Welcome to the first in a long line of weekly #wednesdayreads! This week starts off with Part One of the first Medlow Staur adventure, “The Last Corpse on the Left”.
The Last Corpse on the Left ©2017
All rights reserved. This story or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names and persons in this eBook are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses or places, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Mid thirty-first century C.E.
I can’t even pronounce the date in this planet’s native language if I tried. And believe me, I have. If I had to estimate, I’d say it’s about the mid thirty-first century on the planet Earth. That’s where my ancestors came from hundreds of years ago. I’m Medlow Staur, an entrepreneur and adventurer just trying to make ends meet.
There are at least thirty seven different species of aliens on this planet, including humans. The planet seems to be stuck in some kind of a time warp or alternate reality. For the most part, that means everyone, regardless of species, is walking around dressed like it’s the United States of America in the Nineteen Thirties. Even the cars and most of the buildings look like something you’d see out of that time period.
There are also spaceports and some seriously advanced technology here too. You don’t always see it, but it’s there. Most of the visible technology is so antiquated! They have telephone booths with rotary phones in them! Then you have the shoe shiners taking payments wirelessly. This whole planet is so anachronistic it makes your head spin!
And with thirty seven different species, all talking different languages, it gets even more overwhelming. Thankfully some smart, and now very rich bastard, invented a universal translator that you can rub into your skin. It only lasts a couple of weeks before you have to reapply it, but it has saved my butt more times than I can count.
To make ends meet, until I can scrape together enough dough to repair my ship, I needed a job. I decided to take up a job as a private investigator. I’m good with finding out information on people. Give me a name and a city and I’ll dig up all different kinds of info on ‘em! So I got me a nice office and a robot assistant. I was really enjoying the detective game. Unfortunately for me, the police and even some of my clients think I’m nothing more than a gun for hire.
Unfortunately business was a little slow and I was getting bored. So there I was, sitting in my office, when there’s a loud crash in the front office. I heard my robot assistant yelling at someone when my door gets busted down by some poor schlub as he’s taking a header towards the floor. By this time both my pieces are out and pointed at the guy. He manages to gasp out something about someone getting killed for no reason before he croaks.
“Do you want me to dump him,” Six asks as he comes in.
“Nah,” I answered. “It’s bad enough we got a corpse on our hands. I can’t afford to compound it by getting caught hiding a body like last time.”
“I did delete my memories of the events without you even having to ask,” Six said.
“And that’s why I keep you around, you actually think for yourself; unlike Five,” I said. “Give me a few minutes before you call the police, I want to see if our friend is carrying any clues.”
The only things I found on the schlub; other than half a roll of breath mints and an expired bus pass was a memorium card from Corpsemeister and Son, a local funeral home. There was nothing on it.
I gave Six the okay to call the police and went into the outer office. While Six and I waited for the police to arrive I showed him the card.
“There’s writing on it. It’s only visible to species that can see in spectrums that humans can’t,” stated Six.
“So what’s it say?” I asked.
“How the hell should I know?”asked Six. “You think I’m called Six cause I’m versed in six million forms of communication or something?”
“No, your name is Six cause when your name was Five you pissed me off so bad I blasted you into six pieces. And you keep talking to me like that, I’ll blast you into seven.”
“Sorry, boss,” responded Six. I waved off his apology and asked,
“Is there any good news?”
“There’s a name on the card. It’s Ver Dunquid,” Six answered.
I was about to say something when the door opens and Sergeant Dargonn and a handful of officers come charging in.
“Medlow Staur,” the Sarge bellowed as he picked me up above his head by my shoulders.
“How are you, my boy? It’s been forever!”
“Doing good, boss,” I reply trying not to let the pain my shoulders were in creep into my voice. “Glad to see you’re back.”
Sergeant Dargonn was my favorite guy to deal with. He loves human history and culture. He’s cut me quite a few breaks and asked nothing in return. The Sarge was your typical Hrodahk. Nine feet tall, sturdy as a boulder and strangely ugly in an endearing way. They were a mammalian species with two arms and legs and eight fingers and eight toes. He had a head like one of those giant prehistoric ground sloths but with curly ram horns on either side of his head. His skin was a beige color with very little body or facial hair.
“It’s good to be back,” he said putting me down. “Those rubargos thought they’d get rid of me cause I wouldn’t put up with their political biznop! Once crime rates in the city skyrocketed they couldn’t ask me back fast enough!”
He gave me a big, paternal smile and said,
“You know, I still remember how out of place you looked when you first arrived here. It’s good to see you’re still dressing like everyone else on this planet. You look good in a decent three piece suit.”
“Thanks to you for hooking me up with that tailor you know. I’m surprised with all the biznop they gave you that you would be willing to come back,” I said.
