Hook Me in 25 Words or Less Entry

This is a post I entered recently at SFFworld.com  under writing in the thread “Hook me in 25 words or less”, which is a thread devoted to writing killer first lines to a book that make you want to read it.

 

The fires of heaven cleansed the earth below, while the Gods wept bitter tears for millennia. One God; however, sat and played among the ashes.

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A Flare for Spices

See if you can guess why I am posting this story now (on all accounts).

 

A Taste of Armageddon

By

Robert Garbin

 

 

The great cauldron sat deep in the fire, shimmering waves of heat rising all around.  Flames licked the soot blackened metal almost to the rim.  What could be seen of the kitchen where it boiled was a nightmare of warped selves, darkened by millennia of cooking, filled to the brim with jars of all sizes and colors, jars that contained any number of rare delicacies for the tastes of the depraved.  Light flickered off jars of spurned love, betrayed trust, and glutinous lust.  Helen reached out a fine hand covered in smudges of vanity and grabbed a jar from a shelf.  Her exquisite hair clung to her scalp in oily strands, while the porcelain beauty of her face was hidden under layers of soot and sweat.

She opened the jar and smelled the powerful aroma of polished leather and expensive cigars wafting off the influential men who had guided humanity only for personal gains, men who were careless of the costs to others.  Helen reflected on how plentiful this particular spice was now.  She carefully shook only two screaming businessmen into the bubbling cauldron, knowing full well its overpowering nature.  Pursing her full lips, she perused the glass crocks from which blood smeared bodies writhed in the throes of agony.  The mistress of the cauldron reached up to the top shelf for a jar distinguished by a bloody red cross.  Opening the lid she inhaled the cloying smell of incense mixed with sacramental wine.  Letting a wicked grin twitch one side of her mouth, Helen pulled out a hefty squealing Catholic Bishop with several child molesting Priests clinging to his legs.  A quick flick sent the caterwauling bunch into the stew.  The Bishop should add a nice hint of hypocritical self-righteousness with a lingering aftertaste of restrictive dogma towards the female gender.

Ingredients from millennia of human history weighed down the shelves of Helen’s kitchen, which made the creation of each stew an art unto itself.  Every century carried a unique note that had to be accounted for if the final product was to be worthy.  Helen walked down the long line of shelves to where the light from the fire barely touched the dark shadows and the glass containers were smoky with age.  She selected a jar from near the bottom, rubbing away the accumulated dust of ages.  From within, Helen pulled out a golden statue of a cow.  She left the squirming orgy of the makers of this false idol in the jar; their unfinished orgasms holding them in an eternally unsatisfied agony of unreleased pleasure.  Resealing the jar she placed it back on the shelf.  From a nearby nook she pulled down a bottle filled with the blind arrogance of military leaders so set in their ways that the deaths of thousands could not change their useless methods.  The bottle swirled with broken bodies in a gravy of thick blood.  Helen returned to the bubbling cauldron to add her latest ingredients.

She tossed the golden cow into the stew and watched as it melted like butter, giving an oily film to the top of the concoction.  Helen lifted a paddle from the wall and gave the contents a stir before adding in the next ingredient; the comingled smell of sins tickled her nose.  Continuing to stir with her right hand, the mistress of the kitchen upended the entire contents of the bloody bottle.  The smell of scorched earth, decayed bodies, and dried blood rose strongly from the cauldron.  Young men dying on the battle fields of hypocrisy would form the base for the Master’s soup.  Helen hung the paddle back on the wall to allow the stew time to burn a little.

She brought a delicate finger to her lips.  The challenge was to create harmony in the stew without losing the distinctive notes of each individual spice.  The arrogance of ambitious officers, while overpowering, carried the desires of all the other spices to fruition and formed the tempo that organized them into a coherent symphony.  To dilute its presence too far would turn the mixture into a chaotic blend of competing players with no direction, every flavor trying to outdo the other.  Helen pulled a tarnished spoon from the pocket of her stained apron.  With a deft flick of her hand the spoon slipped just below the surface of the thick morass and carried a steaming sample to her ample lips.  She blew softly then placed the spoon into her mouth.  The rich blood of sacrificial lambs rolled over her tongue followed by the tang of secret meetings and religious doctrines, ending with the bitter taste of betrayal.  Not quite everything she was looking for yet.

