That Horrible Blue Planet

Legs were kicking, children splashing and singing, and the grandmas were doing slow, casual lengths of the swimming pool when the spaceship smashed through the leisure centre roof. One small graze was caused by falling debris, but the spaceship showed no damage at all from its destructive entry.

Swimmers began to splash, struggle and wade to escape as six dodecahedron-based beings exited their similarly geometried craft. The leader of the aliens, subcaptain Sixbox, emitted a yellow puff of satisfaction at the panic. Bilateral beings were disgusting. What were they doing here anyway? Their planet was two thirds covered in solvent, it wasn’t as if you could locomote through that. So what was the point of gathering so much non-solvent liquid in one place?

He signalled his team to grab the nearest biped. There was no point in issuing orders to these ugly creatures, they wouldn’t understand his language. This was purely a smash and grab, shock and awe exercise. When they had studied the local culture his people could begin to transmit surrender demands.

The team rolled towards a small biped, splashing through a small pool of the liquid. Immediately they began to scream and claw at themselves, puffing purple panic into the atmosphere. Sixbox couldn’t believe his eyepods, the liquid was solvent! They were swimming in solvent!

His team’s crystalline skin was rapidly dissolving, he could do nothing for them. Instead he raced back to his vessel, only to find the entryway closing. The captain had chosen not to risk solvent entering his ship. There were other, drier planets they could conquer.

As the ship left and his team convulsed the bipeds began to gather round, many still dripping with solvent. They pointed and hooted to each other. Sixbox puffed purple.


 

My second attempt at a HFY style story. I’m much more pleased with this one. The first (a 75 word story) is here if you are interested.

My current plan is to try and close out the month with a 300 word story every weekday, see how it is to maintain that rate and reassess in September.

After that I want to try for larger regular short stories, but it depends how long it takes me to write them.

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Why you should never rob a caterpillar train

“Sure, the Brandish gang will never notice us taking a mile long train through their backyard,” Fixie yelled as she reloaded. “What a great idea!”

At the head of the caterpillar train the driver Randle pumped frantically, misting pheromones to convince the massive biovehicles to speed up.

“Come on girls,” he said, panting. “You can do it.”

“They’re genderless grubs, idiot,” said Irwin, aiming carefully. Fixie elbowed him.

“You’re a genderless grub,” she said. He snarled.

“You made me miss!”

“You’d have missed anyway.” She lined up her own shot, but missed.

“What are we paying you clowns for?” Shouted Randle. “If we lose a caterpillar because you’re messing about…”

Fortunately Irwin’s next shot hit a bandit in the shoulder, knocking him from his horse. Irwin smirked.

“They’re too close! Stop them!” Randle was distraught as the bandits closed in on a caterpillar towards the middle of the train. Irwin and Fixie shot one, two, three bandits, but the rest closed and started jumping aboard, leading the caterpillar out of line.

Randle groaned theatrically, but switched pheromone pumps to call a halt. The caterpillars’ undulations slowed as the chemical signal passed down the line. He pulled out a long rifle, and loaded a wicked looking dart.

“Ah, what’s that, Randle?” Asked Fixie.

“The reason bandits shouldn’t steal from caterpillar trains,” he said.

The dart struck home.

The caterpillar rolled, crushing half the bandits instantly. The other half, including their horses, were quickly grasped by one of the twenty pairs of legs – despite their stubby look they had a surprising reach. The screams didn’t last long.

“Off you go then,” Randle said to the two guards.

“What?”

“You didn’t stop the bandits, so you get to put the caterpillar down. Don’t get too close, she’ll have a taste for meat now.”

Those Buoyant Depths

Bevi’s mother often sent him out of the house to play so she could get things – anything – done, so today had been nothing special.

“You stay away from those bubblers Bevi,” she called. “I don’t want to see you float away up a roof vent.” He wasn’t the most biddable child, but the thought of the ragged tears in the cave roof gave him the shudders.

Bevi’d had a great morning with a gaggle of kids teasing carnivorous glow worms, when his stomach reminded him that he’d left lunch on the counter. It was simple to climb the rock wall their house abutted and slip in the window. His mother would never know he was home. Except there she was on the kitchen floor, all intertwined with a priest. The priest’s ugly red mask slowly raised to see the paralysed boy.

Out the window. Skinned down the rocks. Away from the town lights into the deep dark of the cave.

Bevi sobbed and imagined all the creeping eyeless things that might enjoy the taste of small boy. A quiet scuff caught his breath, and he spotted a priest – the same one? – mask lighting his way through the dark. Bevi crept backward, up a slope, until he was wedged into a nook high above the cave floor.

