Yay, it’s flash fiction time, as hosted by the fantabulous author, ’Nathan Burgoine. This month in the year-long challenge we had to write in the genre of sci-fi, in the clouds, and with a dog collar as our object. I thought a bit outside the box here, and the timing of the writing prompt coincided with a geeky event here in Ottawa.
Here’s my entry!
Droüg awakened with his face pressed into the flight console. The only reason he no longer remained in an alcohol-induced slumber was because the hyperspace indicator kept flashing right through his eyelids. Hm, explains the dream about that brothel’s marquee.
He clutched his scalp while inwardly cursing Fraüg for making him drink out of his glass again last night. What had that concoction been called? The Dog Collar. He must have added extra spikes because I feel impaled from the inside out. Fraüg might have been his twin brother, but for some reason, Droüg hadn’t the same tolerance for spirits. Probably because he’d never built up an immunity at the academy.
Where the flogg is that guy, anyway? Droüg initiated the internal comm.
“Bro? You still alive?”
The comm crackled with, “Yeah, great. You?”
“No. I don’t think I made it.”
“Aw, shame. I’ll say a few respectful words and jettison your corpse. Will tell Mumsy you died saving a herd of novice nuns from deep-space bandits or something.”
“I hate you, know that?”
“Look, if you don’t keep trying new shots, your taste buds will never mature.”
“I prefer my tongue to stay immature.”
“Probably why Soozye always complains you’re such a bad kisser.”
“Again, I hate you.”
“I know, little brother.”
“But I need you. We’ve jumped to the-flogg-knows-where and I require someone with eyes that can actually focus on these readouts.”
No response. Fraüg was probably on his way to the cockpit. Droüg tried moving his arms and shoulders, which ached like he’d spent the night in a vice, and managed to gather his moss-hued head tentacles. He fastened them behind his neck with a black leather strap. His left brown eye and right green eye blinked a few times at the controls. Then he lifted up the veil on his viewscreen.
The scene before him showed they hovered within the planet’s atmosphere, low enough to see a carpet of fluffy purply-white-rimmed clouds beneath their ship. Thank the orbs we’re cloaked. Who knows if we’ll face friendlies or meanies here.
“Oh, that’s pretty,” said Fraüg, sauntering in, looking as fresh as a summer’s day. “Must be dawn on this part of their world.” He sat in the co-pilot’s seat, his head-tentacles untethered but somehow still slick and obediently falling in perfect order behind his back. Swivelling to look at his brother, he couldn’t help but chuckle.
“You look like you crawled out of a volcanic crater on Zodrix. Your skin is ashen.”
“I’m never ever partying with you again.”
“What you need is fresh air. Let’s land this thing in a remote area.”
Droüg’s eyes widened. “We can’t do that!”
“Sure we can. We’ll stay cloaked.”
“You know as well as I do that some civilizations have tech that can see through certain cloaking! What if ours isn’t advanced enough?”
“It’ll be fine,” said Fraüg, scanning for lifeforms as their ship crossed a few hours into another timezone. “Oh, hey, this might be the thing. A gathering!”
“That doesn’t sound like a remote place.”
“No, little brother, but—”
“I was born like ten minutes after you, dude.”
“Shut up and look, will ya?” Fraüg displayed a visual of their long-range scanners.
Draüg forgot his aching head for a moment and put a finger to his lips, which was his standard pondering pose. It seemed that on the outskirts of a populated area stood an expansive conference centre. On the grounds entering and exiting the facility were a diverse collection of beings. Some walked on legs yet had wings, others had rockets strapped to their backs, and a few others looked like beings who could transform themselves into some sort of transport vehicles. Skin colours ranged from a pasty pink to greens, blues, yellows, browns, and purples. They even seemed to welcome beings who seemed to be part android. One held something resembling a toilet plunger, but perhaps it was really some sort of tractor beam.
“I’m seeing a lot of weaponry, yet everyone so far seems really happy to see each other.”
“Maybe there’s a understood peace agreement. Perhaps the weapons are just for display, like a cultural ornament.”
“There’s a lot of high-fiving, too.”
“What does that banner say on the building itself?”
“No idea. I don’t understand the language either.”
“Well … maybe it’s okay to land here. For a second.”
“We can take side arms, but keep them set to stun.”
The brothers touched down on a field nearby the convention centre and uncloaked their ship. As they alighted the vessel, they noticed a tiny four-door transport with wheels drive up to them. It parked and out dashed four beings who appeared to be elves from planet Crai-yah. Their white robes, long flowing hair, and twisted metal headpieces gave it away.
“Wow!” said the tallest female. “You guys look great! Did you get a permit to construct that ship here?”
Droüg didn’t understand one syllable. Neither did Fraüg. They glanced at each other and decided to extend the elves a formal gesture of greeting, by holding up their right hand with their digits separated.
The elves frowned. “Live long and prosper, to you, too,” said a small one, probably a child of 70 years. “But you don’t look like Vulcans.”
“I’m sorry,” said Droüg. “Did we do anything to offend?”
“Oh, I see,” said the largest male, who was the only elf with dark hair as the rest were golden-headed. “They’re from another country. Let’s be polite and return their salute.”
When the elves smiled and nodded while holding up their fingers in a similar greeting, the twin brothers felt relieved. There might have been a language barrier, but they were friendlies.
“Enjoy the con,” said the littlest one.
“In-jay tha caun,” said Fraüg.
This must have pleased the elves, because they beamed brightly before leaving.
“Well, what do you think?” said Fraüg.
“I’ll try it. But no drinks.”
“Just one. I promise it’ll be mild.”
“You say that every time.”
The Ale-ing Brothers © 2018 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague. Cait is currently working on a prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a military space opera. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors are writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.