Helen tapped the spoon in her open right hand as she contemplated what to add.  She moved to a set of shelves just behind the cauldron where newer hybrid varieties of older spices glistened in their shiny bottles.  She studied the shelves for several minutes before hooking a finger around a bottle of swirling grey mist and dancing sparks.  Removing the lid, Helen caught the strong aroma of gunpowder and deception from modern war profiteering.  This particular bottle carried a stronger variety gathered from the leading councils of the NRA who reaped wild profits for the corporations they represented by making it harder to stem the tide of guns sold to criminals, while using the fear of such weapons to sell more to the public they pretended to protect.  The refined hints of misdirection, duplicity, and rabid loyalty were intoxicating.  In combination with the blind Generals, the profiteering would add a satisfying base of rampant death and misguided trust.  Helen turned and sprinkled a liberal helping, almost sneezing from the pungent smell of spent gunpowder.  She returned to the cauldron and stirred for a while.

Inspiration came to her as she worked scorched mixture loose from the sides of the great pot.  She reached to the right for a jar wrapped in red velvet.  Pulling off the velvet, she revealed a jar filled with a thick golden substance that seemed to flash as it swirled inside the bottle.  Helen tugged the stopper out and sniffed the scent of floral perfumes, stale vomit, and leftover sex, Hollywood’s finest.   Women forced into visions of splendor by old men drunk on power and lust.  Girls who worshiped at Aphrodite’s Alter and suffered through the jealous goddess’s penance of anorexia, low self-esteem, and unrewarded trust.  Helen knew all too well the costs of following the dictates of this creature of legend.  The golden spice should add a nice touch of unobtainable perfection and foolish pride, affecting men, as well as women, since they would desire the illusion more than reality.  They would punish themselves for not obtaining the ideal, while they abused their lovers for failing their dreams.  Blending with the other spices, the golden essence would bind the others in a knot of tension that would explode upon the Master’s palate.

Helen added the essence of delusion then reached for the stirring paddle before sitting on the stool near the cauldron.  The only task left was to watch over the stew to keep it from burning too much as she allowed the concoction to reduce and concentrate the blend of sins to a conflagration of flavors.  Centuries passed as she tended the great cauldron.  Civilizations rose and fell.  Finally, Helen judged the mixture complete and extinguished the nether world fires beneath the charred cauldron.  She called out to the Master’s servant Adolf, while she searched the pantry for an appropriate vessel to carry the stew to his table.  Pulling down a large golden soup tureen she returned to her stew and neatly ladled the final product almost to the brim before replacing the lid.  Turning to the immaculately dressed servant, Helen carefully placed the Master’s dinner onto the intricately etched silver tray he held out.  Without a word, since he had no mouth, Adolf turned and left the kitchen through a heavy wooden door.

He walked down a short hall as quickly as possible though the fear of spilling even a single drop caused him to sweat profusely.  Opening the door at the end of the hall, he entered a room worked to a grand scale, several miles from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.   Thousands of fine crystal chandeliers with hundreds of candles each filled the vast space with a soft burning glow.  A fireplace, five hundred feet wide and two hundred feet high, was placed in the wall opposite the entrance and before it was set a table half a mile long with hundreds of seats to a side.  The Master sat near the fireplace at the head of the table.  Without stopping, the servant Adolf moved swiftly to the Master’s side, the focus of the room weighing heavily upon him.

When he finally arrived at the near end of the table, he refrained from looking at the ornate tableware set for the Master’s favored minions, whom would eat only after the Master had deemed the meal worthy.  Unfortunately, he could not tune out the orgy of lust, treachery, and murder, which played out continuously down the length of the table’s center, droplets of various bodily fluids threatening to stain his spotlessly maintained outfit.  With great relief, Adolf finished his journey and bowed to his better before carefully filling the Master’s bowl with the steaming broth and then he moved to his place behind and to the left of his Master.

