Author : Roger Dale Trexler
I knew she was dead when I saw the blood. It floated by me and splattered silently on the console. Everyone else—Yanders, Diorino, and Rector—was dead, too. They were floating at the far side of the cabin, congregated strangely like a bunch of line dancers doing the Conga.
Zero gravity took over when main controls failed. It was a slow process, and they were dead before the gravity failed, so there was no pain for them….just me. I hit the ceiling with the force of a bullet, the Kyllian plasma charge had rocked the ship. I was knocked unconscious; I do not know for how long.
But I awoke to the touch of Kipling’s body hitting me as it passed by. I must have nudged her a little bit while waking, otherwise she wouldn’t have hit the console; she would have hit the other bodies like a linebacker trying to break a defensive line. A stream of blood flowed from her like a crimson vapor trail as she collided with the console, then sprayed blood everywhere.
The view screen was still on. I saw the Kyllian ship, massive and undamaged, looming over us.
Why? I thought.
The answer was too clear, however. Just weeks ago, a survey ship had been destroyed in this quadrant. A rescue ship was sent to investigate, but they found nothing but wreckage and a buoy telling them to stay away. We heeded that warning, but the Kyllians were laying claim to sectors of space quicker than a drunken sailor spends money at a bar.
Our scanners told us of the approaching ship, and we tried to elude them.
They found us before we could escape.
It wasn’t much of a battle. We were a survey ship, not a battlecruiser. The Kyllians opened fire and, now, everyone but me was dead.
I heard the airlock claxon going off.
We were being boarded.
I panicked. I was a stellar cartographer. I mapped stars. I hadn’t signed up for this. We were supposed to be out for a month from Starbase 3, mapping an uncharted region of space.
I could hear the sound of magnetic boots clanking, then pulling free, from the catwalks.
They were getting closer.
There were several of them.
I knew where the weapons were, but there was no chance I could kill them all. I wasn’t a fighter.
So, I did the only thing I could….and I waited.
Four Kyllian soldiers entered the control room. I chanced a glance before I closed my eyes. They were huge. Bigger than men. They ambled into the room awkwardly. I could tell that they were looking around, touching things, taking artifacts. Then, I felt motion. Something was pulling us toward it. I cracked my eyes opened just a hair—just enough to see—and I saw the Kyllian’s ugly face regarding us. It was looking at Diorino. It was cutting away a portion of her jumpsuit, revealing her breasts. Maybe it had never seen a human female? It started to turn its head toward me, and I closed my eyes again….but not too tight.
For a long, long moment, nothing happened. Then, it pushed away the clump of dead bodies I had become a part off and walked off.
The Kyllians stayed a few more minutes, then they moved off to another part of the ship.
I did not move or open my eyes for a long, long time.
When I did, it was to the sound of the airlock closing.
The Kyllians were leaving.
I waited a while longer, then detached myself from the bodies. I had intertwined my arms in theirs, effectively meshing us together.
The bodies floated away.
I pushed off and looked at the view screen. The Kyllian ship was receding in the distance.
I watched them leave.
I looked at the bodies.
And, when I knew the Kyllians were out of range, I activated the distress signal…and waited.
Author : Bob Newbell
“This is the day it all ends,” said Brosh.
“Why don’t you take one of the mood stabilizers the doctor prescribed?” asked Querna, Brosh’s wife. She often wondered why she’d married Brosh. If I’d married that engineer who had a crush on me, she thought to herself, I’d probably be enjoying a canal cruise right now.
Brosh ignored Querna’s suggestion and returned to his study. He was and had always been an odd sort of Martian. Even as a child he had thought there was something seriously wrong with the world, something both ineffable and inescapable. His parents had taken him to a string of psychiatrists who had given him various diagnoses and prescriptions. None of them helped. Part of Brosh’s ill-defined neurosis was that whatever was wrong with Mars was somehow related to Earth. As a result, he had devoted himself to the study of the lifeless, desiccated third planet from the Sun. He was Mars’ foremost expert on that world.
Brosh had been working in his study for about a quarter of an hour when he heard Querna yell from the living room.
He rushed in and saw his wife looking at the vid screen in disbelief. On the screen was a live feed from Elysium City. But the video looked strange. Both the people, running about in terror, and the buildings were all translucent.
“…have been unable to explain the phenomenon which started just over half an hour ago,” a newscaster was saying. “Weather stations in Elysium are reporting that barometric pressure is plummeting in the region. Just a moment. We’ve just received a report that radiation levels in Elysium are rising…”
Brosh rushed back to his study and interfaced his terminal with the observatory’s computer. He called up the latest telescopic image of Earth. “It’s…blue!” he said in astonishment. The spectrograph confirmed what he already suspected: The dead desert world of Earth was now mostly covered in water.
“It’s happening in Utopia Planitia now!” Querna screamed from the adjoining room.
Brosh didn’t respond. He just kept watching Earth. He saw something on the crescent of Earth’s nightside. Lights. Dozens, then hundreds. “Cities,” he said aloud. And somehow he knew that paradoxically the cities materializing before his eyes had been there for a very long time.
