Talk about your hive of scum and villainy. The quadrennial galactic convention was being held on Earth and I was one of the lucky lottery winners for a single, meter-long, third of a meter-wide table in Exhibitor Hall W.
I was staying in the oxy-breathers dorm, a two-meter by three-meter space where I was also storing my stock. Books. I guess I’d lucked out because most aliens found the idea of a book, novels specifically, unusual and quirky. We were only a week and a half into the month-long event, and I was already ordering more stock.
But back to the hive and scum. Nothing at the event was illegal but child-abuse and sentient-selling. If a being was within its species age of consent, it could indulge. In anything.
I’ll admit. There was a lot of cool stuff to buy, but I was on-site to make money, not spend it. Just standing at my table was an education. Several times a creature had sidled up to my table to offer to sell me one drug or another. Jewels. Tech. Tiny animals, even. These roving entrepreneurs were illegal, but they’d bought their entry tickets and smuggled in their goods. Good luck to them.
I’d had several offers, too, by creatures looking for a female human. Companion, they said. Right. I could just see myself locked in some dingy, alien crib, my body being sold for profit while I was starved, drugged, or worse, on some alien planet or spaceship. I declined. I shivered when they each walked, lumbered, or slithered away. I remained vigilant when I moved away from my table. Like on Earth, I suspected that aliens were no less picky about snatching people if the opportunity presented itself.
Still, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. So many variations on sentient life. I’ll have story fodder for the rest of my life. A news crew came by and interviewed me. My book sales skyrocketed. I was pleased to see my bank account growing. Quite a change from its usual downward plunge.
The problem came about three weeks in. I realized I was being stalked. A creature, one, I realized, that had approached me the first week, looking for human females, was loitering near my booth. I paid more attention. He, or it, had a friend, loitering further away, but always within view. They trailed me when I went to the bathroom, making me apprehensive. Then, when I closed up shop for the night, back to my dorm. As far as I know, they weren’t coming inside, but I was nervous. They followed me closer and closer until the fourth day, when I reported them to security. I watched from my table with more than a little relief when the two were hauled away. A day later, security told me that they’d found a warehouse where several female women, and a few female aliens, were being held prisoner. Apparently, they were filling out their supply just before the show close.
I thanked them for telling me, but I became hyper-vigilant after that. Any creature that looked at me for even a second longer than I thought they should I took a picture of and reported to the cops. They sent a team around my booth more often and reassured me that I was safe but the last few days of the show I didn’t feel safe. I was glad when the show ended. I packed up my remaining stock and left as fast as I could.
On my drive home I constantly checked the cars behind and beside me. I made random turns when I thought a car was following me for any length of time. By the time I got home, I was a wreck, and locked every lock in the house, checking them all every hour. A glass of wine and a chat with my best friend helped bring me down to a saner level. Still, before I went to bed, I checked everything again.
I was at the grocery store, restocking my fridge, taking my supplies to my car when they struck. I’d let my guard down just a second as I moved bags from the cart to my car. They grabbed me from behind, a hand clamped over my mouth as a very strong arm pulled me away from my car. I don’t know which was uppermost, my fear or my rage. I kicked shins, grabbed the door frame, pounded him with my free arm, anything, anything. A van screeched up behind my car and my captor dragged me toward the van’s door which was sliding open. So, three men, I thought. One driving, the guy holding me, and one in the back, masked.
I tried to bite the hand over my mouth as I pulled my feet up to brace against the van. The guy in the van wasn’t having it. He grabbed my feet and began pulling. Then there was yelling from all around me. Police in SWAT gear surrounded us and the guy holding me was pulled one way as an officer pulled me another.
Away from the kidnappers, I vomited next to someone’s car. EMT’s checked me out. I was offered a trip to the hospital which I declined. I called my friend and she came over to stay with me. Turns out there was a whole planetary kidnapping plot, which the cops had discovered when I reported the first two. Hundreds of human women had been kidnapped and were being sold to the aliens.
I testified two years later. The memories had me shaking on the stand as tears ran down my face. I try to live my life, but my trust is gone. Once I thought I’d like to take a trip out into space. No longer. I’m fine. Right where I am.