I know you’ve been waiting for it. That special time, every five weeks, when I put one of my crappy trunk stories up here on this blog, a story that’s been rejected by every major New York sci-fi magazine, a story so laughably awful that it would make Roger Zelazny puke, Ray Bradbury smash his typewriter, Stephen King shoot himself, and Ursula K. Le Guin retire to a cabin in Argentina.
Why do I share these stories? So I can show you what not to do. Read, and be warned.
Just to be clear, the following story has no plot. None whatsoever. Zip. Nada. There’s no conflict, no antagonist, no drama, no rising action, no denouement, nothing. It’s just a letter. I don’t know why I ever thought it’d fly at a major sci-fi mag.
Without further ado…
Letter from the E.T. Killer
May 5, 2105
Editor, Los Angeles Times
202 W. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
I feel that I have been unjustly maligned in the holo-news and by netizens the world over for my actions, the latest of which has garnered more international and interplanetary media coverage than the Near Miss of 2072. I’ve sent you this zmail message—an open letter, if you will—so that I may clarify my motives (or lack thereof) and provide some context for my actions. If you see fit to broadcast this epistle publicly, I shall be eternally grateful.
I killed my first alien when I was nineteen. I was a sophomore at UCLA, and I had just managed to pry myself away from a rather hectic off-campus party. Coors Light and Old Overholt go right to my head, you know. I was staggering back to my apartment, three sheets to the wind. I hadn’t planned to kill an alien or anything. It just happened. I took a shortcut down an alley and there was a malgonite, bobbing ahead of me like a gray-green beach ball. Gasbags, the League of Human Students and other bigots call them. (You don’t have to print that sentence if it’ll offend anyone, ma’am.) Malgonites are about a meter in circumference, some stubby little antennae and a dozen compound eyeballs topside, six vestigial legs beneath. Their distant ancestors had once been lizard-like critters, but had evolved inflatable helium bladders to escape from predators—or so I’d read. After a few million years they couldn’t deflate themselves anymore and were permanently airborne. They got along pretty well on Earth, as long as no one flew them up too high in an airplane or tried to take them scuba diving.
Or gave them a good, hard, solid kick against a jagged brick wall.
Don’t ask me why I did it. I’m not an angry drunk. I have nothing against aliens. I just felt like it. We all get urges. There isn’t a man or woman alive who hasn’t looked at their best friend and suddenly, irrationally gotten the urge to stick a fork in their eyeball. What separates the sane man from the psycho is that the sane man can resist the impulse to slaughter, swallow it down before it takes shape, just like Cronus did to his son Zeus and the rest of Rhea’s children, stopping murderous intent in childbirth. But a psycho can’t shut it off, or sees no reason to.
My second kill was barely a week after the first: a sagittar I happened across while hiking in the Santa Monicas, above all the damn smog and traffic. Sagittar have a fascination with boundaries. Their foggy, windy home planet is awash with predators, nearly all of whom hunt by smell. Primitive sagittar learned to congregate near sulfur deposits, building low walls of the foul-smelling crap around their settlements, creating a barrier of stink between them and the things which hunted them. Though they’ve long since mastered spaceflight and left their hell-world behind, sagittar still like to stroll the perimeters—back fences, city limits, county lines—as if to reassure themselves that they’re secure. That’s what this one was doing, clumping along on three trunk-like, blue-furred legs, eyes invisible behind the visor of his environment suit, moving in a perfectly straight line. He hardly gave me a second glance as we passed each other by. I killed him out of curiosity. I’d killed an alien once, up a dark alley while drunk off my gourd. Did I have the stones to do it again in broad daylight, while sober?
The third one I killed just to see if I could get away with it. A gereul. No sex; they’re all hermaphroditic. Their home world is huge, but nearly devoid of life. Food supplies are so scarce that their population is permanently low. Their gestation period is years long, and their clutches of eggs aren’t very big. They kind of look like huge flatworms, but they don’t slither. Each pore on their body is like a miniature jet engine. Two organic compounds mix inside subcutaneous glands and shoot out of the pores, creating lift and thrust. They levitate across the ground. On cold days, you can see the little heat waves radiating off their olive-green hides. They leave an odor similar to car exhaust wherever they go. I noticed a gereul flitting about the alleyway below my apartment, so I went and grabbed a mostly full bottle of Bacardi 151 off my shelf, tore up an old T-shirt, wetted a shred of it, and set a match to it. I dropped the Molotov cocktail out the window just as the gereul flitted by below. Lit him up like a bonfire. He thrashed and squirmed for ages. By the time the fire department showed up, there was nothing left but a heap of smoldering sludge.
