Fantasy & Sci-Fi
The Undead Kid Part 1
By Richard Lovig a.k.a. Jack
The glare from the real estate agent was intense. In fact,
between his plaid plastic blazer, the bright midday sun reflecting off of his
bald spot, and the high wattage real estate agent's smile he was smiling, it
was almost too much. I suspected that my partner Kistan had already been at
least partly overcome. During the course of the sales talk he had edged behind
me, away from the agent, and grown suspiciously quiet.
I circumspectly slipped on my sunglasses (cutting down on
the glare considerably.) and attempted to focus on what the agent was saying.
"...and the best part of this little vacation paradise is
that it's completely private! Why--"
"How private?" I asked, interrupting at random, trying to
sound like I was on top of things.
The real estate agent gave me another of those high wattage
grins (causing Kistan to growl slightly, and edge even farther into my shadow.)
and said, "Completely! What you are buying here is not just a cottage! Not just
a lake! Not even just a planet! What I'm selling you is an entire system! A
system of your very own! Why, the nearest human settlement to Cophetti--"
"Gehusndheit," I said.
The agent smiled tolerantly. "Ah, no, Analog, may I call you
I put my hand on my gun. "It's the Analog Kid. Get it
"Certainly, certainly," he said soothingly. "Anyhow, as I
was saying, Cophetti..." He raised his hand at this point to forestall another
gehusndheit. "That is, the planet we're on, is in the middle of a completely
uninhabited system. In fact, the nearest human settlement to this little
vacation wonderland here is on Vista IV, over fifteen light years away." He put
his hands in the pockets of his blazer and beamed at us.
I turned to Kistan and whispered, "So, what do you
"I don't know Kid," Kistan said. He sounded tense. "You deal
with it. The way he keeps smiling like that, and the glare from his head..."
His hand edged slowly toward his blaster.
"Easy, Kistan, easy. Try wearing your sunglasses, it
"Yeah, okay." He took his sunglasses from the pocket of his
jacket and slipped them on.
I turned back to the real estate agent. "Well, uh..."
"Phil," he supplied helpfully.
"Yeah, Phil. Give us a minute."
I took a moment to look over what we'd be getting, minus the
sales talk. It featured lush greenery, warm sunlight, and a comfortable looking
cottage with a lake nearby. A suitably quiet and restful vacation spot. I
decided to talk it down a little.
"What about that swamp out there?" I asked, indicating the
lake. "Could be unhealthy."
"Swamp!" He exclaimed. "That's one of the finest fishing
lakes I've ever seen! Just imagine spending a long, relaxing day out there
fishing, then coming home afterward to sit on the front porch, caressed by cool
refreshing breezes off of your own private lake. And that's just one little
spot, on a whole wide planet! Why, I'm halfway tempted to buy this place myself
if you gentlemen don't take it."
"Uh-huh," I said dismissively. "So, what about the fishing?
There anything out there?"
"Is there anything out there, the man asks!" Phil glanced
over his shoulder at the lake, and his smile momentarily dimmed a few watts. A
few seconds later however, he cranked the wattage back up and turned back to
us. "What kind of a fishing lake would it be if it didn't have things in it?
Just look at that lake! Just imagine the things you could pull out of that
"Dead things maybe," Kistan put in, overcoming his distaste
enough to try and help me out.
"Dead things?" Phil's smile slipped slightly again.
"What's the matter?" I asked, "Fishing no good?"
The smile came back. "Oh no. Fishing's great. Plenty of
stuff out there just waiting to haul you in."
"You mean be hauled in," I corrected.
"Of course, of course!" His voice dropped to an
ingratiatingly conspiratorial whisper. "As a matter of fact, I happen to have a
nice little boat aboard my shuttle that's perfect for fishing. I'd be willing
to throw it in free if it'd help to close the deal."
I shrugged casually. "Maybe. How much you asking?"
"Oh, not much. Not much at all. Say, fifty-thousand
My bargaining instincts cut in. "Twenty-five," I snapped.
"Forty," Phil suggested, his eyes drifting towards the lake
"Thirty," I countered. Phil continued looking at the lake,
I thought it over. The place really was worth the money,
particularly if there was anything to Phil's claim about us getting the entire
system. Besides, it was hot out, and I was starting to worry about Kistan. If I
let him involve himself in another incident, the girls'd be very unhappy with
me. Why, after that minor altercation on Formia VI, when Kistan took exception
to the ritual headdresses the locals had insisted that we wear...
I suppressed a shudder and said, "All right, forty it is.
But I expect a cash discount."
"Cash?" The full glare of Phil's attention abruptly focused
on me, and I took an involuntary step backward, bumping into Kistan. "Cash is
good. I can give you ten percent for cash."
I frowned. Fifteen percent was standard. On the other hand,
Kistan was getting edgy, so I decided to wrap this up.
"Sounds good to me. Kistan?" I asked, glancing back at him
for confirmation. Kistan lowered his sunglasses slightly and nodded.
"I guess we'll take it then. Kistan, the money."
"Right," Kistan handed me an envelope, which I passed along
Phil opened the envelope and began counting the money. "Just
a formality the Company insists on," he assured us. "Of course I know that..."