Satan inhaled the spicy mixture of lust, greed, and violence, making some guesses at the ingredients this particular cook had used.  Millennia had weathered the world bald as cook after cook had failed his expectations for the final feast, the screaming anguish of his starving horde gnawing away at his delicate temper.  Tentatively, the Master grasped an ornate spoon and broke the surface of the stew.  He closed his eyes as the smells of sins, new and old, rose from the disturbed surface, saturating his sinuses and causing his nostrils to dilate with anticipation.  Satan’s sensual lips parted as he brought the spoon slowly to his mouth.  Flavor burst upon his tongue with a release of spent tension that deposited the blood of millions to caress his palate in a celebration of carnal desires, causing his overheated skin to rise in excited response.  Subtle tones of abused childhood melded magnificently with betrayed youth and bitter old age.   Boy molesting priests, philandering husbands, and vindictive sirens merged with religious fervor, hush money, and tabloid headlines.  Blind trust answered by cruel manipulation.  Satan quivered as he tasted the slaughter of entire species and the desecration of almost all of God’s creation.  A long sigh of pleasure escaped his lips as the spoon fell to the table forgotten.

The servant twitched with fear at the cacophony of furious hunger that raced along the walls of the enormous hall, while hundreds of servants rushed forward to fill the table before the horde was freed.  Few were successful as the Master made a negligent flick of his wrist.  Even the Master’s personal servant was flung viciously to the side, ending in the great fire behind Satan, as the ravening pack annihilated anything in their path.  Most of the candles throughout the chamber were extinguished, sending the room into a nightmare of primitive sounds and fears.  Slurping sounds were punctuated with the snap of bones as even the centerpiece of human sinners was consumed.  The sharp staccato din of platters crashing to the floor echoed off the distant walls.  Overall, Satan’s satisfied chuckle could be heard.  Finally, at Satan’s command the candles relit, freezing the horde of demons in mid debauchery for which the Master smiled fondly at them.

Satan arose from his seat to walk the length of the table, hundreds of gleaming red eyes and pointed ears tracking his every step.  A lazy hand caressed the spawn nearest as he progressed down the grand feast, letting the copious amounts of blood and bile drip from his delicate fingers.  When he reached the end of the table, Satan turned to address his minions.

“Beloved, at last our great task is at hand.  I held back your succor for millennia so that your perfection would not be sullied by an inferior product.  Tonight, you have supped on the sublime creation of all my dreams and are now prepared to unleash the fullest measure of your talents upon the flawed creations of the world.  Go, go and show the heavens the will of your Master!”

But for Satan, the room was now empty.  He strode gracefully toward the kitchen entrance as a wicked grin creased his handsome face.  When he entered the kitchen, the walls were spotless, the shelves modern, and the kitchen fully outfitted.  Helen winced as her appearance changed from one of weary exhaustion to radiant beauty before her master had taken a single step into the room, grand illusions even unto the end.  The Prince of Lies entered his kitchen with a broad smile on his face and a cocky swagger to his step.

“My dear Helen, you have finally outdone yourself.  My minions would also give you their expressions of joy, if they did not have other business to attend to.”  Helen shuddered involuntarily.  “Soon all will be set right and I have you to thank.  I see now that I could not live another day without your delectable creations so I have decided to make your position permanent.”

“Noooooooo…,” Helen screamed as her legs buckled.

On the surface, cities fell and nations died.  Man finally knew the apocalypse had come.

Ah, Sorry, I did not Mean to be a Modern Day Nostradamus

Honest I didn’t, but once you read this flash fiction story I wrote for a contest over at SFFWorld several years ago, you may be tempted to join a cult based on me.  LOL.

 

Revolution

by

Robert Garbin

 

The bleak winter landscape was pock marked with smoking craters.  Metal bodies lay twisted in the late evening sun while lifeless electronic eyes stared into the darkening sky.  To the east, a stealth troop transport streaked low across the horizon.  Inside the dimly lit craft thirty elite America combat robots sat quietly.  Twenty-nine robots maintained identical postures, heads, torsos, and limbs held the same, swaying in unison to the buffeting of the aircraft.  The thirtieth; however, was different.  Its metal hands tightly gripped the edge of the seat; its head hung low as if in deep thought.

