Illegal Aliens: The Science Fiction Collection Copyright © 2017 Toby Bain
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Welcome to Illegal Aliens: The Science Fiction Collection. Thanks in advance for taking the time out of your day to read this offering.
This is a collection of six science fiction short stories and probably the last for a while. Writing science fiction short stories takes a lot out of me. In the not too distant future the focus will be on novels. Why only six stories you may ask? Well, funny story. Well, not so funny actually. I had 14 stories slated for this collection but after a process of elimination and getting rather impatient, I decided to put the ones I thought were worthy of the collection. The other eight stories are on the back burner for a time to be determined.
Please note, as an indie writer I have a very small team of proofreaders and editors. They are great, but there may well be the odd mistake. However, there does come a time when you just have to publish. The great thing about eBooks is that nothing is set in stone. Mistakes can be corrected, stories edited. Therefore, if you come across anything, let me know and I will make appropriate corrections. These may not happen overnight so please be patient. Did I mention we’re a small team?
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The aliens were in the hotel car park, attempting to consume their human hosts, when the stranger appeared. He approached the open doors of the vehicle, an umbrella shielding him from the driving rain.
‘I heard a scream,’ he said. ‘You all right?’
The occupants of the car said nothing, did nothing, because they could feel nothing. When an Audian consumes a human host – a process they call assimilation – it causes paralysis of all functions. The stranger, unaware of what was going on inside the two humans, stood rooted to the spot.
This wasn’t what the two aliens – Shayne and Gadook – had planned. Not by a long shot. Assimilating humans backstage was always preferable to a live audience. So much for an inconspicuous entry into planet Earth!
In truth, the motion of events did not start in that hotel car park. They started two hours earlier. When Shayne and Gadook first arrived on planet Earth.
Once upon a time there was a portal. This portal opened for one week every five years, allowing two-way travel between planet Earth and planet Audia. For hundreds of years travel had been exclusively one-way – from Audia to Earth. This could sincerely be attributed to the portal’s location – tucked away in an isolated cave in the Scottish Highlands. Far too isolated for those lazy humans to discover.
The Audians had no such inconvenience, for their side of the portal was located in plain sight. Therefore, when the portal opened for its regular stint, a scouting craft had already docked in northern Audia, a short distance away from the bright particles of crystal blue light emanating from the portal entrance.
On this scouting craft, Shayne and Gadook went over the security protocols. Of course, the Visiting Officer didn’t let just anyone cross over onto another planet. Both Shayne and Gadook had taken the standard Earth Visitation Test (EVT).
Protocol dictated they check each other’s equipment before leaving the scouting craft. Gadook ran his hands over Shayne’s spindly body, checking her organic space suit for holes and ensuring her nanosack was secure on her back. Shayne did the same to Gadook, with a little less enthusiasm.
As they descended the scouting vessel, heading for the shimmering light, Gadook turned to Shayne. ‘I detect a problem with authority,’ he said in his native tongue – a smooth elegant dialect. ‘I remind you to remember your place during our visitation.’ Shayne ignored him, causing Gadook to roll his eyes. ‘A most mature reaction, Shayne. This will be a very long week.’
Gadook took pride in being an overly officious Audian, some would say a perfect foil for the reckless and instinctive Shayne. An observation neither would appreciate.
‘Focus, people, focus. This is big stuff you’re doing.’ The voice in their ears was that of Margon, the Tactical Operations Officer who remained back on the scouting craft. He worked alongside an assistant – Spira – who made a living following commands and repeating Margon’s orders.
‘Yeah, people. Focus,’ Spira said.
Shayne had ceased to listen, drawn in by the hypnotic beauty of the crystal blue tunnel, which shined like the placid lakes in the cities.
She was, however, aware enough to vaguely catch Margon’s command to enter the portal. In spite of the numerous things she’d been told by previous Audian explorers, there were two pieces of advice she recalled above all else: hold onto your protective helmet and remember that to get through the portal one must swim through it the light. Many an Audian explorer’s helmet had fallen off during transit to Earth, depriving them of the air they needed to withstand the journey through the portal. All that anticipation only to spend several days recovering from oxygen deprivation.
As they drew closer to the portal, Margon and Spira wished them farewell and good luck on their mission.
‘Remember,’ Margon said, ‘Audia expects success.’
