Tag Archives: sci-fi

Wild Fire and Star Shine (flash fiction) (short story)

WILD FIRE & STAR SHINE

“Where’s Jack,” the little girl asked, finishing off her bowl of oatmeal and looking up at her mother hopefully.

Mother smiled. “He’s outside chopping wood.”

“He hasn’t left?”

Mom tried to muster a smile. “Not yet.”

Her daughter looked up from her breakfast. “But he will?”

“Eventually, I suppose.” She turned from her child to the sink. “They always do.”

The little girl put her spoon down and slid her chair from the table. “I wish one of them would stay. I always miss them when they leave.”

Then she was bounding out the door for the wood pile and the man who waited there.

“I do too, Sophie,” her mother said in her absence. “I do too.”

Sophie ran on ten year old legs around the back of the house where a man stood over a pile of logs he was in the process of splitting. Though it was fall and a little chilly at the base of the mountain, he worked shirtless, his muscles rippling with each swing of the axe.

The child watched him for a moment as he worked on the wood and then said, “I hope I have muscles like yours when I grow up.”

The man smiled as if noticing her for the first time. He looked at her, his sky blue eyes bright in the morning sun. “From what I have seen that would probably make people uncomfortable. Little girls aren’t supposed to dream of being men.”

“Mama says women can do things better than men. And that girls aren’t afraid of com..commi…”

“Commitment?” Jack suggested.

“Yes, commitment.”

Jack lifted his axe and brought it down on a log. “Well, your mom is probably right.”

“Are you afraid of commit..commitment?”

He snorted. “That’s a deep question for a little girl.”

Sophie sat down on one of the logs. “I don’t want you to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere, little one.”

“Mama says you will. She says men don’t like baggage.”

Again, he smiled. “Your mama says a lot.”

Sophie brushed her chestnut colored hair off her face. “She likes you, you know.”

“I like her, too.”

She smiled mischievously. “Are you going to kiss her?”

“Sophie!”

The shout startled the girl, and she turned to see her mom standing there with two coffee mugs in her hand.

“That’s not the way girls talk to grown men,” her mom scolded. “Now go inside and get ready for school.”

“He’s not a grown man.”

“Sophie! Mind your manners and do what I tell you.”

The girl hung her head. “Yes mam.” She looked up at Jack who had a look of amusement on his face. “I’m sorry Mr. Jack. I shouldn’t have said that about grown up.”

The man sat down the axe and walked over to her. He jostled her hair with his hand. “It’s okay, wildfire. Maybe I do have a lot of growing up to do still. I’ve only been here a couple of weeks. Still not used to this air.” He winked and looked to the blue expanse of sky overhead. “I’m so used to cramped spaces and a faster pace of things.” He smiled at her reassuringly. “I’ll get used to it. But right now, you better do what your ma says.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied and headed off to the house.

Jack put his hands on his hips and looked at the girl’s mother. “Is that for me,” he asked, pointing at one of the cups in her hand.

“Um yes, of course,” she replied, trying not to look at his bare chest. She attempted to ignore how the sweat ran in rivulets down to his abs, disappearing into the top of his faded black jeans.

He took the cup she offered and drank from it in spare sips. Some of it missed his lips and ran down his chin, but he seemed not to notice.

“Thanks,” he said. “How do you say it? It hits the spot?”

“Yes, that’s what we say, “ she agreed, hoping he had forgotten the interchange between himself and her precocious daughter. He handed the cup back and picked up the axe again, hefting it over his shoulder to return to the task of woodcutting. “So, what is this thing about kissing?”

She dropped both cups. “Um..I..you have to understand something…about children. Sometimes…they, um, say the craziest things.”

He nodded as if digesting some new kind of information. “Hmmm. And is this something they grow out of?”

“Hopefully so.”

“This kissing thing then?”

“Don’t worry, “ she replied, her voice catching in her throat. “It will pass. Nothing to concern yourself with.”

