Arcturus Rendezvous

David walked down the dark hall of the decrepit Arcturus Motel, his left hand in the pocket of his gray flannel coat. In his right hand he flipped a magnetic key card that promised free breadsticks with any purchase of any large pizza, but David hardly noticed. He just wanted to get to the room and get started.

At the end of the hall the numbers on the doors made him flip the room key all the faster. Room 339, his sister had said. David badly wanted a cigarette but knew the futility of it. Cigarettes had been banned on this colony for two years now. 333. 334. 335… Room 339 must be the last possible room. Naturally.

So anxious was he to open the door that, when he tried to insert the card into the slot, it flipped out of his fingers and fluttered to the grimy carpet. As he stooped to retrieve it, David noticed an odd, noxious odor coming from under the door. Ammonia? Ammonia would be bad but it would be better than naphthalene. Naphthalene would be less bad than benzene. Benzene would be catastrophic.

The key card in his hand suddenly weighed ten pounds. He knew he’d have to enter the room, especially now, but instead of an intervention to dread he now had to worry about interspecies druglords. Goddamn sister. He reached for the pistol in its shoulder holster.

“Don’t be benzene,” he thought to himself as he slid the card into the slot.