Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 24

Welcome to Friday! Many of you have expressed concern regarding the speed at which each Friday appears. Well, after hours of careful research and weeks of painstaking interviews, I’m thrilled to report I’ve found the culprit(s): little green men. Yes. You read that right. Little green men. It’ll be up to you to tell me more about that, though. I am so thankful the FF community is bursting with a number of fine selenoarchaeologists. Who would’ve guessed that would come in so handy!

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Today’s judge, Alissa Leonard, may or may not be on speaking terms with several little green men herself–she’s not telling–but she does, quite unquestionably, know a great deal about worldbuilding. And she both loves characters and is a character. How perfect that her turn should fall today! Not to mention that on this day in 1965, the Life Sciences Committee recommended to NASA that astronauts returning from the moon or other planets ought to be quarantined for three weeks. Just in case…. 

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.”   

Now let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the word “arrears'”):

Include an unpaid bill

***Today’s Prompt:

 

Letter boxes, Area 51. Public domain photo by MartinStr.

Letter boxes, Area 51. Public domain photo by MartinStr.

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106 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 24

  1. Rural Route 61

    I drive thirty minutes past the last house on my rural mail delivery route to leave mail out here. This is beyond living off the grid, this is so remote it gives the grid nightmares. But the mail is always gone the next day, so I keep coming back.

    Then another box appeared. No number, no notice from the postmaster. Just a box marked Alien. At the same time two boulders appeared behind the post.

    One day I got a letter, Alien, RR 61. On the back side in big red letters was written Delinquent Bill: Respond Immediately. I dropped it in the box, and suddenly the two rocks changed shape, and stood up like men. I sped off as fast as I could, but in the rearview mirror I saw a beam connect earth and sky as the whole area erupted into flames.

    Never pays to skip out on a debt.

    @CharlesWShort
    152 Words

  2. Bill Collector
    [153 words]

    Three spindly fingers wrapped around the doorknob. “Greetings, human.”

    The visitor was a young blonde with a clipboard. “Hello, Mr. Medlin! Lightfoot Desert Automotive has sent me here to collect your auto loan payment.”

    Qwerksgwridel gave her a bug-eyed glare. “My name is Qwerksgwridel. You seek my neighbor across the street.” He pointed a slender finger toward the mail drop.

    Oblivious to his bulbous green head and glittering jumpsuit, she scratched out the name on her paperwork and wrote ‘Qwerksgwridel’ in pen.

    “Mr. Qwerksgwridel, you are significantly in arrears. Will you make a payment by cash or credit card?”

    “My species takes no interest in your ears, and I possess no Earth currency.”

    She faked a smile. “Lightfoot Desert Automotive understands how difficult unemployment can be. However, we will repossess your vehicle.”

    Qwerksgwridel glanced at his Brixillian intergalactic combat cruiser in the driveway. He smiled at the bill collector. “Good luck, Earth creature.”

  3. An Unpaid Bill and The Pink Envelope
    Grumbling I drove up to Steve Medlin’s farm, 15 km away from town. At the post-office we had a joke – a postman goes everywhere the Sun does. This was the 3rd time I was coming here in the fortnight – the credit card company had been sending desperate reminders, and I was getting a little angry at this man for not paying his bills already.

    The last envelope was still lying untouched, and the one before. Curiously I opened it and saw the list of billed items:

    Gold Eternity Ring – Diamnte Wedding-Jewellers
    3-tier cake – Creme Patisserie
    2 Business-Class Tickets to Paris – Air France
    I picked up the pink envelope that had been lying here from day-one. Somehow I didn’t think I would be sued.

    Dearest Robert,

    Forgive me but I can’t go through with the wedding. I don’t think I love you. I don’t think I ever did. Ken wants to get back together. I wish you all the best in life.

    Mary

    160 words
    Twitter Handle: MitraArchita

    Also posted this on my blog: http://mitraarchita1995.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/an-unpaid-bill-and-the-pink-envelope/

  4. Mexican Standoff

    They stood like duellers, neither budging an inch; no way, Jose.

    After twelve hours in the desert sun, finally one of them spoke,

    ‘8 drengels. All this for 8 drengels.’

