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Alien Things

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1. Congratulation

She’d survived horrors no human could imagine, and didn’t even get the celebration she should have had for finishing high school.

2. Trust

As they ride through the spiral, galloping below blue and gold skies, she wishes they didn’t have to be fleeing for their lives to touch like this.

3. Detective

Tobias’ aunt and uncle tell him there’s no sense wondering about his parents, that real life isn’t full of tidy resolutions, and that only makes him more curious.

4. Camera

It was a primitive human technology, took days to develop the rudimentary film, and couldn’t do justice to the color of Loren’s hair; still, it amused him.

5. Garage

“I get that you don’t have cars, but—you have hangars somewhere to park your spaceships, before they cross the galaxy, yeah?”

6. Picnic

His human mouth was overwhelmed with the tastes of soda, cheese, meat, and for a moment he forgot the grass below him was tasteless.

7. Anniversary

Human and Andalite years had different lengths, and the days of the Earth calendar had uninteresting names, but the sentiment was mutual.

8. Chess

He plays with his college classmates, blowing off homework, rather than contemplating where powers beyond him move.

9. Rollercoaster

She’d never liked seeking out thrills as a child; real life, as her mom said, was scary enough.

10. Nightmare

If he thought that leaving Earth would ease the visions of an unknown mind wrapping arms around him, kissing him at night, singing with Loren’s mouth, they only got worse.

11. Zombies

They fought a war to keep people free instead of paralyzed slaves: free to do anything they want, especially live their lives obliviously with their heads down.

12. Morning

He took a long time in the shower; the water was limited, but it gave him a sense of ritual all the same.

13. Working

She hadn’t remembered what she did before the crash, but once she got adjusted to her Guide Dog, she knew she had to get out of the house and do something.

14. Garden

It was something their parents had in common, planting flowers in the ground and arranging the colors for no discernible purpose.

15. Teamwork

He wondered why the human documents had not provided a better illustration of softball; it seemed a very useful activity.

16. Rock

Drifting in the grip of the asteroid, she struggles to breathe; no one, not even Alloran and the Sub-Visser, deserve to be consigned there.

17. Night Owl

The birds sing, insects chatter, shadows linger; with only one sun obscured, how could any planet be so alive?

18. Party

It was good to meet more young humans, but alcohol was another substance whose purpose he could not ascertain.

19. Escape

At first they thought running away to Earth would keep them safe from the Yeerks, but then realized they had it backwards: they were the ones keeping the galaxy safe from the weapon beneath the soil.

20. Airplane

The dumb kid Chapman was looking up at the sky like he’d never seen anything flying before, and then it got lower, and lower—

21. Child

“Very few women serve in the military, so most of the Escafil research comes from scientists; why do you ask?”

22. Healthy

“Well, Mr. Fangor, you seem to be in very good shape; your parents’ genes certainly have served you well!”

23. Star

He writes most of the curriculum for the Earth sun, chalking it up to decrypted Skrit Na files, and hopes against hope it will inspire someone else to journey back.

24. Driving

Once the war is over, she’s not afraid to drive again; why would she be, with no memory of her injury?

25. Smoking

His colleagues are a very rational crew, yet even they still partake in the white cylinders.

26. Cake

“I do not understand; why would this not be the central rite of the marriage ceremony?”

27. Glasses

Behind the dark shades she is anonymous; people see her as an extension of the dog, not the woman with no past.

28. Fruits

“Yes, we have trees like that too; they seemed superfluous.”

29. Yellow

Returning to a Mustang reminded him that not every part of the ordeal had been bad.

30. Hell

The people at St. Anne’s have many opinions; she feels dimly confident that the mortal universe has enough horrors to imagine.

31. Falling

Trying to describe the failure of the Hork-Bajir world to someone who had never seen war is like trying to describe space battles to someone who has only lived in gravity.

32. Monster

The Yeerk once named Sub-Visser Seven created the Beast, just as much as Elfangor created the Abomination.

33. Video

The transponder stores more than sound and images; there in his dying mind lie emotion, sensation, all the unseen tendrils of thought.

34. Journal

Part of her wishes she had something from before the crash to look back on, but it’s easier not to grapple with all she’s lost.

35. Teaching

He wants to teach show Aximili everything he knows about balance, navigation, instinct, but not at the cost of losing his brother’s innate optimism.

36. Newspaper

There is no limit to the hatred and bigotry that even a species without spaceflight can concoct.

37. Phobia

He carefully neglected to mention to his new Prince that he’d acquired a Taxxon morph.

38. Apple

The new computer seems like a toy from some mechanical exercise, and yet, Loren can’t take her eyes off it.

39. Painting

She doesn’t miss normal thought-speak, but the thing he did with his mind once, showing her the colors of his sky...

40. Interview

Both of them breeze past their early education and quietly mention their credentials some other way.

41. Sacrifice

As an aristh, he’d been ready to give his life for the galaxy much earlier than he’d come to terms with erasing someone’s memory.

42. Choice

She likes to think that she would have fought, if she’d known.

43. Farm

“So many different species of animals—all the better for eating!”

44. Horse

At least the first aliens had the decency to look like actual aliens; the second weirdos were just bizarre.

45. Play

Andalites: The Musical is a very rough adaptation in more ways than one.

46. Floor

She thought walking on grass was the weirdest thing, until the floor turned ninety degrees below her.

47. Drunk

“The old soldiers on my world would take to this for the same reason they do here.”

48. Kiss

The motion delights his mouth, but leaves his hands free to raise to her cheeks.

49. Soft

Every night, the quiet static of Z-Space telecommunications measures the distance between the stars.