Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Beginning 542

Her partner Jason was late, but Kiera ignored that for the more immediate need, something to drink. It had been a long, hot day. Their surveillance subject had not moved from her home, and Kiera had perforce spent the entire shift in the blind, eye glued to the scanners, while Jason tailed Slipsky's secretary. She viewed the selection of bottles, wanting something different—anything, as long as it didn't come native to this repulsive dirtball of a planet and it was wet.

On impulse, Kiera asked for something not in sight. "Kaloor, if you've got it," she told the bartender.

"Yah, we carry dat." The woman grinned, a very toothy smile. She was big and blonde, humnorm but for the lengthy canines—a mutation or a well done after-market job. "I got it in trade a few years ago, fresh, but cheap. Aged nicely now."

Kiera grinned back. Fresh kaloor peeled paint. Some liked it that way, but shelved a few years, it mellowed to a subtle but arrogant drink cherished by many—in particular the smoky exudant it developed, almost as potent as the liquid itself.

"I'll open it myself, then," Kiera said.

The bartender snaked an arm under the counter, produced a rotund stoneware jug. Kiera waved away the proferred knife, pulled her own to break the seal.

She looked expectantly at the bartender, who slid over a shot glass. Kiera tipped the jar. The drink must have been well aged; it was the darkest Kaloor she had ever seen, a far cry from the rusty liquid of her student days.

"Here's to ya!" Kiera grinned and emptied the shot. Immediately her mouth puckered at the foul, oily taste; she sprayed the liquid across the bar and over the bartender. "What the fu--! Lady, no way is this Kaloor!"

"Kaloor?" The bartender grabbed a cloth. "I thought you said Kahlua!"

Kiera shook her head. What kind of sick, twisted barbarians would drink liquor that tastes like cold coffee grounds?

Opening: writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

"Don't drink that!" Jason stood at the door, gasping for nitrogen. "Slipsky poisoned all the kaloor and that humnorm knows it!"

The bartender slithered through a side door.

Kiera's single eye watched in horror as the kaloor reduced her knife to a frothy orange puddle. "That bastard," Kiera snarled.

"That bastard is my father," Jason said, scratching at his snout with his fourth paw from the left.

--Jared X

Evil Editor said...

Very nice. I might use the surveillance subject's name instead of "their surveillance subject." That seems to me what she would think, and I assume we'll find out her assignment soon enough.

Also, I'd put "it was wet" before the dirtball of a planet. The planet line is a major point that will drown out the wet line if you don't get it in first.

Not clear why Kiera assumes the bottle isn't already open if it's been there a few years. Possibly I'm being influenced by the continuation into believing it's a liqueur or liquor, rather than something like a beer that would be drunk entirely by one person. Does Aged nicely imply unopened? Or do liquors continue aging after they're open?

fairyhedgehog said...

I really like your elliptical style and the elements of humour, e.g. "a mutation or a well done after-market job". You get so much setting across without ever having to spell it out.

I'd love to read more.

Whirlochre said...

This is loaded with information and for the most part works really well.

You've incorporated considerable weirdness, yet made it look like an everyday wander to the shops, eg the detail with the knife and the matter-of-factness about the bartender's facelift.

I did, however, stumble on the phrase 'not in sight' when you refer to a drink the bartender doesn't appear to stock. There — I know what you mean, but it just seems an odd way of saying it. 'Not in sight' could be anywhere, and has a metaphysical quality to it, but maybe it's just me. I've tried a few alternatives ('she couldn't see on display'?) but it ups the word count.

I'd definitely read on, particularly if the bartender isn't just a walk-on part.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Loved it. I think the first sentence is optional though as you give that information as you go along.

Anonymous said...

Liked the writing on this and considered doing a continuation (BTW very nice one here). Especially liked the undertone of humor in lines such as, "as long as it didn't come native to this repulsive dirtball of a planet" and "The bartender snaked an arm under the counter. . ." I do appreciate a good bar scene, and naturally expect a fight soon. Is there one? Guess I am curious enough to want to read on.


Dave Fragments said...

When I read this, I thought she was still on surveillance and not in the bar. That's the main problem I have with this. Once I get into the bar, I'm OK.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm with Dave. You pulled me into the surveillance blind, and I had a hard time jumping to the bar. Once I got there it was easy. I was hooked.

writtenwyrdd said...

See, this is why I like this blog. Now I know some folks expect to be in a surveillance blind. I never imagined I'd left that open to interpretation.

Thanks for these and future comments. And EE the jug is a small pottery jug, which is meant to be drunk at one sitting. It ages like wine in the bottle and the 'smoke' it gives off is an intoxicant, which is why she decides to open it herself, so she won't miss any of it.

I hadn't really considered the bartender's continued role, Whirlio, because I am still trying to decide on some plot issues. But this is meant to be the start of a short story in a larger world that I've created.

Loved the continuation, anon, and I'm trying to envision the fourth paw from the left, JaredX.

pacatrue said...

I liked this as well, written. As others, my main reservation was I couldn't get a sense of where the protag was.

talpianna said...

I'd read on! Especially if Jared's descriptions were accurate!

WouldBe said...

I liked the style a lot. Like continuationist Anon, I immediately thought of Kahlua. On first reading the description of the drink "seemed" longish for the opening. I was wanting more about the situation. It does provide good atmosphere, though, and I didn't have the same impression on the second reading.

Bill H.