Friday flash fiction – Reptoid Aftermath

How did I end up here? Tell you what, pinkface. You catch me some of those rats over there, I’ll let you in on the deal. Make it snappy. I’m not much of a storyteller when I’m hungry.

Cough. Cough. Mmm. Yeah, these are some of those fat riverbank frekkers? You’ve got a good eye for verminflesh, kid.

Okay, okay. So lemme ask, how old are you? Fifteen? Sixteen?

Thirty? Really? Ah, well, you pinkfaces all look the same. Doesn’t matter how many orientation seminars they made us sit through, some of us just never learned the knack of telling you apart.

Whatever. So you probably remember what you were doing the day our ships arrived? No, don’t tell me your frekkin’ story. Why would I care? I’m talking about the ships here.

They were beautiful. Real works of art. Like snowflakes the size of Hawaii, dressed to impress. Glitter-crackle surfaces casting mosaic reflections of the oceans and forests and cities below. Sweet bass hum in D minor. We had a small army of psychologists work for eighteen months to maximise the impression on human senses.

What? Yeah, of course we believed in psychology. What, you think we were like the Xenu-botherers? We’re not all grifter cartels, buddy.

Huh? Yeah, I guess you’ve got a point there. We didn’t exactly play you straight, did we?

Anyway, what most people didn’t know was that the ships were just for show. We’d already been here for years, getting ourselves into positions of power, building networks of quislings and suckers. You know the drill. It all went according to plan – suborned governments were primed to accept the technological wonders offered by the visitors from the stars. Cures for cancer. Zero-emissions energy generation. Carbon-fixing nanofilters. Anything we thought you’d go for. Turns out you’d go for just about anything.

The Uprising? Soo-Ying Bronson and her rebel confederation? All our work. We ran most of the cells, and fed false info and pre-planned operations to any groups we didn’t control. Yeah, they had a few photogenic wins, blowing up this convoy and that state dinner. That was my job, you know. I was in Motivational Counter-Operations. I designed insurgent ops for the rebels, targeting any of our people who didn’t make their work quotas. Don’t worry, I made sure they always took out ten of yours for every one of ours. “More to eat for the rest of us,” is what we used to say.

Well obviously we were here to eat you. It’s our thing. Roll up to some likely rock covered in half-smart apex predators, smarm up to the table, and get stuck in. Preferably before atmospheric warming, anthropogenic or otherwise, makes the place uninhabitable.

We cut it frekkin close with you lot, lemme tell you.

Why didn’t we pen you up and farm you sustainably? Frek with that. Do I look like a rancher to you? Nope, eat and run, that’s our philosophy. We can live on vat-grown meat between planets if we have to. Most of us just hibernate until the ships find us a new feeding ground. Space travel’s boring.

What went wrong? I think maybe you can tell me, can’t you? Fine. If that’s the way you want to play it, I’ll speculate.

I think it was an engineered virus. I’m no epidemiologist, but from the contagion rate I think someone with a lab and an ethical blind spot probably modified something tropical and virulent. Influenza, maybe, but I put my money on ebola. It was a ballsy move, whatever it was. Could have wiped your species out. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

No of course we don’t have an expression like that. Do you see a nose here? No, you do not.

Anyway, whoever it was, it worked. Maybe thirty percent fatal, five percent immune, and the rest of you?

Inedible.

It wasn’t just that you’d introduced a contaminant that built up in our systems and gave us the reptilian equivalent of gout. You also tasted bad. Like frekkin’ foul.

We couldn’t get out of here fast enough. Well, some of us couldn’t, anyway. I was tunnelling with my DC crew planting high-ex charges under the Washington Monument, so I missed the bug-out signal. Just my bad luck.

I don’t blame them for leaving me behind. I’d have done the same to them. But I tell you, the sight of all those mirror-ball ninja stars disappearing into the night like an ass-backwards meteor shower brought a lump to my throat.

That was a joke. What, you don’t have a sense of humour?

I guess you don’t at that. You probably let that gun do all your laughing.

You must be one of those tracers I’ve heard about. Take it from me, it’s a dead-end career. I haven’t seen many of us around lately.

You using some sort of fancy molecular scanning tech, or do you just sniff us out? Oh? Not going to tell me? Not even as a professional courtesy?

Fine. I’m not really curious.

Well, thanks for the rats, I guess. This is the last one.

Can I at least finish my din—


My original plan for this story was to have it be a sequel to one of the great paranoid science fiction movies of the 1980’s, John Carpenter’s They Live. But in the end it owes much more to one of the not-greatest science fiction television series of the 1980’s, V. Because the Visitors from V, for all their glam stupidity, did have one outstanding low-key horror element, being their unappealing but visually compelling dietary habits.
If you liked this story, or others in this improbably-unbroken run of weekly flash fiction, I invite you to check out my newsletter. I’ll be putting out a *cough* special edition before the end of the year, with a very cool preview for something I’m Not Talking About Yet.

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