Love Potion No. 999

In this economy you’ve got to take the jobs you can get.

When I found out a couple of months ago that my new next-door neighbors weren’t just a bunch of loud, inconsiderate dirtbags, they were loud, inconsiderate dirtbags running an interdimensional speakeasy, I offered to tend bar.

Drunks are drunks, right? It can’t be worse than wrangling frat boys. And say what you want about your average alien menace from outer space, they always tip well.

I was getting my set-up ready for a hard night of drinking when Djik-lik, my manager, came bustling in. Djik-lik is a pretty good guy, all in all. I’ve certainly worked for worse.

“Jake,” he clicked, “We have a special request. General K’ll’t’rsk has come to celebrate his great victory over the Ooooooom armies this cycle. He says that tens of thousands of Ooooooom perished in a single battle.”

“He must be very proud.”

“He is. He has heard of your people’s ‘cocktails’ and insists on something very special for his celebrations.”

“Ok. What’s this General K’ll’t’rsk,” a bitch to say, but I was sure with practice I’d get it, “like to drink? We have Jello shots, but they won’t be ready for another hour.”

“He wants it strong, he wants it fast, he wants it blue to celebrate the blue sunshine of Pokrath, the world he has just subjugated.”

“How much is he willing to pay?”

“Like all T’rr’k, he’s a cheap bastard.”

“Gotcha.”

So I broke out the Blue Curacao and tequila, mixed up a couple of pitchers of “Sunset Over Pokrath,” and sent it on over. Continue reading

The 17-Year Harvest

The old farmhouse survived the first alien harvest. The world watched while the ships settled into orbit 17 years ago. There was no communication, never any communication. And the world waited to see whether they came in peace. The house in Kansas wasn’t home to any great scientist or military general. Just a farmer who’d grown up with a wide view of the stars.

The old farmhouse table was covered in astronomy books and tabloid clippings of the aliens. He picked his little girl up with his big, sunburned hands. Katie laughed and settled into his lap. From here, she surveyed the table like a little princess in a castle tower.

“Icky,” she declared, waving one of the pictures around in her little, chubby hand.

He laughed at her and his laugh was warm. It was so deep that it shook the little girl on his knee. That laugh, there in his lap, made her feel safe. Nothing could ever harm her there.

“Not icky,” he said. “I think they’re actually quite pretty. I know they look like bugs, but the scientists on the news think they’re really just like men once you get past their funny costumes.”

“Icky,” she repeated matter-of-factly, as though that was the definitive word on the subject.

He laughed again and took the picture away from her.

“I’m sure it seems that way now,” he said in that manner of patient fathers everywhere. “But you’ll grow up in a world full of aliens. How great will that be? And they’ll seem perfectly normal to you by the time you grow up.”

She looked into his face with a five-year-old’s certainty that he was wrong. But some glimmer of childlike wonder in his eyes stopped her from saying anything.

“Just think of the things they’ll be able to tell us once we learn to communicate with them,” he said.

But that was before. Before the aliens stripped the world of whatever food and resources they could carry off in their ships. Before they left the cities in darkness and ruin and the remaining people in almost perpetual hunger. Continue reading

In Possession of a Mother’s Intuition

“I just don’t understand why you throw away all the scraps. You could make a stock, you know.”

Alethea grimaced as she tipped the last of the vegetable odds and ends from the cutting board into the trash, her back to the dining room. She closed her eyes. Maybe the woman would go away if she just waited…

“Did your mother not teach you how to make a stock? I can’t imagine that she would want to see you being so wasteful.”

Holding in a sigh, Alethea dropped the cutting board on the counter. She arched her back and pressed her hands in at the base of her spine to try to massage away the unending ache. The last trimester was wreaking havoc on her body, and the last thing she had any patience for was to wait out the ghost yet again. The woman could talk about nothing for hours; they had come to discover that more than once when they were trying to clear up from dinner.

But Alethea couldn’t bring herself to ignore the old woman. The old woman certainly never ignored her. Continue reading

Super Support Group

by Emily Mosher

The blood forms a red bead on my middle finger as the orderly withdraws the needle and squeezes. He dips a white strip into the drop and pops it into the reader with a click. The reader’s familiar whirr ends in a single beep and a friendly green light as I’d expected. Acceptable levels. But I must intervene when the orderly, who is new, makes no move to replace the used needle.

“You’ve got to discard that one, and get a new one now,” I say helpfully. When he looks skeptically at me, I smile to show him that I am a friendly and good patient and not troublesome.

“Oh.” He replies. “You’re the last one in my line so it doesn’t matter.” He looks down before he can see my face sour. This one is too lazy for safety, it seems. What would it matter to him if some Obuny Syndrome patient gets a contaminated needle?

I open my mouth to say something when the alarmed shrieking of a red, unsafe levels light sounds. I turn to the other line of patients across the cafeteria’s dining room. There, shirtless, braless, with a wholly tattooed torso and a Mohawk—bright blue this week—is Darvey. She is laughing, of course. Continue reading

Falling Feet First

Delicate silver wires formed leaves that wound into a basket. Plump berries oozed crimson juices that stained the wires and puddled on the stone table beneath it. The scent of ripe fruit permeated the air, begging for a passerby to pluck one from the bowl and pop it between lips.

The wall shimmered and a man with almond-shaped turquoise eyes, dusky skin, and long coppery hair passed through. Behind him, a boy with sandy hair and dull brown eyes followed him in, one hand clutching the trailing shirt hem, the other shoved into his mouth.

The man lifted the boy, setting him on one of the stone benches in front of the massive table. “Remain here and touch nothing. I shall return in a moment.”

The boy shoved his hand further in his mouth and nodded. The man studied him for a moment before stepping through another shimmering door that appeared in the wall. When the man passed through, the wall sealed behind him and glowed the same soft green as the other walls. The boy sat still for what felt like an eternity before he pulled his sticky hand from his mouth. He shoved himself to his feet, leaving a damp smear on the bench and looked around the room from his new vantage point. The floor looked like a dangerous leap away. Continue reading