He could tell she was nervous, that this was an uncomfortable kind of topic for her. He knew enough to change the conversation before it made her even more uneasy..

“How about them Cowboys?”

“Excuse me?” She asked.

“I saw that on the…what do you call it?…television. When you want to avoid a subject?”

“Um..yes, of course. How about them cowboys.”

She tried to muster a confident smile and turned to go back inside. She needed to check on Sophie and drive her to school or they would be late. She took one last look at Jack and almost felt sorry for him. Where he came from, on his planet, kissing must have truly been an alien concept.

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Morgan’s Plague

​MORGAN’S PLAGUE

    When I came out of the forest clearing into the morning sun, the first thing I noticed was the quiet and absence of people. An RV was parked by a camping spot, but I didn’t see anyone about. Another vehicle, one they used to call a ute, sat alongside the dirt road that led away from the campsites back to the main road and civilization. To break the silence, I shouted a greeting and was answered by the stillness of the day. I thought I heard the sound of birds in the distance somewhere, but I wondered if that was just my imagination, wishing for some other sound besides my own breathing. 

My stomach growled. It had been awhile since I’d eaten.I had run into the woods days ago. I still don’t know why. One minute there was a man talking to me, and then he started choking. I got scared and ran. I didn’t want to be blamed for whatever was happening to him. Whatever his problem was, it seemed to be contagious, because others I slipped past on my way to escape, were also choking, their faces pale and sickly. But now I didn’t see anyone, sick or otherwise. Just the RV in front of me, and common sense told me that where there’s a campsite, there’s generally food. I approached the vehicle cautiously, thinking any minute someone would come out and tell me to get lost. But no one did. And by the time I reached the side, I realized no one was there. The RV had been left abandoned. 

   The door was left open, and as I scrambled up the steps to go inside, I heard something. Voices. I hesitated, suddenly overcome with fear. I listened closely to hear the conversation. It was one-sided, a single desperate voice saying something about an airborne plague affecting the population. I went deeper into the camper in search of the voice’s source, and as I came into a small kitchen area, I found it. A small black and white TV, mounted under a cabinet. Still powered, the image that crackled and flickered was a man in a stained suit looking like he was close to death himself.

   “I don’t think there is an antidote,” he was telling the camera. “If there is, only government officials have it, if in fact they survived the outbreak.” He coughed, and even in black and white I could see he was bringing up blood. “I don’t know if anybody is left, but if someone is out there, I’m at the Channel Ten Studios in Melbourne. Don’t come for me. Everyone here is beyond help. Head for the bush. Maybe the plague can’t survive it out there either.” He looked about ready to cry. “Listen. No one is coming. The British Isles are infected. America suffers the same fate. The plague is highly contagious and passes from person to person. Get out of the cities, flee the towns. Get as far away as you can.” He sighed heavily. “Maybe the plague will lose strength and die out eventually. Until then, stay away from other people.Families, do not stay together! It is certain death. Shit,the cadgers finally did it. Thanks a lot, Mr. Prime Minister.”

   I continued to stare at the TV. The man was just rambling now, verbally blasting government and politics for the deadly plague that seemed to have infected the world. But I felt fine. Why hadn’t I been affected? Was it because I had fled to the forest when I saw people getting sick? My leg began itching and for a brief moment I panicked, thinking the plague was upon me as well. I scratched my leg and prayed it was just that I hadn’t had a bath in a few days. I really needed to wash and get me some brekkie.

   I left the TV with its black and white newsreader no longer blaming the Australian government, but the aborigines and New Zealand. I wandered through the RV looking for something to eat. There was a small refrigerator, but I couldn’t get it open. The owners had put a lock on it, maybe to keep intruders like me out of their grub.

