Illegal Alien


Too damn early.

Grumbling slightly, stumbling out of bed, but careful not to wake the wife, Frank Black gradually transformed into Officer Frank Black, proud protector of the public trust, 46th Precinct.

Dressed in his uniform he was somewhat more impressive than he would have looked normally. Some people scream their professions with their sheer presence; everything about them just reminds you of what they do.

Frank was not one of these individuals.

He needed the uniform to define himself to others. Sometimes people find the perfect job, as if Nature designed them to do it, and nothing else, but most of us, like (reluctant) Officer Frank Black, settle for what we can do passably well. There is no luxury in survival.

While pinning on his badge he noticed how grimy it was getting, the number #31074 was noticeable, but the rest of it was nigh unreadable. He couldn’t really bring himself to give a damn. It was so very easy for those desk-driving prettyboys to keep their badges gleaming brightly in their ivory tower of the precinct headquarters, but he’s on the street, day after day, right in the thick of it.

That was life.

At least for Officer Frank Black, #31074.

Taking the squad car home had its merits and flaws. Sure, he could begin as soon as he entered the car, but that also meant he began as soon as he entered the car … yeah, one of those pluses that’s actually a minus. Starting up the engine, radio crackling to life, he checked in with despatch, and a moment later: “Car 19, car 19 … Frank, I know you can hear me …”

It’s still too early.

“What is it, Phyllis?” Early morning growl.

“You’re bright and sparky this morning, Frank. As always …” Phyllis’s sarcasm blasts out of the police band like a short black, jolting him ready for action. It took a special skill to get on his nerves so quickly. He’d jokingly asked Phyllis whether it was natural talent or practice. She hadn’t dignified his response with an answer, but he’d arrived at the conclusion that it was both.

“I’d quit being so damn irritated in the mornings if my days weren’t so damn irritating, Phyllis! The snowball effect and it doesn’t let up. When do I get a day that doesn’t irritate the hell out of me?” Frank implored rhetorically to the radio, and possibly the heavens, entreating (or cursing) Fate.

“Honey, don’t lose hope!” Genuine sympathy from Phyllis. “Some day you’ll have such a good day, a day that will change your life forever, a day when you’ll be blissfully happy …”

As cynical as he could be sometimes (especially on a Monday morning like today), Phyllis’s care touched him. Sure, Mabel loved and encouraged him, but she was his wife, and a more supportive wife he couldn’t find in a blue fit. Phyllis didn’t have such a relationship with him, she was just being nice just because she could be; nothing was obligating her to do so. It was really sweet.

“Thanks, angel, I really appreciate it.”

“… just not today, Frankie. Sorry. Corner of 3rd and 16th streets, somebody rang that their kids found something strange. Detective Ferguson is already on his way. Luck of the draw.”

“Hmmmph. I can live with Fergie. Day’s looking up already … a little, I guess.” Still somewhat grumpy.

“That’s it, honey! Keep your spirits up! Have a good day.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it, Phyllis. Over and out.”

Well, it COULD be worse. Ferguson wasn’t one of those snooty, high-faluting detective types, so very holier than thou, lording it over the hardworking beat cops. Ferguson never put on airs, which made him easier to deal with. They had an understanding – Fergie could be damned annoying, but he never made out he was better than you. Frank was fairly down to earth – he judged people on their individual merits, not on their family background, profession or anything like that. He’d seen evil acts done by all, and apprehended by all. Just those people who thought they had the right to ignore other people’s, that got him riled up. That’s why he got into the cop business, just needed some justice, far too hard to find in this corrupt world he lived in.

Arriving at the scene, he found that Detective Ferguson had beaten him to it, looking over something in the mouth of an alleyway. Close by, a bristlingly overprotective mother huddled over her stark, scared brood, stabbing digits alleyward, directing Frank to whatever had caused all the commotion.

Ferguson sauntered up to him, that deceptively casual stroll he used eternally, never mind how stressed he was. Never let ‘em see you sweat, that was almost Fergie’s unspoken motto.

“Heya, Francis! Little late, aren’t you?”

“DON’T CALL ME THAT! You KNOW how much I HATE that name, it’s FRANK, nothing else, got it?” The annoyance is just beginning, and it’s not even noon…

“Well, it IS your name …” slight but not unnoticeable pause, “… Frank. Come and have a look at this, don’t touch anything, official police evidence and all that blah, you know, standard operating procedure.”

