Friday, July 9, 2010

Chrissmas Late Fees: Blood Money

Note: This is the second story in the Chrissmas Collins series. If you’re interested, check out part one.

Mr. Jacques,

Thank you for your kind response to my previous report.

I’ll ask about depilatory flavors the next time I see a Grey.

I can’t imagine what information an unimaginative person will find useful so future reports will continue as verbosely as before.

My next report should include an account of my court proceedings related to the previous report.


Chrissmas Collins

Chrissmas Collins sighed. It had taken twelve hours to hoof her space dingy to the stellar bus stop and she’d been waiting for it another four hours.

She didn’t feel comfortable taking off her space suit because she might have to propel herself out of the dingy at any moment. The consequence was that she felt rather sticky and disgusting.

The characteristic warble came over her comm. The bus was nearly there. She locked her helmet on and gave one huge push off the dingy, aimed toward the meager stop’s accommodations. It was little more than a lighted shed in space with boosters to keep it roughly in position.

In the ten minutes she waited in the shed, she became intimately familiar with it. The paint flecks on the inside. Signs reminding patrons to keep their mess clean and arrive at least ten hours early because some runs would run three hours off schedule to alleviate overcrowding.

Finally, the bus arrived. It looked huge and Chrissmas was hopeful it was nearly empty. How could it help but be empty at that crappy end of the universe?

She boarded the bus and there was some confusion about her pass.

The short, stocky Bellitans who drove the bus kicked the pass reader and repeatedly swore at the machine. After a few minutes of this abuse, he said, “Override code hazt-hazt-olap-hazt.” The machine beeped pliantly and the Bellitans nodded toward the back.

Chrissmas pushed behind the curtain. The bus was standing room only. She swore and grabbed a strap to hold onto. The bus started with a lurch. The bus lurched forward twice more before it entered Theoretical Space (or ‘T-Space’) and the ride smoothed out, and colors became tenuous.

Twenty-eight hours later, the bus left T-Space and landed on the current capital world of the Bellitans Empire.

Planet Hazt was known as Skrug-Cheyd before it became host to the capital. Even with all Chrissmas’s dedication, it was difficult to avoid being distracted by the tourist attractions.

She took a rail to the Judicial District. She peeled off her space suit and transformed it into a handbag. She was wearing a traditional Earth business suit.

Before she walked in the Court Building, she double checked to make sure she wasn’t carrying any contraband or weapons. Security was very tight and a few of her harmless items were heavily scrutinized before she was allowed to pass.

She entered the Fresher code on her suit—just four more Freshens left—and she went from bedraggled human to blond bombshell of the stars in two point five seconds. Freshers were a lifesaver at times like these.

Her meager understanding of Bellitans Imperial sent her in the wrong direction several times. Finally, she found the right court and met her Court Appointed Barrister.

Its Bellitans name was Spryde-Dheen-Olap. It, like all the Spryde, looked like a dark cloud with sparkling lights (usually purple) scattered within.

“Greeting. Many honors. Percival. Star heat.”

She bowed slightly. “Thank you for representing me.”

“Inappropriate thanks. Returned to rightful. Discussion of facts.”

Chrissmas explained the situation.

“Unfortunate high temperature.”

“No kidding.”

“Tearful warning linearly pointless.”

Her eyes grew wide. “Yes.” This was the Spryde who had warned her to move her stand because a bureaucrat was coming.

“Case lifts boulders. Confidence.”

Just then, the Garzango who had fined her in the first place, Uyullank, walked out of judges’ chambers with the wizened Bellitans judge.

“Impropriety,” Spryde-Dheen-Olap quietly exclaimed. Its sparklies turned almost red.

Uyullank, walking tenuously on five of his six legs, joked and was jovial with the judge. When the pair drew close to the trial area, Uyullank feigned surprise.

“Oh, is it your court date today, Human-Chrissy-Collins?”

She looked dour, “You know very well …” She put a gigantic smile on her face, “That it’s Chrissmas Collins, Blond Bombshell of the Stars. Not Chrissy.”

The judge looked confused. Dheen-Olap’s shineys had a somewhat greenish purple appearance.

“Astute,” Dheen-Olap remarked.

Uyullank colored slightly and bowed. “My apologies, Human-Chrissy-Collins. We are not yet at court.”

“Aren’t we?” Chrissmas asked.

The judge, whose name sounded like Gravy Biscuits, put on his Exalted Judging hat and stepped behind the pedestal. “We are. My friend Uyullank will remember protocol, please.”

Uyullank bowed his body slightly closer to the floor.

Gravy Biscuits pressed a buzzer. “The exalted court of the Bellitans Hazt, Muckety-Muck Gravy Biscuits is now in session.”

He pressed another buzzer and a warbling distorted version of the Bellitans Anthem Imperium played a verse and chorus sans lyrics.

“Well, now that we have that out of the way,” the judge shuffled some papers. “Let’s begin. Prosecutor, summarize your case.”

Uyullank stood and spoke, “The accused, Human-Chrissmas-Collins, operated a food stand without proper licensing, in flagrant violation of the law.” He sat his carapace on the stool-shaped chair.

“Is this true, Ms. Collins?”

Dheen-Olap nudged Chrissmas. It sent shivers up and down her spine.

“Yes, Exalted Judge.”

“Then why are we here? Why not just pay the fine?” the judge directed this question to Dheen-Olap.

“Licensure laws unequal. Monopoly assist,” Dheen-Olap said.

“Ms. Collins, as your species are a new addition to the empire, you may not be aware of certain facts about the Bellitans judiciary. The most complex case we have ever heard was decided in less than twenty four of your Earth hours,” Gravy Biscuits said.

Uyullank tapped his right middle leg impatiently.

“Your case looked simple. Instead, it has required analysis of statistics and the legislative process and consultation with legal scholars on a variety of subjects. It took four hours!”

Uyullank grumbled quietly.

“I want to make it very clear that the laws of the Bellitans Empire are not to be taken lightly. You committed a grievous error by breaking them. However, given the extenuating circumstances related to Earth’s severe poverty in general and yours specifically …”

Uyullank smirked.

“I invalidate the licensure law and require that any future licensure laws related to food service stands not be unequal. You will pay a fine equal to one tenth of the original fine. Neither you nor anyone else,” Gravy Biscuits eyed Uyullank, “May appeal this ruling as it has been approved by all members of the high court.”

Chrissmas stood and bowed from the waist. “I accept your judgement and thank the court for its eminent wisdom and graciousness.”

Gravy Biscuits and Uyullank left the court room.

“Well custom,” Dheen-Olap said.

“Thanks. And thanks for winning the case for me.”

“Human saying no worry. Ride home?”

So that’s how it happened. Pretty spiffy, I think. If you want to send a congratulatory bottle of something adult, you know the address.


Chrissmas Collins

Attention Ms. Collins,

Your inappropriately exuberant reports continue to annoy and frustrate.

The EIA finds this most recent report more disturbing for the content than for the stylistic elements, however.

Consult the appropriate agencies before speaking further on Earth economic speculations to the Bellitans Empire.


P. Jacques, Earth Information Administration

P.S. You didn’t speak to a Grey even once on your trip to Hazt? What propulsion system do the Spryde employ? If the Earth tourism board advertised at the bus stop, would anyone see the ads?

Your report is woefully inadequate!

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