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    Bugbear in the Playground

    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    biggrin Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    The thread has kind of died down a bit, so here is another story to get the wheels turning again.
    There are still free slots left, but please critique all the same.

    This story is set in the future, from the point of view of an alien who came to Earth. I wrote it about a year and a half ago, so the style of writing is probably fairly different to my other submissions.

    My Life as an Earthling, Sci-fi
    Dear Diary
    I am on the Star Trooper™ heading for Heathrow Spaceport. I come from Qwyhstxnfgj. I am doing a tour of the universe. I have been to all three moons of Qwyhstxnfgj, and now I am going to the other side of the galaxy. Soon I shall reach Earth. I shall keep a record of all that I do there. I think humans call it a 'diary.'

    Day One
    10:00 p.m.
    It's been a long day. I woke up in the Year of the Chimpanzee, on the Third Moon of my home, Planet Qwyhstxnfgj - which for some reason these two-legged beasts can't pronounce - and now I am on Earth, in the year 2073. I just don't understand the Earthlings' calendar. However, that's a minor problem. The worst thing is, I am surrounded by humans. It's absolutely disgusting. I mean, for one thing, they only have two eyes. I'm surprised they don't spend half their time peering around behind them, because in Qwyhstxnfgj my sixteen eyes pointing in all different directions are completely necessary for survival. You always need to be able to see everything in Qwyhstxnfgj. But here, there isn't danger like that. I've only been here half a day, but I've already been classed as a 'paranoid freak' by John, the hotel-owner. Apart from that, though, he has been very hospitable.
    I expected to be the only alien here; but actually there is a Vompoon from Vyropolis, a Gronkle from Xygo, an Othyran from Titan, and a Shchoztlcoglos from Shchozltcoglovillia; all living in my hotel. It's lovely company, really. This is the first planet I have ever been in that has so many intergalactic cultures. Especially London. London has so many aliens.
    "A multicultural society is a happy society," I remembered my mother saying to me.
    I see aliens everywhere, it's wonderful. Despite those horrid two-legged things, this could actually turn out to be an enjoyable holiday!

    Day Two
    11:00 a.m.
    I got up late today, at nine o'clock, and found carefully laid in my room was a kettle of water, a tray with food on it, and instructions of how to use the shower. It took me a while of searching through my trusty handbook, "Horrible Humans and How They Live," to find out what a shower is, and what it is for. It seems that humans generate some kind of artificial rainstorm, called a shower. First it sprays you with plain water; then with antiseptic water; then with soapy water; then with more antiseptic water; then with more plain water to rinse it all off; and finally with boiling gases to dry you. There were two sets of controls, one designed to be operated by hands, the other designed for tentacles. I thought that was very kind of them. Using it was rather fun. I don't know why, I just get this childish joy out of being sprayed with water for ten minutes.
    I ate the food provided, then spat it out again.
    "That's disgusting!" I cried. I looked it up in my handbook, and found that this was bread, burnt by some kind of machine, then with a yellow dairy product spread all over it. Why ruin a perfectly good piece of bread?
    I tried the hot water, and it seared my throat. I realised that I was meant to pour it out of the kettle into the mug, and then, according to my handbook, drop a little bag into it. The book said:
    "This drink is called 'tea.' Most artificial foods of humans do not stay popular for more than a century, however this drink is very important to British humans, and they consider it their national drink."
    I tried it, and found that it wasn't too bad. It was better than the burnt bread, at least. I would have much preferred some Qwykzande, (my favourite beverage), so I went and got some from my travel kit, and drank some. I smiled. Then, I had an idea.
    I poured some more water into the mug, and then added Qwykzande. I reached forward to pour it down my throat, gripped the handle, which promptly came clean off. I looked in terror as the mug was eaten away and then slowly the table started to get eaten as well. I ran to my bags and pulled out another book, "What not to do with H2O" and looked up Qwykzande. Apparently, it produces a deadly acid. I read, on finding that certain chemicals in my bloodstream made it safe for me. I gingerly touched the puddle eating at the carpet, and steam rose. I saw that my tentacle was now dry as bone, but safe. I stuck it in the shower to get it moist again, and cleaned up the mess. I had no idea how I was going to explain the damage to John.
    However, later it turned out that I needn't have worried. As I started to explain, he looked at me with a slight smile, and a raised eyebrow.
    "…the tea didn't taste nice, and, well I'm sorry, but, I added -"
    "Quicksand,"He finished, in his heavy Scottish accent. "You added quicksand, didn't you, lad?"
    I nodded guiltily. I was surprised that he even knew the word.
    "Don't worry." He smiled. "You're not the first. You'll still have to pay for it, though."
    "Although, may I ask, how do you know about Qwykzande? I thought earthlings didn't drink it."
    "We don't drink it, no, but it is quite common in marshy areas." He explained.
    I frowned. "It wouldn't be in marshy areas." I muttered. "Are we thinking of the same thing?
    "Quicksand, right?" He said. "Yeah, sucks you down into the earth. A real pain"
    "Write it down." I insisted
    He wrote: 'Quicksand,' quickly, in neat handwriting.
    "No, no no!" I exclaimed. "This!" I wrote: 'Qwykzande,' writing it slowly and deliberately, and very messy.
    "Never heard of it," he said.
    "I think that you have, you just misunderstood. It sounds so similar to quicksand."
    "Wow!" He chuckled. "I've been saying that wrong for years!" He slapped himself on the forehead. "John, you are a fool!" He muttered to himself.
    I took advantage of the distraction, and slunk off before he noticed that I hadn't paid.

