Tag Archives: aliens

Death Under The Double Sun

I just finished reading Death in the Afternoon, by Ernest Hemingway. This is a homage/parody/science fiction adaptation of that. Incidentally, I was thinking lately what the weirdest post I’ve ever posted was. This might not be it, but it’s probably in the top five.

scorpion

The sport of Blizz-Blang1 is an ancient and venerable one on the planet of Tirk. It may seem confusing to outsiders, even barbaric, but in fact it is relatively simple.

There are five accepted styles of Blizz-Blang, but the most widespread is the Capitol variety. In it, the sport takes place in a ring of titanium that slowly gets smaller as the match progresses. The purpose of the sport is for the killer (whose ceremonial title is “Washerwoman”) to kill a giant scorpion-like creature, called a rrat. The rrat is sitting on a hovering platform and can only move its front claws and its fire-shooting afterburner, which was limited mobility.

The hovering platform is controlled mentally by a large, mutant slug, called a pincush, who, during the game, is simultaneously watching a documentary about reindeer. The subject matter of the documentary can change from style to style, but reindeer are the most common, followed by crop circles, the water cycle, and occasionally, sex.

In order to defeat the rrat, the Washerwoman must avoid getting killed him(or her)self, while convincing the pincush to help him kill the rrat. This is all done mentally, so to make the battle more interesting, the Washerwoman’s brainwaves are broadcast as a 3D hologram over the arena.

The method of attack can vary, depending on many factors. First, the Washerwoman must determine through leading questions, how interested the pincush is in the documentary it’s watching. If it is very interested, he might try to get it to kill the rrat absentmindedly, by running it into a wall, or dumping it into the pool of lava (which is always part of the ring.) If it not that interested in the documentary, the Washerwoman might ask it nicely to give it the laser sword which it has in its possession, so that he can kill the rrat and they can all go home. This mental conversation, which takes place while the Washerwoman is dodging the rrat and its deadly claws and afterburner, is very diverting.

If, for some reason, the pincush has a grudge against the Washerwoman, the Washerwoman has to use reverse psychology, thinking things like, “fine, I didn’t want to kill it anyway. Just get the rrat to rip off one of its own claws so I can use it to kill myself.” If this works, he then uses the claw to kill the rrat itself.

A final popular tactic is used when the pincush is both bored and very uncooperative. The Washerwoman falls on his knees, sobbing and pleading for his life, promising to sell out his friends and country for a little mercy and kissing the dirt near the pincush. When the pincush turns the rrat away in disgust, the Washerwoman jumps on its back (avoiding the afterburner) and pulls out its brainstem.

The pincush itself is never attacked in the arena, although it is often roasted and eaten at the feast that follows the game.

There are countless other traditions and varieties in Blizz-blang, including what the audiences eats in every round, and how much of it they are allowed to throw at the Washerwoman. There are rules about which holidays explosives are permitted on and which varieties allow prayer, and which ones ban it as an unfair advantage. I will not get into them all here, but if you ever visit Tirk, you will see for yourself.

-0-

1The name “Blizz-blang” comes from the traditional cry that the audience shouts when the match is over, which translates roughly as “Finally, the game is over. We can all go home and watch Blizz” (Blizz being the name of a popular reality show involving 64 white mice, know as bli).

 


It Could’ve Been Worse – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

It Could’ve Been Worse

“It could’ve been worse,” I said.

Her eyes machine-gunned daggers at me. “Worse? I can’t walk around with a chipped fingernail.”

A bolt of lightning shot out of the blue sky, exploding the front-yard maple.

“My car!” she screamed, as we picked ourselves off the road. “It’s only six months old.”

“At least you weren’t in it. It could’ve been worse.”

More lightning bolts shot down, hitting nearby houses, and the sky darkened with the shapes of hundreds of alien craft.

“It could be—”

She punched me. It could have been worse; at least she went for the face.


