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ASIOJane - It took her one day to fall in love and a lifetime to make up for it.

Part 35 - The Sugar Brand

February 1st 2009 11:04
Re was having a wonderful time.

Who knew that industry was his kind of thing? Day and night he was surrounded by small kitchen appliances and sundry whitegoods, all of his design and all of his making. And the Ministry had been completely transformed. The Minister, sick of the political minefield of daily alliteration, jumped at the chance of taking his department from being the government's laughing stock to becoming an overnight financial sensation. He turned the secret underground facility into a secret manufactory while Re personally designed the machinery that would mass-produce the sugar based alloy products. The Minister re-trained all of The Ministry's staff to forget about analysis, statistics and alien worlds, instead they became engineers, production line packers and store people.


Initially The Minister faced resistance from his colleagues in cabinet but the Prime Minister pointed out, "It will be a nice change to have one of my departments doing something useful." This kept the other Ministers quiet and out of the way, pretending to attend to their portfolios, until the Prime Minister headed back to the golf course. Meanwhile The Minister had free reign over his project and its budget.

These were exciting times. Re was often left in charge while The Minister scoured the country for suitable shop-front locations. Vast tracts of land were purchased in each state to build warehouses so that supply to the public would be fast. The Minister believed that a new age of consumerism was upon them - the people were desperate to buy cheap toasters and kettles, bar fridges and blenders. After a quiet dinner with a visiting foreign dignitary The Minister soon realised that this need wasn’t exclusive to Australia, the rest of the world was going to want to buy his products too. He needed to expand the plan. Not only would he take the Sugar Brand to the nation, he would take it to the world!


Creating the infrastructure to distribute the appliances was an incredibly slow process, thankfully the underground facility was large enough to store the growing numbers of stock. No more the overnight sensation as first conceived by The Minister, The Sugar Brand, if it was to succeed, would need time and planning. Train lines and freeways had to be built from the Facility to all of the major cities in the country. Egg-heads worked day and night on a cashless point of sales system so that purchases would be efficient and sales assistants wouldn't be slowed by counting coins and notes. Others worked on computers and financial transaction hubs to process virtual money at the speed of light. Even with all of this technology there would still have to be provisions for the old and the old fashioned who would insist on using cash. The Minister lobbied to have the 1 and 2 cent coins abolished. He led the push convert the one and two dollar notes into coins. And he introduced the change from easily torn paper money to strong, resilient plastic notes. Decades of preparation were required and all the while Re's stockpile of appliances continued to grow, down in the perfectly sealed, underground facility out beyond The Black Stump.

For Re the nineteen sixties and seventies whirled by in a frenzy of invention and creation but for The Minister the time dragged on as he aged into a body of breaks and aches. Eventually, half way through the nineteen-eighties, the final high-speed modem had been tested, the final data storage and overnight processing systems had been signed off - everything was ready.

It had taken thirty years of the Minister’s life, the re-education of four new Prime Ministers, billions of the tax payer's dollars and a revolutionary educational and technological turn-around for the entire country. The borrowings from other nations to cover the shortfall in the set-up costs were phenomenal and the shortage of sugar for tea and cake had almost destroyed some regional centres, but it was all worth it. With the projected income from the global sales of Sugar Brand products the country could rise into the Nineties and the millennium beyond. Instead of being some minor colony adrift between the Indian and Pacific oceans Australia would be great, she would rule the world!

Tomorrow The Minister would meet the press and launch his grand scheme, but tonight he needed to take his weary old body to bed, to rest. Only moments after settling his head on the pillow he lurched back up and into a sitting position, hands clutching at his chest, and screamed, "Not now!” before his body fell back to the bed, dead from a heart attack. The only complete set of plans for his secret project, the only passwords, schedules and profiles were all safely locked away, deep inside his poor, dead brain.

There was a general election shortly after The Minister's death and a new Prime Minister was voted into government to lead the indebted nation. He took one look at the country's finances and, wondering what his misguided predecessors had been thinking, closed down any operations relating to the preposterous Sugar Brand then set about getting the country on the right course and once again riding firmly on the sheep's back.

Re had been forgotten. His workforce had been transferred back to the spy industry or retrenched into retirement. The sugar supply was stopped and he could make no more toasters. Nights and days came and went. He wandered around his lonely underground storage facility trying to work out what to do next. With The Minister and his workforce gone there was no-one and nothing to keep him out there, beyond The Black Stump, so he decided it was time to go back to the Beige Bummjob and see his old friends. Packing a couple of kettles as presents he took the lift to the surface and set off, on foot, in the direction that he hoped would take him to Sydney.
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Part 34 - Working

January 31st 2009 02:43
Hu enjoyed her work at the pub. She learnt a lot about local culture and was amazed to see how the customs and customers changed over the years. Back on DisQuientia things changed slowly. Fashions lasted for millennia and it took a long time for new trends to take off. Here on this strange planet she assumed the speed of living was due to the seemingly short local lifespan. At home life was long, as was mourning, but the people here dropped dead all over the place. Few noticed and even less seemed to care.

