Home Flash
As of January 2019, Empyreome suspended operations with no immediate plans to restart.
Please enjoy this archived content by some great authors!
Insured Date

"The insurance agent warned us about you, Jack Far," said Gulu, my Luxian landlord. He crossed all four of his arms over his orange chest. His three black eyes glared down at me. "She said you didn't know your left from your right, and like most males of your species, you were a clueless buffoon."

I stared at my feet, which were clad in shiny company-issued boots. As a sales rep who switched planets every couple of years, I did have something of a record with the insurance company. Clashes with new species and parties gone wrong often resulted in my apartments getting damaged, but it had always been a landlord who dealt with the agents, not me personally. Gulu was making it sound like this one had a personal grudge against me.

"Do you have anything to say for yourself?" he prompted.

I had to choose my words carefully. I really wanted to stay in the apartment, because Hailey, the only other human in the neighborhood, lived downstairs from me, and just an hour ago, after months of begging, she had finally agreed to go on a coffee date. The only challenge now was coming up with things to talk about.

"Well," he stepped closer, revealing a mouth full of tombstone-shaped teeth grinding purple leaves into the juicy pulp.

"The fire wasn't my fault," I began.

He rolled his eyes so the purples showed. His four meaty hands balled into fists.

Sweating, I closed my eyes, trying to remember everything I could about the denizens of Lux 5. They were always yelling at baristas for mixing their drinks wrong, but they forgave them as soon as the baristas admitted their mistakes. The extra contrite ones got big tips despite their errors. Shifting the blame wasn't going to help me keep the apartment; humility was.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "I really should have seen the pyrracoon lurking around as the sun set. I've been on this planet long enough to know that's when they're most active, and also long enough to know that the neighbor youths hate my guts. If I'd double-checked to make sure my windows were locked, then the fire wouldn't have happened. I'm sorry."

His teeth stopped grinding.

"I really am sorry," I continued as his fist uncurled. "I'm extremely naive sometimes. I'll pay for the damage. I'll even help with maintenance around the building. Please don't evict me."

The landlord uncrossed his arms and pressed his sticky skin against my head. It was sweet as honey but rotten as compost.

 "You are forgiven, Jack Far." He pushed me away with one set of hands and cupped my face with the other. "Now go downtown, or you'll be late for your date."

"Thank you so much." I backed away. I didn't remember telling him anything about a date, but I didn't dare ask how he knew.

He smiled down at his buzzing com. "Hailey is the agent assigned to our claim. I'll trust you to handle the negotiations. In fact, I think I'll authorize you to liaise with the insurance on all my claims."

"Yes, sir," I said. My stomach sank as I eased myself into my transporter. It was a business date with Hailey. I should have known.

"Have fun, or whatever it is you humans do." He turned his back on me, signaling the conversation was over.

I sunk into my transport's plastic seat and took a few deep breaths before starting up the thrusters. The engines sparked to life, and I lifted my chin. Business or not, I had a date with Hailey. And probably even more dates after that. Maybe my landlord had just done me a huge favor.

Hailey and I were going to have plenty to talk about over coffee.

About the Author
Sara Codair lives in a world of words: she writes fiction whenever she has a free moment, teaches writing at a community college and is known to binge read fantasy novels. Her work has appeared in dozens of e-zines and anthologies, including Dark Magic: Witches, Hackers, and Robots, Its All Trumped Up, Sick Lit Magazine, Fantasia Divinity, Scrutiny, and Women on Writing. When she manages to pry herself away from the words, she can often be found hiking, swimming, gardening or telling people to save the bees. Find her online at https://saracodair.com.