Motivational Drill Sergeant and the Aliens

My father, the Motivational Drill Sergeant, likes to tell this story, especially after he’s had a few Piña Coladas. That’s all he drinks, although he calls them Muzzle Blasters.

One night when my mother was off giving a speech to the UN, my father and I were at home playing the Game of Death. It’s a game he made up—basically a combination of the Game of Life and Risk with his own rules mixed in. He had already had a few Muzzle Blasters, and so I wasn’t surprised when he brought up the aliens.

With apologies to Milton Bradley

With apologies to Milton Bradley

“Boy, did I ever tell you about the time I got kidnapped by aliens?”

“I don’t think so,” I said, although I could probably have quoted the story, word for word.

“It was about 10 years ago, before you were born,” he said. I didn’t enlighten him that I was older than 10. “I was out by myself, skulking around the perimeter of Dollywood, since I’ve always been suspicious of that place. I was just climbing a tree, when I was approached by two aliens. They were yellow, looked like flowers, and were exactly opposite heights.”

flower alien

This is a detail he always puts in, although I’ve never figured out what “opposite heights” means exactly. I nodded and rolled the dice. “I’m attacking the wedding chapel,” I said.

“You only have four armies,” he said. “You need at least five armies to attack the chapel without a degree.”

“Yeah, but you said that if I cashed in my Fire Insurance, it was good for two more armies,” I said. He frowned a bit and then nodded. My father has made the Game of Death so complicated that I have to remind him of the rules sometimes.

“Anyway,” he said, taking another swig of Muzzle Blaster, “they asked me to come with them, to which I replied in the negative. Meaning, I told them to buzz off. The next thing I knew, I was onboard an alien spacecraft. I knew it was a spacecraft, because I saw the Earth in the window. That was a dead giveaway.”

“‘Are you out of your flowery, extraterrestrial gourds?’ I bellowed at them in my best drill sergeant yell. ‘How dare you kidnap me?’

“‘We need your help,’ one of the aliens said. He looked bashful and that made me feel better. ‘We’ve heard a lot about you.’

“That made me feel a lot better, but I didn’t as much as smile. ‘What’s the problem?’ I growled.

“‘We’ve spent years building up weapons of unimaginable destructive power but we’re too shy to use them,’ the alien said.”

“Did he blush orange when he said it?” I asked.

“He did, actually,” my dad said. “Are you sure you haven’t heard this story before?” He took my innocent look as confirmation that I hadn’t and continued.

“I said to those aliens, I said, ‘Well, who do you want to attack? Not us, I hope.’ ‘Oh no,’ they said. ‘We’ve seen enough of your TV programs to know you’d get way too angry. We were thinking of the innocuous creatures of Flufficon Four.’”

“I thought it was Cuddlius Three,” I said, forgetting that I’d never heard the story before.

“They wanted to attack a lot of innocuous planets,” my dad said. “Anyway, I stood up and slapped the main alien in the face. ‘What a bunch of spineless, gutless, yellow-bellied space pansies!’ ‘We’re actually closer to tulips,’ the main alien began, but I slapped him again.

“‘Shut up!’ I shouted. ‘If you got the flower-power, you use it, see? Nobody pushes you around and you don’t let a bunch of Flufficons or Cuddlians intimidate you. Ooh, what’s wrong, you waiting for an engraved invitation before you go attack them? Well, it’s not coming!”

“‘But—’ one of the aliens began but I cut him off. ‘But?’ I shouted. ‘But is something you sit on and you won’t conquer any planets sitting down. Now, stand up.’ They all stood up a lot straighter. ‘Get out there and conquer some innocuous planets and don’t let me see your sorry asses back here until you do. Also, if you could, drop me off at Dollywood before you go. Something about that Dolly Parton makes me suspicious.’”

While he had been telling the story, I had been quietly cheating and by now, I controlled most of the board. My dad looked down and grimaced.

“I’m nuking the retirement mansion,” he said, taking out a hammer.

“I thought you needed to roll two 12s in a row to do that,” I said.

