WEP Dec 2019 – Footprints

This story about Dinara and her pet shop, Rendezvous Pets, on the Rendezvous Space Station, is the last Rendezvous Pets story of 2019 and my entry for the December WEP Challenge. Dinara’s shop offers pet daycare, grooming, and advice for the citizens of Rendezvous and its many visitors, humans and aliens alike.
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“I don’t know who else to ask,” the man said. He just burst into Dinara’s pet shop, Rendezvous Pets, his eyes frantic. His fists clenched and unclenched spasmodically. “You’re my only hope. The station map shows your shop as the only one dealing with animals.”

“True.” Dinara acknowledged. “The only one on the Rendezvous Space Station. What’s your problem?” It was early morning, but for some reason, problems often arrived on her doorstep in the morning.

“I was transporting a shicksa for the Vergacians, and it… disappeared.”

Dinara frowned. “What’s a shicksa? Is it a pet?”

“I’m not sure. They might cook it as food.” The man shrugged. “It’s sort-of an invisible octopus, like a cross of an octopus with a jelly fish. The size of a large dog. Only they live on land, not in the water.”

“Invisible?”

“It’s transparent. They gave me a special container, with some toys and rocks and stuff. I could see the creature through its walls.”

“How did it disappear? Did it climb out of the container?”

“Not really. The container has a lid, but it’s not sealed or anything. We lifted the lid every day when we fed it, and the shicksa never tried to escape before. No, we were unloading and put the container on the dock. A drone smashed into it – must’ve malfunctioned – and knocked the container on its side. The lid fell off. Everything inside scattered on the floor. Nothing got broken, but the shicksa legged it. And I don’t know how to find it again. The Vergacians…” He sighed. “In the best-case scenario, they would sue me to the end of the galaxy. They’ve already paid for delivery. The worst case – I don’t know. Start another war.” He grimaced.

“Surely not,” Dinara murmured without conviction. Who knew with the Vergacians? The last devastating war with them had lasted for five years. It had only ended a year ago. Dinara wouldn’t be the one to ignite another armed conflict if she could help it.

“What do the shicksas eat? Maybe we could trap it,” she prodded the customer.

“I brought a sample of its feed.” The man gave her a small bag.

Dinara poured the content, a bunch of small gray pellets, into her portable analyzer. The device buzzed quietly, and the composition popped up on her com-link screen, with comparisons to many common substances. She stared at it in confusion.

“It says,” she said slowly, “that chemically, it’s practically the same as synta-silk. Without a coloring agent.”

“Clothes?” He sounded baffled.

“Yep. Have you fed it today? Is it hungry now?”

“It might be. We haven’t fed it today.”

“Then it might look for food.” She typed the words syntax-silk clothes on her com-link to see the locations of appropriate stores or warehouses, but the first result of her search was a station security report. Multiple robberies in the docks. A sinta-silk blouse. A turban. Pants. An invisible thief.

“Oh-oh,” she said.

“Oh, no!” the man wailed. He was also watching her screen. “The damn shicksa ate someone’s pants! Now the security will be after me too.”

Dinara grabbed her inflatable floating pallet – it should be just the right size for the thieving octopus – and jumped to her feet. “Let’s go trace it. The report gives all the locations. Docks five and six. Which one was yours?”

“Five,” he said gloomily.

In the last moment, she picked up a silk wrap – a gift from a former client. It was a garish orange color, and she didn’t like it. It sat unused in her drawer. Might as well serve as bait for the felonious shicksa.

The security officers were still canvassing the docks, when Dinara and her client got there. The security were searching for electronics though, and Dinara decided not to disabuse them of their preconceived notion. Her client would be safer, if the security didn’t find the shicksa.

She started at the dock number five and tugged her floating pallet with her wrap inside towards the increasing numbers. She scanned the floor and the walls for any anomalies. A shimmering of air might give the transparent creature away.

Instead of shimmering air, odd colorful marks littered the floor. Like footprints of a medium-size dog, only too many to belong to a dog, they pattered towards the dock number six. They started blue, almost invisible on the gray slate of the corridor. At the sixth dock, the color of the footprints changed to red.

As she followed the marks, with the man trudging silently after her, Dinara keyed up the security report for more details. The stolen blouse was blue. Check. The stolen turban was red. Check. The stolen pants, the last item reported, were dark green. When the red marks morphed into green, she knew she was close.

“It bleeds color after it eats the colored fabric,” she commented. “See the marks? Do they look like the shicksa’s footprints?”

“About the right size,” he grumbled.

They already outdistanced the security and turned into a narrow hallway between the docks eight and nine, when her pallet bobbed suddenly, as if a weight dropped into it. Dinara wheeled around and hastily keyed the door into the locked position.

“I think I’ve got it,” she said. She peered through the transparent side of the holding compartment but couldn’t see anything inside except her orange wrap … slowly disappearing. The pallet bumped, as the shicksa with the appetite for silk discovered it was locked in.

