By the time they reached their building at 33rd and 8th, Sid and Zaftig were talking like old colleagues.
In the elevator on their way to the tenth floor, Rhonda pressed a handkerchief over her mouth and nose to lessen the intensity of the alien’s odor. It still made her eyes tear.
Sid walked into the office and stopped short. Wadley and four other suits ransacked the place.
“Freeze!” Wadley shouted. “You are all under arrest.”
“Treachery!” Zaftig roared. “I will destroy your world.”
“Not now, Zaftig.” Rhonda bit her lip. How was she supposed to get published if Immigration arrested and disappeared them all? This was a serious problem. She should run to save herself, but a real reporter would fight to save the story. So be it. She would have to save Zaftig and Ded.
A suit tried to handcuff one of Zaftig’s tentacles. Zaftig hurled the man towards the Eighth Avenue wall. The suit passed through the solid wall.
Rhonda had a desperate idea on how to save her tabloid dream. She used her oversized purse like a club and bashed the closest agent. “Zaftig! Follow me. Ded Lazar will help us.” She led the way to the portal.
Inside, Ded Lazar and his band played a variation on Duke Ellington’s ‘Take the A Train.’ Sid, Zaftig, Wadley and others spilled into the studio.
The music died down as the musicians noticed the brawl.
Rhonda ran up to the stage. “Turn on a Planet Buster. Use more power than the last time. Quick.”
“Check the shields,” Ded said. When the four-armed musician waved an arm, Ded aimed the remote and turned on a speaker.
“Sid get ready. Zaftig, cover your ears or whatever you hear with, but keep the Feds busy.” Rhonda turned to Ded. “Play a bass note,” She stuck her fingers in her ears.
Ded and his aliens put on industrial-sized ear muffs and Ded pressed a key on an instrument’s keyboard.
The room shook with a rhythmic pulsing. Rhonda’s legs quaked to the vibrations in the floor. Dizziness washed over her. She grabbed Ded’s arm to steady herself.
Wadley and his men moaned and tried to cover their ears, but Zaftig, with two tentacles wrapped around his head, kept tossing them around. Another note sounded and the agents collapsed to the floor and twitched in phase to the floor tremors.
Rhonda almost keeled over. Only Ded’s strong arms around her waist kept her upright.
After three more notes, the agents were unconscious and bleeding from their ears.
“That’s enough.” Rhonda kissed Ded on the cheek. She lingered in his arms, holding him tight.
“Now what?” Zaftig said, interrupting her idyll.
“Let’s drag them into the office,” she said. “Sid, it’s time for you to put on an act. Tell them they’re walking on dangerous ground. You know what I mean?”
Sid nodded, grabbed Wadley’s jacket collar and pulled him out of the studio. Zaftig collected the other four and did the same.
On her way out, Ded handed Rhonda her CD’s. She winked at him. “Sid and Zaftig have everything worked out.”
Zaftig dumped the agents and went back into the studio, leaving Sid and Rhonda alone with the Feds. She couldn’t wait to get started writing up the story. It would be so fantastic, it might even become a movie. She would be rich and famous.
Wadley groaned and sat up. He looked around and said, “Where is he?”
Sid ignored the question while the other agents come to.
“All right, Wadley. Listen up.” Sid spoke with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face. “You’ve blown our cover and our masters will not be happy about that.”
“Who are your masters?” Wadley assumed the wary look of an experienced bureaucrat sensing a controversy.
“You don’t have the security clearance to know. And frankly, you never will.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You have intruded into sensitive negotiations with powerful warlords from other worlds.” Sid changed his belligerent tone to a more friendly one. “I’m sure all of you are looking forward to collecting your pensions.” Sid stood up behind his desk and increased his height a bit by standing on his tiptoes. “If any of you,” Sid pointed to each in turn, “ever mentions what you saw and heard, you can all kiss your pensions good-bye.”
“You’re bluffing.” Wadley watched Sid through hooded eyes.
“Of course,” Sid smiled at Wadley, “you won’t need the pension because you’ll be pulling weeds at a secret government facility for the rest of your lives.”
The Feds all stared at Sid, open-mouthed.
After a pause, Wadley said, “And if we play ball?”
“My masters don’t have to know about you folks.”
Wadley nodded and stood up. He and his suits left.
Ded walked through the wall. “Zaftig and I worked out all the details. He wants me to relocate my studio to another galaxy. So this is good-bye. Thanks for your help.” He winked out of existence.
Rhonda’s cell phone rang a few minutes later. She listened and disconnected. “That was my father. No one will give him a penny for those anti-diamonds. All the gem dealers say they never saw the likes of them and they think they’re worthless.”
“So we get screwed again.” Sid slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand.
Rhonda sat down at her desk and took out her camera. She activated it to scan the pictures. A few seconds later, her caterwauling shook the office. “All the pictures are gone.” She threw the camera at a trash basket.
“It must have been the speakers,” Sid said. “Your camera wasn’t shielded.”
“All my hopes and ambitions, gone. Without the pictures, all I have is a science fiction story. Who wants to write fiction?” She sighed and sat silent for a minute or two. She stood and shook her fist at the ceiling. “The next time somebody shows up, I’ll get the story and the proof.”
In October, I’ll feature another sci-fi tale called Sponsored By . . .