My company left at around 10:30 this morning. I haven’t honestly had a writing day since before Christmas and was looking forward to some quality time.
I arrived at the writing cabin and got ready to work. My robotic personal assistant, Lisa Burton dropped off some coffee, then waited for instructions. She wore boots and leggings and an oversized sweatshirt with a wide collar, exposing one bare shoulder.
“I need to read what I have before I get started. It’s been so long I can’t decide whether to pick up the Lanternfish story or the one about the hat.”
“If you need anything, just yell. I’ll be in the front seeing if there are any online bargains today.”
I had started reading Lunar Boogie when Lisa returned. “You have a visitor.”
Just what I needed on the first quality day in weeks.
Lorelei, the Muse, stepped around Lisa and into my writing office. She was as tall as Lisa, but less curvy. Beautiful in a Greek goddess kind of way. “What’s this I read about you toning things down in 2021?”
I held my palms forward in a gesture of peace. “That was about my publishing schedule. I want to satisfy the fans and get some series books out there. After that, who knows what I might do.”
“That’s where I have a problem. Your act of creation fuels me. I let you take some time off last summer, but it can’t become a habit. In fact, you haven’t been behind the keyboard since mid-December.”
“Calm down. There’s a difference between publishing and writing.”
“I’m listening.” She moved to the recliner in the corner and sat down.
Lisa took a place on the couch in case there were assignments.
“I intend to publish those two books, but will keep writing. I have several storyboards and am kind of missing my stand-alone stories.”
“That doesn’t sound like a plan. Maybe you just need some inspiration.”
“That’s as good as you’re getting right now.”
“Did you know the laws of salvage are nothing like people think? They’re actually about how a good samaritan deserves compensation.”
“Seems like a quick change in topic, and one of your tricks to me.”
“If someone were to rescue or preserve something, could be goods, or even part of a ship, they receive a lien against those items. The owner has to make good on the lien before claiming the goods.”
“So, it’s not just finders keepers?”
“Not at all. In fact, you could be charged with theft by keeping the items.”
“What if there’s nobody left alive to claim the items?”
“The country of origin can also participate. Spain will occasionally make a claim when someone discovers a sunken treasure ship.”
“That’s a maritime system, and I don’t see it working in the Lanternfish plot.”
“Just because something is on your property doesn’t make it yours, either. Otherwise, whenever someone walked in here you could claim everything they have.”
“That’s right, so pull that top off and hand it to me.”
“Ha ha. Nice try.”
“So, you’re telling me that if an alien ship crashed on my ranch, I can’t claim the wreckage. I can render a service and claim compensation, but can’t keep what I find.”
“Seems about right.”
“But the country, or planet of origin, could make a claim in our Earth courts.”
“In theory, yes.”
“I think if it were me, I’d take as many pictures as possible. Save them to a thumb-drive to protect them from government deletion, then share the photos with every news service and social media format I could find. The government couldn’t cover it up then.”
“Might make you a fugitive.”
“Almost certainly. If I filed my claim right away, there would also be a court record. That’s a bit safer place for the evidence.”
Lisa leaned forward. “The aliens probably wouldn’t go to court. You might gain possession by default, given enough time.”
“If only it weren’t for the damned Feds. They’ll try to take everything and claim it was a weather balloon. They won’t get away with it, because I have photographic evidence and good filings in the court. Once something is in the court record, they aren’t going to cough it up.”
“Looks to me like even losing possession of the wreckage, you’re poised to make yourself a celebrity speaker and go down in history as bringing the existence of aliens to the general public,” Lisa said.
“I’d need a place to hide for a while. I’m sure the Air Force or FBI would want to haul me in. It would have to be off the grid someplace.”
“You’d be dodging those guys for months.”
Lorelei stood, then dusted her palms together. “I think I’m finished here. Good to see you both again.”
“Wait a minute,” I protested. “You played me, but it won’t work. I have my own storyboards to jump on.”
“Looks like my little scheme failed. I’ll let you get back to your writing. Have a happy new year.”
“You, too,” Lisa said.
I watched Lorelei walk down the hall until she turned into the living room that served as the front office. “Did you keep any notes?”
“Your robot girl is on the job.” Lisa polished her nails on her sweatshirt. “I have a video recording of the entire meeting.”
“Why don’t you reduce the video to notes. I’ll get set up for storyboarding, and we can work on it together.”
“That sounds fun.”