The Alien – short story, 1st draft

Howdy.  Another first draft of a short story, which means I had another idea, but I’m not sure how well it might work, which means I’m asking for the same fabulous help you’ve so generously provided in the past.  If you’re too busy, I understand.  Really, I do.

The picture is not significant, but I don’t like to post without one.

A few questions at the end, as if you didn’t know.

I hope it works, all 5,860 words.

Something to keep in mind – the bulk of this story is someone telling a story to other people.  That means I can take liberties with point of view and other things.  I still appreciate those who point out errors, but I have given myself a trap door through which to escape.  Also, it’s necessary.

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201009_ufo_japan

The Alien

As the mostly white-haired man closed a certain door to a small closet in the basement, the bright smile he already had turned into a different kind of special smile at the thumps of little feet running across the hardwood floor upstairs.  Before he could reach the steps leading upstairs, two girls and a boy stomped down to where they knew he was, thanks to tip from Grandma upstairs.

“Grandpa!” they cheered, two girls and a boy, as they nearly tackled the old man, and he knew enough to simply ride the happy wave until it knocked him into his worn rocking chair across from the special door high enough from the floor that the kids would likely never open it on their own.

“Tell us a story,” said the dark-haired girl.

“Tell us a story,” said the red-haired girl.

“Tell us a story,” said the yellow-haired boy.

Six wide, brown eyes grew slightly wider each second it took before he said, “Okay, okay.”  Then six eyes grew their widest to match three smiles as they each parked their butts on the flowery sofa across from the worn rocking chair and beneath the closet door that the man would occasionally give a slight glance.

“What story do you want to hear?” he asked.

“Something new,” said the dark-haired sister.

“Something new,” said the red-haired sister.

“Did I ever tell you how I invented trees?” Grandpa asked.

“You didn’t invent trees,” the yellow-haired brother said.

“How do you know?” said Grandpa.

“Because you’re not old enough,” said the brown-haired girl.

“Do you know how old I am?” he asked.  Each opened their mouth, but they all stayed silent.  “See,” he said.  “Maybe I am old enough to invent trees.”

“Last time you told us how you invented birds,” said the red-haired sister.  “Tell us something different.”

“Tell us something different,” said the brown-haired sister.

“Tell us something,” began the yellow-haired brother, “tell us something,” he paused again, and the old man studied him more closely.  “Tell us something – scary,” the boy whispered.  The two girls looked as if they were about to howl.  Their mouths dropped, and they looked at each other as if something scary had already been told.

“Something scary?” asked Grandpa.  Again, he glanced up at the small closet.  “Something scary.  I think I can do that.”

The girls clapped softly and exchanged anxious eyes, but the boy seemed as if he wished he had not asked.  The three children watched as their grandfather walked, slowly, to the dimmer switch and eased the recessed lights enough that they could still see but not enough to read a book.  Certainly not a scary book.

“Something scary,” he repeated.  “Okay, but there are rules to this story.”  The red-haired girl quickly raised her hand and slightly moved it left and right.

“I know, I know!  Raise your hand if you have something to say or ask!” she said, and her face reflected how proud she was to already know she was correct.

“That’s one rule,” he said.  “One more.”

“We can’t leave the room,” said the sister with brown hair, also smiling with the comfort of knowing she too was correct.

The old man looked at the boy who appeared to struggle with the third and final rule.  As they looked at each other with different expressions, the old man sharply pulled his knees together and made a face as if he had bitten into a lemon.

“If we have to go to the bathroom,” said the boy, “we have to go now?”

“Exactly,” said the old man as the brown-haired sister patted him on the back.  “Are we all ready?”

“Yes,” they all said.

“Good.”  He clapped his hands on his knees.  “The story starts about forty years ago, back when – ”

“Wait,” interrupted the red-haired sister.  “What’s the title?”

“There’s always a title,” said the yellow-haired brother.

“There’s always a title,” said the confused, brown-haired sister, “but it’s okay if this story doesn’t have one.”

