I was closing up early to mark a special anniversary for me when the little green men walked into my office.
I knew who and what they were and it pissed me off because I’d spent the last five years convincing myself they weren’t real and my husband had merely run off with his secretary. Though, his secretary was a big, burly chap and I still ran into him around town occasionally.
There were three little green men and they came to my desk and sat down, looking at me expectantly while I was deciding if I should kick them out of the office or grab one of them and demand my husband back. I’d finally come to the conclusion that these weren’t likely to be the specific aliens responsible for my husbands abduction when the one in the middle decided to break the silence.
“Ms. Carlisle,” the first said, his voice strangely staticy and his lips didn’t move right with the sound. “We would like to hire you for a case.”
“Who says I’m for hire?” I asked.
“The girl in the other room said you hadn’t had a case in months. We will pay in cash appropriate for this world.”
Great, I thought. Brenda’s been talking to people again. I really only hired her to keep people out of here and answer the phone. So what if I hadn’t had a case in months, I was busy enough, and proof that I wasn’t crazy had just walked into my office. Hmm, maybe I should buy her a new bottle of nail polish for that.
“She talks too much,” I said. “What do you want?”
They looked at each other and started talking rapidly in their own language to each other.
“We wish to hire you to solve a case for us,” the one in the middle said and the other two nodded.
“That would be the normal reason a human would come to a detective,” I said. “Why do you want me to work for you?”
“Ms. Carlisle, we are aware of at least some of your situation and that has led us to believe that you would not be opposed to investigating some of our people. There has been a rash of incidents that we believe point to some criminal activities among our people but which are a bit too sensitive to bring to the authorities on our world.”
Right, that was working my last nerve. “Get out,” I said, pointing towards the door.
“Please, Ms. Carlisle. We had nothing to do with what happened with your husband. In fact, we’re part of a group that is opposed to the capture and use of humans.”
“You’re a political group?” My eyebrow raised and I looked across the desk at them, amusement warring with irritation.
“Indeed, ma’am, much like some of your animal rights groups on this planet, we protest the capture and use of humans by those people who seek to profit from them.”
“What, exactly, do your people do with humans? Some of the ones who claim to have been abducted swear they were experimented on.”
“Oh, there have been laws against human experimentation on our planet for a very long time, though some of our people are not above breaking that law. We protest those who do, certainly, but the ones we object to the most fiercely are those who capture humans to sell them as exotic pets. They are very amusing, certainly, but they are at least minimally sentient and, thus, should be given the choice rather than be abducted.”
Irritation won. “Get the hell out,” I told them.
“Please, Ms. Carlisle, we mean no disrespect. Many people who buy humans hold them in very high regard,” the alien almost looked panicked.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. This was a lead, a clue to my own personal mystery and I should definitely look into it. “What, exactly, is going on?”
“Many of our people are being taken ill but there’s no known cause. In many cases, the illness comes on quickly but there’s no environmental cause for the illness and no known disease that effects our people the way this does. We suspect that people are being poisoned.”
“If you’re so much more advanced than we are that you use us as pets, surely your scientists have the capability of detecting a poison?”
“Poison has not been used on our planet for quite some time and there are very few of us who would recognize it from our work. And it’s the scientists who would, most of whom have made a transition into working with the humans, who were hit first.”
My mind began to turn and I’m sure the smile that crossed my face did not do anything to reassure the aliens sitting across from me.
“Hmm, that does sound perplexing,” I said, trying to keep the manic laughter away from my voice. “And you say you can’t go to your authorities?”
“No, Ms. Carlisle, we can’t.”
“Well, then, I suppose the only thing I can do is take the case. Cash up front, of course, and money for expenses. You can work the details out with Brenda out front. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Oh, thank you, Ms. Carlisle,” they said and stood. “We will come for you tomorrow.”
“Yes, tomorrow,” I stood and walked them out of my office. I listened to them talk to Brenda and began chuckling.
He was alive. The magnificent bastard was alive and he’d found a way to get out. Now, all I had to do was find him. I went to my desk to begin the list of things I was going to need to bring with me.