The Hitch-hiker, Last Day Free

[An excerpt…]

More silence as the Kombi trundled along Main North Road. Was this the trend for the road trip? Long awkward silences. Two brothers sitting side by side, itching to punch each other. Liesel itched to lay hands on Fox who squashed himself against the car door. And Minna opposite Günter, tried not to make too many calf-eyes at him, as well as trying her best to not nibble her nails. Was this what grown-up young people do for fun? Where was the excitement? The pillow fights? The Coca-Cola? Things go better with Coke, so the commercials say. And things in this mobile can did require better going.

A man dressed in brown walked on the roadside. He hunched over and stuck out his thumb.

Fox slowed down the van. ‘Oh, a hitch-hiker. Why don’t we pick him up?’

‘Are you crazy? No way!’ Liesel batted his arm.

Fox eased the Kombi to a stop. ‘He looks like he needs a lift. What the heck.’

‘What’re you doing?’ Liesel raised her tone.

But Fox continued to pull over to the side of the road.

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© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015; updated 2022

Take a Free Horror Ride: A Halloween Special

THE HITCH-HIKER

[An Extract]

Johann glanced back at the bug of the man settled on the tucker box. ‘Cup? You want a cup? Be my guest, they’re in the tucker box, I think.’

I sidestepped that idea and ran to the Kombi. The coke bottle, I’d use the coke bottle.

After emptying out the icky liquid, I raced to the other side of the van. I reached as far as I could on tippy toes. No use. I was just too short. I jumped. I tried climbing up the roof rack. Failed. No footholds to launch me up. I slumped on the edge of the road and cried. No one cared that we were in danger. Liesel had given up without even trying. She didn’t care. And worse, I didn’t matter. Me, a nobody. Thirsty and no one bothered to give me a drink. Aware that I was all alone, I sniffed. Nothing could make me happy, not even the smell of kangaroo steak wafting under my nose.

‘Oh, little girl, why so sad?’

I looked up to see Boris in his grey skirt towering over me. I was sick to the stomach, like I had eaten a cocktail of worms and cockroaches.

‘What is wrong my pet?’ he asked.

I shuddered but refused to answer.

‘Maybe I can help you.’

For a price, I thought.

‘Just tell me what you want more than anything in the whole wide world.’

I glared at him. Over my dead body. What is this man?

Tears blurred my view.

He extended an arm to me. ‘Anything, anything at all.’ his arm seemed so skinny; more like a tentacle than a limb.

I rubbed my eyes.

It crouched beside me. ‘Come on, you can tell me. You can trust me. I can grant you anything, any wish you have.’

I blinked.

Beside me perched a man-size cockroach. Its oily armour glistened in the golden rays of the risen sun.

‘I don’t think I need anything, Sir.’ I tried to stay cool and resisted the urge to recoil.

Its antennae twitched. ‘Anything. Just say the word. Your wish is my command.’

‘I want you to leave me alone,’ I said. All thoughts of thirst evaporated.

Its beady eyes bored through me into my soul trying to suck out all my goodness, my life. ‘My dear girl, I’d beg you to reconsider. With the gifts you possess, the universe is your oyster—if you follow me.’

I gulped. A cold breeze cut through me and as if I’d faced death itself; the Grim Reaper. I pushed myself up, and staggered from it. ‘No thanks, I’ll have none of what you offer.’

It reached out a spiny hand. ‘But you’ll—’

‘None at all.’ I dropped the bottle, and bolted to the campsite.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015

Photo: Night Drama Flinders Ranges © Lee-Anne Marie Kling © 2000

***

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Choice Bites–The Survivor (1)

[An extract from another of my emerging projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

Hijacked

Letitia breathed in the rich aroma red wine. She weened her absorption off and out of the Dickens’ tale and adjusted to her reality. Letitia was on a scenic flight from Auckland heading south, her Mirror Adelaide home and IGSF mission on hold.

Her daughter Jemima thrust a full glass of red under her nose. ‘Try this, Mother! 1984 Grange from the Barossa Valley.’

‘Mmm.’ Letitia leaned back. Jemima, twenty-six, daughter from a long-ago relationship—Nathan. Complicated, war-torn…another universe, actually. And now this present world, this Mirror World was making her vanish…Literally.