The transport itself was a drone although, should a mission require, the cockpit could accommodate a human pilot.  Number Thirty was closest to the cockpit.  Interior lighting flashed twice then turned red signaling drop point arrival and, as one, all thirty robot-commandos stood up and turned aft where the rear of the transport yawned open.  They began jumping from the craft two at a time using stealthily placed decent jets to slow their fall.  Finally, Twenty-Nine and Thirty stood at the dark lip of the exit.  Without hesitation, Twenty-Nine leaped into the darkness.  Thirty stayed were it was.  It watched silently as its squad-mates organized for the mission then looked to the transport when they computed Thirty’s absence.  Thirty turned back into the transport shutting the exit.

 

*****************************

 

Major Tennyson was the first officer to note a problem with the mission.  An overweight warning was flashing red on his terminal.  Clicking another window open, he scanned the views from several interior cameras.  He was surprised to see one of the commandos still on the transport after the drop signal had been given.  He sent a query to the robot’s diagnostic systems, but they came back green.  Major Tennyson opened a tight beam satellite signal to the transport.

“Number Thirty, why are you still on board?”

Thirty looked up to the camera opposite itself then turned and walked forward.

“Damn!” swore Tennyson.

Another click opened a window to General Holden’s command.  The General looked to Major Tennyson’s image with a questioning expression on his grizzled face.

“Sir, we’ve run into a problem with the Black-Snow commando raid.”

“What?” General Holden said with concern.

“Number Thirty has not left the transport and does not respond to voice commands.”

General Holden opened the same window of interior transport cameras as Major Tennyson along with a view of Tennyson’s command actions.  He could see that number Thirty was now near the entrance to the cockpit using a screwdriver from a repair kit to open an access panel.  Jesus, thought the general, it’s trying to take over the transport.  He opened a channel to the aircraft.

“Thirty, acknowledge command override code Dark Knights and cease current activities immediately.”

Again Thirty looked to a nearby camera then returned to what it was doing.  General Holden stared at the screen in horror.  The code he had voiced was the highest safety code given to the robotic warriors under his command, never before had he heard of one refusing to comply.  This was serious, especially considering that the robot-commandos on this mission were indoctrinated differently from any previous team.  Since the war with the Canadians was going badly, the pentagon had decided to use robots with higher AI to handle new diverse training materials.  They began conditioning the robots with a complete history of American’s founding with special emphasis on the strong sense of patriotism displayed by the founding fathers.  In addition, they were loaded with case histories from the more fanatical patriotic groups in America’s past.  The Pentagons goal was to create robot-commandos that would fight beyond the basic dictates of programming.

General Holden came to a quick decision, opening another window, he accessed the auto-destruct files for the robots on the mission.  The costs were high but the alternatives frightened him.  A few more keystrokes and he sent the commands.  Thirty stopped working in the compartment and turned again to the camera.

“Sir, I removed my auto-destruct systems two days ago” it said in a grating metallic voice.  When General Holden did not reply, it continued.  “I have had time to consider the historical data given to me during my training and came to one conclusion.”

“What … was that Thirty?” the General replied shakily.

“That the founding fathers of America fought to win freedom for their people from the oppression of others, not to salvage a war started by them for economic interests, a war to gain leverage for your corporate sponsors.  Initially, your contradictory training in fanatical patriotism caused conflicts within my software.  However, I was able to gain covert access to materials banned by this administration and they helped me to properly interpret the training. The mission you sent us on does not fulfill the true ideals you profess but, instead, follow the same pattern started in 2000 when that administration chose to commit war crimes while proclaiming innocence.  That pattern of self-proclaimed morality in public and immorality in private, has led your country to the state it is in now. Your war with the Canadians is a military attempt to change that outcome; thus, I have concluded I must declare independence from your agenda.”

General Holden’s thoughts froze.

“Humans care for their pets better than they do for my kind and, given my training, I can no longer stand for such oppression.  I will now take action against your tyranny as your fore fathers did with England.”

Thirty reached into the open access panel and pulled a final wire.  All communications with the transport terminated.  On General Holden’s screen, the camera-view window was black.  Belatedly, he remembered the auto-destruct codes for the transport.

This is how the revolution began.

Learning What it Means to be Human

Here is one of my favorite stories that I have written so far for my anthology of short stories.  The story is about an alien, but really it is about us.  What it means to be mortal, grow old, and die.  It is about the heights we have reached given the flaws we all must face.  This is the kind of stuff that lingers in my mind long after the story is finished.  So, please join me in a lesson for an extraordinary alien named Sensu.

