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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Cultural · #2257205
Sometimes aliens are more human than, well, humans...
August Science Fiction Contest Entry
Prompt: Going to Space!

I gaped at Neutorian as if he had just grown a third head. “Hell, no! I am not going to space. I’m quite happy on Mars’ dusty red surface, thank you very much.”

“You do not wish to experience the joys of weightlessness?” the Martian said, focusing three of the five eyes on his left head in my direction.

“When I was in the simulator, weightlessness was a less-than-joyous occasion. I pretty much painted the walls with my lunch.”

“Why did you not ingest a vertigo-inhibitor prior to the endeavor?”

“If I had known that would happen, I would have!” I shot back, smacking one of Neutorian’s seven tentacles in annoyance.

“What are you guys talking about?” came a third voice, walking up behind me. I turned to see the best looking guy in class giving me an amused smile. It was Chad, fresh off a breakup with his gorgeous girlfriend. I returned his smile.

“Neutorian here was just trying to talk me into taking a ride on the wild side.” I stuck out a thumb in the septopod’s direction as I admired Chad’s well-muscled physique.

“So you’re going too?” he asked, his lips parting as his smile widened.

“Too?” I blinked. So he was going on this crazy field trip?

“Yeah, I’m going. Packing into that little tube seems like a great opportunity to get cozy with some of my classmates. But I can’t find a girl who’s going…”

Cozy? With Chad?! Hot damn!

“Well, count me in!” Did that sound overly eager? I hoped it didn’t.

I cast a sidelong glance at Neutorian. I could tell that he was about to comment on my sudden change of heart. Right in front of Chad. Which would be embarrassing. So I stomped on his nearest tentacle. Hard.

“Oooooooooooooow!” he screeched, snapping the wounded appendage away from me as soon as my foot lifted. I caught a few of his eyes, putting my finger to my lips in the universal gesture for silence.

Or at least, I thought it was a universal gesture. Unfortunately, that particular gesture didn’t seem to have found a home in Noolian culture.

“Why did you attempt to injure me? And why did you change your decision on the field trip?”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just needed to… make a point. And I didn’t change my decision. I just altered it. Slightly,” I told him. I held my breath, returning my gaze to Chad in an attempt to gauge his reaction. His smile only widened once again. It was nearly to Cheshire proportions at this point.

“So you’re going?” He winked playfully. “Excellent.”

Excellent, indeed. God, those cheekbones really stood out when he winked. They were too sculpted to be natural, weren’t they? He had to have had plastic surgery. Maybe even a full synthetic facial reconstruction…?

“Want to sit together on board?” he asked.

“Actually, I propositioned Beth regarding seating proximity prior⁠ to—” Neutorian began.

I cut him off. “Absolutely!” I interrupted, gliding between Chad and the Noolian to make sure the cute boy’s eyes were squarely on me. “I’d love to.”

“Good,” he said, a twinkle lighting his dark eyes. “See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” I sighed, my voice coming out more breathy than I would have liked. “See you…”

Chad gave each of us a curt nod, then walked away. When he was out of earshot, I spun around to jab a finger into Neutorian’s squishy midsection. “Look, Neut, I’m sorry about the tentacle, but I really really like that boy, and I just couldn’t have you screwing it up for me. We both know you’re not the best at picking up on subtle signals.

Neutorian opened his beak as if to say something, but seemed to think the better of it. But he opened it again after a moment’s consideration. “That is an accurate statement. I only ask that you reconsider your seating position. I would like for you to be in my immediate proximity on the field trip.”

“Sorry, dude. Not gonna happen. Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for a shot with Chad?”

“Seventeen earth months?” Neutorian said, probably calculating the time since I had first mentioned him.

“Forever,” I agreed.

The eyelids on three of Neutorian’s lowered to send his gaze to the aluminum floor.


The following day, I downed a couple of ‘vertigo inhibitors’ as I waited for Chad to arrive. It wasn’t long before he did…

...with Cornelia freaking Chatterson in tow!

Far prettier than I was, the sultry brunette had had an on-again, off-again thing going with Chad that spanned at least the two years I had known them both. Last I had known, they were off-again, which is why I’d thought I’d had a chance with Chad. But the way she was draped all over him, my cursed eyes were telling me they were very much on. Again.

Frustration bubbled in the pit of my stomach.

“Chad?” I called, marching up to the ridiculously good-looking couple.

“Oh, hi there! Ready for the trip?” Chad acted as if nothing were wrong⁠—as if he weren’t practically wearing Cornelia like an armband.

I shot Little Miss Gorgeous a nasty look. “I was...”

Chad seemed to pick up on my reaction, his eyes darting back and forth between Cornelia and me. “Look, about sitting together…”

“Yeah, yeah. You’d rather sit with Cornelia instead, right?” I ventured. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that my entry window had closed a day too soon.

“Actually, I think Cornelia’s good with you sitting next to me too. On the other side. Right, Corny?”

She rolled her eyes at me before returning a doting gaze to “Chad”. “Yeah. Whatever. If that’s what you want.”

“That’s what I want,” replied Chad definitively, his eyes never leaving mine.