After only a three months at the pub Hu found she needed to update her wardrobe. Her colourful one-piece jumpsuits had sparked a small trend of their own at first but she soon noticed the women at the Ladies Bar had moved on and were sporting new hairstyles, make-up and costumes.

Hu also noticed the men - the rough, dominant, hairy and sexy. Her feelings for Ru hadn't changed, she still loved him more than anyone in the universe, but on more than one occasion she found herself wishing he had some hair on his chest and gravel in his voice.

Suzette came to her one day and said, "Hu darling, it's time we went shopping. You need a new look." Hu was petrified at the thought of shopping but Suzette was her boss and it scared her even more to say no. The following Saturday Suzette rostered them on to the evening shift. In the morning she took Hu to Grace Brothers on Broadway for a shopping spree.

Hu had never seen anything like a department store before. At home all shopping was done by viewing catalogues on a computer. Anything you liked you selected and had reproduced on a 3D printer - clothes, food, houses. Manufacturing was never heard of on DisQuientia.

The dresses were her favourite, she'd never worn one before and discovered she loved the feel of the hem dancing around her knees as she walked; a tickle in every step. She was tempted by a mini-skirt that flirtingly dared to reveal that special place only Ru was allowed to know aboutt That was too much of a change for her in just one day.

New make-up was a bit of an issue though, but she found she could put the latest styles on over the top of her tattooed-on face. She had to apply it a little heavy but Suzette assured her that from a few feet away no-one would notice. She replaced her stiletto boots with platforms, a tiny shoulder bag removed the need for pockets and a multitude of wigs helped cover her poor hair-styling ability.

Hu and Suzette giggled their way through sampling every item of clothing that time would allow. Before long their arms heaved with purchases and they were back on the bus as it bounced up Parramatta road to the pub.

"I've had a wonderful time today," Hu gushed.

"I'm glad," Suzette smiled. "It seems all you do is work and go home. It was good to see you having fun. I think that husband of yours doesn’t appreciate you. Why doesn't he take you out from time to time? You never have a holiday or see a show."

"We enjoy each other's company. We don’t need to go out."

"And what does he do with his time when you're at work. Does he have a job?"

Hu had expected there would be questions like this and was well prepared with plausible lies. "He’s a scientist. He works from home."

"Really?" Suzette's eyes lit up at the thought, "Does he work on secret projects for the government?"

"No, it's private research. He’s trying to unlock the secrets of the universe."

"Sounds important."

"It is."

The bus arrived at their stop. They grabbed their bags and made their way.

Back at the pub they were changing into their new outfits before their shift when Suzette cornered Hu and kissed her passionately on the lips.

Hu was startled and tried not to kiss her back. She pushed Suzette away and covered her mouth with her hand.

Suzette stared intently at the floor. "I'm sorry," she said. "I couldn't help myself. I think I love you."
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Part 33 – Workout

May 4th 2008 07:31
At first it had been funny when Hu couldn’t do her hair and the hot water system broke down so La couldn’t spend days on end wallowing in the tub. But Ru stopped laughing when he tumbled down the staircase (the lifts had given out) and broke his leg. That’s when he discovered the ‘Doctor In A Box’ was inoperable and the break had to be re-set without anaesthetic and left to heal with a large prescription of bed rest.

“This has gone too far!” he spat at the others during what had become their daily ‘What’s broken now?’ meeting at his bedside. “Every day the list grows and we are helpless. We must find the cause of the decay, stop it, fix the broken systems and get off this planet.” He shifted nearer his computer terminal and said to it, “Computer, are you any closer to finding the cause of the failures?”

Words flashed across the terminal screen. All attempts at communication had been reduced to abstract verse…

“Everywhere you go it follows,
(misty rain and blazing sun).
Close your eyes to see the blooms
(open the door and enter the world).”

-o0o-

Having retired, Margaret closed down her school of martial arts, sold her terrace in Glebe and choose to spend her retirement years living with her sister in the pub. She hardly seemed a day older.

Myrtle too had retired, no longer working the bar with an iron frypan, she and her sister spent most of their time sitting in the Ladies Bar sipping middies and reminiscing.

Their Niece, Suzette, now ran the bar and the sign, ‘room, board and worldly education in return for kitchen duties and bar work’ was still in the window.

Suzette was the only child of their only brother. He had gone away to fight in the war and never returned. Suzette, of French birth, had only appeared recently. When her mother had died she decided to find her Australian family and worked her way around the world as a nanny. On her mothers side she came from a long line of Parisian café proprietors so had excellent qualifications to run a no-nonsense, inner city pub.

Margaret and Myrtle, astounded by my adventures and weight gain, welcomed me back into their lives as if I was family and no time was wasted resuming my training.

It was a long haul to regain my form but there was no rush; I’d abandoned my flat and left no message of my whereabouts at The Ministry. Re had no way of contacting me either but that was not my greatest concern.

The Ministry would come looking for me, of course, but I had no fear of its success. It had taken them decades to find an alien living right under their noses, there was little chance they would find me, as long as I was careful. I made sure the only people who knew I was at the pub were Myrtle and Margaret. I never met the staff or customers.