   Under a bed toward the rear of the camper, I found an opened box of bickies. They were dry, but biscuits are biscuits. I ate them quick, just glad to have something to eat. Finishing off the box, I went outside to catch some air and decide what to do next. There was a creek several yards from the RV and I headed for it. The water was sparkling and clear. I didn’t care if it was infected, it still looked cleaner than I felt.  I stepped halfway into the creek and it felt so good around my legs that I sat right down in the middle,and began to splash the water over my head. The water was cool, and I found myself shouting for joy, it felt so refreshing. I didn’t care if anyone heard me. I’d already come to the conclusion I was the only living soul in the vicinity.

   After my creek bath, I decided to head back to the RV as it looked like it might rain. The camper would provide good shelter. The newsreader was still at it, except now he had gotten personal. Racked by guilt and the knowledge that he was going to die soon, he was apologizing to everybody he had ever known. “I was a bad husband, I know I was,” he was saying.

   Why is it when a man gets to the end of his life he finally wakes up to all the horrible things he’s done? If he would have tried to live right the first time we probably wouldn’t even have this plague. I can only imagine that the disease was not only born of pathogens but greed as well.

   The man had stopped his apologies and was reading from something on his desk. “This just in from Gippsland..” He looked up and rolled his eyes. “Yeah right, like there’s anything left in Gippsland.” He laughed under his breath and I realized he was starting to lose it. Any minute now he would be a babbling idiot.

   I decided I would lie down and take a nap. Despite his going mad, the man’s voice soothed me somehow, and so I just lay there on the floor, curled up in a ball, and went to sleep with the sound of his quiet madness in my ear. A short time later,  I awoke to the sound of screaming. Startled out of my sleep, I yelped in surprise, before realizing it was just the yob on the TV again.

   “You bastards!” he screamed. “You really did it this time, didn’t you?! Hey, you doing anything this weekend, let’s make a plague. Oh yeah, make sure it’s passed from person to person. And let’s make it so bad victims tear their own flesh off like mad dogs!”

   I have to admit he was acting a bit rabid at this point. I found myself wishing someone would step in and put a bullet to his head. Anything to end his madness and misery. He let out a loud mad laugh and then lapsed into a sigh of silence. When he finally looked back up into the camera, he seemed calmer.

   “You know what’s funny? They named this thing, Morgan’s Plague, after the notoriously brutal bushwhacker Mad Dog Morgan. But get this is, here’s the funny part. It doesn’t even affect dogs.” He laughed. “After all our superiority, all the advances in technology, all the brilliant world thinkers, our own pets outlive us.”

   I shook my head sadly. After all, he was right, the world had brought this on itself. Mankind had forgotten the simple things, and strived to be its own God. I wanted to feel some great sympathy for this man and his world, but all I could offer was a small whimper. And as I brought my hind leg up to scratch behind my ear, the TV went out, its internal battery finally running out of juice.

Story by Paul D Aronson. First draft 2008. Final draft. 2016. All Rights Reserved. 
   

   

The Aliens Have Landed

The Aliens Have Landed

 The night the aliens landed I was roused from my sleep by a loud knock on my door. Coming out of a peaceful dream, I was plunged into chaos and confusion. The pounding was urgent, rapid, and I knew if I didn’t answer the summons my door might just get kicked in by whoever had come to visit at such a late hour. So I jumped out of bed, glancing first at my beloved Marta to make sure I didn’t wake her beautiful slumbering form, slipped into a robe, and went downstairs to get the door.

 Two agents stood on the porch. I knew they were from the agency because they looked near identical: hair combed the same way and of the same length, identical eye color and cheekbones, build and clothing, even down to the way they both stood as if on inspection drill.

 “Lt. Keck?” one of them asked.

 “Yes, I’m Keck.”

 “Your presence is requested at Zero Hour.”

 That’s all he had to say. Zero Hour, unknown to the public, was a secret military base whose express purpose was to contain, interrogate, and possibly house alien life forms. Extraterrestrials, if you prefer, who may one day be captured or found. So far none had. A summons to Zero Hour could only mean one thing. We found something from outer space.