“You’re right,” he said, leaning back in his rocking chair.  “I don’t have a title for this one.  In fact, I have never, ever told you this story before.”  Six eyes exploded.  “This such a new story that – wait – lean over here,” he whispered, and they all shifted forward, barely remaining in the sofa.  “I have never, ever told this story to anybody.  Not anybody, ever before.”  They fell back with six eyes that were stretched even more to the limits they had already been stretched.

The brown-haired sister cupped her hands around her mouth and whispered, “Not even Grandma?”

He looked towards the steps they had recently stomped.  “No,” he whispered.  “Not even Grandma knows this story.”  He looked at the stairs, but the darkness ensured the door at the top of the steps was closed.  “Ready?”

There were nods, and three faces that studied him. 

He began…

 

About forty years ago, long time ago, there was an old kind of a cabin in the woods on the side of a mountain.  Behind the cabin was a beautiful stream that carried the most amazing water, cold as anything, clear as anything, running down from the top of the mountain.  There was snow on top of the mountain all year ‘round, even though it was never really cold.  Something about the air around this mountain was just different from any other mountain you’ve ever seen or you ever will see.  The sky above this mountain was not the same color as you’d expect you’d ever see.  It was just a very different place.

One day, just a regular day, the door to the cabin opened, and out walked, well, let’s call him Bob.  So good ol’ Bob had his trusty weapon over his shoulder and did what he did most every day.  Go out and hunt for his food.  That’s the way it was back then, and on this mountain, might still be that way.  I don’t really know.  But there were no supermarkets like we have to go shopping.  If you didn’t hunt or grow your food, you didn’t eat.  Plain and simple.

Most days, Bob had the same path he usually took around the mountain, and he knew pretty much right where all the creatures were that he’d catch and take home for dinner.  He would eat the plants and fruits for lunch, but the critters were for dinner.

However, there was one strange day when there were no critters to be found.  He searched all morning and had plenty of berries for lunch, but all the holes and caves were quiet, and nothing was moving.  Nothing crawling, nothing flying, nothing creeping anywhere except Bob.  The longer he went without finding anything, the higher he was climbing up the mountain, figuring that the critters might have had reason to get up to higher ground.  So Bob also went up to higher ground.

As Bob reached a clearing, he looked up at the sun to get an idea what time it was.  But from this mountain, the sun was not yellow but more pinkish.  And the sky was not blue but kind of greenish.  I don’t know quite how to explain it other than that’s just the way it was.  But it didn’t concern Bob none because he was used to it.  It had been that way his whole life because he had spent his whole life on the mountain.

By the way, Bob never knew his mother or father.  Seems little ones on this mountain grow up very quickly.  It’s like they can talk just like a grown up when they were only two-years old.  Sure was a strange mountain.  And on this day, Bob had gotten as high as he had ever hiked up the mountain, and he noticed something very strange.

The sun was setting, and it seemed to be getting dark earlier than usual.  Either that, or Bob just lost track of the time, so he turned and headed back down the mountain because he figured there was just nothing to hunt on this day, so he was going to find more leaves and berries and then head home. 

Just as the sun was setting, gone over the horizon, strange lights appeared from over the top of the mountain.  Bright white lights that shone as bright as any sun he had ever seen, even brighter than Bob’s pink sun.  The lights scared him enough that he started moving a little faster, even faster down the mountain until it seemed as if the lights were following him.

Bob was kind of heavy, and he did not run very well, so he began to stumble and fall.  He hit the ground, and his face in the dirt and rocks, but then he remembered a cave nearby where he had searched for critters earlier.  He made his way into the cave, just enough so he could still peek out at the lights that shone from beneath a large, metal, shiny something that was floating down from the sky and crashing through the trees.

But the trees on this mountain were different from other trees.  These were not as big as the trees we usually see, but they were much stronger.  As the spacecraft hit these trees, its metal was ripped apart like paper.  When it crashed, it sounded like thunder, and there were flashes like lightning that lit up the sky like Fourth of July.

