Is This the Complaints Department?
Written by Calle Dybedahl
The room was painted in that supposedly calming off-green colour
particular to large public institutions. At one end was a door, at the
other a glass-covered hole in the wall with a small grille in the
middle and another room behind it. Over the hole a faded sign saying
"COMPLAINTS" hung. In between the door and the complaints counter a
low table, a worn fake-leather couch, two equally worn fake-leather
armchairs and a large flowerpot with a long-dead yucca palm in it had
been placed. On the table some old magazines lay thrown. The lot of it
was lit by overhead fluorescent tubes, one of which blinked on and off
and buzzed. In the sofa a dark-haired woman sat. She was dressed in a
black uniform with a bunch of white stripes on the upper chest and
shoulders. Her hair was done up in a braid that reached about midway
down her back. She was flipping through a magazine, obviously bored.
She didn't even look up when the door opened and a blonde woman in
tight trousers and loose blouse entered.
"Er, excuse me?" the blonde woman said. "Is this the complaints
"That's what the sign says," the woman on the couch answered.
"Although I haven't been able to do much complaining so far."
The blonde walked in. "I guess I'll just wait here, then," she said and
sat down in one of the armchairs.
For a minute or so, they just sat there. "Which series are you from?"
the blonde asked when she couldn't stand the oppressive silence any
For the first time the dark-haired woman looked up from her magazine.
"'Babylon 5'," she said while she took a long, good look at the
blonde. Her gaze stuck around rather longer than necessary in the
general region of the blonde's breasts. "Susan Ivanova, second-tier
main character." She offered a hand across the table.
"Jenna Stannis," the blonde said as she shook Ivanova's hand. "From
'Blake's 7'. Main character, I guess."
"That 'I guess' bit is why you're here?" Ivanova said once she'd let
go of Jenna's hand.
Jenna nodded. "It started out pretty good, you know? Tough smuggler
type, spaceship pilot, independent, that sort of thing. But lately it
feels like all I've been doing is to support the men while they're
"Yeah, that sort of thing stinks. I hope you can get something done
"If not, I think I'll drop out. And you?"
Ivanova's eyebrows rose. "Me? Oh, love-life trouble."
"Boyfriend of the week syndrome?"
"If only, that way I might get some... No, they have me take a very
long time to get close to someone and then when I finally do they kill
"Or him. One of each, now."
"Ok... Does anyone ever show up there?" Jenna said, pointing at the
"Not while I've been here. What about you? Any action in your series?"
"Well, we run around quarries and get shot at a lot."
"No, I meant the other kind of action."
"Ah." Jenna laughed. "Hardly. It's a BBC series. The closest I've
got to sex is when Cally grabbed my tit in 'Orac'."
"Tough. Series been running long?"
"Two seasons now."
"Just finished four here."
"And you haven't had any for all that time?"
"There was that one time in season two with Talia..."
Jenna didn't have time to say more than "Oh really? Tell me more, will
you?" before the door slammed open and a short reddish-blonde girl
stormed in. She was dressed in a small dark-green top, short brown
skirt, knee-high soft boots and held a staff firmly in one hand. She
walked right up to the counter and started banging quite vigorously
at the glass with her staff.
"HELLO?!" she shouted. "Anybody in there? I've got a
complaint to make, damn it!"
There was no response whatsoever from inside. "Er, excuse me?" Ivanova
said, more than a bit worried about what would happen if the girl
actually broke the glass.
The girl turned around. "Yes!" she snarled.
"There's no one there," Ivanova said. "I've been waiting here for hours."
The blonde girl seemed to shrink a couple of inches as the worst anger
ran out of her. "Oh Tartarus," she said. "I really felt like shouting
at someone. I'm so damn frustrated."
Jenna smiled crookedly. "Boyfriend trouble?"
The girl sat down in the unoccupied armchair. "No, I can beat him over
the head if he gets frisky. It's my girlfriend who's the problem."
"Girlfriend?" Jenna and Ivanova said simultaneously, whereafter they
both started eyeing the girl in a rather different way. They both
liked what they saw, which, dressed as she was, was quite a bit.
"Yeah, girlfriend..." She got a faraway and dreamy look for a few
moments, then shook her head to clear it and smiled. "I didn't
introduce myself, did I? Gabrielle, sidekick from 'Xena: Warrior
Princess'. Pleased to meet you both."
"Ivanova, 'Babylon 5'" and "Jenna, 'Blake's 7'" was muttered from the
other women and there was a general shaking of hands.
"So, what's the problem with your girlfriend?" Ivanova asked.
Gabrielle sighed. "The writers almost, but not quite, let us get it
on. It was sort of fun to begin with, but after a season or so I was
so horny I was ready to pull Joxer into the bushes." She shuddered at
"Did you try talking to the writers?" Jenna asked. "It sounds like
they were at least willing to ponder the concept, unlike my writers."
"Yeah, I did," Gabrielle said. "'Hey look,' I said, 'it's just about
two people being in love and making each other feel good. Really,
really good... What's so wrong with that?' And they squirm a
bit and they say 'Well, you know, Gabby, it's all about the viewers,
ok? Some of them really don't think this lesbian stuff is like
family-oriented and wholesome and stuff, so we don't want to be too
in-your-face about it. We know you can do it. Talk to the producers
about getting you a vibrator if it gets too bad.'"
"Now there's an idea," Ivanova muttered under her breath.
Gabrielle went on as if she hadn't heard. "And then what do they do?
They have me get raped by an evil god, that's what they do! Even
ignoring the moral dubiousness inherent in portraying beings as
intrinsically incapable of ethical choice, that's not exactly
family-oriented, you know? I mean, it's unacceptable if I fuck Xena,
but it's all right for this thing to rape me? Hello? Consistency of
opinion, anyone? And just to add insult to injury, it's not even a
proper fucking that might leave me less frustrated afterwards I get by
this god-dude, oh no, it's a supernatural floating-around-in-fire
thing that leaves me just as horny only now I'm pregnant too! And the
less said about that pregnancy the better. I sure hope someone gets
here soon, because I've got some major complaining to do!"
"Not much to do but wait until someone gets here," Jenna muttered and
picked up a magazine at random from the table.
"Guess so," Ivanova agreed, and returned to the magazine she'd been
reading when Jenna entered.
Gabrielle sighed and put her feet up on the edge of the table. "Wait,
wait, wait. Always wait," she mumbled to herself.