‘Audia expects success,’ repeated Spira.
The first few paces inside the portal were on solid ground. Then the hard Audian rock gave way to a feeling of floating and being carried into a bright tunnel. She did the front crawl with one hand, the other planted on her helmet.
The next thing Shayne remembered was being slapped about the face and wrenched to her feet. ‘We have seven days,’ snapped Gadook. ‘No time to relax.’
She touched her head, realising her helmet was off. He read her quizzical look. Apparently, the helmet was lying safely inside the cave. It had fallen off during the final stage of the journey; when she decided to swim with both hands. Gadook had rescued it.
‘Guess I should say thanks,’ she muttered.
He escorted her to the edge of the cave before relinquishing her hand and racing ahead. The air was cool and crisp and had a similar consistency to their home planet.
She checked her spacesuit for holes, as the manual insisted. When she looked up again Gadook had vanished. She peeked over the edge of the cave. He had already made the short drop to the uneven ground below and was gesturing for her to hurry and join him.
‘Hurry, Shayne,’ he barked. ‘This isn’t a holiday.’
Shayne didn’t know much, but she knew this was no holiday. She also knew they were in the Scottish Highlands, a place with mountains, biting winds and one grumpy faced Audian.
She descended the lip of cave. At ground level Gadook was checking the comms bracelet on his wrist when a picture of Margon appeared.
‘We’re on the other side of the portal,’ Gadook said. ‘I’ll message again when contact is made.’
He checked the map mode on his comms screen, pointing through a small crevice in front of them.
Shayne didn’t think much of Scotland. Lots of rocks and dark water in which she could see her reflection, but little else. Where were the humans she’d heard so much about?
The crevice was a tight fit, even for the slim Audians. Once on the other side they began their trek up the mountainous slopes. Eventually they reached a clearing and Gadook pointed to a mobile home along a stretch of muddy shoreline. Signage on the front of the vehicle read Bill and Martha’s Nessie Watch. Gadook, unsurprisingly to Shayne, knew Earth languages. ‘That’s our assimilation point,’ he said. As they drew nearer, they noticed the front entrance was strewn with flowers.
‘Do humans usually throw flowers outside their homes like that?’ asked Shayne. ‘Makes it hard to get inside the front door with all those flowers there. And what does RIP mean anyway?’
‘It means we’ve encountered our first obstacle,’ snapped Gadook.
The recent death of Bill and Martha McMahon presented a problem. During the time the Audians had been coming to Earth, Bill and Martha had lived along the banks of Loch Ness, selling costume jewellery to tourists and swapping stories and theories of the Loch Ness Monster.
The couple also had another important function: they were the first port of call for assimilation. Now they were gone.
Shayne fell into melancholy. ‘What does this mean for my brother?’ she asked.
‘Wonder when you’d get round to talking about traitors and ghosts,’ said Gadook, reaching for his comms screen. Shayne swung for him and missed.
Though Margon was a veteran of previous explorations to Earth, he wasn’t much help with matters that weren’t already in the Audian rulebook. This was a unique situation. He hadn’t planned on Bill and Martha dying.
‘How about you find someone else to assimilate?’ Spira came up with the simple suggestion that stunned them into silence. For once she had come up with words of her own. Very good words.
They had to wait until sundown, so as not to get spotted by locals.
In the meantime, Shayne and Gadook stepped over the flowers and into the place that was once the home of Bill and Martha. It was small yet tidy, as if waiting for the couple’s return. A condolences book on the table contained a message. The home, with government permission, would remain beside Loch Ness for a year as a homage to Bill and Martha McMahon’s work.
There were photos dotted on the walls showing the couple with various tourists. The most valuable pictures seemed to be the framed photos ones set aside on the table. An inquisitive Shayne learned that the framed photos were of their son Martin McMahon.
Gadook could not understand her interest in the dead couple.
‘They were just vessels for our advancement,’ he said. ‘Nothing more, nothing less. A means to an end.’
To Shayne they were more than this. They presented a link to her missing brother and his fiancée. She wouldn’t dare tell Gadook, risk him calling Jorde a traitor again.
As the sun fell from the sky they left the small home. Shayne and Gadook made it under cover of dusk across the banks of Loch Ness to a hotel carpark not far away. Two humans were arguing as they prepared to leave their vehicle. Two watchful grey aliens hid behind nearby trees, waiting for their moment.