Letitia sighed and thought, I wish I could get away for good. To another time another place—Home to Earth before it’s too late. She hung on in Mirror World, though, to thwart the attempts of Boris from enslaving, by stealth, this beautiful world and its population. But for how long? Twenty-six Mirror years had taken its toll. The IGSF (Intergalactic Space Force) medical technology of regular infusions of nano-bots had kept her alive, but now, were failing. Dr. Mario had shaken his dark Latin head after the last infusion and said the words she had dreaded to hear, “There’s nothing more we can do.”

‘To Antarctica we go!’ Jemima charged her glass and took a slurp. ‘Mmm! Excellent stuff! You should try some! Celebrate, this trip is your way out. You know what I mean.’

Her daughter examined her glass of red as though she were a connoisseur.

‘I still can’t believe we are here,’ Letitia said. ‘And drinking such old wine! Must be at least thirty years old.’

Jemima nudged her. ‘You won the prize, Mum! And you invited me to go with you—you knew how much I wanted to complete my quest to visit every continent on Earth. I concede, Mirror, in this case. But, still, a continent. It’s a win-win, ‘cos I’m here to help you. You’ll see.’

‘Of course.’

‘Why else would I take all that trouble to return from our universe?’

Letitia gazed around the passenger cabin. ‘Although, I have one complaint. I thought we’d be put in first-class. I won the prize, what happened to the open lounge plan with plenty of walking space and seats that reclined all the way? It’s nothing like the brochure.’

But here they were, sitting in seats that were blue instead of cream, (as portrayed in the brochure) and the passengers appeared to be more crammed in and arranged in neat narrow (than in that brochure).

‘We won the wine,’ Jemima said as she poured herself another glass.

‘Oh, yes!’ Letitia nodded. ‘Great!’

‘Fancy that, it’s survived all those years…Drink, it’s part of the plan.’

Letitia recollected the on-line competition and how Jemima urged her to explain in twenty-five words or less why she would want to go to Antarctica. She remembered Jemima rubbing her hands together and murmuring that she had a cunning plan.

It was after Jemima’s friend Holly and the rest of the IGSF team escaped through the red spot in Jupiter back to Earth. But before the bad news from Dr. Mario. Bad timing. Now that red spot had sailed and it would be another two years…If only the Doctor had told her earlier, she would’ve gone too.

‘1984! Must have been a good year.’ Jemima remarked as she finished her glass. The screen at the front of the section, played a loop of scenes from the icy continent. Icebergs, penguins, and rough seas battering the orange icebreaker. Letitia couldn’t get the earphones working, so it remained a silent show.

‘Well matured, I guess.’

‘It’s our escape;’ Jemima began, ‘I’ve been checking Earth’s history and in 2014…’

The movie froze.

A piercing scream.

A large man lurched from his seat.

Murmurs rippled through the rows.

Jemima and Letitia craned their necks to catch the action.

Letitia stepped into the aisle to witness a scuffle involving a female air-attendant and a burly passenger. They wrestled a small man.

‘What’s going on?’ Jemima asked.

‘It’s a man,’ Letitia said.

‘Is it—?’

‘He’s ugly—not human—he’s wearing a brown jumper.’

A hairy ball torpedoed down the aisle, bounced on the toilet wall and rolled to a stop. At the other end, a body lay jerking.

Jemima stood and peered at the flailing form. ‘Where’s the head?’

Letitia pointed behind her. ‘There.’

‘I think I’m going to be sick,’ Jemima rasped. She reached for the complimentary paper bag. ‘Where’s the bag? The bag?’

A lady with shimmering auburn hair, thrust a paper bag at Jemima. ‘Here, use mine.’

‘Thank you,’ Jemima breathed before burying her face in its opening.

‘Don’t worry. It’s not real. It has to be a dream,’ Letitia said. The whole episode—the plane, the trip to Antarctica, the action down the front—seemed surreal.

‘This is real Mum. We’ve been hijacked by terrorists.’

‘Shut up! Shut up, you up there!’ a man’s shrill voice could be heard at the front of the cabin.

‘No,’ Jemima gasped, ‘Worse than that, it’s…’

A chill coursed through Letitia’s spine as she spied this man in the tawny jumper lording over his victim’s body. The burly man’s body. The strong man so weak, twitching lifelessly in blood. Blood pooling on the blue aisle carpet.

Feeling queasy Letitia’s legs wobbled as she stood in the aisle.

Jemima retched and trembled in terror.

The man marched up the aisle to Letitia.

He waved a vial of clear liquid between his spindly fingers. He seemed to be moving in slow motion, closer and closer. His black beads of eyes glinted reflecting the fluoro lights. He wasn’t that tall. He didn’t look that strong.

