Monday, September 1, 2014



by Mandy Ward

It doesn’t take you long to realise that the Sheriff is right. “Damn.” You grumble as you take the bridge back up and return the saloon to an approximation of normal. “You sure you want me to do this? It could kill as many as it could save.”

The sheriff chuckles. “If’n you’re right about this Garlock, then that’s more than he’d leave alive.”

Taking a deep breath you look at Sally. “I want you to go to the mine. Talk to my second in command, Veezlbez. Tell him that he was right all along and that we’re going to need to take Garlock down.”

She nods reluctantly. “You want me to go now?”

You return the nod, trying very hard to ignore the flashing light under the bar. “Tell him to step on it.”

She smiles and runs out of the door.

You wonder if she’ll return with Veezlbez and the rest of the crew or high tail it out of town and save her own skin. Obscurely, you hope that it’s the latter.

“What’d we need to do doc?” the sheriff asks, trying not to move his shoulder.

You sigh and slither over. “Let me look at that.”

He nods and looks away as you bring one of your smaller tentacles toward the wound. A quick jab and wriggle later, you’ve extracted the bullet. Using your inbuilt anaesthetic, antiseptic glue, you clean and close the hole.

The sheriff looks at it. “See. You’n the Doc still. I dint feel a thing.”

Shrugging you move back behind the bar. “Go round up the men folk. Tell the women and children to hide in the storm cellars. If this works, they’ll be okay to come up in a day or two. If not, then they’d best be able for a long stay.”

The sheriff looks worried. “How long a stay?”

About a hundred years. You think and decide to lie. “Food and water for a month at least.”

“How long have they got to prepare?” he moves towards the door.
You glance down at the display next to the flashing light. “Between four and ten hours. It all depends on if he decides to land his ship or beam down.”

The sheriff goes white and runs out of the door.

Three hours later, you’ve set everything up in the saloon. All the computational work is done and all you need now are the extras. You decide to don Doc’s skin one last time, just to make life easier.

The saloon door swings open. Veezlbez and the rest of the crew slip inside, looking green around the gills. Wonder of wonders, they’ve managed creditable human costumes. And no Sally.

“Where’d you want us, Boss?” Veezlbez asks.

“You come and sit at the bar, Vee. Security, dot yourselves around the perimeter and the rest of you pick a seat anywhere.” You watch with relief as they jump into action and settle themselves.”

“You want to do what we discussed on the way into this pokey planet, Boss?” Vee asks, toying with the glass of Malrovian Whisky you pour him.

“As close as I can.” You pour yourself a shot and toss it back. The alcohol makes Vee’s face blur and double for a second. “Whoowee, that hit the spot.”

The Sheriff wanders in, the men of the town following him and looking around nervously. You direct them to sit anywhere that is left and then check the display under the counter. “He’s come to a halt in orbit, Vee. He’ll be beaming down. You ready for this?”

Your second in command nods and swallows the whisky. “Now or never, Boss.”

You stand up on the Bar. “Gentlemen, we are about to have a visitor to this fair planet. You may have heard rumours of what I look like under this costume,” you pull at the skin you’re wearing, making it gape for a second around the eyes. “But this fella is three times as bad.”

The crowd mumble amongst themselves.

“All I want you human folks to do is be scenery. Sit, drink, chat. It’sall you need to do. My crew will do all the dangerous stuff.” You feel the tentacles at the back of your neck buzz. He’s here. “Just ignore the bloke and let me deal with it.”

The humans seem relieved that they don’t have to do anything dangerous or scary. You send one of your crew round with a tray of glasses and the weakest whisky you possess. Can’t have one of them getting brave-drunk and squaring off with Garlock.

A voice rumbles in from the street. “Rachorin. Come out here and face me.”
You step up to the doors, Vee selecting security team members to back you up. “Garlock, nice to smell you again.”

Outisde in the street, wearing a long tan duster and a black ten gallon Stetson, is the largest Golgothan you have ever seen. His skin oozes and flows as he moves in your direction and he leaves a trail of shit behind deep enough to mire a mule.

