Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

It was the tails that gave them away.

Like the ostriches back on earth, these aliens would stick their heads in the sand and think that they were hiding, safe from hunters. They weren’t.

Here on this interminable pink planet, we were clearing the inhabitants. There were squat creatures with long tails.

Every time they hid, they’d stick their long fuchsia tails up straight in the air like flags at a golf course.

I wasn’t sure if it was because they had no feeling in their tails, that they had no awareness of their tails, or that they were just plain stupid but I was starting to lean towards the third option.

Policy: Shoot one in front of the others so that they understand what our weapons do, then walk towards them. They back up right into the nets.

The whole operation is taking less time than expected. There’s usually a token rebellion or a smart couple of life forms that spontaneously develop the ability to plan before the Full Clearing is done but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this time.

They’ll be shipped off to other worlds as pets. If they turn out to be edible, they’ll be bred to be used up as protein rations. If they turn out to be edible and palatable, they’ll be bred as delicacies for off-world gourmets in fancy restaurants.

When I mentioned before that this planet was pink, I wasn’t doing it justice. The planet is all shades of pink. There are shades of pink here that I never want to see again. There is an unending palette of pinks that somehow never creeps over fully into the colours of red or purple. The sunsets, the translucent lakes, the trees, the grass, the little guys we’re hunting, even the damned ground.

The experts are happy because they think that a lot of the crystal deposits might be diamonds, making this a very valuable planet indeed. Not that I’ll ever see any of that money.

I shoot a concussion flash straight up. When it goes off, I can see two hundred golf-flag tails quiver in the bushes around me. Here we go.

Two more months to go.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows