Aliens are Real, Maaan

There’s a very good reason posting may be light on one of the biggest blogs of the network right now.  Perhaps a story may help tide you over?  There’s a lot more of this particular story I can post, if anybody wants it.  It might be my edgiest story ever, if that interests you (or dissuades, heh)…



by Bébé Mélange

The flying saucer plowed its way through space and time with obstinacy typical of tool-using animals.  Unwilling to do business by the clocks and yardsticks the Universe gave them, to reach other stars in the course of thousands and millions of years, they engineered superluminal travel and started punching those holes in reality. 

They didn’t even have the decency to be efficient about it, moving masses between worlds in as few trips as possible.  The flying saucer held but two beings – Ainavians named Tmai and Snar.

Ainavian reproduction led to a society based not on families but on local professional institutions called pods, which became more lonely and difficult past the horizon of Ainav.  Tmai’s pod was the Space Transit Local 317 and Snar’s was the Exomedicinal Remote 036.  Tmai escorted passengers and cargo between worlds in their own personal saucer, Snar was trained in Vinudian medicine on Station Tresum and had recently accepted a job as physician to a Vinudian enclave on Erbin 2.  Of course, the former was transporting the latter to their new post.

The exterior of the flying saucer was unmarked silver, all seams so tight as to be invisible to the naked eye.  That exterior may as well not exist for how rarely it was seen, the passengers sealed away against the inhospitable darkness between stars.  Inside the saucer, all the mechanisms were tucked into a walled-off outer ring, that wall only marked by five round access ports and several interface terminals.  Most of that was not easily noticed past the interior decor.  As a personal saucer, it had only one central room fit for regular occupancy.

That round room was lit from above by the soft white glow of the saucer dome, cycled to provide a day and night for long trips.  The one built in piece of furniture was the bath tube and commode in the center, stretching from floor but not quite reaching the ceiling, like a pillar that only did its job halfway.  Around that were folding screens to divide the space for the discretion of passengers, and beyond those a variety of couches and chairs, sculpture and rooted organisms for decor, and colorful exercise implements and sporting devices hardly distinguishable from the sculptures.  The overall impression was of a high end drug lounge crossed with a low rent community center.  Tmai did not have a good design sense.

Snar was a dull light grey Ainavian with prematurely deep lines below bulging black eyes that nonetheless still bore the shine of youth.  Their noodly limbs were reflexively held close to their body, reflecting a childhood of physical and social timidity.  They were holed up in the most screened off part of the lounge, affording Tmai no attention.  They were glued to their computer, only coming up for food and drink, or to do exercise with the most nervous little movements Tmai had ever seen.  Clearly, they weren’t comfortable with space travel.

Or maybe Snar wasn’t comfortable with space escorts.  People like Tmai had a reputation as serial lovers, romanticized in narrative fiction.  Wherever Ainavians of different pods crossed paths there was sexual tension, because the best way to ensure genetic diversity was to only spawn outside of one’s immediate company.  And space travel being what it is, most of the time escorts spent with other Ainavians was with those outside their pod.

Not that such spawning would produce offspring, without a safe fertilization pool and only a fifty percent chance of compatible gametes involved (proper orgies being unlikely in space).  Such trysts were purely for pleasure, which heightened the romantic image of escorts like Tmai.  For their part, Tmai wasn’t interested in those that lacked interest in them, so it was going to be a dull trip.  They practiced playing rolly orbs on the sporting devices between maintenance tasks.

Tmai’s skin was a silvery grey, all four limbs taut and proud with hydraulic tissues from good nutrition and exercise.  They set up the rolly orbs with fluid grace, then pushed them into motion with a light palm strike.  The orbs clacked and rolled for a few minutes before settling into a new pattern in the bowl.  A bumbo configuration again.  It was indeed going to be a dull trip.  They closed their glossy black eyes and sighed.

Nervous passengers like Snar had a tendency to forget to take care of themselves, so Tmai felt the need to check in on them.  They poked their head and hands in between the screens and signed, “Hey there.  You need anything?  Food?  A drink?”

Snar’s attention was lost to the game on their screen and the beats in their ears.  They started and testily signed back, “No!  Sorry.  No.”  This was the fifth such intrusion on their sixteen light year journey and they still had seven light years to go.

“You know the drill.  Respectfully..?”

“I don’t need to use the commode or the bath and I’ve had enough sleep.  Thank you, captain.”

“You’re welcome, doctor.”  Tmai left Snar in relative privacy and considered starting some beats of their own.  Ainavian music was based on beats rather than tones due to their limited natural hearing range.  They could use technology to communicate effectively with hearing-oriented species, but found it uncomfortable enough to not bother with on their own time.  Tmai’s computer was on a loose necklace – the only visible garment they wore – and they tapped it a few times to broadcast the music to the receptors in their ears.

