Monday, September 08, 2008

The invasion

Short story by Bernard Ginn © 2008

The readings are very encouraging, Commander. Most of the planet is covered in saline water. The life forms that we have detected so far consist of a 70% aqueous solution. All rather reminiscent of home.” Lieutenant Zarbee finished reading his report. He wafted his tentacles gently to maintain his position in front of the spacecraft’s main control panel and awaited further instructions. His superior, Fleet Commander Vernaan swam closer to the screens to check the data. “No force fields, no magnetic barriers, no global defense of any kind!” He chuckled to himself, “Thank you, Lieutenant. I believe, I shall spearhead this attack myself. Prepare my assault ship for immediate descent to the surface of this unsuspecting world”. Zarbee deftly whisked his tentacles and swam out of the control centre leaving Vernaan to gloat over his imminent conquest.

During the descent to the waters of the blue-green planet, Vernaan thought of the many previous surprise attacks on other worlds. The superior weaponry of the Medusa race had swept all resistance aside. “Await my signal, Lieutenant. It should not take me long to subdue this world, no longer than three rotations of the planet.”

I understand, Commander. And in the unlikely event that you should encounter resistance?”

If the resistance is great enough for me to have need of assistance then the technology of this planet is greater than ours and therefore an invasion so far from our home base would be inadvisable.”

I understand, Commander. Good luck.!”

Vernaan’s assault ship plunged into the foaming seas of the planet. As soon as the craft came to rest on the seabed, Vernaan deployed the ship’s sensors fore and aft and started to scan the environs for higher life forms. Vernaan peered at the screens but the waters were murky and visibility poor. “Only rocks and vegetable matter” mused Vernaan as he swam from monitor to monitor, tuning the biologic sensors. Suddenly, the whole craft shuddered under the force of a prodigious blow. Vernaan was slammed away from the monitors by the shock wave. Several of his tentacles were clinging to the controls. The whole craft was lifted, turned upside down and shaken violently. The hull was being crushed. The tortured metal first bent and ruptured. The fluids in which Vernaan swam were streaming out. Briefly, before the craft was torn in two, Vernaan saw on the spluttering monitors the image of a gigantic creature whose huge claws were pulling the assault ship apart.

Vernaan found himself in the saline waters. He felt himself withering as the osmotic pressure drew out his body fluids. He was without his life support system, without his weaponry, alone in an alien sea with no way of communication to the fleet, surrounded by monstrous creatures. He had to flee, to hide. He forced his crippled body to swim, to escape. The creatures attacked him biting his tentacles, eating him alive! Then he saw a glimmer of hope, a narrow cave! He swam inside and burrowed into the slime, out of sight of his pursuers.

Johnny Simpson rose up from the tidal pool and yelled out, “Mum! Look Mum! Come and have a look at this crab I’ve found!” Mrs Simpson, ensconced in a deck-chair, under the shade of a gaudy parasol, lowered her “Woman’s Weekly” magazine. With evident annoyance, she stared at her skinny, shivering off-spring. “What is the matter, Johnny. You’ve seen crabs before haven’t you?”

“Yeah, but this crab is holding a knife and fork!”

No more of your silly tales. Now come out and get dried before you catch pneumonia!” replied Mrs Simpson, waving a towel at him to stress her remark.

Can we come back to the beach to-morrow, eh, Mum? Can we, eh?”

“Yes, yes, perhaps but only if you stop that nasty habit!” Johnny was picking his nose again.

“But my nose is tickling me, Mum” whined Johnny.

Then use a handkerchief, for goodness sakes” retorted Mrs Simpson. She gave his frail body a last, unnecessarily hard rub with the rough towel, then rummaged in her beach-bag to a box of paper tissues. Johnny took a tissue and blow his nose violently. While Mrs. Simpson immersed herself again in the “Woman’s Weekly” wonder diet, Johnny examined his bogies meticulously. He caught his breath then shouted out in surprise “Hey, mum! Look! I had a jelly fish up my nose!” He obligingly held up the tissue for his mother to inspect. Mrs. Simpson turned her head away in disgust. “Stop playing those nasty tricks and get dressed,you little urchin”. She lifted up her magazine to shield her sight from the offending tissue.

Johnny picked up the slimy contents of the tissue between his thumb and forefinger. “Perhaps its not a jelly-fish after all”, thought Johnny. “It’s just a bogie”. He rolled the slime into a tight ball then with a furtive glance at his mother to ensure she wasn’t looking, he popped the ball into his mouth.

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