“Get out here, Rachorin.” The creature sounds irritated. “You’ve moved from star system to star system for the last four hundred cycles. Haven’t you got tired of running yet?”

“Not a bit.” You reply. Behind your back you give the signal for your crew to surround the faecal intruder. “I’m far younger than you and a lot speedier. What was your best oozing time? Forty microns?”

“Enough. Come quietly and I’ll let this miserable planet survive the blast from my engines.” All twenty of Garlock’s piss coloured eyes take in the surroundings. “If you don’t, then I reckon the Earth is about to become toasted Veedlebaz.”

Shrugging, you step out onto the veranda. “I’m not coming with you. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Sleeping with the Queen’s niece is nothing? Shit man, you got some nerve.” Garlock roars with laughter. “You’re a father four times over.”

“You should know, you are the shit after all.” You agree, checking where everyone is with a couple of handy hidden eyes. Four times over? I knew my sperm was strong but that many? You shudder, your costume rippling over your body.

Your crew have worked themselves around to safe positions around the foul smelling pile of excrement. Garlock spots most of them and one long rope of shit flings out and captures a figure.

Your Heart sinks all the way into your feet. Sally.

Thursday, August 28, 2014



by James McShane

The sheriff nurses his wound and throws you a look that suggests you’re off his Christmas card list for the foreseeable future. You shrug. You weren’t the type for Ho-Ho-Ho anyway. You have an important decision to make, though, and with Garlock on his way, you don’t have much time to think things through.

“As far as I can tell, sheriff,” you say, “you have two choices.”

“And what are they, pray tell?”

“You can stay here and die; or leave and possibly live.” You shrug. “Your call.”

The sheriff  hightails it out the saloon door. You then begin the process of dismantling the saloon’s interior and turning it back into your ship, by simply tapping the bottom of a beer tap with a serving spoon. This act opens a drawer beneath the counter, revealing a big red button that reads: Disengage Saloon Interior. Simple really. Once you press that, it’s all systems go.

The entire procedure takes about three minutes. Then another button gets pressed, the one labelled Lift Off, and within a moment, you are in the air and on your way to the mine. If the sheriff and everyone else got clear, good for them. If not, you’re not going to lose any sleep.

You look to the floor and see that Sally is out for the count. The activities of the last hour or so must have taken its toll on the young female. You wonder what you’re going to do about her, but eventually decide to leave her for later. It’s now time to remove all dead weight from the ground – and do it quickly. While Sally didn’t give you an exact schedule, you assume that Garlock won’t waste any time in getting here.

You make it to the mine quick enough. You manoeuvre the ship so as you’re above the entry point and you aim the ship’s guns there. You set phasers to kill.

“So long, suckers,” you chortle.

And then it all goes pear-shaped.

Not only has Sally woken up and is now pointing her own phaser at you (you should have taken the time to check her underclothes – women of all species have been known to hide anything in their pantaloons), but there is a rumble coming from the inside the mine.

“Open a radio channel,” Sally says. “You might be interested in what you hear next.”
Seeing that you don’t have much of a choice, you tap yet another button and a screen appears in front of you. A shimmering image appears, but it doesn’t take you long to realise that it’s Nee-Lin, the leader of the slave group down at the mine.

“Rachorin,” the former slave says. “I see you’ve come back to rescue us.” The sarcasm drips fiercely from his lips. “But you needn’t bother. We’ve worked out our own escape plan.” With that, the rumbling down below becomes more intense, and within minutes, the mine’s exterior falls away and you finally understand that while you were ministering the town’s inhabitants, your slaves have been building their own ship, using – be damned – the very material you sent them to mine.

Talk about taking your eye off the ball.

Or your eyes off the balls.

“Are you coming, Lestine?” Nee-Lin calls Sally by her given name.