Forty-nine rounds of rolly orbs, four meals, and most of a light cycle later, Tmai’s music was interrupted by an alarm staccato that echoed the visual flares coming off their computer.  A metric had gone ultraviolet.  They jumped and a rolly ball escaped the bowl, free to menace the floor as a tripping hazard.

They went to the nearest control panel.  They could have used the computer, but one more level of remove from the information source could cost valuable split seconds.  They read the errors in mounting alarm.  It painted a picture at odds with the dull calm of the ship interior.  Artificial gravity had sheltered them from the realization the ship had actually been wobbling like a spun coin for the last half light year.

They sought out Snar, worried that at any moment they could die, rendering their efforts pointless.  They found them lifting a puny weight with comical effort.

“Doctor,” they signed, “We have an emergency situation.  You should prepare yourself.”

“Prepare myself for what?”

“Pack what you want to have if we need to abandon the ship.”

It was obvious to Snar that Tmai was leaving something unsaid, which was alarming enough, but it would have been worse if Tmai said what they were thinking.  Also do anything you’d want to do with the knowledge you could die within the next ten minutes.

Tmai went back to the control panel and tried to understand what exactly had gone wrong.  The actual mechanisms of the flying saucer were very simple – the physical properties of the materials were what enabled its superluminal flight.  They were able to pin down the source of the malfunction easily enough, but planning a way to survive was more complicated.

They could put on a radiation suit and patch the stabilizer, buying them enough time to limp closer to signal range for rescue.  But the odds of success were low – only about twenty percent.  They were more likely to live if they didn’t aim for signal range, used a stopgap with no chance of catastrophic failure, and focused on finding a world with acceptable conditions for Ainavian life.  But then, there was about a fifteen percent chance that search would be fruitless, the stopgap would make patching the stabilizer impossible, and they would explode in a week.

Either option would need to be implemented immediately – any delay left their moment to moment survival in constant flux.  Fortunately the decision was made for them.  Space Transit laws said preserve life.  They’d use the stopgap, even if it could result in them spending the rest of their lives on an alien world.  I hope Snar is less annoying than they seem.

Tmai took the opposite stabilizer offline and flooded the maintenance loop with cooling gas, with a few taps at the screen.  It was a relief to know death was no longer imminent, but that was just trading panic for dread.  They went to face their passenger again.

Per the “occupied” light, Snar was in the bath tube, so Tmai settled into a comfortable chair nearby and took up their computer.  You have weird priorities, doc.  They began a search for known planets with Ainav-like atmosphere, and while that was running in the background, they played a simple logic game.

They left their beats off so they could more easily note any alarms or strange vibrations from the ship, and found theirself feeling it all.  The ambient hum of the ship was there, the slight pressure shift around the bath tube when it was in use.  But was there something else, or was it imagination?  They felt like there was a kind of uneven roar beneath it all, like a great carnivorous beast expressing its rage while being choked to death by a larger monster.

The bath tube started its moisture recovery cycle, drying Snar with soundwaves.  Then they opened the tube and stepped out.  There was no modesty to their species – no sexually dimorphic apparatus to conceal, no remarkable features to their smooth bodies.  Snar was as nude as when they went in.  They picked up their computer from a stand nearby and slipped it by the strap onto their wrist.

Tmai noted them coming out in peripheral vision, and looked up to regard them.  Snar was a pretty standard looking Ainavian, but their nervous bearing lent them an amusing charm.

“Captain,” they signed, “What’s the status?  Did you fix it?”

“I’m afraid not, doctor.”

“Then why are you playing games?”  Their bulbous grey head shook with emotion.

Tmai flicked their eyes in annoyance.  “I don’t tell you how to doctor, doctor.  The immediate danger has passed, but our survival is not yet certain.  I’m waiting for the search results – for a good place to make an emergency landing.”

“Oh no.”  Snar sagged against the bath tube.  “Oh no.”

“You need to have the best attitude you can have about this.  I’d say we have good odds of living, but we can’t cave to the stress.  Can you make it?  Do you need a sedative?”

Snar signed, “No, no.  Don’t treat me like a child.”

“Sure thing, doc.”  Tmai switched to the search tab.  The lack of results was worrying, but there was a lot of unexplored data left on the progress meter.  “Make your peace with mortality.  I bought us at least enough time to do that.  Our next opportunity to die won’t be for another several hours, minimum.”

“Aye aye, cap’m.”  Snar shuffled past the screens, exuding acrimony like perfume.


Ten hours later, Tmai sat at a bench in front of a control screen, while Snar sank into an overly plush chair behind them, looking like the ring in a velvet gift box.  Tmai worked the controls furiously.  They finally gave up and turned to the passenger.

“The AI is going to take over now.  This is no job for biological reflexes – making minute adjustments to compensate for our stabil–”

Snar cut them off with a wave.  “Spare me the technical details.  What now?”

