Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

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August 2018 Microstory contest - STORIES ONLY

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1057 comments The following rules are from Jot Russell, moderator for this contest:

To help polish our skills and present a flavour of our art to other members in the group, I am continuing this friendly contest for those who would like to participate. There is no money involved, but there is also no telling what a little recognition and respect might generate. The rules are simple:

1) The story needs to be your own work and should be posted on the goodreads (GR) Discussion board, which is a public group. You maintain responsibility and ownership of your work to do with as you please. You may withdraw your story at any time.

2) The stories must be 750 words or less.

3) The stories have to be science fiction, follow a specific theme and potentially include reference to items as requested by the prior month's contest winner.

4) You have until midnight EST on the 22nd day of the month to post your story to the GR Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion. One story per author per month.

5) After, anyone from the LI Sci-Fi group or the GR Science Fiction Microstory Discussion group has until midnight EST of the 25th day of the month to send me a single private vote (via GR or to author.jotrussell@gmail.com) for a story other than their own. This vote will be made public once voting is closed. Voting is required. If you do not vote, your story will be disqualified from the contest. You don't need a qualifying story to cast a vote, but must offer the reason for your vote if you don’t have an entry.

6) To win, a story needs at least half of the votes, or be the only one left after excluding those with the fewest votes. Runoffs will be run each day until a winner is declared. Stories with vote totals that add up to at least half, discarding those with the fewest votes, will be carried forward to the next runoff election. Prior votes will be carried forward to support runoff stories. If you voted for a story that did not make it into the runoff, you need to vote again before midnight EST of that day. Only people who voted in the initial round may vote in the runoffs.

7) Please have all posts abide by the rules of GR and the LI Sci-Fi group.

8) For each month, there will be three discussion threads:
a) Stories - For the stories and the contest results only.
b) Comments - For discussions about the stories and contest. Constructive criticism is okay, but please avoid any spoilers about the stories or degrading comments directed towards any individuals. If you want to suggest a change to the contest, feel free to start a discussion about the idea before making a formal motion. If another member seconds a motion, a vote can be held. I will abstain from voting, but will require a strong two-thirds majority to override my veto.
c) Critiques - Each member can provide at most one critique per story, with a single rebuttal by the author to thank the critic and/or comment to offer the readers the mind set of the story to account for issues raised by the critique. Critiques should be of a professional and constructive manner. Feel free to describe elements that you do and don't like, as these help us gain a better perspective of our potential readers. Remarks deemed inflammatory or derogatory will be flagged and/or removed by the moderator.

9) The winner has THREE days after the start of the new month to make a copy of these rules and post a new contest thread using the theme/items of their choosing. Otherwise, I will post the new contest threads.

**********

Theme: Illegal Aliens

Required elements:

1) Families shattered
2) Vices indulged


message 2: by Tom (last edited Jul 28, 2018 02:36PM) (new)

Tom Olbert | 1057 comments ALIENS
By Tom Olbert

2037 A.D.
U.S. / Mexican border

Billy smiled as his finger tightened on the trigger, the barrel pressed to the old man’s head. The old Mexie’s eyes were wild with fear, moist with tears as the search light washed over his lined brown face. “Por favor,” he said in a strangled whisper, his sweat glistening in the sultry night as Billy pulled the trigger.

Billy howled with the rush as the old man’s head exploded like a piñata, his brains and blood splattering across the sand. He laughed into the wild, black night.

“Papa!” the dead man’s teenaged daughter screamed, looking away, tears streaming down her face, her body trembling. Billy grabbed the girl by her long dark hair.

“C’mere, Chiquita,” he whispered in her ear, nuzzling her neck. She cringed and tried to pull away. He laughed as he held the girl’s face to the light. “Bonita,” he whispered, licking his lips and feeling aroused as the search lights played over her high cheek bones and moist doe-brown eyes. An amusing mix of fear and hatred played over her pretty features. He had his men shackle her. “I’ll handle this one,” he said, dragging her toward his hut.

The drones buzzed about, their search light beams playing off the great wall as it loomed against the night sky. He glanced up. The muzzle flashes of the robo sentries lined up along the top of the wall sparked in the black night as the automated plasma guns swiveled, targeting Mexies who’d somehow made it past the razor wire and land mines. The drones swooped in with flawless coordination, launching their tactical rocket grenades. The militiamen hooted and cheered at the sound of screams half-muffled by the explosions.

Stay the hell out of our country, Billy thought.

He slammed and locked the door to his hut, throwing the girl roughly across his cot and shackling her to it. He drew his knife, tested the sharpness of the serrated edge on his thumb and smiled. An indulgence, he knew, but a damned sweet one. Why feel guilty, anyway? Who asked them to come here? He looked her over, his blood racing…

He swore as the grainy streaming video irritated his eyes in the dim light. “What is it?” he demanded, driving the knife into a wooden post.