    ‘Which YOU should have paid’

    ‘ME? I wasn’t the one who wanted the latest update…..’

    And so they continued until a large, ragged bird landed on them. From its charcaol beak, protruded the flailing legs of a beetle in the last throes of death. The bird swallowed it with an exaggerated gulp and leaned forward.

    ‘Ready to pay, boys?

    He gave a raspy laugh and squatted his own deposut for good measure.

    ‘Yeah, we’ll pay. Just put us back to normal.’

    Drumming its beak on their heads, it muttered an incantation.

    A flash of light, enough to stir the UFO spotters by the fence, and they were gone. Back to the search station and their former selves. Siamese twins joined at the mainframe circuit board.

    Sarah Miles
    _@sarahmiles_

    155 words

  5. Paid in Full

    Madison hesitated when the large reptilian alien presented her with the contract. Agreeing to be a gladiator for five years was the only way off the now toxic planet, Earth. The lizard-like race of Kiths loved their blood sports and capitalized on humans desperate enough for a chance at life. The one before her hissed in his impatience.

    She lifted the stylus and scribbled her illegible name across the screen. The glowing blue words burned into her memory. The only known issue with this particular option was that no human had survived past two years of indentured service.

    Madison didn’t mind being the first. With the contract completed, one thousand eight hundred twenty four more days of enduring the unpaid debt remained.

    139 word from winter bayne
    twitter: @winterbayne
    Blog: http://winterbayne.wordpress.com/

  6. “Alien Discovery”
    By Laura Emmons
    (160 words)

    They were on a desolate stretch of dirt next to a couple of mailboxes. “Look, it says 1 Alien.” He opened the door. “Just an unpaid bill,” he said, closing it. “Hmmm, I saw this on Facebook, and there it is!”

    “What?”

    “The back ridge line of that crater is slightly too high.”

    As they grew close the structure became visible, covered in reflective foil, buried and angled such that the reflected front ridge of the crater looked like the back from a distance. They found a door and entered.

    A short, gray alien with huge eyes spoke in a guttural language.

    “It’s Klingon,” he said, translating, “He arrived in 1947. I asked him how he’s survived so long. He says the smarter the human brain, the longer it can sustain him. With his new Facebook page, more people are figuring out where he lives. Including us he’ll have enough jerky to feed a family.”

    The alien fired two shots.

  7. Neighbors!

    “Steve!” I hammered at the door of the decrepit trailer.
    I could hear rumbling inside. Then the door creakily opened and there was Steve, hair tousled, smelly, and stoned. He looked at me, trying to focus, and grinned. “Jim, you old rascal! What’s it this time? I am a good guy, now!”
    “This time it’s not about you, Steve. Your neighbor doesn’t pay his bills. He hasn’t for several months. Where is he?”
    “This guy’s a total freak – mad as a hatter! Claims to be an actor. If you ask me, he looks like a leprechaun. Now, that guy can drink!”
    “Where is he, Steve?!”
    “Last night, a helicopter came and took him.”
    “Where?”
    Steve sighed, put on his boots, grabbed his hat, and led me to a giant cactus. On it a sheet of paper with a mug shot, cryptic symbols, and a scribbled translation: “O-Y, searched for fraud on seven planets.”

    153 words
    @okiewashere

  8. “Not My Boat”

    Mr. Pendergast knocked on the aluminum frame of the screen door.
    He called into the dim house, “Mr. Smith?”
    A bloated man with hair swooping in all directions came to the door.
    “Yes?”
    “I’m from Seafirst Marina Company. I’m here to talk to you about bringing your payments up to date on your boat or it will be repossessed.”
    “I didn’t buy a boat. What would I do with a boat?” He gestured out the door at the miles of dessert beyond.
    “You are Bob Smith, correct?”
    “Yes, but I didn’t buy a boat!” he yelled and then dropped into a whisper, “I bet it was the alien living next door.”
    “Right. The thing is,” began Mr. Pendergast.
    “It was the alien next door! He’s impersonating me!” the man yelled shaking wildly.
    Mr. Pendergast sighed and walked back to his car.
    In the tiny house next door a large blue face wearing Groucho glasses peered through the curtains and smiled.