Somewhere along the line, Brosh thought to himself, a great mistake had been made. By whom or by what, he didn’t know. Mars with its thick atmosphere and butterscotch-colored sky and great canals and oceans and majestic cities piercing the clouds was not supposed to be. Likewise, Earth was never intended to be a barren rock, the subject of science fictional invasions and the target for the space agency’s unmanned probes.
“It’s happening here now!” Querna shrieked.
Brosh felt strangely calm and composed. This isn’t armageddon, he thought. This is a return to normality. He saw that his garden was now bereft of foliage. It looked like a desert. After a moment, he realized he was seeing his garden through his study’s wall, not its window.
“Brosh! We have to get away from here!” Querna was standing next to Brosh but her voice sounded like it came from far away.
Brosh suddenly felt cold. He had trouble breathing. He noticed something in his increasing insubstantial living room. A strange wheeled vehicle. It slowly moved toward him. The machine stopped and began taking a panoramic photograph. About 20 minutes later, the mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California received the image of the arid, sterile vista.
Author : Roger Dale Trexler
The ship closed in on Earth.
They’d been there many, many times before: Easter Island, the Pyramids, and the South American crop circles. Three tweenagers looking for adventure. It was off limits for them to come to Earth, but that was the very reason they were there.
Tredac sat at the controls. “Watch this,” he said to Venso and Hu.
Venso wobbled a drug-addled tentacle at him. “You know we’re not supposed to be here,” he said.
Hu leaned forward and licked up a long strand of semi-solid pinkness off a flat metal table. His tongue rolled into his mouth and he swallowed. He let out a long, hiss-like sigh.
“That’s good Yodsplotin,” Hu said.
Tredac grinned, but thought: it’s the cheapest Yodsplotin you can buy. The stupid son of a bitch wouldn’t know good Yodsplotin from bad Yodsplotin if his mother’s life depended on it.
Still, they nudged tentacles and Tredac said: “Watch this.”
He wrapped a tentacle around a control and, on the view screen; they saw thousands of rocks lift effortlessly into the air.
“What the hell are you doing?” Venso asked.
Tredac let out a giggle. “Relax,” he said. “Have a little fun before you die!”
Venso sank back in his seat. In a moment, he leaned forward and had a lick of the Yodsplotin. “Sorry,” he said, slurring his words. “You know my Dad….”
He didn’t have to finish the statement. Everyone knew Venso’s Dad was a hard ass when it came to interfering with other planets. He kept an eye on things. But, this planet was so far off the beaten path that he would never find them.
“Whatcha gonna do with those?” Hu asked, pointing at the rocks floating in the air ahead of them.
Tredac reached out, ran his tentacle across the Yodsplotin, and then sucked the bounty off his tentacle. “These creatures are sooooo stupid,” he said. “I’m gonna lay those rocks out in a long row. It’ll freak them out.”
He reached out, took the controls and plotted a layout for the rocks. Then, systematically, the computer controlled the anti-gravity ray and dropped the rocks into long, perfect lines.
Hu let out a laugh. “They’ll be trying to explain this for centuries!” He slapped Tredac across the shoulder. “You’re so damn evil!”
“Why, thank you!” replied Tredac as he acquired another tentacle of Yodsplotin.
Just then, as they were laying the final rocks in ground, the communication claxon went off.
Tredac looked at Venso and Hu. Hu looked at the console. “It’s your Dad, man,” he said, more than a hint of fear in his voice.
“Oh hell,” Venso said.
Tredac lurched out of the pilot’s seat and let Venso take over. After all, it was Venso’s Dad’s ship, and they had “borrowed” it for a while.
Venso sat down in the seat uneasily and stared at the console. After a moment, he keyed in the code to activate the monitor.
His dad, all fat and gray like the old ones were, was grimacing on the screen. “Where are you?” he said.
“We just went out for a ride,” Venso said. “Honest.”
His father drooped his mucusy jaw. “I know where you are,” he said. “Get home…. now!”
Tredac nodded. “Yes sir.”
The video screen went blank. No one said a word for a moment. Then, Tredac let out a little scoff and said: “To hell with that old coot!”
He turned back to the controls and, ever so quickly, placed the over 3000 stones in perfect rows in the French field. “Stupid Earthlings,” he said.
Later, on the hyper jump home, they struck a rogue asteroid and died.
Author : Tommy Walker
Brian awoke from a blissful and exhausted sleep in his wide and comfortable bed. A successful business had provided a plush penthouse apartment with every possible luxury. He rolled, half conscious feeling for her, the silver haired girl he’d met and shared his bed with last night. All he found was an empty pillow. Brian shrugged and hopped from his bed heading for the shower, but tripped and landed roughly on the tiled floor. Scrambling to his feet Brian peered in horror at a complete human skin lying grotesquely on his floor… complete with silver hair. It lay discarded on the floor like a macabre onesie splattered with sticky grey ooze.
