Gateways: “LeBron James III’s Unfair Advantage” by Alex B. Reynolds read by Josh Ballard and Rob Southgate

Content Note, please be aware that this story is of a frank, sexual nature and may not be suitable for all audiences.

Alex B Reynolds has been writing and producing comedic theatre in Chicago for the past 10 years. They have been a contributing writer for The Flaming Dames burlesque troupe, the Meet/Cute sitcom podcast, and the Paragon short play festival. Full-length plays include Old Hobbits Die Hard, Kings & Thrones & Shit, and The Incredible Hank for New Millennium Theatre Company. Their other work, including props and puppets, can be found on most channels under the moniker “BakerStreetRat,” but you’re more likely to find photos of their dog. This is “LeBron James III’s Unfair Advantage”

Haynk and Cahrl worked together at the Interstellar Evolutionary Facilitation Center on Titan. They weren’t in charge of any major decisions, they didn’t have a seat at the table to decide how evolutionary processes were executed, and they certainly weren’t on the design team. To put it bluntly, they weren’t there for their brains. Cahrl was there for his muscle. He was on security detail for terrestrial missions, and otherwise occupied his time working in maintenance at the Center itself. This is where he and Haynk spent the most time together. Haynk was also in maintenance between projects, but unlike Cahrl, Haynk was hired for his genes. The Evolutionary Facilitation Board had very specific standards for the Genetic Integration Program on M-Class Planets, and Haynk checked all the right boxes. 

The Genetic Integration Program, lightheartedly referred to as the “Missing Link” Program, was designed to inject advanced genetic data into a terrestrial planet’s population once semi-intelligent mammals appeared. In a nutshell, Haynk was sent to underdeveloped planets to fuck something. Today’s mission would be his third. 

Each time Haynk was dispatched on a “Stud Run,” Cahrl accompanied him as his bodyguard. They had the same job at the Center, they were sent out on the same missions, and they were both immortals. But Haynk was an average Promethean while Cahrl was an eight-foot tall Reptilian. This main difference was the reason for their respective roles on Missing Link missions, but in the transport pod drifting slowly toward the rocky planet below, they were equals. They were friends. 

“I’m telling you, rep,” Haynk was gesturing passionately, “I’m telling you – LeBron James III would have toppled Forlax Waxor in the ‘58 season.” 

“No way.” Cahrl waved one claw dismissively while the other gently guided the transport pod along its trajectory. 

“He was seven fucking feet tall! He never lost a game after he got traded to the Novas!” Haynk continued. “He was the best diamondball player on Earth.” “You’re not wrong, but Earth diamondball was a joke, man.” “Hey, Earth diamondball was the best diamondball; Earth diamondball was life, my friend.” 

“Maybe for you.” “For everybody! And LeBron James III would have crushed the Comets and Forlax Waxor’s scaly ass in ‘58, ‘59, ‘60 – any season.” 

“Now, hold on…” “Bet on it! I’d bet my Spring Equinox bonus that James III’s last known player stats are better than Waxor’s this year.” 

“Fine. I’ll take that bet.” “It’s done. Happy to take your money.” The pod began its descent at the designated landing site. The weather was clear, the terrain was flat, and according to the data that Haynk was given before their departure, they were about three miles away from the colony of mammals he was meant to infiltrate. This distance was necessary so that their descent would go unnoticed. During their first mission, Cahrl took them too close to the population and for 

generations afterward, images of the transport pod appeared on stone walls, primitive parchment, and even in certain performance art. The bosses were not pleased. But the newly regulated distance was fine – neither of them minded the walk. The more time they spent away from the EFC and its infinite mechanical problems, the better. 

“So,” Cahrl asked as they walked along, “what are we looking for this time?” “Same old, same old, my friend. Some grubby, bipedal bear things. I don’t know, I just skimmed the briefing.” 

“You didn’t read the whole briefing?” “I mean, do I need to? I know where they are.” “Yeah, but this is a pretty big responsibility. It’s a big deal. You’re fathering a whole species, that’s gotta mean more than just skimming the briefing, right?” 

“Hey, I’ve done this twice now and I still can’t afford the kinds of clothes and meals the higher-ups at the Center can, so how important can my ‘work’ really be?” 

“I think you’re wrong about that.” “Yeah, well, agree to disagree. Woah, hold on.” Haynk stopped walking, and Cahrl stopped with him. Just ahead of them was a figure, digging in the dirt. Cahrl unclipped his holster and put a claw on his laser pistol. Haynk pulled up his briefing and flipped through the pages. The figure glanced up at them. Nobody moved. Nobody spoke. Very gradually, the figure stood. This was a bipedal creature. This was a female. She stood five feet tall with patches of curly brown hair. The proportions of her limbs and the curves of her body were almost Promethan, but her posture and cranium were unique. More importantly, she carried a stick in one hand with a sharpened rock affixed to the end of it. 

“Is that…” Cahrl began. “A tool. She’s got an advanced tool,” Haynk confirmed, skimming wildly through his briefing. Nothing said that these creatures were more advanced than the basic mammalian stage. They weren’t supposed to be using tools. Haynk was expecting a clumsy, hairy beast of a creature. 

