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True Blue Lou

page 5

by K. Kylyra Ameringer

Lou's manager ground his teeth and stomped over to Lou. "Clear the room of everyone, right now. We'll have a better chance to get control of her if there's no one else around."

Lou nodded and headed out into the common room to take charge. They'd been through this before and his manager was right; they'd have a much better chance of calming Phoebe down if the room was empty. As he ducked under the heavy drapery covering the station area, he realized clearing the room might not be as easy as he'd hoped. Phoebe's antics had become a bit of a joke throughout the complex, and somehow when the departmental alert went out every citizen who had access to Traffic Control communications seemed to hear about it and streamed into the common room to get a first hand peek at the fun.

Knots of citizens had formed everywhere; drinks were abundant and the pitch of conversation was high and giddy with laughter. Lou threaded his way through the crowds to the arrivals desk. A pretty looking receptionist sat there with an expectant look on her face.

"Hello, Lou," she greeted him familiarly.

"Hello, Gloria." Lou looked around the arrivals desk; no one else was milling around the area. "We've got a problem with Phoebe."

Gloria smiled. "I know. I think everybody knows. You need the room cleared, don't you?"

Lou sighed. "As soon as possible."

Gloria tapped some controls on her terminal. "I figured as much. I already sent the request in, but you know how those guys are..."

"Yeah," Lou said, rolling his eyes, "Everyone loves a joke, right? Let me guess ... they can't come because they've contracted sudden cases of Phoebe-itis, right?"

"Actually they said since Phoebe insists we don't exist every time she manifests here, the reverse must be true and it's Phoebe who doesn't exist, so there's no problem for them to hurry over for."

"Right, so I'm on my own," Lou said glumly.

"Not quite," Gloria replied. She tapped a few more controls, then placed a small, smooth egg shaped capsule in front of Lou. "I've wired the system into this room. You can make an announcement yourself."

Lou cleared his throat and the capsule glowed briefly as the voice activation unit picked up the sound and blared it across the room. He glanced around as a few nearby citizens turned to watch. "Please clear the Traffic Control common room immediately. We have a situation on hand -"

"Yeah, we know!" a voice shouted out from somewhere.

"- And your cooperation is needed."

"We want to stay and see what happens!" The crowd was turning as one to face the arrivals desk. Lou heard the catcalls begin from the back, and soon a growing chant was heard throughout the room. "Phoebe! Phoebe! Phoebe!"

Lou saw his manager dodge through the crowd, shoving citizens out of his way. By the time he made it to Lou's side, he was red in the face, and Lou noticed someone had smeared the remnants of a hors d'oeuvre on his lapel.

"What is going on? I told you to clear this room!"

"Sir, I -"

"If you cannot handle this position you will be replaced. And I guarantee your next placement will not be pleasant!"

"I can handle this, sir. This is just a minor set back. If anyone knows how to clear a room it's me, sir," Lou reassured him.

His manager stared at him, then turned and stalked back through the jostling crowd to the station. Lou licked his lips. He hadn't lied to his manager; he did know of a surefire way to clear the room. He just didn't want to resort to it.

He turned back to the arrivals desk to face a worried looking Gloria. "Lou, you're not thinking of -" She stopped at his warning look.

"Excuse me!" Lou said, pitching his voice towards the capsule and activating the unit. "Everyone listen to me! It is imperative you follow my command and vacate the Traffic Control common room immediately!"

A bubble of laughter rose from the crowd. Lou turned away from the desk to face a sea of jeering faces. Some citizens were there for the carnival atmosphere; others were there to enjoy his failure. These were the citizens who made sure to voice nasty remarks as Lou began to make his way through the throng. They hampered him, they pushed him; he was concerned he was cornered once when five upstanding citizens (all Qro Dhix members, by their bulk) surrounded him. Their jiggling masses formed an effective barrier, and for once Lou thanked the powers that be for his relatively short frame. He managed to duck under their protruding stomachs and wind his way over to the platform where the small cluster of musicians was still playing.

True Blue Lou by K. Kylyra Ameringer


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learn more about the full length novel featuring Tronaugh, The Demon of Petty Disturbances