Ace dropped a spent thighbone in the bucket with its eviscerated brethren. He stood, and when satisfied he was alone in the parking lot, he opened the side door on the Winnebago. The dazzler only worked on the exterior so as soon as he opened the door, he was met with the interior of Betty's side airlock. He shut the door quickly behind him in case there were any people with cracked heads wandering about who might have caught a glimpse. Although, there was no way they could get in even if they wanted to. Betty was keyed so that only Ace and Ivan could open any doors.
Ace passed through the airlock and found Ivan walking in his direction. Ivan had dropped his human disguise and walked on tall aluminum stilts.
"Yo!" Ivan called out. "Elvis update."
"Hey. What's with the stilts?" Ace asked.
"Oh." Ivan looked down. "They're so comfy I forgot I was wearing them. I put them on in case anyone accidentally bumped into me. I thought it'd be best to be proper human height."
That made sense to Ace. The dazzler would only make it appear Ivan was normal height but he would still physically be four feet tall beneath the hologram. It would be a disaster if someone tapped his hologram on the shoulder and had their hand pass right through it.
"Good thinking," Ace said.
"Yeah! Thanks. So, Elvis update. The med computers say he's stable and his brain activity is off the charts."
"What do you mean off the charts?" Ace asked.
"Like, he's using ninety percent of his brain right now. He has active alpha, delta, theta, and gamma wave patterns. All at the same time. Which should be impossible for a guy in a deep coma."
"So," Ace said. "The guy's a heavy sleeper. Big deal. He done that spooky-ass astral projection thing lately?"
"No. Which is concerning me as well," Ivan said. "He hasn't done it since we passed Graceland. Check this out." Ivan tapped a computer screen on the wall. He issued a series of commands and the display dissolved into a rotating three-dimensional image of a mansion.
"Graceland, I presume," Ace said.
"Yeah. So, I compiled this from public records, blueprints, and the standard environmental scans Betty grabbed as we passed by earlier. The scans were incomplete because of this." He pointed at a section on the second floor and a glowing sphere in a room labeled "master bedroom."
"I've been researching Graceland while you've been eating your chicken," Ivan said with a sneer.
"Whatever man," Ace said. "That stuff is delicious. Why don't you try some?"
"Dude. I'm a vegetarian. You know that." Ivan always became annoyed when Ace tried to get him to eat meat.
"Yeah, I know," Ace said. "But we're on Earth. Right? Irregardless you should—"
"It's regardless, Ace," Ivan interrupted.
"What?" Ace asked.
"It's re-gard-less," Ivan said slowly. "Not ir-regardless. That means the opposite of what you think it means."
"What the hell are you talking about, Ivan?"
"You can say irrespective or regardless but never, ever irregardless. It's not the correct word, Ace. Never has been. Never will be."
"...fuck you, Ivan."
"Fair enough," Ivan grinned, then continued, "Anyway, so, there is definitely some weird stuff on the second floor of that house. And check this out: no one's allowed up there. When people pay to tour Graceland, there is a guard at the bottom of the stairs keeping an eye on everything. People who try to go up there are told, quote, that's Elvis's floor and was his private sanctuary in life and out of respect they keep it private to this day. End quote. If you insist on going up there, you can be forcibly removed from the premises and banned for life from returning to Graceland."
Ivan continued, "Not even the people who work there are allowed up there. I read some stuff posted on message boards by former employees. One of them was a guy whose sole job was guarding that staircase. And he was never allowed up there either. Never. The only people who go up there are a few select family members and one special museum curator who brings out items to display every once in a while. And no one's been in the master bedroom or bathroom since the day Elvis supposedly died. Even when the family was still living in the house. They just sealed up the room on August 7, 1977, and left it that way. Out of respect, they say, but there's something else."
Ivan paused for dramatic effect then spoke, "That room is sealed with some heavy-duty tech. Like, non-terrestrial tech. I can't get a solid read on it so I have no idea what it is. But I'll bet credits to crabulons that whatever we're looking for is in there."
"Alright," Ace said. "So Elvis's brain activity, his lack of astral projection, and the whatever-it-is on the second floor of Graceland are all connected. How do we get in?"
"Well," Ivan said with a shrug. "I thought we'd just go break-in. Like, now. Graceland is closed up for the night. Should be easy."
Ace thought about it for a minute. He wasn't one for general thievery, but the longer he sat idle, the longer it was until he got a payday. A real payday. Buckets of chicken were nice, but they didn't spend on the galactic market. Not that he knew of, anyway. Gold would be a much better commodity to exchange for goods and services.
"Alright," Ace said. "But, look. Let's do it quick. April invited us to go see some bands tonight."
"Oh yeah?" Ivan crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. "You want to go back to her place and play some tiddlywinks, too, huh?"
"What? No!" Ace said. "I mean if you're using tiddlywinks as some kind of slang for sex. Then yes. I mean no. I dunno. I just want to get to know her. Is that so wrong? That I would want to get to know another human being for once in my life?"
"Dude," Ivan sneered. "Twelve hours ago you said you didn't care if Earth fell into a black hole. Now you're looking to play house with Mary Jane Watson!"
"I ain't looking to play house, Ivan. Just put some moves on her and see where it takes us. That's it. Plus, it's a punk show, and there's gonna be—"
"Punk show, eh?" That got Ivan's attention. "Like, a real punk rock show? Well, say no more!" Ivan fluffed up his jacket and brushed off his sleeves, spending a little too long over the Ramones patches.
"Alright," Ace said, smiling. "Then it's settled. Let's go break into Graceland real quick and see what's on that second floor. Maybe we can get this all figured out right now. Then we'll go to the punk show."
YOU ARE READING
Ace Tucker Space TruckerScience Fiction
Ace Tucker thinks Earth can eat a turd sandwich... Ace Tucker is a man who was raised in outer space and taught how to be human by a Russian cyborg chimpanzee. He earns a living as a rock-and-roll roadie and cargo hauler for the greatest band in the...