All I wanted was to get paid and get out of there. I docked Gregor’s ship at the station depot and went to meet him at some scuzzy office. There were plenty of rough-looking spacers unloading the cargo, but at 47 I had the luxury of mostly being off their radar.
“Hey, momma, I like a mature lady,” said a man ten years older than me at least.
“Thanks.” I winked at the old perv.
It was nice to know I still had it, but 20 years in a pilot seat, even in low gravity, will pretty much wreck anyone. I took my mature self through the office door. Gregor was there talking to some other guy and three big albino looking aliens with gnarly teeth. They all seemed startled by me walking in on their little meeting. They looked to Gregor, who nodded towards me.
One of the big albino’s took a weapon off his belt and pointed it at me. The words hey and what didn’t even escape my lips. I woke up with no idea how long I’d been out.
I was in a cleanroom on a freezing cold table. I pulled the white sheet up around my shoulders. I was still sleepy, like waking up from a wonderful nap. I stretched and my back felt great. I hadn’t had a back pain free day in two years.
A big albino walked into the room. She had bright white hair, blood-red eyes, was easily seven feet tall, and spoke in a crazy growling language. I went to get off the table and realized I was naked. When I looked down at my body I was stunned. It was my body, but more like my body when I was a teenager. I screamed!
The albino grabbed me by the throat and was too strong for me to fight off. She shoved a device into my ear and clamped a shiny metal shackle on my wrist.
“We’ve re-sequenced your DNA. We’ve taken 25 years off.” She let go and gestured to a mirror on the wall.
I got off the table and stood before the mirror. My face was so young. Not a wrinkle to be found. My hair was lush and brown, all the gray was gone. I was breathing heavy. My chest rose up and down. It was so perky. I dropped the sheet. I was perfect. I was twenty again. I’d never realized how attractive I once was. Thoughts of if I knew then what I know now filled my mind. I started to cry.
I wiggled my perfect toes with their perfect toenails on the chilly floor. I couldn’t help but laugh. A delighted smile accentuated my youthful glow.
“And I used to be insecure about my looks.” I turned around and basked in the glory of a twenty-year-old butt.
“You’re attractive enough, you’ll work here at the station until we leave tomorrow. Then we’ll put you to work driving. You are now a conscript of the Klandar Authority.” She clicked a small handheld device and a shock ran up my arm from the silver bracelet.
“What the fuck!” The silver shackle had a small red light that faded with the pain in my arm. “You’re not shanghai-ing me.”
“We purchased you with the cargo you delivered. Your piloting skills are decent, but we need sharp reflexes and superior vision, so we made you better. You will work off your debt and your medical costs. When you’re done you’ll still be five years younger than you were yesterday.” She pulled me by the arm out of the room.
“When I’m done? That’s 20 years! No way, lady.”
She dragged me kicking and screaming through her ship, then shocked me into obedience. We walked through some back hallways on the station and she locked me in a small room with a bed in it tossing me a red muumuu on her way out. Every time I raised my voice above a normal conversation level I got a shock in the arm. If I went near the door I got a shock. I learned the hard way fast to behave.
My situation didn’t look good.
I spent the next hour flipping out about being young again, while also being wise enough to not get tricked into twenty years of indentured servitude. When the door finally opened again I screamed and got shocked for it.
A god damn gorilla walked in and I’m not talking about a big dumb dude, but an actual fucking gorilla! He was wearing spacer gear of a style I didn’t recognize. He moved toward me and I backed into the corner.
I wanted to scream and thought it might be worth the pain. I looked into his big brown eyes. They seemed human and understanding, which took the edge off his huge black ape hands and his big silver furry sloping forehead.
“Easy there fella.” I’d read about monkeys in books, maybe I could talk him down.
“They said you were the closest thing they had to my species, but I’m not sure we are compatible.”
The ape spoke!
“Whoa, wait, you can talk?” I stammered, “look my name is Jajlin Bolts, I’ve been abducted. I’m being held against my will.”
The look in his eyes showed empathy.
“The Klandar captured me and made me young again and they say they are taking me away tomorrow. You’ve got to get me out of here!”
The gorilla sat on the edge of the bed and scratched his chin. “I suppose it was naive of me to believe they had a great ape who would love to meet me. Don’t take it the wrong way, but I don’t find your hairless species attractive.”
I sat down next to him. “Can you help me get out of here?”
He opened his great paw and I put my fragile young hand into it. His skin was soft and warm. I could see my touch was making him feel valued, respected. There was so much feeling in his gentle eyes. We sat looking at each other. I listened to his peaceful breathing.
“Stay here,” he said as he got up and left.
I panicked. I paced the room like a madwoman.
Finally, the door opened and the Klandar stormed in with an angry look. She shocked me immediately, but her expression changed to a pained surprise and she collapsed to the floor. Standing behind her was my gorilla!
He took her device, opened my wrist shackle, and put it on her. Then he broke the controller. He stripped the Klandar and threw her pants at me. Then he ripped the arms off her jacket and tossed it. I had one leg in the pants and caught the jacket with my head.
I looked like an idiot in gaucho pants and an oversized sleeveless Nehru jacket. There were the twenty-year-old self-esteem issues I was missing. The gorilla made for the door.
“Wait, what’s your name?”
“OK, Diamond, we need a plan.”
Two minutes later he walked me arm in arm out of the room and across the station. We headed for Gregor’s ship and got lucky. It was still parked in the same dock and my access code worked. We went straight to the bridge and there he was.
Gregor turned around and didn’t recognize me. He smiled looking me up and down finding me cute. Then it dawned on him. “Jajlin?”
Diamond grabbed him and with three vicious fist pounds removed him from consciousness. I’ll tell you, I hated Gregor more than ever that day, but watching someone get hit by a gorilla will inspire pity no matter how angry you might be.
“What do you want to do with him?”
“Stuff him in a crate and dump him on the dock.” And that’s exactly what Diamond did.
I sat down in the pilot seat. Diamond sat next to me. Gregor was accessing his account with the banking system on the station when we came in. I downloaded every credit he had.
“Looks like I’m getting a bonus and there’s certainly enough to share.” I pulled the rig away from the station. “We’ll need to ditch this stolen ship fast.”
They’d be after us for sure and soon.
“I know a place we can dump this clunker and pick up a transport out of the sector.”
When a gorilla grins at you it’s simply ticklish. I had a real sense of respect, admiration, and trust with Diamond, something I hadn’t felt in years. Ah, to be twenty again and find a new best friend in a big silverback gorilla.
I’m sure it’s a story you’ve heard a thousand times.