As we barrel toward the August 29 premiere of Rayguns Over Texas at LoneStarCon 3 (aka the 71st Annual World Science Fiction Convention) in San Antonio, I am presenting book excerpts, one contributor per day.
Today’s selection comes from Neal Barrett, Jr.‘s “Timeout.”
Vera receives a strange letter in this kooky alien abduction story that only Neal Barrett, Jr. could conceive.
Man’s some shorter than any she’s ever seen ’afore. Shaves his face, shaves his head. Suit’s tight, suit’s green. Looks like a frog been dead about a week.
“You would be the Vera Lea Gates,” he says, doesn’t look at her at all. “I am the Jones. If you are ready, I’ve got transportation down the draw.”
Vera’s never heard of a transbors, doesn’t want to see one now. “No, sir,” she tells him. “Don’t want to go nowhere, don’t want to do whatever ’tis you want me to. Have to get you somebody else.”
Jones seems to think about that. “You received our letter?”
“Did. What I’m sayin’ is —“
“You have it with you, Vera Lea Gates?”
Vera takes the letter from her pocket, hands it to the Jones. Jones lets it fall. Reaches in a pocket brings out something shiny, something new, something bright. Something Vera Lea’s never seen in all her life.
“Vera Lea Gates,” he says, “in the event of a recipient’s refusal to abide by the orders so received, I am authorized to perform liquidation.”
With that, he raises the shiny thing and points it at Vera’s head.
“Hey, mister — “ Vera’s heart skips a beat. “What you aim to do with that?”
“You may turn around if you like, Vera Lea Gates. There will be no pain at all…”
Excerpt from “Timeout” © 2013 by Neal Barret, Jr.