The African Mystery

Author : Charles E.J. Moulton

William felt relieved, actually.

One more hour of digging and his hands would have lost all their flesh.

William threw down his shovel, straightened his back, stretching his muscles and positively felt his 50 year-old bones snap, crackle and pop inside his body.

The termite nests he had found proved it.

The small parasites had caused the fairy circles.

“One more picture,” William whispered to himself, lifting his Nikon D4 and pushing the button. He triggered utter panic down there. He loved watching the little guys. Was that mean? William didn’t know. The fact of the matter was that lonely William found himself at last in the position of being able to deliver the geological institute a definite solution as to why these strange fairy circles were appearing along the African coast.

Fairy circles? Why had William become so interested in these things at all? That Spanish ufologist came to mind, that dark guy with the dyed blond hair. A whole evening’s worth of discussion had commenced and prompted William to prove the Spanish guy wrong. Standing here in Namibia five years later, that damn sun transforming his skin into a wasteland of wounds, William remembered yelling at that guy that Africa was not the U.S. and that the American crop circles were not to be compared with the African coast.


William reached toward his back pocket and took out his lukewarm water. The liquid felt cool trickling down his throat, cooler than the African sun. In comparison with that sun, the wind seemed chilly. In comparison with the heat, the water seemed refreshing. In comparison with the surrounding grass, these bare patches of wasteland seemed desolate. Eaten by parasites, devoured by insects, all life extinguished to serve one breed of vermin.

William took a few tired steps toward the large stone, throwing the bottle into his bag. Too many years now, too much research. It was time to go home now, take all his research, all those probes, all those little bugs, all that red sand, and give it to the institute in Johannesburg.

William wanted to spend at least a month just doing paper work at his office, eating pizza with his kids over the weekend, making love to his wife on Friday nights, enjoying an Orange River South African Pinotage red wine and a Bobotie dish of South African ground meat with an egg topping. No more than a few jotting of words in his notebook and he could call his wife and tell her to bring out the Scrabble game and pop the pop-corn for the kids.

No time for phone-calls, only time for the dropping of William’s notebook and pen. Had he not been seated, William would’ve stumbled.

The sun darkened because of the size of the arriving spaceships. William now knew what the Spaniard had described and how it was to see a UFO: the disability to move, the increased heartbeat, cold sweat running down a spine, the tingling of the nerve cells, the fear, then three alien ships burning three new dead fairy circles into the Arican ground.

When the alien walked out and took him by the hand, William didn’t protest. Questions were asked, information was exchanged and somewhere inside one of the ships he saw him: the Spanish ufologist. He smiled. It seemed, he belonged there.

William left the fairy circles forever, drove home, made love to his wife, gave up geology and became a painter.

William’s UFO-experience remained a secret for the rest of his life.

Termites remain the official cause of the circles.

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Color Me Pink

Author : C. Chatfield

“Shoot it.”

“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?”

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Guardian Angel

Author : Elijah Goering

My body was worn out. My organs were failing because they were simply too old, older than any human had ever been before. I would never speak again, and I had hours, maybe minutes to live. I asked the doctor to leave, and grabbed a pen and paper. Then I reached for the little red button hanging from a silver chain around my neck. I held It a moment, then pressed it down.

Today I woke in pain. It was nearly half an hour before I was up and dressed. Before I could leave my bedroom I found myself face to face with myself. I was familiar with the experience, and I waited for him to speak or act, but he did nothing. He looked into my eyes for a long moment, then reached into his pocket and handed me a slip of paper. It read simply, “It’s time.” I watched him press the button and disappear.

I recalled the day that I had met my guardian angel. I had just woken to another morning of my youth, and finding myself wide awake, I rose and dressed immediately. As I turned to leave my room a man appeared before me.

