Issue #14: Alien Tech

Image courtesy of © Algol - Fotolia.com

Image courtesy of © Algol – Fotolia.com

The thought of life existing on worlds other than our own, out there in the asteroid-filled expanses of deep space is a fun one for writers. One thing we like to think about is: what kind of tools or machines would aliens use in their day-to-day lives? This is what I asked for from authors for this issue: write about some of the technology employed by off-world sentient races. I got some interesting and fun stories in for this one. There’s an android. And alien potato chips!

As I said to my friend Rexodigis 9.5  from the planet of the Squid People: “Is that a particle gun in your tentacle sling, or are you just happy to see me?”

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Shinigami Stories: Reaping the Harvest of Souls issue will be a contest issue! One lucky author will win a prize for best story ($15). Two-runners up will receive $10 and $5, respectively for second and third place. I’m a broke-ass college student, but I’m also an author, and I know what it’s like to not get paid for your hard work. It’s been awhile since I could afford to do a contest issue, so I’m glad I’m able to do one again. Unlike the last issue, which was a reader’s poll, I may want to have judges for this one. Not myself. Please email me if you are interested in judging the contest at were.traveler@gmail.com. As I’m making this issue a contest issue, I’m changing some rules for the submissions. See the Calls for Submissions page for details

Now back to your regularly scheduled reading!

Issue #14: Alien Tech

The Purple Gumdrop, by Michael A. Kechula (flash)

Aftermath, by Stephen Sottong (short story)

Readme.txt, by Mathias Jansson (poem)

Not Too Bad, by Lisa Hawkridge (micro-fiction)

Downfall, by Elizabeth Prybylski (short story)

The Crystal Chamber, by Maria Kelly (drabble)

Bounce, by Denny E. Marshall (drabble)

Vibro-Gonzers,  by Michael A. Kechula (flash)

The Purple Gumdrop, by Michael A. Kechula

This story was first published in May 2005 in Apollo’s Lyre Magazine.  

~~

“What the hell happened to the house?” Joe yelled.

Shaking badly, Marge said, “A big, purple thing fell from the sky and hit it while I was making a tuna casserole.  It made a big bang.  The whole house shook.  Scared me to death.”

“Why didn’t you call 911?”

“The phone’s dead.”

Looking toward the back yard, Joe said, “I don’t’ see anything.”

“That because it bounced off the roof, hit the ground, and fell into the ravine out back.

“Did you say it was purple?”

“Yeah.  Looks like a big, purple gumdrop.”

Joe grabbed a shotgun.

“Be careful,” Marge said.  “It might be a weapon of mass destruction. My mother would get mad if I got nuked.”

“Nobody’s gonna drop bombs in the middle of nowhere.  They’ll do it in the city.    That’s why we moved outta there.”

“I wish we’d never left,” she said.  “I told you something bad would happen if we moved out of my mom’s house to live in the mountains.   Even my mom warned you, and she’s always right.  We must have told you ten-thousand times.”

“Stop nagging,” Joe yelled. “Since we moved, you’ve almost busted my eardrums with your constant belly aching. Oh, what’s the use!  Wait here, while I check the back.”

Once outside, Joe noticed purple, walnut-sized orbs scattered around the yard.  They were warm and sticky. Smelling one, he could have sworn it was made of sugar.  A quick taste proved him right.  What kind of thing falls out of the sky and drops sugar balls on my property?

Looking over the edge of the ravine, he saw a purple, gumdrop-shaped object, about two stories high.  It was loaded with sugar balls.

Climbing down the ravine to inspect the object, Joe heard a hiss.  He watched in fascination as a door opened.  He nearly freaked when a four-legged, three-armed alien stepped out.   Pointing the shotgun with shaking hands, Joe yelled, “Get-em-up.”

The alien fell to the ground, lay on his back, and pushed his legs upward.

“Raise your hands, not your legs.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you did it that way here.  I guess I’m not on Mars.”

“Far from it.  Move away from your…uh…purple gumdrop.”

“It’s not a gumdrop.  It’s a potato chip.”

Joe wasn’t up to arguing semantics.  Especially with such a nerdy looking alien.  Joe noticed a pen-filled, ink-stained shirt pocket, four pants bottoms that barely brushed the tops of white anklets, and eye glasses held together by duct tape.

