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The Last Agent - Short Story by David King

I travelled 30,000 light years and slept most of the way. Insect dreams of sex. That’s what hypersleep does to you. Fucks you around big time. Arrive not knowing if you’re human or some kind of slug on two legs. Stagger down white transit tube whole line of men women children insects waiting behind clear plastic walls yelling screaming give me give me flicky fluck bam bam want hotel cheap tacti tacti me you flicky fluck cheap. Then empty white room, passport control officers in black. Your business, sir? Try to remember. What did they tell you? Takes days to recover. Some never do. You see them crawling down alleys, hands out, gills hyperflating puh-leeze mister you give a damn? Well, I did, but couldn’t afford to. Like always forever. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

I was there for a reason. They don’t send an agent 30,000 light years for fun costs too much. But I couldn’t remember. Lost in a city of rusting iron structures with tiny wood and corrugated iron cubicles soaring into brain dense neural lightning flashes no idea where to start what to look for. Narrow bridges all kind of scrap material swaying between iron bar structures over filthy brown canals said to contain electric lampreys the size of anacondas and poisonous angler fish. No place for swimming and if fishing’s your thing forget it.

Six agents gone. Number seven walking past radioactive street girls on stereo ice radiating lust. Me mister, me mister. You want me mister. Hotel room hot orange light ceiling fan goes round and round with bad helicopter sound as sweating bodies pneumatic breasts lips jackhammer pelvis collide convulse through disinterested orgasm. Another day another trick. Sick crabs scuttling in gutters of blue movie slime. Throbbing pain. Always pain you know you don’t belong here meester go home.

They’re watching. Nobody ever escapes. Cameras inside toilet bowls watch excrement drop analyse content guilty of withholding. Don’t even bother to knock just burst in grab and scream you don’t belong here meester go home.

Flashing red neon in Persepolis Avenue said ‘Nightmares Bottled While U Wait’. Iron cage street front, narrow glass door reflecting rust-infected pylons soaring red sky above. Why here not somewhere else? You get a feeling. The door sign said Please Come In but the Orogolian behind the counter had shifty eyes twitchy limbs and what good was a bottle unless it contained Paradise? Then you could dream. All I ever wanted to do. Be Happy. Then he said hey meester I know why you here. Contact. The rest should have been history but wasn’t.

I said why and he looked over my shoulder shifty-eyed went stiff and said I do you cheap meester and I knew they were onto us. Old agents never die just get wiser go round the twist again even if they don’t remember why.

Glass cabinet full of bottled nightmares reflected black car outside. Hatchet-faced Haccalian goons in Stetsons and dark glasses. You’d wonder why so obvious when even the dumbest kid would know but that’s Haccalians for you. Not the sharpest blades on the block but dangerous oh yes very. You did not want to end up in an Haccalian interrogation cell because no one ever got out of one alive. Killed slowly law on their side.

Coming back to me piecemeal now. But I didn’t want to be here, facing Haccalian goons Orogolian shitstirrer. Just wanted to be home peace love gratitude blue skies green fields endless oceans. Didn’t want this shit didn’t want it at all. But the old smarts snuck in. Programming maybe.

They came through the door six foot seven grey tentacles clenching razor mouths.

“Passport, sir?” End of time.

Except I showed them the old Novotian paper and they went pale, stood to attention said: “Apologies, sir” I told them their mark had left ten minutes ago heading south-east and why the fuck were they so far behind the ball thinking I was the mark? Couldn’t get out fast enough saluting stammering falling over themselves and the Orogolian stiff as a board behind the counter went limp with thankyou meester thankyou thankyou meester thankyou coming out of his square rot-sucking gasper until I grabbed his shirt and spat in his face.

“That was a setup.”

It was coming back. Who I was, why I was. Like I said, takes time to reimagine. Agents gone dime a dozen in twelve hours because they couldn’t. I was lucky. Like always. Or so I thought.

“My family, meester,” he stammered. “They got my family.”

Can’t argue with that only pity and horror that someone can be so vulnerable. Agent think—never let yourself be vulnerable. But not vulnerable in one way means more vulnerable than ever in others.

She came in the door. Tall. Lithe. Redhead. Buxom. Kind of boobs you never saw on Earth. Alive shifting under her dress. Third generation Vedusian. Sex to die for. Flames curling around her cheeks like a movie star dream. Another setup this one to get me for sure. I could feel the old sex drive kicking in mind thoughts intellect trying to take a holiday. But they hadn’t figured with The Engineers who’d been over my soul with micrometers.

“Got a cigarette?” she asked all husky.

“Don’t smoke,” I replied.

She arched an eyebrow at me. “What else don’t you do?”

“Talk to strange ladies.”

She took a cigarette from her purse, raised it to her lips. “Am I really so strange?”

“Why do you bother?” I asked.

She lit the cigarette, blew a stream of smoke and her face flickered through every movie femme fatale from the 1940’s 50’s 60’s incarnate.

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