“Skipper,” one of his men, Hanson stammered, his eyes wide with terror, his face flickering in the vid. “There’s something moving out here…” Billy heard screams. Screams from his side of the wall. “Skipper…” Hanson screamed as something grabbed him. The vid dissolved into static.

Billy’s heart raced. “Corbin. Briggs.” He switched to every terminal, but got only static. “Someone…anyone…what’s going on out there?!” The screams stopped. He could hear something, like…tearing. Chewing. The blood drained from his face and extremities.

That’s when he heard it. A sound like dried leather scraping across rocks. The girl. She looked up from the cot, her face creased with wicked delight. The sound he’d heard had been her laughter. He nearly fainted when he saw the shackles crumbling to metallic dust around her wrists. He gaped, certain he was having a nightmare as her face and body likewise decayed and crumbled, her once soft flesh dissolving, her once beautiful features melting into a half-skeletal death mask. He drew his gun. He gasped as the weapon crumbled to dust in his hand.

“Such primitive technology,” a grating, hissing voice whispered.
That’s when he knew, the word forming in his mind. “No,” the evil voice said. “We’re not aliens,” it said, as though reading his thoughts. “You are. This is our planet. You don’t belong here.” He choked, paralyzed. “Five billion years ago, we realized another planet would soon collide with ours. So, we escaped by slipping five billion years forward, to a time after the planet had congealed and cooled. A tick of the clock to us. But, we returned to find our home infested with you alien scum. Evolved from bugs that crawled out of the primordial slime. Bugs evolved from the alien spores the colliding planet brought to our world. We had to live in these grotesque, loathsome bodies of yours to acclimate ourselves to your bacteria…”

He screamed as a writhing mass of slimy, clawed limbs tore out of the girl’s shriveling body, tentacles slithering in dark fluid as the monstrosity lunged at him. Its hateful thoughts shrieked through his mind.

Get out of our world.


message 3: by Karl (last edited Aug 03, 2018 05:48PM) (new)

Karl Freitag | 69 comments Mexican Paradise

My story? Same as everyone else.

The polar shift made the bulk of the United States colder than a polar bear’s toenails. So cold, in fact, that most of us came down here Mexico way. Ghettos called "Gringovilles," where people only spoke English, quickly sprung up in every big city.

Our hosts were somewhat tolerant at first, but after a time resources got scarce and the government started cracking down. They built a northern wall and began booting non-citizens out of the country. Only "connected" people could stay.

For the rest of us, it got ugly. Mass deportations. Families ripped apart. A good many of us remained illegally rather than go back to the perma-frost. We live under the radar doing whatever menial jobs we can find.

I’m a meteorologist by trade, but to survive down here I tell fortunes. Well, basically I tell them what they want to hear.

Nobody really knows the future. But I do know one thing. The polar caps are getting extremely heavy again. It won’t be long before the next polar shift happens and this place becomes covered in ice also.

They’re already building a wall in El Salvador to keep out the Mexicans and the Americans.

Don’t see many Canadians down here. To them, this whole thing is just a mild cold snap.


message 4: by Greg (last edited Aug 15, 2018 10:45AM) (new)

Greg Krumrey (gkrumrey) | 187 comments The Wright Stuff

Milton Wright sat at his kitchen table and took his first drink of the day. When his father died, a decade ago, Milton inherited the farm. It seemed more like the farm owned him. Shortly after, his fiancé, Susan, left him for another man. Sometimes it felt like a lifetime ago and other times just a moment ago.

He had almost finished the bottle when he saw a flash like summer lightning. He went to investigate and found a circle of burned grass around an object about the size of a billiard ball. He held it in his hand. It was, at times, soft or hard, warm or cold, sometimes all at the same time. It glowed, like a kerosene lantern but Milton didn’t notice – he was occupied by the visions it was projecting into his head.

His farm was but a speck on the country side and the countryside was but a speck on the land that made up the United States and that was a small area on a world. The world was blue and brown – water and dirt – and looked a ball floating against the blackness space. It too became small as other worlds flashed by until the darkness was filled with points of light, each representing a star like the one that warmed his fields.

This map was saying: “You are here, we are over there.”

It showed him that the man that killed his father and who stole his future wife were the same man, but not a man. It could take on different faces, different bodies and, in its’ copper-colored carriage, travel a hundred years forward and back across universes as easily as Milton rode his wagon to town.

The images, the messages continued: Milton’s life was intertwined with many other lives, extending backward and forward through those years. The man, not a man but still a criminal somehow shifted the flow of time. He saw the world changing, people struggling to leave it as it was baked by a sun growing hotter. People dying until none were left. Something had changed and his people, all people ceased to exist.

“You can change this,” said a voice inside his head. It explained what he must do to change the path of his life and the many lives that would follow his.

Milton awoke with a start. For a moment he felt like his dream was from drinking bad whiskey but his head was clear, his hands were steady and he felt rested even though it still light outside. On his nightstand sat an unopened bottle and the ball, glowing a faint red.

He remembered the message and put on his gun belt and headed into town. The gun was just for show. All he had to do was find the stranger, beat him at a game of cards and provide him with plenty of whiskey. When dawn broke, Milton’s glass sat next to his cards, still untouched and he had a pot big enough to keep the bankers at bay. The stranger staggered out of the saloon, carrying a nearly empty bottle. Milton followed him and saw him climb into the same carriage he saw in his dream.

The carriage rose and flew away. It wobbled and wove, trying to gain height but failing. After bobbing up and down, it crashed into the side of a hill. There was a sudden flash and thunder like Milton had never heard.

The air shimmered like it sometimes did on a hot summer day and Milton felt a momentary wave of sickness as if the world spun around him. He rode back to his farm where he saw corn, taller than he, as far as he could see. He heard a chug-chug-chug and took a moment to realize it was a steam tractor harvesting the corn. A small boy came running up and it took him another moment to realize it was his son talking to him.

“Father! Father! Come quick! Grandpa is driving the tracker and you know how he is with new-fangled machines!”

A woman appeared in the doorway. It was Susan. A bit older but just as beautiful.

“Wilbur! Let your father eat his breakfast. Grandpa will be fine for just a few more minutes.”

She looked at the flying toy in the boy’s hand and guessed Wilbur’s question. “Yes. You can go play with Orville as soon as your chores are done.” She glanced at a shattered lantern and added “Outside.”


message 5: by C. (last edited Aug 20, 2018 07:19AM) (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Illegal Aliens by C. Lloyd Preville
Copyright © 2018
(750 words)

Officer Paul Daugherty couldn’t believe the early reports over his squad car radio. Large, carnivorous dinosaurs armed with formidable weapons were invading Chicago.

Paul’s partner, Bud, just shook his head. “This has to be some sort of gag” he said. But it came over the All-Points Bulletin frequency, and when they heard shouting, gunshots, and screams from other police transmissions, Paul knew this was no joke.

With siren wailing and tires squealing, they came around the downtown corner of South Columbus Drive just in time to see what looked like a 15-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex standing in the shallow water of Buckingham fountain. They skidded to a stop and both stared for a moment, the dinosaur watching them calmly. Bud took a moment to retrieve the riot shotgun as Paul shut everything off and they exited the vehicle.

The dinosaur remained motionless as Paul and Bud approached and fanned out. Bud kept the shotgun pointed at the ground.

It wore a chest harness with a sheathed pistol of some sort. Paul called out to the thing. “Hello--we are Chicago Police Officers. Is that gun loaded? It is illegal to openly carry a weapon here.”

Paul could swear the dinosaur grinned. At least, its lips pulled back from its formidable teeth for a moment. “Greetings officers--no, this weapon is not loaded. It’s an energy weapon, and a more accurate description is ‘fully charged.’ How may I be of assistance?”

The thing was huge, but appeared to be cooperative. Paul was in command and decided to follow his training to try first to defuse the situation, before demanding it drop the holstered weapon. He unlocked his gun and kept his hand close. “Well there, pal, thank you for asking. Would you please keep your hands where we can see them, and slowly exit the fountain?”

The dinosaur held up two hook-nailed hands, very small in comparison with the rest of its body. “Yes, officer, I will be happy to comply.” It waded to the near side of the fountain and stepped over the low wall as Paul and Bud slowly retreated to give it some room.

“What is your name and can you please give us some identification?” The question was so often used that Paul didn’t even think twice about the ID request.

The Dinosaur smiled again. “My name, officers, would be impossible for you to pronounce. I’d suggest you simply call me ‘The Invading Alien,’ or TIA for short. I’m from an alternate past timeline where humans are a rare commodity.”

“Well, Mr. Tia--all that aside--you are an illegal alien due to that sidearm. Please unbuckle your holster and place it on the ground.” Paul glanced over to see if Bud appreciated the illegal alien joke, but Bud was nervously busy trying not to point his riot gun directly at Mr. Tia.

The dinosaur rolled its eyes. “Gentlemen, gentlemen--let’s review our current situation. Thousands of invading aliens are suddenly appearing all over your city. We’re here to round up humans and deliver them to a large processing plant currently under construction inside your City Hall building.”

Paul’s radio was quietly hissing, shouting, and screaming as the city-wide panic spread. He tried not to be distracted.

The dinosaur continued, “Since we possess advanced weaponry and can instantly transport to any location we wish, your military and civilian defense forces are hopelessly outclassed. You two seem like reasonable men. Is there a chance we might come to a peaceful understanding? Perhaps you might assist me to gather up citizens. If so you will be handsomely rewarded.”

This beast’s arrogance was starting to piss Paul off. “There is no way we will help you, Tia. We’re sworn to defend our citizens as well as committed to the security of our families." Paul then bellowed, "Now drop your weapon!” He and Bud pointed their weapons at the beast, the riot gun likely to make the larger impression.

