First Contact for Dummies, a Science Fiction Short Story

First Contact for Dummies

A Science Fiction Short Story

 

I was just about to dig into my mouthwatering lentil and quinoa bowl at Happy Herb’s Vegan Restaurant when the aliens walked in.

I stopped, spoon halfway to my mouth, and stared at the newcomers.

I normally try not to stare but, well, they did have tentacles trailing out from under their arms and a third eye smack in the middle of their foreheads.

science fiction short story

The one on the right was wearing a long black coat with no shirt, the blue tentacles curling around the edges of the open garment. He marched over to where I sat, phone in hand to take a picture of my meal, and pointed a three-jointed blue finger at me. “You! You are a vegan?”

Well, I never expected that to be the first question a space alien asked me.

“Um… yes?” Just my luck, the guy was apparently from some planet where everyone angrily demanded to know where vegans get their protein…just like here on Earth.

The second alien, who was wearing a Grateful Dead shirt and chinos, leaned over my table and glared at me with all three of his eyes. I guess it was a him. Actually, they were both wearing pants and I had no idea if they were mammals, so the lack of boobs might not mean anything…

“You started a war!” he yelled at me.

Well, that was different. Usually I got accused of killing carrots or eating all the rabbits’ food or some other nonsense. “What are you talking about?”

Johnny Cash reached out and pulled Grateful Dead back with one of his tentacles. “We know what you people did to our planet, and we’re not going to take it.”

“Your planet? Look, we humans have fucked up Earth royally, but to the best of my knowledge we haven’t managed to ruin any other planets… yet.” In retrospect, that was maybe not the best argument.

Johnny Cash gripped the edges of my table with two tentacles. They had suckers that adhered to the plastic-coated surface, pulling the table a few centimeters back toward the aliens. “Look, this isn’t…I believe the expression on your planet is, ‘This isn’t funny.’”

Ah, so they were using some sort of internal translation device. I wondered about that.

This isn’t funny lost something in the translation, though. “I’m not laughing. And I don’t know what you think we vegans did, but I promise you, we didn’t start an interplanetary war or whatever. All we do is eat plants and take pictures of our food and post them on Instagram, I swear.”

Grateful Dead slapped the table with a tentacle. “What if we don’t believe you?”

Shit, what should I do now? “Did you look at our planet when you were… about to land? You might have seen some satellites in orbit and a couple space stations, but did you see anything that looked like it was capable of taking off for another solar system? Google it from that computer chip in your head if you don’t believe me, but we humans have never been farther than our own moon.”

“But you’re not human,” snarled Grateful Dead, while Johnny Cash stared off into space, presumably taking my advice. “You’re vegans.”

I blinked. “Vegans are humans. We’re just humans who eat plants. Like this.” I gestured at my quickly-cooling bowl of quinoa and lentils. If these aliens didn’t leave me alone soon, it was going to be ice cold.

Johnny Cash looked down and locked all three of his green eyes on me. “The net says you’re telling the truth. Your physiology is a 100 percent match for our database’s info on humans.”

“Um… thanks?” It’s not often I get called normal, but I’d let it pass if it got rid of these two.

“But there are vegans here. Your net has many references to them. It says this is a vegan restaurant.” Grateful waved a tentacle around the room. None of the other diners notice.

“But they’re all human, according to our database.” Johnny looked around, confused, then turned back to me. “Why did you say you were a vegan if you’re not?”

Why would he think a bunch of vegans started a space war? Why would he be searching our internet for info about vegans in the first place? Did vegan mean something else on their planet?

Their planet! I smacked my hand to my forehead, forgetting it was holding my phone, and nearly gave myself a black eye. Of course, Vega was a constellation somewhere in space.

“You’re looking for people from Vega?” I asked.

They both blinked all their eyes at me like I was stupid. “Yes. That’s what we’re saying. This is supposed to be a restaurant for vegans.”

I couldn’t help it. I started laughing.