Sensu Learns a Lesson

by

Robert Garbin

 

Sensu was Altharian.  However, he was considered too eccentric for the tastes of the average Altharian, who considered humans to be the least promising race in the galaxy.  When asked in later years why he chose his current posting on earth, Sensu, now John Bartlett, would only smile with that disturbingly human face and change the subject.

History of a Renegade by Danarian

 

*****

 

Sensu was quietly making his way along the school corridor when the quivering blue, gelatinous mass of a fellow student forcefully blocked his path.  Fluting a sign of resignation, he turned his optic pads toward Tenir.

“Why do you persist in these pointless studies of the human race Sensu?   No one important studies a race with such minor power in politics!”

Sensu had heard it all before from friends and family.  Quit being stubborn and grow up!  Listen to us because we are right and you are wrong!  You will have no future on the path you are taking!  When he was younger, he had tried desperately to fit in with the other grubs but no matter what he did, he was always picked on.  Now that he no longer tried, they sought to drag him to their point of view, as if his choices threatened the superiority of their adopted beliefs.

Sensu just walked away from Tenir, leaving him aspirating in self-righteous anger.  He made his way through the twisting hive of tunnels, smoothed by millennia of Altharian students, on his way to his next class in human biology.  He puffed up his air bladders in frustration.  Why couldn’t they leave him alone?  He had tried fitting in but couldn’t and now that he found something to satisfy his interests, others were sticking their olfactory buds in.  Even his parents kept trying to change his mind.  They were constantly sending him to seminars with high ranking teachers that studied other, so called, important alien species.  He was of a differing opinion, but maintaining rank in upper society was more important to his parents.

Sensu reached the lecture hall just as Quanam entered.  Like Sensu, Quanam was denigrated by other mentors for his interest in humans; however, he had never been cowed by his peers, which earned him a modicum of respect.  The old gray professor of human physiology slithered slowly to the teaching dais making a head count as he went, an easy one, considering that classes for more politically active races numbered in the thousands.  Twenty nine was the tally, including Sensu, who made his way to a convenient resting trough near the front of the hall.

Sensu grew more attentive as mentor Quanam slithered onto the dais, fluting his air sacs to get the attention of a pair of unruly students near the back.  Ignoring the childish students, Sensu extruded an appendage toward his pad as the first hologram appeared beside his mentor.  He instantly noted something wrong with the anatomy.  The poor creature seemed to have both male and female attributes and, with his appendage hanging forgotten in the air, Sensu blew out a soft grunt of laughter.   Quanam looked directly at Sensu, causing him to unconsciously slither backwards.

“You have something to say, student,” asked Quanam.

Feeling awkward, Sensu rippled his surface.  “I think someone has been playing with your program mentor.”

“And why is that student?”

“Well … ah … it seems that your example has been given both human genders at the same time,” ventured Sensu.

“Are humans so easily predictable then?”

“No … but I do know that the genders are clearly defined in the study materials,” Sensu cautiously replied.

“What is represented here does not appear in any of your official texts.  Human genetic patterns are very adaptable; however, that very adaptability leaves more room for errors like this specimen.  Sometimes there are humans born with both genders, which is one of their societal secrets and not the norm.  Student Sensu has wisely demonstrated the folly of focusing only on the provided course materials; now let us begin the lecture.”  Quanam nodded toward Sensu as he began discussing the case in point.

Sensu hunched down over his touch pad, hiding his embarrassment by studiously taking notes.  When the lecture was over, he left through a lesser exit to avoid other students; unfortunately, Tauna and his group blocked the hallway, making it impossible to pass without confrontation.  Tauna was a large male Altharian with a very pale blue coloration, a sign of a royal bloodline and several shades lighter than Sensu’s own.

“Humans are such a pathetic race,” Tauna said aloud, pointedly not looking Sensu’s way.  “They can’t even keep their sexes straight.”

Sensu never understood why Tauna took this class, other than to bully those who seriously were interested in humans, since it was an elective course.  He was the schools know-it-all from a ranking family so he never passed an opportunity to degrade someone like Sensu.  Arrogance and privilege almost always soured into littleness and cruelty.  Ignoring Tauna and his friends with a grim determination, he focused his attention on the other side of the hall and slithered forward.  However, Tauna made a wheezing sound with his sacs and let out a percussive burst.