“Check out tomorrow’s paper. You humans have a phrase, ‘Karma’s a bitch’,” he said with a smile. “Now what’s going on so the boys and I can get going. There’s a few knuckleheads that seem to have forgotten the police uphold the law, not break it. We’re going to have some fun knocking them back in line.”
I went over what happened, leaving out my little treasure hunt through the guy’s pockets. The boys in blue processed the scene, bagged the body and made their exit. Quickly grabbing my hat and overcoat from the rack next to the window, I went back out into the front office. I was about to give Six some orders when the door opened and Sarge poked his head in.
“Don’t forget I know you, Medlow. You be careful out there,” he said before shutting the door. I waited until I heard his gigantic footsteps stop at the elevator before I relaxed.
I genuinely liked the Sarge. He was one of the very few people on this planet that treated me decent. I didn’t want him to get in trouble again for covering for me. Even though he told me repeatedly that it was all political biznop and he doesn’t blame me for his transfer out of the city, I still felt terrible for the mess I dragged him into.
Not knowing why that schlub decided to die in my office, plus being unsure of who may be watching my front door, I decided sneaking out the back door was my best course of action. I took a roundabout route away from my building in order to ditch anyone tailing me. Once the coast was clear I made my way to the Corpsemeister and Son funeral home.
I walked in and headed for the greeter. The greeter was a small cube shaped robot that sat on top of a podium. As I approached it, it said,
“How may I be of service?”
“I’m looking for Ver Dunquid.”
“Go through the door straight ahead, he’s the last corpse on the left.”
I thanked the greeter and followed his directions. Walking past two rows of tables with corpses covered in sheets was making me cringe. All I could think of, was them all getting up at the same time and coming for me. I really needed to cut down on the late night TV.
Standing before the table I was about to lift up the sheet when I heard what sounded like an angry porpoise having a temper tantrum, followed by sounds I had never heard before. Seeing me standing at the table an elderly Dar’ghul came up to me and asked,
“Are you a friend or a family member? I can tell you’re not his enemy.”
The Dar’ghul were an ugly lot. I’d take newly risen corpses ripping me apart to being locked in a dark room with a Dar’ghul. Firstly, they are physically repulsive creatures. They have two legs and two arms like humans but that’s where the similarities end.
They have sickly gray colored skin covered by fine, black peach fuzz. Their heads are big and round and they have two large eyes in the front. These eyes look exactly like you’d find on an Earth housefly. They don’t have a nose or ears and they have an octopus’ beak for a mouth. On the back of their head they have two, very small, beady red eyes. It’s an evolutionary trait they developed over millions of years. On their homeworld of Dar, their ancestors would often fall prey to the dreaded Dar’yerrin. The Dar’yerrin likes to sneak up on its prey from behind, similar to the Bengal Tiger on Earth.
The other thing that creeps me out about them, is that they’re carrion eaters. Carrion eaters always gross me out, but these are the worst. Not only do they go for the older and more rotten flesh, but I know something most people don’t. When there is a lack of carrion to eat they make their own. Every Dar’ghul has six tentacles, three on the front and three on the back. They hang from their collar bones down to their waists and are covered in suckers, like an octopus.
When the tentacles are awakened, depending on the age of the Dar’ghul, they can grow from three times their normal size to up to ten times. Inside of each sucker is a small barb. The small barb injects a poison into the victim. The poison has no antidote and kills the victim instantaneously.
It also causes rapidly increased decomposition. No one sees the extra tentacles because they’re well hidden under their clothing. I turned to the Dar’ghul and asked,
“How do you know I’m not his enemy?”
“If you were, you would be holding a red card,” he answered.
“What’s the red card for?” I asked.
“Do you hear that squishy, ripping sound and the pounding and screaming? That is someone desecrating the corpse of their enemy. That costs extra,” he answered.
“I was wondering what those sounds were,” I said as I looked around the room.
Just as I was about to ask the Dar’Ghul about poor old Ver, some plaster came down from the ceiling and I could hear wood cracking above me. There was the loudest roar I ever heard in my life and that’s when pandemonium hit.
The ceiling above me caved in and I barely made it as I dove out of the way. The Dar’ghul wasn’t so lucky. The poor bastard was crushed to death by the corpse of a large quadruped alien. Still pounding away on it was the largest Hrodahk I’d ever seen. He was even bigger than the Sarge!
Now I ain’t afraid of nothing, but I know when to make an exit.
In the rush to get out of there some guy I don’t see bumps into me. I hear him say excuse me as I’m pushed out into the street with the rest of the crowd. Once in the street I hear someone say, “There he is.” Then I feel a shock baton press into my back at full charge and I black out.
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