Bob watched, shaking and sweating, and waited a good ten minutes or so to see if there were any other explosions or a fire.  When it looked safe, he slowly made his way towards the craft.  There was smoke and some hissing noises, but not much else except some noises from inside that sounded like someone in pain.

Bob moved to where he could see through an opening in the side, and there was someone – or something – inside.  It was covered with some kind of silvery, shiny blue skin and had a large, shiny blue head that looked like a mirror.  He could actually see himself when he looked at the creature’s head.  It was moving slowly, and Bob saw how it’s arms and legs were very different from his. Smaller and thinner, and it scared him for a moment until he realized how weak the creature appeared.  Still, he remembered stories about visitors taking victims away, never to be seen again. 

Bob moved back and raised his weapon, but the creature did not seem to take notice and stumbled forward, its strange arms reaching out as if for help.  Then, it collapsed on the ground where it lay still.  Bob extended his weapon.  He poked at it.  It didn’t move.  He touched it carefully.  It was neither hot nor cold.  It was softer than he expected.  As he tried to figure out what to do next, something in the distance caught his attention. 

Lights and noises were coming.  Bob realized that others had heard the crash, but he knew those “others,” and he knew they were not nice people.  He feared they might want to kill this strange creature.  Bob, however, was peaceful and curious.  His instinct was to protect the creature, and he easily hoisted it over his shoulder.  It wasn’t until then that he realized the thing was lighter than he expected, and he carried it away quite easily.

His anxiety and curiosity made him move more quickly than ever, and he hurried around the craft and down the other side of the mountain.  He trekked through the trees until he and the creature arrived safely into the cabin.  He locked the door, placed the creature first on his bed but then on the floor beneath his bed.  Then he covered it to keep it warm.

Through the rest of the night, Bob sat where he could watch it, not daring to look away or leave it alone, not even when he remembered that he had not caught anything all day or eaten since lunch.  His stomach was yelling at him to get something to eat, and he decided to leave the cabin to pick some berries and leaves to hold him over for a while.  For safety, he took his weapon with him, afraid that the creature might wake up and find it.

While searching around for the usual things to eat, he saw something moving in the dark and remembered the critters that came out at night.  He started after one but then stopped when he heard someone coming.  Not just someone, but the group from before was coming with lights and their own weapons, and they did not sound happy.

Bob wanted to hide, but it was too late.  They had seen him and called out, “Hey, Bob.  Did you see that crash?”

“Yeah,” he answered.  “Did you check it out?”

“Sure did,” said the leader of the group, “but we didn’t find anything inside.  You see anything strange?”

“No,” said Bob, “but I’ve been looking around with this,” he held up his gun, “just in case I see something.”

“All right then.  Let us know if you see anything,” said the leader.  “I heard stories about them creatures from the sky, and we can’t let that happen to anyone.  If you see it, shoot first, don’t ask any questions.  Them things might have some powerful weapons with them.”

“I will do that,” Bob said.  He watched them march by as they moved in the opposite direction of his cabin.  He relaxed a little, then he headed back home.  But as he approached, he heard something inside.

He crept to the back of his cabin where there was an opening, a window, through which he could see inside.  It was very dark, and Bob could not see well even in daytime, but there was something about the creature’s shiny skin that allowed him to easily see it moving around inside.  He held his weapon ready, just in case, but the creature moved so quickly that he did not think he could shoot it even if he wanted to.

He watched as the creature reached up to the side of its head, touched something, and then soft, green lights were shining from its head.  Soft, laser-like flashlights were filling up the inside of Bob’s home, and then both the creature and Bob could see everything as if it were early morning, not too bright but bright enough.  Although Bob did not know why, he had a feeling there was nothing to be afraid of.  He decided to go inside and meet the creature.

What Bob forgot was that when he entered his cabin, he was still holding his weapon.  Although the creature did not know what Bob was holding really was a weapon, the creature could tell by the way Bob was holding it that it was probably something dangerous.  The green lights quickly disappeared, and then a red light appeared.  Bob looked down at himself and saw a red circle right in his middle, and he had a good reason to think it was a bad thing.

