Aliens Alien Harvest - By Robert Sheckley

Chapter 1
That morning Stan had to go downtown to the Colonial Mercantile Building on Vesey Street. The day before there had been a ring at his doorbell. Stan hadn't been doing much when it came. He had several experiments going in his cellar laboratory. The lab took up most of the space in the old frame house on Gramercy Park that he had inherited from his father. Stan hadn't been feeling well lately, and although he tried to tell himself it wasn't anything, some little voice within him kept on intruding, telling him, "This could be very serious..."

He had been avoiding his doctor for a while, but now he called up and made an appointment with Dr. Johnston at the Fifty ninth Street clinic for the next day. That was when the doorbell rang.

The man standing outside was tall and thin, and dressed in a badly pressed gray business suit.

"Are you Professor Myakovsky?"

"I am," Stan replied.

"Are you the Stanley Myakovsky who wrote the book about Ari the ant?"

"Yes, I am," Stan repeated. He was starting to feel a little better. This guy seemed to be someone who had read his book, was probably a fan, maybe even wanted an autograph. "What can I do for you?"

"I got a summons for you," the man said, taking a folded paper out of his pocket and slapping it briskly into Stan's hand. "You are served. Have a nice day, Doctor." He turned and left.

Stan went back inside and looked over the summons. He had no idea what it was about and the document itself didn't enlighten him. It simply said he was to appear in Courtroom B at 311 Vesey Street the following day, or face the consequences.

Have a nice day.

What a laugh.

It had been so long since Stan had had a nice day, he couldn't remember what one looked like.

The next day he left early for Vesey Street. The Broadway trolley was running again, rumbling past the newly restored buildings of midtown. It was a bright day outside, and despite his depression, Stan started to feel just the slightest lift to his spirits.

That lasted until he got to Vesey Street.

Vesey Street was filled with city and federal buildings, some of them quite old, dating from before the time of the aliens, miraculously unburned during the anarchic days when the aliens ruled. Some of the buildings in this area were brand spanking new. There had been a lot of rebuilding since those days. Stan would have liked to have been part of the first days after humans reoccupied their own planet It must have been exhilarating, reoccupying your own country, having a future again on your own planet. Now, of course, it was business as usual...More or less.

Times were pretty good. America was experiencing a boom. Business was strong. A lot of people were making a lot of money. Some people, of course, were losing a lot of money. It had to come from somewhere.

So it came from people like Stan.

He mounted the stone steps of the Criminal Courts Building. Within, he found a clerk who checked his summons and directed him up a flight of stairs to the correct courtroom.

He walked in. It was a small room with a half dozen chairs facing a raised desk. The sign on the door had said judge jacob lessner, presiding. Behind the desk sat a small man in black robes. He said, "Dr. Stanley Myakovsky?"

"Yes," Stan replied.

"Come in. I suppose you know what this is about?"

"No, I don't."

Judge Lessner frowned. "Your lawyer really should keep you better informed."

Stan nodded, although he knew very well he hadn't been answering his lawyer's calls over the last few days.

"Well, this is a pretty simple matter." The judge searched among the papers on his desk until he found what he was looking for. "This is a government order seizing your spaceship."

"The Dolomite?" Stan asked.

The judge searched his paper until he found it. "Yes, of course, that's the name of your ship. You may no longer go aboard."

"But why?"

"You were sent a notice a month ago advising you of the government's decision to take action against your unpaid bills."

Stan thought the paper must be somewhere among the unopened mail on his desk. He had been too depressed of late to open any of it. Most of the letters had something bad to say: how this investment or that was sliding to hell on him, or how his patents weren't earning as expected. And even more papers about all his back taxes.