“I thought you’d never ask,” she says. She gives you a quick peck on the top of your head. “We could’ve been good together,” she whispers. “But no, you always had your own agenda.” Then it’s her turn to shimmer, as Nee-Lin teleports Sally/Lestine back to the mine that is now an escape ship.

Your number is up. You look at the screen for the final time as a group of missiles head your way. If you had a god, you’d pray to it. But you don’t, so you don’t.

Time to die. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014



by Steven Novak

The sheriff is sprawled out on the ground, one hand cupping the wound on his shoulder, mustache slightly curled, a shit-eating grin spread across his stupid face.

He staggers to his feet with a grunt. “Heh. I told ya, Doc. Whatever you were before ya landed here is good n’ gone. Yer a part of this town, ya hear? There’s sand in yer blood, Earth dirt beneath your fingers, and whiskey in yer veins.”

His hand falls to your shoulder, fingers sliding across the slimy surface of the tentacle draped lazily over your shoulder. “Yer a saddle tramp, Doc. Raised on salt lick and browned by the sun of the south. There’s a giddy-up in yer step the likes of which I ain’t seen in damn near a hoolywang.”

Suddenly he’s smiling so bright he’s flashing the few teeth has left. His free hand lands on your other shoulder and gives it a pat. “And ya ain’t no yellow-belly varmint. I know ya ain’t about to vamoose n’ let the people of this town go up the spout. Yer better than that. Yer a healer, a dealer, and a hell of a card player. We’re yer friends.”

His hands slide up your neck and to your face, cupping your cheeks. He nods like he’s known you for years, like he’s your best friend, and your mother, and childhood pal GleebGlorp all rolled into one. “We’re yer family.”

He’s an idiot.

While he was busy nodding and waxing nostalgic about the one time you played poker, one of your tentacles was making its way up his back, heading for his neck. Before he can continue his babbling, you shut him up. Your tentacle wraps around his neck. Your muscles tighten.

His stupid head pops off.

Free from his body and airborne his head spins, spurting blood in every direction, shattered spine wiggling like a horses tail. It bounces off a table across the room and crashes into a monitor. When it finally comes to a stop, you notice the expression on the sheriff’s face.

He’s not smiling anymore.

When Sally screams you crack her in the chops, knock her into the wall, and put her to sleep.  There’s no reason to kill her. She might still be good for something. Weird half-human sex, maybe? She seemed pretty handy with those whips. So what if she double-crossed you? So what if she used her womanly wares to get the better of you? Made you look silly? Hurt your pride? Dented your ego? So what if she took advantage of you when you were at your lowest? When you falsely believed this backnebula planet and it’s backnebula lifeforms actually had something to offer? So what if GleepGlorp would’ve been ashamed of what you’ve become? So what if you do…

On second thought, fluuonk her.

Your tentacles dig into her chest, peel back her ribs and tear out her half-breed heart. It’s gross, not quite human and not quite you. It’s pink and purple, and speckled green. It’s an abomination.

Her father should be ashamed.

Fluuonk them all.

With a few tweaks of the levers and dials in front of you the saloon unfolds from your ship once again, crushing three or four slack-jawed locals in the process. 

Fluuonk them too.

You don’t need this place, or these creatures. You never did. You only became a “doctor” because you found it hilariously ironic. You don’t save stuff. You kill stuff. You’ve always killed stuff.

The blood from Sally and Sheriff begins to pool at your feet, green and red, human and alien, and all sort of nastiness. It’s going to be a pain in one of your three rectums to clean up. Still, it was worth it.

GleepGlorp would be proud.

By the time you exit the saloon the locals are have already gathered. Some of them are pointing guns in your direction. Others are cowering behind barrels or peeking through windows. A lot of them are screaming.

You’d roll your eyes, but its more effort than they’re worth.

You’re going to do what you should have done long ago. You’re going to corral these creatures like they corral the lifeforms lower than them. You’re going to strip them bare, shackle them, and teach them a rather harsh lesson about hubris, and their place in the universe, and the grand scheme of things. It’s long overdue.

