Centennial Hills 2

Somebody asked for it so here’s more.  I didn’t come up with reasonable chapter breaks so take it as it comes.  I’ll post more if anyone indicates they want more in the comments.

Content Warnings:  Ableism, Less than Positive Depiction of an Unhoused Person and Drug Addicts, Police Violence.

I was aware of Elon Musk’s mythology before I’d ever seen a video of him, or screencaps of his weird baby tweets, etc.  This segment features an obvious parody of him, but ironically my version is much more suave and clever than the real one could ever be.  And apologies to Grimes for her stand-in, who is also a parody of an idea of someone I was, at time of writing, only nominally aware of.


by Bébé Mélange

Col. Michael Saunders had his men securing the site of the UFO crash. It was a singular thrill. Despite what kooks in the southwest liked to claim, as an Air Force officer he had no knowledge of aliens or alien craft beyond what the general public possessed.

He was worried that since the aliens were real, maybe the secret government UFO research actually was real, and he’d get roped into something above his pay grade. But for now, it was easy work. Few seemed to have witnessed the event, as it happened in daylight and left a smoke trail consistent with a conventional downed craft – a trail that was fast dissipating.

Saunders had never received orders to cover up the existence of aliens, but it just seemed like the prudent thing to do. Now he alone stood above the downed craft – a man at the precipice of a greater understanding than any had previously possessed. What were they like? Had any survived? What was within the ship? Did they come in peace?

In the top of the scorched and beaten flying saucer, there was a burned out hole the size of an easy chair. It was too tempting. He started the descent into the crater, but was immediately arrested by a voice from his radio.

“Colonel! There’s a civilian bird coming your way!”

“Buzz it off!,” he replied. “You know we have the right to shoot them down.”

“They said they know what we have, that if we shoot them everyone will find out!”

“Are you fucking..?”

He heard the helicopters and looked up.

Two Air Force Black Hawks shadowed a white civilian luxury copter with gold tinted windows. The civilian job came in to land. Beyond it, he could see some of his men racing back to site in a jeep. He unholstered his sidearm and approached the civilians, glowering.

A familiar white face emerged from the helicopter. Saunders didn’t remember where he’d seen the man – a movie? The news? – but he didn’t have movie looks. He had the look of a frog with a mostly convincing handsome man mask surgically bolted in place over his amphibian visage, and a wig surgically grafted to the top. He was wearing a pink polo and white slacks. Expensive shoes got dusty as he strolled to meet the colonel.

He was followed by a thin smallish woman, probably thirty but with the proportions of a twelve year old, white but dressed like a cross between Pocahontas and Grace Slick. She was visibly annoyed at the circumstance, iced Starbucks in hand.

Familiar man stopped short of Saunders by ten feet and cocked his head, folded his arms in confidence. He was only a little shaken when Saunders closed the distance and held the gun straight at his face from just five feet away. The girl woman hid behind the fancy frog.

Saunders said, “Are you fucking for real? This is the United States Air Force you’re fucking with right now. You’ve got ten seconds to explain yourself.”

“I’ve been ready for this moment for years, but clearly you have not. I’m willing and able to keep this top secret, but I must be a part of the project. This country needs me.”

“And who the fuck are you? Batman?”

He smiled. “Pep Ambergris. You must not pay attention to the news much. I’m the CEO of Dyna Motors. This is my girlfriend Scuzz.”

The tiny woman peeped, “Hi.”

“Right, right.” Saunders stepped back and relaxed, holstering his pistol.

Ambergris grinned like he’d just won the conversation, when the sound of boots and clanging military gear approached. Men and women held submachine guns to the civilians.

The colonel said, “Take them away.”


As the city began to awaken, Snar felt more and more surrounded. There were vehicles – so many vehicles – and some people could now be seen on the sidewalks. Their clothes were more fancy and revealing than Snar’s functional ensemble. They walked around with proud faces glowing in the sun, nasal prominences leading the way, clothing colorful and varied.

Snar avoided looks from most of them, but a few gave them unabashed wide-eyed stares as they walked on. Some said alien words, which reminded them they needed to adjust their audio receivers. The Ainavian couldn’t hear the quiet voices above the rumble of vehicles rolling by, high noises outside their range.

They ducked into another alley, pulled down their hood, tilted their head, and knocked one earpiece out into their palm. Then they repeated the move to extract the other, and manually switched them to catch higher tones. Then they put them back inside their ears carefully. Ainavian ears were just a tiny aperture. Snar hadn’t noticed before, but the local aliens had a fleshy receptacle for catching sounds there. So many strange features.

