So, some back story. I watched a documentary on slugs. I also wanted to write a strange story which started with a unique perspective. Not much past that, enjoy!


Load bearing, towering metal; a tedium of tailends passing through rich, muddled blue. Levels rose in its reflective embrace, a scenic passage into a true accomplishment of infrastructure, and it was still. Undisturbed for a moment, as the scenic bloom exerted itself across its surface. Yet, the scene darkened; a large black object dominated the canvas for a split second, then connected. Callused rubber, accompanied by corroded metal and tight knit, crashed through its surface. The object sank through the shallow waters, then without pause, centimeters into the silt, soil, and grime settled to the bottom of its cobblestone container. There it rested for a mere moment, before pulling free. Globs of mud stuck to the ribbed underside as it rose, pulling streamers of muck from the base of the sinkhole up to kiss the stale air.

Unceasing on its path, the black sole continued to thump away, heavily connecting with the metal ribbed cobblestone, smearing the beforehand settled mud in its wake. Then the sole stopped, coming to a stable rest as a second, nearly identical rubber construct mirrored it a foot away.

Posed in the murky city underbelly, Alder steadily surveyed his life-devoid surroundings without a care in the world. A single thought evident in the forefront of his skeptical mind. Planes, this place is filthy…

Swerving his line of sight over the surrounding plaza, it was heavily apparent the area had been deserted long ago. Collapsed, abandoned stalls; piles of defused, dented and strewn crates, caked with all manner of grit and grime; towered aside exposed circuits and contorted wireframes. The former of which likely having provided lighting, allowing the facilitation of what meager bartering took place in this gone to hell end of nowhere.

Then something caught his eye. A red flyer, lazily swaying through the stale undercity breeze. “Bingo,” he muttered; his lips cracking a meager smile as he strode across the lifeless cobble square. Holding down his rimmed leather cap in defiance of a wind corridor-borne cool breeze the banner-marked alley composed, he progressed his way onwards; light metal and compound cushioned satchel blowing in his wake.

Eventually, his destination and place of transfixion came into sight. A good way down the street, to the side of the passage and barely visible beside a mountain of metallic barrels stood a jet black stall. It was simple, a square frame of dark carbon material, covered nearly entirely in black cloth which securely hid its front. Strolling over, his feet came to a rest dispassionately in front of the obscured stall counter. Reaching out he pressed the only visible addition to the otherwise completely devoid alley addition; a small black button.

After a number of moments the cloth budged. A fleshy appendage reached from the right side, soundlessly sliding the cloth across its hanger, and exposing the rest of the creature’s form. What greeted him from the other side of the mesh was a fleshy tube of sorts. Twin feelers extended from the far side of its elongated body, while numerous bobbing appendages dotted its vein patterned core.

Damn, no matter how many times I see em, these buggers never get pretty, he thought, silently unclasping his satchel. After a second of hesitation, the creature’s feelers shot into its body as its form folded around on itself, revealing a beforehand hidden hole of sorts on its underbelly. The revealed hole began to discernibly vibrate, and before long a low series of clicks and pops sounded around the lifeless alleyway, its limbs discernibly gesturing him forward.

“Yea yea, I gotcha,” Alder muttered, sifting around in his bag before producing an odd assortment of dried, slug shaped pieces. He noted that one of them was visible still alive. Often in this line of work even more of them were; wiggling around in his bag all day. He never really understood the significance of the items, and he never particularly sought to.

He extended the bunch towards the creature, depositing them on the jet-black counter. The former of which hastily grasped the items, each in a separate limb, shifting its body and subsequently bringing each to the tips of its feelers. With each passing its body visibly shuddered, building in anticipation until the clearly living parcel passed before its sensor. It body bounced back, feelers quickly retracting into its side as it hastily stashed all of the items under the counter in a smooth, multi-armed and alien motion. Turning back to face him it bobbed its core contently, waving its many limbs in small arcs around its veiny length. Vibrating its hole, it produced another cacophony of clicks and pops as it reached under the counter with a separate limb. The creature produced two small black eggs with glowing red cores. They floated off its ghastly surface and gently alighted on the stalls countertop.

“Glad to do business with you, hopefully someday I’ll actually understand what you’re saying,” Alder provided, sliding the counters content into his satchel and securely fastening the strap. The creature didn’t respond, sliding the cloth back into place with a veiny appendage, all traces of movement, and proof of transaction, ceasing moments later.

Another odd fellow… well on with business, Alder thought, pulling his hat brim down to eye level and promptly trudging back through the dilapidated bazaar.


Dark facades rose as opposing beacons of subservience in a far district. Rainbow and multicolored billboards animating across basalt surfaces as pillars of light sought into an eternal night overhead. Large metal brutalist pillars supported the constructs hulking masses, cutting deep into the metallic foundations and walks they were erected upon. Other walkways were transfixed miles below the previous level, the next highest, a similar overhang, stories overhead.

Alder walked down the holographically distinguished paths encircling these dark structures, his destination a near certainty. Rounding the corner of a rather dark block, a brilliantly lighted architectural marvel garnered his attention. Ornate red trim, encrusted round gold mortar, and holographically accented woodworking. Of course, the wood was all fake, or a synthetic structure, but it was impressive nonetheless. A clear oddity juxtaposed against the hulking masses towering above in every direction.

Approaching its dazzling front, a lone attendant was present, standing slightly to the left of the small trimmed golden doors. A hulking mass of muscle he was, evident even through his unblemished white suit.

“What business do you have at our establishment?” the attendant lazily questioned on approach.

“I’m here to see Ross, got a levity of business with him,” Alder replied.

“I’ve got no clue who you’re referring to, I suggest you go back the way you came,” was his response, the attendant waving his massive hand in the direction of the throughway.

