I’ve always excelled at comedy, which is one of the reason it’s been my genre of choice. I also enjoy making people laugh. Humour isn’t everything though, curiosity can be a powerful motivator. Science Fiction has always taken a close second in my heart.
Sci-fi is hard sell in the world of film, due to higher budgets. With prose, budget isn’t as much a concern. “Illegal Alien for Sale” is the kind of story I would die to make into a movie. The title is a harsh play on words, especially in today’s political climate, but once you start reading, you’ll find your expectations disrupted.
Illegal Alien for Sale
The droop droop droop sound of brewing coffee accompanied the echoes of a sharp musical concerto that resonated through the cavernous space. Within an open concept kitchen, large enough to service a small ballroom, stood a short stalky man in read silk pyjamas He waited patiently in front of his steaming coffee mug; the red liquid brewed from authentic martian coffee beans, had the man mesmerized. His name was Aaron Templeton, and he delighted in savouring in all the small pleasures this world had to offer. With computer tablet tucked under one arm, Aaron reached out for the mug with the other.
Aaron, navigated the museum that was his personal residence. Deep red light beamed through a broad set of windows that stretched along the length of Aaron’s home. The sun was setting over Mars’ endless horizon, as well as the humble city of Santa Aries. Artifacts that decorated his home cast haunting shadows in a bath of scarlet.
He had purchased the mansion from it’s original owner a decade or so back. The residence was once occupied by the very same architect who had conceived of it, Jonathan Crowley. Aaron had considered him to be an eccentric man, with a stark fear of the unpredictable. To say the mansion was safe and secure, would be a grave understatement. For a man like Aaron – who loved to tease fate – this mansion served as the perfect lair.
A man of endless curiosity, Aaron relished in the bizarre and more so, the rare. His collection was an endless work in progress. He collected rare tools, antiques, art, minerals, and pieces of technology that were either near impossible to acquire, or had been overlooked by less sophisticated minds. Coming from a mining background, he had a soft spot of old mining technology, which made up a hefty portion of his collection. His treasures transformed an otherwise straightforward piece of architecture into an alien maze.
In the centre of the maze, there was a circular clearing, roughly fifteen feet in diameter. Around the perimeter of the clearing, resided a horseshoe shaped leather couch. The natural green leather contrasted the red of the setting sun. A round quartz coffee table sat directly in the middle of the clearing. A circle within a circle. Set on a platform, perched atop the the centre of the table, stood a short and peculiar silhouette. Fading sunlight glimmered in four large reflective eyes.
Aaron, mug in hand, raised a toast to the stout being cast in shadow. He set down his mug of joe on the table and took a seat; his red pjs were set aglow while enveloped in martian sundown.
Aaron leaned back and scrolled through news articles on his tablet. Investments were now open on infrastructure for the new “aerial” colony being constructed in the upper atmosphere of Neptune; Aaron bookmarked that one. The next article brought a sly grin to his face. The demand for silver was steadily climbing. Space navigation systems had become increasingly more sophisticated, requiring the sharpest and most accurate of calculations to keep up with speedier propulsion engines. Copper circuits were being phased out in favour of finer silver circuits. Aaron and his company “Quicksilver Inc.” had claims on the richest silver reserves, both on Mars and throughout two quadrants of the Astroid Belt.
The man chuckled to himself. He set the tablet down on the couch beside him. He reached forward and took his coffee mug in hand. The smooth nutty flavour melted in his mouth; just as strong as Earth beans, but not nearly as bitter. His gaze fell away from his steamy cup of ecstasy and onto the odd shaped silhouette perched atop the table. He could swear that the creature was staring down at him, but he knew better. Death had found the critter, weeks earlier. It was just another stuffed animal, to the unappreciative mind it was. To Aaron, it was the find of a life-time.
The dead alien on display was humanoid, more akin to the proportions of a human child of eight or nine. It had smooth lime-green skin and scales atop it’s head. It’s torso lacked a ribcage or sternum. Beneath it’s silky skin was a rubber-like exoskeleton that lined it’s entire body from head to toe. The creature lacked the traditional earthling skeleton of a vertebrate. It’s limbs were thin but also stubby. It possessed four silvery eyes and a short snout for a mouth. Aaron couldn’t help but wonder how such a pitiful looking little squirt, such as the one that stood before him, could be a member of one of the most powerful species in the galaxy.
To his knowledge, this preserved alien was the only member of his species, dead or alive, to be found in our solar system. They had all left, ever since the incident, weeks earlier. How this specimen, that Aaron nicknamed “Gumby” came into his possession, had been somewhat of an accident. An act of God, if such a thing existed. Gumby had been a ambassador of sorts. Its species, the Tria-Ong, had arrived on Earth for a conference; their goal had been the negotiation of trading terms with the Greater Humanitarian Alliance. If the coffee hadn’t left a bitter taste in Aaron’s mouth, the thought of the Alliance certainly did. Aaron worked outside the system, most self-respecting businessmen did.