Bob looked up at the creature’s shiny head again.  Then he reached over and placed his weapon on a nearby table.  He held his arms apart and open to let the creature know he meant no harm.  The creature saw the arms apart and thought maybe Bob was going to grab him.  So the creature backed up.  It tripped over something and fell to the ground.  It was thinking that Bob would take advantage of it being on the ground, so the creature quickly leaped up.  Again, Bob found a red circle on him, this time on his face.  But the creature relaxed when it saw that Bob was sitting harmlessly in a chair.  Bob slowly lifted an arm and pointed at another chair.  The creature, being a little more than half the size of Bob, hopped up into the chair.  His legs dangled without touching the dirt floor, and he looked like a child compared to big ol’ Bob.

It was the middle of the night, and two beings from two very different places sat quietly, facing each other, neither sure of what to do.  Bob then did a very small thing that became a very big thing.  He looked at the creature, or the creature’s shiny, mirror-like head.  He raised one arm and moved it back and forth, just a little bit.  Then he smiled.  The creature sensed something from that, and it too raised an arm, although not the same number of arms as Bob.  The creature also smiled, but Bob could not see it.

Bob spoke to the creature, but the creature neither answered nor understood.  Bob, in his language, asked questions like, “What is your name?” and “Where are you from?” and “Are you hungry?”  But the only sounds from the creature were noises that, to Bob, sounded like the critters he hunted.

Bob slowly moved his arms apart again and slid from his chair.  He pointed at the chair and said its name.  He pointed at the floor and said its name.  Not knowing what else to do, he did the same for the door, a bucket of water, a cup, and his bed.  Bob imagined that back where the creature was from, it probably had far more sophisticated and complicated items than eating utensils.  He imagined devices that could allow him fly through the air or disappear and reappear somewhere else.  He avoided naming his weapon, deciding it was better to stay away from that but keeping an eye on it just in case.  After hours of this, Bob noticed something he had not noticed before.  The creature was just barely nodding its shiny head.  When Bob saw that, he too nodded with each item he talked about.

Bob had run out of things to name, so he started to name actions.  He jumped, sat, blinked, laughed, howled, sat, spun, pretended to sleep, and pretended to eat.  Then Bob pointed to his middle, somewhere below his head, and he named his heart.  The creature sat up more straight, and pointed at his middle.  On the end of one of the creature’s arms was something equal to one of Bob’s hands.  The creature put the hand against its shiny skin right about where Bob had pointed to his heart.  Instead of naming its heart, the creature pushed its hand right through its shiny skin, reached around inside, and pulled out a small, rectangular box.

Bob froze, his eyes nearly leaving his head as what seemed like the creature’s heart had just left its body.  The creature held the box out for Bob to see.  It was solid black except for what looked to Bob like red shapes of all kinds.  The shapes kept changing and moving around the box, but one thing stayed the same – a red dot that blinked and pulsed at almost the same pace as Bob’s heart.

The creature held out its arm to show Bob the box.  It pointed and touched the box, but there were no buttons or switches, just a smooth, black shape.  After a few more touches, the creature held the box to face Bob, and then something started.  There were more sounds, the ones like the critters Bob hunted, and more flashes of lighted and moving shapes that Bob could not understand but managed to enjoy because he knew it was the creature’s way of communicating something.

Bob then noticed among everything else that the blinking red dot was now blinking faster than before.  When Bob leaned closer to the box, so did the creature, until they each moved and stood side by side so they could look at the box together.  Bob had no idea what the box was doing, but he knew that just standing side by side was a good thing.

Bob noticed again that the blinking was going even faster than before.  There were also more dots.  Two, then three, then four.  He could tell it was important because the creature slowly moved the box closer to itself.  It started moving around the cabin, holding the box in different directions, left, right, left, up, down, left, right, and slowly focusing until stopping with the box aimed in one direction.

Bob kept up with the creature, easily able to see the box over its smaller, shiny head.  Now, along with the four red dots, there was also a bright yellow dot.  The creature touched the box, and then all of the dots moved to different places.  To Bob, that seemed to get the creature excited, but whether positive or negative was not clear.