“We are not amused,” said Grateful Dead, and they definitely did not look amused.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “But we don’t have any people from Vega here. When you find the word vegan on our internet, it means people who eat vegan food. Like this.” I point at my bowl again. “It has nothing to do with being from Vega, okay? We’ve never even had alien visitors before.”

quinoa

All three of Johnny’s eyes went wide. “Wait, you mean you eat… “

He trailed off and looked at Grateful. I didn’t know if they were communicating via their chips or what, but they didn’t say anything, they just stared at each other for a minute. Then they swiveled their heads back around to face me.

“We’re sorry for the misunderstanding,” said Johnny, slowly backing away. “We won’t bother you or your planet again.”

They both turned and sprinted for the door.

Now, why would they be afraid of a plant eater like me? Most people make jokes like, “Oh, a vegan, guess you don’t know how to hunt, huh?”

Unless he misunderstood me a second time…

I turned my attention back to my food and finally took a bite of my perfectly-flavored quinoa and lentils. I guess the pieces of tofu might have looked a little like meat. But why would anyone eat people from Vega when they could eat quinoa and lentils?

And that’s the story of how I, armed only with a bowl of lentils and quinoa, saved Earth from being attacked by confused and angry aliens.

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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Sneak Peek of Destination: Titan from Author Liza O’Connor

Destination: Titan

By

Liza O’Connor

Blurb

With Earth destined for a new ice-age, seven scientists and twenty-two brilliant teenagers are gathered in a compound deep within a mountain. There they struggle to come together as a group and complete the projects needed for their survival in the inhospitable environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. However, certain factions on Earth have no intention of letting Project Einstein succeed. Keeping the group alive and productive is the hardest task Colonel Lancaster and his soldiers have ever had, but they are determined to succeed no matter how well the saboteurs have planned. The continuation of the human race depends upon it.

Destination Titan by Liza O'Connor #scifi
Destination Titan by Liza O’Connor #scifi

Excerpt

So, you’re telling me I was chosen over every other biochemist in the world because my favorite color is orange.” Tamara tugged at a strand of her short blonde hair. Her mentor was the brightest man she knew, but this didn’t make any sense at all!

Maxwell’s eyes sparkled. “I love the way your brain tunnels in and isolates the key differentiator.”

The fact I like the color orange should not be a key differentiator.”

Her mentor shrugged and paced the small, open space of the conference room. “Well, when all other things were equal, it became so. This project requires a top biochemist under the age of thirty, in excellent health, unmarried, with no constraints that would prevent traveling. There were quite a few scientists who met those requirements. Therefore, further differentiators were selected. The ability to work with teenagers dropped out all but two, and your clear preference for the color orange put you securely on top of the last remaining candidate.”

But it’s a meaningless differentiator unless we’re going someplace that only has the color orange.” She fell silent as she considered that possibility. “Exactly how far will we be traveling?”

Quite a distance.” His eyes twitched several times.

They only did that when he was conflicted, which told her she was asking the right question to discover whatever it was that he was under orders not to reveal. “Will we be traveling on Earth or away from it?”

The twitches intensified.

Tam, I cannot tell you anything until you’ve agreed to go.”

Jesus! We’re going to Titan, aren’t we?”

He removed his reading glasses and pressed his hand over his left eye to still the twitches. “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

Titan: Saturn’s orange moon. Forty percent the size of Earth and rich in life-supporting chemicals. Bedrock composed of ice, rivers and seas of liquid methane, and enough hydrocarbons to heat the Earth for a thousand years.

What is the purpose of the trip?”

I cannot tell you anything until you agree to go.”

Well, I cannot give you my answer until I know if we’re going to harvest the hydrocarbons for Earth or if we’re going to try to colonize it.”

Max now had both eyes covered with his hands. “Tam, I cannot tell you. You will just have to use that brilliant mind of yours to figure it out all on your own.”

His response told her that something he’d said had provided the answer. She focused on the ability to work with teenagers. You wouldn’t take teenagers on a ship to harvest, but you would to start a colony. By the time they arrived, they’d be young adults possessing a full span of child-bearing years.

I’ll go.”

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About the Author

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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Destination: Titan
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Arrival: Titan by Liza O'Connor #scifi
Arrival: Titan by Liza O’Connor #scifi

*****************************************************************************

 V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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