Paul's entire body suddenly went limp. He slid to the ground and lay on his side, still able to see the dinosaur standing over him and his partner, releasing a button on a small hidden device in its palm with a confident flourish.

As the dinosaur took Paul and his partner each by a foot and dragged them across the street like rag dolls, it looked over its shoulder and said, “Perhaps I’ll enjoy you two for a mid-day snack.” It looked up at the sky. “I hear humans are mighty tasty."


message 6: by G.C. (last edited Aug 23, 2018 09:08PM) (new)

G.C. Groover | 78 comments Strategic Retreat
By G.C. Groover
Copyright © 2018
(746 words)


Hearing the song always elicited an emotional response from Jonathan Butler. Even though he had won by taking several key districts (and not by majority vote), he was still the Emperor of the Sol Coalition; his solemn duty made a few tears acceptable.

“Crying is for the weak, and this is no time for weakness!” Jonathan thought. His mood could swing faster than a hammock in a hurricane, something his critics often pointed out. He sniffed from his Nirvana flask and the tears abruptly stopped as the last strains of the anthem faded away. Citizens were depending on him to negotiate with the Zorn, and not even his political enemies could fault his use of psychomanipulators to help him through this event. After all, didn’t every Emperor in history have a vice or two?

The discovery of the Ledbetter Drive had opened the door to the stars and resulted in the colonization of multiple worlds outside of known space. That colonization in turn had attracted the attention of the Zorn, and skirmishes with Zorn patrols around Alpha Centauri C had put Jonathan’s position in jeopardy. The reckless use of natural resources meant that the colonies were vital for everyone’s survival.

“Excellent meeting about to begin. Zorn will be soon be eating out of my hand!” Jonathan zapped out on his ComLink to his trillions of ComLink Disciples. The ComLink gave Jonathan a datastream directly to each Coalition Disciple. He sometimes used that datastream to sway public opinion on his more questionable efforts. It could be a kiss or a curse, but Jonathan felt he had mastered the medium.

Before he could compose a follow-up, the starships, unlike any seen before, swarmed across the sky with unimaginable speed. Only complete mastery of the powers of the universe could account for their impossible deceleration and descent, and Jonathan’s hands trembled as he covered his ears in a futile attempt to muffle the screaming of the Zorn ships fighting gravity and inertia. Synchronized with the precision of a robot factory, the brow of each ship delicately kissed the ground.

The Zorn had arrived.

Jonathan zapped again: “Zorn ambassador arrived. Weak Zorn leadership will get what is coming to them!” The datastream applause from his Disciples restored some of his lost confidence.

The minutes ticked by as Jonathan waited. The holo-viddy cameras transmitted the images of the apparently dormant Zorn ships across the solar system as his Disciples held their datastreaming in anticipation.

Jonathan quivered wildly as he felt an intruder wrest away control of his mind. The holo-viddy panned away from the Zorn ships and zoomed on Jonathan just in time.

“ATTENTION SOL COALITION!” Jonathan blurted in a loud and somehow inhuman voice. “YOU HAVE ILLEGALLY ENTERED A ZORN PREFECTURE!”

As control was released and Jonathan recovered, he was able to quickly zap out an update: “Zorn won’t negotiate in person. Not looking good for them and am considering attack.”

Billions of Disciples datastreamed their approval.

Once again Jonathan violently shook. “YOUR MILITARY FORCES ARE NOW IMPOTENT!” Jonathan watched as nearby Coalition dreadnoughts fell from the sky and exploded on impact with the ground. He zapped: “Attack suspended in good faith. Colonists will stay on settled worlds!”

Jonathan’s datastream approvals were dropping rapidly.

Powerless to stop the Zorn from using him as a translator, Jonathan once again transmitted their message. “ALIENS WILL BE PROCESSED AND REMOVED FROM ZORN PLANETS IMMEDIATELY.”

Jonathan used his ComLink again. “Zorn promise families passage back to home worlds. Good deal for us!”

The datastream minority of Jonathan’s detractors was suddenly a majority.

Jonathan shivered from the magnitude of the force applied to his brain. “IMMATURE ALIENS WILL REMAIN TO SUPPLEMENT ZORN NOURISHMENT.”

Another zap from Jonathan: “Zorn helping us manage population on home worlds. Despite critics the Zorn love my leadership.”

Billions of Disciples were now datastreaming for Jonathan’s recall.

Jonathan’s body rose up in the air in defiance of gravity. “AS YOU WISH. YOUR LEADER WILL BE REMOVED. A BARRIER AROUND YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM WILL PREVENT FURTHER ILLEGAL ENTRY INTO ZORN SPACE!”

Ten feet above ground, the air around Jonathan grew smoky as his molecules began to disassociate into base elements, a painless (but rather foul-smelling) process. Jonathan was still trying to zap how the Zorn would pay for the barrier when his ComLink fell to the ground through the dusty air where his wrist had once been.

