.
'100 not out' this was an odd celebration that apparently had it's origins far across time and space on that outpost humanity called home, the Earth.
In general, he liked Earthling's - of course there were exceptions, but they made good drinking buddies, and always, but always, had the best stories.
The first customer walked into the bar. Procol laughed deeply, and roared his welcome.
"Serendipity - one of your words isn't it - man I love that word"
"What are you talkin' about now Proc?" Lewis asked.
"I'm thinking about human drinking buddies, and you walk in - isn't that what you would call serendipity?" Procol winked.
"No it's what I would call co-incidence, you being on the wrong side of the bar, now I got a word for that!" Lewis smiled at his reptilian host.
"Let me guess - Umm, inconvenient?" Procol jested, traipsing back to the bar.
"Well my word was less polite, but you got the gist, old pal" Lewis cracked a rare smile.
Lewis pursed his lips and read the banner out aloud.
"100 not out - now that's earth speak - long time since I heard that"
"You know what it means! I understand it's ancient - some sort of good luck charm?" Procol's eyes widened in awe.
"Sure I know what it means, but if you want to know - it'll cost you - what should we say one Shuttle-Slammer" Lewis beamed.
"Fair trade, for one of your stories - coming up!"
Lewis watched Procol prepare the cocktail, a kaleidoscope of colours flashed before him, as the barman demonstrated his skills for the first time that evening.
"Now that is impressive, really impressive," said Lewis
"Just warming up" giggled, a too easily flattered Procol.
"No, not the juggling, the fact that something that looks that lethal, can taste so good!" replied Lewis, before downing the purple bubbling broth in one.
"See you, Procol," said Lewis, levering himself off the bar stool.
"Ahem, the story Lewis - The story!" Procol reminded gently.
"Oh yes, you know, that stuff makes you forgetful, real fast" Lewis grimaced, and settled himself back onto the tall stool.
"It's like this you see, at one time on Earth there was this odd sport..." Lewis began.
"Sport?" Procol interrupted.
"Game, Um, - pretend war" Lewis searched for an explanation.
"Oh war, I understand," Procol added, "carry on"
"Look Procol if the idea of sport is odd, I really think me trying to explain Cricket is a bit..." Lewis never managed to reach the end of his sentence.
Procol held up his hand, in response to the sound of the approaching party.
"Sorry Lewis, work now - stories later."
Lewis nodded, and turned to watch the guests arrive. There was the usual assortment of aliens, including some blobs. Now, Lewis had never really hit it off with blobs - ever since that time on Rigel 177.
Male blobs were so possessive - I mean - he had been drunk, very drunk, What's more, she came onto him! Only trouble was, although you could tell male blobs from female blobs, (and looking back Lewis was very pleased that was the case!) you couldn't tell one male blob from another. Lewis was in no hurry to meet that particular male blob again.
Suddenly, a quiet night in seemed a very good idea. Lewis stood quickly, intending to scurry away from the Exotix and back to the safety of his craft; but then he saw her, the star of the show, and all thoughts of escape evaporated.
She was dynamite, human, a good six feet tall with dark hair, and bedroom eyes. Lewis was sure many men would happily die, just to look deeply into those brown orbs. Lewis's adoration was rudely interrupted by an odd noise from behind him. He swung around to look at Procol. The big harumian had changed colour, chameleon-like and looked distinctly paler.
"What's the matter, buddy?" asked Lewis.
"Her, Oh, by the gods - it's her" stuttered the big reptile.
"Look, I don't know how to break this to you - but, I don't think you've got a chance! Me on the other hand..." Lewis replied, smoothing his lank hair, and attempting to look suave.
"It's not that - you don't understand," replied a shocked Procol, before disappearing behind the glimmering display at the back of the bar.
'Odd guy' thought Lewis.
All further thought was interrupted by the arrival of 'the body' on the bar stool beside Lewis. He couldn't believe his luck. She, in all her perfection, sat beside him. Then she did an amazing thing - a virtually perfect impersonation of 20th Century actress.
"What does a girl have to do, to get a drink around here?" the words bubbled from her lush lips.
Lewis saw his chance.
"Hey, Procol, Procol old friend - serve the lady!"
The lady swung her eyes to Lewis's lips, and spoke slowly in a smoky brown voice.
The absent bar keep returned, and the vision of beauty did a most unanticipated thing. She proceeded to wrap her arms around the reptile's thick neck, and plant a warm kiss on his cheek.
"You guy's know each other?" Lewis asked, his mouth agape.
"Know each other? Procol was my senior diplomat," the vision paused, "I should introduce myself - Ambassador Yulie Miller - Cultural attaché to Earth mission five"
Lewis was completely thrown; should he courtesy, kiss her hand, and address her as your grace? He really didn't know - he went for the low-key option.
"Yes, really, and Procol was the best - well until that incident on Sirus 17" the ambassador replied.
"Sirus 17?" Lewis mouthed.
"You mean he hasn't told you!"
"No, I don't think he has" Lewis regained a bit of his composure.
"Two Shuttle-Slammers, on the house," Procol interrupted, " excuse me I must serve the others."
"Told me what?" asked a confused Lewis.
"Why he left the diplomatic core," replied the ambassador.
"No, I don't believe he has" said Lewis.
"Well I can honestly say, without Procol I would not be sitting here tonight!" the ambassador stated.
"Tell me more" Lewis smiled, disarmingly.
Chapter 2: Yulie's tale.
Yulie smiled and relaxed, and a look of devilment crossed her striking features. She began.
"Procol and I worked together for six years, six very productive years. We visited planets in spiral arm gamma, advising on cultural & sociological issues, always looking to exchange ideas on reform. Over the years, I became very involved with adolescents, and their problems. It doesn't matter what species you are, puberty is always unsettling!"
Yulie paused, "That's my experience anyway, what about you?" she asked, probing delicately.
Lewis swallowed hard, he tried to keep his face a mask of indifference; he wasn't about to own up to two years of penal detention - not to a stranger.
"Very quiet, nothing extra-ordinary, Lewis Johnson was a bit of a bore, really." Lewis muttered, casting his eyes slightly to one side.
Yulie laughed, her eyes twinkled - she had hit a nerve!
"Oh, that bad..." she paused for effect, then continued.
"One day Procol briefed me that we had received an urgent request to visit Sirus 17, due to a major concern over a worrying trend in the teenage population. The request was informal; Procol had received it from an old friend - by voicemail. He wanted to act quickly, being helpful, and being more than aware of the benefits of cross-departmental co-operation..."
Lewis butted in.
"Erm, could you use a little less jargon - what benefits?"
"In layman's terms - a back-hander" smiled Yulie.
"Now that I understand, please continue" Lewis chuckled.
"So we asked the pilot to plot a course for Sirus 17, and Procol in his usual efficient manner briefed me on the background. Apparently, the teen population were rampaging off track, under age sex, drugs - all the usual. What was unusual was that they had found someway to influence their elders, and get them to join in! If this continued, society would disintegrate; the productive output had already fallen by 34%. Procol's contact was one of the Sirus systems planetary council, his daughter had visited Sirus 17 for a mini break, and now she refused to return!"
"I see, so it was vital you stopped this world from grinding to a halt" Lewis grinned, "No pun intended!"
"Not really, getting the daughter back was - Nulix Grunelow was losing face - all because his daughter Mehana spent all her time - off her face! Yulie replied, ironically.
"That was his contact!" Lewis let out a low whistle, "Procol moved in high circles. This is the same Nulix Grunelow, the CEO of Galactic Mining, right?"