The slimy creature piloting the saucer had the blaster trained on Zed, it’s tentacle having stretched nearly 30 feet to disarm him in a matter of milliseconds. Zed marveled at the speed on the alien, which from its appearance looked slow and stupid and cumbersome. It was no more than a bag of gelatinous goo, moving tentacles in and out of its body at will like a gigantic amoeba.
"I'm not your friend", it said, "But I could be". .
The creature loosened its grip on the gun, and it rotated forward until the barrel was pointed at the floor.
“Take it”, the thing said, offering the grip to Zed.
Zed reached out tentatively, suspicious at this strange turn of events. “Why?”
“Because bro”, the creature said as it shoved it into Zed’s hands, “I don’t need it. If I did, I’d just take it from you again.” The creature motioned at the security screens with a free tentacle. “Besides, you did me a favor.”
Zed took the blaster and bent down to shove it in his ankle holster. It fit well.
“How’s that?”, he asked.
The creature looked at the security monitors and reached a tentacle to a nearby button on the console. As it began pressing it, the screen showed view after view of broken and mangled grey aliens.
“These dead bastards owe me money”, it said bitterly, “Been holding it over my head too, trying to blackmail me into flying this heap longer than I wanted to.” The alien continued to flip through the security screens until it reached a view of the surgical room, where it was suddenly confronted by piles of dead alien bodies and exploded human heads. Zed saw a visible ripple pass through the creature. Was it revulsion?
The creature turned toward him. “How the hell did you kill all these Zanara?!?”
Zed was taken aback. “Uh, well, I shot some… and I turned the gravity off and on till the rest were dead.”
The creature just stared at him blankly for a moment, making him nervous. Suddenly, it burst out laughing, and hooked Zed with a tentacle, pulling him into the chair next to it.
“You’re alright man” it said, still laughing. "I got it TIVO'd, so to speak, but it ain't like watching it in the moment." It turned Zed’s chair toward the security monitor, Flipping through the scenes, Jim was greeted with a view of a live soldier alien hiding in some kind of munitions room, strapping weapons to its body. “Looks like you missed one buddy".
Zed began to bend over to grab the blaster from the holster, and a tentacle swept across his chest, stopping him.
“Nah, don’t sweat it”, it said, “We’ll just take care of this one from here.”
In a blur, the creature’s tentacles swept across the console, and Zed saw a cargo door begin to open behind the soldier alien. Cargo from the store room began sliding toward the open door, and he watched the alien on the screen panic and grab at the floor and walls. It didn’t work, and as the door continued to open slowly, Zed watched the contents of the room, soldier alien included, sucked violently out the door.
“Blew it out the airlock”, the creature said. This time, they both laughed out loud.“
"The name’s Jim”, the creature said through its laughter, holding out a socked tentacle.
Zed grabbed it and shook. “Mine’s Zed.”
Zed and Jim made a deal.
Jim would take Zed to Earth, as long as he cleaned up the dead bodies. Jim would fly him right back to where he’d been abducted, let him down, and the two of them would go their separate ways, forgetting the whole thing ever happened.
Zed thought that was just fine, and he felt the ship make a deep u-turn before he’d even reached the stairs to head back down to the surgical room. This whole clean-up thing would be nasty work, but it wasn’t much different than the shit jobs he’d done back at home… especially the one’s in prison.
Walking down the stairs, thinking about Amber and Zoe, Zed was suddenly confronted by the sound of cheering as the bottom of the stairwell came into view. There, below him, lay a small crowd of human heads, clustered together awkwardly. Some of the heads were still struggling down the hallway, necks flailing desperately in an attempt to roll themselves toward the stairs. Zed had completely forgotten about them.
As the cheers subsided, Zed stepped into the sea of heads and began to wade through on his way to the surgical room, a chorus of conversation floating up to his ears as he went.
“Hey man, where were you?”
“Como estas amigo!”
“What were you doing up there?”
“You’ve been gone so long!”
“Why didn’t you take us up there with you?”