And as the door to the stars was slammed shut, the datastream applause began again.


message 7: by Chris (last edited Aug 13, 2018 11:50AM) (new)

Chris Nance | 442 comments The Price of Freedom

Utopia was almost too good to be true, though so overly glaring not to be. We lived in its shadow every day, its towering walls looming over us, judging us…keeping the peasants out. The city was humanity’s future, and we were better left forgotten.

My people’s plight began before my grandfather’s grandfather, Chulkanian plague practically decimating us, forcing us into space. Nearly consumed, we discovered an inhabited Earth, with its boundless beauty and resources. Our people arrived in peace, and I suppose it was a testament to human kindness when they took us in, saving us from the brink of extinction. Even so, we were aliens on their world and ‘caste aside’, as some would say.

An awkward century or two, but the humans, in their advancement, walled themselves away. Prejudice, many claimed, though we were the ones who’d arrived without invitation. Perhaps we’d outstayed our welcome. Then again, we were never persecuted outright and had the freedom to rebuild our future. We even thrived at first. But our avarice, envious eyes and bitter desires, destroyed us once again. Protests became rebellion, an insurgency crushed so brutally by the humans, we’d never recover. Still, they spared us, despite our ingratitude.

Before my children were born, I’d lived a humble life, had never wanted more, at least until I saw the decoded feeds from inside the city – fortune beyond imagination. Utopia was heaven. Our slums were its hell, living off scraps of a society with too much. I ached for a plan.

I’d heard rumors of recombination, implanted genetic hybridization, activated to rewrite our code and pass for human, once inside Utopia. The right biotech in the right amounts would alter Chulkanian traits enough to pass for any of them, even under full medical scan. It only took a signature. My wife and children received the injection immediately, activated once inside the wall.

“Stay low. Patrol up ahead,” Verxyx cautioned and we hunkered down. It was illegal for us to be out past curfew. Still, if my family was ever going have a better life, have any hope for a brighter future, we needed to cross the city at night. Our guide had a solid reputation and was our ticket out. “Okay, move.”

We stuck to the shadows, down darkened alleyways and into the Pit, one of the few lawless zones in the sprawling slums. At least we didn’t have to worry about violations there - no patrols, the humans had given up trying – just plenty of stims, enough strip clubs, and too much booze. A free-for-all of vices, it was a necessary risk, to slip cleanly away.

Turning into the zone, Merra and I shielded our children’s eyes from the profanity, the debauchery, the worst parts of us on full display. And I didn’t expect to see other kids there, working the streets and scrounging for every credit while doing some of the most terrible things. It suddenly made my dreams for my own children so much more salient. A drunken revelry, the barfights, the smells, the corruption, it overloaded the senses.

“Not far now,” Verxyx led us through a gap in a tall barrier and back onto the open streets.

“Freeze!” Lights were suddenly upon us. Two human soldiers stepped from the glare. “You better have a damned good story, Chulkies,” one of them harassed. “Let’s see your ID chips.”

Reluctantly producing our wrists for scanning, Verxyx’s kept his concealed.

“C’mon,” the guard demanded, “identification.”

Verxyx’s hands shot suddenly forward, electricity erupting from paired suppression emitters. The guards dropped into a quivering heap of twitching smasms.

“This way,” he motioned, leading us down another darkened alleyway, ending in fissure with a sealed hatchway. Verxyx knew the code and the door swung wide. “Inside. First the kids, then your wife. A deal’s a deal. My people on the inside will get them set up with what they need.”

“Them?” my wife wondered, though I’d suspected she’d known, desperation thankfully brushing it aside. Merra turned accusingly to me, “What did you do?!”

"It was the only way." The price of freedom – one life for three, and perfectly forged digital documentation. I knew the consequences when I signed contract. My parts would be sold to the highest elites in Utopia, ingredients to brew an elixir called Nirvana, which produced an alluring high.

Verxyx pulled me back. “Transaction complete,” his scanner declared.

“Just make it worth it,” I wept as three pairs of human eyes tearfully disappeared behind the solid hatchway.


message 8: by Jot (last edited Aug 14, 2018 04:48AM) (new)

Jot Russell | 1185 comments Mod
Migration
by Jot Russell


"Approaching the planet, sir."

"She sure is a gem. The council will be happy to have a new world to populate. Okay, achieve standard orbit and run scans for primitive lifeforms."

"Sir, the surveys were in error! There is intelligent life on the surface."

"What?! How can that be? It is completely absent of any signals."

"They seem to be pre-industrial, sir."

"Maximum view."

The screen revealed a city with wood and stone structures.

"Where are they, I don't..."

An image of a creature appeared from a structure, followed by a smaller companion.

"Ew, what are they?"

"Scans show them to be mammalian, sir."

The captain took another close look at one of the specimens. Slowly, his form changed to mimic the man. "Computer, generate clothes for the crew based on that of the lifeforms below. Navigator, let's descend through that storm to avoid detection. Comm, prepare translators. Who knows how primitive their language is, if they even have one."

