Highway Robbery Cover.jpg

Two travellers are moving towards their destination as their space ship suddenly makes a strange noise in the middle of nowhere, forcing them to stop at a small planet to get supplies.

“That Buggaroo was way off,” Mr. Kreek said to his co-pilot Marcus who was snoozing off in the passenger seat as they exited the MACS cluster fifty parsec off Jupiter. “Seven peez that swindler said they would last, but do you hear that?” Mr. Kreek said to his friend who gave him a slight nod before dozing off again. “I swear if I’ll ever come across that Critter I’ll let him have it. Do you hear that noise, that jittery sound deep down? It’s the spark plugs, I’m telling you, I know that sound. This is gonna make us lose the cargo. No way the cryo-tanks will hold a detour. Fuck me. We have to figure out another sale on Titan. Guess it’s my time this round. Maybe I can spare two fillings.” Mr Kreek reached for a nutrition bar next to his seat and took a bite. “We’re in-between the dots Marcus, the fucking dots,” he said while chewing. “Gee man, this is going to be a fucking robbery, a fucking highway robbery. They are gonna clean us out. Better wear your nice underwear Marcus because we are getting fucked.” Mr. Kreek glanced over at the side panel where a single red dot appeared. “J1407, great,” Mr. Kreek said followed by a sarcastic sulk. “Do you know anything about that planet Marcus?”

With a frown Marcus squinted at the panel with two furry eyebrows, then looked up at Mr. Kreek and shrugged before leaning back into his seat.

“Right!  That’s what I said, in-between the fucking dots. Oh well, might as well fly down there and pay up.” Mr. Kreek grabbed the sticks, turned off the autopilot and gave Marcus a shove. “Would ya, could ya?” Mr. Kreek said and pointed at the right-sided panel.

With much ease Marcus opened one eye and pointed his fingertip on a squared button marked ‘DOWN’ on a strip of tape.

Three hours later, Mr. Kreek and his co-pilot Marcus landed their double decker cargo ship in the Wiro Hall at the tallest building in the biggest city of J1407 also know as Coex. As Mr. Kreek, accompanied by Marcus a few steps behind, went down the cargo hatch onto the ledge he took notice of the abundance of constructions along with inhabitants of the city that stretched out before him, yet only two dozen, give or take a few, designs were apparent; some seemingly more fashionable than other as the contemporary versions existed in a multitude of thousands rather than hundreds or less.
Not far from the ship, a well-know face Mr. Kreek had passed at least two hundred times as he moved towards the reception, met him with a smile.

“What can we do for you sir?” the face politely asked while its slender hands kept tapping a holographic keyboard while eyes staring down at the even more holographic screen.

“We are in need for some spark plugs. Do you know where I might get some?” Mr. Kreek said.

“We?” the face looked up from his screen with excitement. 

“You have company?”

“Yes, my name is Mr. Kreek and this is my co-pilot. Don’t be shy, come and say hi.” Mr. Kreek said and waved at Marcus to step up to the reception desk.

Marcus remained a few steps back, but was polite enough to give the smiling face a wave and a silent nod.

“Well hi there, welcome to Coex,” the face said and kept his eyes on Marcus. “Will there be any more of you coming?”

Impatiently Mr. Kreek said, “nope, just the two of us and we’ll be leaving as soon as I find those spark plugs.“

“I’m sure we can be of assistance.” The smile on the face gradually became a smirk as its owner reached for a stack of papers and handed them to Mr. Kreek along with a box of spark plugs. With one hand still on the box the face rose to his feet. “Well, as you might already be aware of, we are currently three Parsec from the nearest habitat of a class 2 or more refinement.”

“Yes, we are aware,” Mr. Kreek replied.

“And for what I understand you are in need of some spark plugs if you wish to reach a class 2 refinement, isn’t that right Mr. Kreek?”

“That is correct. So the question is…” Mr. Kreek said while searching the document in front of him for the answer to his question, “…is what you want in return for that box of spark plugs.”

“Well, we’re going to need your friend,” the face replied with a comforting smile.

Mr. Kreek looked up and had to take a moment from being dazzled by the white grin in front of him and the uncanny reply he just received. “My friend?”

“Yes, your friend.”


“We don’t need his name. Don’t worry, we’ll get you a new one.”

“A new name?”

“A new friend.”

“I don’t want a new friend, I want my friend.”

“Well, you can’t have that. But we’ll make you a copy; no one will know the difference.”

“I will. I will know the difference.”

“We doubt it. We’ve done this before. Know one knows the difference.”

“Then why don’t you just make a friend yourself and let me keep mine.”

The face withdrew the box of spark plugs and sat down. He wasn’t smiling anymore. “Do you need spark plugs or don’t you?”

Mr. Kreek glanced over at Marcus, who was unaware of the discussion taking place a few feet away from him, instead busy counting the one, two, and three striped pigeon looking bird up on the transportation string next to the ledge. “Yes I need them, but there must be something else I can give you in return? I’m quite fond of this one.“

“Possessions or currency is of no value here Mr. Kreek. We need genes, fresh genes, a new face to the crowd so to speak. Do we have a deal?”

“I tell you what, how about we each give you a sample of our genes, a hair, some blood, whatever you need, and you give us the spark plugs. That will give two new faces, right?”

“It doesn’t really work like that over here, you see we’re not looking to license you genes, to have your approval to use some for duplicates or for future sales and what now. We want exclusive rights to your friend’s genes, and for us to know that your friend is not taking use of his body elsewhere we need to keep him here with us.“

“So that’s the only thing I can offer you?”

“If you want to be on your way, then yes, if not, you and your friend are welcome to apply residency at the immigrations office on the fifty-fifth floor and stay here at Coex if approved.”

“What if they don’t approve us?”

“Then you will be evicted and leave, or if unable to, become possessions of the government and harvested.”

“So either way Marcus won’t be leaving.”

“Now you are getting it. The question is, will you?”

“Why him? Why not me?”

“I apologize if I have offended you but as a headhunter for the replica department I am quite sure that they will be very intrigued by his inability to converse, very lucrative. Don’t think I’ve come across that before. Was that from creation or after?”

“You like him because his mute? Isn’t that evidence of a malfunctioning gene pool?”

“On the contrary, they will find it very useful, quite unique. You on the other hand are of no use to us. We would prefer to handle this transaction with haste so that you may be on your way, and so that we can begin the extraction. But like we said earlier, don’t worry, we’ll make you a new one before nightfall to ease your solitude whilst traveling.”

“Would he also be mute?”

“If you wish?”

“And I won’t know the difference?”

“Do we have a deal, Mr. Kreek?” The face asked and pointed at vertical rectangle at the bottom of the document with a thick outline of blue.

Mr. Kreek pressed his thumb inside the blue frame and leaves his mark. “Well I do need those spark plugs,” he said and took one last glance at his friend. “May I request one thing though?”

“Don’t worry Mr Kreek, you’re friend will be taken care off by our staff and live out his life with much ease. Coex is offering a very generous retirement plan for the harvested. 

“I’m sure, but I would like to request an add-on to my new friend. Marcus is quite an original so I would like my new friend to mimic him in every way, I have always enjoyed his company, but….”

“Whatever it is I’m sure we can help you.”

“Then could you please add a second liver and two kidneys, I lost my cargo on the way over and I will need that on Titan for the last stretch home.”

Written by Alex Backstrom

Cover design by Slug on a Razor

Year of Creation: 2015