The creature moved differently, more quickly, its arms moving along with the chirpy, critter noises.  It moved to the door, the window, another window, pointing and chirping.  Then it moved to where Bob’s weapon lay on the table.  For the first time during the night, Bob was getting afraid.  He thought about dashing for the weapon, but he did not move.  The creature pointed more emphatically at the weapon.  Before Bob could think more about it, the creature moved more quickly than ever and crawled to where Bob had originally placed him, beneath his bed, where it pulled things closer to cover itself.

That’s when Bob’s door opened.  It was the group he had encountered before.  The creature listened but did not understand as the group leader asked Bob, “You see the thing?”

“No.”

“We’ve been tracking it, and we think it’s in the area.”

With that, Bob picked up his weapon from the table.

“You should come with us,” said another.

“It’s not safe,” said another.  “The thing could be anywhere.”

“Please,” said the leader, his voice stronger than the others, “this is serious.”  His weapon clicked to a ready position.  “Come with us, now.”

“You take care of them,” said Bob without taking his eyes off the leader.  He clicked his own weapon.  “I can take care of myself.”

As Bob and the leader stared each other down, neither was certain what the other really meant to do, but neither was going to take a chance.  The group backed out of Bob’s cabin.  The leader slowly shut the door.  He faced Bob as long as he could until the door was between them.

Bob rushed to the door.  He locked it, although he knew the lock would barely keep a ghost out.  It wasn’t another ten minutes until the creature crawled from under the bed.  He held out his small, black box and showed the lights to Bob.  The four red dots they saw before were moving from the middle of the box towards the top.  Then they disappeared, leaving only a bright yellow dot in the middle.  Bob understood the red dots, but he did not yet understand the yellow one.

The creature with nimble little legs ran to door.  It turned his shiny head towards Bob.  He moved his arm, one of his arms, in such a way that Bob understood it meant to follow him.  He did.

Once outside, Bob found it even harder to follow the creature because of its size, quickness, and lack of color.  Its shiny, silvery skin reflected the objects around it, working as camouflage.  It tested Bob’s eyes and stamina as he hustled to keep up.  Occasionally, he could only search for the waving of branches that the creature had touched to know which way to go.

It stopped not just to allow Bob to catch up but to show him the black box and the yellow dot that was now even brighter than before.  The creature pointed at the dot and then at the sky above the mountain where its ship had crashed earlier that day.  Then it continued on as Bob did his best to keep up.

After what might have been several miles, the creature again stopped and showed Bob the box.  As before, the red dots were blinking and moving.  They were getting closer to the yellow dot.  The creature pointed up again, and this time there was an unusual yellow glow on the side of the mountain.  Bob realized there must be a connection, but he had not yet figured it out.

Again they ran, and again Bob had trouble keeping pace.  The difference this time was that the red dots on the box were getting closer to the yellow dot.  Each time the creature peeked at it, it seemed to run just a little faster.  They came upon where the creature’s spacecraft had crashed, but it was gone.  Bob did not understand, but he believed that eventually he would.

Ahead, the path up the mountain turned inward.  From that inward turn, Bob could see a glow bright enough that he would have thought it was something dangerous.  He also noticed how the creature’s shiny skin reflected the yellow glow and moved like a path of light up ahead. 

As the creature disappeared around the bend only a handful of steps up ahead, a branch from a tree hit the ground in front of Bob.  He stopped, looked around and behind him to see the group charging towards him on the path.

“Get him, Bob!” the leader yelled.  “Don’t stop!  Get him!”  Bob turned and charged after the creature, but for a different reason than the group approaching quickly.

Immediately after Bob turned the corner, he was nearly knocked over by the size, heat, and light from the ship the creature was running towards.  It was as large as some of the small hills that he had hiked while hunting.  It was as hot as the hottest days when the mountain streams were too warm for cooling off.  It was as bright as when his eyes first hit daylight on the day he was born. 