 The drive to the base didn’t take long, but it did afford me a little time to ponder on what may have happened. Perhaps a ship had crashed in a sparsely populated area and been secured before anyone noticed anything strange. Or maybe our government had had an alien held captive for some time, and had been shuttling it from base to base for matters of national security.

 Either way, my presence had been requested I assume because of my previous experience in decoding the satellite signals we had picked up two years ago from deep space; signals that had told us the aliens were on the way and soon to be among us. My other investigative experiences had made me the official standby translator and interrogator, if such a thing were ever needed. Looks like it was…

 If the two agents had been told not to tell me anything, they did their job well, for they were silent the whole trip. My change from robe to agency uniform had apparently silenced them as well, for I barely heard them breathing. That was okay with me, as it gave me time to think and plan out in my head what questions to ask an extraterrestrial. I had mulled on these things since adulthood, planning out the perfect line of questioning, but now that the time of seeing an alien face to face was here, my mind suddenly went into confusion instead of conversation.

 Of course this happened to me with Marta as well. Especially whenever she asked exactly what kind of work I did for the government. She knew better than to ask. She knew I couldn’t tell her, but maybe she kept hoping she would catch me off guard one day and learn everything our nation’s leaders were trying desperately to hide.

 Zero Hour doesn’t look much like a secret facility. In fact, it almost looks like an old shack surrounded by a fence. You could almost imagine that if you opened the door and peered inside you would see someone sitting on a bucket and fishing through the ice. The fence itself was only four feet high with an unlocked gate to walk through. No guards patrolled the fence or even the immediate area. However, if you did manage to reach the door and attempt to open it, you would soon realize nothing could open it. At least not from the outside. And though it looked like a simple wood shack, it was actually titanium steel under the disguise.

 The agents dropped me at the gate and I got out. They didn’t say a word and I didn’t thank them for the ride. I went through the gate and approached the door. I stood there a few moments, allowing the cleverly hidden retina scan to make sure I belonged there, and then the door opened. No one stood in the doorway, and no one sat inside fishing either. Instead, I stepped directly over the threshold and into an elevator that took me a mile under the shack and into the Zero Hour facility.

 When the elevator door opened two armed guards met me. “Please follow me, Lt. Keck,” one of them said, while the other remained at the elevator. I glanced back and saw he was inspecting it, possibly to make sure I didn’t bring anyone else down with me. The guard led me down a thin white corridor toward a locked door at the end. A scanner was mounted beside the door that scanned my fingerprints, and then my eyes, before gliding silently open. The guard didn’t follow me through. Instead I was met by two more agents, those of an obviously higher rank than myself.

 “Lt. Keck,” said one of them, and nodded. “We are glad you are here. Out of the entire agency, it is told you have the most persuasive and relaxing demeanor. We are afraid everyone here has bad interrogation skills.”

 “Who are you interrogating?”

 “An alien,” he replied matter-of-factly.

 “Where did he come from?”

 “The creature won’t tell us.”

 “Can he understand you? Is his language understandable?”

 “Yes his speech is somewhat similar, though a few words don’t match ours. We think maybe he learned it from our satellite broadcasts.”

 “That is possible. I’ve always believed if an alien could communicate or be taught our language, it would be from radio signals or broadcasts he picked up on.”

 “Perhaps. But we need you to get him to talk. National security is very concerned.”

 “Of course Admiral,” I replied, noticing all the badges on his uniform.

 “Walk with me,” he said, as he started down a hallway that ended with two heavy steel doors. “What concerns us greatly is this, Lt. We found his downed craft in a field outside the security perimeter, as if he had been aiming to locate this facility all along. Unfortunately, he had managed to leave his craft and wander into a rural area. We don’t think many citizens saw him, but I believe it’s possible if the news gets out about this extraterrestrial, it will be all over. We have dispatched agents to the area to try and convince citizens it was one of ours, and now we need you to find out why he is here. And more importantly, if he is alone, or are more of his kind coming.”