    160 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  9. Long Distance

    Please hold, your call is important to us.
    If my call is so important why is no-one answering it?
    Finally someone picks up, “Hello, my name is John, how may I assist you?”
    “There appears to be some kind of mistake, my phone bill says I owe $32,000,024 and 12 cents!”
    “Ok, let me check….yes, that’s correct.”
    “How?”
    “You made a long distance call to the horse head nebula. Once you leave the solar system we charge by the parsec.”
    “That wasn’t me! It was my lodger. Short bloke. Asked if he could phone home.”
    “Well it was on your phone line, so the charge stands.”
    “Clearly I am not paying it! You can shove it right up your parsec.”
    “Sir, we will send collection agents to your house.”
    “You guys can’t even answer the bloody phone in a timely manner!”
    I hear the squeal of tires outside and there is a loud knock at the door. Bollocks.

    160 words
    @todayschapter
    Facebook Authors page – https://www.facebook.com/CraigAndersonAuthor?ref=hl

  10. Graffiti

    Steve stood by his graffitied mailbox. A few dropped paint cans lay around.
    “Bloody teenagers!” He would have preferred an echo, but only got the screech of cicadas. At last the postal van drove up and a postman sauntered over. He tried stuffing more unpaid bills into the mailbox.

    “Some of us actually pay our bills, buddy.”

    “I would love to. Of course, if you came into the house for a moment, I could show you why I can’t.” He kicked another can and sent it flying. The man didn’t notice it as he walked back and drove off.

    Steve picked up another discarded can. It didn’t matter if he could move stuff if people didn’t notice. He covered the black spray-painted word “alien” with the more appropriate “dead man” in red. He added an arrow pointing to the house and threw the can as far as he could.

    Words: 149

    @CarinMarais
    Blog: http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com/

  11. New Home

    Ja’hule stood next to his wife, Al’hale, watching her apprehensively as she stared at their new home.

    “Well, love, what do you think?” Ja’hule had done a lot of research and put a lot of thought into making their new home blend in, and he was eager to hear that his efforts were appreciated.

    “Are you sure this is right? You remember how wrong you got it last time and we had to go into hiding.” Al’hale’s voice was nothing but scorn. She’d never believed in him. I suppose the lack of faith was warranted if you go by past experience.

    “I promise darling. I’ve even added a mailbox complete with unpaid bills!” Ja’hule declared proudly. “They’ll never catch us this time!”

    Shaking all three of her heads, Al’hale once again puts her fate in her husband’s unlucky claws. This planet’s government would do anything to slice open the couple.

    Words 150
    @Ali_OMalley

  12. Overdue
    (160 words)

    Dad crouched down to my eye level, ‘I won’t be back for a while.’
    Mum was forcing back tears. I set my voice to ‘Hero’, so it sounded like Buzz, but it came out wrong:
    ‘Can we visit?’
    ‘No this place is too far away.’ His head motioning a great distance with one small nod.
    ‘Can we come stay?’
    ‘Small quarters. No place for a family.’
    ‘Then don’t go!’
    ‘I have to.’
    ‘Like an order?’ I said
    ‘Yeah, like an order.’
    ‘Is it a mission? Like Buzz’s?’
    He smiled and looked relieved that I had guessed because he sure looked like he wasn’t going to tell me.
    ‘Yeah, a secret mission…like Buzz.’

    Months later, when I asked Gran if he’d be home soon, she said,
    ‘He’s still some dues to pay.’

    I wrote a letter, mum knew the secret address. I tucked three dollars in its fold telling Dad to put it towards the bill for his journey home.

  13. Reminder Notice
    by @JMnumber6, 159 words

    Dear Valued Customer,

    A recent audit of our accounts has indicated that we have not received any payment for our security services in quite some time.

    We admit that, because of a security lapse on our part, resulting in a planetary economic downturn, you may have decided to withhold payment. We agree that our lapse was unforgivable. Therefore we have decided to waive the portion of the unpaid bill consisting of the period between the lapse of security and the time you proved that you were once again able to make payments.

    Your lack of payments since that time may have been an oversight. We understand that the disruption to your records caused by the comet which impacted your planet nearly sixty-six million of your years ago was traumatic.