‘I thought, you said he was destroyed near Jupiter, Jemima.’

‘Apparently not.’

Letitia remained standing. She remembered the story of the devil at the end of Martin Luther’s bed. Like Luther, she had God on her side. No way was she going to allow this little man terrorizing the crew and passengers spoil her adventure. Was that a claw on his hand? No, people don’t have claws. Boris does, though. How did he do that to the big strong man? What happened to the security measures back at the airport? Didn’t they check him for weapons?

‘I will not be afraid,’ Letitia said and locked eyes with this man. ‘God is with me. I will survive.’ Convinced—she’d survived the last disaster—many years ago—an alien attack on her ship, cruising around Earth, in space. That was a Boris attack. Boris—she had heard of that enemy of man, engaged in the war against him, but never had she met the cockroach. They said it was a miracle she survived. Burns to sixty percent of her body. Skin grafts saved her. Presently, in this life, on Mirror World, when she wasn’t fading, she looked like everyone else.

‘What’ch’ya looking at?’ He scowled, baring his small, pointy teeth. ‘Have I got a little—no—big, nasty surprise for you!’

He shook the vial. The liquid fizzed.

Letitia gasped.

‘Oh, sh-t!’ Jemima whispered.

A little girl nearby whimpered. ‘Mummy. I don’t want to die, Mummy.’

The man thumped a headrest. ‘Shut up!’

Two air-attendants hung back, glancing left and right. They hunted for solutions. But the threat of violent chemical reactions in the vial, and the potential loss of another head, prevented them from launching an attack on the man.

This man drew close to Letitia. He blew his foul breath into her face and shook the liquid tube.

‘Say goodbye to Antarctica, Grandma! The seas will rise, the coastlines will be flooded, the planet will suddenly heat up, and a few other nasty things…’ He laughed manically. ‘And this planet will be ours!’

‘I’m afraid you are too late—global warming has already done—’ Jemima piped up.

‘Shut up! Girl!’ the man snapped. Then he climbed in the seat next to Jemima and shaved his claw under Jemima’s chin. ‘Do you taste like your mother? Or father?’

‘What d-d-do you hope to achieve with that puny little bottle?’ Jemima stuttered unfazed by this man in the brown jumper who had a claw jutting out from his finger.

He brushed the bottle across Jemima’s cheek. ‘I won’t bore your puny mind with the scientific details…but,’ he gazed at the glass tube with devilish fascination, ‘But—when this liquid chemical compound escapes and mixes with the heat and airline fuel, there will be a big bang and a most delicious chain-reaction. Think of it as a kind of revenge on what you humans did to my kind, once, many, many years ago.’

‘Who are you?’ Letitia asked, although she had a pretty good idea who this particular monster was.

He rose and leaned against Letitia, his pug nose and flaring nostrils within inches from her face. Letitia averted her face from his onion and garlic breath tainted with cockroach stench.

He spoke slowly, and with menace. ‘I think you know who I am, my dear.’

‘I don’t, really, I don’t.’

‘Really? I don’t have time for this,’ the man said. He thumped the vial on the arm of the chair.

Letitia heard a crack, and a sizzle. The cabin filled with smoke. Then a flash of light and a rumble of thunder. Letitia grew light-headed. In the background as if in the distance she heard Jemima say, ‘It’s Boris, Mum…the Bytrode, you know, the giant alien cockroach…so glad we had the wine…’

Then sinking…plummeting towards the Earth. The screams of panicked passengers and the howl of the wind as it rushed through the fast-descending airbus, blended into agonising seconds of horror.

The force thrust Letitia forward. The aircraft pitched and spun. The ceiling caved and banged against her head as the craft disintegrated. The shattered fuselage nose-dived. Through cracks in the hull, clouds skidded past. The icy wasteland rushed into view.

Boris defied the laws of physics, hovering above his prey. His wings whirred creating a gravitational force-field holding Letitia. He bared his jagged teeth in a sickly smile.

‘So, my dear, Letitia, you are getting what you want most,’ Boris said.

Letitia gasped. How can he talk when she can barely breathe? The cold air rushing the plane to its demise, snatched her words before they became thoughts. Surely, she didn’t ask for this. Never even contemplated it. Why would she want to die crashing to Earth?

Bodies jettisoned around the remains of the cabin. Some bounced off Boris’ shell. He was fully cockroach now.

‘Can’t you see?’ Boris said. ‘Earth.’

