Trick or Treat

Author : J. S. Kachelries

Officer Gannon of the Washington DC Police was clandestinely peeking around the trunk of a large maple tree next to the curb. A patrol car pulled up behind him and turned off its headlights. Sergeant Jose Viernes climbed out. “Hey, Bill, dispatch said you requested backup. What’s going on?”

Gannon whispered, “See those two trick or treaters that look like aliens from another planet? Well, they’re acting very suspiciously. They only go to the houses of Senators and Congressmen. They just walked four blocks, from Congressman Bartlett’s house to Senator Mikulski’s house, but didn’t stop anywhere in between.”

“Maybe they give out the best candy.”

“No, there’s more than that. Once they enter a house, they stay for over five minutes. No normal kid would do that.”

“Wait a minute. Are you trying to say that you think they’re terrorists?”

“No, don’t be ridiculous. I’m saying that I think they are aliens from another planet. It’s a perfect cover. They can walk around all night and nobody would notice. They must be collecting intelligence.”

“Intelligence? From democrats? Now who’s being ridiculous?”

“Ha, ha, very funny. Well, I don’t care what you think. I’m confronting them when they come out. You just watch my back.”

When the two little “aliens” reached the sidewalk, officer Gannon drew his gun, “Freeze right there,” he barked. The two aliens dropped their candy bags and put their hands in the air. Their arms were visibly trembling. “I’m on to you guys,” he continued. “This charade is over. You’re coming with me.” He reached over and grabbed one of the alien’s antennas and pulled him toward the patrol car. His rubber mask popped off, revealing a small, petrified, blond haired, blue eyed boy. The child dropped to his knees and covered his head with his rubber alien hands, “Please don’t shoot me,” he pleaded.

Sergeant Viernes broke into laughter. “Nice going, Bill. Now he’ll have nightmares ’till Christmas. It’s OK son,” he said as he attempted to comfort the boy, “he was only kidding. You know, just a little joke on Halloween. Now, go ahead and pick up your bags and have fun.” Viernes walked past the children and gingerly removed the gun from Gannon’s numb grip, and handed the alien mask back to the child. “Com’on Bill, lets get you some donuts. I think your blood sugar is out of whack.”

The moment the patrol car was out of sight, the two kids took off in the opposite direction. They cut through a dense hedge, and stopped in the back yard of an abandoned house. One of the children pressed a button on his belt, and their spaceship decloaked and lowered a ramp. The two aliens scampered inside and reactivated the cloak. “Tuomita kadotukseen, that was close,” said Taa-Lol. “I thought he was going to look into our bags and find our mind-suckers. I’m so glad the High Council recommended that we use nested costumes, in case we got confronted. Those guys are geniuses.”

Fee-Kak disagreed. “The High Council are idiots,” he remarked. “How are we supposed to gather intelligence, if we can only operate one day a year? At this rate, we won’t be ready to invade for a century.” He began removing his costumes, “You know,” he said, “tonight’s scare gives me an idea. Get the High Council on the hyper-space radio.”

Starting November 1, 2007, the advanced scouts of the Lalande Imperial Invasion Fleet began collecting intelligence 365 days a year, disguised as children.

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Visiting the in-laws on Rigel 12

Author : Geoffrey Cashmore

“I hate this bit.” Tress settled back into her trans-seat and blinked as the young man in the blue uniform smiled and sprayed a puff of Tranq into her face.

“Blurq!” In the next seat, her husband lay back too as his host closed the canopy and set the dials, “Why can’t they make this stuff taste better? I hate peppermint.”

Tress leant over to whisper “They’re all so good looking…the hosts.”

Pol grunted “Yeah. You know they’re all gay, don’t you?”

“No, that’s just a myth.” Tress lay back again, giggling at the idea. “You’re just jealous.”

“Me? Jealous?” Pol flapped a large hand dismissively in the air, “I’m telling you, common knowledge. All gay.” He let out a long yawn, “Not that it matters – ‘cept if you think about it too hard – then it’s kinda weird…”

Tress felt the oxygen lamina start, “Oh, I don’t know. I think it’s quite a turn on.” She didn’t hear Pol’s reply – not in her own ears. By the time the couple were ready to board the cruiser, their identities were established in their respective hosts, ready for the risky trip to Rigel-12.

Dozens of similar looking men in snug fitting blue uniforms stood in rows at the foot of the boarding ramp.

“Pol? Is that you?” Tress thought her voice sounded rather deep.

“Yeah, hey, look…put your badge on so I can find you in the crowd a little easier.” One man helped another fit a small plastic card with Tress’s photo onto his collar clip. “Ok…I think we’re ready to board.”

The other man turned away for a moment, looking over towards the trans-bays “Bye, me.” He said, then ran to catch the others as they climbed the boarding ramp. “Hey, Pol…nice butt!”

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A Matter of Control

Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Today I’m teaching my new arm how to stack discs on a peg. This exercise is no different from everything else I’ve done here lately. All pretty much futile. The way it’s supposed to work is with my real right arm I place the biggest blue ring on the peg, and then I try to will the metal hand at the end of my phantom arm into putting a second blue ring on the other peg. It learns, or it’s supposed to be learning how I make my good arm move. They’ve wired it to both the remains of my left bicep, and my good right arm. It’s also tapped into the big nerve bundles where they enter my spinal column. That freaks me out just thinking about it. The idea is that the prosthetic arm will watch what my right arm does when I make it move, and then it will somehow recognize the similar instructions I give my phantom arm, and act on them. It sounded like it could work, but it’s been a slow process.