But as immediately as these things hit him, they stopped.  The air cooled, the light dimmed, and instead of a giant spacecraft, all he could see was a black space, like a door to nowhere.  In the blackness of the doorway stood the creature, facing Bob, halfway through the door and in far enough that half of his mirror-like skin reflected nothing but black.  Bob approached, and when close enough, the short creature reached up towards him with one of his shiny, thin arms.

“Go,” said Bob, in his language.  “They are coming, and they will hurt you.  Go!”

Before another word, a blast came from behind Bob and something flashed by and into the darkness of the doorway.  Bob turned, moved in front of the creature, and faced the group.  A spinning, whining sound began above and behind him, slowly increasing in volume and speed.

“Move aside,” said the leader.  “Don’t let him get away.”

“It isn’t dangerous,” said Bob.  “Just let him go.”

“If we have to shoot you to get him, we will.  Step aside.  I won’t ask you again.”

Before Bob could make a choice, a flash of light came from behind him and struck the weapon from the group leader’s hands.  Another in the group aimed and fired at Bob, striking one of his legs and bringing him down.  Bob rolled and turned to tell the creature to go.  He did not even open his mouth before another blast came from behind him and struck the creature’s shiny head, slashing the skin open and knocking it backwards into the dark doorway.  It closed instantly and disappeared, leaving nothing behind but the fading sound of what Bob assumed was the engine of the once bright but now invisible spacecraft.

“Traitor,” said the group leader.  “You are not one of us.  Never speak to us.  Never show your face around us.  Never ask for help.  Do not expect help with that leg.  It is your own fault you were shot.”  The group turned and left him there without another word.

It was a long time later, but how long was not clear because in Bob’s world it might have been years.  In the alien’s world, it might have been only days or even minutes.  Bob was hunting critters for his dinner.  His leg had been hurt badly enough that he could not move very well, and most critters escaped before he could catch them.  He had grown thin and his color had faded.  He got tired more easily and could not travel as far up the mountain as he once did.

Bob was resting on a large rock when he noticed how the trees nearby were shaped very differently than the others.  He realized it was where the creature’s ship had crashed.  It had been a long time since he had thought about the creature, especially thinking of when the creature’s shiny head was ripped open when one of the others shot him.  As usually, Bob said soft words to himself, hoping that the creature had survived his injury.

Bob was about to stand when an unusual but familiar noise distracted him.  Something machine-like was whining behind him.  He turned to see a black rectangle, like a doorway, through which the shiny creature had left and now returned.  Bob stood carefully, his leg wobbly, and he leaned on the rock to keep himself upright.  The creature saw this and rushed to his side.

It was then that Bob realized he had not touched the creature last time.  He was surprised to realize the feeling of its silvery skin.  Not soft but firm.  Not cold but warm.  The creature pushed itself against Bob’s weak leg, keeping him from falling over.  Then the creature reached up for one of Bob’s arms and placed the arm on its own shoulder to help Bob stand.

Without a word, Bob patted the creature on its head, but he pulled his hand away quickly after remembering when one of the group shot at the creature.  Then Bob noticed the creature’s head was as smooth and perfect as before.  There was not a mark on it, and it was as perfectly reflective as he remembered.

Slowly and carefully, the creature helped Bob back to his home, the same cabin in which they had spent hours attempting to communicate a long time ago, if it really was a long time ago.  Once inside, Bob sat on the same chair, which was in the same place.  The creature also sat in the same chair, which was in the same place.  As before, they watched each other with a wanting to understand.

The creature, like before, reached inside its silvery skin and pulled something out.  This time it was a small container, no bigger than one of Bob’s fingers.  It handed the container to Bob.  He opened it.  Inside was a clear liquid that appeared no different from what flowed in the mountain streams.  The creature moved its arm as if to mimic what Bob would do if he were to drink something.  Bob looked in the container, at the creature.  Although Bob had no idea what kind of mouth the creature had, or even if it had a mouth at all, he had complete trust and drank the liquid.