A rock hits your head. Another bounces off your chest. One of them unloads a shotgun in your direction and it ricochets off the Rumanetic Forcefield you’ve erected around your body. Another fires his revolver. Three of his friends follow his lead. It takes nearly a minute and a half of pointless shooting before they realize it’s accomplishing nothing. When the shooting stops, old Mildred McGraw chucks her cat.

Oh yes, this is so incredibly overdue.

As you move from the saloon and into the street, your tentacles spread in every direction, tips twitching, suction cups drooling. “Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system.”

Hansen McGillicutty lunges at you from behind, knife raised, gritting through yellow-stained teeth and a beard in desperate need of a trim. “Ya son of a bitch! Gonna gut yer hear…”

He slams into your forcefield face-first, smashes his nose and chokes on his own blood. You rip his arm from his torso and use it to knock Mildred McGraw on her ass.

That’s for the cat.

Most of the crowd screams. Some of them start to cry. A few of them run. You extend a second forcefield further down the block and chuckle when they slam into it.

GleepGlorp would have loved that.

When they realize there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, most of the crowd gives up, staring in your direction with unbelieving eyes. The time has come. The end is near. Those that believe in God, have come to the grim realization that you are it.  

It’s almost enough to make you grin.

“Most of you probably know me as Doc, but that is a foolish title, given by foolish lifeforms, on a shphithole planet at the ass-end of the universe. I am tired of tending to you. I’m sick of doing my best to heal your injures! I’m sick of pretending that I care what happens to your fragile bodies!”

You point to a skinny man near the back of the crowd. “You, Charles Smith! I inserted my finger into your rectum to check your prostate! I did that! That’s something I did to keep you from learning what I was! Do you have any idea how humiliating that was for me? Do you?”

Before Charles can respond you knock him through the window of a dress shop.

“I am through! My days of seeing to your sniffles, and coughs, and pains are history! The time has come for you to learn your place! To be treated like the ghastly, poorly constructed, weak-bodies monstrosities you are! The time has come for you to clean my bedpan! To bring me food! To stick your fingers in my rectum! The time has come to lear…”

The saloon behind you explodes, transforming into a fireball of splintered wood, and scaled steel, shooting in every direction. The inferno engulfs everything, scatters the crowd, tossing bodies, and removing limbs, bathing the street in blood and cooking flesh. The forcefield falls from your body. When you hit the dirt you hit hard. When you hit it again, you hit harder. For a moment you’re spinning, caught in the blaze, surrounded by fire and smoke, unable to determine up from down, tips of your tendrils on fire. You don’t stop spinning until you hit a horse, knock it over and wind up waist deep in its trough.

Before you open your eyes you hear the familiar hum of a ship, hovering somewhere above, obscured by the smoke and debris. Trexlarion Panels shift. Energy weapons recharge. The bounty hunter.

You forgot about the damn bounty hunter.

You don’t see the shot that blasts you to atoms.

GleepGlorp would be ashamed.

Monday, August 18, 2014


by Ryan Hunter

You feel Sally’s chains dig into your shoulders as your true self begins to emerge. You’re shocked to discover how much you don’t want that to happen. It’s been too long since you were Rachorin, you want to continue thinking he no longer exists. You want to be Doc.

                “Sally,” you whisper, one last chance. “I know you think you know what you’re doing here, but…”

                “Oh, I know exactly what I’m doing,” Sally whispers into your ear, licking your earlobe as she does.

                You don’t have to hear the popping of the chains to know that you are well and more beyond the point of return.

                Sally jumps as a broken link careens off of her cheek, leaving a small cut just below her eye. “What… what are…?”

                You stare down at her through Rachorin’s eyes, as you grow she seems to shrink. Your brow grows, expanding out and around, large green tentacles slither over your shoulders as your feet grow to a point. When the transformation is complete you look every inch a green cowboy with ten-gallon hat and green flowing duster made of tentacles.
                “I don’t… I didn’t…” Sally stammers.

