Note: Previous chapters revised 5/5/21, especially Chapter 2. As mentioned earlier, this story is not for kids.
I returned to the buffet, grabbing a handful of napkins.
"I see you've met Ibira," Tom laughed as I wiped food off my uniform.
I glanced back where the alien attacked me, but she had already gone somewhere else in the building. "Yeah."
I must not have concealed the `What a woman' tone from my voice well enough, for Tom chuckled. "Hey, go for it. She could use a boyfriend."
I stared at him in disbelief. "Seriously? She just tried to kill me!"
Tom shrugged. "Normally when she gets upset, she'll only kick you in the crotch and beat you unconscious, that is, if she doesn't just kill you straight out. What she did with you...I've never seen that before."
I got a new tray of food, seating myself at an empty table, heart pounding as I turned my little alien encounter over and over in my head.
Was Tom telling the truth? If so, was this some kind of courtship ritual for her, kind of like something from Star Trek? Or was she into S&M?
If I ogled her again, what would happen? Would she really castrate me, or was she just saying that? Should I just play it safe and not look at her at all?
I crossed my legs, hoping nobody could see the growing bulge beneath my skirt...had she seen it?
Vornok wasn't the most pleasant thing I've ever tasted, sort of like liver, pickles and Waffle Crisp cereal, but I was hungry, so I choked down a few mouthfuls until full.
Since I didn't like food caking on me, and the restroom didn't have paper towels, I grabbed some more from the buffet and washed up.
If I knew what awaited me outside, I probably would have hidden in a stall for awhile.
A loud shrieking sound nearly made me jump out of my skin. At the end of the hallway, Tamra and a group of other people in business casual attire attempted to wrangle a giant pterodactyl thing that flapped and banged against the ceiling, knocking down foam tiles.
A sight like that made me truly question my assumptions about the office. Had I been taken to another planet? If so, how? Of course, obviously, now was not a good time to ask.
I got the sense that management guys were exempt from the so-called "Dress Code." In fact, I spotted a black guy in a Chicago Bulls jersey.
The creature's single red eye glared at the crowd balefully as it flapped its splotchy yellow-purple wings, its stubby shovel beak snapping at anyone who got too close. They'd placed a weird sort of gas mask over its head, but it hadn't worked properly for some reason, so now it threw it into a wall, gasping like it had asthma.
The guy in the Bulls tank top wiped sweat off his shiny bald head. "That thing's going to die on us."
"Don't you see I'm trying to tranquilize it? Besides, what's wrong with adding to our meat supply?" Shockingly, I recognized the speaker. The wavy blonde, blue eyed manager had been my boss at a different call center job. Not my favoite person.
"Hey, nothing personally, Ryan, but what if its buddies get pissed and go on the warpath?"
My lanky ex-supervisor wiped his glasses. "Relax, Snaker! I got it under control!"
The beast loosened more ceiling tiles, threw Ryan backwards on the floor.
"Hold her still!" a voice yelled. "I got this!"
I heard a metallic snap. A short stumpy figure marched out of the crowd with a rifle aimed high in the air. "Keep it still! I've got to get it in the heart!" This was the guy who stole my clothing earlier.
"That's what you said last time, Victor!"
"So I forgot the heart is above its genitals, so what! Shut up and keep it still! This is my last dart!"
Standing rigid like a statue, gun locked on his target, the little guy fired.
The creature shrieked in protest, swooping down to attack him.
Letting out a most unmanly scream, the midget turned and fled down the corridor.
The corridor I stood in.
Screaming and stomping, he scampered closer and closer, with the pissed off razor clawed demon bird hot on his heels.
With a terrified yell, I jumped back into a recessed part of the wall just minutes before the creature dove down from the ceiling, snapping its beak.
The recess, only reaching back a couple feet, didn't offer much protection. If the thing wanted a bite of me, it could easily shove its face into the crack and tear into me.
I didn't know what the hell was going on. All I knew was, I wanted out of that hallway, and fast.
I broke into a run.
The beast banked sharply, letting out an angry squawk as it chased me down the adjoining tunnel.
Before I could get too far, I stepped the wrong way, tripped over a small body and fell to the floor.
A big heavy wall of flesh landed on top of me, filling my nostrils with the smell of rotten bagels and sweaty socks.
The thing didn't move. I felt certain I'd die from suffocation if my rib cage didn't first collapse from the weight.
For a few tense moments, I struggled beneath the hot mass of smelly leather, unable to free myself.
The midget screamed, using up valuable air, his small fists slamming into anything within reach, including me.
I tried to push myself up, but the beast was too damn heavy.
Suddenly a pair of meaty hands appeared at the corner, and the wall of saurian skin got lifted up.