‘That human male is like you,’ said Shayne. ‘Always moaning and never happy.’
‘And that human woman is like you,’ retorted Gadook. ‘Always making frivolous comments about things that don’t matter.’
‘Seems a perfect couple to assimilate,’ Shayne commented.
‘At least we agree on something.’
The two grey aliens removed their comms bracelets, slipped an assimilation pill into their mouths and emerged from their hiding place, waddling over to the open doors of the car. On the passenger side, Shayne politely tapped the human female on the leg with a bony grey finger. Then she smiled, which seemed the right thing to do before something as intimate as assimilation. However, an Audian smile is a rather gruesome thing and the human female began to scream. That her politeness drew such a response annoyed Shayne.
Assimilation, the absorbing of one entity into another, was a uniquely Audian method of blending into any environment. Given that Shayne knew very little about anything, the assimilation process was understandably a scientific procedure beyond her comprehension. All she knew was that when she took an assimilation pill it gave her body the ability to permeate a human and control the host.
Scientists might say this is impossible. Audians would beg to differ. Just like that portal in the Highlands, humans have much to learn about science, themselves and their planet.
The major issue with assimilation is the length of time it takes: three minutes minimum, and, in particularly hefty specimens, upwards of ten. During this time the human host is paralysed and unresponsive.
‘I heard screaming. You all right?’
For several seconds the stranger stared at the scene, unable to know what to make of it.
‘We’re fine,’ came a reply. ‘My partner here is an idiot. I mean, she’s new to all this. She got overexcited.’
‘She’s overexcited? About staying in a hotel?’
‘I told you, she’s an idiot.’
The stranger walked away and Gadook attached his comms bracelet and looked across to the passenger seat. The human female was in a state of paralysis but he knew somewhere inside her lurked Shayne, who had heard his criticism and would be ready with a reply once assimilation was complete.
However, she just looked at him and smiled. ‘This is weird, having a human body. I even have her memories. My name is Beth Donaldson. Your name is Bruce. You have a penis the size of a maggot but you make up for it by being good at other things. Yuck, Beth’s mind is full of sex.’
‘These things are standard knowledge,’ sighed Gadook. ‘Did you even read the pre-visit documentation you were given? If you did you would know that once a host is assimilated the Audian takes on all their base knowledge and their core memories. Now put on your comms bracelet and your seat belt.’
Shayne was too excited to let his moodiness drag her down. ‘To think,’ she boasted, ‘I just assimilated with a human, just like my brother once did.’
As Gadook fired up the car, a shrill sound hit his ears. ‘Turn that off,’ he ordered. ‘We may have human memories but we don’t have all of their tastes.’
‘We’re humans for a week. Let’s live like them and listen to music.’
‘It’s rotten. At least turn it down.’
‘I quite like it.’ Shayne buckled up and began to sway in her seat.
‘That’s the human in you talking,’ Gadook advised. ‘It’s only temporary, until you’ve fully assimilated.’
‘Where to next?’ asked Shayne.
Gadook shook his human head. Had the young Audian girl bothered to do any pre-visit homework she would know the first thing they needed to do was establish a base. A human base.
The Donaldson’s were married, lived in a house in Inverness that looked tidy enough. Gadook flopped onto the sofa in their living room, urging Shayne to take the bed. Portal travel and assimilation zapped an Audian’s strength and they would need all of it if they were to complete their mission and retrieve vital resources for their planet.
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Every five years a portal opens for a week allowing travel between two planets – Earth and Audia. Shayne and Gadook are Audians entrusted with a mission to retrieve valuable resources from Earth. However, the two aliens bring with them two agendas. While Gadook is strictly there for the glory of the mission, Shayne wishes to find her brother Jorde who vanished when he took the same journey ten years ago. Her resulting escapades not only jeopardise their mission but could result in a most frightening prospect: having to remain on Earth for another five years until the portal reopens. Torn by her obligations to her race and her brother, Shayne attempts to find out the truth behind his disappearance and bring him home. However, she is not just fighting against her brethren, she is fighting a more hardened enemy: time. Can Shayne discover the truth about her brother, complete the mission and placate her race? Or will she be stranded on Earth for five years, never knowing what happened to Jorde? An outcast on Earth and back home.