“What’s our move, here, Haynk?” Cahrl asked, claw still on his weapon. “I mean, I think that’s our mark.” “You’re sure? You only skimmed the briefing.” “I’m sure! Get off my back about that! Look, it says they trade stones with each other. Shiny stones, you know, like Earth penguins. Remember them?” 

“Okay, so…where’s your shiny stone?” “I don’t know, I guess I gotta go find one! The shoreline is about a half mile that way. Can you keep an eye on her? Make sure she doesn’t run off. If she does, follow her and give me a call on the communicator so I can find you.” 

“Hurry,” Cahrl said, and reclipped his holster. “You won’t even know I’m gone.” Haynk patted Cahrl on the back and ran off toward the water. The mammalian female followed him with her head as he departed, but her body remained still. Once the sound of Haynk’s footsteps faded, her attention was back on Cahrl. Still, neither of them moved. Neither of them spoke. She was making hard eye contact with him, and after a few moments, Cahrl felt very awkward. He raised one of his claws and gave a sheepish wave. She didn’t react at first, but slowly advanced toward him. She took deliberate, 

measured steps with her eyes locked onto his. 

“Oh, oh. Okay, that’s far enough,” Cahrl stammered. He unclipped his holster again and pulled the laser pistol out. The mammalian female didn’t react, but continued to advance. Cahrl raised his weapon and aimed it at the ground in front of her. Still, she advanced. He fired. A small divot of dirt exploded in front of her. She paused, glanced at the divot, but resumed her advance on Cahrl until she stopped mere feet from him. Cahrl had his pistol pointed at her chest. She maintained her intense eye contact, but made no move to attack. Carl’s tongue shot out of his mouth and licked his own eyeball – a nervous habit from when he was a hatchling. This drew a smirk from the mammalian female who ran a hand (or paw) down Cahrl’s chest. She purred. 

Haynk’s feet were sloshing as he made his way back to the clearing. In retrieving a lustrous purple pebble from the shoreline, a small tidal wave soaked him from the waist down. He was ready to get this whole thing over with and get back to the transport pod, but as he crested the next hill, 

“What the fuck!” The frills on Cahrl’s neck and shoulders flared and shuddered. The mammalian female gasped deeply, her legs wrapped tightly around Cahrl’s waist as they climaxed together. Haynk stomped toward them, and – suddenly aware of his presence – the mammalian female lithely slid off Cahrl, grabbed her weapon, and ran off the way she came. Cahrl scooped some dirt from the ground and tossed it onto his back to cool down. He stood. 

“What the fuck!” Haynk said again, punching Cahrl in the arm. “Relax!” “Oh, ‘relax’ he says! You just forced your reptile seed into the apparently intelligent mammal population, and I’m supposed to relax?” 

“I didn’t force anything,” Cahrl said, holding up his claws, “she approached me, and I consented. It was all good.” 

“It’s not all good!” “It was actually pretty damn good.” “Cahrl! Don’t you think these mammals are gonna know something’s up when a brood of lizard babies start crawling around?” 

Cahrl paused. “Earth didn’t know.” “What?” “Earth didn’t know.” “You did this on Earth, too?!” “And Earth One.” “That’s not what I — Earth One and Two? How?!” “Same thing! A female approached me, and…” “No! I mean, how is that possible? How did nobody notice? How did I not notice?” Cahrl pulled on the rest of his gear and walked back toward the transport pod, Haynk following close behind. 

“The mammalian genes are more dominant in secondary physical characteristics, Haynk. You can barely tell the difference unless you’re looking for it.” 

“So, Earth had a bunch of half-Reptilians walking around and nobody knew?” 

“That’s what I’m saying.” “Who?” “Lots of people.” “Names!” “I don’t know, Haynk, lots of people! Ramses II, Dōgen Zenji, Vladimir Lenin, Kellyanne Conway – lots. Even cross-breeding with Promethean descendents, the Reptilian gene stays active in the population for generations. Now, come on, you found a really nice pebble. Why don’t you go back, find a different mammal…” 

“No, I don’t want to now.” “Haynk….” “No! This planet can be full of fucking lizard people, I don’t care. Let’s just get back to the Center.” 

Cahrl opened the door of the transport pod and stepped inside. Haynk, still pouting, stepped one foot into the pod, but stopped in sudden realization. 

“Who else was an Earth Reptilian?” “Come on, Haynk…” “No. Hey. Cahrl? Who else?” Cahrl sighed. “LeBron James III.” “Son of a — ” The door of the pod closed.

Rob Southgate is a professional actor in commercials and films, a professional podcaster, and a professional public speaker. He is currently preparing the debut of his first book and busily booking a national tour of the SMG Podcast Marathon. Rob loves sharing ideas with others and creating opportunities for his creative associates. Along with his wife, Martha, Rob started Southgate Media Group as a creative outlet and a way to incorporate all of their interests and their past experiences. SMG is home to over 100 podcasts, blogs, and video channels. If you think Rob has a lot going on, ask him about his amazing daughter, Molly.

Josh Ballard’s work has been seen all over the Chicagoland area for the past 11 years.  From Ren Faires to radio, pantos to photoshoots, he is an actor that can, and will, do anything.  A grad of Columbia College Chicago, Josh is excited to be a part of this unique series with one of the fastest growing theatre companies in Chicago!

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