Fearing I wouldn't get another chance, I crawled that way as fast as I could, and found himself staring up at an impassive bearded face framed in chain mail.
Tom from Sprint. In his full Renfest regalia.
I gawked at him. "They sure keep you busy around here, don't they?"
"Yep," he said with a faint smirk. "Today's job is vehicle rescue services. They'd probably make me do calls on top of that, if I had the figure for the uniform."
"How is this rescuing a vehicle?"
Ryan marched up to the smelly monster. "The Hummer 's swamped with Kurrok. The razorbacks bombed it with pheromone."
"Who bombed what?"
"Save your questions for the meeting. Let's get this thing rolled over."
Victor, Tom and the others rolled the creature on its back, splaying its legs. The thing had four lumpy protuberances down there, like swollen tumors with holes in their centers.
"All right," said Ryan. "How do you propose we get this stuff out?"
Victor crossed his arms. "We jack the Kurrok off, then stick a big popcorn bucket under its crotch." He turned his head. "Needle!"
He stuck a chubby finger into one of the holes. "Big needle! And a siphon!"
The little guy brought out a digit covered in pink slime, sticking it into his mouth.
"You're sick," said Ryan.
"You know what this tastes like?"
"I dunno. Shit?"
The midget gazed at the ceiling, like a wine connoisseur describing a vintage. "It's...kind of like wasabi horseradish and cake batter and Worcestershire sauce all rolled up in one. Might taste good on sausage."
Ryan laughed and shook his head. "You are so wrong! What if that shit gives you some horrible disease?"
Victor shrugged. "We all gotta go sometime. Got sprayed in the face with this crap a few days ago." He smacked his lips.
Sal rolled a cart up the hallway, its shelves loaded with medical tools and a vacuum pump. "Please tell me you're not going to try to make steaks again, are you? To this day, I still can't get that smell out of my bedroom."
Victor grinned sheepishly. "The thought had crossed my mind."
"Well barbecue it outside, or I'll find a way to make your life miserable."
"No! Please!" Victor laughed. "Not another wife!"
"Do you want me to stick this needle somewhere else?"
Victor waved his hands in surrender. "No ma'am. Not until you can figure out where my veins are."
He waved a bruised arm at me. "See this, kid? This is what happens when you go to Sal for a Tibtar immunization."
"No, it's what happens when you slap Sal on the bottom before a Tibtar immunization. You know, I'm pretty sure your behavior is against company harassment policy."
Victor gave her a wink. "You know you like it, double digit." Again, Sal had only two fingers and a thumb on each hand.
The woman ignored him, hooking up the equipment.
"What's Tibtar?" I asked.
"Be glad you don't have it."
Sal scowled at me. "Aren't you supposed to be in training right now?"
I reddened. "Yeah, but getting pinned under a pterodactyl kind of threw me off schedule."
She rolled her eyes.
I gawked at the giant body on the floor. "This is the damnedest thing I've ever seen."
The midget chuckled. "Kid, you ain't seen damnedest yet."
"But how..." I stammered. "What's this thing doing here?"
Victor sighed. "I'll fill you in tomorrow. Suffice to say, this big bitch is going to have to go back through customs, pronto."
As an afterthought, he glanced up at the doctor. "No offense, sweetie. I was talking about the bird."
She glared at him. "For that, I'm going to pepper your room with little black shoes for you to polish with your leprechaun brush!"
Victor shooed me away. "Beat it, kid."
With an annoyed sigh, I ran down the hallway in search of the classroom.
After wandering for several minutes, my classroom, but the door had been closed, so I knocked. Vuembi led me to an open seat, next to a fat faced guy with spiky hair.
I'd missed half the lecture. I hoped I didn't miss anything important. Considering the weird nature of the job, you never knew exactly was important.
As stated previously, we handled different types of loans, retail, and telecommunication devices. It seemed Vuembi had gone over some of this in greater detail while I'd been absent, so I remained as much in the dark as before.
He returned to the topic of spousal laws, circumstances when we could disclose account details to someone's husband or wife, or other marital equivalent with eyestalks. I tried to keep up the best I could, making careful notes about what constituted a spouse when the definition on a planet was unclear.
Ibira remained in the seat she occupied last time, making me wonder if she liked me staring. She glared at me whenever my eyes wandered her way, but hers seemed to be doing some wandering of their own. I could only shrug and smile a little before looking elsewhere.
More training about our computer menus, functions, and payment systems, as well as another lesson on currency. Whoever said that math was the universal language obviously didn't think about exchange rates and decimal points, or the difference between a dollar, a yen and a peso. Some planets used multiple decimals, some none at all. I wasn't sure how I'd figure any of it out without a special computer program or a huge notebook, but but I didn't have the luxury of quitting.