 “Do you expect more of them?”

 “It is possible. Especially if they realize we have one of them in custody. Just find out everything you can.” He stopped in front of the double doors. “Listen, we are counting on you and your patriotism. I have read your file, and not only are you an excellent agent, you also love this country, indeed the whole planet. Help us preserve its security.”

 “Yes sir, I will.”

 He rapped the metal door with his fist and it opened. On the other side were four more armed guards, and behind them a long table with two chairs on opposite sides. In one of the chairs sat the alien. At first glance I didn’t know what to make of his hairless appearance. I was trying to take everything in – what had happened and what was expected of me, and now this bizarre creature sitting at the table.

 When I moved past the guards and sat down across from him, he seemed to study me in with a slight cocking of his head. It was hard to say because his whole face seemed reflective, like mirrored glass. There were no discernable facial features, except mine were mirrored in his silent visage. I could see no noticeable orifices that indicated he could hear, see, or even speak. His skin was white, almost like mine, except the texture seemed more like rubber than flesh. Perhaps this was why he was uninjured in the crash.

 I lay my hands flat on the table to show I had no weapons. I offered up a smile. “I am Lt. Keck,” I said. “Greetings.”

 The alien didn’t speak.

 “I mean you no harm. I just want to ask you a few questions.”

 He stared back silent, unmoving.

 “Can you understand me?”

 The creature nodded its bulbous head.

 “Can you speak?”

 “Yes,” he weakly replied. His voice sounded hollow and distant. It reminded me of our own satellite transmissions.

 “Do you have a name? Something you are called?”

 He hesitated, as if trying to find words I would understand. “You can call me Usaf.”

 “Ok, Usaf. Can you tell me how you came to be here?”

 “Crashed.”

 “Yes you did.”

 “Shot down.”

 “Oh, I didn’t realize. I wasn’t told that.” I turned around to look at the door. I knew that in another room somewhere close we were being monitored. Typical for those in charge not to divulge all the details.

 “Well, if you were shot down, it was because you entered restricted air space and we had to protect our citizens.”

 “Citizens?”

 “Inhabitants,” I explained. “The species that dominate all life on this planet.”

 This he seemed to understand, and even nodded as if to acknowledge me.

 “So, where are you from?”

 He mumbled something from his non existent lips. I couldn’t quite make it out.

 “Does your planet have a name?”

 He nodded silently.

 I turned to the wall closest to us. I got up and walked over and touched it, trying to keep my eye on him, in case he made an effort to lunge and attack. A panel in the wall slid down to reveal a huge map of stars and the known universe.

 “Can you identify your planet on here?”

 He looked at it from where he sat, leaned forward as if to see it more clearly. And then shook his head back and forth. No.

 “Do you recognize anything at all on here?”

 Again he shook his head. This was going to be difficult for us both. And the alien knew it. I sat back down, feeling a bit dejected. He hung his head, burying his featureless face in his hands. For a moment I thought I heard him exhale a frustrated sigh. Then, he lifted his head, placing his hands to the side of it. I heard a hiss and two thin wisps of vapor shot out the side of his head.

 I jumped in alarm and nearly fell over backwards in my chair. A fissure had opened in his head and his hands were cracking it open as if it were a shell. As he pulled his head apart, I heard him gasp, taking in a deep breath of air. I glanced quickly behind me, and saw the guards had their weapons at the ready and were blocking the door, in case he decided to attempt escape.

