I’m starting a new, weekly feature. Every Friday, I’ll post some fiction. It might be short stories, it might be poetry, it might be from a writing prompt.
Illegally Parked UFO
Kumar drove into work one Tuesday morning, the same as every Tuesday morning, except there seemed to be a lot of people running around, screaming and weeping and driving with no consideration for traffic laws. Kumar stared then shrugged. He parked his car in the far lot and started the long trek to the main building. But when he reached the front of the parking lot, he saw why there had been so many people running away in terror.
Right in front of the building, covering six handicapped parking spots, hovered a UFO. Kumar worked at NASA as a lowly tech grunt, but he was enough of a geek to know this wasn’t an Earth aircraft. The oblong craft was quite tall, at least fifteen feet, with a see-through panel near the top front. The craft didn’t quite touch the ground, hovering a few inches above the pavement. Even standing from a few feet away, Kumar could feel the heat and hear the soft whine of engines.
Moving by primordial instinct, Kumar pulled out his iPhone and started taking pictures.
Just as he was switching to video, a police car pulled up, sirens wailing. It parked between the UFO and the building, and a pretty, black cop stepped out. She stared at the UFO for a moment before turning to Kumar. “You’re the only one here?” she said.
The parking lot was mostly deserted by now–Kumar could have parked much closer. Of course, he might have been reprimanded for that–it was important to use only one’s designated parking spot. He turned to the main building and saw people peeking warily out of windows. “Guess so,” he said, zooming in with his iPhone on some markings on the side of the UFO. There seemed to be a scratch just below them. “No way am I leaving if there are aliens!” he said. He’d be the talk of Facebook for weeks! All his friends on the Trekkie and Proud Facebook page would die of envy.
The cop walked closer to the UFO, frowning. Then she pulled out paper and a pen and started to write. Curious, Kumar stood beside her, leaning over her shoulder. He caught her name at the top–Shantelle Wickets–before realizing what she was doing.
“Is that a parking ticket?” he asked.
“Parking in a handicapped spot is illegal,” Shantelle said.
“Uh, yes, I guess it is,” Kumar said, staring at the UFO. It had crushed the poles with the handicapped signs beneath it. “Is it parked, though?” Technically, it was hovering just off the ground. He wondered if an alien would understand what a handicapped sign meant.
Shantelle looked at the UFO for a long minute, her pen poised above the ticket. “Close enough,” she said and finished writing the ticket. Then, in an act of bravery equal to that of any sci-fi mega-babe, she calmly walked up to the UFO and taped the parking ticket on the side.
With a faint click, a hatch of the side of the UFO slowly opened. Kumar gasped and stared. There was a hiss as the door opened, and a faint green smoke flowed out. The hatch lowered, becoming a ramp; it stilled once it reached the concrete. Through the smoke he could see a figure, and it wasn’t remotely human. The figure slowly made its way down the hatch, and there were harsh, metallic clunks at its every step.
Shantelle took a few steps back until she was even with Kumar. He was far too busy filming to even think about running. The figure, the alien, reached the bottom of the ramp and Kumar switched from filming to snapping pictures, his heart beating a million times a minute. A real alien! He was the luckiest man alive!
The last of the green smoke cleared and Kumar and Shantelle could clearly see the alien. It had a massive jaw and sharp teeth. A semi-clear green liquid dripped from its mouth, and there was a hiss as it splashed onto the parking lot. Its four, stubby front arms ended in talons. It stood on two powerful back legs, also with sharp, talonned feet. A long tail twitched behind it, occasionally thumping against the metal ramp. It let out a loud, deep growl as it stared at them with large, beady eyes.
“Wow,” Kumar gushed. “This is so awesome!”
Shantelle crossed her arms over her chest. “Are you aware that you parked in six handicapped spots?” she asked the alien.
The alien stood at the bottom of the ramp for a long time, its gaze flickering between Kumar and Shantelle. Finally, it opened its mighty jaws and said, “You owe me for my ship.”
“You speak English?” Shantelle said.
“And you have an Australian accent?” Kumar said, tears of joy streaming down his face. “Oh man, no one’s ever gonna believe that!” He switched his iPhone back to video mode. “Can you say something again?”
The alien paused then lifted one stubby arm. Slowly and methodically, it thumped the side of its head three times. Now that he was looking, Kumar could see some sort of device attached to its head. “Is this stupid translator working?” it asked. “I said you owe me.”
Kumar grinned. “Thanks, that’s perfect,” he said, uploading the video.
“What’s wrong with your ship?” Shantelle asked.
The alien focused on her. It blinked twice, the eyelids moving sideways rather than vertically, then pointed a talon at the hull of its UFO, right under where Shantelle had taped the parking ticket. “I got a scratch from one of your satellites. I was thinking of taking it home with me–it’d make a great souvenir–and it just ran into my ship! It said NASA, so I came here.”
Kumar stepped closer to the UFO and peered at where the alien was pointing. He thought he’d seen a scratch there. “Your UFO ran into a satellite? Are you a bad driver?”
The alien glanced aside and shuffled its feet. “It was on auto-pilot,” it said. “I’m a responsible drinker.”
Shantelle raised an eyebrow. “You were drunk driving, ran into a–I’m sure–very expensive satellite that you were initially planning on stealing, and now you want us to pay for the damage?”
“Um, yes?” the alien said. It stood up straighter, its tail bagging loudly against the ramp. “My auto-pilot was working. Your satellite moved, so it’s your fault. You owe me compensation.”
