Cherry Red Rocketship
by James Maxey
Remy had been sitting alone in the cell for twenty minutes when the guard-drone
appeared at the bars, its laser scanner flickering over the barcode above the lock. "Inmate
1313269, Jansen, Marcus Richard. Your mother has posted bail." The door to the cell slid open.
Remy had no clue who Jansen was. Neither, apparently, did the drone. Billy Big Lips had
told him that every now and then you could glitch up the drones just by smudging the barcodes.
Luckily, Remy had an abundant supply of sticky blood to test the theory. Still, he couldn't
believe it had worked.
"'Bout time," Remy said, as the drone held out a baggie containing Jansen's wallet,
watch, and keys.
Remy sauntered out of jail holding his head high, unafraid that the facial recognition in
the cameras might make out his true identity. He'd had the good fortune of being arrested by one
of the few human cops left in Houston. He'd appealed to the cop's shared humanity to give him a
pass. The cop had responded that he had nothing in common with a low life bean runner. Remy
had kindly pointed out that the cop's mother had a different opinion, which she'd expressed the
night before with extreme physical enthusiasm. The cop had then used his nightstick to knock out
two of Remy's teeth, break his nose, and turn his left eye into a purple swollen mass the size of a
Remy walked three blocks before inspecting the wallet. According to his license, Jansen
was 48 years old. The photo showed a bald Caucasian man with a drooping left eye, a bent nose,
and several missing teeth. Other slots of the wallet held a condom, a fortune cookie fortune (Time
mends a broken heart), and a three week old lottery ticket. No credit cards, just one lonely
digibuck. Remy pressed the dollar sign. The digibuck blinked a balance of $9.63.
Remy, a 23-year-old Asian with thick, jet-black hair and, until today, far more
symmetrical features, put on Jansen's watch. 6:30 p.m. He'd missed by half an hour the deadline
to deliver the beans to Space Gorilla Max. One hundred pounds of prime Columbian java were
stuffed into the seat linings of his '27 Chevy, now sitting unreachable in the police impound lot.
Remy was dead. Space Gorilla Max did not tolerate failure. The big ape barely tolerated success.
The best Remy could hope for was that Space Gorilla Max would kill him by breaking his neck
in one smooth, crisp snap, the way he had with Billy Big Lips. He certainly didn't want to be
strangled with his own intestines like poor Vinnie.
Poor, poor Vinnie.
Remy's own intestines grumbled angrily. When the cop had pulled him over, he'd choked
down the few dozen coffee beans he'd been carrying in his jacket pocket. The Thardexians had
negotiated an intergalactic ban on the beans after most of their population got hooked on coffee
and a bloody civil war had broken out. In the name of interplanetary order, coffee smugglers now
faced the death penalty. Every muscle in his body felt tight and tense as caffeine leached into his
bloodstream. His fingers wriggled with unspent energy. Crazy thoughts sparked like neon in dark
corners of his mind.