Gesturing flamboyantly towards the alleyway like some overdressed macabre game show host, plastic smile at the ready, he revealed the source of all this excitement that resulted in Officer Frank Black’s far too early start.

Looking down at the curled-up corpse, pale, long, features twisted in a feral rictus, Frank could not help but release a shudder. Whatever it was, it was clearly alien, different to anything he’d ever experienced.

“Can see why the kids are so upset.” Frank uttered, glancing sharply at the distraught children, imagining what the sight would have done to those tender minds.

“Yeah, well, Frank, it wasn’t a pretty sight this early in the morning for myself, too.” Ferguson’s voice lost its normal jovial tone. Frank could see that this exotic discovery had deeply disturbed him.

“Screw SOP. I’m checking this sucker out.” Frank pulled out his standard issue nightstick ready to investigate this arcane anomaly. Ferguson gave a rather half-hearted diatribe consisting of arguments like “… going by the book, don’t violate established rule structures …” but it was clear that even he didn’t believe that, Frank could tell that he was as eager as Frank to inspect the strange body. Ferguson’s intense curiosity about almost everything was a great advantage in the detective game.

Poking the carcass with the lacquered wood of his nightstick, it was soft, very soft, yielding gruesomely to the probing tip, but there were sections that were harder than others. Frank tapped one of these sections harder still, and was rewarded with the disgusting vision of the flaccid, rubbery flesh quivering grotesquely.

“Ferguson, are you sure it’s dead? For all we know, this could be its natural state or asleep or something. I think that whack I gave it would have woken it up, but how can we be sure?”

“Thought about that, Frank. Sent for a scientific medical type from forensics to run some tests on it, samples for analysis and all the trimmings. Autopsy. Personally, I don’t know where they’d start, I mean, LOOK at it!”

Bending down to the presumably lower half of the creature, Ferguson tapped on an alien limb with a ready pen. “These, presumably, are legs. Not the right number, mind you. But this …” tapping the other end, “I’d guess is a head. These are obviously eyes, again, wrong number according to what we know of life, these are breathing holes of a sort,” poking each feature in turn.

Pulling back a flap of skin hanging over one hole in the tentative “head” with the tip of his pen, “Look at this, Frank! Strangely shaped, but definitely teeth. This … thing is so very different, yet also so very similar.”

Frank could tell that Ferguson was definitely hooked. To reveal the truth, so was he. Maybe what Phyllis had prophesised for the future was coming true, despite her cynical outlook for today. He could imagine the newspaper headlines now: “Officer Frank Black and Detective David Ferguson were first on the scene of the initial contact with an alien species.” Imagine what the neighbours would say, living next to Officer Frank Black, local celebrity. Imagine what Mabel, his supportive wife, would say!

Behind them they heard a car pull up. Frank quickly replaced his nightstick in its holster and Ferguson put his penetrating pen back into his top pocket. Both boys in blue quickly assumed a nonchalant, neutral and staid expression, a “no-sir-I-definitely-didn’t-interfere-with-official-evidence-sir” face. A face which seemed to be disturbingly well practiced!

Ferguson, sotto voce: “That must be the medical examiner … we haven’t touched a thing, have we, Frank? Everything is under control.”

Both turned around on cue, expecting to see the typical scientist stereotype in white lab clothes, they were more than surprised to see the several grim figures garbed totally in black …

Ferguson’s face travelled a slow gamut from party-line officiousness to naked fear. He knows something, Frank thought. He knows something, and whatever it is, it isn’t good news. Putting on his best “meet-and-greet-the-public” smile, he addressed the leader of these expressionless men in black. “Hi, how can we help you here today, gentlemen?”

The response was abrupt as it was shocking. “We are taking over this investigation. Leave it with us, we know what we are doing. Your services are no longer required.” The leader of these cool, professional individuals spoke clearly and confidently, like he owned the place. His attitude immediately irked the hell out of Frank, disliking the impersonal, imperious style of this interloper.

“Where the HELL do you GET OFF, storming in here and barking orders at us? You’ve got a lotta nerve, punk!” Frank was just getting started; the fuse was lit, hissing madly, but yet to reach the powder keg.

The unfeeling answer: “We are dealing with this situation, talk to your superiors. Don’t interfere with us, little cop, you have NO IDEA who you’re dealing with.”

Apoplectic with fury, stomping back to the squad car he ordered Ferguson to keep these dark-suited figures at bay. However, Ferguson looked rather sick at the thought of opposing these invaders, his features plainly showing that he would prefer to be anywhere else but here at this moment. Frank was already on the radio, patching through to Captain Jack Russell, big boss of the 46th Precinct.