My mind wandered.
In my absence, a group of pregnant women had joined the class. The fact that they were that many in one place wasn't nearly as surprising as the fact they all sat together...with the pregnant rodent creature.
My mind reeled with unanswered questions, but the company itself multiplied such such questions. I kept my focus on the lecture.
Vuembi activated a device, and a holographic image of a red, wide mouthed fish thing in a dress appeared in front of the markerboard.
"Greetings, new DOGOS employees. My name is Yoogtol, CEO and chairman of DOGOS. I'd like to cordially welcome you to my company." The creature launched into a thirty minute speech.
Still no break. Instead we got more lessons.
After an hour's lecture, the building suddenly shook like an earthquake had hit it.
"What was that!" I cried.
Some students laughed. Others were worried as I was.
Vuembi looked indifferent. "We moved."
Half the class (none of the aliens, I noted) got up from their seats, ready to go out the door.
"Sit down!" he scolded. "All of you can rubberneck at the end of class."
My classmates murmured about this, but returned to their seats.
"Where did we move?"
"Walvico. It's a planet."
A few of the others groaned. The bug creature looked irritated.
Two hours later, we at last got dismissed for the day.
I caught Ibira on the way out the door. "Hey, what did I miss?"
The alien glared. "So now I'm not only your sex object, I'm also your personal note taker?"
My face flushed hot. "You slapped me on the butt."
"Do not read too much into an accidental brush of my hand."
I rolled my eyes. "Sure. Whatever."
Ibira growled. "Whatever you're thinking, it's not going to happen. And I am not your note taker."
Forcing my eyes not to wander, I blurted, "Please! I'm only trying to learn! I got attacked by some pterodactyl thing in the hallway, and I don't want to lose my job because I missed something in training."
Ibira stared at me. I thought I detected a slight smirk. Was that...approval? "You got attacked by a Kurrok?"
I shrugged. "Yeah?"
"Hmm." It almost sounded like a purr.
She crossed her arms, put her other two hands on her hips. "Vuembi talked about branding. You have to read a sales script on certain calls. You can ask him about that." She pointed to the front of the room, where our instructor sat behind a desk, examining papers. "We also had more computer training."
Ibira showed me the menus and whatnot on my device.
"Thank you. Look, I'm sorry we got started on the wrong foot. I think...respectfully...you'd be someone great to work with."
Her eyes narrowed. "That's more or less what you told me before."
I blushed. "No, no, not like that! I meant, we'd make a great team! You know, make money, and keep our jobs!"
Ibira rolled her eyes at this. "Seems to me like I'd be doing most the work."
I sighed, depressed at the cold rejection. "Never mind. Thank you for your help."
She allowed the smirk to broaden a bit. "You're welcome."
I marched up to Vuembi, who now poured himself a cup of something smelling of bleach. "We're done for the day, aren't we? Can I go home now? I mean, I know Tamra said I was supposed to train for a week or something, but I don't think there's any harm in driving home for a few hours and coming back, right?"
The alien snorted, suppressing a grin. "No, I suppose not..." He waved me away, more or less granting me permission. "Be back at the classroom at 07:30 sharp."
"Oh thank God!"
But as I rushed to the door, the alien coughed and sputtered in a way that bordered on laughter.
I shot him a questioning glance, but he only pounded his chest and coughed again. "I seem to have inhaled my Afgeru."
Narrowing my eyes, I rushed to the elevator, scowling at the thought of what everyone would say to me once I left the building `in uniform.'
The elevator, to my great relief, did slide open in response to my button press. I hurried in, pushed the first floor button, which I presumed to be lobby level.
I frowned at the keyhole, hoping I wouldn't need to get downstairs anytime soon.
Do I really want to come back here? I thought. Sure it was, in some ways, exciting, but in other ways...I'd been violated.
By the time the doors opened at the first floor, however, I'd progressed to wondering what Ibira and I would be doing tomorrow, if we'd be taking more classes or working next to each other, and what to pack in my suitcase to make myself more comfortable at the job.
The moment I stepped out, I froze.
The floor plan had changed.
My Mary Jane flats stood on worn gray carpeting, amidst a particle board cubicle farm. Thinking I'd merely taken the wrong elevator, I pushed open a security door, wandering down a gray hallway lined with numbered offices.
I got more apprehensive about things when I reached the end and found another long hallway, but the security door had locked behind me. Plus, I spotted a break area at the opposite end.
Noticing a snack machine, I dug in my skirt for my wallet, but I stumbled into a table when I looked out the ceiling to floor windows.
Instead of a parking lot or meticulously trimmed corporate grounds, a multicolored wall of jungle plants glowed and squirmed across the glass.