He paused, then counted the money again. "This is five thousand short."
Kistan shrugged slightly and handed over the rest of the
cash. Phil counted it twice, then stuffed it into the pocket of his plastic
"Been a pleasure doing business with you boys.
Congratulations! You now own your own planet. Here are the keys to the cottage
and your Planet Registry Number." He tossed me a collection of magnetically
coded plastic strips, which I caught and pocketed.
"And our boat," Kistan reminded him.
"Of course, of course. You two belong out on that lake." He
smiled at us for a long moment, then said, "Now, if you gentlemen could give me
a hand in unloading your boat?"
"I'll do it. I think the heat is starting to get to my
"Not too badly I hope?" Phil inquired solicitously.
"Not to worry," I reassured him. "You just go and open up
your ship and I'll be along in a minute."
When Phil was gone I turned to Kistan and said, "Relax will
you? You're starting to make me nervous." I took him by the arm and led him
toward the Demon Star, the car the two of us had arrived in.
"Sorry Kid. There's just something about that guy that bugs
"You liked him fine when we met him in the Alternity," I
"It was darker then, and I'd had more to drink."
"Ah. Well, that's understandable, I guess."
When we reached the Demon, I got Kistan into the car, dialed
him a drink, and, as I was leaving, said, "And for God's sake, try to relax."
By the time I reached the spot where Phil's battered shuttle
sat, he had already opened up the ship's hatches and extended the loading ramp.
The shuttle was an older model, equipped with a reaction
drive rather than the more efficient gravity drive the Demon used, and lacking
in some of the modern amenities, such as automatic cargo handling. That being
the case, it took a bit of effort to get the crate containing our boat out of
the hold and down to the edge of the lake.
When we were finished, I took a moment to catch my breath,
then said, "So, Phil, about this fishing. What kind of bait do you
"Live bait," he said immediately. "Definitely live bait.
They'll go for anything that's still alive." He glanced around nervously, and
his gaze lingered for a long moment on the lake.
"Something troubling you Phil?" I asked casually.
"No, no. Nothing at all. Just eager to get back home, see
the wife. You know." He gave me a conspiratorial wink.
"I thought you said you were single?"
"Oh? Well, I didn't say that she was my wife..."
"Uh-huh." I was beginning to smell a rat. I slowly began
edging around the crate, towards Phil, while I continued talking. "You know,
that's too bad. Kistan and I were kind of hoping you could could hang around
here for a while. Join us for a beer, maybe even do a little fishing with
"Hang around? Here? Oh no, couldn't do that."
I decided that I was close enough. I lunged across the
remaining distance and grabbed him.
Unfortunately, Phil was quicker than he looked. The moment I
moved, Phil dodged. I managed to get his jacket, but Phil slipped loose and
took off running for his shuttle. By the time I caught up, he was already
inside with the hatch closed. A moment later, I heard a low rumbling noise that
climbed rapidly in pitch and volume as the shuttle's engines started. I
sprinted for cover.
Moments later, the shuttle's engines fired, washing the
clearing with flame as the shuttle blasted skyward.
I headed back toward the Demon Star. With any luck, we could
still catch Phil before he managed to clear the atmosphere and make a six-space
When I reached the Demon, Kistan was sitting inside, sipping
a drink and looking very relaxed. I put an end to that.
"Move over," I said, climbing in. "We're going after that
"What? Why?" Kistan asked, sliding over to the passenger's
"Phil was acting suspicious. When I tried to grab him to ask
questions, he took off."
"So what are we doing then? Going after him?"
"Exactly." I addressed myself to the Demon's computer.
"Demon, seal hatches, tactical on, prepare to lift."
As the hatches hissed shut, the Demon spoke. "What is this
"That real estate agent guy took off. I want to follow his
shuttle and stop it before it's high enough to make a six-space transit."
"No point to it, but okay. Hatches closed, tactical on,
ready to lift." Around us, the viewports dimmed as the tactical displays came
on, covering the external view with a complex set of computer generated lines
I looked closely at the display then asked, "Demon, where's
"You mean the shuttle that the real estate agent took off
"Yes, that shuttle," I said patiently. "I want you to follow
its course." The Demon has one of the best combat computers around, but
sometimes it can be a little temperamental. Patience is essential.
"Are you certain about that?" the Demon asked. "That
"Hey! You want to be replaced with one of those Cybertronics
Shoot & Kill systems? Just follow that goddamn shuttle's course!" Sometimes
patience is hard to manage.
"Okay, course locked and executing."
Glowing lines began dropping past us in the tactical
display, indicating the high velocity climb the Demon was executing as we
followed the shuttle's course.
When we were several miles up, the lines twisted, looped a
few times, then began rushing past in the opposite direction as the ground came
up at high speed.
"What are you doing!?!" I yelled.
"Following the shuttle, as per instructions. Impact in forty
seconds. Thirty-nine, thirty-eight..."
"But this is a crash course!"
"Exactly," the Demon said. "The shuttle crashed shortly
after its pilot ejected. Impact in thirty-two, thirty-one..."
"What! Then cancel this course and follow him!"
"Not until you apologize. Twenty-seven, twenty-six,