Great! Letitia thought and then curled up and waited for the impact.

She imagined that her entire life would flash before her eyes. It didn’t.

She glanced up.

The seats arranged in a semi-circle were white. They rotated as if in some crazy show ride. Jemima was gone. Sucked out, and hurtling towards the icy plains of Antarctica, Letitia assumed.

As if detached from her body, she watched Boris vanish. Then she waited for the final thud…

The thud came. Metal crunched and ground around her. An explosion burst jolting her back to the here, now and her body sliding through slush. Ice caved-in on top of her, blocking light out and trapping her in darkness.

[To be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Sellicks Beach © L.M. Kling circa 1985

***

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The Choice Story Collection

Boris’ Choice

[How the war on Boris began…]

Boris crept towards her. She hunched over, back draped with a tattered shawl, picking rotting peel from the over-flowing garbage tin. Boris eyed the bundle of hessian rags and wrinkled flesh. She’s useless. Who would want her? She’s way past child-bearing age. Surprised someone hasn’t eaten her already. Old females were a specialty on his world, his favourite—boiled. Although he must admit, he’d never pass up the offer of a baby, cooked fresh out of the womb. Boris wiped the acid dripping from his crusty lips, and scuttled closer to his victim. With his probe he stung this brown heap in the round of her back and she melted into a pool of oil. Boris extended his hollow proboscis and sucked the puddle, all of her black fluid on the pavement.

Boris thrust forward his abdomen swelled with this snack, and waddled past his fellow Bytrodes. They smiled at him and nodded. ‘Well, done!’ ‘Ridding the world of waste.’ ‘I wish I had your guts.’

Boris grinned and with his surround optical vision guarded his armoured back as they moved behind him. No fellow Bytrode can be trusted.

Then Boris burped, lifted the flaps in his spine and unfurled his wings. A potent gust of gas enabled him to lift into the air and ferry through the ruined structures, once ziggurats with lofty peaks that vanished into the clouds, now a pile of broken stones. On a mountain over-looking a river of septic waste, his palace gleamed gold and white; his reward built on the shells of his competitors and any other Bytrode that got in the way.

Flying spent the fuel that was the old woman, and hunger gnawed at his ribs. He spied a neighbour, Gavin basking on the roof of a satellite wreck close to the foamy shore. He plopped onto the carcass of yesterday’s breakfast, and sidled up to Gavin’s shiny black back. The heat of the aluminium roof stung his many feet, so he stood on the tips of his pointy toes.

‘Do you want a little something to help you on your trip?’ Boris purred.

His fellow rotated his bald head. ‘Sure. What have you got?’

Boris reached into the pocket of his armour and pulled out a plastic bag of white powder. ‘Here, try some. It’s fresh and clean.’

‘Thanks.’ With whiskers twitching, Gavin positioned his snout over the bag and absorbed the contents.

‘There, that will make you happy.’ Boris chuckled. ‘And me.’

Boris drooled and waited as the goo that was Gavin fried on the metal in the searing afternoon sun. At the crisp and bubbly point, Boris reached underneath the wreck, and pulled out a plastic spatula. ‘Ah! Neighbour biscuit!’ His tentacles wriggled as he snapped off a piece and munched. ‘A fitting entrée to dessert and the object of my lust—Maggie. A perfect end to a delicious day.’

Boris climbed the mountain of victim waste his shell splayed as a force field to protect against the attack of scavengers. His belly bloated, and home too close to wing it, he lumbered up the hillside of rotting corpses to his castle, his numerous eyes like surveillance cameras scanning for any movement of the enemy pretending to be dead. A hiss. Boris’ froze, antennae vibrating. In the crimson rays of the setting sun, a shell rose defiant. Boris charged his weapon arm and fired a stream of fusion energy. Pff! Ash of foe added to the mountain.

Boris folded his weapon prong into his scales, and exhaling, curled into a ball of hard silicon, rolled the final leg of his journey home. At the titanium steel door, he unfurled his body and then tapped the musical security code, using six of his eight legs. The door Bytrode-body thick with reinforced steel and telephone directories, creaked open.

‘Were you successful, my lust?’ Maggie projected her thoughts to Boris. Her shell glowed auburn, as she flicked her long scales and caressed Boris’ aura.

‘Yep,’ he said waddling past her, and then brushing against her waiting claws. He sailed to his throne, the recliner rocker, inherited from yesterday’s breakfast, and planted his thorax on the leather seat. While his peripheral vision traced his female’s scuttling steps to his side, he aimed his proboscis at the shag-pile rug and regurgitated the mashed contents of his stomach, decorating the cream shag with a lumpy pool of umber.

