“Hey! You up there! Put down my cow!”
See what I have to put up with. Gone are the days when I could eat in peace. Have a nice little heifer snack while taking in some rays. No, no, no. It’s Kill the monster this, kill the beast that. I wish I’d never broken down on this world. At night I look up and see where I should have stopped for repairs. Funny how a dry desiccated ball of dust looks more appealing than a lush water planet.
“You gonna put down my cow or what?”
The little guy, a farmer I suppose is creaming at me from the back of a vehicle. I usually squash them these days, even eat a few now and again, if I’m really hungry, but their skins are all clothey and chewy. I fell the tiny prickling sensations on my skin as it fires projectiles at me. They all do this; it’s a world of projectiles. Ever since day one, when I swam ashore just about every being on this world has shot something at me. To be frank, it is down right annoying. I crunch up the cow then squash the guy and his vehicle.
I’ve been here about a week and still haven’t found what I need to repair my ship. It’s one of those new Glikker Fus with a lingual interfractal conversion rumbulator. Now I don’t usually go for rumbulators, they can be a bit noisy, but this model came with a dual swifner tuny and I simple love those colours.
I snatch up another cow and pop it in my mouth. They taste pretty good, if a bit grassy and I find I can get by on about seventy of the little beasties a day. As I was saying. I took the new Glikker Fus out on a spaceial loop, did a quick fold and skip and bang the interfratal fractalled and I ended up deep in space with now repair shop within a deg or so. Of course an oxygen world always looks better than a dust ball so I dropped down, got some heat from the atmosphere and settled at the bottom of one of the larger water masses. Cooled the hull down nicely and made for some fuel replenishment easy.
A number of small explosions rattle across my suit as three small screeching things fly by my head. That’s twice this morning these annoying things have attacked me. Like the others I swat them away, sending flames and bits of metal spiralling back to the ground. It’s time to move on, there’s no fractal here anyway. I’ve tried speaking to them, these little beings, who do seem reasonably advanced. Well they’ve got vehicles than can fly and move over the ground, but they don’t seem to have developed a decent translator. I thought that would be more important than projective things, but then again, I’m a monster, well that’s what I managed to pick on in my frequency sensors until some kind of mushroom cloud stuffed the reception.
I wade across a small body of water to leave a group of waving beings behind. It is true I might have squashed a few of their structures. Couldn’t really be helped. I’m pretty big, even for my age. One place even had a being almost as big as me but it broke when I tried to pick it up. The odd thing as that lots of little beings fell off its spikey top. That’s when I first encountered the squealing things that shot projectiles at me. I’d have thought they would have given up after a couple of goes. Even I could put a hole in a Jyn-tet travel suit and my back spikes are pretty sharp, I tell you.
It was a little voice, but I had good hearing. I turned, chest deep in the water to seek a floating vehicle approaching. I wondered if this lot would be friendlier. Obviously a water race would be more in tune with the natural world.
“I need a fractal rumbulator top up,” I said, watching as my words created a few minor waves. It was then I remembered they didn’t have a translator. The little vehicle rocked wildly before me and some tiny creatures fell off.
I picked them up and put them back on the little vehicle. I think I squashed some of them, but mostly I managed to save some.
“Monster! Monster!” they screamed. “Kill it!”
Same every where I go. Even the water beings want to kill me. Strange world. Wonder they haven’t started killing each other, so much is their cry for killing. Loud explosions rang out from the water vehicle and projectiles slapped up and down my chest. One caught me in the eye and it stung. I really didn’t like that. It was hard enough getting all four eyes to adjust to the strange light of this world without one watering. I grabbed the vehicle and held it underwater until it stopped bubbling. Some little beings floated on the water and waved their arms, so I swooshed my larger claw through the water and washed them up on the far shore with a big wave. I wet some of the structures but any good deed has a few consequences.
I swam for a few rellyts until I could touch the bottom again and then sat on the beach letting the sun dry off my suit. I hated walking about in wet underwear, it always got caught up in my scales. Looking out to sea I thought of my ship and the lockers full of my type of food. Loaves of Mucu and great jars of Lupoin gelly, the best for long space folds.
“Shoot it!” Another little voice and the distant pop, pop, pop of weapons fire. This was getting tiresome. I yelled my protest, the clicks and groans echoing of the back drop of mountains. Trees fell inland under my cry. Things were so feeble here. I adjusted my translator and again tried to use these creatures own words, well the ones I managed to get around my tongues any way.
“Flap Jack,” I said, trying to keep my voice soft so as not to flatten any structures. This city looked pretty much the same as the one I’d left. These being were not very creative.
At least that stopped the projectiles. You don’t know how annoying that tingling feeling can get. I had their attention, though I was unsure of the meaning of the words. So I repeated some of the words I’d picked up when I could get transmissions.
“Dancing Queen, seventeen ooh ooh” It wasn’t much, but when I heard the sounds from my lips they did sound authoritive.
“The bloody thing’s trying to sing,” one small figure said into something held close to its mouth. “I don’t know.” It held the small device up to me.” My first real chance at affective communication, even if it did sound tuneful to them.
I thought of something more derivative of the signals I’d heard. “It will be a sunny day with a north easterly breeze.”