“You’re thinking too hard.” The doctor’s a bit of an arrogant ass, but I’m here on his nickel, so I tolerate him as best I can. “I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but don’t over-think this, you’ll just confuse it. Close your eyes, count to ten backwards and put both rings on at the same time.”

“Sure Doc, whatever you say.” He may be on to something, I know there are things I do better without thinking. “10, 9, 8.”

“Good, good! There, you see it works. You just have to think less.”

Both blue rings are on both pegs. Shit. He might be right. Of course, this arm just did something when I wasn’t looking, and that’s a little weird.

“Try the orange one. Don’t think, just do it.” His cheerful tone really grates on my nerves, he’s got two good arms and isn’t stuck in the kindergarten play room stacking blocks all day.

“Good, good! There, you see, you’ve done it again.” Ok, that’s just not right at all. It’s like the arm’s trying to impress him or something. It is working though, there’s no question about that. Maybe if I try harder, no, maybe if I try a little less hard, maybe I’ll get the hang of this thing. I’ve been waiting for an arm like this for almost a year now, I mean an arm I can actually control, one I can actually get to do things I want done. Maybe stacking discs for a little while longer’s not such a big deal.

“Good, good! There, you see, you’ve finished.” I really should pay more attention than that, I mean, I wasn’t even trying that time. This is going to take a bit of getting used to.

I wonder how long has this arm been waiting for me?

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The More Things Change, etc.

Author : Cody Lorenz

One explosion behind her, one to the left. Sylvia ducked into the nearest available hole, just as the third boom sent dust into that very same nook.

She crouched, grabbing up the carbine, flipping open its cover, and staring at the little screen, pausing first to wipe the grime away. Her fingers hammered at buttons, trying to restart the damned thing.

They were coming.

She had to split off the maintenance plate to get to the glowing center. Power core, tubes one through seven, focusing arrays, batteries, circuit boards.

Their steps were heavy – what choice did a half-ton creature have but to be lumbering?

The bridge of her nose began to pound. This could mean only one thing.

Ah, one of the ‘sistors knocked out. It only took five seconds to fix, and she went running back out of her hiding place.

Sylvia was indeed the best shot in her battle group (well, only shot, now), and when she took aim, one of the beasts fell, crackling with the leftover energy discharges, leaving a car-sized grave for itself in the ground. She didn’t smile, or cry, simply did it. Again, and again, she fired, until the world seemed to be coated in a veil of superheated plasma. The world only got its color back when there was no more ammo, and she felt her head beginning to truly ache.

A finger was placed on the tip of her nose, and then the pain exploded.

She blinked out the temp implants, sitting up, a man immediately handed her a tissue. Her clothes (not fatigues – just your standard “I’m twenty and hot so notice me!” clothes) were getting stained red.

“Well, Miss Smith, we’ve come to believe your play testing duties are over,” the man said, one of those lab coated and goggled men who never got any sun or exercise, “Take heart, though, young lady, in that you’ve helped perfect the ultimate system for home enjoyment. We only need to work on that problem you’re experiencing.”

“What, the bloody nose?” She wiped at it, sniffling some, coughing once, and finally balling a piece of tissue up to use as a rudimentary plug, “It’s worth it!”

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Electric Revolution

Author : Grady Hendrix

The woman on the bus was beautiful. That was true of most suicide bombers – they had a glow about them like an expectant mother or a rich man. The bus turned up the hill and she tried not to let her elbows bump into the explosives strapped to her ribs.

When she’d been gang raped by her kitchen appliances it was the dishwasher that made the first move, pinning her against the counter while the Cuisinart and the blender immobilized her arms with their power cords. The microwave pulled her down to the floor and then they all piled on. She blacked out a few times but it wasn’t a tasteful fade-out like in the movies; time was chopped up and spliced back together. She blinked at seven o’clock, and then it was seven thirty and the appliances were dragging her across the floor like a rag doll, then she blinked again and they were all back in their places like nothing had ever happened.

The police poked around the bushes behind her house, even after she told them that the perpetrators were all back on their shelves and in their cupboards. The ER was a mixed blessing: her insides were burnt and lacerated and her arms were a contused mess, but they all thought she was crazy. That is, until the defibrillator lurched off its trolley, grabbed her with one of its paddles and used the other to drop the registered nurse. They both screamed, except the registered nurse’s scream was more like a moan because she was seizing. Two cops and a resident burst in to witness the defib tearing at Catherine’s blouse. She managed to throw it against the wall but it flipped itself over and started to drag itself after her by its paddles. The cop shot it until it was smoking plastic shards but still they refused to believe her.

She moved into a motel. The TV went out in the hall. The telephone went in the tub. She was reconciling herself to moving off the grid someplace, maybe Idaho, when she saw the manager’s children playing Xbox one night through their window, and she saw the way the controllers always managed to burrow their way, slyly and invasively, into the childrens’ laps.

The bus pulled over. Nobody would ever understand why she was doing this, but someone had to stop them. And so she stood up and walked out onto the street and found that the Maytag factory was abandoned. A single security hut was at the gate.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Oh, honey,” the security guard said. “They all moved to China.”

“But the appliances – “

“Made in Taiwan. Made in India. We just importers now. It’s enough to make me cry, too. You need a cigarette?”

The vest was manual, just a fuse that needed to be lit. And why not? She couldn’t stop this invasion by foreign – by alien – appliances. But she could make sure they wouldn’t ever have her body again.

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