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.
“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?”
“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?”
“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.