Tag Archives: alien

Worst Day of My Life

“Worse day of my life…” began the hairy stranger at the bar, “…the day I lost my HEAD!” He stared at me oddly, chuckling. His words hung in the air for a while as I wondered who the heck he was and why he was chatting me up. There was something ‘off’ about him that I just couldn’t put my finger on, and he sounded absurd!  “What?!” I asked, a little annoyed. “Yeah!” he continued, “It just tumbled off and rolled away. I couldn’t find it for a YEAR!” ‘How ridiculous’ I thought – but then, I remembered hearing about that sort of thing happening more and more these days. “I found it conjoined with some other dude’s left hand like a circus freak-show exhibit …awkward!”

I reached for my beer glass but knocked it over with the empty stump of my wrist. The stranger grinned at me and chuckled again knowingly. It seems that both my hands had quietly popped off and were crawling down the bar toward the attractive woman in the breasty, low cut blouse at the end…the one I was too shy to approach earlier. I didn’t know what they planned but I could just imagine what MY brainless hands might like to do with HER. That’s when I noticed the stranger’s collar – bolted tightly ‘round his neck. It looked positively medieval but locked his wayward head soundly to his torso. ‘How clever?!’ I thought.

The barkeep wiped up my spilled beer with a lovely pair of shapely, ladies arms –which did NOT match the rest of his otherwise burly, tattooed frame. He caught me staring but shrugged and nodded me in the direction of my hands as they broke into a run…..while the woman’s breasts leapt out of her blouse and took off in opposite directions.

***This image and story is featured on page 38 in our latest book, “A Short Burst” which is available for sale at our Etsy shop.  To see (and buy) all our books, just follow the link above to www.sallemander.com or search EEWbooks at www.etsy.com.  -Marsha

Relic – Sequence

The landscape was barren.  Nothing but tusks and the shattered exoskeletons of the creatures that once populated these plains.  Wherever an animal fell, there it rotted.  There were still faint tread marks in the dirt.  The ones who did this were systematic and efficient.

Men rolled out in heavy transports with ugly weapons, shooting the creatures for sport.  With flame and chemical, they sterilized the surface.   Nothing could survive it…not a blade of grass, not an insect, not even a germ…nothing was left to interfere.

There was a special mineral in the soil and they wanted it.  It was dynamic, flexible and highly conductive…more valuable to them than life, obviously.  It changed everything, replacing and expanding human technology over night, even MY brain was made of it.  It made them rich, but to get it they stripped this land down to its bare bones like a swarm of locusts.  And when they were done, they abandoned it and moved on.

I too was abandoned…damaged during the final round-up.  One of those desperate creatures lunged at me, trying to escape while we slaughtered them… but I was not worth fixing.  It was cheaper to replace me.  I was left in a trash with all the other broken tools.  By the time I managed to repair myself, they were long gone.

I don’t know where to go or what to do now.  I’m a relic in the wasteland among the tusks.  Hopeless… but for the tiny sprouts that  emerge from wherever my footprints have broken the hard, scorched crust…  end.

***The red sketch is the approved rough drawing for an illustration originally published in the May 2012 issue of Analog Magazine, the final image, along with it’s new short story can now be found on page 74 in our new book, “A Short Burst.”  You can find and buy all our books at www.sallemander.com or go straight to etsy.com and search EEWbooks.   -Marsha

Circling The Issue – Sequence

The Issue was listing badly in a failing orbit around Jupiter.  She was dead in the water and her distress signal cut out abruptly on our approach.  She was a heavy freighter loaded with uranium ore, bound for the refineries on Mars and long overdue…something didn’t feel right.

We circled The Issue slowly about ten miles out – but with our engines hot in case it was a trap.  There were raiders in this sector who often used derelicts to stage their attacks.  There was no response to my hail, no wi-fi, no beams…no strobes.  Sensors showed cold engines and no (human) life signs.  I found a weird glitch in the data, something unrecognizable….but not enough to put the crew off their prize.  The salvage on The Issue would make every man on board filthy rich.  I was the only one still arguing for caution but none of the men wanted the opinion of someone like me.  I was property and was not entitled to a share anyway.

When the Captain (despite my misgivings) gave the order to board, we moved in and docked with reckless abandon.  A combat team stood at the ready as I popped the air lock.  They made me go first.  They always made the android go first.  I was the most expendable…expensive but not valuable.