“Where exactly am I?”  the nerd asked.

“Earth.”

“You sure?  I didn’t know Earth was populated.  I was trying to reach your moon.  We’re having a contest in my engineering class.  Each student built a spacecraft, and launched it using massive rubber bands.  Whoever goes farthest, wins.  Look, I need to get back.  I have final exams in two days.

“You ain’t gong nowhere until you pay to fix my house.”

“It does look pretty bad.  Will a check for 10,000 MPUs do it?”

“What the hell is MPUs?” Joe yelled.

“Martian pecuniary units.”

“I want greenbacks, Pal.”

“I don’t know what greenbacks are.   If we’d known beings were here, we could’ve set up  diplomatic contacts, mail service, interplanetary money exchanges.  Look, I just want to get back home.   I have a back up engine for lift-offs.  But I need some Mercury to generate enough power.  My mercury cell smashed when I hit your house.”

“I’ll call the space agency,” Joe said.  “They can handle your problem.”

A quick call to NASA got Joe nowhere.

“It’s a government holiday,” the operator said.  “Nobody’s here.  Did you say he was a Martian?”

“Yes.  With four legs, three arms, and two noses.”

“I’ll switch you to the Area 51 operator.   I know they’ll send somebody over real fast.  They haven’t done an alien autopsy since Roswell.  I know they’re itching to do another. I’m ringing them now.”

Joe slammed the phone down. Right away they wanna  use scalpels.  I don’t wanna see this poor slob getting chopped to pieces on an autopsy table.

“You gotta get outta here,” Joe said. “Unless you wanna be turned into pet food.   What do you need to make your engine work?”

“Mercury.”

“I have a thermometer with a some mercury inside,” Joe said.

“That’s not enough.”

Joe thought about the ton of canned tuna his wife kept on hand to make her daily tuna surprises.  He ran to the house, and returned with two big plastic bags filled to the brim.

“Use this for your engine,” Joe said.  “Tuna fish.  They say it’s loaded with mercury.”

Joe’s two hands, plus the alien’s six, quickly opened the cans.  The alien ran inside the purple potato chip and dumped three cans into the engine.  The engine sputtered and belched black smoke.  When all the cans were poured in, the engine purred.

Joe was a glad he’d thought of the tuna.  Especially when he heard helicopters in the distance.

“Hey, you better get outta here fast.   Otherwise, you’re gonna miss your exams, permanently.”

“Help me gather the purple balls,” the alien said.  “They’re heat tiles.  I gotta put them back onto my purple potato chip, before I can take off.”

While helping to stick sugar balls back onto the craft’s exterior, Joe asked,  “What are Martian woman like?”

“They’re a worthless lot.  They hand-feed us, bathe us, brush our hair, do our nails. Their homemade gourmet cooking and pastries are ridiculously fancy.  They offer pleasure every hour, any way we want.”

“Sounds awful,” Joe said, smiling.  “Do you have mothers-in-law?”

“What’s that?”

“Nothing worth mentioning.  Hey, can I go to Mars with you?”

“Great idea.  You can prove that I made it all the way to Earth.”

Joe jumped aboard the purple potato chip.  Marge ran outside when she heard the engine’s roar.

During lift off, Joe waved goodbye to Marge and tried to bean her with empty tuna cans.

~~

Michael A. Kechula’s flash and micro-fiction tales have been published by 150 magazines and 50 anthologies in 8 countries. He’s won 1st prize in 12 writing contests and 2nd prize in 8 others. He’s authored 5 books of flash and micro-fiction tales, including a book that teaches how to write flash fiction. See his publisher’s site at: http://www.booksforabuck.com/ to read a free story or chapter in all of his books. 

Aftermath, by Stephen Sottong

Aftermath, a followup to “War of the Worlds.”

~~

The light flickered. John Strutt, Lord Rayleigh raised his head and glowered at the 14-year-old. “Mr. Butterworth, would you please attend to your duties.” The teenager scampered back to the arc lamp and adjusted the gap of the carbon rods. “I’m sure you find this device far more fascinating than that lamp, but we each have our part and yours is to ensure we have light for our investigation.”

“Yes, sir.” The boy aimed the light at the tube next to the bronze, helmet-shaped bulk of the Martian machine.