“Okay,” he said, and proceeded to roll two 12s in a row. The hammer came down and the little plastic mansion was shattered. I don’t know how he does it, but no one beats my dad at games when he’s been drinking Muzzle Blasters.


Slumming on the Ceiling – Visual Fiction

Taken in Daejeon, South Korea

Taken in Daejeon, South Korea

Drunk. Bum. Loser. Deadbeat.

Freddie had heard them all and much worse as he sat in his underpass and watched people go by. He had a battered cardboard box in front of him with a few coins in it. Occasionally, more would be thrown in, but not usually. If the police chased him out, he waited until they walked away and then went back.

Thursday night had started as a good night. He had been able to buy a bottle of cheap liquor and had found a new blanket in a donation box. Half the bottle was gone when he suddenly began to feel lighter. Light began to filter in through the stairwells, increasing until it became as bright as day.

This is it, he thought. The angels, the angels are coming for me at last. One too many brown bag comforts, I suppose.

Freddie rose off the floor, floating up until he hit the ceiling. His perspective shifted and he found that the ceiling was now down for him, while the floor was above him. He sat in surprise and watched his handful of coins disappear into a light fixture. He tried to get them but burned his hand. It didn’t seem like he was dead.

With a shrug, he took a swig from the bottle and laid down on the ceiling. Freddie was used to life handing him surprises. Might as well make the best of it.

~*~

This is an alternate perspective on a couple of other stories I did, called What is it? and Why it’s bad to destroy the Earth.

 


The Killing Type (Part 2 of 2)

A few days ago, I posted a call for song suggestions. The idea was like my Open Prompts stories, except that I would use quotes from song lyrics in my story. Thank you to the people who gave me suggestions. They are, in the order they commented:

Arjun Bagga: Hank Williams Jr.’s “A Family Tradition

Miles Rost: Alphaville’s “Dance With Me

starlight: Patrick Park’s “Blackbird through the Dark

Michelle Proulx: Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes

The Bumble Files: Amanda Palmer’s “The Killing Type” (Also, obviously, the inspiration for the title)

I have linked the quotations from the songs to the place in the Youtube videos where they appear. This is Part 2 of the story, so you can read Part 1 here.

 

The Killing Type: Part 2

Cassandra looked over at Doug and saw the fierce delight in his eyes. He was staring at the squig-squill, like a gladiator staring down his doomed opponent in the ring.

“Come on, let’s just go,” Cassandra said, reaching out for his hand. He shook it away.

“Hold on, you gotta watch this.” Doug darted forward and held the knife in front of the squig-squill. The creature lashed out at the blade. A small splash of pale pink blood landed on the ground and it pulled back with a roar of pain.

“Hilarious, isn’t it?” Doug said, with a laugh. “It’ll keep attacking and hurting itself, it’s so stupid.”

“Doug, come on. Let’s go,” Cassandra said. She tugged on his arm, trying again to pull him back to the rover.

“Fine, let’s go,” he said at last. He darted forward again and stabbed the long knife through the squig-squill’s throat. The creature fell back and Doug stepped on its chest. Even with the thin atmosphere, Cassandra heard the crunch of breaking bones.

“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” she cried.

“What do you care? They’re just pests. I’m not going to leave it alive after I’ve found it.”

“But it didn’t attack us. It was just defending its home. How did you get in this condition, Doug? You weren’t like this four years ago.”

“It’s easy for you to say, Cassandra, living in Coventry in the middle of an empty plain. We fight these things every day up in the mountains. They hide in the mines, they ambush the transports. We wiped out a lot of them before we started digging, but still they keep coming back, again and again. We need to wipe this planet clean, and then there will be peace. Stay here a minute.” Doug stepped over the body of the squig-squill and disappeared behind the bushes.

“Where are you going?” she asked. He didn’t answer.

Cassandra followed him through the bushes. In front of them, the ravine came to an abrupt end and was covered with a screen of woven plants. Doug ripped it aside, revealing what looked like a pile of fur, until a head raised out of it, hissing and snarling.

