by SC Bryce
The Universal Need for Seatbelts
Again I must appeal to your wisdom for truly, you are the only one who understands me.
You recall, of course, the aliens who crashed in the strand of pink dogwoods, thereby destroying a fair number of heirloom trees as well as the rows of peonies that took me the better part of the fall (three years past) to plant. Having ruined the garden, my breakfast, and a poem of historic importance, and having left in search of the world's leaders, I (justifiably, wouldn't you agree?) determined that said aliens had abandoned said craft. Alternatively, I might take it as compensation for my losses and inconvenience. Regardless, the wreckage was mine.
As you well know, I am no aviatrix and, in fact, harbor a terrible fear of flying. Thus, the most obvious use for my new acquisition was as provocative, futuristic lawn art. Think, Diary, of the jealousy that would overcome the Saint-Justs as their greedy eyes gazed upon my sculpture and their jaws dropped! Surely the snobbery would melt from their faces like wax, leaving behind only the purest of envy!
To accomplish this great social coup, I scrubbed the soil from the craft. With the aid of recent composite photographs and a selection of enamel spray paint, I recreated an assortment of nebulae, galaxies, and – of this I was most proud – the rippling edge of a suspected black hole. Satisfied, I entitled my piece "Cosmos in the Earth" and invited the neighbors to tea on Saturday so that I might revel in their jealousy.
That day is when, as I'm sure you've already suspected, the most shocking thing happened. In the hour before my guests were to arrive, who should trespass up the drive but the pair of aliens! No doubt disappointed in their search for world leaders around our hamlet, they'd returned.
I rushed from the house just as they came upon the sculpture. They stopped, giving it an appropriately appreciative breath. Then, as I was about to speak, one committed the gravest of faux pas. It reached out with something I can only describe as a tentacled appendage and (my hand trembles even writing this) touched it!
"Sir!" I screamed. "Or Madam! I don't know how art is treated on your planet, but this is Earth and here such things are recognized as divine creations!"
The creatures stared at me. I realized then that, though they traveled the universe, they had no conception of either art or propriety. Further, I do believe they expected their craft back! My estimation of them, I assure you, plummeted.
They moved as if to clamber up the side of the sculpture.
"Stop!" I yelled. "Vandals! Hooligans!"
But they would not stop. Instead, they lumbered their way up the sculpture and made to open its cockpit.
I was left with no choice. I dashed to the shed and procured a wide iron spade. Hefting it against my shoulder, I retraced my steps to where the pair was settling into rounded bean-bag type chairs that I would surely have thought were as unfashionable on other planets as they are on ours.
Thinking only to preserve the integrity of my art, I slammed the spade into the monsters' conical skulls over and over again until the art-haters slumped lifelessly in their outdated interstellar furniture.
And so, Diary, I pose this question to you as the first of my guests approaches the walkway and will, any moment now, ring the doorbell and expect to be shown to the garden: does good taste demand that I confess the alien corpses were not part my original work, or may I stay silent and accept the inevitable kudos for the piece I now call "The Universal Need for Seatbelts"?
© 2007 SC Bryce, Reprinted With Permission
This story originally appeared in Kaleidotrope, No. 2.
SC Bryce is a long-time reader and writer of speculative fiction and has been published in Flashing Swords, Lorelei Signal, Byzarium, and AfterburnSF to name a few. Born in Washington, DC, the author currently resides outside Manhattan. Read more at SCBryce.com.