Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words", List #4

"This is all we can find."
 Suggested by: Raven Ramsey 

The List:
A green flower pot

The Result:
"Inside The Impact Zone"

“Agent Scuttle, come in, Agent Scuttle!”
“Agent Scuttle, reporting, Sir!”
“Agent Scuttle, this is Commander Whipple; you were supposed to report in hours ago. What happened?”
“Well, sir, I was going to get around to it, but—“
“Get around to it? Pardon me, Agent, but this is your first mission in the field, and I can’t have you slacking!”
“I’m not slacking, sir.”
“Then where is your report?”
“I have it right here, sir.”
“Shall I read it to you, sir?”
“That is exactly what you should do, Agent Scuttle.”
“Where shall I start, sir?”
“At the beginning, Agent!”
“All right, Commander Whipple, sir. Investigations began when NASA interstellar probes detected abnormal activity in the vicinity of Pluto.”
“We have covered that, Agent Scuttle. Move it along!”
“At precisely 4:27 PM yesterday afternoon, a meteor entered the atmosphere and struck the ground in Clearwater, Florida.”
“At which point NASA administrators contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and I sent an agent out to Florida. That would be you, Agent Scuttle.”
“Yes, sir; thank you, sir.”
“Save your thanks for when I can actually congratulate you on finishing the job, Agent! Now then, where were we?”
“Ah yes, continue.”
“I arrived in Florida, sir, and began by making my presence known to local law enforcement.”
“That wouldn’t be Sheriff Regis Pointer, by any chance?”
“Sheriff Regis Porter is the leading law enforcement officer in Clearwater, sir.”
“Ha! I’ll be a red dwarf! How is the young whippersnapper?”
“Not so young any more, if you don’t mind my saying, sir. His wife—“
“Regis is married? Great horse nebula, how the young ones grow up; what’s she like?”
“Old, sir.”
“Regis took an older wife?”
“Regis took a wife about his own age, sir. As I said before, Regis is old, too.”
“Impossible! Well, what did old Regis have to say for himself?”
“Nothing, sir.”
“He said nothing? A meteor crashes into his town, and he says nothing?”
“I’m sorry sir; I mistook your meaning, sir. He had plenty to say about the meteor, but nothing about himself, sir.”
“I see; well, no harm done. So what did Regis say about the meteor?”
“Well, he said that the damage was quite extensive.”
“How extensive?”
“The meteor demolished a couple buildings when it landed.”
“A couple buildings? That doesn’t sound very extensive to me, Agent Scuttle.”
“They were skyscrapers, sir.”
“Pardon, did you say skyscrapers?
“Yes, sir; the meteor landed in the center of a burgeoning metropolis. Preliminary assessment seems to indicate that approximately two skyscrapers, three bridges, and an overall distance of five or six city blocks were demolished beyond repair.”
“I see; this is very serious indeed.”
“There’s more, sir.”
“What else, Agent Scuttle?”
“When we proceeded into the impact zone, there was something inside it that shouldn’t have been there.”
“Inside the impact zone?”
“The meteor.”
“You’re saying the meteor should not have been inside the impact zone?”
“No sir; sorry, sir. I meant that the thing that shouldn’t have been there was inside the meteor, which was in the crater at the center of the impact zone.”
“Ah—so what was it?”
“I am not sure, sir.”
“Didn’t you see it?”
“Not directly, sir.”
“What do you mean, Agent Scuttle?”
“They had already extracted it, sir, and kept it under guard in a large white tent.”
“They wouldn’t let me inside, sir.”
“You? Why not?”
“Because I had already seen it.”
“How did you see it if it was inside a tent they wouldn’t let you enter?”
“Sheriff Regis Pointer had a photograph of the object, sir.”
“A photograph?”
“Yes, he said ‘This is all we could find’ and he handed me the photograph.”
“I take it you copied the photograph in your report.”
“Yes sir, it’s all there.”
“I see.”
“Do you have it with you, sir?”
“I’m looking at it right now, Agent!”
“Sorry sir; I just—“
“Save it, Agent Scuttle. I don’t know if that pea-brain of yours can understand this, but… the nature of the information in this photograph is highly sensitive material—“
“I understand that sir; that is why I engaged in evasive maneuvers, as per your orders, should sensitive materials ever cross into the wrong hands.”
“What evasive maneuvers?”
“I made them think that the pot was more important than the plant.”
“What pot?”
“The pot that held the plant in the meteor.”
“There was a pot?”
“Yes sir, a large round flower pot in a most pleasing shade of green.”
“And you diverted attention to that?”
“Yes, sir; I merely hinted that perhaps the pot would provide answers as to the plant’s origin, to throw suspicion off the meteor.”
“And why was this such a good idea to you, Agent Scuttle?”
“Well, sir, I concluded there was a 43-percent chance that inspection of the pot would prove that it did in fact originate here on Earth, so it couldn’t possibly have been something that came with the meteor, only got trapped in it at the moment of impact.”
“You idiot!”
“I’m sorry, sir; what did I do, sir?”
“You just might have blown this whole operation, Agent Scuttle. I hope you’re satisfied with your experiences on this mission, because you won’t be getting another one! Return to your Base of Operations and I will confer with my superiors. Tell your unit to stand by for further orders.”
“Yes sir; thank you, sir; we will await your orders, sir.”

“Commence emergency message for the Galactic High Council of Phyllor. Councilor Gerth, this is Commander Whipple. I’ve been informed by our undercover agent that Operation Cue-ball did not go as planned; repeat, Operation Cue-ball is a bust. Based on information imparted to me by my field agent, we have reason to believe that…. Well, Councilor, I think the wives know. It is my understanding that they deliberately applied certain—countermeasures, if you will—to the main projectile, thus inviting suspicion where we had taken great pains to conceal our involvement and make the whole thing look like a freak accident. As matters stand, the humans are currently in possession of certain items, which, if the origins are discovered, could compromise the existence of our whole planet. I intend to instruct my men to obliterate the evidence at all cost, and withdraw immediately from this solar system. Recommend that, next time we try an assault like this… could we at least get someone who can aim properly? That asteroid our boys shot was completely off the mark! The White House isn’t even in Florida! Commander Whipple, out.”

Previously in This Series:
#2 "The Artist's Wife"
#1 "Red of Morning" 

#3 "Soul Mates"