Author : C. Chatfield
“Shut up, Jim.”
“It might be dangerous.”
“A bear wanders into my yard, I call Animal Control. I’m not gonna shoot it just for being here, Gabe.”
“Sure. You got the number for Alien Control?”
“Quiet. It’s probably not an alien.”
“You ever see goo move like that?”
Next to the three men, a patch of rippling orange goo extended probing tendrils into the surrounding underbrush. There was a sizzling sound as the creature began to sink through the vegetation. After a moment of contemplation, it trembled and assumed the shape and texture of the dissolved grass and bushes: a flawless disguise, if not for the stubbornly garish shade of orange.
“What do you think you’re doing, Jim?”
“I’m just gonna nudge it.”
Jim eased up to the phony grass and poked it with the toe of his brown boot. He let out a yelp and fell backward, abandoning the boot, as the ooze reared up in one flowing motion. By the time his friends lifted him off his rear, all that remained was a bright orange boot sitting in a circle of dirt.
“Christ!” Jim grasped for Gerry’s gun, his eyes the size of golf balls. “Shoot it!”
The creature ballooned upwards until it towered over the terrified men. The pillar of ooze collapsed squarely onto Jim, cutting off his screech.
Gerry and Gabe stood frozen while the goo twisted and writhed into a humanoid shape. A moment later, the new Jim was shaking out his limbs and humming, surveying the empty meadow with satisfaction before turning to the two men.
Gerry nodded numbly and handed over the gun.
Gabe gave him the keys.
The new Jim drove the car in a meandering arc before rolling down the passenger window to speak to them in a halting voice, choosing each word with painstaking care. “Thanks, guys. I gotta say, I’m sorry about your friend. If it helps, he’ll live on inside of me. In one way, I’ll give him a new life. It should be very exciting.” He paused and cocked his head, “You two probably don’t have much information about this planet that I didn’t already get from your friend, so I’m gonna leave you here. Go ahead and try to tell someone what happened, but I don’t think anyone’ll believe you.”
He waved and drove off, leaving Gerry and Gabe to gape. When the taillights had disappeared and the dust settled, Gabe sank to his knees. “Dear God, what’s going on? No one’s gonna believe us. They’ll probably say we killed Jim, if that goddamn maniac hasn’t taken over the world by tomorrow. And, oh Christ, Jim is gone, Gerry. Gerry? Are you okay?”
Gerry shook his head, his entire body racked with silent, hysterical giggles. He waved a shaky hand in the direction of the truck and the unsuspecting town,“D’ya think it knows it’s orange?”