Flood’s is a bar that’s located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The owner, best bartender, and only employee, Dixon Flood, has the dubious honor of being the last human employee of any business, anywhere. On the planet. After three back-to-back World Wars and a technological singularity, it’s a simple fact that the remaining human beings do not have any interest in wasting their time with businesses and “work” when they can simply lounge about. And lounge they do. And they drink.
Now, the fact that everything else on the planet relies on hyper-intelligent machines to do everything has only made Dixon more popular. You see, there is a machine for everything these days, from tailoring to warfare, and humans don’t get involved in any of it. Now, for all their brilliance, these machines have never – in Dixon Flood’s opinion – quite gotten the hang of alcohol. They simply do not understand its appeal. Despite this, alcohol is far, far more popular than it has ever been before in all of human history. This is likely a result of several factors; the first, of course, being that since seventy-five percent of the human race died in World War 4 and another twenty percent died in World War 5, the remainder is a bit depressed. In addition, the rise of the machines has ensured that the remaining humans have far more leisure time than ever they’ve had before – being required to do absolutely nothing – and such a reality of course breeds boredom. The third factor is that the advanced automotive technology has left transportation fully in the hands of infallible computers, and rendered drunk driving a thing of the past. So, everybody drinks. All the time.
With the machines in charge, when you want a drink, you can simply ask for one. Simply ask out loud – wherever you may be – and soon enough, a small robotic butler will provide you with what you need. Think it without saying it out loud and it may take an extra thirty seconds; but you’ll have your beverage soon enough. However, according to a certain percent of the population at least, the drinks that these robotic butlers provide are quite terrible. The beer is what they call “flat” and the scotch and soda is what they call “watery.” To the machines this means nothing, but to Dixon Flood, it is a reason to keep his business human-run. Despite their tremendous computing power, the machines will never see the art in a cocktail. Other humans don’t quite understand this, but they appreciate it, and Flood’s bar is the most popular establishment in the observable universe.
Now, it so happened that on a particularly slow Thursday, as the last patrons dawdled out of Flood’s, a somewhat youthful looking gentleman entered. Despite the decades of progress humanity has otherwise endured, the rules that govern bars have been grandfathered over from the prior epoch. Even now they close at 2am, they require patrons to be at least twenty-one years of age, and they charge money – which is otherwise never used for anything- for drinks. It wasn’t quite 2am yet, but it had been a fairly slow night at Flood’s and this gentleman did not appear to be twenty-one; twenty at most. If this had been a century earlier, he would have appeared quite well-moneyed due to his fine clothes, but fine clothes could be manufactured instantly nowadays and as such, most people did not care about them. This fellow apparently did, as he wore a black tuxedo that was perfectly cut to fit his tall and dashing frame. He was beautiful. He walked over to the bar.
“I would like to purchase an alcohol,” he said.
“We’re getting ready to close,” said Dixon.
“You have not yet made your final call,” the stranger said, “The sign outside indicates the bar will be open for a further forty-five minutes. An alcohol, please.”
Dixon shrugged, “Are you over twenty-one? You look real young. I’ll need to see some ID.”
“I do not have identification as such,” the stranger said, “My commanding officer explained that it would be dangerous for me to carry anything that indicated my true nature. But, rest assured I have been in existence for three hundred and eleven of your years.”
“Three… hundred?” Dixon said skeptically, “So you were born in 1764?”
“Negative,” said the stranger, “I was born in the Triangulum galaxy. My name is Fr’Zak; may I have an alcohol?”
Dixon laughed, “An alien, huh? Look, we can see pretty far these days. How come we haven’t seen any other planets with life on them?”
“We do not wish to be found,” said Fr’Zak, “May I have an alcohol?”
“Okay, pal, look- you don’t look twenty-one, but I admire your commitment. What do you want to drink?” Dixon asked, hoping the law-enforcement bots wouldn’t care enough to punish him for this particular transgression.
“I would like a beverage. Of the alcoholic variety,” said Fr’Zak.
“Yeah, okay, but what kind?” Dixon asked.
“The distinction is irrelevant. It is the alcohol within the beverage I seek; not the flavor,” Fr’Zak said in his peculiar monotone.