After that I decided to go pro. The rest of my eight kills have been meticulous. No trace. Easy in, easy out.
How’ve I gotten away with it so far? Two reasons. Number one, I’m careful. I take all the precautions: contact lenses which scramble my retinal patterns, a nylon mask with angular plastic protrusions which confound facial recognition systems, and gloves. I kill in empty parks, in dark, narrow alleyways (still plenty of those around), and in the tenebrous corners of nightclubs where there’s no CCTV coverage.
Number two, aliens are very easy to kill.
Eight kills in ten years doesn’t seem like much, but I’m a good hunter. I don’t overdo it. My work hasn’t gone unnoticed, as you know. After the fifth kill the authorities started noticing a pattern. After the sixth and seventh, they got the idea that it was just one person. Though the killings are seemingly random, the method is always the same. I’ve left a trail of burst malgonites, suffocated sagittars, and charred gereuls behind me. The police just don’t know who I am. And they never will.
But I can’t get carried away. Statements issued by the NAF/EU and other governing bodies have denounced me as the greatest threat to interplanetary peace and coexistence that’s ever existed. After my seventh kill—another malgonite—the heads of various alien factions threatened to close their embassies on Earth and transport every one of their citizens off-world if the human authorities couldn’t track me down and guarantee their people’s safety. That actually raised the hairs on the top of my head. No more aliens. No more hunts. I won’t kid you: I was scared. I laid low for months, until I judged the heat had died down and the homicide detectives were still scratching their heads. Then I killed my eighth. Another sagittar. Pop goes the rebreather tube.
The reporters call me “the E.T. Killer” and say I’m a speciesist. I laugh at them. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in the break room at work or riding the mag-lev and I’ll just spontaneously burst into laughter, and everyone around will give me a funny look. Probably think I’m bonkers. But I’m not. And I’m not a speciesist. Was the Boston Strangler sexist? Or Joseph Paul Franklin racist? No. Whatever those men were, they weren’t bigots. They did it for the thrill. As do I.
Some hunters sit in the frigid predawn darkness waiting for ducks to flap by. Others pick up a high-powered rifle or perhaps even a bow and arrows and march into the bush to find a leopard, an elephant, or a rhino. The special prey. The exotic prey. Prey worth killing. That’s me. I’m a big-game hunter. The thought of murdering humans bores me. Sure, there are plenty of people I know who could use a knife in the gut, but where’s the novelty in that? They’d scream and clutch at the wound and bleed gaudy vermillion all over their kitchen floors and curse me with their dying breaths. If I wanted to see that I could go see any old slasher flick and just sit there, projecting. No thanks. Murdering an extraterrestrial is a whole new kind of thrill. Nothing compares to walking up behind a sagittar, reaching out with a wool-gloved hand, and plucking loose that oh-so-vital rebreather tube. Fatal design flaw, you see. Earth’s oxygen is just nitrogen-rich enough to prevent the hazard suit’s environmental alarms from going off. The poor bugger never even realizes that a fatal buildup of oxygen—metabolic poison for alien species—is occurring. He just chokes to death on his own blood twenty minutes later. I bumped off two more sagittars (my fourth and fifth kills) before the coroner began to rule the deaths as anything other than accidental.
I said killing aliens was easy, didn’t I?
Number six was a malgonite, smashed against the side of a dumpster in a public park. Number seven was a malgonite too. I barely remember that one. Smeared her all over a nightclub floor, as I recall.
I wanted my eighth—my first kill in nine months—to be public, ultimatums be damned. I selected a gereul. Homeless or geriatric or just unwanted, I don’t know. Slept every night near a warm subway grate on a quiet street. Boom—another Molotov cocktail, tossed over a fence this time. It hit him and smashed, and he woke up and lit his jets. Bonfire. My most high-profile kill yet.
All I want is for people to see me for what I am—a sportsman. If you, ma’am, decide to publish this anonymous confession I’m sending you through a nicely anonymous library computer terminal, maybe people will understand that I’m not a bigot. I just have an unusual hobby.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with Number 9. And I have bolt cutters with me in case he’s reinforced his rebreather tube.
“The E.T. Killer”