When the footsteps had gone a faint bubbling intruded. He looked wildly, but couldn’t see anything in the dark. If he’d been breathing the gas for too long…

Bevi dashed towards home, but a gust of wind caught him, lifted his suddenly light body off the floor and into a dark crack in the rock above.

The rock chimney was dark and sharp as he swept timelessly upwards. Eventually Bevi realised the grey movement he could see was no hallucination. And above… light?


 

So I finished my 4 weeks of 75 word stories. I feel like I learned a bit about writing 75 worders, and it was very satisfying to write consistently like that.

Here’s a 300 worder from the usual SFF Chronicles contest.

The Death of “Breadhead” Heedle

“You must have a natural affinity for yeast,” they told him, carefully not mentioning his deformity.

“Your bread… it’s sublime!”

Yet Albert “Breadhead” Heedle felt a little too close for comfort. As though he was betraying doughy brethren. The baker insisted he return, bake more every time.

“This is art!”

Exhausted, Albert put his head on the bench for just a moment.

“But his head looked just like a loaf.” They told the police, later.

pexels-photo-1070945

Daria Shevtsova pexels-photo-1070945

HFY/Pandora’s Planet

They couldn’t understand how our brains functioned. We still had very little idea ourselves, but humanity exploded into galactic society like a saltatory signal down a nerve. Chemical clusters, house sized colony pheromones and various other biologies couldn’t keep up with this minuscule exotic monkey mind and its intuitive leaps.

A paranoid, jealous sub-alliance gunned for Earth, only to find their best weapons had been replicated, studied and stymied.

Humanity was out of the box.


 

This was brought to you by my promise to be more upbeat and the letters H, F, and Y.

For anyone not in the know, Humanity, Fuck Yeah! is a (sub)genre of scifi stories which focus on humanity being amazing. It’s nice contrast to the common trope of humans being the “default” generalists and alien races specialising in some way.

I’m not sure how well this works as a story, it’s too far out in perspective. It would be better to have zoomed in to a local level, have actual characters and so on.

JIM03

“It’s just a car, Mike,” she said. But it wasn’t.

JIM03 read the numberplate. The car was an ’03 Corolla, Jimmy’s favourite, built the year he was born. Mike imagined Jimmy would have bought one as his first car.

It had quirks. The radio was stuck on PopFM, a 10 year old’s channel. Sometimes the engine started before Mike put the key in.

Now JIM03 sat impounded, towed away. Alone.

He couldn’t stand it.


 

It’s a sad one today. I’m sorry. Let’s try for something perky and upbeat tomorrow, OK?

That’s No Lentil

“What’s a lentil doing in my potato salad?” Wesley asked, but ate it anyway.

Soon his appetite was huge. He hadn’t gained weight yet, but decided to eat less for his health. His arm picked up another chocolate anyway.

“Weak willed,” he thought. But he wasn’t.

He couldn’t deny it any more when he left work, unannounced. Wesley watched his body shove sweet handfuls into his mouth, feeling it all and controlling nothing.


1 lentil

 

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Let Me Loop The Ways I Love You

Let me loop the ways I love you, incremented by 1.

I love the clatter as you go.

I love how well we communicate, how quickly you correct me if l misunderstand.

I love how your surprising combinations induce me to unexpected actions.

I know you aren’t impressed like l am with these latest gadgets, that you think the touchscreen means l spend less time with you.

But you will always be my keyboard.

 


This story is dedicated to Microsoft and how awful the connection is between the surface computer and the keyboard. It looks Ok but then I can’t use the keys zxcv or enter.

Final Messages

Mate, I snuck my phone in.

No one believes the rumours. No one will believe me.

Elle from work came too, I thought if the rumours were true she’d protect me. Women should be safe, right?

She’s one of them.

Thinking back, she mentioned the Mantis Club first, made me curious. Has she been grooming me this whole time? I thought it was my idea.

I’m going to run for the fire escape.


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Bloody Ella

Her little knife made gentle cuts, so she wouldn’t mar the material.

Cut, cut, pull. A glove.

Cut, cut, cut, pull. A sleeve.

She giggled as the sewing machine hummed. Her sisters dangled, dripped, and gasped. Finally dressed, she laughed in their raw faces. Who were the ugly sisters now? She tried their old insults on her tongue and savoured the taste.

No fairy, no pumpkin, no slippers, but:

“I shall go to the ball!”

 


Bonus weekend story! Courtesy of the 75 word challenge at SFFChronicles.