“What the HELL is going on here, JACK?” Frank’s venomous vehemence might have poisoned Jack to death if he were physically present. “You send us on this case, we’re dealing with it … and these damn arrogant jokers try to pull the rug from under us! Damn it, get ’em out of my sight before I get angry … oh, TOO LATE JACK!”

“Frank, I’d like to help you, don’t like pulling rank now, but I will if I have to. These guys are government, got the backing of someone higher up than the Almighty. They have total carte blanche, I can’t do a damn thing, not a damn thing.” Jack’s voice demonstrated his total lack of control, defeated and hopeless.

“Screw THIS, Jack, I’m not going to let them waltz in here and take OUR case. What the hell could they DO to me anyway? Shoot me? Like to see ’em try.”

Jack’s voice changed tone, becoming stronger, deathly cold. “No, Frank, you will not. On my authority as Captain, I am ordering you to stand down. If we interfere with them or even reveal any details to anyone relating to this case, they have the clout to give all of us the axe, no questions asked, no appeal. Don’t endanger your job, Ferguson’s or MINE. Stay out of this. It’s not our problem any more. STAND DOWN.”

“I hear and obey … sir.” Barely concealed contempt. Slamming the radio back into its cradle so hard that the black casing broke.

Ferguson gave him a pathetic, questioning look and Frank waved him over. Opening the door carefully, Ferguson gingerly jumped in. Looking through the rear-view mirror as Frank gunned the engine, both seeing the monstrous form carefully transported into a large black van, the traumatized children and their overprotective mother bundled into another. No license plates, no means of ID at all. Finally Frank just couldn’t keep his burgeoning rage within him. “Ferguson, what the HELL happened back there? I know you know something, spill it. NOW.”

Ferguson’s tired voice still held a trace of terror, even as they were rapidly creating distance between themselves and the scene of the incident. “Frank, you’ve heard the stories, the rumours. Something gets found that defies classification, and then governmental agents, expressionless, efficient and the highest clearance in the system, any system, all dressed in black, come and hush it up so much that it never actually happened.”

Frank was perplexed. “But that’s just a spook story, it never happens. Just conspiracy theory and things like that. Only a spook story to tell the kiddies. No one seriously believes it."

Ferguson’s voice was accusative. “After today, do you still think it’s a spook story? You saw what I saw. That was the body of an alien, something which we have never seen anything like in nature. The stuff of nightmares. Yeah, Frank, it’s a spook story, but are you sure these spooks aren’t real?”

After letting Ferguson off at the station for his next case, Frank was back on the beat, cruising in his squad car, still fuming. He hadn’t gone in to the Precinct, as was his wont, to see Phyllis and while away his lunch hour chatting. He didn’t want to bump into the oh-so-mighty Captain Jack Russell and do something that at the moment seemed perfectly reasonable, but would be looked at rather dimly by a court of law.

Better to spend lunch somewhere nice and quiet, calm down a little.

On a perverse thought he circled back to the corner of 3rd and 16th streets, where all this fracas started. As he expected, everything was gone, not a trace that anything had happened.

To protect and serve. Yeah, right. To protect and serve until some damn government agents completely screw over the chain of command and take over everything. Just great. More and more, he found that this job wasn’t the glamorous career he’d dreamed of as a kid, but he supposed that no job was as glamorous, exciting, rewarding or necessary as people thought. But what other choice did he have? He could continue a job he hated in order to survive or lay down and die. Anything was better than death, he supposed.

He tired of such deep introspection. He really wasn’t the type for that.

Time to relax, take a load off and have lunch.

Opening the tidy package that Mabel had prepared the night before, he was surprised and thankful. She’d prepared his favourite, perfect timing on a day as lousy as this one.

Picking out a squirming pale pink wood grub, he injected the liquefying venom from his fangs into the twitching larva; he placed it within grasp of his chelicerae, mulching the already softening meat and sucking it down deep into his thorax. Putting his four legs on the dashboard, he stretched out in the car’s not quite luxurious seat, crossing his four arms behind his head. He looked quickly at a photo of his wife, when they were both much younger. Both of them dancing arm in arm in arm in arm, fang to fang. Her eight shining orbs looked back out to him, and he realized that some things in his life made everything worthwhile, he was damn lucky to have someone like Mabel in his life. If nothing else!

Long day.

Illegal Alien


Adelaide, Australia

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