This is the second story Rhonda Jackson and I wrote. This one we did in less than 24 hours. If we make it to Round Three in the NYC challenge, we will have to write a story in 24 hours. What do you think about this one? Oh, yes, the NYC challenge uses prompts – each writer is given a genre, subject, and character. To emulate the contest as close as we could, we randomly chose the following: Science Fiction, Halloween, and Casino Teller.
All that Shimmers…
Hank Williams sat behind the casino glass waiting for the woman to pass him her chips. She had the big payoff for the night. He dropped the chips in the slot and listened as the rattled down through the counter. Fifty thousand dollars. He could use 50 thou but it wasn’t his. He sighed as he wrote out the check, handed it to the floor manager for her signature under his, then had the winner sign the tax forms before he gave her the check. That was that. He settled back in his chair. Twenty minutes left before the casino closed. He yawned, wishing he was home watching his DVD collection of old sci-fi movies.
The only thing amusing tonight was the Halloween costumes. Everyone was in costume except him and the security men. He’d paid out 10 grand to an old woman dressed as Patience from an old sci-fi series that hadn’t gone more than 14 episodes. The costume was pretty awesome, but the old lady wearing it made it look kind of silly. He yawned again and spun his chair around just to keep awake.
There was a flash of light that seemed to move out and then combine again in the middle of the room. He blinked his eyes. Bright blue and purple spots blocked his vision. He rubbed his eyes. Then he brought his hands to his sides and raised them in surrender. A strange figure stood pointing a short metal staff at him.
The staff appeared to be a weapon and Hank wasn’t taking any chances. The figure moved. It had three fingers and a thumb on each hand. One eye went round and round in the center of its forehead. Its skin was blue, its lips green. What hair it had was green as well only a lighter shade. Otherwise, it looked fairly human. Two legs. Two arms, a mouth and nose. It made a flute-like query pointing to a tray of cash sitting on a desk.
Hank wasn’t sure what it wanted. It gestured impatiently, then mimed a bag. Hank reached over and tossed it a bank bag. The alien began to put the money in the bag.
Hank wondered how it got in the locked room. He moved to press the alarm button but the alien motioned him back with the staff. It must have something to do with that bright light. He moved back. Then he tried moving forward. The alien shot him with a bright laser beam that came from the staff. It burned his arm. Hank yelped, raising his arms again and standing still. The alien went back to putting money into the bag.
Hank looked at his arm. The wound didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before in sci-fi movies. But he realized that he had seen the staff before. Or something like it. It was like a tiny flame thrower. The type you could build in your back yard. Did aliens use flame throwers? He wasn’t sure on that.
“So…where’re you from?” Hank asked.
The alien looked up. It shook its head. Then it moved to the next tray of cash that Hank had out for counting.
“So…if you’re an alien, why do you want money?” Hank mused. The alien paused, then raised the metal rod. “Guess that’s your business,” Hank shrugged. The alien went back to work on the cash.
The Lone Ranger came to the window to cash in chips. He laughed at the alien. “Good costume.” Hank grunted and handed over the chump change for the chips. The alien stood still, holding the rod in his direction. The Lone Ranger left.
As the employees checked their cash in for the evening, Hank expected someone to be suspicious of the alien in the vault room but they were all too tired to care. The change girls took off their heels and headed for the locker room. Only he was left as the security people began locking doors and checking restrooms. The alien began sacking the change girls’ money.
“That’s about it on the cash,” Hank said.
The alien pointed to the wall safe. “I don’t have the combination. Night security chief does. He’ll be in here soon if you want to wait.” The alien fluted some words and pointed the rod at Hank’s face. “Or not.” Hank moved to the safe and began turning the dials.
As he turned the dials, the thought struck him again. “Why would an alien need money? And how did he know what a safe was?”
The alien moved up closer as the door to the safe opened. The light caught its face. Hank could see a pair of very human green eyes hidden in a mask. He’d been had. Or at least partially had. There was still the question about the bright light and how the so-called alien got into the vault room.
“Hey!” the alien yelled as Hank pushed him onto the floor, then held him there with his knee.
“Ah-ha!” I knew you weren’t really an alien! “Now, how did you get into the vault room?”