Rayleigh shook his head and resumed his analysis. “So are we in agreement that this section of the device is magnetic in nature?”

J.J. Thomson adjusted his glasses. “That is the way I see it. Ernest?”

Rutherford nodded. “I agree. Which would mean that this section of the weapon consolidates the radiant matter and ejects it at high velocity.”

Rayleigh nodded. “And when it strikes an object, it either vaporizes it or ignites it.”

“Lord Rayleigh,” the voice of young Butterworth came from behind the lamp, “we have visitors. They look official.”

“Thank you, Mr. Butterworth. You may extinguish the lamp. Find yourself some supper while we talk.”

The boy left as the three scientists rose and put on their coats. A stout and heavily bearded man walked gingerly across the pockmarked ruins of Hyde Park and entered the makeshift tent that covered the Martian machine.

Rayleigh gave a slight bow. “Prime Minister.” He gestured to his two companions. “Lord Robert Cecil may I introduce you to my associates Professor Thomson and his gifted student Ernest Rutherford.”

They shook hands and the Prime Minister turned back to Rayleigh. “What happened to Lord Kelvin?”

“He was working, as you know, on another open machine trying to determine the power source. He disconnected what appeared to be either a hose or cable. There was a flash of light which blinded those observing at a thousand yards distance. We can only surmise his lordship perished instantly.”

“No one has checked?”

“The people who witnessed the event quickly became ill. They showed signs of being burned not only on the outside of their bodies but internally as well. They are dying — all of them. We have abandoned the area for fear of further casualties.”

The Prime Minister looked down, stroking his beard. “Did you at least find out which hose he disconnected so we don’t repeat the mistake?”

“Yes, your lordship. Lord Kelvin had established a telephone connection with his aides and was telling them precisely what he was doing. They kept thorough notes.”

“So the Martian machine the Lord Kelvin was working on is probably permanently disabled.”

Rayleigh nodded. “That would be my conclusion.”

The Prime Minister walked to the table where the Martian weapon lay, partially disassembled. “Have you determined how this works?”

Thomson moved forward. “The rear portion of the device seems to create radiant matter — a gas heated until it becomes nothing more than charged particles — of the kind Sir William Crookes first described twenty years ago. The forward part turns that radiant matter into a fast moving stream which can be aimed like a cannon.”

Cecil sighed. “Incinerating everything it touches. Can you make it work?”

“Your lordship,” Rutherford said, “the amount of power required to make this device work is unfathomable. The boilers of every battleship in the fleet would not be adequate for the job. Hidden inside this monstrous contraption is a source of power totally unknown to our science — a source of power that allowed them to crash land their vessels yet nullify the forces that should have smashed everything inside — a source of power that has already killed Lord Kelvin and his associates.”

Rayleigh went to the Prime Minister’s side. “And I have more disturbing news. Dr. Lister performed a dissection on one of the Martians and subsequently became ill as did his staff. They’ve been place in quarantine. Lister stated that he used great care in accordance with the germ theory her propounds but still was infected. Since they found no trace of bacteria on the creatures before this, he believes this may be the result of some disease organism the creature ingested as it was feeding on a human which subsequently transformed due to contact with the Martians. He stated that the cause of death of the creature was most likely from a disease it contracted from breathing our air.”

Cecil looked around to ensure no one could overhear him. “I’ve had reports of outbreaks of a new type of ague spreading through the country. That may have been what took our dear Queen. The damnable Martians may yet destroy us just as we destroyed them. But none of you are ill, I hope?”

“No, your lordship,” Rayleigh said.

“Good. Keep working on this. We need it operational.”

“Are you expecting,” Thomson asked, “another attack?”

“No. We’ve seen no further evidence of activity on the Martian surface, but King Edward is to attend a world peace conference in a few months and I want us bargaining from a position of strength. The Kaiser, it seems, sent agents into our country and retrieved sections of one of the disabled machines which they are examining with Teutonic efficiency. The French are attempting to dredge up the machine that was disabled in the channel. The Czar has been working with the Kaiser and the Americans, rumor has it, have their embassy staff on a fishing expedition throughout the countryside to retrieve anything that isn’t secured. The first nation that can make the Martian technology work will be able to dictate terms to the world, and I want that nation to be ours. This is your patriotic duty for your king and motherland. So back to your work.” Lord Cecil turned and left.