                “Daddy never showed you his true form,” you say, already wondering why you’d been so concerned for this ridiculous, mousy thing only a moment ago. Of course you’re still going to be having your way with her shortly, but worrying about her seems quite a waste of time.

                “You can’t… he’s, he’s coming for you.”

                “So you said. Reckon we’d best be leaving then, huh?” A tentacle flashes and wraps around Sally’s waist. You pull her to you and tuck her under your massive arm before walking out of your office.

                “Hells bells,” a voice grumbles to your left.

                “Howdy Sheriff,” you mutter.

                “Doc,” the sheriff says.

                You turn slowly to face him. “Ain’t Doc no more.”
                “So I see.”

                “You planning on giving me trouble?”

                The Sheriff opens his mouth but before he can speak an explosion erupts to his right. Acting on its own, your tentacle flies out and bats at the bullet fired back Slack Harry sending it back the way it came. Slack Harry screams and drops to the ground.

                “That didn’t need to happen,” you say to the sheriff.  

                Without comment the sherrif turns toward his fallen friend and you take the opportunity to make your escape.

                Still carrying Sally under your arm you enter the saloon. Instantly the dancing and card playing stop and all eyes fall on you. “Out,” you say softly but you do not have to repeat yourself. The place empties.

                You drop Sally to the floor and walk behind the bar and smile at the setup. No one had ever heard of taps until good Ole’ Doc came to town and built them up a fine new saloon why, dang near over night. In fact, it had only taken him the press of a single button to extend the bridge of your space craft up out of the ground where you’d buried it and then convert it into the rootinest, tootinest saloon in five counties.

                Now you spin the taps 180 degrees, once again turning them into levers needed to run your ship. You reach behind yourself, knocking the bottles of whiskey to the floor until your hand falls on the dustiest gin bottle on the shelf, forgotten by all, just like it was supposed to be. You pull that and the entire saloon descends into the ground and your awaiting ship.

                “Will you please tell me what is happening?” Sally begs.

                “You say ‘HE’ is coming for me. Do you know who he is?”

                “What? I don’t know… he’s… he’s a lawman… from space.”

                “Close, he’s Garlock, he’s a bounty hunter. He’s been looking for me for a long while.”

                “Why would he be chasing an innocent man?”

                “I’m not a man, Darlin’. And I’m a country mile from innocent. Something you should keep in mind, Sheriff.”

                Sally gasps and turns her head. Unlike you, she hadn’t heard the sheriff enter just before you pulled the bridge into the ship although how she missed his clomping you have no idea. Already you’re forgetting the limitations of human ears.

                “Well, I do reckon that’s something worth tucking away in the old hat, Doc.”

                “Doc’s not here, there never was no Doc.”

                “You see, that’s just the thing, I believe there was.”

                “You are mistaken.”

                “I might just be. Seein’ as I’m in this situation with you though, mayhap you’ll clue me in on yer plan. I’m guessin’ you’d like to be puttin’ our fair town behind ya but seeing as your crew’s upp up to the ole’ mine I’m not sure how you’re planning on doing that.”

                “Ship doesn’t need a crew. All they were good for was cleaning up and the occasional cannon fodder. I’ve half a mind to just level the ole’ mine before I go so none of them will tell any tales.”

                “You’d do that to your own people?”

                “Do they look like my people? They’re a slave race from one of the moons of my planet. You’ve seen them, they’re not much good for anything other than target practice. Kind of like humans. Maybe I’ll take a few of your good town’s folk with me in exchange for my former slaves.”

                “Or maybe you stay and fight.”

                “Excuse me?”

                The sheriff takes a step toward you. “You say you ain’t Doc, that no part of him is still in you. I don’t believe that. What I do believe is that this bounty hunter you say’s coming for you ain’t gonna believe you took off right before he got here. I believe he’s going to level my town looking for you.”

                “You’ll be lucky if he’s satisfied with just the town.”

                “That’s what I figured. We’re gonna need some help on this.”