Zed grimaced as he made his way through them, and upon breaking free from the hoard, he noticed a head clinging to the cuff of his jeans with her teeth. With some difficulty, he wrestled her off.
“Wait! Don’t leave me!” she yelled after him as he walked down the hallway, “I love you!”
As soon as the doors to the surgical room slid shut behind him, a hatch spun open in the floor at the center of the room. Jim’s voice came on over the loudspeaker.
“Just through the trash in there”, it said. Zed could hear the faint sound of “Time in a Bottle” playing in the background, and then it was gone. He began pulling bodies across the floor and throwing them awkwardly into the hatch. There were a few body parts here and there, and he just tossed those in nonchalantly. Jim’s voice was back.
“Don’t worry about all the blood and shit”, it said, “The cleaning robots will get that”.
Zed made his way to the outer hallway, and began dragging bodies into the hatch from there. Before they even appeared, Zed could hear the semi-rhythmic thump-swish, thump-swish of the heads making their way slowly back to the surgical room.
The first head appeared around the curve of the hallway as Zed pulled the last mangled body into the surgical room.
“Hey, there you are!”, the man-head yelled to him, “I think you forgot to take me with you!” It struggled toward Zed, lurching and lolling its way down the hallway. “No worries though! It’s cool! Just so long long as its not like a trend or anything…”
“Hey, Jim”, Zed called out, “We got any more stiffs to dispose of?”
The intercom buzzed to life. “Yeah, there’s a few more down in the galley and in the living quarters”. The hallway next to Zed began to sink downward and become stairs, revealing a lower level he had not seen before.
Zed made his way down, and Jim guided him to each body, instructing him to throw them in a similar hatch to the one above.
“Where the hell am I throwing these bodies?”, Zed asked, tossing the last dead alien through the hatch.
“It’s a digestion chamber”, Jim answered, “It’s where the ship gets its energy.”
Zed chuckled, “The treehuggers back home would love this shit.”
Just then, he heard the distinct sound of a head tumbling down the stairs. It was the same man-head he’d ignored in the hallway.
“Dude!”, it began, “We fucking help you kill the aliens, and all you can do is ignore us? You owe us man!”
More heads tumbled down the stairs, piling up randomly at the bottom. Many landed with their faces against the floor or wall, and the sight of them flailing their necks in an attempt to find a better position turned Zed’s stomach.
“Don’t you appreciate everything we’ve done for you?” one of them asked.
“I thought you were cool”, said another, disappointed. The intercom buzzed to life again, and Zed was happy to hear Jim’s mellow voice.
“Zed, get up here! You gotta see something!”
Zed started up the stairs, when Jim’s voice reappeared. “Oh, and grab me a six pack from the galley behind you. Second compartment on the left”.
He slid the compartment door to the side, and found a large cooling unit full of Bud Light. Zed grabbed a six-pack for himself and one for Jim, and tried to make his way up the stairs. The heads had piled up substantially in the last couple moments, forming a rough pile at the bottom of the stairs which completely blocked the doorway and the first couple steps going up.
Zed couldn’t deal withy the heads any longer, and he attempted to scramble over the pile. It wasn’t easy. The heads were angry, and squirmed rigorously, causing him to lose his balance and fall once or twice. Each time he fell, a head or two would latch onto his sleeve or bite his hand. “Where do you think you’re going?”, one of them yelled, and Zed tried to ignore it, finally reaching an actual stair. There were a couple heads latched on to the cuff of his pants, and he swung the six pack down, beating them until they let go. “That was a dick move”, one of them said.
At the top of the stairs, a couple heads were still trying to make it to the stairs, and Zed helped them along, kicking them down the hallway like a soccer ball until they tumbled down to join their friends below. The last thing he heard was a head calling him an asshole as it bounced down the stairwell.
“Those goddamned heads are driving me nuts!”, Zed yelled as he scrambled up the stairs. Once there, he threw himself into the chair next to Jim and tossing it a six pack.
“Don’t worry bro, I’ll take those shitheads off your hands and sell em’ on the black market.”