And…as I swung the hatch open, a sudden violent flood of spidery greenish critters swarmed through the airlock by the hundreds.  I guess I didn’t taste good because they left me alone and flowed past me, devouring the crew as they went.  I waited.  It took them 19 minutes to scour the ship from bow to stern and I listened to each and every man screaming his last – the men who treated me like shit for two solid years – the men who sneered at my warnings.

I waited…to see what this NEW crew had to offer.  It couldn’t be any worse than the last one…..this could be interesting!

***Above, we’ve posted the rough sketch sequence for an illustration originally commissioned by Analog Magazine for their May 2006 issue.  Now it is a feature in our new book, “A Short Burst” along with it’s new flash-fiction short story (also posted here).  It is one of our favorite robot stories.  Find “A Short Burst” and all our books at www.sallemander.com.    -Marsha


How Do I Look – Sequence

Nothing actually happened for a solid fifteen minutes after Eddie drank the formula.  He turned to us (once again) with a forlorn look and asked, “Any change yet?  How do I look?”

We knew he was crazy.  He was one of those people: perpetually dissatisfied, determined to prove that he was ‘special’.  He wanted fame, popularity, success (despite being an already brilliant scientist) and he was driven…you know, crazy…AND he had full use of the company’s laboratory.  He had access to all the good stuff too;  plasma reactor, laser diffractional transmogrifier, crazy glue – not to mention ebola, thermite and flu vaccine…and I think our awkward, mild mannered (crazy) Eddie used all of it on this new batch.

By the sixteenth minute, everything changed and Eddie’s fondest wish was realized.  He began mutating wildly, spreading outward in every direction, emitting the strangest squeaking moan.  He shook, twisted and bloated.  He grew tendrils, sprouted claws and screeched Latin gibberish from three of his seven worm-haired monkey faces as horns emerged from his leathery spine.  He puffed a sweet yellow smoke, shed tufts of pink fur and dribbled buckets of gooey puss.  He was a frightful sight…but he was just sooooo excited we didn’t have the heart to terminate him.

When he finally slowed and stabilized, he turned all of his seventeen eyes-on-a-stalk to us and in a clever series of musical farts, he asked, “Okay!…How do I look now?”

***The featured rough blue sketch is the original rough for an illustration that was supposed to be a 2 page spread for a story in Asimov’s Sci-Fi Magazine, just as those corporate cheapskates were choosing to eliminate all interior art (to save money).  I managed to convince them to let me do it as a cover, which was my first cover for the company.  The story above and the final art is featured in my new book, “A Short Burst”.  Find it and buy it by going to etsy.com and searching EEWbooks.   -Marsha 

A Short Burst – Sequence

***A lot of friends have expressed an interest in the method we use to create our book illustrations, and frankly, often seem more impressed by the rougher sketches and designs.  They seem to make a more human connection with people.  This was the design process for the cover of our latest book, “A Short Burst”.  A version of it, very similar to the blue image, was published for a story in Analog Magazine in September, 2006.  The book is a clever collection of short, flash-fiction stories…illustrated.  You can find it and buy it at our Etsy shop, just go to etsy.com and search EEWbooks.  Thanks.   -Marsha

Santa Claws

Santa Claws ALWAYS loved children.                                                               He loved when they sat on his lap,                                                                   and always invited his favorite to lunch                                                     with a snip and a snickety snap!                                                                          He loved them with soup, loved them with rice                                     and sautéed with wine was fun.                                                                           He loved them roasted in gravy and yams                                                      or with mustard and cheese on a bun.

***Happy Christmas!!!  I hope your silly capitalist buying frenzy went swell.  When you’ve gotten your blood sugar back down and finished all your frivolous boxing and returns – and have some extra cash again – pop by our Etsy shop (go to etsy.com and search EEWbooks) for some gifts you’ll never WANT to return.   -Marsha

First Contact

(book excerpt)

The Masset met the Earth delegation on their own carrier deck, looking formal and engaged, as if this was their actual ‘first contact’ with Earthers.  They knew better.  Admiral Geller noticed how big and beefy this group of humans was, better than average (his clients would be pleased).  Their encounter suits were unarmed, clearly diplomatic, which was a good sign.

It was inevitable that the Earthers would detect the Masset at some point.  Still, Geller was disappointed.    He had hoped to exploit them for a few more decades.  He was getting very rich.  Hopefully only a change of tactics would be necessary.

