Ep and the Aliens

A Sci Fi Comedy by Rick Kennett

Ep and the Aliens

by Rick Kennett
* Website – https://rickkennett.wordpress.com/
* Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Rick-Kennett/e/B00G70GLBY

 

The static cleared for a moment and from the speaker came a human voice singing in Country & Western tones:

Like a Rhinestone cowboy

Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo

Then the massive sun-spot interference closed in again, choking off the stray reception.

The Communications Tech looked up at the Captain with its big purple eye. The Captain twitched an antenna and resumed its anxious shambling back and forth across the control room.

#

Ep Foster set the half empty wine flagon down beside him and closed his eyes to the noonday sun. It’d been hard work ploughing the fields that morning and, with the help of a litre of claret, he now felt so tired he could barely hear his radio blaring away beside him on the haystack. Anyway, for most of the morning it’d been spluttering with sunspot interference. The only intelligible thing that had emerged from the static had been, as Ep deemed it, some ‘fool report’ about a UFO sighting a few kilometres from the farm he was working.

But Ep didn’t care. Sleep was coming sweetly upon him, lulled by the radio as it crackled:

Like a Rhinestone cowboy

Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo”

#

The Captain stopped its compulsive shambling and, with what would’ve passed for a shrug on a human being, shuffled over to the ship’s Prophesy Computer. Its Operator jellied over and joined the Captain beside the machine.

Do you really want to use it, Captain?” it asked in a tone of dire warning. “Although this device can predict the future with keen accuracy, future events are best left undisclosed to mere mortals such as we.”

I know,” said the Captain and gave a heavy sigh through its blowhole. “But under the circumstances there seems to be no other way. We’ve been unable to communicate with our surface probe for some time now. There’s no telling how long this sunspot activity will continue. I must know what has happened to the probe and its crew. As we’ve discovered by monitoring this planet’s television transmissions, it is a hostile world where people can be assaulted, robbed, hijacked and murdered – and all before the first commercial break.”

Very well,” said the Operator with deep solemnity, and activated the Prophesy Computer.

Its speaker hummed into life and said:

Like a Rhinestone cowboy

Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo

The Operator blushed a dark shade of green, muttered something about sunspots and tried again. The speaker hummed into life and said:

First Prophesy: The probe will be successful in bringing back an alien life form.

Second Prophesy: Solar interference will damage the ship’s communications.

Third Prophesy: The alien life form will escape.

Fourth Prophesy: The Captain will kill the Communication Tech.

The Captain and the Operator stared at each other in amazement, eye cluster to eye cluster, then turned to regard the Com Tech still fruitlessly monitoring the static. Though the Captain didn’t particularly like the Com Tech – it was always arguing against the sampling of aliens from their native worlds and was considered an overly-emotional member of the crew – the Captain couldn’t see itself killing it, no matter what.

The computer is seldom wrong,” said the Operator.

It’s wrong this time,” snapped the Captain, and began shambling back and forth across the control room once more.

#

It came gliding over the tall grass of the meadow, looking as inconspicuous as a big brass floating thing could look in a meadow of tall grass. Busy sleeping, Ep Foster didn’t notice this apparition scudding in its silent flight toward him.

A few seconds later the object was hovering over Ep’s prone, snoring form. A sickle-shaped port leered open in its underside and a great golden claw descended. Yet still none of this did Ep perceive. He was having a strange dream about being a rhinestone cowboy riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo.

Then the golden claw grabbed. And Ep, sharp as he was, realized at once as he and his flagon of red wine went screaming skyward that something was amiss.

The First Prophesy had been fulfilled.

#

The Com Tech hadn’t heard the computer’s prophesies, so it was unprepared when the solar interference meter gave a great leap a second before the entire communication’s console overloaded, arced once, sparked twice and died.

Seeing this, the Captain’s pseudopods began nervously to tie themselves into granny knots.

The Second Prophesy was fulfilled.

#

In the ship’s specimen hold Ep, through an alcoholic haze, had realized his predicament. He’d been abducted by a UFO, purloined by a ‘fool report.’ He weaved over to the hold’s single viewport and saw below him the blue-green blur that was the planet Earth. Behind him the door to the hold opened, and in squirmed something rubbery and virtually shapeless. It oozed across to the centre of the hold, spreading a thick layer of sand in its wake. As it did this it manifested from its being a wasp-shaped bottle of black, fizzing liquid, a cardboard cube of flavoured milk and a block of coloured ice on a stick.

Ep took one look at this fare, took another look at what had served it, took up his wine flagon by the neck and emptied it down his throat.

According to your television transmissions,” the Thing warbled, “this is the staple diet of humans. Unfortunately we cannot provide the tumbling surf, the perennial sunshine or the fondling females which appear to be an integral part of the ingestion milieu of your species.”

Now Ep was not by nature a violent man. But charged as he was with pure panic and fortified with the courage of the grape, he swung his flagon at what seemed to pass for the Thing’s head. It hit with a rubbery thump. The being reeled back against the wall, sagged to the deck and lay there deathly still.

Fear faded momentarily as Ep was stung by a stab of remorse at what he had done, at the thought that he may have killed it … whatever it was. Then panic reasserted itself and overwhelmed all else. In his drunken, fear-ridden state he staggered from the specimen hold, heading for he knew not where. And all the time, in the calm eye of the claret-red hurricane spinning in his brain, a part of him was wishing he was a rhinestone cowboy riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo and not a plonk-sodden farm hand rushing headlong through someone’s fool report.

Back in the specimen hold the rubbery, virtually shapeless Thing was stirring as it regained consciousness. But by then it was too late.

The Third Prophesy had been fulfilled.

#

Careering through the corridors of the ship, Ep met with the Communications Tech.

Ep screamed.

The Com Tech screamed.

They turned and ran in opposite directions, the Tech slamming into a nearby door, Ep (tripping over his own feet) slamming into a nearby floor.

The Com Tech peeled itself off the door and turned to scuttle away. But on seeing Ep sprawled knocked out on the deck it decided, in a spasm of pity, to help the Earth creature which had been so unceremoniously wrenched from its home world.

The Com Tech had been carrying the transmitter unit, its electronics fused with choking solar interference, to the disposal chute. With deft claws it removed the transmitter’s innards and gently stowed the awakening form of Ep Foster inside the housing.

Before the lid was closed over Ep he managed to slur, “I hope I didn’t hurt that thing in the room. I’m sorry about that, I really am.”

The Tech smiled a reassuring smile, though the ghastly display of fangs only made Ep faint again.

#

The Captain came bouncing up the corridor, blaster in claw.

The Earth creature has escaped! Have you seen it?”

Yes, Captain,” said the Com Tech in a forthright manner. “I helped it escape.”

You what?!” The Captain flashed magenta in anger, raised its blaster … then, remembering the computer’s Fourth Prophesy, lowered both the weapon and its own temper. “Never mind. It wasn’t a very intelligent specimen anyway. For one thing it wasn’t running wildly about on a sun-drenched beach which their transmissions clearly show is their natural habitat. And for another …”

The Captain stopped suddenly as it caught sight of what was happening outside a nearby viewport. A large, metallic object with an anti-grav unit firmly clamped to its side, was emerging from the disposal chute exit, heading along a flat trajectory which would eventually land it safely on Earth.

What is that?” the Captain demanded.

That, Captain,” said the Com Tech, smiling, “is a wine-stoned plough boy, sliding out with remorse in a star-strangled radio.”

The Fourth Prophesy was finally fulfilled.

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