The three scientists stood watching his retreating form.

“Your lordship,” Butterworth’s said from behind the lamp, “will you be needing the light again?”

Rayleigh paused a second, still lost in thought. “Yes.” He nodded slowly. “We’ll be getting back to work.”

~~

My story Planetary Scouts was one of the winners of the “Writers of the Future” contest in 2013. Dinner Date appeared in September 2013 on everydayfiction.com and a drabble Friends appeared in the anthology “100 Worlds”. For more information visit my website http://www.stephensottong.com.

Readme.txt, by Mathias Jansson

I am an Android

I could not sleep

I tried to count electric sheep

but after 20 years

and billions of sheep

I still could not sleep

 

From the net

I installed an app

so I could count

cows, horses and pigs

 

But something went wrong

it was all a trap

a malicious code

corrupted my system

 

I am stuck in an endless loop

in a fragmented world

filled with errors

and glitches

 

I am an Android

and I think I am dreaming…

 

Beginning dump of physical memory.

 

sleep, deep, sheep

beep, beep, beep…

sleep, deep, sheep

beep, beep, beep…

install#dot.mstroy.f://all.exe.ddos

slave, dark, shark

format, format, format

format, format, format

format, format, format…..

~~
Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and horror poet. He has been published in magazines as The Horror Zine, Dark Eclipse, Schlock and The Sirens Call. He has also contributed to over 50 different horror anthologies from publishers as Horrified Press, James Ward Kirk Fiction, Source Point Press, Thirteen Press, etc. Homepage: http://mathiasjansson72.blogspot.se/ Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mathias-Jansson/e/B00BTDBYBQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4?qid=1366806658&sr=8-4

Not Too Bad, by Lisa Hawkridge

“What did you do that for, Ricky?” Oolo asked, accent lilting in a way that only mouth tentacles trying to produce English phonemes could.

Ricky scowled. “Those bastards insulted your entire species!”

Oolo’s chin tentacles flicked up involuntarily. “Just like a human to take offence to that. Did you know that Lars called the inter-plans and they voice pinged him?”

Ricky bit his lip. “Yeah, well…”

There was an explosion behind them and the ship they were meeting the traders on exploded.

Oolo’s chin tentacles pulled upward fully. “Mechanical malfunction. Too bad the inter-plans won’t have any evidence of what happened.”

Ricky grinned. “You sneaky bastard.” His grin faded slightly. “You realize that means we’re suck on this planet now, right?”

Oolo’s chin tentacles dropped slightly, and Oolo stepped forward, wrapping said chin tentacles around Ricky’s chin in the best approximation of the romantic intertwining of chin tentacles possible with someone who didn’t have any.

“Somehow, I don’t think it will be too bad.”

~~

Lisa Hawkridge is a young woman living in Massachusetts who’s been published in short story anthologies by Seventh Star Press. She almost exclusively writes speculative fiction, but is trying to get some erotica, speculative and otherwise published under the name Mary Falconcliff. She enjoys sweets and music and all the good things in life and endeavors to have a pet snake someday. She can be found on tumblr at www.lmdhawk.tumblr.com

Downfall, by Elizabeth Prybylski

“What did you say to me, asshole?”

Despite being pinned up against the dirty concrete wall by her cybernetic arm, the drug dealer had a remarkable mouth on him. At any other time she might have been willing to overlook it, but today was not that day.

“S-said that y-you’re a filthy p-pig. And that I d-don’t know where he is.” The scrawny, greasy little man tried to spit at her, but Maia grabbed him by the lower jaw before he could do more than rear his head back.

“See, what I heard, and I could be wrong, was ‘No, officer. I’m sorry I can’t help you,’” she said pleasantly. Maia kept the smile plastered across her face as she stared the man down. “And if that’s the case I guess I’ll have to settle for a drug bust. You’re under arrest, jackass.”

From behind her, Maia heard her temporary partner clearing his throat in a poorly-disguised attempt to conceal a laugh. “You need a hand?” To his credit, he kept his tone even. When she was in a mood most of the department knew to keep their distance, and with her partner in the hospital her temper was on a razor’s edge.