Zed began to pull a beer off the six-pack he grabbed for himself, when a lightning-fast tentacle swept the whole thing out of his hands.
Jim looked slightly irritated. “Who said you could grab a six-pack for yourself? This is premium shit!”
“What, Bud Light?”, Zed asked.
Jim ripped a can off the plastic rings and shoved it through it’s thick mucous-laden skin. Zed could see the can dissolving inside until beer began to spill out in a cloud through a hole in the aluminum. Jim shuddered as the beer dissipated through it’s body.
“Ahhhh”, it said, “Nothing like a cold beer and some Jim Croce. Best shit Earth has to offer.” With an extra tentacle, Jim tore a beer off the rings and tossed it to Zed. “I guess I can spare ONE”, it said, “For cleaning up all those damned Zanara”.
Jim turned his attention to the console, and its tentacles began to crawl across the controls. “Now to show you what I called you up here for”.
Jim pressed a couple buttons, and the entire wall above the console became transparent. The planet Earth spread out dramatically before them, filling the Zed’s vision completely. The sight of the glistening blue and green planet nearly took his breath away, and he suddenly realized how tired he was… how much he longed for Amber and Zoe.
“How long before we reach the surface”, Zed asked, “I gotta get back to my chicks”.
“Won’t be long now”, Jim answered, “I’ve got us on a course to the spot where we picked you up”.
Already the planet loomed larger than it had moments before, and before Zed could comprehend the transition, the landscape began to look like a broad flat surface rather than a globe. Layers of clouds whisped by, and when they broke, Zed recognized the landscape below. It appeared to be midday, and as they flew over town, Zed noticed smoke billowing from one of the old buildings on Main Street.
“Shit, I wonder what’s going on?”, he wondered out loud.
Following the highway out of town, Zed recognized the houses and landmarks that were so familiar to him. Soon, the saucer had come to rest over his property… a small clearing in the woods with his trailer resting off to the side.
“Here we are bro”, Jim announced. It turned to Zed and offered a socked tentacle, and he took it, shaking. “It’s been interesting”, Jim continued, “I’ll be telling the story of how you killed all that Zanaran scum for years!”
“Thanks for the ride back man”, Zed said, and he walked toward the lift that would bring him down to the cargo bay. The lift began to lower, and Zed spared a small wave in Jim’s direction.
The lift buzzed down to the cargo bay, where the green beam of light suddenly took over, lifting him up while the cargo doors spun open beneath him, and letting him down slowly. Inches from the ground, the beam switched off, and Zed fell the remaining distance.
Above him, the doors on the cargo bay spun closed, and the saucer moved silently away over the treetops. Zed watched until it disappeared, and then dropped his eyes to his trailer.
There it was. His Harley was parked off to the side, and the girl’s SUV sat next to it. They’re not at the strip club, he thought excitedly, they’re home!
Zed burst through the front door, yelling, “Hello ladies, I’m home!” There was no response, and the smell in the trailer almost knocked him out. “What do you girls do when I’m gone?”, he asked loudly, “Let the garbage pile up?”
The bedroom door was open slightly, and Zed could hear the sound of soft moaning and the gentle smacking of wet flesh. Sweet, he thought, they’re doing it right now!
“Hey, wait for me!”, he announced, unbuckling his pants and letting them drop to his ankles as he burst through the bedroom door.
Zed stopped in his tracks, and it took him a couple seconds to comprehend what he was seeing. The bed sheets, the walls and the floor were soaked with blood, and Zoe lay on her stomach with her face buried in the open abdomen of Amber, eating her entrails.
“What the fuck is going on?!?”, Zed yelled, and Zoe looked up from Amber’s dead body slowly, blood dripping off her chin and eyes lost in a deathly haze.
She rose off the bed, and lunged toward Zed, one arm stretched out in front of her. “Brains”, she moaned, “BRAINS!!”.
Zed’s pants bound his ankles as he attempted to dodge her, causing him to fall on his back. She was on top of him then, gnashing her teeth and snarling wildly.
(to be continued...)