30 October 2007
Space Aliens at Dunvegas? Surely not!
Don't forget -- if these partials of Dunvegas stories have whetted your appetite, you can download the free PDF in just a day or two! Now, welcome to my interpretation of the Dunvegas phenomenon: "Dunvegas: Alien Attack!"
“If I were an alien who’d escaped Area 51, where would I go?” Miranda Mellons raised the binoculars to her sweaty face and inspected the military base from atop Tikaboo Peak, the closest legal vantage point to the Groom Lake facility. All she could see was a cluster of white warehouses encircled by the thin, tan lines of desert roads. Nothing else but twenty-six miles of sand, bushes, and mountain ranges. No signs of life, much less the military masses searching for alien life.
But there’d been no mistaking the signal she’d picked up with her dad’s old radio less than twenty-four hours ago. Her father, an ex-military survivalist, had taught her well, and she knew what the coded message meant.
An alien had escaped.
It was the day they’d all been waiting for. She was determined to be the one to locate the ET, to prove herself to the other Dream Team members who humored her out of respect for her father’s memory.
She had to decide on a plan of action. Others might be hiking up Tikaboo even now, at least the ones spry enough to handle the terrain. She’d beaten them here because she’d neglected to relay the message until she’d been en route. Hey, they’d pawned off the shit Nevada outpost job on her while they handled the exciting aspects of extraterrestrial hunting--anything besides monitoring a radio. She should benefit at least a little. After all, it was her father who’d started the Dream Team, a faction of ET hunters and conspiracy theorists that had spanned the globe since before the Internet.
They’d all thought Area 51 was a dead zone. No way would the government hide anything or anyone here since it was so well known.
They’d been wrong.
What to do, what to do. Miranda buzzed with excitement, and also the several energy drinks she’d consumed on the trip. The others had more contacts than she did, more resources. But she had two things they didn’t have--the first and most relevant being proximity.
Not that it was doing her any good. She didn’t see anything unusual. Didn’t smell anything. Didn’t hear anything. She’d been up Tikaboo enough to know what was usual, too.
Her second ace in the hole hadn’t helped yet, either--her souped-up gamma wave scanner. The others had scanners, but not like hers. She didn’t plan to tell them about the modifications until she confirmed they worked. Unfortunately, the main unit was too heavy to carry up the mountain, and she hadn’t detected anything on the handheld.
Hell, if she were an alien who’d escaped Area 51, the first thing she’d do would be blow the place. Barring that, she’d hightail it as fast as she could towards the closest human establishment where she could blend in. Might that be Rachel? No way. Only 100 people lived there and half of them were crazy. Alamo? Nope, still too small.
Well, of course. By hook, teleportation, pick-up truck or crook, the alien would head for Las Vegas. Let the other Dreamers scour the desert around the ET Highway. Miranda was going straight to Sin City to extend the hand of human friendship to their stellar kin.
* * *
What the heck was going on at Dunvegas? Miranda dragged her heavy luggage behind her through the parking garage, dodging a pile of horse crap. Horse crap? In Vegas? It was one thing for the garage to be full, but it was another for it to be full of such a freaky assortment of vehicles. Everything from Jeeps to chariots filled the spaces.
Ahead of her, two winged women squealed and glittered as they raced to catch the elevator, one practically flying into the air in her haste. They noticed Miranda trudging behind them and held the doors.
“Nice costumes,” Miranda said. With her interest in electronics and extraterrestrials, she’d never worried much about her appearance, but suddenly she felt conspicuous in her dusty hiking gear. She set the hard case of scanning equipment on its end and leaned the suitcase, also full of equipment, against the wall.
“Oh, yah, sure,” one of the women said. She had a distinct Wisconsin accent and lavender wings. “Costumes.”
“Is there a comic book show here?” Miranda asked. A small contingent of Dreamers routinely monitored anime and other conventions for evidence of alien life.
“ParaPleasure,” the other woman cooed. She glanced at her companion and they both giggled. Again. “You’re not here for Pleasure, are you, hon?”
“Business.” How sad that random costumed strangers could tell she, Miranda Mellons, had little or no pleasure in her life.
Well, that would end as soon as she and her revolutionary scanner located the ET. She’d have the pleasure of the Dreamers’ respect. She’d have the pleasure of guiding first contact with the world outside the military. She’d be famous, no longer a joke to everyone outside the Dream Team, where she was a joke anyway.
Imagine, being a joke among the people everyone else laughs at.
The elevators opened into the back of Dunvegas’s huge casino, and she dragged herself and her suitcases through the glitzy hustle and bustle to the front desk. Apparently this ParaPleasure thing attracted an even weirder crowd than anime conventions, because everywhere she looked, Miranda saw features, appendages and skin tones not found in nature. Earth’s nature. The Dream Team had proof ETs looked as human as the next human, being their distant ancestors and all, so maybe not found in alien nature, either.
“I called about a room,” she said to a harried man at the desk once he’d finished checking in a guy dressed all in black and wearing shades. And a cape.
“Name?” He started tapping away at his computer keyboard and didn’t meet her eyes.
“Miranda Mellons. M-E-L-L-O-N-S. I’ve stayed here before, and I have a DV Discount Card. Like a VIP card, only for Dunvegas.”
“Yes, I know what the DV cards are.” The man tip-tapped some more.