What the hell?! This dude wanted to sit with two girls? One on either side? Who did he think he was? Who did he think I was?!

I blinked several times, weighing my options.

“Okay,” I said. What?! Don’t look at me like that. He was hot. Crazy hot. Sue me.

The three of us strolled over to the space suit rental station, tapping our comms to the ordering screen to send the clerk our measurements. As we waited for our suits, Neutorian arrived.

“Have you given appropriate consideration to my seating proposal?” said Neutorian in a hopeful voice.

“Um, I don’t think that going to work out this time, Neut. Maybe some other time?” He looked so optimistic. I felt bad shooting him down like this.

“You wish to visit space on other, future occasions as well?” He seemed surprised, his tentacles vibrating slightly.

“Well, not really,” I admitted, dropping my eyes to the floor.

“Then why did you indicate that you might engage in the activity at another time?”

“I was just trying to be polite, really. Sorry, dude.” I flashed my eyes to his once again to see the disappointment written over all ten of them. Neutorian seemed to slump slightly. He nodded both heads, then shuffled off toward the spaceship.

“Why do you hang out with that dumbass alien?” asked Chad, coming up behind me.

“He’s not a dumbass! He’s nice!” I protested, eliciting another eye-roll from Little Miss Sexypants.

“Whatever you say,” said Chad with a wry smile. The clerk handed him a suit, which he took with a flourish.

“Come on,” he nodded as the clark placed Cornelia’s suit on the counter, quickly followed by my own. “Let’s get dressed.”

Chad took us to the corner before stripping off his shirt, leaving his delicious upper body bare to my hungry eyes. Damn, that guy was ripped!

“You know,” I found myself saying. “You don’t actually have to take off your shirt to put on a spacesuit…”

Cornelia giggled, slipping her suit pants over long, shapely legs.

“But don’t you like it better when I do?” Chad grinned. “I know Corny does.”

I looked at Cornelia. She definitely did seem to be enjoying the view. Why wasn’t I?

I turned, finding Neutorian by himself in the distance, twiddling his tentacles. I bit my lower lip, feeling bad for the poor guy. He looked lonely.

“Going to suit up or what?” I heard Chad ask.

“What?” I asked distractedly, returning my attention to the attractive boy.

“Spacesuit? On? You?” He asked in exaggerated fashion, pointing at each in turn.

“Oh! Right!” I replied, quickly moving to don my outfit.

Chad and Cornelia, already dressed, proceeded without me to the ship, whispering and giggling, arm in arm.

I finished dressing, pulling on my helmet before jogging after them.

We entered the ship, finding three open seats. Chad took the one in the center, Cornelia and I taking one to either side.

I closed my eyes as we blasted off, feeling my stomach twist into knots even with the aid of the pills. Thankfully, that’s as far as it went this time, and I was able to keep my lunch on the inside of my body this time.

Cornelia and Chad seemed cheerful as they looked across to the other side of the ship, making fun of each of our classmates in turn. I didn’t say much. Half of the people they were belittling were my friends. Then, they came to Neutorian.

“Stupid little slime-crawlers should go back to the hole they came out of,” Chad snarked, much to Cornelia’s neverending amusement. “They should leave Mars to real Martians.”

“Actually, Noolians are the original Martians. Humans came thousands of years after they did.”

“Who cares if they’re first? Look who runs things now,” said Chad, raising an eyebrow at my comment.

“We only run things because there are more of us here now.”

“Well, majority rules, right?” Chad sneered, his face looking far less handsome when it wore that expression. Cornelia’s rich laughter followed once again.

“I guess so,” I decided to let the matter drop. It wasn’t as if Chad was the only one with those thoughts. Everyone was entitled to an opinion, I supposed.

“Besides, Neutorian is ugly and stupid even for a Noolian.”

I looked across at my friend, finding him staring intently back at me. He was by himself, several empty seats to either side of him. He was unable to hear our conversation, the three of us having tuned into a private channel in our helmets. But I suddenly realized that it didn’t really matter to me. I didn’t like Chad picking on my friend. Only I was allowed to do that. Mostly because I knew that, deep down, I was particularly fond of the little Noolian.

“He’s not ugly, and he’s not stupid,” I found myself saying, turning to look Chad directly in the eye. “He’s my friend.”

“Sounds like you need some new friends,” Chad laughed, reaching out to pat my thigh.

“You know what?” I shot back. “I really do.”

With that, I unbuckled my harness and gave the wall behind me a hard shove. I flew forward, barreling into Neutorian, who promptly wrapped his tentacles around me to cushion the blow.

“Thanks, dude.”

“You are welcome,” he said, his thorax practically glowing with delight. “Why did you cross the ship? You do not enjoy weightlessness.”

“You’re right. I don’t,” I replied. “But I do enjoy something else.”

“What is that?” he inquired, tapping two tentacles together.

“Your company.”

He stiffened at my words, All ten of his eyes widening in surprise.

I smiled at him, causing him to relax, the corners of his beak twitching upward in a broad, for a Noolian, smile. I buckled in next to him, leaned my helmeted head against his, then reached out, curling my fingers gently about his injured tentacle, massaging it in exactly the way I knew he liked.

1,995 words
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