“Get off me!” The alien squirmed under Hank’s knee, rolled out from under it and jumped up, pointing the staff at Hank again.
“Hey buddy, that is not going to work this time. I’m calling security!” Hank reached for the alarm button, but the alien smacked his arm with the staff.
“Wait! I’ll tell you what you want to know!” the alien pulled off his mask, revealing an ordinary looking man with brown hair. He looked to be about the same age as Hank.
“I came through a Time Travel Pod,” he sighed, pulling his arm out of the costume, his shirt sleeves shimmering under the casino lights.
“Right, a time machine,” Hank sneered as he tried to touch the shimmery fabric. “What kind of material is that?”
“It’s a synthetic Iridium blend. The cheap stuff. I couldn’t afford the real thing.” The alien finished peeling off his costume, revealing an entire jump-suit kind of outfit made of the shimmery material.
“Iridium! Isn’t that a super rare metal?” Hank had stumbled on a page about Iridium when he was surfing the Web one night in boredom.
“Well, in your time, yes. But in the 31st Century we have found out how to mine it and turn it into fabric. All the elders’ uniforms are made of it.”
“What? 31st Century? Oh yeah, right. You came in a time machine.” Hank used air quotes showing he did not believe him. “What’s your name, anyhow?” The guy seemed harmless enough and Hank was curious about him. He forgot he was supposed to be calling Security.
“Daniels. And I really am from the 31st Century.”
“Right. So what do you need money for? Don’t they use micro-chips embedded in your hand or something like that in the 31st Century?” Hank could not keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
“That is Science Fiction – the operative word being Fiction.” Daniels responded. “We still use plain old currency, something I am woefully lacking. Hence the trip back in time to get my hands on some.”
“Well, I can’t let you take the cash from my trays. I would get in a lot of trouble, not to mention have to pay it back.” Hank reached for the bag full of cash. “You are just going to have to beam yourself into some other fool’s pile of cash.” He laughed at his sci-fi joke, missing the bag as Daniels jerked it behind him.
“Um, sorry. I can’t leave here. The Time Travel Pod is coming back in…,” he looked at an odd compass-like dial hanging around his neck, “About five hundred clicks.”
“Oh, um, yeah. In your time, I think that is about five minutes.” Daniels started wrapping a cord made of some kind of shimmery material, maybe the same as his uniform, through the openings on the leather closure of the canvas cash bag. He stopped suddenly, glanced at the open safe door, and opened the bag again, dropping the cord. “Hurry, put that money in here!”
“No way!” Hank leaned back on the counter, feeling behind him for the silent alarm button just under the edge. “I think I will just wait for your time machine to come back!” He found the button and pushed it.
“Oh, ok, I’ll leave it behind. I can always come back. I’ve got enough now to convince the elders that there is lots more where this came from.” Daniels glanced at the bag, shrugged, and grabbed a shimmery cord from his pocket. He wrapped it around the top of the bag.
“I don’t think you will be coming back real soon.” Hank cocked his head toward the sound of running footsteps. He grinned at Daniels. “Security will be real interested in your time machine story.”
“It’s not a time machine, it is a Time Travel Pod and it’s coming right now.”
The air started glowing, a bright light flashed, moved in then out again, engulfing Daniels. The light went out, leaving behind blue and purple spots that momentarily blocked Hank’s vision. Again.
“What’s the problem?” When Hank opened his eyes, two security guards, guns drawn, stood in front of him.
“Uh. Um. Uh.” Hank looked around, knowing that nobody would believe him if he tried to tell them about the ‘alien’ that robbed the casino.
“Hey, where is the cash from your trays?” One guard asked, looking suspiciously at Hank.
“Would you believe someone came from the future and stole it?” Hank asked hopefully.
“Sure, buddy. Whatever you say,” the guard grabbed Hank and spun him around, clicking handcuffs on his wrists. “Let’s go tell your story to the boss.”
As they turned the corner, the light flashed in the vault room again, Daniels stepped out of the glow, bent over and picked up a shimmery cord. The light flashed again and he was gone.
When we finish the third story in the series, Finding Booth, you can find it in the tabs above.