“This.”  Tmai gestured to a crate that Snar had never previously noticed.  “It’s survival supplies.  Shall we?”  They scooted the bench close and opened the crate.

Snar came over and sat on their knees on the other side of the crate, head resting on their arms.  “What do you have?”

“We’re landing on a planet known to have an uncontacted, hostile industrial culture.  Most of its water is full of sodium chloride, so we can’t drink it.  But on the land masses there are low enough concentrations to be safe.”

“Do the hostile people live on the land or in the water?”


“Wasn’t there an uninhabited world we could go to instead?”

“Not that was this livable.  Besides, it’s too late to second guess. We’ve already breached the upper atmosphere.”

“Oh no.”

“Focus, doctor.  These are clothes.  We might need those because the people of this world are known to wear them.”

“Right.”  Snar got out the black pile of cloth and started unfolding it to see where their limbs should go.

“This is a gun.  I’ll keep this, use it to protect you if it becomes necessary.”  They held up the weapon.  It was a silvery hunk of metal, a box with two appendages – a handle and an emitting shaft.  Snar had never seen one outside of a video.

“Disturbing.  Go on.”

“These are communicators.  One for you, one for me.  You’ll want to set your ear receivers for speech.  The people use spoken language.  If we’re lucky we won’t have to learn it, but you never know.”

“How long are we expecting to be here?”

Tmai’s fingers curled pensively.  What to say?

“How long?,” Snar asked again.

“This is a collection belt.  When you activate it, Ainavian metals are drawn to it.  You’ll wear this about your torso.  If you turn it on, I can use the pull on my tools to locate you if we get separated.”

“HOW LONG?,” they asked with punchy gesturing.

“We could get lucky and somebody might pass within signal range.  Could be months, or it could be, well… Longer than an Ainavian lifetime.”

Snar’s face nearly imploded with anguish.  Tmai looked sympathetic, but stern.

“Keep getting dressed, doctor.  You know how clothed species get about the rest of us.”

Miserably, they finished pulling on the garments.  It was form fitting hose over the feet, legs, and pelvis, a separate thicker garment for upper torso, arms, and head, leaving the face and hands exposed.  “I feel like I’m in a full body cast.”

“A what?”

“Vinudians have a hard internal skeleton that can break.  The bones have to be immobilized until they heal when that happens, with a cast.”  Snar clicked the belt in place.

“Gross.”  Tmai pulled out two hefty cylinders.  “These are canteens.  This tap provides nourishment paste-”


“-and this tap provides water.  It’ll only be enough for a day, tops, so we’ll need to find local resources fast.  These are sunglasses.  The days are bright here.  Just tuck that in your pocket…  And lastly, this is a shock compensator.”

“What’s that for?”

Tmai handed it over, and put on their own to demonstrate while Snar turned it over in their hands.  “You put it around your arms like this.  Over the head first..,” they waited until Snar worked it out, “and it protects you from impacts.  You cannot run it at the same time as the collection belt.”

“Impacts, like..?”

“Rough landings.  But let’s not put them to the test.  When the force of the impact exceeds its capacity, the field discharges and throws you away from the source.  Not an ideal–”

They were cut off by a roaring noise and the two were sucked out through a hole in the saucer dome above, along with a torrent of violently rushing furniture and loose items.  In a tenth of a second they whipped through a halo of fire surrounding the ship, and were flying loose through a pale blue desert sky.


Tmai was blind and spinning and hurting when they recovered from the shock.  They had nothing of their equipment – no sunglasses to hold the blazing light at bay – so they covered their eyes with both hands while they tried to think.  The wind buffeted their body and threatened to rip those hands away.

The AI must have failed, sent us into a spin, came in too hot…  Blast!  How high are we?  They tried to feel out the situation.  Air almost too thin to breathe, but not completely absent.  Could it be lung compression or just the speed of the fall pushing air away or was it altitude?

The answer came quickly enough.  The air became more breathable.  It was altitude decreasing.  They realized the only reason their ears weren’t feeling the pressure was the work of the shock compensator.  They pawed at their torso and felt it there, straps like a harness around their chest.  But how would it function if they hit the ground at over a hundred miles per hour?

Not if.  When.

They didn’t dare take their hands from their eyes.  With a jolt like a thunderclap their world broke into bright blue void again, direction reversed, and they were tumbling end over end through hard earth and weeds and thorns.


Snar only regained enough dim consciousness to be aware of blinding blue and nausea, then passed out again, a jolt, spinning again to leave a trail of vomit in the air, then a horribly hard impact and darkness.  They slowly woke to feel the tiny pebbles of a hard concrete on their eyeballs, push theirself up, and blink until moisture soothed that pain.

So many other pains to contend with, though.  They felt like the entire front face of their body was contused, which made sense, since they’d fallen directly on that stone surface.