 The alien laid the shell fragments of his head on the table and looked at me with a new face. This one had features, and though I expected our first visitors from space to look different, I didn’t think they would be this hideous. The skin on its new face was tight, with wrinkles, lines, and ridges. Most of these lines were around two sunken orbs almost centered to the face. These orbs darted frantically back and forth, taking in the room in a panic. It appeared as if these orbs functioned as my own eyes did, though maybe not as well. A protrusion below the eyes flared in uncertain rhythm, giving me the sense this was how the creature breathed, much like our own species. Another opening appeared below this, revealing rows of jagged teeth, dulled and discolored, possibly by its time in space. The alien licked its lips, if that was in fact what they were.

 “Help,” he uttered, and I could see in his eyes the most extreme trace of fear I’d ever encountered. If we were worried about him, he was more worried about us. The alien was terrified.

 I wondered to myself what I could do to ease his anxiety. I studied the extraterrestrial the best I could. For the first time I noticed he had the name he gave me emblazoned across the right side of his chest. USAF.

 “You are called usaf?” I reiterated to make him feel at ease.

 “No,” he admitted. “I am Liam.”

 “Then what is usaf?”

 “United States Air Force.”

 This didn’t seem familiar to me. “What does it mean?”

 “Originally it was a combat unit,” he explained.

 This word I understood, and it wasn’t a good one.

 “What about now?”

 “Space exploration.”

 I felt a lump in my throat. This wasn’t good. We had made a mistake in sending out our transmissions all those light years ago. An alien race had discovered them, learned, adapted, and now was reaching out across the stars in search of its naïve creator….us.

“The Aliens Have Landed” by Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Memory Eaters

Memory Eaters

The woman I live with deleted her memory again. I don’t know why she keeps doing this. Why she feels the need to go to the Memory Eaters every time her heart gets broken. I’m surprised she even knows who she is, her brain nothing more than a patchwork quilt of disconnected memories.

I watch her as she cries, but I know I can’t go to her as I’d like, because let’s face it, I’ve been to Memory Eaters, too. They made a mistake with me though, or maybe she paid them to, I don’t know. I’ve heard her talk on the phone about the one that got away and I sometimes wonder if it’s me.

I guess Memory Eaters was a good idea on paper. Offer a service to the public with the tagline: “Got a bad memory you’d rather not have? We can erase it forever.” It’s interesting to note that the company never said what happened to the “eaten” memories. Were they truly gone forever or did they just store them to sell to other clients? Maybe like old junk in an attic, your trash was someone else’s treasure. And with that thought in mind, could you erase one memory and pay to have another inserted in its place? I’m sure someone out there has the answer, but like me, they ain’t talking.

For me, it’s because I can’t. A direct result of what she calls the accident, I have been rendered without the power of human speech. Though I think she may have felt remorseful over the incident, nowadays she takes it in stride, and only rarely does she carry that apologetic look on her face. She just sets the water bowl and food dish before me and watches me lap it up. I think somehow she finds it amusing that I was once her boyfriend, and now thanks to Memory Eaters and their “accident”, I am a dog, or at least I think I am.

“Memory Eaters” 2002 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Strange Days Indeed: About

As a writer, I find myself toying with different kinds of fiction and poetry. I love to explore unique themes, or at least ones that are unique to my normal fare. If I had to classify my writing , I’d say  I lean more towards vampires and ghosts, but I also like to indulge myself in cozy romance, humor, and every now and then, some sci-f or fantasy adventure. It is a bit of the latter that I now find myself assembling into a collection I call, Strange Days Indeed. 

Within the confines of this collection, I  hope to assemble all my “odd” writings that just don’t fit in elsewhere. Weird, bizarre, speculative perhaps, but definitely not my usual thing. Still, I hope maybe you’ll find something you can sink your teeth into for a brief moment. 

I’ll be posting these stories, and some poems, in random fashion, as I’m digging into my back catalogue of writing notebooks to see what oddities I can find . My main focus at the moment is the “Vampire Boys” serial, and the vampire themed poetry chapbook, “Blood Red Passion”, but I thought I’d throw some of these your way, too. Hope you don’t mind the distraction…

See you soon and happy hauntings, my friends…