I watched the little figure.
“It’s giving me a weather report now,” it said into the device. I had no idea what it meant by weather report but they still didn’t shoot at me. “What is your name?” it called.
I said my name. The creature threw it’s hands up to its head and screamed. I’d spoken too loudly and in my own language. I said it again trying to use their words. “Moga – Dash”
“Why are you attacking us?”
After a week of them shooting at me they ask such a question. Funny beings these. I felt like squashing it because of its abject stupidity. It was difficult forming reasoning behind word in their language. It was true my translator turned their words into mine but for some reason it didn’t work in reverse. Probably some water damage but more likely a glitch in the unit itself. For what must have been the twenties time I tapped its silver surface on my shoulder then spoke.
“KFC is great for period pain.”
The little figure shook its head. Obviously I didn’t say it right. This was getting me nowhere, I needed Farcical. I wanted to get off this Yeebibba excretion of a world and go home, where the air is thick, the sun green and the men nasty. I was heading into mating as it was, I didn’t want to miss out on the young males, again.
“You want some chicken,” the figure asked.
I don’t want anything to eat, what’s wrong with these beings, can’t they understand their own language? To be fair, I didn’t know what I was saying, but surely they could work it out. “I squashed a vehicle that spat projectiles, just to highlight my discomfort with the situation.
“One can of ale goes a long way,” I said, pointing out to sea, showing them where my ship was. “This 3AW signing off.” Right, I hope they got the message this time. I wanted farcical for my ship.
“Bring me a tanker of beer,” the figure said into its device. “Hurry, it just flattened a tank. It’s also wanting radio coverage, three AW.”
I stood up and flexed my lower appendages, my inner most thigh hurt. I looked down to see a pointy thing sticking out of my leg and my suit. The little buggers had put a hole in my expensive, thirty Gerder guaranteed, Jyn-tet suit. I stood on some more vehicles to show my disappointment. I’d come in peace, more or less and these little shits were ruining my best clothes.
“It’s attacking, FIRE! Kill it, kill it!”
Again with the Kill it thing. “I want some donuts!” I screamed, blowing down a good section of structures and causing the top of one of the mountains to crumble. Feeble, feeble place. I thought about the words, pulled my translator free of my shoulder and held it to my secondary mouth – the one I’d been trying to talk with. “I want some donuts,” I said carefully. The sound of my own language filtered into my pickup. It was crude but surely they’d understand. In Dash I’d actually said ‘Stick Farcical between my greyt –por-mod’ which would be rude if you said it to your egg hatcher.
“Don’t do anything!” the little being shouted. Some projectiles still pinged and popped about me.
“Donuts!” I said softly.
“Get me some donuts!” it yelled into its device. “Truck loads, now!”
I sat on the sand and waited as vehicles pulled to a halt in a flat area close by. The drivers dived from them and ran as if I were about to eat them. I was hungry, but not that hungry. I counted covrit vehicles, all piled high with little round things, so small I doubted I’d be able to pick one up without squashing it.
“Donuts,” the being yelled.
Now, I’ve actually mined Farcical myself and it never looked like this. I popped a test scanner from my neck and held it over one of the vehicles. Sure enough it registered farcical, low grade and grimy, but still quite useable. I gathered up the vehicles and stowed them in a small pack I keep hanging on one of my spines. Never know when you need a bag my hatcher used to say. I had enough to get home, that was plenty. With my load I turned back to the sea and walked into the setting sun.
“Now what?” came the cry of the little figure standing in its vehicle.
I searched for the right phrase. “I’ll be back!” I said.
I loaded the farcical into its receptacle and booted up the rumbulator. It coughed and spluttered for a bit before setting down to an unsteady rumble. That would be the impure farcical. As the ship rose from the water and took back into space I thought back on my ordeal. Though I wasn’t meant to be making contact with alien races, surely I could do something with what I had experienced. I folded through space once, getting close enough to hope to make a link with Bovi – Dash my hatch mate.
“Hey, Moga, where you been?” The face of Bovi filled the screen. He’d been Kuggi again, his two outer eyes were closed.
“Never mind where I been, you still making screen shows to scare the new hatchers?” The idea began to firm up in my mind.
“When I’m not hitting the Kuggi I am, why? You never had interest before.”
“I got this weird story about little creatures with projectile weapons.”
“Sounds kinda weird, Moga, sure you ain’t been Kuggi yourself?” One of the closed eyes opened. He was interested.
“I’ll tell you when I get back, its totally original, I guarantee it.”
“If you say so, but no one will believe it – little creatures with weapons; sound barbaric.”
“It is, Bovi, it is.”
Robert N Stephenson has authored two full length novels, Life Light published by Satalyte Publishing is available from amazon.com and other outlets. He was sold over 100 short stories around the world, have published and edited Altair Magazine, from 1996-2000, Runs and Edits Altair Australia Publishing, has worked as a literary agent and works as a writer and writing teacher full time. He has won the Black Dog Award and the Aurealis award for his writing, and has received 2 honourable mention in the Writers of the Future contest in the same year.
Betty Rocksteady is a Canadian author and illustrator. Learn more at www.bettyrocksteady.com.