Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Inner Person (09/09/10)
TITLE: Custom Make While U Wait
By Anita van der Elst
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Meanwhile from the opposite reaches of the cosmos, the Premier of the Blattellan Dynasty boarded his new ootheca-like roachcoach starship. He pointed his antenna at the distant shimmering orb and blasted off.
Responding to a sales flyer, delivered just a few days prior announcing the Grand Opening of a clothing store in Southern California, both species took advantage of a most auspicious time in their technological development. Time warping space travel presented the perfect opportunity for planetary dominion.
Unless they were stopped in their individual quests to conquer the universe, the Orthurethrals and the Blattellans were destined to do battle against each other, and the unsuspecting Earthlings, on the beautiful blue planet.
They had not taken into account Agent Aitch.
Agent Aitch picked up his latte from the barista, settled at a table on the sidewalk and unfolded the newspaper in front of his face. Raising his head a notch, he latched his eyes on the shop across the street. The newly opened enterprise had been placed under surveillance a week ago, Aitch being the best man for the job. His reputation for spotting aliens was legendary. Eyes now scanning the environment, he located the team of agents he’d personally selected, all now undercover. A panhandler at the alleyway to one side of the shop as well as two bums in back, a streetwalker pacing the corner, an overall-clad sign painter catty-wise, and a couple rolling a baby carriage to and fro as they sat on the bus bench.
Nobody would get past them unless permitted.
“Looks like a storm coming in,” a customer at the table to Aitch’s right commented.
Aitch was quite familiar with this type of storm. A storm in which smoky clouds boiled up like bubbles in a witch’s cauldron punctuated by static crackles and spits of fire.
“There’ll be no rain with this one,” he murmured. Then directing his mouth towards his top shirt button, he muttered, “Earth contact imminent.” He sensed rather than visualized the increased alert stance of his cohorts on the street.
A flash about a quarter of a mile distant, easily mistaken for lightning, let the agents know that it wouldn’t be long now and action would be demanded of them. The ships had landed.
Thirty minutes later, the voice of bum number one in the back alley whispered in Agent Aitch’s earpiece, “Boss, we’ve got two intruders. I repeat, two. One mollusca in type and the other insecta.”
“Let them come,” Aitch replied. “We have to wait until they cross the threshold.”
“Aaaagh!” the voice of the panhandler almost caused Aitch to yank his earpiece out. “It’s gone up my pant leg! Help me, help me, hel—“
There was nothing Aitch could do but shake his head. Being taken down by a bug was one of the worst ways to go.
All they could do now was wait.
The streetwalker screeched, “Gross! I’ve been slimed! It’s like glue and I can’t move!”
They still just had to wait.
The agents watched as the intruders advanced. The Blattellan Premier skittered into the shop, followed by the Orthurethral Prince, oozing and undulating.
“Now!” Aitch commanded. The couple on the bus bench gave their baby carriage a quick shake transforming it into a large glittering weapon and charged across the street. The sign painter stuck his brush into the paint bucket and gave it a flip—instantly, another weapon.
Within minutes the galactic foes, as well as the proprietor of the store, were apprehended and contained.
“Thought we didn’t know what you were up to, eh?” snarled Agent Aitch at the cringing proprietor. “Thought you could offer the enemies of Earth a way to go unnoticed in human bodies, did you? Well, the human soul has no match. No one will ever be able to fabricate that!”
Then gesturing to the sign in the window, he instructed one of his agents, “Take that down. This store has gone out of business.”
The agent tossed the hand-lettered sign into the trash bin in the alley. A dumpster diver retrieved it the next day to bolster his cardboard home. The words “Man Suits. Custom make while U wait. R price R out of world” soon faded in the sun.
(Author’s note: Inspired by sign seen in store window in Orange County, California and with a nod to MIB, the movie.)
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