Doug kicked the pile apart and a handful of scrawny younglings tumbled out of it. A female had been covering them with her body. The female attacked Doug’s legs with its teeth, but they had no effect against the metal shin guards built into his suit. He kicked it off and stepped on one of the younglings, slowly crushing it into the ground.

“Stop it!” Cassandra screamed. “Let’s just go. Please, Doug!”

This is a mercy killing, Cassandra,” he said. “These ones are dead anyway. If the female goes to get them food, they’ll freeze and if she doesn’t, they’ll starve. She won’t go, so they’ll all die slowly together. It’s a foregone conclusion anyway, so might as well get into it, right?” He gave her a grin as he moved from youngling to youngling. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch-crunch-crunch. “My jellyfish dance, Cassandra. No rhythm, so but I’ve got some deadly moves. Come dance.”

“You monster!” she shouted. It wasn’t just the killing; it was the look of joy on his face as he crushed the little creatures under his heavy boots.

He stopped smiling and looked hurt. “Geez, it was just a joke. Sorry.” Crunch. “It’s got to be done—I was just putting a good face on it.” Crunch.

“Would you just stop!” she shouted, so loud he put his hand up to his ear in pain. The female was crawling back towards him and he stepped away from it.

“What do you want, Cassandra? We can’t live on this planet in peace with these things, and if they’re going to attack us, someone has to stop them. And I’m good at it. I saw you when you were dancing, with that look of joy on your face, oblivious to the rest of the world. You know that desire that burns a hole you’ll never fill with anything else. You have dancing and I have hunting. You’re the dancing type; I guess I’m the killing type.”

She looked into his face and saw with horror that he was right. He had become a killer, and he loved it. He turned around. “Go back and wait at the rover. I’m just going to take care of this last one.” He held up the knife and took a step towards the female squig-squill.

Cassandra ran at him and shoved him to the side. Doug tried to step to the side to maintain his balance, but he tripped on a rock and fell face down. His scream of pain reverberated inside her helmet. She ran to him and pulled him over and gasped when she saw the knife sticking out of his chest.

“Doug, I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

“Killer,” he whispered, and for a moment, she saw his familiar, teasing grin touch the corners of his mouth before the life went out of his eyes.

Cassandra stayed kneeling for a moment until she remembered the squig-squill behind her. She jumped up, but it was nowhere near her. It was picking up the crushed little bodies that were scattered around the dell and arranging them by the rock wall. Then, as she watched, it made its way out through the bushes and lay down, covering the body of the dead squig-squill with its own.

Cassandra pushed the button on the com, trying to keep the tears out of her voice. Still, her voice quavered when she spoke. “Akash, come get me. There’s been an accident.”

*         *         *

Coventry Outpost was a storm of rumors, but all anyone knew for sure was that Doug Rankin, the son of Camellia Outpost’s commander, was dead. Cassandra sat in her room, confined there by her father while they sorted things out. After an hour, her parents came in. Her mother sat down and hugged her tightly.

“This is a horrible tragedy,” her father said, “but I think we’ve found a way for some good to come from it. Here is what you are going to tell everyone: you were walking with Doug when you were attacked by a group of squig-squills. He tried to defend you and killed a lot of them, but then several hit him from behind and he fell, accidentally stabbing himself with his knife. Akash is willing to testify that he was worried about you and came to find you, arriving just in time to scare them off.”

“What good could come from that?” Cassandra asked softly. She felt as if all the energy was drained out of her. The world was a more confusing place than it had been, just hours before.

“You pushed him and he died,” her mother said. “Some people might consider that manslaughter, and that could even carry the death penalty if Rankin pushes for it. He is inconsolable. But there were no witnesses; there’s no reason we should even go through that.”

“Plus, now I’ll have a pretext to start hunting them again,” her father said. “The commander seems to think that since they’re not attacking us at the moment, we have to maintain some sort of truce with them. But their numbers are just increasing and some day there may be enough to attack Coventry itself. Remember the Magnolia.

