The Alien Detention and Expulsion Center
Agent K emptied her pockets at the security checkpoint, placing her items in a plastic bin that was handed around the metal detector. She started to step through, then stopped and sheepishly pulled out and handed over the crochet hook from her boot. The agent in charge of the checkpoint gave her a narrow-eyed look.
“Sorry, I forgot,” explained Agent K self-consciously. He waved her through, still squinting at her suspiciously. Agent K replaced her items in her pockets (and boot) and headed to the main security office.
She hated to come here, to the Alien Detention and Expulsion Center (ADEC). This was where captured aliens were held before being deported back into space. The Agency Astronomy department had determined where the alien home world was located, and specially-built rockets carried captured aliens back every Tuesday. Some aliens did of course find their way back to Earth repeatedly, but generally once they were deported they didn’t return. (One alien, nick-named Bob by the Center staff, had been deported and caught seventeen times. Finally, someone asked him (it?) why he kept coming back. Bob had explained that he really loved lime jell-o, which was served by the Center every Friday and Monday. He kept coming back and getting caught on purpose to have the lime jell-o. The Agency brass finally decided he could just stay at the Center, as it was more trouble to deport and re-catch him. He had become a Center staff favorite, plied with all the lime jell-o he could eat.)
Agent K was here today because an alien that she had caught setting glitter yarn bombs was about to be deported, and the Agency hoped that Agent K might be able to convince the alien to give up some more intel before he left. She rather doubted that she would be able to, since aliens were notoriously stubborn, but it was worth a shot.
“Welcome, Agent K!” The man behind the government-issue metal desk stood to shake her hand as she entered the main security office. “Please, have a seat!”
Agent K thanked him, then sat precariously in a rickety old folding chair. The office was decided Spartan and indicative of under-funding. The overhead fluorescent light fixture was missing a bulb, and one of the remaining two bulbs flickered and buzzed, casting an uncertain and unflattering light over the shabby room. Battered filing cabinets covered one wall, and a couple of sad plants drooped from lack of water and sunshine.
“May I offer you some lime jell-o?” asked the man at the desk. “I’m the head governor here at the ADEC. You can call me Governor P.”
“You used to be a field agent?” asked Agent K.
He frowned, and Agent K regretted what was obviously a painful subject. “Yes, I used to be a field agent. Until the aliens set that trap for me, making me take their filthy bribes! If they hadn’t had it in for me…”
Agent K coughed delicately. Governor P started out of his reverie, then relaxed.
“Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, lime jell-o.”
“No, thanks, I just came from the Academy, where that stuff’s used to train agents in hand-to-hand combat. It’s just a bit too alien-like for me,” Agent K politely declined. (In fact, the Academy had one of the world’s premier jell-o wrestling teams.) “Let’s get on with this, shall we? I’m here to speak to alien number 456321, nick-named Fred. The Agency higher-ups seem to think that he knows more than he’s saying.”
“Oh, yes, 456321,” said P, picking up a file from his desktop. “He’s been here almost a week now. Due to be shipped out on the next flight.”
“Yes, we need to talk to him before then,” Agent K explained patiently. “Which cell is he in?”
“I’ll have one of the guards escort you,” replied P, touching a button on his phone.
A large young man wearing a dark grey uniform opened the door, and Agent K followed him out into the hall. He led her down several wide corridors, through a couple more securely locked doors, and finally to a cell door.
“I’ll be right outside. Holler if you need me.”
Agent K smiled her reassurance to the young man, then stepped through the door.
Just inside the door to the cell was a gauzy curtain that Agent K knew was made out of wool, knitted into a loose lace. She pushed it aside and entered the cell proper. The floor was covered with white tiles. A line of black tiles made a rectangle around the perimeter of the room. This was the “safe” line. If an alien stayed within this line, he or she would not come in contact with the wool that hung like a blank tapestry on the walls. The walls of wool made prisoner control slightly easier, but a really determined alien could of course push past the wool, so real locks were still needed.
This particular room had brightly colored stripes marching around the room. Agent K blinked at the colors, which ranged from orange to royal blue to purple to an eye-searing yellow. Someone at the Agency had enjoyed making the room as loud as possible.
Agent K managed to drag her focus away from the wall hangings to the short, squat alien who was regarding her sullenly.
“Agent K, how kind of you to visit me,” he said resignedly. “You almost missed me – they’re shipping me out tomorrow.”
“Yes, I know, that’s why I’m here,” Agent K explained. “I think you have information that we need.”
“HA!” the alien scorned. “And why should I tell you anything?”
“You admit to having information?”
“Of course I don’t admit it!” Fred gave a short hacking sound, indicating derision. “If I had information, I would have bargained for my freedom with it.”
“You’re going to be deported whether you like it or not,” said Agent K, frowning. “I understand that you have information about a certain catnip strike that is planned. My intel says that this catnip strike will render knitters’ companions helpless while you aliens abscond with the balls of wool that our kittens like to play with. You must know that the Agency will not stand idly by while you do this.”
“How did you know … I mean, I know nothing about this plan,” Fred hastily tried to cover his mistake. “It’s a ridiculous plan, what with the aerosol cans of catnip that the strike aliens will carry. Why, they’d never get close enough to the cats to deliver the catnip spray, unless they can solve the salty pork-based cured meat problem to distract the canine companions.”
“You mean the ‘Bacon plan’?” gasped Agent K. “We’d heard rumors about that plan, but this is the first real confirmation.”
“Oh, yeah,” bragged Fred. “That was my idea. You give this pork-based product to the canines, and they let you right by to get to the kitties. It works much better than the ‘Frisbee’ plan. Stupid canines kept coming back to the aliens, interrupting the catnip distribution.”
“I see,” marveled Agent K. “You must be a really smart alien.”
“Well, I do what I can,” Fred said with a modest wave of a tentacle. “Of course, the whole plan is dependent on the Agency not finding out that the catnip spray only works in the rain. If you people ever found that out, you’d be on your guard during thunderstorms, and then where would we be?”
“Where, indeed?” Agent K folded up her notebook. “Have a good trip back to your home planet!”
“Wait, aren’t you going to question me?” asked Fred.
“No, you’re clearly much too clever for us, and it would be a waste of time,” said Agent K. “Goodbye!”
She exited the room as Fred slumped with disappointment.