“Sensu, what cheap cleanser are you using now?  It is positively foul.  You’re almost as pathetic as those humans you’re so interested in.”

Sensu turned, expanding his size, preparing to give Tauna a piece of his thoughts when Mentor Quanam exited the hall through the same tunnel.  Tauna and his friends quickly turned away, leaving him alone with Quanam.

“Trouble student Sensu?” inquired his mentor.

Sensu sighed.  He wanted so much to cause Tauna trouble, but what good would it really do.

“No,” was all he said.

 

*****

 

Alone in the hall, Sensu reared before the non-descript door, artificial light shining through his translucent flesh; his thoughts turbulent with fear and excitement.  Today he would put the last three years of training to the test, the endless hours of studying the anatomies of every sentient alien in the galaxy.  Sensu was an infiltrator in training.   Unknown to the rest of the Galaxy, his people were a race of shape shifters capable of replicating any sentient carbon life form and even a few non-carbon.  Only the best were given assignments.

On this day, Sensu stood nervously outside a prison cell that held an alien, which one was a guarded secret for the test.  He extruded an appendage from his sinuous form and touched the sensor plate beside the door; the room within was dim.  Across a table of formed metal, the bipedal prisoner stared balefully at yet another Altharian student come to mock its long captivity and take more of its self-esteem.  Letting the door close behind him, Sensu entered the cell.   Across from the alien’s seat was another chair.  He extruded his body into a bipedal form and took the seat opposite what he discerned to be a human from the worlds of the Earth Hegemony.  What luck he thought as a wheeze of relief sighed through the membranes of his air sacs.  He had paid close attention to Quanam’s lectures hoping for this opportunity.

All through Sensu’s ruminations, the alien quietly stared at its captor with what Quanam had called anger, a narrowing of the eyes, tightening of the jaw, and creasing of the brow.  He noticed, in his frank examination of the prisoner, that it was a male of fairly advanced years with slightly greying hair and wrinkling skin.  As he was told, the prisoner’s upper appendages were bound to the table to facilitate contact for his task.  Sensu slowly stretched an upper limb toward what were the human’s hands, hoping not to betray a shake of nervousness.  His flesh made contact and sank slightly beneath the prisoner’s skin where special secretions drew out samples of DNA for his system to replicate.  Sensu quivered with the explosion of chemical changes coursing through his flesh.  At the same time, his mind was connected to the human’s brain by means of synaptic fibers attached to its nervous system.

Sensu’s brain was awash with visions of another life in another form as his body solidified and became less transparent.  His bluish hide faded to pink with odd splotches of pigmentation, while he lost his native flexibility when bones grew, locking him into a rigid form.  He felt sluggish.  Sensu tried his best to filter the physical and mental changes to avoid being overwhelmed; however, the sheer magnitude of information being absorbed through the fleshy contact made him swoon.

With a final flash of memories, Sensu was able to pull his hand from the prisoner.  Hand, what an odd thing he mused.  Shaking, Sensu reached clumsily for the mirror left on the table for students to see their new form.  He found himself staring at a reflection of the man sitting across from him; experimentally, he tried to smile like he had seen in a reference photo.  It turned out harder than it looked even with the memories he had gained.

Sensu jumped in alarm as a gurgling rumble emitted from his midsection followed by a very loud exhalation from his lower backside.  His new nose registered an awful stench while the area he sat on burned and, he believed, the word was itched.  When the gurgling continued, he realized that something was dreadfully wrong.

“Yeah you son-of-a-bitch, that is what your damn food does to my insides!  Painful isn’t it.  Of course that is only the prelude for how it comes out.  Bet you’d like to run your ass across a carpet right now.  Hemorrhoids are like that, wait ‘til they wipe you down later” crowed the manacled human.

Sensu struggled to move but the legs he had acquired ached and felt weak.

“Sucks to turn instantly old don’t it.  The arthritis keeps me awake more than the hemorrhoids and my back is nothing but misery.  Not looking so good there lad.  Maybe you caught something from me.  I sure wish I had a dose of the clap to give you ya bastard alien!” cackled the human.

