Tagged: alien

Becoming More Human-like

Writing is many things, but maybe more than anything else it comes down to recording — and transmitting — the experience of seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. That’s the essence of “show don’t tell.” And it’s the essence of voice in your fiction.

Kent reflected on this, and on our process and all the different sets of eyes he’s looked out through, and formed the opinion that the act of writing has increased his capacity for empathy. For context, his workplace nicknames have included Spock, Data, and more recently, Sheldon. (His high-school nicknames were less flattering.)

He’s convinced that empathy has become easier for him, sometimes involuntary, and he blames it on the writing. It’s also possible that it’s just a symptom of getting older, or a side effect of spending so much time with someone as compassionate as Jen.

Writing is many things, but most of all it’s projecting yourself into another being. The reader has a keen nose for puppet strings, so the writer must cut them without the character falling limp. You can get away with a little pretending, a little imitating, but it won’t carry you far. To win the reader’s trust, your writing must contain the characters’ honest fears and hungers.

It ends up giving a writer lots of practice standing in others’ shoes. And if you’ve never had a nickname based on an inhuman creature devoid of emotion, you probably have a good head start!

My Brother Looks Like He Escaped

  • k-avataryour pisspot world’s sidereal shenanigans
  • Victory.
  • from a roadside zoo in Florida
  • governmental-seeming buildings
  • ten mile hike with a full backpack

My brother looks like he escaped from a roadside zoo in Florida, but it was actually a lab out in the desert someplace. No roads to it at all, just an airstrip and some governmental-seeming buildings and a whole lotta hot, gritty wind. My brother showed up there after a ten mile hike with a full backpack, thinking they’d offer him a job. Instead they put him in a cage. It didn’t hold him, of course. He even got his backpack back. Victory. Anyway, you’re lucky you didn’t put a scratch on either of us, because our mom gets pissed. She’d show up in the Obliteron and deorbit this sorry little rock, thus putting an end to your pisspot world’s sidereal shenanigans.

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Georg Examined the Creatures

k-avatar

  • walking on his hands
  • like the ribs of some petrified monster
  • offering his opinion
  • chasm deeper than the Grand Canyon
  • and I know it’s not the same thing

Georg examined the creatures walking on his hands. They were not insects, as he first assumed, for they were bipedal and wore tiny little helmets on their tiny little heads. He sat in the shade of his wrecked vessel, its superstructure jutting up like the ribs of some petrified monster. On the comlink, Driscoll was offering his opinion that it would take only a few days for mission control to locate them and send rescue. But Georg knew better. Their impact had gouged out a chasm deeper than the Grand Canyon, so unless Driscoll succeeded in boosting the comlink signal for interplanetary signalling, there was no way control would expect survivors and therefore no reason for them to send anybody. The minuscule beings had trekked up his arm. One of them pointed at his face and they turned around to run back toward his hand. “Oh, no no no,” Georg murmured, “don’t run away. I was hoping we could communicate.”

“I’m not running,” Driscoll replied. Georg had forgotten his comlink was open. “But I am glad to hear you’re willing to talk. We’ll have to rely on each other to make it through this.”

“Whatever,” Georg replied. “Hey, if we do end up marooned here, and I know it’s not the same thing you said but I think we have to face it, and if we are stuck, there’s something I think you should know.”

After several silent seconds Driscoll said, “Yes?”

“We’re not alone.”

Georg slowly stood and took one careful step, moving slowly so the crowd around him had a chance to get out from underfoot.

 

Bonus points for using them in order

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In the UFO’s Holding Cell

  • by jenlike a malicious genealogist
  • the fireflies’ sexual organs
  • with a jackknife
  • manners, gestures and physiologies
  • This was his sole fear

In the UFO’s holding cell, Kevin felt like a firefly in a jar, like the ones he spent his childhood collecting in the backyard. The alien scientist assured Kevin that he and his race came to Earth merely to study humankind’s manners, gestures, and physiologies. They had no desire to mate with humans, to tamper with their family tree like a malicious genealogist. The alien peered down with the same detachment Kevin had employed as a child while removing the fireflies’ sexual organs with a jackknife. This was his sole fear, that they would treat him the way he had treated those long ago insects.

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Hand-Drawn and Pale-Colored

  • by jendrawn and pale
  • clay alien bust
  • that’s gotta come first
  • made my teeth sweat
  • leg had healed so well

Hand-drawn and pale-colored stars decorate the clay alien bust that is the centerpiece of the exhibit. Hieronymus Warhol describes the sculpting process like this: “Inspiration — that’s gotta come first, before the clay is ever touched. I had this idea and it was so good it made my teeth sweat, or maybe it was the pain medicine that made ’em sweat. My wife Fiona told me I should stop taking the medicine once my leg had healed so well, but I didn’t listen to her. And it’s a good thing I didn’t.”

bonus points for using them in order!

