An excerpt from the journals of former Intergalactic Police (IGP) Agent Irene Magnus, as provided by Sam Crane
Art by Luke Spooner
I clinked my round tumbler against the whiskey bottle with a little plink! and knocked back a third of what was in my glass. “Leave the bottle” had been the smartest thing I’d said all day–much better than all the pointless speeches and the hollow “thank you, it’s been an honor” or “yes, I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet.”
Today was the worst day of my life.
Give me something to fight, give me a case to solve. Even if I lost, at least I would’ve fought. And maybe–just maybe–I could have even fought the medical reports. Even the bad injuries sometimes improved with rest and physical therapy, and Lord knows I would’ve tried. But I would’ve needed time for that, and the Intergalactic Police wasn’t giving me any.
I had barely been out of the medical center’s ICU for a day when one of my handlers had come to have a “discussion.” The IGP’s oversight committee had deemed me unfit for further active duty. Of course, I appealed immediately, anything to buy some time. Instead the committee promptly came back with “no,” told me my last day was in an Earth month, and that was that. Almost forty years of service, and I didn’t even get to leave on my own terms.
I flopped boneless against the backrest of the chair, my eyes wandering up and up. The bar, Prisms, billed itself as a “traditional human old English tavern,” clearly trying to target homesick humans or possibly other species seeking a little taste of Earth. However, it looked less like a tavern and more like the bastard child of Westminster Abbey and some East End dive bar.
The walls were stone and the ceiling was a huge vaulted Gothic mess. Everything was in black and shades of grey except for strands upon strands of colored glass, like pieces of shattered stained-glass windows, that had been hung in crisscrossing lines all throughout the wide room. The colors danced and swam in the dim recessed lighting, and I couldn’t stop myself from wincing as the brighter shards caught the light and glared down at me.
Dizzy from looking at them too intently, I let my head thunk against the tabletop, which was nice and cool. Its smooth top was smartly polished and shone like mahogany, but it was probably just Cattameeran eeli wood instead. Cheaper and local. The planet of Cattameer was the center of government for the Milky Way Galaxy, and here in Capitol City, there was virtually anything you could ask for–including knock-off human bars with crap whiskey and washed up Intergalactic Police agents to drink it.
Distractedly, I trailed a gloved finger along the table’s surface, the fine protective mesh of my synthetic-steel gloves tracing the wood’s grain. The gloves weren’t IGP standard issue. I’d bought them with my own money, so they were mine, and I got to keep them. Unlike my blaster and my badge.
No. No more bad thoughts. Good thoughts only now. I was blowing a lot of money on this middling whiskey, so at the very least, I was going to be happy about drinking it. A lot of the non-human races loved human alcohol. Champagnes and ciders were particularly lucrative exports for Earth and Mars both; anything fizzy and carbonated was generally a hit. Human hard liquors never really caught on though. You could find the basics sometimes, especially if you went to a bar that catered to a more human clientele, but no one exported the top shelf stuff–it just wasn’t worth it. God, I would kill for good bourbon.
Ugh, it was too hot in here, and I still had my grey dress suit on from the retirement party. The tabletop was cool but not enough. Fumbling awkwardly, I loosened my tie and popped a few buttons. Better. Time for more whiskey though.
I tugged myself back upright by sheer force of will, and it took me an embarrassingly long second to realize that the chair opposite me was no longer empty. Instead, a small alien sat there, looking like an eerie cross between a human and a crow. The bar’s lighting was very flattering to her though–glossy black feathers almost seemed to glow, while streaks of iridescent feathers shimmered in a myriad of colors. Like an oil slick but prettier. She wore a brown utility belt with a number of pouches on it and a nasty looking ray gun holstered at each hip.
“Who–?” I started to say before I caught myself. I already knew her. It was Ambassador Scholar Trishell, a scientist and diplomat from Pluto. Belatedly, I realized I should probably be concerned about her abrupt, well-armed appearance. She was surprisingly dangerous for being a three-foot-tall bird creature.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2019 collection.
Irene Magnus served as an IGP agent for almost four decades, earning a Silver Comet of Bravery and several merit awards for crucial intelligence gathering. She is also an exemplary blaster shot and has won numerous shooting competitions. When her promising IGP career appeared to be cut short, Irene unexpectedly went on to become the first former-IGP agent to be hired by the University of Pluto. Her contract with Ambassador Scholar Trishell is currently in its fourth renewal.
Sam Crane enjoys writing science fiction and dark fantasy stories. A History major and an IT professional, she draws considerable influence from both history and technology, as well as from New England, where she lives with two very mischievous black cats. You can find her online at sam-crane-writes.blogspot.com
Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.
“Retirement Options” is © 2019 Sam Crane
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Luke Spooner