He fumbled his phone, hands trembling he tapped 999, but as he did so a dark thought occurred to him; who should he call? An ambulance? The Police? What would he tell them? Who would believe him? Without further hesitation or doubt Brian threw down his phone and scooped up the skin, it was heavier than he expected, which seemed an odd thought to have as he swallowed more bitter vomit. The large open fire lit almost instantly with the help of a quart bottle of expensive designer Vodka. The skin bubbled and wheezed as the flames devoured it. Brian took a long pull on the Vodka pulled his knees to his chest and watched it burn.
Many months drifted by, but for Brain that morning never faded from his memory. In the first few weeks Brian was wracked with guilt, waking every night in pools of his own sweat haunted by the nightmare. Work became impossible, Brian was unable to focus on the simplest of tasks and even leaving the house became something to avoid. It was around this time that he felt it for the first time. A churning sensation in his abdomen startled him and he pressed his hands to his belly. He felt it move inside him slithering like an eel he felt the creature inside push against his stomach wall. It didn’t hurt Brian noted it simply felt… alien.
Over the coming weeks the alien parasite grew inside him, feeding on him. By now Brian had withdrawn into a self-imposed solitude answering the door only to receive delivery from the supermarket twice a week, his evenings were spent in front of the open fire, gently cradling his now huge swollen belly Brian would softly whisper to the creature which would kick and squirm in answer.
Brian awoke suddenly one morning, the familiar feeling of moisture soaking his sheets. He looked down however to discover he had voided his bowl. A puzzled look crossed his now bearded face but only for a second before it was twisted with a vile expression of agony. The pain shot through him like a lightning bolt and he flailed his arms helplessly reaching for anything he could grip to ease the pain. His screams of pain echoed through the apartment building.
When the paramedics finally broke through Brian’s deadlocked doors they found him sat on his bedroom floor. Clutched closely to his chest an ugly grey creature with fine silver hair screamed, a high pitch bone chilling scream. A lonely tear fell down one of Brians cheeks. The first shocked paramedic held a hand to his mouth as he surveyed the horrific scene. The other gaped at the screaming grey bundle clutched to Brians chest. “What is it!” she spat. Brian looked up a wide grin across his face tears now glowing under both eyes. “It’s a Girl!” He said
Author : Bob Newbell
Frejj glided two meters above the street of the marketplace, each pulsation of his gelatinous, umbrella-shaped body propelling him forward through the green chlorine atmosphere toward the cafe at the end of the street. Seeing his friend, Vallier, resting on a pedestal, he floated over to join him. Vallier held a stylus in one tentacle and a datapad in two others. He was obviously deep in thought.
“Writing?” asked Frejj.
“Writing,” confirmed Vallier.
Frejj signaled a servitor to request a flagon.
“Put that pad down. I’ve ordered us a libation.”
Vallier kept writing. “I’d like you to look this over when I’m done. I’m going to submit it to one of the lore journals.”
“I hope it’s not more of that silly science fiction of yours.”
“It’s not silly!” said Vallier louder than he’d intended. “It’s creative and imaginative. So much lore nowadays is derivative and repetitive. Speculative fiction is the new frontier in literature.”
The servitor delivered the flagon and two cups to the table. Frejj poured them both a drink. He drained his cup and poured himself another. “What’s it about anyway? Your story, I mean.”
“You’ve heard the news about radio transmissions from a star system in the Jebraze constellation possibly being from an alien intelligence? I’m writing a story on what the aliens might be like.”
Frejj had another drink. “That’ll turn out to be a false alarm. There are no habitable planets in that system.”
“They’ve determined the third planet is the origin of the transmissions. It’s mostly covered in water and the atmosphere is about one-fifth oxygen.”
Frejj put down his cup. “Nothing could survive in such an environment. Your story won’t get accepted for publication if no one finds it believable.”
“That’s where the transmission originated,” insisted Vallier. “Whatever creatures live there would have evolved to survive the amount of oxygen in the air.”
Frejj resumed drinking. “My advice is make the characters in your story like life on our planet. Make their mesoglea an odd color to make them seem ‘alien’ of something.”
“Who’s going to believe aliens that look like us?”
“The readers have to be able to relate to the characters.”
“The characters are from another planet. They’re not going to float around and have six eyes and look like ordinary people.”
“They’re not going to float about? How do you intended to have them move?”
“Maybe they slither on the ground or ambulate on specialized tentacles.”
“They couldn’t escape predators if they locomoted on the ground. They’d never survive long enough to develop into a technological civilization.”
Vallier floated off his pedestal momentarily with excitement and descended back down to rest on it. “That’s it!” he said with excitement. “The aliens are land-bound and easy prey for their world’s predators. At the same time, their planet’s poisonous oxygen atmosphere puts them in constant peril. Oxygen is highly reactive. I bet things would catch fire there really easily. They’d be a stoic, warrior race ever vigilant against their planet’s endless danger!” Vallier started writing frantically.
“How about a love interest?” asked Frejj. “A male, a female, and a gestator are thrown together by circumstances and a romance develops.”
“Readers want action and adventure, not mating dances.”
“And what happens when we get a radio transmission with video from the aliens? What happens when we know what they look like and what their civilization is like?”
Vallier stopped writing. He looked worried for a moment. Then he brightened and said, “Shape-shifters! I can address that problem by making them shape-shifters!” he said triumphantly.