“No, I’m not going to tell them that,” Cassandra said. “I’m not going to let you hunt them. I saw them, Dad. They’re intelligent, and it would be wrong.”

“You would throw away everything because of them?” Her father’s voice was full of disgust and disbelief. “You would possibly even die for those things—our mortal enemy?”

“I’m not a killer, Dad,” Cassandra said. “I’m sorry. I guess I broke the family tradition.”

coventry outpost


The Killing Type (Part 1 of 2)

A few days ago, I posted a call for song suggestions. The idea was like my Open Prompts stories, except that I would use quotes from song lyrics in my story. Thank you to the people who gave me suggestions. They are, in the order they commented:

Arjun Bagga: Hank Williams Jr.’s “A Family Tradition

Miles Rost: Alphaville’s “Dance With Me

starlight: Patrick Park’s “Blackbird through the Dark

Michelle Proulx: Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes

The Bumble Files: Amanda Palmer’s “The Killing Type” (Also, obviously, the inspiration for the title)

I have linked the quotations from the songs to the place in the Youtube videos where they appear. The story is about 2500 words, so I split it into two parts. The second part will be posted tomorrow.

The Killing Type: Part 1

He finally found her, dancing alone in the stardust dawn underneath the crystal roof of the power station. She was twirling and pirouetting with utter abandon, her eyes closed and her feet splashing through the oil and waste water on the floor.

“Cassandra,” he said at last, hating to break the spell of her dancing.

Cassandra stopped and looked up, then her eyes widened. “Doug? Is that really you?” She flitted up to the steel ladder and gave him a hug. “Stars, you got tall in a hurry. When did you get here?”

“An hour ago, maybe,” he said, grinning. “It took me most of that time to find you. What are you doing here, in this filth?”

“It’s the only place I can be alone and still see the stars,” Cassandra said. “I don’t want to dance where people can see me. I was born in Coventry Outpost but still, the close quarters, always being near everyone else—it gets to me.”

“But at what price?” Doug asked. He indicated her bare feet that were covered with tar balls and scars.

“It’s worth it,” she said and suddenly laughed. “Tell me what’s happening with you. I haven’t seen you in four years.”

“It’s a great life out there on the frontier. I’m working with my father to expand Camellia Outpost. We just built the smelter and factory.” He paused. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” she said. She took his hand. “Hey, do you want to dance with me?”

“I’m not really the dancing type. I’ve got no rhythm.”

“Bah! I remember you. You’re slow and graceful, like a jellyfish. When you move like a jellyfish, rhythm don’t mean nothing.”

“Jellyfish are deadly too, though,” Doug said. “Hey, I know what we can do. Have you ever killed a squig-squill before?”

“What?”

“I’ve gotten really good at it—you gotta be out where I live. I can hit one with an air rifle at 50 meters. You wanna try?”

Cassandra looked up into his eager, expectant face and let go of his hand. “I’m really not the killing type,” she said.

He nodded. “Okay, okay. But let’s go find some anyway, just to look at. Have you ever seen one?”

“Only in pictures.” Cassandra had seen lots of pictures of squig-squill bodies that had been killed back when she was a baby. They looked like limp bags of fur with claws sticking out of them. Her father was head of patrols and boasted about killing hundreds of them. These days, though, the outpost commander forbade them from hunting squig-squills unless they passed the outer perimeter of the outpost.

“You gotta see one up close,” Doug said. “I’ve gotten really good at finding their nests. So, you wanna?”

“Isn’t it dangerous? What about the Magnolia?” The very first manned mission to Asteria had been attacked and annihilated by squig-squills, back when Cassandra’s parents were children on Earth. The legend lived on, though, and every child in Coventry had to memorize the names of the ten astronauts killed.

“That was back when we didn’t know how to deal with them. Trust me; there’s no danger at all.” Doug gave her a reassuring smile.