It’s gonna be another tricky one, isn’t it? alder surmised, opting to continue the exchange. “I’m sorry it’s quite urgent, I’m sure whoever is currently hosting will understand.”

A long, low sigh was his only reply before the attendant swiftly slipped a smoke from his suit’s breast pocket. Sliding its length between his teeth.

With a mirrored sigh, and not missing the cue, Alder unclasped his satchel and rummaged around, retrieving the twin orbs a second later. As he centered them in his hand they began to vibrate. Lazily lifting from his palm and slowly rotated around each other, picking up speed with each passing moment. When their rotation became a silent circular blur, a small flame flickered to life in their center. Reaching forwards, he promptly lit the end of the attendants’ smoke, before depositing the now still beads back into his satchel.

“Well, that was more than enough to prove your business, although I’m still keen on keeping an eye on you,” the attendant supplied, stepping to the side of the entrance as one of his hands motioning him past, the other visibly rummaging in his pocket. With a tip of his cap, Alder stepped forward, the golden doors automatically sliding open, permitting his entrance.

What came into view was a brilliantly adorned lobby. Slickened redwood rose in intervals along the vast rooms walls, slanting inwards around the overhead roof and forming beautifully intricate woodwork supports. All manner of artistic renditions portraying long-extinct creatures and plants arrayed the walls between these. A vast number of female attendants in similar red and gold dresses walked about in the lobby, carrying all sorts of trays and dishes between ornate sliding doors and branching hallways.

Already acquainted with the establishment’s fine looks, Alder paid his surroundings little attention as he walked across the silken carpet; his goal was the staircase surrounded lift on the rooms far side.

Stepping onto the contraption he rode it to the third level before exiting into a hallway. Entering one of the designated guest rooms he kneeled down on the floor cloth waiting patiently. As usual, all that adorned the room was two pillows and a simple low table at its center.

Before long a female attendant entered the room with a crystal tray on which sat a single wooden cup.

“The madam will be with you soon. She is currently busy addressing other guests. We are very sorry for the inconvenience,” she supplied while placing the cup directly on the table in front of him and deeply bowing. She hastily left the room, and silence once again descended on his surroundings.

He refrained from touching the drink, being all too familiar with the beverages served at this location, instead carefully inspecting the grain of the cup.

Well… this might actually be real wood, he pondered. If so it would have had to come from off-world and subsequently cost a small fortune.

Of course he wouldn’t touch it.

Before long the ornate door on the far side of the room slid open revealing a spectacularly dressed Valean hostess.

Alder speculatively surveyed the establishments new keeper. Enticing curves accentuated by bright purple skin. Rich violet hair tied back and secured by an ornate headdress. Below these long ears curled downwards, meeting large gold saucers suspended above an alluring red, purple accented dress. The former of which floated inches off the ground in her wake.

“Aaaa, another one of Ross’s business partners I presume?” She quipped, gracefully alighting upon the opposite cushion, legs folded to her right.

“You could say that, although… well, he gave me more of a special task. I assume he passed it down to you?” Alder ventured, face straight as ever.

“Hoh, that he did, it’s a shame he isn’t around anymore to maintain this fine establishment, I’m sure I’ll have a fun time in his wake,” she replied, bringing her hand to cover her mouth with a chuckle.

“And you are…?”

“O how rude of me, hostess Vanesse at your service,” she replied with a graceful bob. “And you don’t have to introduce yourself Alder Yonvale, I’ve already been acquainted with your file. A very impressive collector log under your name, I assume you’re task with erm… Ross, went smoothly?”

“As smooth as ever, bit of a hiccup around the last transit but it should be untraceable,” he replied.

“May I see the item?”

Without coment, Alder once again unclasped his satchel, this time sticking his entire arm into its depths. After some rummaging he pulled forth a few items, carefully setting them onto the table. A diamond double leveled gold helix, easily able to fit in someone’s palm; A small blue amulet of sorts, dimly glowing; and a black basalt cube, larger than his head. “Aaa, here it is,” he muttered, producing a small chrome case, barely larger than a tablet.

He quickly pushed the other items back in his bag before sliding the case across the table.

“Are you perhaps willing to trade for those other pieces,” Vanesse ventured. “I’m sure I can procure more than suitable compensation?” She explained, tongue running over her moistened lips.

“I’m sorry, those aren’t exactly mine to trade, plus I like to travel light,” Alder quickly replied, clasping his satchel for hopefully the final time this evening.

“A shame, it’s not many that know tjphose items value,” she provided, simultaneously unclasping the chrome case. Unclasping the case she gazed upon its contents, expression unreadable, before clapping her hands.

Following the sound, the frame behind her slid open and a new attendant entered the room, this one bearing another case, identical to the former.

“Ross left this with me. Presumably for you upon completion of your mission,” she explained, trading cases with the attendant and sliding the new case back across the table.

“I’m sure you’ll know what to do with that, not that I was ever able to get into it,” Vanesse supplied. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have other clients to attend to. A good evening to you Mr. Yonvale,” she sang, gracefully standing and sweeping from the room, the ornate wall sliding shut in her wake.

Alder looked down at the fresh replacement, possibly the last remnants of Ross still lingering on this decrepid planet.

Taking the case in hand, he ran his fingers over the underbelly locating several small yet prominent bumps. Quickly inputting his employment code, the crate opening with a decompressing pop.

Peering inside, a row of dried slugs, more blue than the last, greeted him; three of which were discernibly squirming in their restraints. Protius seven… what a wasteland of a planet, he groaned internally. Hot as the pariahs pantry on top of that.

Promptly closing the container, he strapped it cross his belt. “Here we go again,” he grudgingly muttered, exiting the room.

Categories: Short Stories


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