The Dreamers always stayed at Dunvegas. Its location was geographically compatible with their equipment, with less interference than the Excalibur, MGM Grand or Luxor, the other prime locations. The air conditioning was cranked to arctic, but they got affordable rates and two bucks off at the buffet. The owner, Mr. Fritz, was rumored to be a backer of their society.
“Miss Mellons, I’m afraid we don’t have any rooms available.” The man glanced up, and Miranda was disconcerted to see the skin around his eyes and nose was as wrinkled as a raisin, even though he appeared to be young. Freaky. “The Luxor across the street would be happy to honor your DV card.”
“When I called, I was told you had space.” She couldn’t conduct the field test of her new equipment at the Luxor! The pyramid would deflect the gamma waves and ruin everything.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the clerk repeated.
Beside Miranda, a tall, good-looking man wearing a ratty black T-shirt barked something at another desk clerk about his room smelling of cat and demanded to be comped a suite on the executive level.
The other clerk bobbed her head. “Of course, Mr. Lupin. We’ve several openings on the executive level. So sorry for the inconvenience.”
Why did he get the helpful clerk? Miranda wondered.
“It’s going to take a full moon for my nose to recover.” The man leaned on the counter and intimidated the small employee. “Putting cats on the wolf floor. Are you new at your job or did you not manifest until you were brain-dead?”
Miranda glared at the hateful man. The poor girl he berated looked as transparent as wax paper. “It’s better than being an asshole,” Miranda muttered.
Mr. Mean didn’t turn to her, but he muttered back. “I have excellent hearing, lady. Mind your own business.”
Miranda dragged her attention back to her own clerk. More waspishly than she’d intended, she snapped, “I know you have rooms. He got one on the executive level and gave up one on another level.”
“Madam, your DV card means we can only offer you accommodations on certain dates.”
“Is there a problem here?” A tall woman with long fingernails and hair as golden as, well, gold strode from the far end of the desk and placed her hand on the clerk’s shoulder. She pinned Miranda in place with a sultry, heavy-lidded gaze.
“No, Ms. Bast,” the clerk said. He appeared to shrink next to the statuesque Ms. Bast. “Ms. Mellons has a DV card and it’s ParaPleasure this weekend. I’m not supposed to--”
“I’d advise you to make an exception. Ms. Mellons is expected.” The woman smiled at Miranda and licked her lips. Her tongue was pale pink. “Mr. Fritz asked that we accommodate Ms. Mellons and any of her friends. Call him and ask if you like.”
She winked at Miranda, as if they knew something nobody else did. Was this woman a Dream Teamer? Did she know about the loose foo? Ms. Bast gave a shimmy and stroked her hair behind her rather pointed ears.
The clerk shrank some more. “A room on the wolf...ah, floor thirty just opened up.”
“Will you be having it cleaned first?” Miranda lowered her voice. “That guy said it smelled like cat.”
Ms. Bast’s eyes narrowed, flashing as green as a fluorescent T-shirt. “What have you got against cats?” she asked, her voice a purr of anger.
Miranda stepped back. “Nothing. Really. I like cats, but if the room smells like pee, I’d rather not sleep in it.”
The jerky man who’d complained about the room butted in on the conversation. “I doubt someone with your nose could detect the stench. Though unfortunately it’s all over the hotel. Cat. Wonder why?”
“Misssster Lupin,” Ms. Bast said, her voice an odd hiss, “did you not enjoy the little treat I put on the pillow?”
“You’re the one who put that there? You crazy bitch!” Lupin threw his head back and howled. Miranda thought it was a laugh. The clerk beside Ms. Bast deflated further, his face actually seeming to become more wrinkled. His head barely reached the top of the desk now.
“You’re confusing me with your mother,” Ms. Bast said. She rubbed the heel of her hand across her lips and then her ear, again smoothing back her shiny hair. “Oh, Martin, quit shrinking. Nobody’s going to get in a catfight. I swear, goblins make terrible coworkers.”
Jeez, the clerk wasn’t attractive, but calling him a goblin was nasty. Ms. Bast was a piece of work herself, what with the lip licking and winking and rudeness. What had been on Lupin’s pillow? Cat turds? Miranda hoped it would be gone when she got to the room. She didn’t have time for hotel politics; she had sensitive equipment to set up and an ET to find.
The clerk’s wrinkled face turned red and he swelled back to his full height. He accepted Miranda’s credit card without another word.
“That time of the month, huh?” Lupin asked Ms. Bast. He loomed too close to Miranda for comfort, invading her personal space and bumping her precious equipment case.
“Better me than you, Rover,” the blonde retorted.
Both of them laughed. Miranda took a deep breath and said, “Sir, you’re touching my stuff.”
“So?” He eyed Miranda up and down in a way that made her wonder what the hell he was thinking. How could a man in an ancient Pink Floyd shirt look like he owned the world?
“You’re safe unless he lifts a leg,” Ms. Bast advised.
“You’re really a jerk,” Miranda added. Men like Lupin bugged the crap out of her. Aggressive buttholes who thought they could push others around because they were bigger. Or had more money. Or whatever made them think they were so hot. She’d run into her fill of them in tech school amidst the other gizmo nerds like her. “You shouldn’t eavesdrop.”
“You think?” The man leaned forward and took a deep whiff of her hair. “Wow. Very nice. Too bad you don’t belong here. You need to leave, little girl.”
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Winter 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/