He was very old. His skin was wrinkled and his hair was thin and white. But he stood very straight, and his shining blue eyes spoke of intelligence. His jaw was set in a solemn expression and a single tear slid,almost unnoticed, down his wrinkled cheek. He stared right into my eyes for a long moment before I could look away.

“Who are you?” I asked.

Suddenly the man smiled. “I’m your guardian angel,” He said cheerfully. He took two long steps towards me so he was looking down at me, and reached for an unseen necklace beneath his formal attire. It was the button I had since come to know so well.

“This button,” he explained “Will destroy me when it’s pressed. After that, whenever you press it, It will take you back in time to the moment you desire. In that moment there will be two of you, one who has traveled back and one who has not. You can then act quickly but you must not linger. Soon, you must press the button again, and the version of you who has traveled through time will be destroyed. Have I made myself clear?” I nodded and he put the necklace around my neck.

“Never take it off.” Tears were streaming down his face now, but he was still smiling. “Now go ahead, press it.”

I tried to say something but I didn’t know what to say. I looked up at him and he nodded encouragingly. I pressed the button and just like that he was gone.

Later that day I met him again, in the youthful body that I recognized as my own. He was covered by sweat and soot. He walked purposefully over to me and stamped out an ember at my foot that had jumped from the fireplace unnoticed. Wordlessly, he had pressed the button and disappeared.

At last, I thought. In all my years he had visited me many times, but I had never pushed the button. Slowly, I had come to understand. Now at last, It was my turn. I closed my eyes and a tear rolled down my cheek. I opened my eyes and stood up as straight as I could, and pushed the button.

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Muscle Memory

Author : Roger Dale Trexler

The thing inside Tabitha Sandor twitched. She tried to move, make herself more comfortable, and it did not approve.

Stop. The word danced in her head. She wondered for a second if she had even heard the thought, but she knew she had. Since the scientists had discovered the alien DNA was compatible with human DNA, and inseminated her with it against her will, she knew.

It knows, too, she thought.

She looked around the 6-foot cubicle that they had placed her in for observation. The walls were glistening stainless steel. Only the camera in the corner interrupted their smooth surface. The scientists were watching her.

She ran her hand along her stomach. Two weeks ago, her belly had been flat and muscular. But, then they came in the middle of her sleep shift and hauled her off to a lab. They drugged her. She awoke to find them between her legs, syringe in hand, injecting her with an alien’s seed.

“It’s for the greater good,” one of the scientists told her. “We need to know what this alien race knew.”

Her personal freedoms were secondary to them.

To them, she was disposable.

She stood and walked to the wall. For the millionth time, she ran her hand along the smooth contour, hoping to find the exit.

There, it thought.

She paused, dumbfounded. Over the past couple of days, she had come to realize that the thing growing within her was not only alien, it held all the knowledge of its race. It somehow retained the knowledge of a long dead alien race; the abilities of that race were in her stomach. It was showing her, in brief glimpses, the majestic world, now turned to ash, below. There was a war that had wiped out its people. They had used weapons that made nuclear fusion look like a cap gun. They incinerated their entire planet. It was that planet from which they had extracted the alien’s DNA and impregnated her.

They are coming, It thought.

Tabitha backed away from the wall and, a second later, two white-coated men stepped inside.

One of them stepped toward her.

Tabitha felt a strange sensation and then her mind went blank. When she regained control, the scientists were laying on the floor, both of their necks broken.

She gasped.

“You killed them,” she said.

It was necessary, It thought. They were going to stop the experiment.

It flashed a thought through her mind. It belonged to one of the scientists. In the thought, she understood that they had come to the realization the alien was communicating with her. They understood that some form of muscle memory or genetic memory was telling her things. They also knew that the seed they planted inside her belonged to one of the scientists who helped destroy the alien world. They had managed to decipher some of the alien language.

They feared the alien’s power…and they wanted to kill it, lest they unleash the dragon again.

We must escape, It thought.

Tabitha wanted to protest, but a sharp, agonizing pain shot through her.