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I Had Been Tracking the Missing Goats

  • by jenthey sup at alien tables
  • the missing goats
  • kiss the girls
  • “Bandits — Bandits! Bandits!”
  • water-gypsies!
  • the toothed circle of a reconstructed Stonehenge

I had been tracking the missing goats for almost 24 hours, ever since my sister ran from the barn screaming, “Bandits — Bandits! Bandits!” The trail led me here, to the toothed circle of a reconstructed Stonehenge on the lonely, windy Salisbury Plain. Who could have re-erected these enormous stones in a single evening? And then the answer came to me. Water-gypsies! Harnessing their intrepid water-moose, the lovely aquatic extraterrestrials could accomplish nearly anything. I sat on the cold, damp ground and leaned my back against one of the towering sarsen stones and waited for my chance to kiss the girls from another world. As for the goats? Well, I’m afraid to say that tonight they sup at alien tables. We shan’t be seeing them again.

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The Fee For Government Burial

  • by jenas smoking tears poured from his eyes
  • my mother was alive then
  • one extraterrestrial humanoid
  • furtive-faced little man in an oversize raincoat
  • The fee for government burial is ten dollars
  • with cars, refrigerators, a castle in Scotland

The fee for government burial is ten dollars,” said the furtive-faced little man in an oversize raincoat as smoking tears poured from his eyes and he exposed himself.

“Let me give you some advice,” Carlo said, “one extraterrestrial humanoid to another. Keep that thing covered or the earthmen will know that you’re not just an eccentric rich man with cars, refrigerators, a castle in Scotland, and all the rest.”

“Sorry,” said the furtive-faced little man. “In my grief I forget myself.”

“Surely you can afford the ten dollar fee,” said Carlo.

“I used to wealthy, years ago,” said the man, “but my mother was alive then. When she died, our money was cremated along with her body. And now I cannot even afford the government fee to bury my monkey.”

Feeling sympathy, Carlo slipped the man a tenner.

 

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2013 Holiday Prompt

In this special holiday edition, the stichomancy prompt phrases were all taken from Christmas carols. Jen and Kent both tackled the same set, with markedly different results. Whose do you prefer?

  • so lively and quick
  • dashing through the snow
  • he began to dance around
  • tis the season to be jolly
  • nine ladies dancing
  • when we finally kiss goodnight

k-avatarKent’s take:

“I forgot these things were so lively and quick,” Herb remarked, drawing a bead on one of the creatures dashing through the snow in the clearing.

“And I forgot they bite! Ow!” exclaimed Remmy as he began to dance around holding one boot up out of the deep drifts, a creature dangling from the toe.

Herb chuckled, prompting Remmy to ask him with some vehemence just what was so damn funny.

“Oh, nothing. Just, tis the season to be jolly, I suppose,” drawled Herb in reply.

Remmy shook the xenopod loose and stomped it, muttering about better times before the invasion. “I’ve had enough for one day. Let’s go get drunk at the Nine Ladies Dancing. I’ll buy.”

“Okay,” Herb said. “I’d like to see that sweet little barmaid again anyway.” Herb’s opinions on the invasion were slightly more mixed. “When we finally kiss goodnight, I’ll find out what those suckers on her tongue feel like.”

bonus points for using them in order!

 

by jenJen’s take:

My blind date with Bertram started out well enough. I found him to be so lively and quick-witted that I was able to overlook his unfortunate ears. I thought him quite galant when he offered to pay for dinner, but halfway through the meal he began to dance around in his seat like he had to pee. Then he grumbled at our waiter, “It’s winter, dude! Tis the season to be jolly well sozzled so you don’t notice the cold! Bring me a yard of Schnapps! And one for the lady.”

He finished his shots in record time, and most of mine, all the while telling the tale of a bachelor party he’d recently attended where there were no fewer than nine ladies dancing naked. I was unimpressed.

Bertram’s fate was sealed when he said to me, “Hey babe, when we finally kiss goodnight, I’m going to slip you the tongue.”

Horrified, I left him at the table and went dashing through the snow and wind all the way to the subway station so he couldn’t follow me home.

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Playing the Part of the Innocent Venutian Princess

  • by jenunbuttoning his Space Ranger pajamas
  • nearly vomited in terror
  • the tune was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • stuck in his eyebrows
  • and the telephone itself
  • dogs of all sizes and descriptions

Playing the part of the innocent Venutian princess who nearly vomited in terror at her first sight of an Earth astronaut, only to find herself strangely aroused by the alien intruder, Ibernia Patience reached out to her husband Frank Pax, unbuttoning his Space Ranger pajamas.

Venutian folk music warbled in the background. The tune was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but the lyrics were incomprehensible. Ibernia drew the now-naked Frank down onto a large pile of stuffed dogs of all sizes and descriptions. She brushed away a stray bit of fluff that was stuck in his eyebrows as he bent down to kiss her.

Just then the phone rang and Ibernia cursed both the thoughtless caller and the telephone itself for interrupting her play time.

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“I Knew I Should Have”

  1. by jenCharacter – Typhoid Stanley
  2. Setting – the caves of Neptune
  3. Object – scissors
  4. Situation – lost

“I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque,” muttered Stanley.

He peered through the windshield at the luminous blue-green walls surrounding the hoppercraft.

Mary sighed heavily. He knew what she was thinking. Another Typhoid family vacation ruined.

“I’ll ask where we are,” he said, and stepped outside. He stretched his tentacles and floobled over to the information kiosk.

“The Caves of Neptune Welcome You,” he translated the sign.

Stanley sighed and floobled back to the hopper.

“We’re lost,” he said. “That’s the last time we let Junior play with the scissors and the map.”