Something Missing by Steve Luckham

The restaurant had been chosen with care. Not too expensive or classy, not too downmarket or bland. Most important, the restaurant catered without fuss for a variety of physical differences. This was just as well as my dining companion was physically different and drew curious and hostile looks from some of the diners.

Quetzalcoatl (not his real name) banged his left talon three times on the table in a gesture of appreciation, and switched on his translator.

‘As usual Cyril you have done well in your choice of place and I look forward to the culinary splendours offered in this establishment. Perhaps we could start proceedings with one of the cocktails your world’s so famous for?’

I smiled while inwardly sighing. Quetzalcoatl had discovered a taste for alcohol since making contact, matched perfectly by his capacity for consuming vast quantities. Knowing that as a matter of etiquette I would be expected to keep up with my companion measure for measure, I had tipped the maître-de generously beforehand to exclude all alcohol from my cocktails.

‘Have you tried a Bloody Mary?’ I enquired.

‘I have tried many of your women. I like them well done so blood doesn’t usually come in to it.’

I forced a wry smile. ‘You misunderstand. It’s a cocktail consisting of vodka and tomato juice.’

Quetzalcoatl roared with laughter loud enough to shake the rafters and shatter a few glasses. ‘Bring them on. Let’s drink to all the succulent Bloody Marys this world has to offer.’

After the fifth drink, the menu was presented. I was feeling queasy having consumed all that tomato juice but Quetzalcoatl was just getting into the swing of things. He went straight to the drinks section.

‘I like the look of the White Lady,’

I jumped in alarm looking around frantically.

‘What?’ What white lady? I exclaimed.

Quetzalcoatl looked at me quizzically, in a reptilian way.

‘The cocktail Cyril, the cocktail.’

I regained my composure and looked at the menu. Among the usual fare of seafood, pasta, grills, and salads, I saw human meat on offer. The eating of human meat is considered tasteless or downright immoral by most, but a growing number of more ‘progressive’ socialites now indulged. It is of course not real meat; it’s cultivated and mass produced in food factories, as is all meat now.

But when I say the meat’s not real, that’s not the whole story. It needs an original source and after about two months of factory production, the meat becomes less desirable. Nobody knows why, but there’s something missing. A new source has to be found.

Quetzalcoatl clearly liked White Ladies very much. He was into his twelfth and starting to relax. He sprawled comfortably in his extra-large seat and his tail had stopped its incessant flicking from side to side. I could tell his speech was beginning to slur even though his translator spoke his words with crystal clarity.

He ordered la jambe d’homonidé femelle with all the trimmings while I settled for a steak made of beef, and a green salad.

Quetzalcoatl was visibly inebriated by now. Like many drunks he began to open up.

‘Cyril, since arriving here as the honourable advance ambassador for my race, I have shown humans great generosity. You now have the means to generate infinite energy at no cost, your major diseases can be eliminated, pollution free transport is at your disposal, and replication technologies have been advanced beyond your wildest dreams.’

He snapped his talons with a noise like a Smith & Wesson Model 29 and ordered another White Lady.

‘And don’t forget the non-alcoholic version for my friend here,’ he added winking at me conspiratorially.

‘Soon I will give you faster than light travel. All I have asked for in return is your hospitality and one female human of my choice six times a year for feeding purposes.’

I shifted in my seat uncomfortably. ‘You must appreciate that as a species we find this difficult to condone, although we thank you for your great generosity.’

Quetzalcoatl’s nostrils flared and smoke started to issue from them.

‘That’s a bit hypocritical, I must say. You mammals are all the same; great principles and horrendous behaviour. How many of your own species do you kill through war, famine and poverty? Answer me that.’

I took out my pistol, pointed it at Quetzalcoatl’s head and squeezed the trigger.

‘That’s my answer.’

The bullet bounced off Quetzalcoatl’s scaly head harmlessly.

‘You’re wearing a bloody force field!’

In desperation and disbelief, I hurled a dining knife at him which miraculously took out one of his eyes. He screamed and expelled a tongue of flame which fortunately missed me, due in large part to his drunken lack of coordination. The fact his force field had deflected a bullet but allowed a knife through gave me an idea. I grabbed a ceremonial sword hanging on the wall and plunged it downwards into his shoulder and neck where his skin was soft. The blade pierced his heart and Quetzalcoatl expired.

In a moment of exhilaration and exhaustion, I held the sword aloft and shouted, ‘The dragon is dead. For King, Country, and Saint George.’

October 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *