It's The Little Things

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

I sat there pondering my sorry lot in life, wondering aloud, in a slurry voice, as I sloshed my glass of merlot around, “Why have I befallen such, hic! …circumstances? I don’t deserve this, sniff! All I want to do is give Tommy a good Christmas.” Another swig went down and I stared at the glass evilly. “You! You bastard! It’s all your fault motherfucking alkee-hall!” Then I tipped back yet another swallow.

Just then, the invading ship from another star came in at an incredibly steep angle over my neighborhood, and its desperate crew was unable to pull up in time. They maximized their anti-inertia dampners and braced for impact.

My inwardly exploding ceiling knocked my glass clear from my hand and knocked me hard to the floor. I huddled there for a moment amidst the swirling bits of drywall dust and insulation, unsure of what might come next. I dared not open my eyes.

Inside the ship the officers gathered themselves quickly. “Damage report second-in-command. How is our cargo?”

The alien got to his feet and brushed off his view screen. “Not good sir. It looks like we didn’t engage the anti-inertia dampners in the aft section or cargo holds in time.”

The blue-skinned bipedal commander put a slender hand to his bulbous veined head. He already knew what this meant. “So they’re all…?”

“Squashed like Freckomite swamp tics sir.”

“All of them? Engineering? The Battalion?”

“Everybody sir. It seems that the bridge crew is the only thing left of this entire mission.”

“Six of us? That’s it? We’re supposed to conquer this planet with only six lowly Drachtonians?”

Meanwhile I ventured up from my living room carpet and slowly tried to assess the situation. As far as I could tell, things didn’t seem to be going well. My wine glass was shattered into shards. But then there was momentary hope as I spotted the fallen bottle but a few feet away. Snatching it up from its side I happily discovered a couple good slugs yet unspilled. As I tipped the vessel back I suddenly noticed the hole in my ceiling. Nearly two feet across, the edges still smoldered. What the? I then looked in the direction of most of the debris, and there on the couch I saw a kid’s toy. And unbeknownst to me, the invading race had already decided to proceed, despite their recent setback.

I saw the staircase drop down from the toy spaceship on my couch, but I rubbed my eyes just the same. Then I tried to cloud what I was seeing with another pull from the bottle, but the wine was nearly gone and the circumstances too bizarre now. And then as if I hadn’t seen enough, the tiny blue fuckers began descending the motherfucking stairs!

What was left of the Drachtonian crew stepped out onto the couch cushion and looked up at their adversary.

“They’re absolutely huge,” remarked the second-in-command.

“Never mind that,” said the commander shakily. “Stick to protocol!”

Then before anything else could transpire the front door burst open as my son Tommy came home from school.

But before he could squeeze through the doorway, our rottweiler Brutus ran past and up to the couch. With a single sniff he assessed the situation and then with one slobbery lick, swept up the invading race into his mouth and swallowed them whole.

Tommy looked at me sadly, knowing I was drunk yet again. Then he spotted the silver vessel on the couch. “Say dad, is that a… a spaceship?”

I brightened up and said, “Hey kiddo, merry Christmas!”


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Lonely Planet

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

I wander the jungle alone as always. Ducking beneath thick vines and scrambling over massive fallen logs, some stories high. I do as always. I explore and I record.
Earlier today a beast of which I have no file approached me. It was tiger-sized and with three mouths full of multi-barbed fangs. It came right up and seemed to sniff me, and then it moved on.
Now as I descend into a valley, of which I am quite familiar, one of the huge three-headed snakelike beings springs up and turns its tail to me. I can see by its markings that this is an individual whose path I have not yet crossed. Some of its brethren have become used to me in this area, but this creature wastes no time. It is aggressive.
I am already at a full sprint, my legs a blur as I quickly cross the swampy ground. But alas I have not been fast enough. As the tip of its whip-like tail connects with my lower back I hear the thunder-crack noise roll off through the jungle. It is a common sound in this region where the snake beasts hunt.
I provide it no threat, and my body certainly does not offer any sort of meal, yet still I course through the air, a hundred-kilo missile toppling through the tree branches. I finally land in a heap with a plume of dust. I know the snake beast will not follow. They don’t venture here into the dry thicket.
Sitting up I am in familiar surroundings. This is the place we landed all those years ago. This is where we set up our outpost. This is where the alien virus attacked and killed the crew. I make my way into camp. The six suits are still lined up in their sitting positions against the bulkhead of the lander. There had been nothing I could do. One by one they slipped away, and one by one I lined them up in their final resting places.
Unbelievably the emergency beacon still pulses. It has been five centuries. We were too small of an asset, carrying a payload of far too little value. Our power leak and eventual crash here were of no concern to those who gambled trillions. No rescue ship will ever come.
I walk over to the row of suits, and crouch down in front of the one furthest aft. Commander Gardner, she had been the last to die. She had once had rosy cheeks. Now I stare in at her skeleton, and at my own reflection in her helmet’s visor.
Suddenly I stop, reaching up to touch my cheek. There is a glint of silver there. I focus closer on my reflection, my eye lenses zooming in, and for the first time ever I see a piece of my alloy skull. The durable faux-skin has finally given way, torn by a sharp branch in my headlong flight.
I turn and thump down onto the dirt beside Commander Gardner. I am the last in the line of figures propped up there against the hull of the long-dead lander. What is the point of exploring anymore? These creatures only live to hunt and eat one another. There is no intelligence here, no one with which to share ideas or converse. I wonder how many thousands of years it will take for my faux-skin to eventually deteriorate so that I may one day resemble the six skeletons beside me. I lower my head onto my knees, close my eyes, and give my batteries a long needed rest.


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Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

“Indestructabuddies! They’re completely indestructible! Drop them from skyscrapers, throw them into traffic! Freeze them, burn them, blow them up reeeal good! Indestructabuddies, your new best friend who will last you forever and ever and ever and ever…….”

On echoed the announcer’s blasting intrusive voice.

And the middle and upper classes ate it up with gusto. Soon nearly everyone who could afford the hefty price had an Indestructabuddy of their own. The half-meter tall humanoid marvels were identical to one another. Silvery gray from their bald heads to their naked chubby feet, and basically featureless; their smooth faces, devoid of eyes, yet indented where one might normally find them, a bump of a nose without nostrils, and the vague shape of a mouth capable of smiling, frowning or performing various other expressions of human mimickery. They were without visible hinge or joint, their smooth skin shiny like rubber, they moved about with mechanical ease in their rolls as likable and amiable companions to the affluent. In cities around the world Indestructabuddies splashed in fountains, frolicked in parks, and skipped behind their owners.

Their intelligence was limited to their ability to obey and follow simple commands, almost doglike in nature. But the advertisement’s proclamation was true. Indestructabuddies were truly and utterly, indestructible. Oh, people had tried with all their might to disprove this, luring the happy-go-lucky animatrons into countless dangerous situations, even strapping one to a nuclear warhead during a detonation test. After the mushroom cloud had dissipated and the dust had settled, the unscathed Indestructabuddy had come happily trundling out of the wasteland unaffected.

This was what had world governments suddenly so very interested in this phenomenon that had, up until recently, seemed an advanced toy, nothing more than a cultural novelty. Questions were raised. What was behind their technology? Who was their inventor? Had they even passed through all safety standards testing?

Their creator was also the head of the corporation that produced them by the hundreds every day. Gerhardt Gower was a mediocre scientist with a low level degree in robotics. The limited intelligence and intellectual ability of his popular creations were actually typical for a man with his level of expertise trying to make his way in the competitive modern android market. But what had government agents and other interested parties completely baffled was how this middle-of-the-road inventor had somehow come up with these unfathomable other technologies all on his own, technologies that now had militaries all over the world drooling.

Gower himself admitted that his discovery had been accidental, a major fluke to say the least. But he would not divulge the secret that gave his little robots such indestructibility, and powered their bodies perpetually without recharge, only hinting that he had somehow harnessed the infinite power of the subatomic microverse.

After months and then years of court battles and the professor’s continuous refusal to talk, his factory was shut down, the further sale of Indestructabuddies outlawed. And then some genius of a high court actually ordered to have Gower’s products rounded up and destroyed. It was a short-lived and fruitless campaign. As, even though indestructible, the human race protected their little companions fiercely. In the end the governments had to admit defeat.

Especially after Gerhardt Gower got the last laugh, destroying himself along with his factory in a massive explosion, his manufacturing machines, his plans, his secrets, all gone with him forever. And then as the ashes settled to the ground and the smoke dissipated, the final hundred-thousand Indestructabuddies marched out into the world unscathed, ready to join their millions of siblings, ready to exist forever.


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The Message

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

The secretary general entered the command center with her entourage. She walked directly toward me, an imposing figure. Although we had not yet met in person she obviously knew I was the team leader. Dispensing with any formalities she got right to the point.

“So Doctor Grant, I am told that you and your team have deciphered WOW2020?”

“I uh…” clearing my throat I quickly composed myself. “Ahem, yes, the signal detected some three months ago apparently coming from the direction of Hoag’s Object, an odd ring galaxy some 600 million light years distant, has been baffling us up to now…”

She interrupted, “I know where the signal comes from Doctor, you can skip the science lesson. I’m here to find out what it says.”

“Yes, of course,” I apologized. “Um, as I was saying, we were baffled,” I turned and reached out to the mega decoder humming and blinking there in the center of the room, “But not this baby.” I smiled and patted the top of the Cray Translator Array, a ten-meter long bank of super computers working in unison, enough calculating power to state pi to some ten trillion places. “The signal is extremely complex but the decoder has been able to break it down into a comprehensible message.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Comprehensible how?”

“Oh, why plain English of course.”

She exchanged a glance with one of her aids and turned back to me. “Okay Doc, I’m waiting.”

“Yes… as you will soon hear, we have run the translation through a basic voice modulator.”

The eyebrow went up again as she wondered at my unfamiliar technical term.

“Oh,” I clarified, “It will sound like Doctor Stephen Hawking.” And with that I turned to my console and typed in a command.

Suddenly loudspeakers blared throughout the room as everyone stood listening intently.


I turned to her smiling.

She said very bluntly, “That’s it?”

I blinked several times then, “I don’t understand… do you not find it wonderful?”

She stepped closer. “I’m not a complete idiot Doctor.” She poked me in the chest. “How the hell are we supposed to ask it questions when it will take over half a billion years to send a signal back?”

I brightened up. “But that’s the thing you see Madam Secretary, we’ve already asked it our first question!”

“You what?” She looked around at her entourage seemingly furious. “Did anyone else know about this?”

She was greeted only with nervous mumbles, shrugs and averted eyes. Seeing she was getting nowhere she turned back to me and poked me in my chest again, this time much harder. “Well then Doctor, I feel like I’m going to regret this but, exactly what question did you ask it?”

I tugged at my collar. It suddenly felt very warm in the command center. “We uh, we asked it if there was any quicker way to send messages back and forth.”

She stood there motionless for a moment, then shrugged thoughtfully. “Hmm, makes sense I guess.” Then she leaned forward smiling nastily, “Now how about we ask it why I still feel like slapping you?”


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Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

This is what I’ve been waiting for my entire adult life. All my work has come to this. From the moment I signed up for theoretical physics as a youth, I was destined to arrive at this day.

Countless alternate universes with a finite number of combinations means one thing and one thing only. It is most certainly mathematically probable that somewhere out there there is an exact copy of this universe, identical in every way, right down to its smallest detail. And that means that somewhere out there there is also an exact copy of me, just as creative, just as smart. Everything I have ever done, he has done. Everything I will ever do, he will do. So obviously since I have concentrated all my efforts into building a device to bridge our two universes, he has done the exact same thing over on his side. And this is good.

My fractal amplifier will indeed begin to open a hole in the froth of space-time. But it will be a funnel, narrowing to a finite point, leaving me unable to peer into that other side. Luckily for me though there is an exact copy of myself who has built the exact same device, and if his machine opens a coinciding funnel in space-time at the exact same frequency in his universe, then the two will touch at their points, and if we are correct, they will help each other open the rest of the way.

I sit in the protective booth and key in the final commands. There is a hum as the giant capacitors begin to take on their full charge. City officials will be banging on my door soon enough as I’m sure the power grid is quickly draining in my direction right now. No worry, the laser array sends a bright flash through the room and just like that, the porthole is suddenly open in the middle of my lab.

It is very much a circular hole about three meters across. It looks like a mirror, as on the other side is an identical laser array set up in front of an identical glass booth. This is when I notice me sitting in there.

Ignoring safety protocol I remove my goggles and step out of the booth, just as does the other me. We walk toward one another silently.

“I knew you’d come,” we say in exact unison.

“Of course you did,” we reply. Then, “It’s the only way this would have ever worked.”

I step up to the hole and place my hands palm forward, as he does the same. But unlike a mirror where one feels cool glass, we feel the touch of each other’s skin. Then we suddenly look up and around. “The hole is starting to close! I knew it wouldn’t last long.” The opening is now only two meters across and shrinking fast. What to do? There is so little time. Then the light comes on in his eyes as we share the same idea. “Hurry!” we say.

We twirl one another through the door, me spinning into his side and he into mine. Then as we let go our hands we crouch and catch one last glimpse of one another as the inter-universal porthole snaps shut.

I stand up and look around, knowing he is doing just the same in my lab. And I know that when I speak aloud, so does he. “Now, let’s see just how identical this place really is.” I smile and go to answer the knocking door.


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