“It’s pretty far to walk, though,” she persisted. “The outer perimeter is 5 km out and there aren’t any squig-squills within that.”

“Listen,” Doug said, as if he were imparting a secret, “I’ve got a rover.” His eyes were shining. “It’s the first one we’ve built at the factory. That’s how I got here; I drove it and my dad drove a transport.” He caught up her hand and squeezed it. “I know that before I left, we used to be just good friends—”

“More than just friends,” Cassandra said, smiling.

“We would have been, if I hadn’t had to leave.” He suddenly leaned in and kissed her. It felt good and she would have kept kissing him, but he straightened up with an impish grin.

“Fine, go show me a squig-squill,” she said and he hugged her again. Cassandra wiped off her feet, put her boots back on and then led the way out to the vehicle dock.

The commander of Coventry Outpost was hosting a banquet in honor of Doug’s father, Commander Frederick Rankin, and almost the entire population of Coventry Outpost was squeezed into the main dome. The only person Cassandra and Doug met on the way out was Akash, the guard at the airlock gate.

“I just heard over the com that they’re looking for you two, you know,” he said, giving them a knowing smile.

“They can’t be looking very hard,” Doug said.

“No, they’re not,” Akash said, “and they probably think you’re off somewhere, catching up. Which I guess you are.” He pushed the button to open the airlock. “Don’t go far, and stay on the com.”

“Yessir,” Doug said with a salute. He gunned the engine and the rover sped out over barren plain.

For Cassandra—sitting behind Doug with her arms around his waist—the feeling of speed and openness was heavenly. She was only able to leave the outpost every 20 days or so, and that was just to walk around the perimeter and check the instruments. Red dirt and sand covered all the land as far as she could see. Asteria’s blazing sun was just over the horizon and the light sparkled and flashed in the upper atmosphere. Above them, tethered lightdomes hung in the upper atmosphere, gathering energy and providing the outpost with its communications. Through the lightdomes shining in the sky, the last of the night’s stars burned in the midnight blue expanse.

Doug drove them out past the perimeter and up into the foothills of the rocky spine that led from Coventry to Camellia, 200 km away. Small, scrubby plants began to appear among the rocks, interspersed with icy pools.

They came to a ravine cut in the rocks and Doug stopped the rover. “This is the kind of place you’d find them in,” he said.

Cassandra heard his voice through the speaker in her helmet. He pointed to a white smear on the rocks, about a foot off the ground. “Look there. They leave those around a lot too. To mark their territory or something.”

Doug took Cassandra’s hand and led her towards the ravine. The light of the sun was blocked by the rocks and the ravine was in deep gloom.

“Is this safe?” she asked. “How will we know where they are?” She noticed that he had drawn a long knife and was holding it in front of him. “What’s that for?”

“The males are aggressive. Best not to take chances.”

Before they could take another step, Cassandra heard a high-pitched roar. It sounded faint and far-off in the thin air. A squig-squill burst out of the bushes, blocking their path. This looked nothing like the limps bundles of fur she had seen in pictures. Its small, misshapen head was stretched out on a thin neck and flicked back and forth, mouth open and menacing. It moved its clawed limbs in circles in front of it, but did not attack.

(to be concluded, here)


A Lily Look-Alike’s Lament – Friday Fictioneers

This Friday Fictioneers story includes dark humor and white flowers. On a side note, I dare you to say the title five times fast.

copyright Lora Mitchell

copyright Lora Mitchell

A Lily Look-alike’s Lament

I’m making this video to say that I quit. It’s too hard. I came to this planet to make friends and have adventures, but everyone mistakes me for a type of local flora known as a lil-lee. I hate it when they stick their noses in my mouths, inhale deeply and say “ahhh”. I’ve always been ashamed of my body odor. They put me next to dead people too.

I’m going to throw myself out this window as soon as I can get . . . it . . . open.

I guess I’ll just wait for someone to throw me away.

Too bad I’m immortal.


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