"Affirmative."

A fireball engulfed around the vessel as the entered the atmosphere. The captain barked his order, "Reduce speed!"

"It's resisting, sir. The atmosphere is thicker than expected."

"Then increase shielding to compensate."

"That's got it, sir. Approaching the storm."

They entered the center of the eye, down to the surface of the ocean.

"Okay, bring us through and over toward the base of the city."

Again, the strength and density of the winds caught the navigator off guard. The vessel bumped violently through the eye wall, knocking down the captain and some of his crew. Warning lights blinked and sounds echoed through the ship.

"Damage report!" Ordered the captain, as he regained his seat.

"Primary engine is down. We'll have to land."

As the ship broke through the outside wall of the storm, the lights of the city reappeared.

"Take us to the that small island."

As they came up on the island, people, who were line up at the primary structure, gazed up at the approaching vessel.

The captain shifted back to his normal form. "We've been seen. Weapons ready. We'll need to take this island if we want time to fix the ship. Clear us a path."

Without confirming the order, the gunner opened fire, vaporized the crowd and cleared a section into the building.

"Bring us in."

The vessel landed within damaged building and the small crew of six disembarked to secure the area. The captain picked up a broken sign from the destroyed wall and discarded it with the other debris. It landed up right to reveal the name, Ellis Island.

"You two, start the repairs. And you, grab us a couple of those creatures. They might make for good eating."

As he gave the order, a crew of soldiers from another structure appeared around the open wall. The lieutenant took only a brief look at the six lizard like creatures and the destruction they caused before giving the order. "Fire!"

Taken off guard, each of the six chameleons took several fatal shots from the muskets.

The lieutenant walked up on the dying captain and said, "Your visa has been denied!"


message 9: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1011 comments Dust of Empire

I looked down at my dying father and listened to his labored breathing. It mocked the respirator’s valiant but vain effort to assist him. The fine red dust still managed to get through the hospital’s filtration system and floated almost invisibly through the air, collecting in stagnant eddies on the window sill.

He held my hand weakly and fought to expel his final words.

“Don’t… greave, my son.” Coughing racked his once powerful frame.

“But father I,”

His grip tightened.

“Take…the pain… and… and…"

I put my ear close to his mouth. “And what father?” His hold began to loosen.

“Do… what must…be… done…”

His arm flopped off the bed as medical monitors wailed at the lack of vital signs.

Doctors and nurses ran into the room, but I knew he was gone. Bitterness overcame my sorrow and I marched resolutely back to the Interior Ministry – of which I was head.

***
When the aliens arrived, it was one of the most joyous days of our civilization. I was only a small boy then, but I remember running along the contoured banks of the Grand Canal and looking up at the sky in wonder. Our leaders were cautious of course and the armed forces were held in high alert. It was impossible to focus on my studies – indeed my governess was too distracted to teach me. Finally, after hovering over the capital city for days on end, a message was received. Newspaper headlines screamed “We come in peace” in huge black letters. What the news did not tell us was the second message read, “We need your help.”

Celebration turned to consternation as we soon learned this was only a refugee ship, and the millions of its inhabitants desperately needed a new home. Debate in parliament was fierce until the prime minister cast the deciding vote in favor of manumission. The aliens would be allowed to land and live among us. It was the first act in the long, tortured tragedy of our downfall.

***
I was already a junior back-bencher in parliament when the troubles began. Perhaps they had always been there and I had chosen not to see them. Differences between our two species led to racism, exploitation and every kind of vice our society had not seen in over 150 years. Prostitution, substance abuse, crime and general disorder seemed to follow these creatures wherever they settled. The local constabularies were overwhelmed. They reproduced faster and more numerously than we did, and within a few decades we found ourselves decidedly in the minority on our own planet.

This led to even greater problems as their metabolic processes began changing our climate on a cataclysmic scale. The canals, ever our source of fresh water since the rise of our civilization, became polluted and began evaporating away as our once verdant planet was devoured by the Red Desert. It expanded like a cancer from the equator, racing in both directions to our north and south poles.

Something had to be done.

***
When the position of Interior Minister became vacant, I campaigned on a platform of segregation. The aliens would have their own reservations where they could be contained, secured, and more easily controlled. Families would be kept together when feasible, or separated if necessary – and it was often necessary. For a population struggling to maintain its way of life, my proposals seemed like a logical and rational approach to the problem. However, the aliens had their own ideas. Soon there was rioting and our major cities burned.

So I proposed the Final Solution: Expulsion.

All of the aliens would be rounded up and reloaded aboard their vessel, their memories wiped, and deposited on the nearest habitable planet. Any alien who resisted was to be shot on sight as an example to the others.

Months dragged on as all of our military resources were dedicated to removing what had become, really, an infestation. Their ship was held in orbit until every last one of the furry beasts was hunted down and – shall we say – deported.

Perhaps “repatriated” is a better term.

