Loss Leader

Copyright Ken Brady. No reproduction without express permission from the author.
(Originally published in DAILY CABAL, 2010)

They always sell you on the anal probes to bring you in, but when it comes time for the pay-off it’s all crap.

“Bunks are here,” our guard says. His gray jumpsuit and cheap mask with big eyes don’t hide his African facial features or accented English. “I can tie you up if you want and make scary sounds. Whatever. Bathroom’s down that corridor. Please leave it clean. See you at six.”

He walks through an unseen door in the smooth metal wall, leaving me with several other barefoot men and women in pajamas or robes. They wander the room, check out bunks, a viewscreen of Earth. A burly hippy finds a panel and punches buttons, pretending to fire lasers and making “pew-pew” noises.

“What now?” says one woman who hasn’t moved. She’s never done this before. I check her out. Pretty brunette, maybe thirty, silk pajama top and bare legs.

“It’s cool,” I say. “Get through the night. Tests and stuff will happen tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard the stories.”

I envy her. In the early days it was exciting, a real adventure. Whisked away in the dead of night by strange creatures, locked in a spaceship, subjected to experiments. Bright lights, good old anal probes. The inevitable return to Earth with a story no one believed, and – if the aliens felt sorry for you – a bona fide Secret of the Universe to hold up as a badge of honor.

Back when being abducted meant something. First time one of those Secrets turned out to be a lucrative retail product everyone wanted to be abducted. The aliens got overwhelmed with the task and outsourced abductions to the Nigerians. Had alien suits made by the lowest bidders in China.

The door slides open, which makes me guess we’re in a real spaceship, not a warehouse in Schenectady, and the guard comes in. He makes a bee line for the hippy gamer.

“Hey,” he says. “Stop playing with that.”

“Oh, sorry, man. When do we get our secrets of the universe? The brochure promised, right?”

“Sure,” says the guard. He sighs, looks overworked and tired. He opens his jumpsuit and takes out eight small plastic cards, gives one to each of us. He turns and leaves.

“What?” says the hippy, reading. “Enlarge your penis size with miraculous new drugs?”

The others read their cards. Invest in Latvian real estate. Make millions from home just sending emails. Free merchandise from Walmart.

“Shit,” the brunette says. “I’m here in my PJs to be introduced to a wealthy foreigner who needs to move millions of dollars from his homeland?”

Mine is a simple suggestion of which low cap stocks to buy. I drop the card.

That clenches it for me. No more alien abductions. Anal probes be damned. Next year I’m going to Mazatlan.