There was a warmth inside him that flowed from his middle to all parts of his body.  There was an extra warmth around Bob’s injured leg.  He looked at his leg, not the same number of legs as the creature, and stood.  He felt no pain.  Bob stomped, jumped, and danced back and forth.  Still, there was no pain in his leg.

When he looked up again at the creature, it was putting the container back inside its skin.  Then, like long ago – although it was still unclear how long – he pulled that black box from his insides.  Like long ago, there were red and yellow dots.  But unlike long ago, the creature did not encourage Bob to do anything.  Instead, it moved to the door.  It peeked outside.  It turned, waved, and left.

Although Bob could now move better than before, he could not get to the door fast enough to see the creature again.  Not that day.  It was gone.

The end.

 

The three children sat, mouths open, taking a moment to realize that “The end” meant that the story was finished.  The brown-haired sister raised her hand.

“Rose,” said Grandpa, “you’re not in school.  You don’t have to raise your hand.”  She lowered her hand.

“Can you tell that story again?” she asked.

“Maybe another day, unless I get too old and I forget it.”

“Can I have a pen and paper?” asked the yellow-haired brother.

“Why do you need a pen and paper?”

“Because I want to write the story down in case you forget it.”

“Why didn’t Bob go to the store for food instead of hunting animals?” asked the red-haired sister.

“Well, Kate,” said Grandpa, “there are places in the world where there are no stores.  Not everyone can go to the supermarket and buy cookies and cereal and bread and frozen pizza.  Some people out there have to catch and cook their own food.”

“Do you mean like colonial times?” asked Kate.

“Yes, exactly, like colonial times.”

“But you’re not old enough to have lived in colonial times.”

“Not me, but other people,” said Grandpa.

The basement door opened and a voice called, “Kids!  Grandpa!  Do you have any idea how long you’ve all been down there?  Dinner is ready.  Get yourselves up here and eat.”

Grandpa smiled.  “You heard your grandmother.  Get upstairs, and don’t forget to wash your hands before you sit at the table.”  They hopped off the sofa and made their way upstairs, each with their own smiles, and each with their own reasons.

Grandpa slowed stood from his worn rocking chair, waited until the basement door closed, and stepped across to the closet door above the sofa where the children had sat during the story.  He reached up, opened the door, and pulled something out.  Then he grabbed a small handkerchief from his back pocket and, as he had been doing before the children arrived, he continued to polish his trophy, his most prized possession.

When he finished, he returned his trophy to the closet and angled it perfectly.  Then he placed the handkerchief inside the closet.  He looked at it, specifically at the shiny, mirror-like surface of his helmet.  On the side, as it was decades ago, was the blue and white logo for NASA.  Across the top was the only part that was not shiny.  Instead, there was a gash.  It was only a few inches long, just as long as the scar across the matching side of his head.

He closed the closet and smiled.  As he turned towards the stairs, he stopped abruptly as he did not realize the blond-haired brother had returned from upstairs.  The boy looked up at his grandfather, reached up with a thin arm, and held his grandfather’s hand.  Then they walked up the stairs together.
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Question 1:  Once you got to the end, was the description of the helmet in the special closet enough to convince you that the story was true, just with roles reversed?

Question 2:  At what point – if any – did you suspect that the “creature” was really the human and “Bob” was really the alien?

Question 3:  Was I successful enough – for a long enough amount of time – to keep you convinced that the “creature” was the alien and “Bob” was the human?

Question 4:  I assume the names and/or descriptions of the “group” and “group leader” probably need adjustment.  Do you agree, or did that not matter or affect you?

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16 thoughts on “The Alien – short story, 1st draft

  1. I’m not sure if I’m competent enough to answer your questions in order. I’m almost afraid to admit I never caught on that Bob was the alien. I was confused as to why he had a NASA helmet with a hole. I didn’t see, until the questions, the relation of the helmet to the story.

    See how I can doubt of my competency to answer your questions?