Snar pulled up the hood and turned around, just in time to see one of the vehicles screech to a stop, red and blue lights flashing from its roof. The aliens got out, wearing dark colors and pointing objects, yelling.

Those objects are guns. Oh no.

Officers Riley and Simmons found the little weirdo doing something suspicious in an alley. Easy bust for drugs or public urination, right? But the weirdo was wearing a crazy alien mask. And the black hoody… It had to be antifa! Right there in beautiful Downtown Las Vegas! Wouldn’t somebody think of the children? They barked commands to comply, but the little weirdo just turned and ran away.

Riley just about pulled the trigger, but Simmons held up a hand. “I’d rather run him down than do that report. We just killed a guy last week, people will say things.”

“Yeah, yeah. Fuck it. You get the cruiser and I’ll get my cardio.” Riley took off running while Simmons got back in the car to see if he could cut the antifa off somewhere.

Snar pumped their legs as fast as they could. Please don’t let them shoot me. They didn’t know what was stopping them. Maybe the aliens had bad aim with those tiny eyes and wanted to get closer. They wouldn’t let that happen if they could avoid it.

“Freeze scumbag! Down on the ground! I said freeze!”

With their receivers adjusted, Snar could hear the shouts – but not understand a single word of the alien tongue.

It was a weird sight for the pigeons and alley rats to behold. An Ainavian’s limbs had a flexible endoskeleton that could stiffen or relax based on hydraulic action, along with muscle-like tubes that were derived versions of the same substance as their bones – but operating on a combination of hydraulic motion and flexion. The movement this produced was more fluid but less powerful than human limbs, so the Ainavian’s running gait had less up-and-down motion, more numerous but shorter strides. A strange contrast to the powerful kicking motion of the legs on the pursuing policeman.

Snar didn’t dare look back, but could hear the creature getting closer. They had a shorter stride than the gunny character, which meant the only hope of losing them was going somewhere they couldn’t reach. They saw a door ajar and leapt inside, blowing past a guy carrying a big trash bag.

The cop shoved past the guy, unnecessarily spilling his garbage bag everywhere just to be a dick. He radioed to Simmons about where the antifa had gone, and chased the little weirdo into a barber shop that hadn’t opened for business yet.

Snar found another door to go through and hoped it had a lock. They lucked out – there was a little deadbolt inside the tiny room. The cop kicked the door and yelled outside. Snar looked around.

At least indoors the planet wasn’t intolerably bright. There was a strangely shaped water-filled basin on the floor, another basin with a drain a little higher stuck to the wall. It had pipes attached there, but they were too small to suggest an escape route. The walls were all firm, the floor hard tile with no openings. Had they trapped theirself? The cop beat on the door from outside.

The ceiling looked like it was made of some flimsy material. The room was so small they could get up to the ceiling by climbing with feet on one side and hands on the other. The hose made their feet slippery, but they were mostly worn off already by running on the concrete.

They poked a ceiling tile aside, then climbed in. Now it was officially too dark. The only light was coming through cracks from the rooms below. But the ceiling covered more than one room, which meant somewhere else to escape to. The flimsy material had too much give so it was slow going, crawling on the metal strips that held the dry porous tiles up. It also made a racket, but thankfully the hostile creature was making enough noise that they didn’t notice.

Snar reached as far away as they could on that ceiling before running into a wall, then moved the tile out of the way and looked down. There were the big glass windows of a storefront, with the other gunman looking in. Snar waited and watched through as small of an opening as they dared.

Simmons radioed for Riley to let him in and the cop came into Snar’s line of sight, unlocked the door from inside. Then they both went back toward the bathroom where Riley had cornered the antifa.

Snar had to be bold. They moved the tile out of place and dropped down as quiet as they could, then hustled out the front door. The cops spotted them and started yelling and running again.

Another local outside saw Snar, tiny eyes wide, and made a gesture they recognized as welcoming. Welcoming to do what? As they were running past, the local alien gestured into a cart they were pushing. There was an opening at the back – just the right size to hide in.

This new alien didn’t look like they were on the same team as the gun aliens, so with a bare second of hesitation, Snar dove into the dark cart. The alien closed the opening behind them. They were in a pile of crumpled hollow metal cylinders, smelling of fermentation, metal, and odder things. It was uncomfortable and terribly frightening, but it would have to do.


Tmai had gotten right up to the fences outside the little neighborhood, looked around for a way in, and found a way over. They could lean a random plank they found against the fence and scale it to reach the top.