I began each day with a pre-dawn 14 mile run - in laps of the pub’s 1st floor veranda. This was followed by 2 hours of weight training - lifting beer kegs in the basement. After lunch I had an exhaustive Martial Arts session with Margaret followed by lessons in nutrition and healthy eating with Myrtle. Every night, before I fell into bed, I tried to squeeze into my body suit. No matter the quantity or quality of traininig from my mentors I would not be ready to take on the aliens until I knew I could comfortably fit - zipper closed tight from crotch to breast - into my suit, my uniform, my armour.

The going was slow, the decade ended and a new one had begun before I was ready. The 1970’s swung and I was a buff, beautiful, blonde, fifty-something-super-spy with the right attitude, the right costume and the right kind of ass to take on the world.

-o0o-

“I’ve got a job!” hollered Hu as she slammed the outer hatch and ran down the corridor looking for her friends.

Things were getting desperate on the Beigebummjob; their sanitary and recycling systems had completely shut down. Je was forced to learn about plumbing so she could install a manually flushing toilet and Ru and Hu set-up water collection tanks in the parts of the ship that protruded above the ground. Thankfully they still had Life Support but there was no guarantee for how long that would last. The ship’s computer had all but shut down and was incapable of telling them anything of use.

All they needed was money for food - as Hu looked more human than the others it was decided she would go into the city and find a job.

She found the others in the dining room dividing the remains of the food into rations. They clamoured around her on hearing the good news, asking questions all at once.

“When do you start?”
“What are you doing?”
"How much does it pay?”

She filled them in on the details. “It’s quite funny really. I’m to be working with alcohol. I’ve got a job at a bar, in the pub where we had our first beers! I’m to work the early shift for 5 days out of every 7. My boss’s name is Suzette. She has told me I am to be paid an hourly rate and in my spare time her aunt will teach me how to cook,” she beamed at her friends. “How fantastic is that? Money, food and cooking lessons!”
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Part 32 – Sixties

June 10th 2007 13:48
The 1950s died a miserable death. No-one was sad to see them go. I moved to a small 2 bedroom flat in Annandale (by order of the Ministry, for ease of access to the action).

I didn’t search for the aliens. Instead I sat on the sofa pining for Re, reading magazines, listening to the radio, eating Iced Vovo’s and waiting for something interesting to happen and take my mind off the whole mess. Waiting for things to happen is a queer business; you either wait so long you die, or something happens then you die. Either way something will happen, you just have to be patient.

[ Click here to read more ]
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Part 31 – The Passage of time

April 24th 2007 14:18
Re lay beside me in the small bed of his cramped cell. Since building the first toaster he had changed. It was an efficient toasting system that used very little electricity and worked a treat on every type of bread from croissants to muffins, rye and linseed.

It took him some time to complete the first prototype but once he was up and running it seemed I couldn’t supply him with enough sugar. His room became cluttered with toasters.

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Part 30 - Fizzle Bang

April 22nd 2007 04:42
Ga Gantuar peered out the window at the Earth. ‘What a pretty place’, he thought. ‘I wonder if I should move the ship a little further away, something tells me this might be a dangerous orbit.’ He tried to drag his eyes away from the planet so he could go to the control panel and move the ship but, ‘No,’ he said to himself, ‘this view is too good to give up, I’ll do it later.’

That was when 3 missiles plunged into the heart of his ship and every molecule from the hull to the contents and passengers was broken down into its base elements forming a speedily expanding gas cloud that looked and sounded every bit like a major explosion. The results of a molecular missile strike.

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Part 29 - And after step 18?

April 21st 2007 15:20
Je became a man. He hadn’t told anyone, and despite being several steps into Love Making Scenario No. 582, his husband La hadn’t noticed.

“There’s something I have to tell you,” he lifted the bed sheet and peered into the darkness for La. There were parts of his body, but Je could't find his head. Hearing a snort form the other end of the bed he reached around and lifted up a roll of flab. “There you are,” he sighed slightly relieved. There was a time when, during the excitement of an amorous encounter, La completely lost his head in his left armpit, it took three doctors and an excellent chiropractor to sort him out again.

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Part 28 – The dinner set

April 12th 2007 21:59
Sitting with Re on the floor of his cell I looked around the room. It was more an apartment than a cell, comfortable furniture, small kitchen, but no windows and two armed guards outside the front door.

He worked with a pile of sugar, in one hand he held a small electric device, a bit like a shaver, but smaller. In his other hand a curved piece of plastic. Dipping the plastic in the sugar he pointed the device at it. A ray of light emitted and the sugar melted then reformed around the plastic. Gently Re pushed the newly made plastic into shape.

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Part 27 - The Answering Machine

April 7th 2007 00:48
Charging to the control room, Hu yelled to Ru, “What do you mean, ‘there are 42 molecular bombs on board’?”

Over his shoulder Ru replied, “Well by the sounds of it there are now only 36, but we still have a fair supply of genetic grenades and string disruptor lasers.”

[ Click here to read more ]
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Part 26 - What bombs?

April 1st 2007 09:19
In front of the dishwasher Je slumped, crying.

“I can’t do it any more,” she blubbed.

[ Click here to read more ]
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