Welcome to the fifth installment of “My Crappiest Stories”! And on time for a change!
The rules of this game are remarkably simple: every five weeks I post one of my “trunk stories.” These are obscenely crappy sci-fi stories I’ve submitted to major New York publishers. They’ve been rejected over and over again, ad humiliatum. Read on if you want to see what the very worst science fiction in the history of the known universe looks like. Nobody wants these: not Asimov’s, F&SF, Apex, or Analog. I submit them here, for your erudite perusal, so you’ll know what NOT to do if you wanna get published.
I wish I could say I was proud to present…
Goodbye, Cruel Earth
Most Favored Parent,
I was instructed only to communicate with you in times of direst need. That time has come. I have decided to end my life.
This is a drastic move, and righteously I hear you question its wisdom. I am the highest-ranked and most auspicious exchange student which the Members of the Second Order appointed to serve on Earth. This is a historic period of cooperation between the people of Earth and the gra’hel of Syn-Quet, but it is also a tenuous one. I am aware that my death will cause a scandal. Questions will be laid at the feet of our ambassador here on Earth and Earth’s representative back home. It may even lead to war. I do not know.
I do not care.
I feel I can no longer live among humans.
I would escape this planet if I could, but the terms of my stay here were clear and nonnegotiable. For three Solar years I was to study human language, culture, and ethnography here, me and a hand-picked group of fifteen other gra’hel, the best and brightest students from the four corners of the Syn-Quet Ascendancy. But they are abroad at other universities, and I am alone here in Cambridge. There is no ship that shall bear me home. My position here has become untenable, so the best I can do is send you this message in hopes that you will understand.
This place is a cesspool.
Earth is a miserable, muculent planet much too far away from its star. This city, even in the height of this hemisphere’s warm season, is lucky to reach 2 mu of temperature. In the winter it may fall as low as -1 mu. I find myself shivering constantly. I cannot “wear more layers” as my human classmates advise me. Any fool should realize that simple wool or polyester would melt as soon as it touches my skin. The university has at least done me the courtesy of letting me reside in the boiler room, though I suspect this had more to do with my schoolmates’ unceasing complaints about my body odor. I can’t help it if my skin’s protective coating is high in ammonium sulfate. I could tell my classmates precisely what I think of their nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, but they can’t understand me around the bulky rebreather I must wear everywhere I go.
During the two seasonal breaks students receive in a single Solar year, I have traveled. I did as I was instructed, Parent. I was not idle. I explored Earth thoroughly: every continent but for the one to the south, a miserable bundle of rock coated in water ice. I dare not tread there.
Each place I found was worse than the last. Damp jungles, warmer than Cambridge but full of pests, parasites, and bacteria. High mountains, frigid and windswept and skewered by Solar radiation. The only places in which I came close to finding solace were the deserts. They were warm, almost warm enough, but depressingly sunny. I miss the yellow clouds of home.
But my depression does not stem solely from my surroundings. The humans are the deciding factor. I cannot understand why the potentates of the Ascendancy have chosen to ally themselves with these humans. Nor can I discern how they managed to survive long enough to begin walking erect and using tools. They are a selfish, shortsighted, and individualistic people. And when they are not, they are downright stupid. Many are motivated and work hard, but most of these are driven by emotion rather than pragmatism. One of the history books I translated spoke of a human scientist who labored for years to find a cure for a disease called polio, but refused to patent it, thereby robbing himself of a fortune!
But I speak of generalities. Specifically, my classmates at the university refuse to accept me. They avoid me as I locomote down the halls, and switch chairs when I sit near them in an effort to be amiable. Perhaps the rebreather mask I wear has a disfiguring effect. I suspect, however, that many students are simply too bigoted to accept a six-legged, echolocating, ammonia-breathing gra’hel as one of their own. Shadows on my photoreceptors tell me that they’re waving their manual appendages in front of their olfactory organs when I come near. I have neither the sensory apparatus nor the energy to decipher facial expressions, but I imagine they are offended by my odor, as I previously stated. This is something I cannot help. Do they not understand?
It is primarily for this last reason that I have decided to forsake my tenure here on Earth. I am trapped. My existence is intolerable and seems without end. I do not with to spend three Solar years—a quarter of my lifespan—in this sort of misery. My rebreather digs into my mandibles. I don’t remember the last time I felt warm. The sun is blinding. My classmates do not welcome me. Every attempt I make to understand the human mind has been foiled by their insistence on making decisions based on emotion and intuition rather than instinct and expediency.
I can bear this no longer.
I have already determined the method by which I shall depart this life and return to my ancestors in the Hallowed Halls. Earth has, at least, pronounced volcanism. The mid-semester lacuna—my classmates call it “spring break”—approaches. I shall take the express spaceplane to the island of Hawai’i and the fiery mountain called Kilauea, where, my guidebook informs me, there is a large caldera. Inside lies a lava lake burning at nearly 80 mu. I shall doff this wretched rebreather and go for a swim. The heat and suffocating pressure should be enough to kill me in 15 to 20 saracs. Neither a quick nor a pleasant death, but the quickest and surest I can imagine on this planet. Leaping from bridges and stepping in front of moving vehicles speak to humanity’s laughable fragility as a species.
Goodbye, Parent. By the time this message reaches you on superluminal channels, I will be among my ancestors. Know that I am happier there than I could ever be on this damp, cold, sunny hell-world.
Perhaps I should have instructed myself in the human “sense of humor” before I came here.
With mutual respect,