The negotiations had never come to pass. Gumby’s shuttle had been re-routed by a false message drafted by a hacking network. As well-connected as Aaron was, information on the exact course of events was hard to come by, even harder to differentiate fact from conjecture. What he did know, is that Gumby’s ship had been intercepted two hundred miles from the conference centre. A group known only as “God’s Revolution” had kidnapped the unsuspecting delegate and held him for ransom. The Tria-Ong refused to co-operate, leading to Gumby’s execution. Without complaint or demand for justice, the Tria-Ong egressed from our solar system, completely breaking off communication. Aaron couldn’t begin to understand the inner workings of an alien species’ mind, but the complete display of indifference by the Tria-Ong puzzled him. There was a silver-lining though; the incident left behind a prize, one that went to the highest bidder.
Aaron beamed up at his little alien trophy. Gumby had cost him a fortune, and required the breaking of countless laws, Earthen and Martian alike. Fortunately, Martian misdeeds tended to go unnoticed. All eyes were on Earth, while Aaron’s eyes were always on the prize.
He peered out the window, darkness had fallen over the peaceful city of Santa Aries. Aaron would not admit aloud, but he loved the city below. It’s citizens had a spirit that he appreciated; they couldn’t care less about politics or bureaucracy. They did as they pleased, ventured where ever their hearts lead them. There was a sweetness to their rebelliousness. Sweetness. Sweet. Something felt off. Aaron sniffed at the air. A sweet smell filled his nostrils. A scent reminiscent of watermelon, only more poignant. He breathed it in deep; it was both pleasant and alarming. He leaned towards the window, and the intensity of the odour decreased. He leaned away from the windows, into his lodging, and the scent waned. It was only when he leaned forward, towards good old Gumby, that he found it’s source. His new best friend smelled as sweet as cherry pie.
Aaron laughed out loud at the bizarre circumstance he had found himself in; what an odd smell. His laughter filled the room, followed by a cough, followed by a wheeze. He leapt out of his seat and moved away from the creature and deeper into the maze that was his home.
His breathing began to ease and level out. He peered over to the frozen figure of Gumby. An itch seized him, and he scratched his face in response. The itch intensified. He rushed through his jungle of artifacts, knocking over the occasional item.
A marble walled palace of a rest room, met a panicked Aaron Templeton. He rushed over to the sink and peered into the mirror. His face was beet red, his veins protruding outwards, inflamed. His eyes glazed over with a viscous goo. He splashed water over his face, and it burned like acid. The sensation ripped through his mind.
Aaron spun toward the far end of his washroom. Tucked between a vaulted wall and a towel chest, was a tall medical kiosk. The kiosk was a permanent installation that hailed back from the original construction of the estate. The original owner and architect of the estate, Jonathan Crowley, had been a bit of a hypochondriac. He installed a state-of-the-art medical kiosk in an attempt to cheat death. In the end, high blood pressure and a heart disease had sealed his fate.
Aaron took a seat before the kiosk’s display screen. He booted it up, carefully followed the prompts, and placed his hand, palm down, on a metallic panel. The warmth from the panel trickled through Aaron’s shaky hand and up his arm. With eyes frozen on the display, Aaron read out the diagnoses.
“Unknown pathogenic mutagen detected. Cellular membranes of multiple tissues show signs of a viral breach.”
He continued to scroll through the results he could only partially interpret.
“Reproductive systems have been compromised. Gene integrity compromised, complete infertility in offspring predicted in third or fourth generation of subject’s future lineage.”
Aaron scratched at his irritated skin as he struggled to comprehend the nature of his predicament. As far as he could gather, future generations of his off-spring would become infertile, unable to have children.
The computer kiosk inquired.
“Would you desire an anti-inflammatory agent administered to your person to relieve your discomfort?”
Aaron clicked on the yes icon. He felt a cool sensation rush through his hand, from the metal panel. The sensation traveled through his body, followed by a tingling and numbness in his nerves. He peered back into the mirror. His symptoms had subsided considerably.
He was just beginning to embrace his new-found feeling of calm, when an alarm rang out from a speaker built into the side of the kiosk. The screen issued a warning.
“Pathogen self-replicating. Airborne organisms detected. Subject is source of airborne pathogen. Repeat, subject is source of mutagenic contagion. Initiating quarantine. Lockdown in process. Authorities have been notified. Quarantine in process.”
Aaron realized, he himself was that said “subject”.
Jonathan Crowley had been more than a hypochondriac, he had been down-right paranoid. He had installed a full-service medical initiative into his own place of residence. Something meant only for a high security medical facilities.
Aaron caught a whiff of another foreign odour, something bitter in the air. He peered up at the vent on the ceiling, he heard a hum resonating from it. He raced for the door.