At last they were all crammed aboard their ark of misery and sent away to the third planet in our solar system – but what they left behind could not be undone. The Red Desert consumed our cities, filled our canals and entombed those of us who remained.

Now I lay in a hospital bed like my father, choking on the red dust and gasping out my final breaths, alone.

(750 words in story) Justin Sewall © 2018
Reviews/critiques welcome


message 10: by Paula (last edited Aug 23, 2018 01:36AM) (new)

Paula | 891 comments In exchange
Copyright 2018 by Paula Friedman

Were I not of the highest blood of Darmkhoses and Colonnas, had I/we not the finessans of Ordinises, sylvan hairs of Harnasas, the crystal digolets of Syrbans, were we not blood-brethren/sistren, then it were not my blood-bred fate to step forth here, up to the sealed-shut Fracturing Gates of the Clommms’ 18th world system, and, lifting aloft the point of my finessan-olet, press the Final Shield.

And yet I am afraid. For though we are of finer digi-skills and sharper-honed than fellow Ordin-Harna-Syrban sibling-species of the OurSpace Federatho, yet are we more fragile. “Slick-bred,” as the vid-Clomm standing wide and taller than a world-tree on the Fracture-Gate’s screen before me sneers (yes, it does sneer!). “Delicate-bred and helpless to give unto us. Our worlds want warriors and porter-species, not poor wanderers chased from their systems, not refugees from long-gone systems crisped by a star’s collapse, not weak lost grav-wave riders, not . . .”

“Hey, I get it,” I interrupted, forgetting for a moment who I was—who we, Darmkhose-Colonna purebreds of the once-whole Hymna Galaxy, were and must remain. But I bowed my heads low in swift apology for such discourtesy, and when the vid-Clomm gave no sign of recognition, bowed again—this time in the pose “Abjectia—request forgiveness.”

Again no response. Well, this Clomm’s but a vid, I reminded ourselves, and my spirit-brother and soulmate Renino, and our child The Little, agreed.

“Please. Even such as we need water. And an acre on even a tiny outworld planet on which to rest. Sir.” Speaking so, I gestured to show our weary, reclining masses, the whole 80 or possibly 95 Darmkhose and Colonna survivors, sisters and brothers all, and 30 friends, aboard our shivery craft. “T’will do no good,” my spirit-soul whispered inside.

Yet a fragment-chamber opened in the Fracturing Gate, and two v-Clomms clambered through and, marching to our craft, cracked down its door and entered, watching—as my spirit-siblings/family thrust on masks to breathe amid the sudden inrush of Clommtnd gasses—the movements of our folk, the possible strengths, the too-evident weaknesses, for physical labor or endurance of starvation, of my blood-peoples. Yes, in their own way, the Clomms might be said to have “sized us up,” “given us a chance.”
Or so they could tell themselves. But we were the aliens. We were but aliens, “only aliens.” The two began to clamber back through their closing, obdurate Gate.

Because I am of the blood of the Darmkhoses and Colonnas, I started to clamber after them, and cried out “Wait.” And thought, when they paused and turned to me—us—that they moved in the courtesy of Travelers in Same Space. “Let some,” I cried, “let some of us—all spirit-soul-children one to another--as, please listen, we can be to you too!—stay on some one of your worlds. On even an arid world, even a small place. To cultivate—“

But I/we broke off, for I realized their vid-smile was laughter. Heard them say, “For what? How do we know you won't take from us? How?” They paused; then, “How can you assure us, eh?" Two vidi-digots slid/rubbed on each other. "How much will you pay? What will you give us?”

“You will let us—spirit-souls-Darmkhoses-Colonna brethren and sistren—stay upon a world here, if we pay your price? A world viable for us?” I stretched as high as I could and we/I asked. “If we pay--if we give you---?”

And felt their feelers reaching out toward me. Saw them make a motion I/we sensed now as “nodding.” Feel in this moment their digots on my back, Because I am of the highest blood of the Darmkhoses and Colonnas, I step forth again, soul-sunder out of We, take one step farther, and press, for a second time, the Final Shield, give myself as price through the Fracturing Gate.
[598 words]


message 11: by J.J. (last edited Aug 23, 2018 10:26AM) (new)

J.J. Alleson (goodreadscomjjalleson) | 105 comments Including Pirates, Pillaging and Pasties
© 2018 J.J. Alleson

In the third interrogation room in AeoStar Customs, a lone creature sat waiting patiently for clearance. Two military officers took in the long limbs, amber skin, grey eyes and locks of silver hair triple-looped at the waist.

It was General Eversholt Ng who finally stated the obvious. “Well ... it looks human.”

No stranger to her superior’s dry wit, Lieutenant Lee-Lee Grady grinned back. “It is, General. Biometrics shows he’s male. His name is Enyon Kehinde Trent XIX, and he’s Lunan-born – from the Tranquilville region to be precise. He’s an Anti-Vice Officer.” Her eyes rolled cynically. “As if they don’t already have enough work up there.”