    Day Three
    6:00 p.m.
    I went to a pub today. I drank five bottles of beer. It turned out to be delicious. I like the way it fizzles down my throat. I also liked the inviting atmosphere of the pub. It was very cosy, with plenty of people. The only problem was, some people were behaving incredibly inappropriately. There were a group of them singing sea shanties in a corner, with their arms around each other; one person was doing a jig on a table; people kept throwing bottles; and many others were just staggering around with a crazed grin, and disturbingly wide eyes.
    When I was halfway through my fourth bottle, I noticed everybody looking at me expectantly, as if something strange happens when you drink four bottles of beer. They seemed rather disappointed when nothing happened. I wonder why.
    Nothing else of interest happened today. I had a look around the neighbourhood. There wasn't much to do.

    Day Four
    3:00 p.m.
    Late this morning, John explained to me what had happened in the pub.
    "When you have a lot of beer," he explained, "it tends to go to your head, lad. You can't think straight, and you do darn stupid things. Aye, drink shall be our downfall, one day. It makes the greatest men act like fools. I don't know why it didn't affect you, lad, but you're lucky it didn't. Whatever chemicals you aliens have in your blood, it makes you a whole lot healthier than us, aright lad?"
    "Thanks. Is that what those men looked as though they were waiting for?" I asked.
    He frowned. "Aye, probably. Don't be worrying about them, lad. They're probably just people who wanted to tease you when you got drunk. There be too many men like that in this world, you mark my words," he told me sternly.
    After John had explained all this, I made my way to the apartment of Gronkle, from Xygo, who had invited me for lunch. Gronkle had been on Earth for several years now, living in France. His species conversed using only complex movements, not sound, therefore the first language he had learnt to speak was French.
    I sat awkwardly at his table, wondering how I was going to explain that I don't eat human food, when he suddenly paraded in, cradling in his arms a large metal dish with a cloth over it.
    "Voila!" he exclaimed, dramatically removing the cloth to reveal silicate ratatouille, a French version of an intergalactic delicacy.
    "Fantastic!" I cheered. "I thought I would have to put up with human food! This is great!"
    "Ooh la la, no!" He whipped out from under his coat a frost-coated flask, and with a toothless grin, and a grotesque wink, he said: "Bon appétit!
    I took the flask, and found, to my delight, that it was full of beautifully cold hydrogen! I tipped some down my throat, and grinned broadly.
    "I haven't had a good cup of hydrogen in ages!" I smiled.
    "Well, now you have, mon ami," he replied cheerfully.
    I dug hungrily into my silicate ratatouille, savouring every bite. It was wonderful to have a food that I was used to at home in this strange place. It wasn't quite as good as my mother made it, but it was still very well cooked.
    "How did you cook this plastic?" I asked incredulously. "It's so sweet and soft!"
    Gronkle merely tapped the side of his nose - which looked very difficult, as it is right on top of his long head - and sauntered of with my empty dish.
    I went home, for the first time in too long, with a full belly and in a good mood.

    Day Five
    5:00 p.m.
    I had a look at the tourist attractions in Central London today. I loved the Millennium Sphere. It spun you round slowly, in transparent antigravity force-fields, so that you could see all of London, the huge sphere rotating all around. According to my handbook, the Sphere used to be known as the Millennium Wheel, or the London Eye, and it was a 2D circle rotating round and round, in weak glass pods. I smiled at these primitive humans' supposed 'revolutionary' ideas.
    It was also fun watching at Brobdingnagian Ben. Another landmark that had changed over the years, this used to be called Big Ben, and it was a large clock tower. Now, it is an unimaginably massive, immense clock, suspended by a steady jet of oxygen coming out the bottom, towering over London. Apparently, for a few years the jet had been fire, but it was so hugely damaging to the environment that they did a huge project to convert it while it was still in the air. If they had taken it down, it would have crushed a large portion of Central London.
    I also climbed the famous flood barriers of the Thames, put there in 2057, after the so-called "Great Flood," the largest flood London has ever known. London survived at the time, and very few people were killed, and only the houses literally right next to the river were knocked down. Everything else was just minor damage. My handbook said that at the time scientists had said that if the flood had happened around fifty years ago London would have been very severely damaged, as most houses were, amazingly, made of brick! Honestly, these humans are ridiculously primitive.
    I ate supper in the Andromeda Café, an alien-only restaurant. I was a little bit affronted at being called an "alien," but the food was far better than my usual meals, so I didn't mind too much. They served food from Andromeda, a galaxy far from my home, and therefore the food was still quite unfamiliar. However, it was cooked in a similar style to Qwyhstxnfgj's food, so it was still a surprising treat.

    Day Six
    9:00 a.m.
    This is my last entry in my Earth Diary. Soon I will be entering Terminal 43, at Heathrow Spaceport. Next stop on my tour of the universe I shall be going to Alpha Centauri, and then to some other stars. Perhaps I shall return one day, but I doubt it.
    I think this has been a life changing experience. Earth is such a different place from my home, Qwyhstxnfgj, and yet in many ways, it is so similar. The two-legged creatures may be disgusting beasts, but in their eyes, so am I. I feel ashamed that I hardly realised that they still have feelings, and brains. They still make progress, make new discoveries, new inventions, and revolutionise their technology again and again. The technology is primitive compared to mine, but centuries ago, the technology of my people was at the same level as theirs.
    I came here disgusted by the nauseating humans, and now I am almost sorry to leave.

    Good bye, earthlings.
    Good bye, Earth.

    Look out for my other diaries from my tour of the universe, available in every major intergalactic bookshop:
    The Moons of My Home
    Milky Way, But No Sugar
    My Life as an Earthling
    Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta
    My Andromeda Adventure
    Smoking in the Cigar Galaxy
    Shooting With Comets
    Drowning in Whirlpool Galaxy
    Triangulum isn't Triangular
    The Last of Omega Centauri
    Last edited by Zolkabro; 2011-07-05 at 02:09 AM.