Now that SHIFTY is live (see the bottom of this post for cover image and buy links) I’m back dusting off and tightening up FORCE OF HABIT, my currently out-of-print science fiction cop farce. Per Bastet Publications is hoping to reissue it in 2017.
Bel Schuster, a teacher on a Jesuit/Military teaching ship goes off-limits during shore leave on the planet Llannonn and is kidnapped by a series of aliens who think she’s various other people. Her captain, an alien coworker from the ship, and a local copper attempt to rescue her — or whoever they think she is.
Tetra is her coworker, who doesn’t yet realize Bel is missing. Tetra doesn’t use contractions because, when she was working on Earth, she noticed that Earthlings instinctively trust people who don’t use contractions. So she trained herself to not use them.
Tetra At The Bar
A Llannonninn man came over to Tetra’s table.
“May I join you?”
“Please do,” said Tetra. “May I buy you a drink?”
“I wouldn’t mind,” said the man.
They ordered beer, and traded names while they waited for their brews to arrive.
The name sounded odd, yet familiar.
He waved a hand at the full tables, ending the gesture with a fillip that included Tetra. “You’re down from the ship?”
“Been away from home long?”
“About nine years, not counting the occasional visit.”
“Get homesick, do you?”
Tetra shrugged. “Sometimes.”
“Well, I’m going to do you a favor.” He pulled a five-by-twelve manila envelope out of the inside pocket of his looseweave suit and put it on the table. “What do you suppose is in there?”
“Letters of transit, signed by General de Gaulle?”
“Never mind. I have no idea what is in there. Why do you not tell me, and save us both some time?”
Uncus opened the envelope and pulled out a sheaf of legal-sized papers. Each paper had a holophoto in one corner, was covered with thick paragraphs, and ended with signature blanks.
“Real estate,” said Uncus. “Genuine Earthling real estate.”
“Oh,” said Uncus. “I beg your pardon.”
“Not at all,” said Tetra. “An understandable mistake.”
“Perhaps you’re still interested.”
Tetra shook her head. “But do not run off. Why do you not sit a spell?”
Uncus put his papers away. “Wish I could,” he said. “But business calls.” He looked around, found all the tourists taken, and left for greener pastures.
Alone again, Tetra amused herself by seeing how many brands of beer she could taste before she could no longer tell them apart.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What Earth landmark would you buy, if you could?