“Ha!” Dinara grinned at her client. “Gotcha!” She transferred the pallet’s handle into his hand. “Don’t lose it again.”

“Never!” he vowed with a grin of his own. “Thank you. You saved my life. My money, for certain. How much do I owe you? Should I buy you another wrap instead of the one my shicksa just gobbled up?”

“It would be nice.” Dinara said. “But not orange. I hate orange.”

This entry was posted in Olga Godim, science fiction, WEP and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to WEP Dec 2019 – Footprints

  1. Denise Covey says:

    Hi Olga! Another fantastic episode of Rendevous Pets. I love how the story unfolded. Unique in its penchant for clothing. I hope Dinara doesn’t end up with another orange wrap. That was a nice touch. Great use of footprints. I hardly noticed when you slipped it in.

    Thanks for a great story to amuse us leading up to Christmas. Enjoy the challenge!

    Denise

  2. Trouble always comes for me in the mornings! Dinara certainly leads an interesting life … as in the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times! 🙂

  3. Huge smiles – and a clever use of a wrap she didn’t like.
    I do hope the one she receives as a thank you payment is more to her taste. I also hope that the pesky chicksa doesn’t fall in love/lust with it before it reaches here.

  4. Jemi Fraser says:

    I love visiting The Rendezvous Space Station! Dinara always makes me smile with her ingenuity!

  5. L.G. Keltner says:

    This is such a fun story! I love how clever Dinara is when it comes to solving these unique problems. And I’m like her in one way. Trouble always finds me in the morning, too.

  6. Cara Hartley says:

    “the shicksa legged it”
    With eight legs, it certainly did and cut itself a merry path while enjoying a veritable smorgasbord of clothing!
    I loved this so much. It was absolutely hilarious!
    ~The Real Cie~
    (I have trouble commenting on WordPress blogs with anything but my Facebook account.)

  7. patgarcia says:

    Hi,
    A very nice ending to a funny story. I am glad that caught the Schicksa. I’m quite sure he was glad to be caught too.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a nappy crossover into 2020.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  8. Cyndi says:

    I love the colored footprints as clues… getting warmer!! I was only slightly disappointed when my first thought that we’d have naked folks wandering around (a twist on the Emperor’s new clothes, perhaps) didn’t come to pass.

  9. Yolanda Renee says:

    Hi, Olga,
    The Nancy Drew of the Pet Shop. What a lovely story and an interesting mystery. So imaginative! But you never disappoint. I hope you’re ready for the holiday and are looking forward to the New Year!

  10. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Great way to dispose of unwanted Christmas gifts – find a shicksa! I have got rather attached to Rendezvous Pets and a little sad that this one’s the last. Clever use of the prompt as always, Olga and a fun flash to round of the year.

    Season’s greetings to you and yours, wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year 2020.

  11. cleemckenzie says:

    This was such fun to read. You really entertained me with the story of the shicksa and its dietary requirements. Wonderful.

  12. Thank you Olga. So glad to meet Dinara again. Such a fun story. Read through in a flash. Thrills, emotions, suspense, curiosity, tech. Elements. It has it all. Love the dialogue. And your artwork too.
    Have a very Merry Christmas.

  13. A splendid entry for the December contest. Well done, Olga.

  14. rolandclarke says:

    Love your pet-creation – even if it might be food. You’ve an amusing imagination, Olga. [Staff or Stuff?] Dinara is as inventive as ever with this felonious shicksa. Clever use of ‘footprints’ with the colours – chuckle. And great last phrase – short and…colourful. 😉

  15. Tanya Miranda says:

    Love this humorous take on the prompt. “…the shicksa legged it”. That was perfect!

  16. Sally says:

    It’s so nice to read another episode – great use of the theme as well.

  17. I remember Dinara from another story. An invisible octopus that eats silk – now that’s original. Well done!

  18. soniadogra says:

    That’s such a cute story. And I love the end. Glad the shicksa was caught!

  19. Toi Thomas says:

    Another fun installment in the adventures of Rendevous Pets, and clever use of the prompt. I always look forward to these stories and am happy to end out the year with such a clever one.

  20. I love these adventures from Rendezvous Pets! And, I love your out-of-this-world imagination in creating an invisible, land-based octopus-like creature who eats fabric. Wonderful writing!

  21. Rebecca Douglass says:

    Fantastic! The Rendezvous pet shop is a favorite of mine 🙂

  22. I so enjoy reading about the Pet Shop. Would love to work there, keep me in mind.

  23. Kalpana says:

    What a fabulous creature Olga! I love it and the way Dinara’s brain works.
    Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year.

  24. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – goodness knows what a Shikshsa is … but am happy to have it around giving us a few laughs as it tries to find a way out … but yes bright orange is a little much … a gentle turquoise could be good. Really clever – the Pet Shop is being a great idea – cheers Hilary

  25. Victoria Marie Lees says:

    Great story, Olga! Thanks so much for sharing this with your followers. Don’t you hate it when trouble starts in the morning? It happens to me all the time. All best to you in 2020!

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