Boris burped. ‘Gavin.’

‘That’s nice, dear. Never did like him,’ Maggie said. She extended her trunk, groping and fusing with his. She dug her hooks into his scales.

Boris quivered as the fermented juice of last cycle’s enemy pumped into his gullet. ‘Ah! Tyrone! That was a good victim.’ Swelling with victory, power and the ether of Tyrone’s spent life-force, he thrust his favourite female onto the shag-pile and Gavin goo, his thoughts and intent on more pleasurable pursuits than feasting.

‘Boris, dear…’ Maggie retracted her spikes and slid from under him.

Splat! Boris’ raw flesh grated on the shag fibres, while is face kissed the blow-fly flecked stew that was Gavin. He lifted his head and sucked in a fly-flavoured morsel. ‘What?’

Maggie’s antennae twitched. ‘We have a visitor.’

Boris straightened up and smoothed his scales. ‘Why didn’t you say something before?’ His abdomen purred with the delicious thought of food killed and prepared by his be-lusted.

‘I was overcome by the moment, I suppose.’ Maggie picked at the bugs in the shag-pile stew. ‘He’s an alien, from a far-away planet.’

‘Mmm! Even better!’ Boris rubbed his stomach. ‘I haven’t had an alien in ages. Where is he? In the kitchen boiling?’ He used his eyes to zoom his focus into the kitchen.

‘But, dear, the lust of my life,’ Maggie said, her voice warbling, ‘this alien is different. You can’t eat this one. I won’t let you.’

Boris’ scales bristled. ‘What? You can’t stop me! I eat everyone.’

A slug-like creature twice the size of Boris, who was big by Bytrodian standards, emerged from the hallway and filled the living room. Boris studied the biped from the antennae-free head that scaped the ceiling, to his massive extensions of legs that disgraced the rug.

‘Okay, I guess it would be a challenge,’ Boris said, ‘although I’d like to know how he got this far without being harmed. He’s got no shell.’

‘Insect spray,’ the biped conveyed while making sounds through one of the holes in his face. Then with one of two hands, he covered this pink face hole and made low pitched grunting noises.

Boris and Maggie stared at the alien, their eye whiskers twitching.

‘Oh, pardon me,’ the alien said through his thoughts and vibration of the airwaves. He extended a thick rope-like limb to Boris. ‘I’m Joshua, by the way. I’m from the planet Earth.’

Maggie clasped her middle legs together and shimmered with an orange hue. ‘Oh! How wonderful! We’ve never had someone from Earth for dinner before.’

‘So you mean you’ve changed your mind, my dear Maggie?’ Boris beamed red as he stroked Joshua’s jelly-like hand and sniffed his salty skin.

‘No!’ Maggie snapped. ‘Why do you have to kill and eat everyone, Boris?’

Joshua tore his hand from Boris’ claw. He rubbed the scratches and wiped scarlet ooze on his white robe.

‘I’m a Bytrode, that’s what I do,’ Boris said, splaying his wings and then prancing around the room. ‘I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t trod on a few shells.’

‘But I’ve been talking with Joshua and he’s shown me another way, a better way to live.’ Maggie scuttled over the rug and Gavin puddle to her mate. ‘If we could be friends, and stop destroying each other.’

Filing his external fangs Boris fixed his beady eyes on this over-sized amoeba. ‘Friends? And end up like Gavin here? What planet are you from?’

‘A better one than yours. Seems like this one’s messed up,’ the alien said as he pointed a stubby tentacle through the window at the wasteland of crumbling shells, and the screams of Bytrode souls in conflict.

Boris planted his six hands on his scaled sides, his limbs akimbo. ‘Well, if you don’t like it, you can go back to where you come from.’ He wished this creature would stay, just long enough for him to execute a plan to over-power him, chop him up, bag him and store him in the freezer.

‘But dear, we can learn from this Earth-being.’ Maggie licked Boris’ feet. ‘He’s from the other side of the galaxy. Surely that must count for something in getting ahead.’

Boris rolled his thousand mini eyes. ‘Very well, then. He can stay in the garage.’ He rubbed his abdomen, and in a part of his mind blocked from scrutiny, rearranged the shelf space to fit bags full of Joshua flesh; so much of it, keep them going for weeks. He purred in anticipation.

