So Thirsty

Author : Kyle DeBruhl

“Oh man…” Jeremy sighed as he stared out the window. “The old man’s at it again.” He pulled himself out of the chair and lumbered to the front door, seizing an rain slicker from the coat rack as he went. Thunder crackled in the distance and he peered out the embedded front door window with hesitation. He’s going to catch friggin’ pneumonia. He turned the handle and the door swung open with a bang, carried in full circle by the howling wind.

The lawn had been transformed since the afternoon. What was earlier a large green blanket with the occasional wildflower or misplaced stone, had become a filthy mess, a deep marsh that soaked the toes of even the toughest tennis shoes.

“Hey Murray!” Jeremy shouted hoping to catch the man’s non-existent attention. The frail figure across the street did nothing. Jeremy took his last step through the water and opened his front gate, all the while keeping his eyes on the man across the way. A quick jog across the street and Jeremy was now at the opposite gate which he cleared with a short jump. The old man could now be seen clearly; sickly white columns of flesh surrounded by red Bermuda shorts stood atop a lawn table. The open t-shirt showed an array of exotic fruits and ukulele prints and was barely hiding the pale, almost skeletal chest it adorned..

“Hey man, I think you ought to get back inside, it’s cold and I’m not sure you’ve got the, err… shorts for it.” Murray had never stood on the table before. He apparently was getting wise to the ease with which Jeremy could force him back into the house.

“I’m gonna pull you down man…” Jeremy thought it sounded confident enough, but he was having a hard time with the physics. The last thing he wanted was to harm the old guy; the neighbors would throw a conniption fit.

With as much strength as Jeremy could muster, he eased the old man off of the table and onto his back, taking care not to contort his cargo on the way down. Murray kept his back straight, and the void expression on his face remained. In the end youth won out and the old man was pushed (gently) back into his home. Jeremy walked quickly back to his own piece of Churchill street and regaled in the good work of a good man.

Somewhere deep inside of 143 Churchill Street a silent voice spoke. It spoke to the electrons in Murray Feckleson’s brain. It seethed as an ocean and whispered as a child. It burned. So thirsty, It thought. What a thick, brainless, species. Can’t he see that we are thirsty? Murray nodded mechanically as the voice carried on. Can’t he see that we are dry? Can’t he see? Suddenly the TV burst to life and the light’s soft colors soothed it’s “mind”. Murray? Be a doll and draw up a bath for us would you?

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Insist to Exist

Author : Anthony R. Elmore

William rode the Green Line, making the passengers hostage to his presence. Here, they couldn’t walk away, far. They could only avoid his glare, his insistence at existence. The train stops at Parkway Station and a pretty teenage girl with soft brown hair enters the train. She glances at the only empty seat next to him, and walks toward it. The train moves and the air shifts forward and she shudders like a gazelle that caught a lion’s scent creeping upwind. She moves toward the gangway, glancing backward at possible danger.

“But he lied…” he wants to cry at her, at the world.

Attention starved little…

The train rattles to a halt at Memorial Park and many people in bright summer shorts and carrying lawn chairs and coolers disembark. A weekend street fair is happening topside, but he’s not invited. Facial recognition cams on lampposts would alert the police and they will escort him away. So he rides the train, staying in motion.

But he lied…

The trains stops at Chamblee station and a horrible, fecal smell enters as a covey of passengers leave. The bum is layers of filthy, mismatching coats and shirts and shoulders a rucksack. The passengers’ noses curls and some gag and comment to others. Newspapers and handkerchiefs rise to their faces to block the stench. The bum drops into an empty seat and he feigns sleep. At the next stop, everyone leaves the car except William.

The odor disgusts him but he wonders if Pheremonic Shunning caused the bum’s state and this is what awaited him.

No more overcrowded prisons, chip tracking and dedicated surveillance, they said. Shunning put offenders in an open air prison with their own skin and guilt for a cell.

After his trial, state doctors injected him with a solution that changed his pheremonic signature that broadcasted “Danger, Stay Away.” messages.

But he lied. He misunderstood my touch. It wasn’t like that.

The stinking bum was his future, his present, he thought. Six months into a five year sentence, he would never again teach and would die on the dole. This was his family. Guilty or not, they were a confraternity of the shunned.

He approached the bum, crossing through the fog of stench. “Did they shun you?” he asked.

The bum looked at him through a camouflage of dirt, his beard nitted with food bits a dried mucus. He moaned and leaned over and slapped the side of his head with both hands, rocking back and forth.

He didn’t see the shiv lance his gut or the bum draw it. He only saw the betrayal of snared animal fear in the bum’s eyes. The train bucked and slowed and his legs gave way and he fell. From the wrong angled view from the floor he saw the bum shuffle through the crowd of arriving passengers, parting the crowd with his stench.

“Do you see me now?” he sputtered to their shocked faces. I exist. Then he didn’t.

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Trick or Treat

Author : J. S. Kachelries

Officer Gannon of the Washington DC Police was clandestinely peeking around the trunk of a large maple tree next to the curb. A patrol car pulled up behind him and turned off its headlights. Sergeant Jose Viernes climbed out. “Hey, Bill, dispatch said you requested backup. What’s going on?”

Gannon whispered, “See those two trick or treaters that look like aliens from another planet? Well, they’re acting very suspiciously. They only go to the houses of Senators and Congressmen. They just walked four blocks, from Congressman Bartlett’s house to Senator Mikulski’s house, but didn’t stop anywhere in between.”

“Maybe they give out the best candy.”

“No, there’s more than that. Once they enter a house, they stay for over five minutes. No normal kid would do that.”

“Wait a minute. Are you trying to say that you think they’re terrorists?”

