Investing Wisely

The alien bellowed out in an animated voice, “Do I hear five million?” His black carapace shone in the springtime sun, lending an air of authority as he brandished a small, wooden tool of some kind energetically. “It’s a lovely terrace, only an hour from the CBD. You don’t find an opportunity like this every day, I’ll tell you that for free!”

I nudged my partner Veela in the side with the awkward tubular appendages we’d grafted to our torsos, in order to better fit in with the aliens. “Are you sure this is the best investment in the galactic quarter?” I asked, in a whisper.

A crowd of the aliens had gathered, with carapaces in a variety of colours protecting their soft, porcine flesh. Several other people were concealed among the aliens, their camouflage varying wildly. The aliens didn’t appear to have noticed, being focused intently on their black-clad leader.

The black clad one pointed his little tool at the dilapidated structure behind him, and continued, “It really has a rustic charm all of its own, open plan living, cross ventilation at all times. A real renovator’s delight! Of course, for the first home buyers amongst you, remember the government’s HouseKeeper plan, and don’t you worry about finding a deposit.”

The building before him was riven with cracks and offered gaping holes covered with fading graffiti where one might have expected windows. Can’t account for local tastes, I guess. It was on the larger side of those we’d seen today, easily four people lengths across and probably ten deep. Several ugly looking weeds grew from garden beds by the door. Even from this vantage point I could see the ceiling tiles sagging beneath the building above.

An alien female with a dark blue carapace raised a thin white plastic signal to the sky.

Veela whispered, “This means she wants to purchase the asset.” She looked faintly absurd, exoskeleton covered and flopping fleshy tubes by her sides, but underneath the hooded garment and meat suit, she was still the woman I loved. “Quickly, raise our signal.”

“Five million, with the lovely lady in blue,” called the black clad auctioneer, the timbre of his voice almost betraying some disappointment. “Do I hear six?”

I commanded the hydraulic fluids to raise my imitation appendage against this planet’s unusually strong gravity. It flopped upwards, and the auctioneer turned and pointed to me.

“Six million, with the gentleman in brown.” I had chosen an imitation of the brown carapaces which scout satellites had seen these aliens recently. “Do I hear seven?”

X’Air, one of my colleagues on the planet terraforming cadre, raised his own flabby protrusion. I tried frantically to signal him to stop, but he just smiled through his air-holes.

“Seven million,” called out the black clad alien. “You’ll not find another one with space for your growing family in a location this good for many years.”

The blue-clad female alien raised her hand again, and called in quiet response, “Ten.”

“Excellent, ma’am, that’s more like it.” responded the auctioneer. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

I glanced over at X’Air, who offered a shake of his tail, the universal signal of submission.

I raised my signal plastic again, and called out in the aliens’ awkward language, “Fifteen million, please sir.”

Veela offered an air-hole smile and an appendage nudge. This was all we had to invest, the property going for fifteen was the ideal scenario.

One of the aliens’ awkward land vehicles passed us, spewing foul fumes. A moment passed, as I slammed my air-holes shut against their intrusion.

The black carapaced alien glanced around at the crowd. After the earlier frenzy, all was quiet. The breeze passed through the gaping window holes of the building, echoing around its concrete interior.

“Going once.” called the auctioneer.

“Going twice.” Veela wrapped her tail more tightly around me in anticipation.

“Twenty,” called the alien in blue, who turned toward me and displayed some kind of parasite in her feeding tube. “Daddy says the garden parties in this neighbourhood really are quite delightful.”

I did not have twenty million of the local currency. Veela deflated in a huff. X’Air blipped his air-holes in sympathy. But I had an idea.

I perambulated toward the auctioneer, my gait awkward from wearing the fleshy skin suit over my legs. The blue clad alien hissed at me as I walked past her.

I crouched down to his height and whispered to the auctioneer, “I do not have twenty. But perhaps there is something else I can offer, sir,” in the harsh, dissonant local language.

“Oh, ho, ho!” he called out, loudly enough that everyone could hear, “but I’m sorry, mate, I don’t swing that way.” The alien’s insinuation was unclear to me.

I continued, “I could offer you, perhaps, a nice planet in the Beta Centauri sector?” The planet my aunt had left me was nice if a little rundown and off the main trade routes. I loaded the deeds into my fleshy appendage and passed them ahead of the alien’s vision-spheres.

He appeared to squint at the paperwork, and replied, “Sorry, mate, but only Australian and American dollars accepted here. It’s a really nice place, but you’re going to have to pony up. Try your bank again, I’ll buy you some time.”

He called out to the audience, “Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll never find another one like it. A pristine renovator’s dream with an island kitchen and right by the M5 for easy access to the city and the airport. One hundred square metres of the Australian Dream, right here and yours!”

I puled out my communicator device, concealed to look like the primitive phones of these aliens, and send an infrasonic ping to X’Air. Would he accept a three-way partnership?

Almost immediately, the reply came, in a breeze of emoticode. Yes.

I raised my signal paddle and croaked out in the local dialect, “Twenty two million, sir.”

The female alien glared at my light sensors and threw her paddle to the ground in what I could only assume was disgust, storming away to her land vehicle.

The auctioneer called out, “Going once,”

“Going twice,” he continued, in the arcane ritual of investment.

“And sold, to the handsome gentleman in brown.” he finished, with a frisson of ecstasy.

Veela embraced me in a tail hug and we touched air-holes in affection. We would be rich beyond our wildest dreams within a few solar cycles. After all, the Sydney property market offered the greatest returns in the known universe.