In a mad panic, Aaron ran full-stride through his self-made maze. The bitter stench met him at every turn. He tore through anything that stood between him and the exit. For the sake of his very life, no sacrifice was too large.
Through blurred vision and scorching fever, Aaron caught the sight of Gumby out of the corner of his eye. In his drug distorted perception, Gumby had taken on the image of a menacing little gremlin, phasing in and out of reality in sync with the blinking of Aaron’s swollen eyes.
He forced Gumby out of his mind as he fought to remain conscious. Falling limp, Aaron slammed hard against the thick mahogany doors that lead out onto the front porch. With laboured effort, he slapped the palm of his hand flat against a panel beside the door. Instead of releasing the lock, a digital voice echoed through the house.
“Quarantine is in full effect. Threat is contained. All exits within the vicinity have been sealed. Authorities have been notified.”
Aaron leaned heavy against the door. All the illegal “treasures” he collected over the years faded in and out of his failing vision. “Authorities have been notified”, rang through his mind.
The room began to spin. Aaron fell to his knees, all he could focus is vision on, was his collection, his legacy… Legacy. The word pierced through his consciousness. His eyes scanned the room, until he found what it is that he was looking for. The moment his eyes fell onto that cherished object, he knew what he needed to do. He crawled on hands and knees to the machine’s display case. With all the strength that he could muster, he pushed full-body against the case causing it to topple and shatter. Lying flat on the ground before him was a “high-pressure chamber jack”, a near ancient device once used in mines to unseal wedged doors. He grabbed ahold of the heavy device and dragged it across the floor and over to the door.
Aaron managed to slide the two thin lips of the device into the crack of the door. With the flip of a switch, the two lips separated at lightning speed, causing the door to burst open, as splinters of wood rained down on Aaron, penetrating his skin like needles. With blood trickling down his body from multiple tiny wounds, Aaron managed to crawl out through the door onto the porch, and into the fresh air. He lay panting on his front porch; he drew in deep breaths. After a moment’s rest, he fought his way to his feet and slowly descended the stairs.
Santa Aries at night was a sight to behold. A clear starry sky that Earth could never rival. A structure of large transparent panels walled in the city to keep out the toxic native atmosphere of Mars. The air within the city was fresh, beautiful, and sweet. Aaron breathed in the air with a sense of rapture.
He sat at a lone park bench. Not too far from where he sat, at a nearby gazebo, a wedding party celebrated, mingled and danced. Music filled the sweet air. Sweet. The air had never smelled so sweet. The thought came and went, as Aaron pondered his circumstances, and grieved for an accomplished life that had become lost to him.
He thought about Gumby, he was sure the creature had been the cause of this. Somehow, it had done this to him. Its people had left its body behind. Were they so indifferent to the plight of one of their own? Why had they not retaliated? Aaron couldn’t piece things together, his mind was mush. He remembered how feeble Gumby had appeared. How could such a weak creature gain such prominence in the galaxy?
A young girl of ten appeared standing over him, it startled him. She mustn’t have been able to make out any of his wounds, as he slouched forward in shadow, his blood disappearing into the deep red dye of his pyjamas She looked down into his eyes and spoke.
“I like the smell of your perfume.” said the girl.
Aaron shrugged, not knowing how to answer. “Perfume?”
“It smells really sweet” the girl continued “Like watermelon”.
That comment sent a chill through Aaron’s body. The girl was drawn to the smell. He sniffed his own arm, the same smell given off by his stuffed alien Gumby. How does such a weak creature survive? The contagion creates infertility in future off-spring. The Tria-Ong left the solar system without contesting the crimes against one of their own. It all came crashing into place, within Aaron’s mind.
He looked about in stark fear and crushing guilt at all of the people innocently occupying the park on this warm and beautiful night. He condemned them all.
Aaron was no scientist but he figured, the Tria-Ong must have evolve a defence mechanism that allowed them to survive when faced with fierce competition and predation. A predator would kill a Tria-Ong, become infected by the mutagen, pass it on to their young, spreading the mutagen throughout it’s population. Generations later, the population would begin to suffer from infertility. No more young would be born, slowly leading to the extinction of the predator species. The Tria-Ong could stand by and watch their natural enemies rapidly die off without raising a finger. No wars, no mess.
A cold sweat swept over Aaron Templeton. Humanity was now that ill-fated predator species, all due to simple acts of greed. He laughed out loud at the irony of his situation. Aaron laughed and he cried. He breathed in the sweet air and remained silent. Aaron allowed the ambience of Santa Aries to sink in. All of a sudden, in a vast and endless universe, humanity suddenly appeared all too strange and all too rare. Aaron, through damp eyes, observed his collection, his brethren, and drew a sad smile.
You can learn more about the author, Chris Griffin, at About Me.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also like The Uncompromising “Hand of God”.
You can read more of Chris’s stories on Wattpad.