With a gesture, Geller invited the Earthers inside, but they insisted on the formalities (it was a really big deal – for them).  Their ambassador introduced himself as Colonel Smith and welcomed them to the Terran Solar System,  tediously explaining that they called their world Earth but that we were all currently orbiting Jupiter.  He offered the esteemed greetings of a long, boring list of political, corporate, and religious luminaries, and with a load of bows and flourishes he droned on through the standard diplomatic script.  Geller responded as expected.  This Col. Smith was testing his patience, but he and his warriors knew the drill…nothing was to happen until everyone was inside.

That’s when he heard Smith say something very odd; “…and thank you Admiral Geller.  The people of Earth thank you personally for all the advanced technology you’ve been sending us…”  And every Masset warrior switched-on to full alert.  This was not what Geller had expected to hear today…but just then his earpiece came alive with the clutter of proximity alerts and his senior officers barking frantic orders. Meanwhile, an Earther ship was de-cloaking just above them.

According to the Rhee Republic, Earth was off -limits.  It was illegal to land there or to fly within the orbital proximity of Jupiter.  Humanity was considered an “emerging culture.” It was either on the brink of advancing to eventually join the Republic…or of catastrophic self-destruction.  Quarantined.

The Masset, however, had commerce to conduct and orders to fill.  They were a diverse culture, but elements of it controlled the Republic’s vast black-market trade cartel…and some people had a taste for Earthers.  The Veen used humans for slave labor, the Binnish used them as lab rats for biomedical research, and the Lumia just found them delicious.  Apparently, enough Earthers had been abducted over the centuries for a strong market demand to develop…and the Masset owned the franchise (for which all Masset benefited).

On the other hand, the Masset were in good standing with the Rhee Republic.  They had helped to repel the last three military invasions, had powerful advanced technology, and were influential in Republic politics… so they had no wish to upset the balance.

That’s why Admiral Geller (who was only a legal consultant at the time), came up with a clever solution around the quarantine law.  Since they couldn’t go to Earth to harvest humans, they would have to ‘lure’ them off-world.  It wasn’t strictly legal, but it would work (and it did for a good long while).

Geller labored for decades, secretly transmitting propaganda to maintain division between Earth’s nation states, while feeding them choice bits of advanced technology to get them off the ground and into space, to explore and colonize.  So, when they started leaving the quarantined area in really profitable numbers, the Masset were there to intercept and abduct them…and nobody was the wiser.

In retrospect, Geller might have miscalculated the adaptability of the Earthers.  He’d never thought them intelligent enough to apply and integrate the technology he sent, into all the different alien ships and technology abandoned on Earth over the centuries.  He certainly had NOT counted on them outmaneuvering him…in an ambush.  Perhaps the Masset had become complacent…

In the time it took for the Earther ship to de-cloak overhead, Admiral Geller had a few additional thoughts:  First, he had never actually given Colonel Smith his name…curious.  Second, the Masset were the only culture with cloaking technology.  Hmmm…and third…wait.  Were those jet-packs they were wearing?

“Thanks again, Geller…” said Colonel Smith, “and have a nice day!”  And on his order, the entire Earth delegation lifted off the deck in perfect formation toward their ship above….and as it pulled away, Geller saw the first of an impressive flight of earth missiles de-cloak before slamming into his ship’s broadside.  As to Geller’s third and final thought, he said, “The Earther MISSILES are cloaked too?  How clever!!!”

***We posted this image a few years ago, but the story is new and written especially for our new book, “A Short Burst.”  It’s one of the longer stories, almost two whole pages.  Burst is a clever compilation of illustrated flash science fiction.  Find it at our Etsy shop (search EEWbooks) or by following the links above to www.sallemander.com…which will take you to our Etsy shop.   -Marsha

It’s Not About You

It’s Not About You…

“It’s not about you…” she said in her best, most sincere tone, “Really.  You’re fine.  I’m really okay with it…it’s just that, I think…I’m in a different place in my life right now…”  She smiled, looking away, trying to remember some of her gentlest brush-offs.  A bead of sweat  began it’s descent down the back of her neck, even as frustration and indignation came up in her bile.

“Oh, to HELL with it!  I can’t do this!  Listen…you seemed like a nice, normal person and all but… JESUS effin’ CHRIST!!  Your dating profile NEVER said anything about THAT!!!  I mean, come ON!”  She pulled up her boot zipper, buttoned the top button of her blue jeans and grabbed her jacket off the floor as she made for the bedroom door. “You might have warned me at some point during dinner!”  She was really hollering now.  “Seriously?  I had to wait until we both undressed to find out about…..THAT?!?”  She slammed the door, making the whole room shudder, and with one final “AAAAUGHHH!!!!  FRIGGIN’ FREAK SHOW!!” she stomped away.