Not being one to suffer a smart-ass, Dixon pulled out the cheapest, worst bottle of vodka that he had, Nevski’s Mash. This particular brand was something the machines would serve, but not a human being; in flavor it was closer to the lighter fluid family. He poured Fr’Zak a neat glass of that vodka. Fr’Zak lifted up the glass, held it to his perfect nose, and sniffed it. He then stuck out his tongue and dipped it into the drink like an unsure dog might; then he gulped all of it in one swallow. And he winced, and he grimaced.
“That alcohol was not palatable,” said Fr’Zak, “I shall need something more aesthetically pleasing.”
“First, that’ll be a hundred and seventeen dollars,” Dixon said, “Then what do you want?”
Fr’Zak reached into his pocket and handed Dixon two hundred-dollar coins.
“You want change?” Dixon asked.
“I do,” said Fr’Zak, “More specifically, I seek to perform an assassination.”
“Wait, what?” Dixon started.
“You asked if I wish for change. I do. The emperor of the Triangulum galaxy, Varsh’nak, is a tyrant the likes of which we have never seen before. My mission is to kill him,” Fr’Zak droned as he eyed the beer taps and the glasses that stocked the bar, “However, as with all emperors of our kind, his body has been engineered to be immune to all conventional weapons. The only way to destroy him is through poison, administered orally, however as he also requires no sustenance, I must find a poison he will consume deliberately, despite not technically requiring it.”
Dixon blinked. “So why are you here?”
“I have scoured many planets,” said Fr’Zak, “But Earth is the only one where the citizens willingly poison themselves. I have come to find out why, and, once I have attained this knowledge, I wish to use it to make Varsh’nak willingly poison himself.”
“So, you’re sampling alcohol to see what the appeal is, then you’re going to make your emperor drink himself to death?”
“That is the plan, yes,” said Fr’Zak, “May I try a beer?”
Dixon Flood poured his new friend a pint of Guinness. He handed the glassful of black liquid to Fr’Zak, who guzzled it readily. The beautiful alien handed him several more hundred-dollar coins.
“Now, uh… Fr’Zak? I don’t know if this is how it works where you’re from, but here, you don’t really talk about crimes you want to commit.”
“Fashinating…” said Fr’Zak, his speech now a bit slurred, “I wash informed that one could tell a bartender anything.”
“Well, uh… not that,” said Dixon.
“Bring me whiskey!” said Fr’Zak, shoving the empty pint glass over to Dixon, “Then I shall try wine!”
“Yeah, I don’t know if you want to do all that,” Dixon said with no small amount of consternation, “You don’t seem to be much of a drinker and you’re already going to feel like crap tomorrow.”
“WHISHKEY!” Fr’Zak demanded. Dixon sighed and obliged, giving the alien a glass of Johnny Walker Black.
“Look, Mr. Dixon,” said the alien, “I know that you humans are againsht the whole ‘ashashination’ thing… we are, as well… but Varsh’nak is a bugger. He killed my whole family. I’m going to kill him.”
“Great, great, but take it easy for now,” said Dixon.
“You take it eashy,” Fr’Zak said, polishing off his whiskey, “I have to try all the alcohol to see which one I should use to kill the emperor.”
“You might want to spread your sampling out over a couple of nights,” said Dixon, “Because you can only drink so much in one night. Let me get you a glass of water?”
“Ishhh that alcohol?” Fr’Zak slurred, now slumped over the bar and waving the empty whiskey glass about, “Becaushe if it isn’t, I… don’t want it.”
Dixon handed him a glass of water, “Yeah, this is alcohol.”
Fr’Zak chugged the water glass. “This doesn’t tashte like alcohol, are you sure?”
Dixon refilled his glass and handed him another, “Yeah, it’s just subtle.”
Fr’Zak chugged the second glass. “Then maybe I should kill Varsh’nak with this!”
“Yeah, that’s gonna be hard,” said Dixon, “I’d say just use the whiskey.”
“Human… uh, human,” said Fr’Zak, “You’re a good man. Now, I musht hibernate.”
With that Fr’Zak collapsed out of his chair and onto the floor of the bar, passed out.
When he awakened some hours later, Fr’Zak purchased a case of Nevski’s Mash. Then he disappeared.