                You sigh and stare down at the sheriff. He’s sharp this one he connects dots all on his own. You hate to admit it but you have some respect for the insect.

                “Look, the only other Malarian on this dustball is laying dead in my office. If Miss Sally could have kept her shoes on her feet instead of jamming one into her old man’s eye, together we might, MIGHT, have stood a fighting chance. As it is, you’re welcome to join us, but that’s all the help I can offer you.”

                “I really hate to have to do this. I can’t tell you how much I do,” the sheriff says, pulling his piece.

                “Put that away, Sheriff,” you say.

                The sheriff fires and again your tentacle flashed, bating the slug back at him. He drops the revolver and backs away two steps, clutching at his shoulder. “That was what I thought,” he said through clenched teeth. “Right in the shoulder just like Slack Harry. You coulda just killed me there but yeh didn’t. You may say Doc ain’t in there no place, but I think he’s more a part o’ ya then you know.”

                You stare at the wounded man for a long time, wondering about your next move.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


by Mandy Ward

After squirming and slithering around for a bit, the chains, blindfold and gag are no longer an issue.

Sally stares at you. “But… I thought… you were a…”

“A what?” you ask, rising up on four of your eight tentacles to tower over her. “A hybrid like you?” you laugh. “I am so much more than that.”

Using the other four tentacles, you simultaneously chain Sally up, undress and flay the body of her father, then wrap the remains in the sheet, stowing it untidily under a bench near the back of the office, a blood trail leading from the table to the bench.

Sally looks at the neatly flayed skin you hold in one tentacle. “What are you going to do with that?”

I’m going to walk out of here.” You change back to human form and then extend your tongue tentacle to the skin. With a bit of concentration you reshape your human form to the genetic pattern held in the skin and change the skin’s form to match your original one.

Throwing the skin at her feet, you smile. “Try explaining that one.”

“But they’ll hang me for murder!” She looks at you, horrified as you gently put the gag into place.

“Yes, yes they will.” You dress yourself in her father’s clothes, leaving your normal clothes piled on the floor suggestively. “And you deserve it.”

Stopping beside the door, you listen to what is going on in the street. There appears to have been a cessation of the fight the sheriff was orchestrating so you decide to make your break for it.

Stepping boldly out of the door, you tip your hat to Sally “Thank you for the relief, Ma’am.” And shut the door behind you.

You unwrap the reins of your horse from the rail and mount, moving confidently and ignoring anyone else in the street.


Oh shit. You think as you turn your head to see a seven foot tall figure in a long black coat and dusty black Stetson. “You. Hello Hunter.”

“It’s been a long time, Rachorin.” The figure waves a gun. “Get down off that horse and move over to the middle of the street, nice and slowly.”

“I’m not going back.” You say, staying where you are.

“Your Father insists.” The figure says, aiming the laser at you. “Get off the horse. I really don’t like killing dumb animals.”

Tentacles whip out from under the coat, taking you by surprise and yanking you off the horse, holding you with one leg. The figure grins, sharp teeth gleaming in the sunlight as it shakes you around.

“So much for just walking out of here.” You sigh and change form, your tentacles wrestling with his like a pair of octopi sharing a peanut butter jar. “Let go.

“No. I don’t have to take all of you back to your father remember.” The figure’s grin splits his head in half. “A single tentacle will be enough to clone you.”

You feel the sharp burst of pain as he shoots and severs one of your tentacles. He scoops the tentacle up, deposits it into a stasis jar and puts the jar into his coat pocket. “That should do it.”

You blink. “what now?”

His grin disappears. “How about we see how fast you can run?” He aims the laser at the dirt in front of you and fires, the heat of the blast cooking the dirt into solid clay.

In this form, not particularly fast. You gulp and change back to human form. Only to realise half way through the change, that the tentacle Hunter shot off was the one that formed your human head.

The last thing you see is the street fading into black and Hunter taking aim at you. The last thing you hear is the hum of the laser and the last thing you feel is intense agony as the human form you have taken on is turned into charcoal.