Before Kumar or Shantelle could say anything, as if summoned by the implication of money, a man in a black suit marched out of the main building. A light breeze caught his little remaining hair, his suit jacket flapping. At the sight of him, Kumar attempted to hide behind Shantelle, which would have worked better if she were taller. Shantelle tried to push him away, but Kumar whined and clung to her back. “What’s wrong?” Shantelle asked.
A pathetic whimper escaped Kumar’s mouth. “That’s Mr. Jones, head of HR. Everybody’s scared of him.” Kumar and the other lowly tech grunts spend their lunch hour whispering tales of how Mr. Jones could smite any man or beast with nothing but a sharp look and an hour’s speech of incomprehensible legalese.
Mr. Jones stopped a short distance from the UFO, and put a hand on his hip. He carried a briefcase, and Kumar could only imagine what horrors might lie within. “Do you intend to bring a lawsuit against us?” he asked the alien.
“How did he hear that?” Shantelle whispered to Kumar.
“He has, like, superhuman hearing when money’s involved,” Kumar said. Mr. Jones was the reason Kumar’s division still labored away on computers that ran Windows ME. Every time someone tried to bring up the topic of upgrading, Mr. Jones would bring out an Excel spreadsheet and a monologue about expenses and soon the person would be slinking back to their cubicle, relieved they weren’t still on Windows 95.
The alien considered Mr. Jones for a long time. Then it pointed a vicious claw towards the scratch. “My ship is ruined.”
With a smirk, Mr. Jones whipped out a heavy stack of papers and handed them over to the alien, who couldn’t hold them very well. “I think you’ll find that we are fully insured against all other manner of spacecraft. We also have a team of highly-paid, Harvard-educated lawyers. If you intend to sue, you’ll have to fight us in court.”
The alien stared down at the papers and made a sound that almost resembled crying. Semi-clear liquid dripped from its jaw and burned all the way through the stack of papers, leaving a smoking hole behind.
And Kumar looked upon the hideous alien that was seconds away from bursting into tears (assuming its species was capable of producing tears), and decided to stop cowering behind Shantelle. He stepped out from behind her and glared at Mr. Jones.
“You can’t take an alien to court! This goes against every first contact protocol in existence!” He paused and added, “And you work for NASA! You should know!”
Shantelle nodded, crossing her arms under her beasts, briefly distracting Kumar. “Yes, I think SETI would have something to say about this,” she said, even though her first reaction to the alien had been to write a parking ticket.
Kumar turned back to her. “You know about SETI?” he asked.
She grinned and made the ‘live long and prosper’ Star Trek hand sign. “Naturally.”
Kumar clapped a hand over his chest. “Oh, be still my heart,” he whispered to himself. He’d heard stories of women geeks who were still good looking, but he’d always assumed those stories were empty fables, no more believable than the rumors that some poor, misguided people thought Janeway was the best captain. Then he turned back to Mr. Jones. He couldn’t back down now, after meeting the brave, geeky woman of his dreams. “Come on, Mr. Jones. It’s just a little scratch.” He pointed to the scratch in question.
Mr. Jones scowled and adjusted his glasses. “Absolutely not. That would set a dangerous, legal precedence. Besides, it might be a small scratch, but this ship is likely made from an unknown material. Fixing even a small scratch could cost millions.” He turned back to the alien, whose saliva had mostly disintegrated the sheaf of papers by now. “If you will refer to section 4, paragraph seventeen, you will see–”
But Kumar wasn’t listening. He pushed past Mr. Jones and marched inside the building. It only took him a few minutes to find the right closet. He knew where everything in the building was, as he’d spent every evening of his first month here looking for aliens or secret government projects. From the closet, he took out what he needed and headed back outside. Mr. Jones was still quoting at the alien, and Shantelle’s eyes had crossed from listening. A news van was parked a safe distance away, with reporters and cameramen crouched behind it. Kumar ignored all of it.
He walked right up to the scratch on the UFO. He opened up the paint can he’d brought with him and dipped in the brush. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after he’d painted over the scratch that he realized he’d brought black paint and the UFO was bright gray. He bit his lip for a moment then grinned.
Slowly, he painted ‘Love From Earth,’ on the side of the UFO. When he was finished, he turned to the alien, a proud grin on his face. “You can’t see the scratch anymore,” he said. “And you got a cool souvenir.”
The alien stared at his paint job. A strange sound escaped its massive jaw. Kumar realized a moment later it was laughing. “Excellent,” it said. “I guess I won’t have to blow up your planet after all.” And it turned around and walked back inside the UFO. The ramp rose slowly and there was a faint humming sound from the engines. Or, Kumar thought, possibly from a stereo, as it had a very pleasant beat. Slowly, the UFO lifted off the ground and into the air.
In less than a minute, it was out of sight. “Good riddance,” Mr. Jones said.
Shantelle turned to him. “You do realize, sir, that you’ll have to fix the handicapped signs?” She pointed to the signs that the UFO had flattened.
“What?” Mr. Jones cried.
“It’s illegal to not have handicapped parking clearly marked,” Shantelle said.
A faint whimper escaped Mr. Jones before he turned and fled back inside the building. Kumar turned to Shantelle with a grin. “He’ll be okay. Handicapped signs can’t be that expensive,” he said. “And maybe if he gets used to spending, we can finally upgrade. Are you busy tonight?”
Shantelle blinked then grinned back. “I get off work at five. Meet me here, and bring the paint.” She turned and headed back to her police car.
Kumar laughed. He pulled out his iPhone and took another picture of himself, which he posted on Facebook, commenting, ‘Me, on the best day of my life!’