"Interesting view, isn't it?" remarked a gray haired man in khaki shirt and pants.
I knocked over a chair on the way to the window. "What the hell is this?"
The old guy shrugged. "Welcome to Planet Walvico." He offered his hand. "Harold."
I introduced myself, then staggered back into a chair, folding my skirt under as an afterthought. "I must have wandered to the wrong side of the building. Took the wrong elevator. Where's the main entrance?"
The stranger chuckled. "You're looking at it."
"This is some kind of trick, isn't it? Where is the parking lot?"
Harold laughed at me. "Let me guess. You're a newhire."
"...Yeah? So what?"
"The building can teleport to other planets. I guess, while on earth, it disguises the true purpose of the building, because we teleport all across town. Not so useful out here."
I detected no mirth. Harold stared. "You believe me?"
"Are you saying I shouldn't? There's a four armed green woman in my classroom."
He shook his head. "You've caught on faster than some of the others."
"If the building can teleport, why didn't the upstairs teleport with it?"
"I don't know. I guess they already had a building here, and it's only the lower floors that move."
"Are you a manager?"
Harold laughed. "I should be! Been here long enough!"
"So tenured people can wear what they want," I muttered.
I walked up to the door that led outside, pushing the handle.
"I wouldn't go out there without a gas mask."
I stepped back. I did smell something faintly like ammonia and CLR multipurpose cleaner. "Shouldn't there be an airlock or something?"
"There's an exterior door."
A short hallway did lead to a second one. "Oh my God. This place is a madhouse."
I dug out my wallet in front of the soda machine, then put it back when I remembered they had bottles downstairs. "You got a key to that security door back there?"
Harold helped me get down to my floor. He had a security badge and an elevator key.
I got a little turned around trying to locate my room. I had an idea of where to go, but nobody had assigned me anything in specific, so I didn't know if the room full of bunk beds was supposed to be mine.
I wandered in, staring at the handful of empty bunk beds, wondering why the mattresses had silk sheets and pillows.
"Executive area," I muttered to myself. "This can't be where I'm staying."
But then, to my absolute shock, I found my old clothes piled neatly on one of the bunks. "That little rat! I thought he burned them!"
You know I had to put them on right away. Especially the underwear and slacks. Once certain nobody was looking, off went the dress, and on went my respectable work clothing.
I discovered, a little too late, that someone had, in fact, been watching.
Directly opposite the corner where I'd been changing stood a padded red door, surfaced in rubber matting and leatherette roses. I'd seen nothing in the little round window, and thought nothing of it until I stood shirtless, and saw a fuzzy brown face appear at the glass. Another one of those chipmunk things.
It stared and giggled as it watched me pull my shirt on, buttoning up.
I marched up to the door, glaring at the face.
The moment I came close, a second pair of fuzzy brown ears appeared behind the glass, and then the door swung wide open, revealing a crowd of five foot tall rodents with iguana tails and bird beaks, all dressed in silky lingerie.
The rodents gathered around me, laughing and giggling as they pointed to various parts of my body, and I stared back, unsure why these things were there, and what they found so funny.
All of a sudden, one grabbed me, and I got dragged into a strange hotel suite resembling a dungeon.
The next few moments were a blur of fondling brown paws, shapely humanoid body parts and pecking beaks that caused articles of my clothing to disappear.
Among these creatures, I spotted my pregnant furry classmates, seated nude on leather benches. They pointed, giggled, and touched themselves as they watched me.
My shirt came off first. Then my belt. Then my pants.
Although their soft fuzzy hands did somewhat pleasurable things to my body, I didn't much care for the idea of being gang raped by a bunch of squirrels. In a frightened panic, I struck one of the creatures in the face, retrieved my underwear, and climbed over someone else, pushing my way through the mob until I at last escaped through the red door.
Gasping and panting for breath, I stumbled out into the hallway, clad in nothing but a pair of white elastic briefs.
I gasped. Someone was walking my way.
Even in my state of undress, I felt hot. Every pore of my body burned with embarrassment.
I wanted to hide.
I wanted to crawl into a corner and die.
Out in a public hallway wearing nothing but my underwear.
Despite its convenience, diving back in the room was not an option, and I didn't see any other nearby place to hide in.
I swallowed, goggling at the approaching figure.
Ibira, I thought. She wouldn't care. She wears less than this. Despite these thoughts, I still found myself blushing.
She stared at me in shock. "Jason?" The alien let out an amused snort.
"Hi," I said sheepishly.
I must have glanced the wrong way at the wrong time, for a moment later, I was being shoved into a wall by two strong arms, a third pressing a blade against my throat. "You and your wandering eyes! I should kill you right now!"