Unfortunately, as they walked they could feel theirself sagging and limping. They were dehydrated and banged up. As flexible as the Ainavian endoskeleton was, theirs had been injured in the crash. Their left leg was too flexible now, bending like rubber under their weight.

They favored the other leg as they hustled up the plank. It fell from under them, but they’d already reached the top, and flipped over it, landing in a firm bush. They bounced off that into a mat of moist green vegetation.

The nearest area of this open air enclosure was all green veggie mat. Closer to the habitation, there was a pool of blue water smelling powerfully of chlorine. There was a raised platform of planed organic material thicker than the planks of the fence, and to each side of the habitation there was a gate in the fencing that could reach the other side of the building.

Tmai needed water. The fastest way for an Ainavian to heal a ruptured bone was to drink lots of water and pound collagenous proteins. But the blue pool was poisoned. Why?

Suddenly, the door of the house started to open. There was no way to scale the fence quickly from the inside, nowhere quite large enough to hide.

They dove into the poison pool and swam closer to the house side where they’d be less visible to people coming from that direction, then surfaced just enough of their face to breathe. They waited patiently. Unless the person was specifically coming for the pool, they might go undetected. The sun was creeping higher in the sky and they had to close their eyes against it, feel out the vibrations of the environment.

The person went one way, then the other, then the other again, moving something around. It was hard to know much from the vague sensations they could feel. Then they seemed to be gone.

Tmai looked up. The person was gone, but there was a new addition to the yard – a two wheeled mechanism laying on its side on the veggie mat. They put their fingers on the poolside, prepared to get out, then saw the doorknob turning again.

Back in the pool, submerged up to the edges of their face, they waited.

Suddenly, there was a raucous vibration in the water – something had splashed into it! Tmai dipped under the surface and looked at the source. A small alien was submerged barely five feet from them, turning their head to look, and jerking their body in surprise.

Tmai made theirself small, hoping the mostly universal gesture would be understood by the person. They folded arms and hands over theirself and averted the direction of their face slightly.

The little alien made a rapid series of hand gestures.

They repeated them. Gestural language! What were the odds?

The alien had to surface for air, and so did they. The people looked at each other across the surface of the pool. The smaller one gestured again, slower. Tmai repeated the gestures. Then the smaller one bared its teeth, and Tmai cringed again.

The little person made placating gestures with the palms and swam closer, tentatively. Tmai stayed curled in on theirself. This isn’t your world. Do not look dangerous. The person reached them and slowly touched their face and head, turning it gently from side to side. They still kept their own hands stayed.

They began to understand the open-mouthed toothy face and spasmodic vocalizations were signs of happiness and excitement, which was something of a relief, but they were still wound like a spring. The person got out of the pool, then offered hands to help Tmai out. They accepted.

Standing on the pavers by the pool, Tmai was a head taller than the little person. They had pudgy proportions and an awkward stance that suggested physical immaturity. They repeated the hand gestures from before, but made them more grammatically simple. They gestured at theirself, then gave a short, two gesture sign. Their name, thought Tmai. It looked sort of like the Ainavian word for Bumbo.

Tmai gestured to theirself, then signed “Tmai.”

Bumbo smiled again and repeated their name gesture back. “Tmai.”


Lita couldn’t believe her luck. She had the find of the century in her cart, and of course she had to save the alien from the fucking pigs. Everyone called her the bag lady because of her cart, but people in the know knew she didn’t just collect cans in there. One time she moved a million bucks of counterfeit twenties across town for a guy and made enough money to stay high for a month. Still, she was decidedly low budget and that was the high point of her life. Unless… she could figure out how to make money off the boy in the cart.

She felt bad for having such venal notions. Aliens were innocents in this world. Even if this was one of the guys that does experiments on humans, that’s understandable. Scientific curiosity. And here he was, at the mercy of the cruel human race. The frail being that had trusted her to keep him safe, and what was she going to do?

She sighed and looked up at the second story of the Lucky Dollar Apartments. They used to be a hotel before downtown devalued, and still had that architecture – built to encircle their own parking lot, bars on the windows facing outside, second story rooms accessible from a walkway that served as an awning to the ground floor. She took out her cellphone.

“Nate! Wake up Rennie and get your asses down here! I got something. It’s important as shit.”

Nate came out to the edge of the balcony shirtless, like a scrawny adonis. His pale tattooed flesh shone in the morning light and his nocturnal blue eyes blinked like a cute baby mouse.