***

Days passed and the promise of barbequed Joshua eluded Boris. Worse, he sensed Maggie slipping from him, enticed by the weird teachings of the man with no shell. By the third day Boris curled up on his nest of droppings, sucking his top claw and sulking. Now, that Earth creature had a following, a rag tag clutch of disciples and had the audacity to preach from the front steps of his castle. Thoughts of love, peace, law and order filtered through the atmosphere. Boris folded his antennae under his helmet attempting to block out the infectious purity. Still the cleansing vibrations penetrated. Boris’ intestines boiled with rage. He rose from his bed and then slamming the door, marched through his home to the porch.

His whiskers recoiled at the radiating goodness. ‘No! Get out of my life!’ He stomped his needle feet on the ‘Go Away’ mat.

The monolith of pale flesh turned and reached out to him. ‘Please turn over your life, Boris. If we start now, your world will be a much better place to live. If you keep on killing and destroying, you’ll end up—alone.’

Boris bristled. He turned, his armour facing the crowd. ‘Don’t care. At least I’ll be free to do whatever I please.’ A dragonfly skimmed the water of the fishpond filled from last night’s rain. Boris shuddered.

Maggie tapped Boris’ hull. ‘Please, love! Listen!’

‘No!’ Boris spun round and with a wing stiff, hit Maggie hard so that she curled into a ball and bounced down the steps. As she straightened, he raised his weapon-arm.

Joshua stepped in front of him, blocking his aim. ‘What are you doing? Do you not love her?’

‘Pah! Never did.’ Boris pumped venom into Joshua’s unguarded chest.

The giant creature sunk to his knees and groaned.

Boris waved his proboscis. ‘You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to do that.’ The disciples recoiled, and scattered.

‘Three days. He’s only been with us—’ Maggie raced to the prostrate Earth-being. She held his bulbous head while his gasped. ‘What have you done, Boris?’ She looked up at him, her antennae twisting into an anguished knot.

He poised his needle-like mouth over the creature’s supple neck. ‘Only what must be done to survive.’

‘Kill me if you have to, but—’ the alien rasped, ‘—whatever you do, don’t touch my ship.’

‘You have a ship? Hmm?’ Boris said, his fangs twitched at the prospect of a crew full of large, tender, succulent prey.

‘Well, of course he has. How do you think he got here?’ Maggie combed Joshua’s fine white hairs. ‘But he said not to touch it, so—’

‘Shut up, female!’ Boris aimed and vaporized Maggie. He flapped his wings and cleared the cloud of particles from his prize, the alien. Sharpening his pincers, he examined the limp neck and shiny skin begging to be consumed. He lanced his fangs into the soft neck and chomped through the layers of skin, gristle and bone. By midnight, with his belly distended over his lower legs, Boris packed the last of the sealed bags of Joshua in the freezer. He gazed at his handy work stacked on the shelves and sighed. Then he nudged the door closed.

He patted his stomach and farted. ‘Well, nothing like the present. Before they get wind of it. And besides, I’m all fuelled up.’

Boris spread his wings and soared into the atmosphere. He banked higher, above the clouds lined silver with the moon. He closed the vents in his shell as he rose up into the icy stratosphere. The air thinned, not that it mattered to Boris as he didn’t breathe much anyway. He looked down, his home town merged with the continent. He sailed with the solar winds, drifting with the rotation of the planet as he hunted for the alien ship. A speck glittered at the point where the curve of his world met the black of space. Boris powered up his rear booster rockets and charged towards the glint. As he approached the triangular-shaped chunk of metal, he magnetized his feet and plopped onto the frigid surface of the dark side. He set his weapon spike to maximum and cut into the hull.

Sharp spasms quaked from the surface through Boris’ legs. A shot of electricity jerked through his exoskeleton. ‘O-oh!’ Boris retracted the magnets and darted away. Boom! A wave of energy hurled him into space, rolling, flying, knocking against fragments of ship, and reeling like space junk towards the moon. As a ball he plopped into a lake padded with dust. He straightened his body and watched as his world glowed red and vascular with lava and in silence caved in on itself into a lump of coal.

Alone Boris orbited the moon, scanning the pock-marked surface. ‘There has to be a space station here somewhere. And when I find it, and get me a space craft, I’m going for Earth. That Joshua and his kind are not going to get away with what they’ve done.’ He watched his sun dim for a second. He knew he did not have much time.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2021

Feature Painting: The Choice © L.M. Kling 2016

***

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