“Yeah. Cuff him, would you? I need to radio in.” Maia waited until the rookie had a handle on the drug dealer before she walked over to their transport and sat down in the driver’s seat. While the slang for reporting to the precinct was still ‘radioing in’ their standard issue communication devices were nothing resembling a radio. Pressing the button on the console, she touched her badge to the reader.

The polite, female voice of the computer filled the cockpit of the transport. “Hello, Detective Thompson. How may I assist you?”

“I’ve got a 10-32 to bring in.”

“The data has been added to your log and will be updated shortly. Is there anything else I may do for you?”

Running her hand over her dark, short-cropped hair, Maia sighed, knowing she’d regret asking. “Any update on the status of Detective Asher Montgomery?”

“Just a moment, please.” Outside, Maia could hear the rookie reading the drug dealer his rights. Some part of her wanted to remind him that they didn’t need to do that unless they were interrogating the guy, but it bought her a moment alone, so she let him. “Detective Montgomery is still in critical condition. No further updates have been posted.”

“Thanks. That’s all.”

“Have a great day!” The connection went dead, and Maia let out a slow breath. Her partner, Asher, had been shot in a drug bust the day before. It had taken all her persuasive skills along with her history on the force to get her captain to let her stay on the case. It was personal, but she’d also been working this case for three years, and they’d only just started getting real evidence about the hydrophine that had been making its way onto the streets.

The rookie, whose badge identified him as Officer Robbins, opened the sliding door of the transport. The dealer, whose name she hadn’t bothered to take, was still cussing. Or so she assumed because the expression on his face was murderous, and his mouth was moving. Officer Robbins rolled his eyes and closed the door. Not for the first time, Maia was glad for the sound dampening in the cockpit.

A moment later, Robbins flopped into the seat beside her in the cockpit, a relieved expression on his young face. “Are they always like that?” he asked, staring out the front window while Maia powered up the engine.

“Pretty much.” Maia nodded, shifting the transport into drive. While she could’ve used the autopilot, she preferred to handle things herself; the autopilot also left her with too much time to think.

***

The hospital was cold in every capacity. Maia considered, not for the first time, heading home. Asher didn’t know she was there, the doctors told her, and she hated it. At the same time, she felt wrong abandoning him. The bed’s display flickered at her, showing that his heart rate held steady and his vital signs were decent.

Despite the sea of holo-flowers and well wishes, the room felt harsh and stark around her, like the walls were closing in. For the millionth time that night, Maia’s eyes slid over her partner’s face. The shot had entered just below his left cheekbone, shattering the skull and ripping holes in his brain. While the surgical staff had managed to replace most of the important pieces there was no telling if he’d be the same person if he woke up. When he woke up.

Looking down at her fingers, she turned the rose she’d brought over and over. It wasn’t as extravagant as the holo-flowers the precinct had sent, but it was real. A cybernurse slid into the room, its tracks gliding over the floor as it plugged into the base of the bed. The holo-screen flickered, displaying a nurse’s face. “Hello. How are you?” it asked. “Can I get you anything?”

“Some water?”

There was a clunk, a clink, and a glass of water slid out of the port, held in robotic fingers. Maia accepted it and placed the rose in the water before setting the glass on the bedside table.

“I’m sorry, that is unauthorized,” the nurse’s saccharine voice reached her ears.

Frowning, Maia left the glass there. “It’s a flower.”

“All organic matter is unauthorized as a gift. Please dispose of it appropriately.”

“Uh huh.”

The nurse slid out of the room again, leaving them alone. Maia pulled the flower free and scowled at it. It was just a damn flower. It wouldn’t hurt anyone. Leaving the water alone, she slid it into Asher’s fingers. “Here. They’ll probably take it from you but… Figured this was better than the damn holo-flowers. It’s sort of wimpy, I guess, but it’s better than the fake shit. I’ve… I’ve got to get going. Get your ass better, Asher.”

With no small amount of regret, Maia rose to her feet and left the room.

***

The interrogation room was not her favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon. In fact, it wasn’t her favorite place to spend any afternoon.

The drug dealer, whose name was Jared Carrol, hunkered in the chair in front of her with his eyes fixed firmly on the metal-and-glass table between them. The table’s internal screen system displayed pictures of dead clients of his on loop, ending with the bloody mess that was her partner.