“What the fuck, Lita?,” he hollered.

“You need to come down! You know how hard it is to get up there!” She gestured to the cart.

Rennie came out behind him, black do-rag hanging like the headdress of the Great Sphinx. He was a peaceful soul, but lazy, and didn’t come down. He just folded his arms on the railing and rested his head there to watch the scene. But he smiled and Lita couldn’t be mad about it.

Nate walked across the lot and cocked his head at the cart. “What’s up boo? Whatchu got in there?”

“It’s something hot as shit, Nate.” She was quiet now, and went close to him, put a dirty hand on his white flank. “It ain’t a million dollars but it might get us that – or more. I don’t even know.”

“Damn, did you get a hot score of toy jewelry again?” He snickered.

She wrinkled her face and slowly peeled back the corner of the cardboard over the top of her cart. “Hey little guy,” she said sweetly. “I want you to meet my friends, OK? We’ll help you, I swear.”

Nate peered into the darkness and saw the alien blink.

He recoiled in shock, flapping his arms, cracked his head on one of the thin pillars of the balcony. “Oh my god! Oh my god, girl! Oh my god! I thought it was fake but it blinked! Shit, that wasn’t like, blinky doll eyeballs. No way that was fake. How the fuck? How the fuck?”

She hissed at Nate then tried to keep the alien calm with soothing tones again. “He’ll calm down, OK? We’ll help you, I swear, OK?”

Snar looked up at the disheveled creature. The ones with the guns had been very clean, with neatly shorn crests. This one’s head pelage was matted and frizzy, their clothes visibly damaged and dirty, fingers and face a bit grimy as well. If that’s what it took to not be a kill-crazy maniac on this world, so be it. It raised the corners of its mouth and the innermost part of its browline as it spoke, and nodded. Gestures of appeasement and peace, seemingly.

Snar smiled back and nodded their head. If they had a brow muscle capable of independent movement, they’d have raised that as well. They tried the language out – the first time they’d tried to speak aloud in a very long time. “Ogay?”

Lita smiled even more broadly and lowered the flap again. Then she turned to Nate. She could see Rennie now starting to come downstairs, though not urgently enough to suggest he’d seen the creature. “Guys, come on. You know I’m stupid. I need help to know what to do with him. This is really important, guys.”

Nate sprang up again, beaming. “Yeah, it’s OK, boo. You did good. We got this shit. If you can get him to come out nice an’ easy, we’ll get him stashed up there and figure it allll out.”

Rennie finally arrived. “Who’s he? You guys kidnap a baby or somethin’?”

Nate said, “Aw shit dog. Aw you are about to get your muffuckin’ socks blown. Jesus christ. You have got to seeee this.”

Rennie looked suspicious and Lita smiled at him. Then she pushed up the back gate of the cart, and reached in to take the alien’s hand. When he touched her she felt the sense of awe rush over her again, like the first time she’d seen him. It was real. Magic was real.

Rennie almost fell on his ass at the sight of the alien’s hand. Nate helped hold him up. Nate said, “What I say man? What the fuck did I say?” He was as quiet as his excitement would allow.

The criminals helped the weary alien rise to his feet, and led them up to their apartment.

this is my first draft and i didn’t keep in mind the idea of Ainavians finding salt &/or chlorine poisonous, and they eat a lot of salty food.  then again, chlorine can be very toxic to humans in the form of gas, for instance, but we have food full of sodium chloride.  idk, don’t care enough to mess with it at this point.


  1. Alan G. Humphrey says

    Thank you for the next installment of the accidental Ainavian tourists. Will the different encounter locations, urban and suburban, lead to different results? Will the Ainavian’s preconceived notions of violent humanity hold true? Will Snar and Tmai ever see each other again? Tune in to the same Ainavian channel to find out in the continuing story of Centennial Hills.

    BTW, don’t sweat the bio-details. It doesn’t matter to the story how they sequester the highly toxic chlorine ions separated from the sodium ions when eating salt but can’t drink even lightly chlorinated water. Those kinds of details may be appropriate in George R. R. Martin style multi-volume epics, but even then, I like the story to leave those to be imagined (Ainavian poop has PVC pellets in it) or ignored by the reader.

  2. says

    You’ve tumbled to the game. Snar will get to experience one side of humanity and Tmai will get the other, though there are elements of the opposite experience within each side, like some yin-yang shit. Feel free to point out anything else you notice along the way. The story is going to take a turn for the unfortunately biological soon…

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