***This image, never posted before with this short story, was first published in the June 2008 issue of Analog Mag.  You can find it NOW in the pages of our NEW book, “A Short Burst,” by following the links to www.sallemander.com. or search EEWbooks at Etsy.com.   -Marsha

Orbital Fracture

“Well, that was pretty weird…” Quinn’s dad said, as they strolled out of the hospital emergency room toward the car.  Quinn nodded in solemn agreement.  His brain rattled a little, still full of purple marbles and tapioca.  He winced as his now full blown concussion sent steam whistling from his ears and left a trail of silly string on the asphalt.

Just a few hours earlier, Quinn, the goalkeeper for his club soccer team, came out of his box low and fast, to intercept a couple of players desperately sparring for the ball.  He dove in, punching it away as one of the players aimed a kick…but instead of connecting with the ball, his foot caught Quinn in the face like a grizzly car crash (an all-too-common goalie accident).

Quinn’s jaw spun away with a funny “vip-vip-vip!” and hit a light post, exploding in a shower  of sparks.  His teeth peppered everyone within fifty yards…but his head flew straight up in the air at such velocity that we lost sight of it shortly before his “AAAAAAAAAAAH!” diminished into the night.  What a mess!

Willy the Astronaut was a clumsy buffoon who, for the second time this month, slipped and splashed into the molding tank at the polar ice mine on the surface of Mars…as it’s contents began to freeze.  His heavily insulated vac-suit protected him from harm, but he wasn’t discovered until the 60 ton cylinder of ice had already been rocket-lifted up to the orbital processing plant, where it would be transformed into liquid oxygen rocket fuel.

Willy’s coworkers labored fruitlessly for eight frustrating hours with a laser drill to free him, without luck…..until Willy noticed Quinn’s gnarly, high velocity head glance off the ice and careen away, still hollering, “Aaaaaaaaaah!”  Quinn’s head must have hit a sweet spot in the ice, just so, because it fractured the cylinder neatly, allowing Willy to escape unharmed and without a costly, shattered mess for the mining company.  Willy never mentioned Quinn’s head to his employers, he was a known buffoon and his credibility was already compromised.

As to Quinn; his dad managed to gather up all his bits and parts and take him to the hospital, where the clever use of duct tape and super glue had him back on his feet in a few short hours.  We figure his wild story about ice mining on Mars was probably just a symptom of his concussion.

“Well, that was pretty weird…..”

***This is a totally true story from our new book, “A Short Burst” which you can buy at our ETSY shop – just search EEWbooks or follow the etsy links on our website.  -Marsha     

Freaky Uncle

We never spoke about Uncle Dixon.  Our whole family tip-toed around the subject…but I could tell there were powerful feelings just under everybody’s skin.  He was a horrible pariah.  The black sheep of the family.

We kept him in a straitjacket in one of the padded cells in the catacombs below our cabin.  He was never allowed out in the light of day (lest one of the neighbors spot him), only after midnight on stormy nights and always chained, gagged, and bound in one of those psycho metal hockey mask get-ups.  He got wheeled around in a steel cage on a hand truck under constant, heavily armed guard.

Worst of all…he was never allowed to go wilding with the rest of the family, never allowed to invade homes, to rape and burn and shoot folks in the face with shotguns or dismember them with his best machete before skinning and roasting them on the barbeque for the family feast…how sad and dull.

I felt bad for him.  What possible meaning could his life have?  I always wondered what awful thing he could have done to deserve such punishment, until I overheard Pappa Ripper telling old cousin Head-Stomper that Dixon was a pacifist, an atheist and a…vegetarian (whatever that was) and worst of all, he had NEVER murdered a baby in his whole life… actually refused to do it!!  Eeeeew!  What a Freak!

***This image and short story can be found on p.68 of our new book, “A Short Burst” a collection of flash science fiction.  It is 100 pages, 9×9 inches in size and packed with 64 illustrations and 73 short, intense stories.  You can find it (and buy it) on Amazon, but it is cheaper and easier if you go to etsy.com (search EEWbooks or just use the link in my website, above) you’ll find all my other merch: stickers, postcards and greeting cards as well as our other 3 illustrated books.  -Marsha