“No, don’t be ridiculous. I’m saying that I think they are aliens from another planet. It’s a perfect cover. They can walk around all night and nobody would notice. They must be collecting intelligence.”

“Intelligence? From democrats? Now who’s being ridiculous?”

“Ha, ha, very funny. Well, I don’t care what you think. I’m confronting them when they come out. You just watch my back.”

When the two little “aliens” reached the sidewalk, officer Gannon drew his gun, “Freeze right there,” he barked. The two aliens dropped their candy bags and put their hands in the air. Their arms were visibly trembling. “I’m on to you guys,” he continued. “This charade is over. You’re coming with me.” He reached over and grabbed one of the alien’s antennas and pulled him toward the patrol car. His rubber mask popped off, revealing a small, petrified, blond haired, blue eyed boy. The child dropped to his knees and covered his head with his rubber alien hands, “Please don’t shoot me,” he pleaded.

Sergeant Viernes broke into laughter. “Nice going, Bill. Now he’ll have nightmares ’till Christmas. It’s OK son,” he said as he attempted to comfort the boy, “he was only kidding. You know, just a little joke on Halloween. Now, go ahead and pick up your bags and have fun.” Viernes walked past the children and gingerly removed the gun from Gannon’s numb grip, and handed the alien mask back to the child. “Com’on Bill, lets get you some donuts. I think your blood sugar is out of whack.”

The moment the patrol car was out of sight, the two kids took off in the opposite direction. They cut through a dense hedge, and stopped in the back yard of an abandoned house. One of the children pressed a button on his belt, and their spaceship decloaked and lowered a ramp. The two aliens scampered inside and reactivated the cloak. “Tuomita kadotukseen, that was close,” said Taa-Lol. “I thought he was going to look into our bags and find our mind-suckers. I’m so glad the High Council recommended that we use nested costumes, in case we got confronted. Those guys are geniuses.”

Fee-Kak disagreed. “The High Council are idiots,” he remarked. “How are we supposed to gather intelligence, if we can only operate one day a year? At this rate, we won’t be ready to invade for a century.” He began removing his costumes, “You know,” he said, “tonight’s scare gives me an idea. Get the High Council on the hyper-space radio.”

Starting November 1, 2007, the advanced scouts of the Lalande Imperial Invasion Fleet began collecting intelligence 365 days a year, disguised as children.

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Visiting the in-laws on Rigel 12

Author : Geoffrey Cashmore

“I hate this bit.” Tress settled back into her trans-seat and blinked as the young man in the blue uniform smiled and sprayed a puff of Tranq into her face.

“Blurq!” In the next seat, her husband lay back too as his host closed the canopy and set the dials, “Why can’t they make this stuff taste better? I hate peppermint.”

Tress leant over to whisper “They’re all so good looking…the hosts.”

Pol grunted “Yeah. You know they’re all gay, don’t you?”

“No, that’s just a myth.” Tress lay back again, giggling at the idea. “You’re just jealous.”

“Me? Jealous?” Pol flapped a large hand dismissively in the air, “I’m telling you, common knowledge. All gay.” He let out a long yawn, “Not that it matters – ‘cept if you think about it too hard – then it’s kinda weird…”

Tress felt the oxygen lamina start, “Oh, I don’t know. I think it’s quite a turn on.” She didn’t hear Pol’s reply – not in her own ears. By the time the couple were ready to board the cruiser, their identities were established in their respective hosts, ready for the risky trip to Rigel-12.

Dozens of similar looking men in snug fitting blue uniforms stood in rows at the foot of the boarding ramp.

“Pol? Is that you?” Tress thought her voice sounded rather deep.

“Yeah, hey, look…put your badge on so I can find you in the crowd a little easier.” One man helped another fit a small plastic card with Tress’s photo onto his collar clip. “Ok…I think we’re ready to board.”

The other man turned away for a moment, looking over towards the trans-bays “Bye, me.” He said, then ran to catch the others as they climbed the boarding ramp. “Hey, Pol…nice butt!”

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The More Things Change, etc.

Author : Cody Lorenz

One explosion behind her, one to the left. Sylvia ducked into the nearest available hole, just as the third boom sent dust into that very same nook.

She crouched, grabbing up the carbine, flipping open its cover, and staring at the little screen, pausing first to wipe the grime away. Her fingers hammered at buttons, trying to restart the damned thing.

They were coming.

She had to split off the maintenance plate to get to the glowing center. Power core, tubes one through seven, focusing arrays, batteries, circuit boards.

Their steps were heavy – what choice did a half-ton creature have but to be lumbering?

The bridge of her nose began to pound. This could mean only one thing.

Ah, one of the ‘sistors knocked out. It only took five seconds to fix, and she went running back out of her hiding place.

Sylvia was indeed the best shot in her battle group (well, only shot, now), and when she took aim, one of the beasts fell, crackling with the leftover energy discharges, leaving a car-sized grave for itself in the ground. She didn’t smile, or cry, simply did it. Again, and again, she fired, until the world seemed to be coated in a veil of superheated plasma. The world only got its color back when there was no more ammo, and she felt her head beginning to truly ache.

A finger was placed on the tip of her nose, and then the pain exploded.

She blinked out the temp implants, sitting up, a man immediately handed her a tissue. Her clothes (not fatigues – just your standard “I’m twenty and hot so notice me!” clothes) were getting stained red.

“Well, Miss Smith, we’ve come to believe your play testing duties are over,” the man said, one of those lab coated and goggled men who never got any sun or exercise, “Take heart, though, young lady, in that you’ve helped perfect the ultimate system for home enjoyment. We only need to work on that problem you’re experiencing.”

“What, the bloody nose?” She wiped at it, sniffling some, coughing once, and finally balling a piece of tissue up to use as a rudimentary plug, “It’s worth it!”

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