They pushed to a sitting position, marveling that they were even alive.  Brutal blue white light added to the pain in their eyes.  They felt for the sunglasses and pulled them out of the pocket – just so many shards and a twisted frame.

They pulled the hood down low enough to work as a visor and tried to make sense of the situation.  They were clearly in an artificial environment – a city.  A city of uncontacted hostile people.

They pushed theirself against the nearest wall, wishing they could be invisible.  It was an alley, but a very broad one with a clear view of streets on either end, and another concrete lot besides.  A lone wheeled machine sat in the lot, a few scraps of debris blowing around it.  Tiny bipedal organisms hopped there, making squeaky noises and poking at the ground for invisibly small morsels.

Snar steeled theirself and looked around again.  They jolted when they saw another wheeled machine drive by on the street to the right.  Then they settled down again, summoning whatever grit they possessed.  They were too exposed, had to move, whatever else might happen.

They edged their way to the end of the alley, gaining a little more confidence as another wheeled machine drove by without taking notice of them, then peeked around the corner, appraising the scene.

This world didn’t look so different from the videos they’d seen of Erbin 2.  It was flat instead of hilly, and seemed much more arid, less densely packed.  The sun had recently dawned, illuminating where it fell in yellow and white light.  The shadows were a rich blue, reflecting the overpowering bright blue of the sky.  But the streets and buildings were made of brick and concrete, just like Erbin 2.  Electronics lit the signs.  Wheeled machines seemed to be the primary conveyance.  But was everybody driving?  What did the people look like?

More importantly, could they pass for one of them?  It was incredibly unlikely, but if they wanted to escape the alley and move on those streets, it might be necessary.  They had to take a chance, had to be brave.  They pulled down their hood, put hands in the front pockets of their top, and briskly began to walk along the buildings’ street-side face.

A sign in a storefront caught their attention.  It was a depiction of a person – shaped remarkably similar to an Ainavian, but different in many details.  The alien was a tone of beige, a bit more reddish than the buildings on that street, had tiny light eyes with concentric rings inside, and its face bore a bizarrely intricate nasal prominence.  Fleshier lips in a darker tone were parted to reveal a bony white comb, presumably for oral processing of difficult foods.  The most disturbing element was the microcephaly.  Its skull was quite small – presumably smaller even than they could see beneath the strangely shaped crest of pelage.  Snar speculated that they must have very efficient brains to be capable of developing industry, or perhaps the image here was of a less intelligent variant of a people with specialized biological castes.

It was good news, however.  Unless the person from the image was ten feet tall in real life, Snar might be able to pass theirself off as one of them – with the hood up, if nobody looked too close.

Another vehicle drove by behind them and they didn’t turn to move on until it passed.  They walked briskly, wondering where the hell they were going, eyes darting around to look for a better hiding spot, wincing in pain whenever they fell on a patch of building or road in the full light of the yellow sun.

They remembered the collection belt, felt around for the button to activate it.  Better see if they could get a communicator – or at least a protector, if Captain Tmai had survived.


All across the valley, bits of Ainavian metal came to life.  They drew toward the magnet, skidding across pavement, dragging through dirt.  Most of the items were small, none drew attention at the time.  Bits of ruined furniture, tools, scraps of the saucer’s hull, the canteens, the communicators, the gun.

They were all easily snagged or foiled in their mindless quest to reach the magnet.  Stuck in dirt, hung up on a curb, smacked against the side of a building.  But they were held up on such obstacles only until the direction of the magnet shifted enough to set them free.


On waking, Tmai was again blinded by the searing blue of the sky.  They squeezed their eyes shut until the pain subsided, then just opened them the tiniest sliver.  Once they adjusted, they tried to take stock of the situation.

They had the shock compensator, but it was blown out.  They took it off and left it in the dirt, breaking off a small piece to use as a compass if Snar turned on the collection belt.  Besides that, they had nothing.  No gun, no communicator, no clothes.  Not ideal.

Then they discovered something even worse.  They’d landed near an artificial habitation.  A community worth of low buildings with peaked roofs, fences around their yards, tucked in among desert hills.  Uncontacted people were notorious for extreme reactions to those from other worlds.  It was the stuff of horror stories.  They might be able to stay at the outskirts, hide until they could reconnect and flee the lights of civilization.  They might, but then what?

One problem at a time.  Tmai had no canteen and would soon need water – felt thirsty already.  They looked at the little town.  Beyond it, visible through the haze of the atmosphere, were taller buildings, gleaming in the morning sun.  They would have to take the risk, whatever lay ahead.

I’ll post more of this if anyone asks for it.


  1. Alan G. Humphrey says

    Thank you for this evocative story. I like the simplicity of the world and culture building, excellent for short fiction, and the alien tech is quite intriguing. I look forward to reading the second half of it.

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