A thrilling detective tale by Timothy “Dashiell” Cat and Straw “Chandler” Puppy.
The story so far: Forced out of retirement by the threat of war and a mission of revenge, Chiseled McEdifice was sent to Planet Campus – the Boot Camp and Corporate Office Planet of Tau Bootes X to train against the resurgent menace of the Space Vampires. The unexpected arrival of peace has left McEdifice stranded on Campus, where he has become a photocopier maintenance officer (third class) at the offices of Spindle, Spindle & Gatefold.
[This is all first person because it is more thrilling that way – Tim]
“Sabotage Mr McEdifice,” said the glamorous Director of Post-planning Process. She lifted an elegant cigarette holder to her lips and then exhaled a curling tendril of smoke.
“Sabotage?” I asked using my keen powers of observation to learn what I could about this mysterious visitor. She was tall and beautiful like an art-deco lighthouse perched on a treacherous reef – like a siren from the Odyssey had a earned a Phd in plausible deniability. Her skin was a soft emerald green, as green as tourist campaign for Ireland and her pupils were as dark as Guinness from the same marketing materials.
“Yes, Mr McEdifice, sabotage. My work is being deliberately undermined and only you can catch the culprit.” She spoke like a lover whispering nothings but with the sense of urgency and command as a head of Human Resource demanding that people use the correct template for their leave applications.
“So tell me Ms. Qzrrzxxzq, how did a beautiful Qzrixian like you end up as Director of Post-planning Process at firm like Spindle, Spindle & Gatefold on a backwater planet like this?” I asked, changing the subject to see if I could catch her off guard. Something didn’t smell right about this and I don’t just mean her cigarette in what was a clearly sign-posted no-smoking building.
“You understand, I hope, Mr McEdifice, that your concepts of beauty and sexuality are not just species specific but also confined to a particular set of times and cultures within your own human history.” Ms. Qzrrzxxzq knew not only how to walk in high heels but also how to deconstruct a flattering remark using a framework of comparative space sociology. “My appearance is a combination of exquisite taste, force-fields and holograms carefully curated so that I conform to the stereotypical expectations of the retrogressive culture of Planet Campus.”
“So what you are saying is that you want me to trust you but that you are a phony?” I said pointedly.
“I’m a xeno-anthropologist by training Mr McEdifice. Planet Campus was intended to be a case study as part of my second doctoral degree. Unfortunately advances by the forces of the Space Vampires have cut the space-lanes between here and my home world Qzrixion,” She took another long draw on her cigarette, “Like you, I’m an exile here, just trying to do my best.”
Her best was damn good. I could drown in those eyes like a vole in a molasses factory.
“Tell me more,” I said, regaining my composure, “about this sabotage. What exactly was done to the paper?”
Ms. Qzrrzxxzq looked startled. “How did you know paper was sabotaged?” she asked surprised.
“A simple deduction Ms. Qzrrzxxzq. You came for my help, not the janitor, not HR and not security.” I said leaning back into my chair.
“You didn’t mention IT.” said Ms. Qzrrzxxzq.
“Come now Ms. Qzrrzxxzq, nobody seeks out IT for help. So your sabotage must be photocopier related. Yet if it was a mechanical fault, you would just assume the copier was broken, so you must have spotted that the paper stock had been tampered with.” I explained.
“Well done, Mr McEdifice, but can you help me?” she asked leaning forward.
“Ms. Qzrrzxxzq, I am at your disposal.”
[…to be continued…]