“Lunan Avos have cleaned up most of their own vice-spots. Guess it’s our turn now. So what’s the problem with Mr Trent?”

“GATER’s thrown up an issue.” GATER was the Global Agreement on Trade and Entry Regulations. It was just two days old. “Every human now has automatic clearance through interplanetary customs. Almost everyone.” Grady jerked a chin over at Trent. “We’re now looking at the only illegal alien on Earth.”

General Ng, a woman who strongly favoured a one-world policy, snorted. “We give an open welcome to untested Martian lichenmoss, but not to every human. What makes him illegal?”

Under a uniform edged with red peonies, Grady shrugged slim shoulders. “Lichenmoss brings new delights to Chino-Earth’s jaded palate. AVs are pleasure-killers. Trent’ll have us all swearing Temperance oaths by tomorrow.”

Ng looked doubtful. “Perhaps not. He’s from the Shattered Families dynasty. They’ve got their own sins to bear.”

By 2112, corporate corruption had produced refugees all over Earth. Shattered Families, which formed the embryonic beginnings of GATER, was a global alliance programme that offered settlement on the Moon. Many took it, but left with little subsistence, had learned to survive with minimal technology. They dealt ruthlessly with all excesses. Most AVs on Earth were Lunan-born; and licensed to kill.

Grady scanned more data. “His national antecedents indicate Somalian, Nigerian, Cornish, Yemeni, Russian, American, North Korean and Afghani. It’s a heated mix.”

“You mean volcanic.”

“Indeed. But yesterday every nation listed in his visa records, bar one, disavowed all forms of terrorism. With all those treaties signed off, the threat from those nationals is gone.”

“Every country bar one. And that would be...?”

“Cornwall.”

“Corn? Wall…?”

Grady laughed. “Odd name; odd people. It’s the south-western tip of the old Disunited Kingdom. Full of pirates, pillaging and pasties, it says here. A rebellious lot too. A hundred years ago they annexed themselves and became a hermit kingdom. Records claim they’ve all died out. However these test results are indisputable. Trent’s got Cornish in him. It seems he’s the last surviving citizen of those” … Grady scanned the screen again… “rabble rousers.”

“Rabble rousers or not, if we can let in illegal hallucinogenics, we can certainly let in the Cornish. Look, there’s a very simple way to resolve this.” Ng tapped the side of her forehead in an elegant but no-nonsense manner. “Let’s go pull some extra treaty strings.”


* * *

Ninety minutes later, Enyon Kehinde Trent XIX stood for the area totalling 3,563 km² of the south-western tip of the old Disunited Kingdom, to represent the state of Cornwall in its entirety. Adorned in a full length blue robe emblazoned with a white cross on a black background, he raised a solemn right hand and began his oath.

“Me a le del vedhaf len ha perthy omryans gwyr –”

“– Er, yes, yes, that’s quite alright, Mr Trent! No Cornish oaths required here. Just simple everyday Lunan or Mandarin will do.”

The visitor gave a quick roguish grin. “Sorry. I swear I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the global alliance and that I will disavow all forms of terrorism.”

Trent paused, awaiting further instruction. Grady scanned more onscreen data before muttering to her colleague, “Let’s keep things on the safe side.” Looking back at the visitor, she appended sternly, “Including pirates, pillaging and pasties.”

“Including pirates, pillaging and pasties.”

General Ng thought Trent would have made an incredibly good –not to mention extremely handsome - poker player of old. Her lips quirked just a little as the interrogation screen lifted and she held out a hand in greeting.

“Welcome to Earth, World Citizen Trent, Cornishian and First Minister of Corn Wall. We do hope you find things here as you desire.”

(731 words)
Reviews and critiques welcome


message 12: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1185 comments Mod
Voting Details:


First round votes:
Tom Olbert => Greg, C
Karl Freitag => **Justin
Greg Krumrey => **C
C. Lloyd Preville => **Paula
G.C. Groover => Tom, Justin, JJ
Chris Nance => GC, Justin, Tom
Jot Russell => **C
Justin Sewall => **Paula, GC, C, Greg
Paula Friedman => Chris, JJ, Tom
J.J. Alleson =>
Carrie Zylka => **Justin, C, JJ, Karl, Paula

Finalists:
Illegal Aliens by C. Lloyd Preville
Dust of Empire by Justin Sewall
In exchange by Paula Friedman

Second round votes:
Tom Olbert => Greg, ***C
Karl Freitag => #Justin
Greg Krumrey => ***C
C. Lloyd Preville => **Paula
G.C. Groover => Tom, #Justin, JJ
Chris Nance => GC, #Justin, Tom
Jot Russell => ***C
Justin Sewall => **Paula, GC, C, Greg
Paula Friedman => Chris, JJ, Tom; #Justin
J.J. Alleson =>
Carrie Zylka => #Justin, C, JJ, Karl, Paula

Winner:
Dust of Empire by Justin Sewall


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