I felt as if I had been staring at my computer screen for hours as my alien friend sat in the corner, his silence screaming volumes to me, making it impossible for me to select my next word.
“What’s the matter?” he finally asked.
“I don’t know what to write next.”
“What have you got so far?”
I scrolled up through the document, looking at the collection of thoughts that I’d managed to put into print. “A bunch of words. Wanna read it?”
“No,” he said. “I know what words look like.”
The phone rang, bringing blessed relief.
“Hello,” I answered, turning my back on the smart aleck alien.
“I have something that belongs to you,” the voice said. It was feminine, more playful than sultry or threatening.
“You can have it back, but it’s going to cost you.”
“Who is this?” I thought for a moment that it might be a telemarketer, but she didn’t give the obligatory request for a few moments of my time. Instead, she just assumed it was hers to take.
“What’s more important to cops than coffee?”
“It’s a riddle,” came the response. “Want another clue?”
“Sure.” I wasn’t quite sure how I’d gotten pulled into this little game or who was doing the pulling, but the distraction wasn’t completely unwelcome.
“One will get you down the road,” she continued. “Twelve is sugar overload.”
The suspicion of this being a telemarketer was completely out the window, and I was now completely absorbed in trying to figure out the riddle.
“Give up?” she asked.
“Is it a donut?” I offered.
“Ding! Ding! Ding! You got it right.”
“Great. Now who is this?”
“Alicia. The rather round woman to whom you lent your donut wheel.”
“Oooooh. I’m sorry. I’ve just been wrapped up in this project. I’d completely forgotten about it.”
“Yeah, I have that effect on a lot of men,” she said with a smile in her voice. “So how’s the book coming?”
“Better than it was yesterday, I guess. I’ve got a lot of words down. I’m just not sure that they’re in the right order.”
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Do you want your wheel back?”
“How much is it going to cost me?” I kidded.
“You have to eat my cooking.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad.”
“You haven’t tried it yet.” She laughed. “I’m kidding. I’m a fabulous cook. My husband and I want to have you over to thank you for your kindness. Are you free tonight?”
I turned to look at Iman, some part of me seeking approval to release myself from the grind of writing any more. But the alien was gone. I did a quick survey of the room. Sure enough, he had vanished as quickly as he’d come.
“Is that a yes?” Alicia prodded.
“Uh, sure. Tonight would be wonderful. Where do you live?”
This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Come back weekly for the next part or order your copy in ebook or paperback today!