    It’s almost ironic when I say “I was such a clueless child” because, let’s be honest – the tense of the verb needs to be changed. Or adapted. I was a clueless child, and I am a clueless adult as well…

    I enjoyed the story. I loved your voice throughout. And now it makes sense why Bob never knew his parents or why he was instantly grown up!
    :)

  2. here’s what i think – it isn’t that you never caught on. it’s that i wrote it clever enough that i didn’t let you catch on. i’m going with that version. thanks very much for reading through all that. it will need some revising, pretty sure. and thanks as always for your kind words and your willingness to help.

    • i’m glad you were going along until the very end. that’s a good thing for me. i’ve been looking for the “it’s” but can’t find it. dangit. i better go to the MSword version and find it. thanks very much for reading and going along for the ride.

  3. Hi Rich, it’s part of a writers craft to deceive the reader-as you well know. The deception is what makes the story all the more enjoyable. Look forward to reading the final version, that is if you are intending to publish here.

  4. 2nd paragraph of the story: But there were no stores or anyplace.

    This is problematic because you introduce to early the idea of spacecraft: As the spacecraft hit these trees, its metal was ripped apart like paper.

    1: Yes, it is a good start. There likely needs to be a little more build up but the mystery is there.

    2: Actually the description of the landscape was the first clue. But the description of the ‘creature’ was the next.

    3: POV is funny, since you were telling the story from Bob’s point of view in the main, the ‘creature’ would have been the alien.

    4: I don’t know, for the purpose of the story they don’t really need that much expansion.

    • i wanted there to be an idea of a spacecraft, but i also wanted to convince you that the spacecraft was “other worldly” and bob was “earthly.”

      as for the landscape, i wanted it to be earthly in description but with small hints – like the different colors – small hints that were other worldly. same with the creature – make him seem other worldly when really he was earthly. describing his space suit as if it were alien to us but really, it was just what our astronauts would wear. shiny suits and shiny “head” which is really a helmet, but we don’t put that together until Grandpa takes the helmet out of the closet.

      as for POV, i intended to have a small moment in which bob and the alien talked about all that had happened, and this would allow grandpa to know both POV and allow him to tell the story. i did not put that part in but need to go back and add that.

      thanks very much for such careful

  5. Great story and story telling expertise.So the story was all about NASA expeditions to another inhabited planet was it? I however remain unclear about how Bob, the alien, was hunting critters which seemed to ‘behave’ like humans? Was it that there were human habitations on the planet? Also the alien world and life-style seemed to be pretty primitive and hark back to our own hunter-gather days.

    Shakti

    • yes, a NASA expedition, exactly. and yes, Bob was hunting “critters” that did not necessarily behave like humans, but the sounds and language of critters were just as foreign to Bob as the language of the human. in most cases, if we hear a foreign language, we can’t decipher that any better than what a dolphin might “squeak” out.

      also, yes, the alien lifestyle was very primitive compared to human life and did seem like hunter-gather days. exactly.

  6. Question 1: Once you got to the end, was the description of the helmet in the special closet enough to convince you that the story was true, just with roles reversed?
    ANSWER: Haha, first nothing could convince me of such a thing. However my own personal skepticism put aside, it seems to me that the helmet was a piece of something real put into a tall tale.

    Question 2: At what point – if any – did you suspect that the “creature” was really the human and “Bob” was really the alien?
    ANSWER: I suspected that bob was the alien, because of two things. First from the title “the alien” I gleaned that the alien may b the center of the story, rather than the discovery of “aliens”, plural. Second towards the beginning where children can talk at a young age. I suspected something..

    Question 3: Was I successful enough – for a long enough amount of time – to keep you convinced that the “creature” was the alien and “Bob” was the human?
    ANSWER: You were not unsuccessful. There was a lot of imagery that was distracting enough. Also, in trying to get my footing on the concept of the story I was amply convinced for a reasonable amount of time.

    Question 4: I assume the names and/or descriptions of the “group” and “group leader” probably need adjustment. Do you agree, or did that not matter or affect you
    ANSWER: I do think the names need adjustment. To me they feel a bit.. forced. But in the larger scheme of things, not incredibly significant.

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