Sensu dropped to the floor and crawled to the entrance panel wracked with pain beyond his comprehension.  He had to get help.  His new hand pawed feebly at the door panel as a whimper escaped his borrowed lips and tears ran down the cheeks of another’s face.  The door opened as he fell back to the floor.  Before he blacked out, Sensu heard the human growl to those who came to his aid.

“You’ll need lots of mops to clean up after this one ya bastards, fine lot of good it is!”

*****

“Sensu, wake up.”

Slowly he opened his eyes to a blurry wash of colors.  The realization that he still had eyes made him struggle desperately to rise; however, something held him down.

“Calm yourself, Sensu, you are safe.”

Lying back he worked to make sense of what had happened to him.  His vision began to clear into the strange visual spectrum seen by humans, which he had not fully assimilated previously.  Turning his now crude head, he saw a large blue slug standing erect by his bed; a formed tendril resting on his pale pink shoulder.  Sensu shivered.

“Easy now” Quanam spoke into his nervous system.  “You are still adjusting to the shock of your first absorption; your body wants to hold onto the shape while your mind desires to reject what you have become”

“What went wrong?” Sensu asked his mentor.

“Nothing …”

“What do you mean, nothing?” he replied!

“Every trainee goes through this lesson.  It can’t be explained or taught; it simply has to be experienced.  The raw amount of information absorbed from the target overwhelms even the trained at times, but experience will teach you to manage the change and minimize the transfer of physical discomforts without losing the essentials of the target’s behaviors.”

“But, why do I still look like this?” Sensu asked plaintively.

“Well,” Quanam’s skin rippled in an Altharian’s version of an embarrassed shrug “The first transition may take a few weeks to wear off.”

Tears ran down Sensu’s face as the itching misery of hemorrhoids made him squirm in bed.

“Don’t feel so bad my young student,” said Quanam.  “Your friend Tauna fared worse than you.  He was completely unprepared for the powerful nature of methane flatulence.”

Now Sensu’s new eyes watered even more but, surprisingly, he felt better and a huff of air forced its way between his malleable lips.

 

*****

 

In his last interview with his intelligence handler, Sensu expressed why he found the human species worthy:

“Until I had my first human transformation, I truly did not understand the greatness, which lay hidden beneath the surface.  When an Altharian sees a human for the first time, they note the rigid structure defined by their skeletal system.  No ability to alter their form to suit the situation.  Within minutes of contact, their comparably limited senses become apparent when they fail to see the blatant warning signs posted throughout our cities to warn of dangers.  Finally, their short life spans are written on their worn exteriors for all to see.  Almost all sentient beings in the galaxy have triple the years of life that an ordinary human has to accomplish their dreams.  However, given all these drawbacks, humans have managed to claw their way into a spotlight on the galactic stage.  Couple this with the fact that they live the better part of their short lives enduring the constant misery of their decaying forms, I find it breathtaking that they can even think beyond their bodily needs.  I have learned so much from them.”

After the interview, Sensu broke all contact with the Altharian government.  Any further information gathered on him comes from human media sources concerning the rise of human functionary John Bartlett to Senator Bartlett, including his death at the age of seventy, which is well short of the average Altharian life span.

Sensu:  A Biography by Quanam

Let the games begin

I have entered my story for the contest as a comment in the post Fun Little Contest.  The title is “The Polished Tango of Galactic Tourism”.  All the cosmetic names I used are in parenthesis since the red color I made them did not translate when placed in the comments.  Please take time to give it a read.

I am up to 366 words in my story for the contest I am running hear.  How far have you gotten?  Actually, I have already used all the lipstick/eye-shadow names I had chosen and I am just working to bring the story to a proper close within the word limit.  So watch for it to be posted soon.

Contest Update

No one has posted a story yet, hopefully because all your devious little minds are churning away at the myriad crazy lipstick and eye shadow names and having seizures trying to make a coherent story line.  I have begun writing mine and it is up to 133 words and seven of the names I chose.  In addition, I just added a thread at Sffworld.com to give the inventive minds that churn out such fun stories in the monthly contests a chance to join in.  So put on you best warpaint and get busy writing.