It had been a week since Asher went down, and there were still no signs he’d wake up anytime soon. His mind seemed to be rejecting the cyberware they’d implanted to replace the damaged portions of his brain. “This is your fault.” Maia said, enlarging a photo of one of the people who died of an overdose.

The photo was of a young woman who had probably once been pretty. Her lank, blond hair hung over her bruised face, and her sunken eyes stared into emptiness with her mouth frozen in a silent scream. Her body was so thin it was almost impossible to tell sex without looking at the genitals, which were covered by the comforter of the bed she’d been sitting on when she was found. “You did this to them.”

“N-no, man. I didn’t do none of that. They did it to themselves!” Jared choked, trying to tear his eyes off the screen. “I just gave them their shit.”

“Uh huh.”

“If they didn’t get it from me they would’ve gotten it somewhere else. That cop man, he was a regular. Not my fault he asked th–”

He didn’t even have time to choke out a shriek before Maia had his face planted on the table, “That cop is my partner, asswipe, and he was clean.” The cybernetic enhancements in her right arm bore down, applying pressure to his skull. With no effort she could pop his head like a grape, and he’d never sell his shit again. The thought lingered in her mind as she forced herself to let him go.

“You’re fucking crazy!” Jared’s eyes were wide as he rocked himself back and away from her so violently he knocked himself out of the chair. “That’s gotta be against the law or some shit…” he said, looking up at the security camera like it would help him. It didn’t.

***

It should have been raining. The day of the funeral was as bright as any other day that summer. The sky was cloudless, and the breeze rustled the leaves of the trees surrounding the cemetery. They were all fake, of course, but the effect was still nice.

Asher’s grave was covered in fresh earth, and the headstone bore the usual information. Born. Died. Line of duty. Loving this, that, and the other thing. Maia stared at it numbly. The drug dealer hadn’t been lying after all. The reason Asher’s brain rejected the implants was because he’d been taking the hydrophine Jared had been selling. The bullet started it, but with his immune system broken by the drug he didn’t stand a chance.

“What the hell, you bastard?” Maia asked for what felt like the thousandth time. “Why didn’t you just talk to me? We could’ve worked that shit out.” She dropped down onto her knees, ignoring the dirt staining her dress uniform. On the tombstone, the hologram of her partner’s face had no answers. It smiled at her brilliantly, winking every so often in that damn cocky way he always had.

Maia set the rose down on the tombstone amongst the rest of the holo-flowers.

One of the many attendants scurried up behind her, frowning, “I’m sorry, miss, but real flowers aren’t—” The man – they preferred humans for jobs requiring real empathy – had a nervous, apologetic look on his face. It didn’t placate her. Maia stared at him coldly, her eyes narrowed.

“Fuck off.”

The man swallowed convulsively and retreated as fast as he’d come, leaving her alone again. Maia’s vision blurred a little, and she stared at the headstone again. “Well… I’ve got work to do, Asher. Got a rookie to train. Won’t be the same as having you at my back, but… Dammit. Just… just dammit.” She got to her feet, shaking her head and turning toward the exit where her bike was waiting.

~~

Elizabeth Prybylski is the EIC for Eat Sleep Write. She has worked in the industry for several years and is passionate about writing fantasy but dabbles in other genres as well. She has been published several times in various anthologies and is currently working on a fantasy novel whose title is not yet set. When she isn’t writing she plays violin and cello to entertain her husband and assorted cats. She can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EHarveyEditingServices. Her website is www.eatsleepwrite.net/copy-desk and you can follow her on Twitter at @thelitfaerie. 

The Crystal Chamber, by Maria Kelly

 This story was first published  in December, 2010 in the Drabble edition of Luna Station Quarterly.

~~

The second survey crew landed near the object embedded in the southern hemisphere of a dead world. They’d lost contact with the first team months ago.

The artifact resembled an enormous crystalline worm buried in the earth. A nearby cave led them down into a chamber filled with alien devices. Numerous bones lay scattered all around.

What they thought was the artifact blocked the passageway on the opposite side.

A portal was set into the construct, lined with spikes that sparkled like icicles.

They understood too late as the chamber began broadcasting black noise.

The worm was ready to feed.

