-Xystus, Xenial, Xenology, Xenologist, Xylophone, X-ray, xerographic, xylemic
"The Xenial Xenologist"
GOOD MORNING, SIR! HAPPY X-DAY!
The scrolling message slid across Xavier’s blurred vision as he cracked his eyes open.
X-Day; the day his Uncle Cyrus was going to begin the process of handing over all the Presidential privileges and powers over the Peres Conglomerate. For the next few weeks, he had many supporters to visit, required social appearances they had apparently “bought” with their monetary “donations” to his “campaign,” as the publicists claimed. He rolled out of bed and squinted at the day’s schedule displayed in front of him. After a light breakfast, the lawyers would arrive, and he would undergo the process of legal transfers and exacting form-filling, initialing and signing xerographic forms that would be dispatched to every corner of the corporate land holdings, not just the corporate complex in what was once Reno, Nevada, but all the way to the Paristown, California residential unit, as well.
By midafternoon, Xavier was worn out and absolutely wanted nothing more than to rest in silence and bask in his newfound power, but his notifications informed him that lunch would be provided at the home of one of his largest contributors, and that most of the Board Of Directors would be there, too. He climbed reluctantly into the seat of his Peres X-series sedan and the navigation system activated automatically.
The mansion was enough to impress him. He could see why this man would not think much of spending millions on a relatively unknown person: the very stone of the castle-esque villa exuded money.
The X pulled to a stop in front of the wide stairway leading to the massive front door. Xavier stood as his host descended.
“Welcome,” he said, “To Xanadu!”
Xavier Parisian felt like an actor in some ethereal, bizarre dream sequence as Xander Young led him into the inner courtyard, large enough to hold a full symphonic orchestra and an audience—come to think of it, the entire executive population of Peres itself! But there was no orchestra, just a small ensemble playing their outdated xylemic instruments to provide just the exact level of noise to blend over the hubbub of high-powered businessmen chatting amongst themselves.
Meanwhile, Xander still chatted away.
“It isn’t often that I get to throw a party of this caliber, particularly for someone I barely know! But I do know Cyrus, and seeing that he is your uncle, I can naturally surmise that we can already commence our acquaintance on the same footing—“
The man’s xenial chatter soothed Xavier’s nerves somewhat, but he still could not take to the idea of actually becoming friends with this near-stranger. He tried to focus and listen, but the fact that Xander had built this palatial manor at the extreme edge of the city, and he apparently owned various nearby buildings, bothered him immensely because he hadn’t the faintest idea what occupation could warrant this much money for real estate development.
He heard the word “human” and returned to what the man said.
“His name is Herman; you’ll want to meet him later, I’m sure! You know who isn’t here, though...” Xander’s thin, hawkish head swiveled on his scrawny neck as he turned back and forth to scan the whole room.
“Who?” Xavier stammered, finally able to get a word out amid all the blather.
“Benedict Prince; goes by Daniel. Do you know him? He was Director Of Personnel Affairs under the Byblos company, and even when Cyrus took over and was firing everybody to replace them with his own team, he kept Daniel, because he liked him so much.” Xander huffed. “Too bad he couldn’t be here, but he’s old, and not much into parties anymore, I guess.”
Xavier glanced sidelong at Xander. “And what is it you do?” He asked at last.
Xander blinked. “Me? Oh, well, um, I am the head of the xenology department.”
Xavier shook his head. “Xenology? What is that?”
Xander’s eyes glinted. “Mind if I show you?” He gestured toward a door on the side of the room.
The newly-minted president of the most powerful corporation in the country meekly followed the excited stranger into the doorway. Xander walked straight through calmly, but he immediately turned around and held up his hand to stop Xavier.
“Hold, please,” he stated.
Xavier stood in the midst of the thick threshold, and a humming noise made the hairs on his skin prickle. An ultraviolet light came from somewhere, and wherever it pointed at Xavier, he could see straight through his clothing, through his skin, all the way to his bones! He nearly threw himself out of the doorway, but Xander reminded him, “Please hold still!”
Xavier stood as still as he dared, until the light disappeared and the humming stopped.
“Just some minor security precautions I designed myself,” Xander explained. “You may proceed.”
Xavier entered the darkened room, lined with tables full of various chemical mediums, flashing computer screens filled with incomprehensible data, and multiple star charts and cosmic readouts visible across one entire wall.
He couldn’t altogether see anything except Xander’s white lab coat glowing under the blacklight, but he heard the scientist’s voice echoing as if he stood in the middle of the spacious room. “Welcome to the Xenology Department!”
“This is it?” Xavier asked, gazing all around. “What exactly is xenology?”
“I can help,” boomed a voice that seemed to come from the very walls of the incomprehensible space. “Xenology is the study of extraterrestrial species and culture and the possibility of establishing contact with alien races.”
Xavier stiffened. “Aliens?”
The gaunt xenologist eagerly darted to the bank of star charts and telescopic readouts. “Yes! We’ve been searching for centuries, you know, but never before has technology advanced so far as it has now, so we are well equipped to now actually find something. For example, here—“ he pressed a button, and a static-filled whooshing sound blared out of some hidden speakers.
Xavier reached up to cover his ears. “What in—“
“Shh! Listen!” Xander held up his hand. Amid the deafening crackle, some errant tones emerged, much closer to music than the other sounds. The scientist sidled toward Xavier with an expectant air. “Did you hear it?”
Xavier shook his head. “Hear what? Some of the frequencies mixed and produced an actual tone, is all.”
“No, it’s actual sonic frequencies from space!” Xander protested. “When I heard it, I wondered if there might not be a group of alien scientists seeking to contact life from their own planet. And here,” he darted to another side of the room, “I’ve been trying to replicate the sequence of tones on this xylophone here,” he raised a small mallet and struck the synthetic keys in roughly the same cosmic tune they had heard, “but so far, I haven’t been able to figure out if it’s received a reply. Perhaps one will arrive fifty years from now, when we’re all dead—it would be easier to tell if I could pinpoint where the sound was coming from…”
A wave of dizziness washed over Xavier, and he swayed a bit as he pulled at his collar.
“Air!” he rasped. “I need air!”
Xander stopped talking. “Oh dear…” he muttered, taking his honored guest’s arm and escorting him out the thick doorway. Once they were back out in the open, Xavier jerked away from the insane xenologist and dove for a portal at the back of the house, where he could see a lovely xystus thickly lined to give him some privacy. He darted down the path until he was far enough away that he couldn’t even see the house. Pulling out his mobi, he connected with his secretary.
“Take a memo: Cut funding for ALL xenology-related experiments immediately.”
This scene is a tie-in for the cyberpunk dystopian novel "Focal Point", an adaptation of the story of Esther. To read more excerpts, look for this cover image on the page for "The ReBible Series" at the top of this page!
Also in the A-to-Z Challenge Series: ( * Continuations of Suggestion Box installments)