Mike Williams series: A courtroom drama in space
Mike Williams had seen a lot of TV in his life. As a kid, he would often join his friends at Sesame Street in the afternoon. In his teens, he had watched an unimaginable amount of courtroom dramas. He was fascinated by the charisma and eloquence of the lawyers. How the right speech could turn the jury and win the case. The fierce lawyers never seemed to have problems with wet palms.
At the door to the
council, Mike and Morgan Freeman met up with Carl. Carl the lion, Mike
thought and then, I wonder if that would be offensive to him? It
probably would. I should note not to call him that.
‘You seem prepared, Mike Williams,’ Carl greeted him.
‘Not at all.’
Carl looked like he didn’t know how to respond to that answer. But at least his whiskers didn’t curl. Instead, he turned to Morgan Freeman.
‘Ready to defend the lawbreakers, Lay’tek?’
‘You make us sound like criminals!’ Mike interrupted.
‘But you are?’ Carl sounded confused.
‘What kind of law? Alien law? How does that apply to us?’
Morgan Freeman cut them off.
‘Save it for the hearing, Mike, you’re going to need it.’
Somehow he made it sound reassuring and not condescending. Must be the Morgan Freeman look, Mike decided. Damn well chosen.
The United Galaxy Council was shaped like a giant amphitheatre. At the bottom Mike, Carl and Morgan Freeman entered at “the stage” and took place behind a large desk at one of the sides.
I wonder if I’m about to take part in a farce or a tragedy, Mike thought.
He looked at the spectators or more accurately, the members of the council. The rows surrounded the stage almost in a circle, like a broad auditorium, and the rows continued upward to a point that Mike couldn’t even see. The members all sat behind desks and he realized they all had small monitors showing the same image that was being broadcast on a big screen at the stage centre.
Behind every desk was one, often two or three, representatives of a specific planet or species. And what a diversity! There were furry aliens like Carl, some looked like lions, others as panthers or leopards. I wonder if they’re genetically related somehow? Mike reflected. There were bug-like creatures, humanoid creatures, creatures that looked like nothing Mike had ever seen, robotic creatures – or maybe that was just their armour? – tall aliens, small aliens, scary aliens and cute aliens. There was a buzzing, howling and beeping growing into a crescendo.
Then suddenly, a booming voice silenced them all:
‘All praise the wise and all-powerful judges: Marsek, Luuutet and Fkl.’ The council members all found their seats and clapped – and if not able to clap then made a similar noise – as the three judges entered. The first one was a bit toad looking, the second almost humanoid but hidden in its long and tangled fur, while the third was small and wrinkled with long ears. The three of them climbed a podium at the centre of what Mike thought of as the stage and sat in three round and comfy chairs. The chairs all had small adjustable tabletops that the judges could slide in front of them.
big screen showed the judges getting ready, placing mugs and small
devices on the tables. Mike saw a lot of the members doing the same.
‘And now,’ the booming voice declared. ‘The prosecutor in the case UGC vs. Earth: Nai’zest Qalong.’
At the other end of the stage entered the freakiest thing Mike had yet seen. It had a head like a lama, but with some sort of green mohawk. Its torso had arms and tentacles like an octopus and its lower body was a big shapeless blob, almost like a snail, but with countless busy legs like a centipede. Somehow Nai’zest Qalong gave him nausea.
From across the stage, the prosecutor caught Mike staring and it gave him a sinister smile showing off sharp predator teeth.
Mike saw his own face on the big screen, pale and sweaty, and knew most of the countless members were now looking at him. He threw up.