~~

Maria Kelly works as a writing tutor at a local community college and attends another university in the hopes getting either an MFA in Creative Writing or an MA in Literature. Or both. She is a published author with many weird-ass stories and poems to her credit. She’s also the owner/publisher/editor of this messed-up little e-zine you are reading. You can read more of her thoughts on her blog at Maria Kelly, Author, follow her on Twitter at @mkelly317, or friend her on Facebook at either her personal page or her author page. You can also follow The Were-Traveler on Twitter at @TheWereTraveler or on our Facebook page.

Bounce, by Denny E. Marshall

Bands are a species like none other in the universe. Every week there are jumping events called Bounce Back. Then twice a year, they hold championships. Kleng is ready for the big day.

He removes his clothes and puts on a bouncing uniform, a swimsuit type garment. He boards the ship. Once it reaches an altitude of six thousand feet, he jumps out without a chute. When he hits the ground, he bounces back up into the air a shade more than twenty feet. Not enough to win. The mostly rubber alien gets up. He will try again next time.

~~

Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry and fiction published. Some recent credits include poetry at Kalkion and Aphelion, art at UFO Gigolo and Mystic Nebula and fiction at Black Petals Magazine. He does have a website with some previously published works. The web address for the website is www.dennymarshall.com.

Vibro-Gonzers, by Michael A. Kechula

This story was previously printed in 2008 in Alien Skin Magazine.

~~
A government reconnaissance craft prepared to depart for Earth. I had a free round-trip ticket, because I’d agreed to do a job for the Ministry of Abductions. They wanted me to locate and tag for immediate extraction an elusive kind of Earthonian—a blue-topped female. Tagging meant inserting a vibro-gonzer into the hole already existent in the female’s ear, the part from which decorations dangled. If she had no piercings, my job was to create one using my left index claw. When I asked why that particular claw, considering I had twenty-eight of them, they spewed formulas about optimum angles of penetration.

I’d never pierced a Martian’s ear, much less an Earthonian’s, so I was a bit edgy. Especially since I tend to favor the claws on my fourth hand. Fortunately, the Flight Officer supplied materials on which I could practice during the five-hour trip.

Using abducted Venusian vermin hides, I tore several dozen holes, after which I inserted vibro-gonzers. The crew said the skins were roughly equivalent to the size, shape, and texture of Earthonian female ears.

Surprisingly, each time I inserted a vibro-gonzer, my gloper glands became pleasantly stimulated. I hoped with all my hearts that the target female’s ear was free of piercings. Maybe when penetrating her ear, my glopers might break out into song as they’d just done. I could hardly wait for the craft to land.

Deck hands asked why I was aboard. I explained my intention to study Earth’s polar icecaps, and the tagging task I’d agreed to perform in exchange for free transport.

“Good luck,” someone said. “Better you than us.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s New Year’s Eve on Earth. The entire planet goes nuts. You couldn’t pay us enough to leave this disk. Back in ’04, Glixi did. Look at him now.”

My stomach curdled. One of his heads was missing. The other was covered with hideous scars.

“What happens on New Years Eve?” I asked.

Glixi described a bizarre, Earthonian ritual. “They dance, eat certain foods, drink mind-altering liquids, and work themselves into a frenzy that builds into a spectacular climax at the arrival of what they call, ‘midnight.’”

I repeated the strange word in my mind.

“When given a signal that midnight has arrived, they explode with shouts, use implements to make weird noises, share an effervescent liquid, and intermingle, in ways that remind me of ancient, Martian revelry. They chant a slogan, and sing a traditional song. Within minutes of the climax, the celebrants are dissipated and often go into a stupor.”

“Sounds goofy,” I said.

“Even nuttier, they repeat this on the same date an Earth-year later.”

“If I go among them tonight, do you think I’ll find a female with blue topping?”

“Never saw a blue one,” Glixi said. “But watch out for those with red toppings. That’s how I lost my other head. I ran into one with fuzzy red topping. Stroked it out of curiosity. She went bonkers. I ended up hospitalized for three solar rotations.”

The craft hovered over a building. “If you’re gonna find a blue one,” said the Captain,” this is probably the best place to start. We’ll be back in thirty ticks. Meanwhile, if something goes wrong and you need emergency retrieval, just yell ‘gazangas.’”

I jumped out, and searched the building for revelers.

