THE BODY IN THE ZERO GEE BROTHEL By Cameron Cooper
Ptolemy Lane Tales 1.0
Space Opera Science Fiction Novelette
Pre-order now! Releases October 21 via retailers, and one week earlier, from us!
Meet Ptolemy Jovan Lane, a unique peacemaker.
Laws are hard to hold, out in the fringes of known space, but Ptolemy Lane is charged with maintaining peace under the dome of Georgina’s Town, among humans, the docile emre and more.
When a body is discovered in a zero gee suite in the local casino’s brothel wing, Lane is reluctant to get involved. The casino is off limits to his style of law keeping. Only, the body is the casino’s owner, Guisy Oakmint, and Doc Lowry is insisting Lane investigate. Lane soon learns why…
“The Body in the Zero Gee Brothel” is the first Ptolemy Lane story in the science fiction series by award-winning SF author Cameron Cooper.
BARNES & NOBLE
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EXCERPT FROM THE BODY IN THE ZERO GEE BROTHEL
COPYRIGHT © CAMERON COOPER 2021
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A stranger was sitting behind Ninety-Eight’s desk when I strolled into the station on the morning of my 25,000th day on Abbatangelo. He was a nervous fellow with fine brown hair, big eyes and long fingers. I should have taken his appearance as a portent, but I just flat didn’t care.
The nervous one gulped when he saw me. “Mr. Lane. Sir. I mean…do I call you Sherriff?”
“Not if you want me to answer.” I was tempted to brush by but said, instead, “Who are you?”
“I…um…Hyland. Emily didn’t tell you?”
I had just wanted to get to my desk and check messages, so I could call the day done and go home. A quart of Martian brandy, a gift from a client, was calling my name. Instead I swore and studied Nervous. “She quit on me?”
“She didn’t tell you…” He picked at the controls on the smart desk. The film on the top was coming loose, which meant the desk wasn’t as smart as it should be.
“That was the deal,” I said. “She can quit whenever she wants, as long as she finds and trains a replacement. That’s the deal with you, as well. Got it?”
“You’ve said that more than once before, haven’t you?” Then he pressed his fingers to his lips as if he was more shocked than me by what he had said.
“Okay, listen, Ninety-Nine, we’ll get along much better if—” I didn’t get to finish, because his smart desk lit up.
He stared at it. I didn’t think it was possible for his eyes to get bigger, but they did.
“That’s your cue,” I told him.
He prodded experimentally.
I reached over and tapped the connect button. The holograph formed over the top. I knew the man’s face a little.
Ninety-Nine managed to stutter, “Ptolemy Lane’s office.”
The face frowned. “Lemme speak to Lane.”
Ninety-Nine could see me through the hologram, so I shook my head.
“Mr. Lane says he’s not here.”
I sighed, reached through the head to spin the display to face me. “I’m here. Who are you?”
“Kumar. I’m the manager at the Desiderata—”
“No,” I said.
He caught back his breath. “You don’t know what I was going to say.”
“Doesn’t matter. You’re a casino and brothel. That’s out of my service area.”
“You have a service area?” He sounded puzzled rather than offended. “I thought you covered all of Georgina’s Town?”
“Except the casino and brothel. I told Guisy Oakmint so when he said he was going into business. I’m just one man and your joint is a crime magnet. Oakmint knows to clean up his own messes.” And for eleven years, he had.
Kumar shook his head. “That’s just it. It’s Mr. Oakmint. He’s dead.”
I paused. Took in a breath or two. I knew Guisy enough to share a drink here and there, although the last serious conversation we’d had was when he told me about his new joint venture. “Sorry, kid,” I told the manager. “But it’s still not my concern. Call in Doc Lowry. He deals with bodies.”
“Doc Lowry said you would be interested,” Kumar said quickly, as I reached for the kill switch.
I pulled back my hand. “Doc said that? Why?”
Kumar glanced over his shoulder, then said, “Mr. Oakmint was murdered and we’re pretty sure an undocumented human did it.”
I rubbed the back of my neck to hide my reaction as something fizzed and flared in my gut. “I’ll be there in fifteen,” I told Kumar.