Do it!

Then, it took control again, and everything went black.


When she returned, she was in an escape pod. Through the window, she could see the massive ship above. It was burning silently in space.

As she watched, the ship exploded.

She gasped in horror.

It had to be, It thought. They wanted to stop us. I could not allow that.

She wanted to fight, but knew fighting was futile.

It was in control.

She fell back into the cushiony seat and watched as they dropped to the scorched world below.

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The Faithful Epilogue

Author : Jedd Cole

This kind of epilogue ends with a beginning, just as Homo sapiens began with an ending in the dark garden of forevers past. They believe it is AD 2476. They march through empty space with their idols under their arms. Earth burns behind them along with the little unnamed ones–the poor and the needy. Being unnamed, they are soon forgotten. The small unsponsored flotilla presses on towards the people’s recourse: a cold red rock, the shell of an empty colony, and other idols.


Heléna bends over with arms outstretched, holding her little daughter far away from herself in a corner of the compartment where the mob has been herded and penned. The child empties her bladder onto the hard metal floor. The stream makes unpleasant smacking sounds and splashes onto Heléna’s shoes. Twenty feet away, people pretend not to watch with their faces.

Heléna thinks about what happens when the royal are made refugees. She remembers with unidentified feelings the flat she and her daughter fled in such a hurry, leaving everything behind to save their lives so they could pee in the corner of a starship compartment. Cargo ship. It has never tasted human flesh before, nor does it wish to. Two months ago it was full of tiger nuts out of Valencia. No one will be interested in tiger nuts anymore. All the little wrinkled tubers were left behind.

Heléna’s husband used to eat them plain. He was also left behind.

There is a preacher in the midst a while later, speaking soft and confident words to the people. He meets Heléna’s stare. They talk about the disaster and where they used to live and what it is to be lonely among so many people. It turns out the preacher had owned a house just a few kilometers from Heléna’s flat. He tilts his head towards her and asks if she has been saved. She looks around and says yes with some confidence.

Heléna loses sight of her daughter among the thousand people in the compartment and never sees her again. She thinks about Baal and Moloch and passing children through the fire. She and the preacher are making plans for their future together when she gives birth to a new child three days before the ship reaches Mars. They name him Esperanto, speaking strange things to him.

Their new home will become ancient.

Heléna writes a story about the flight from the old place, and how everyone was saved, especially from the large countries. She writes from the carefully airtight hovel. Esperanto plays in the hydroponic garden. The preacher works in the chapel made of red dirt. He dies several years later of complications from AIDS.


Esperanto keeps Heléna with him in his pocket. She’s been dead for twenty years. She dwells in the paper, the story about the old place, the earth that perished. He contributes to the making of a new old world here. Planeta rojo.

Heléna had written of the burden of the removed generation.

Esperanto speaks strange things to his daughter, whose mother he does not know. There’s a former preacher’s son who lives in the hovels a block away and with whom Esperanto’s daughter plays for eternal segments of time.

Forever comes and goes. Esperanto thinks about what happens when refugees are made royalty. He turns it into a thesis, and the thesis will burn some people alive, including, eventually, himself.

Before that happens, he becomes their leader in the dark. Renovations are made. Rages aimed. Governors deposed, but not for good. The seeds of change wrinkle in the sun atop fallow Martian soil, where new men have proclaimed old things, and triumphed over the mere words of scribes.


Esperanto has died, his daughter has been lost, and new ones have been born in the interim to continue the unspoken religion. The epilogue remains an unwavering line that begins with Heléna’s manuscript and shoots into space along the route of the ancient fleeing ships. The fresh, sprouting heads write their own stories. The people proclaim themselves Genesis, the beginning of creation, and they cover the red planet with origins and fables. By inertia, the descendants of Heléna, Esperanto, and their daughters become the writers, builders, priests of the new old, of Baals, of Molochs, of fires. Children passing through them, most unnamed.

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