Just as I walked into a large darkened room, somebody shouted, “Happy New Year.”

Earthonian males grabbed my hands and pumped them violently. Females kissed me. Luckily, a blue-topped woman pressed herself against me, and stroked my gills. I checked her ear. No holes. I dug into it with my index claw and inserted a vibro-gonzer. The sensation was so remarkably pleasant, my glopers vibrated, then broke out into a sweet Martian lullaby.

The lights turned up. The female screamed. Next thing I knew, males overwhelmed me.

“I’ve seen this kind before,” a red-topped female yelled. “Five years ago. Took one of his damn heads off. Had it stuffed. Hangs over my fireplace.”

She moved toward me.

A male pushed her aside. “I’m a cop,” he yelled. Pointing to me he hollered, “You’re under arrest, for…for…”

“Clawing a hole in my ear lobe,” said the female, “and jamming something through.”

“You have the right to remain silent,” he said, cuffing two of my wrists.

Fortunately, the other two were still free. I shoved him, grabbed the blue-topped female, and headed for the roof yelling, “GAZANGAS!”

Having only two legs, my pursuers couldn’t keep up.

The craft lowered, and the crew pulled us aboard.

“Where are you taking me, you buncha ugly bastards?” yelled the female.

“Mars,” the Flight Officer said. He stuck something into her arm causing her to collapse.

“There’s a problem,” the Captain said. “We’re only authorized to reconnoiter, not to transport abductees. I must return the Earthonian.”

“Can we keep her aboard for a while?” I asked.

“Why?”

“I thought I’d entertain the crew with lullabies.”

“Hmm. Go ahead. I haven’t heard a good tune in a while,” said the Captain.

Removing the vibro-gonzer from her ear, I sealed the hole, then dug a new one. My gloper glands vibrated and emitted a sweet melody. The applause was tremendous. I repeated the process a dozen times until we located a transport authorized to carry abducted Earthonians.

A year later, I spotted her in a bar. Though horribly disfigured from exploratory surgeries, her ear lobe was intact. I persuaded her to let me use it to entertain the customers.

We made a bundle in tips. That convinced us to form a musical act.

Now we make a good living performing for entertainment-starved canal diggers in the Martian Wetlands.

~~

Michael A. Kechula’s flash and micro-fiction tales have been published by 150 magazines and 50 anthologies in 8 countries. He’s won 1st prize in 12 writing contests and 2nd prize in 8 others. He’s authored 5 books of flash and micro-fiction tales, including a book that teaches how to write flash fiction. See his publisher’s site at: http://www.booksforabuck.com/ to read a free story or chapter in all of his books. 

Issue 13: Come One, Come All! To the Southern Fried Freak Show!

Freak Show neon sign

Image courtesy of © photocritical – Fotolia.com

We’ve all been to that one local fair or carnival. You  know the one? The one where certain carnies, clowns, or ride-operators look at you that special way…like you would make a good target for the knife-throwing act…or they’d like to give you an extra special treat during the Tunnel of Terror ride? Or the special acts…like zombie performers or a funhouse you can only escape from by surviving the knife-weilding carny. And sometimes real life can be freak show, especially if you’re a weirdo married to a psycho.

I’m calling this style of story freakpunk, and I’m planning to do a general freakpunk issue in the future that doesn’t have to take place in carnival settings (imagine, a freak psycho with a funhouse in his basement) and can take place anywhere on Earth, not just in the South (and also designate other character-types besides clowns, not all carnies wear make-up and large red noses, after all). So, I’m working on a list of freakpunk elements for that future issue. Get your Muses ready for that. Meanwhile, this issue brings you face to face with the weirdness and horror of the Southern.

Is that blood on the cotton candy, ya’all?

Issue 13: Southern Fried Freak Show

Swishbone, by Stephen Kerr (micro-fic)

Clownish Delights, by Andrew Patch (flash)

Step Right Up, by Michael A. Kechula (short story)

Funhouse, by Kelly Haas Shackelford (flash fiction)

Meat for freaks, by Mathias Jansson (poem)

Protect Ya Neck, by Edward Taylor (short story)

Shy Heahrug, by Paulo Brito (drabble)

The Circus Tent, by Kerry E. B. Black  (flash)

the doom master, by Christopher Woods (poem)

 

 

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