    However, the presence of artificial satellites in orbit above your planet is proof that you are again capable of paying your bill.

    We look forward to your payment shortly.

  14. Aka Steve Medlin

    Steve Medlin (his current alias) had long ago discovered that the simplest plans were the best, thus his strategy for avoiding discovery could be summed up in just four words. Hide in plain sight. He made every effort to blend in seamlessly with the locals, adopting their mannerisms and faithfully copying their way of life. It had worked, he’d gone unnoticed for over fifty years.

    He sauntered casually to the box and got his mail. The neon pink and hot orange striped envelope caught his eye. He tore it open and read it.

    Salutations ~#%^@!,
    This is to inform you that the rental fee for your Safe Spaceways Intergalactic Saucer is now sriously past due. Please remit immediate reimbursement or steps will be taken to repossess it.
    Respectfully,
    GLBRXZ

    How had a credit agency found him on a sixth-rate backwater planet like Earth? He wondered in frustration. The extraterrestrial swore, crumpling the unpaid bill in his fist.

    155 words
    karnemily@yahoo.com

  15. Your Dragonyness, apparantly it’s my day for typos. Could you please insert an unbold after “Aka Steve Medlin”, change “sauntere” to “sauntered”, and alter “extrterrestrial” to “extraterrestrial”? Many thanks and much chocolately goodness.

  16. The Last Touch
    (150 words)

    The heat danced off the road at the mailbox. With an ancient shuffle, the mailbox’s owner retrieved its treasure and began crossing back to a sway roofed trailer, a small dog bouncing at his heels.

    Speaking to the dog, “Zoe, once everything I touched turned to riches!”

    Zoe listened patiently to uncounted retellings, “I ate from golden plates.”

    He remembered his family, “Ru’int us.”

    Zoe ran ahead. He shuffled on, “Nope, can’t remember the secret to all that.”

    Stopping again, he assessed the landscape’s incapacity for life, “They put me here for protection; but, I outlived them. I wish to smell the roses of my garden, again.”

    Tangled in memories, he never saw the truck, only smelled the roses a last time.

    Escaping his dying body, his blood turned to gold.

    His mailbox treasure was the last thing he touched. A disconnect notice addressed to Basileus Midas fingerprinted in gold.

  17. Out of this World Clue
    155 #WIP500 words
    @SiobhanMuir

    Det. Cassie Tucker raised her eyebrows at her partner as they parked along the road inside the town limits of Hershel, Nevada. “The tip came from here?”

    Daniels nodded. “Said we’d find a clue to what we’re looking for in the mailbox.”

    Cassie eyed the labeled boxes, one with “ALIEN” on the side. “Was this Steve the source?”

    Daniels shrugged as he got out of the car. “Damn, it’s hot here. How do they live in this dust-bowl?”

    “Dunno. Hey, wear gloves when you open that.”

    “I’m not going to disturb evidence, Tucker.”

    “No, but you have no idea what else has put its limbs in there.” She shivered.

    “Don’t tell me you believe in aliens.” Daniels smirked as he snapped on gloves and opened the box.

    “I don’t rule anything out. Find anything?”

    “Couple of unpaid bills and…a-ha.”

    “What?” She peered over his shoulder.

    He held up a picture of the missing girl. “Jackpot.”

  18. The Green-Eyed Monster
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    155 words

    He hadn’t meant for it to happen. Polite society frowned upon such goings-on, after all.

    Impolite society had taken matters into their own hands, obliterating the house while he’d been away, leaving nothing but the graffitied mailboxes as a reminder of what he’d once had. What they’d once had.

    Who were humans to say interplanetary love was wrong?

    He frowned, kicking at the dirt. Brown. Not red. He’d come home – not that there was much to come home to.

    His heart soared upon noticing the envelope waiting in the box. Had she forgiven him? Opening it, fury burned his face. “$25 million for taxi service to and from Mars? On top of the lawyer fees I’m already facing?”

    He was starting to wish he’d let her vaporize him like she’d threatened to after she’d discovered the affair.

    “They say ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’” he muttered. “Ha. Try a Martian.”

  19. Enduring Mother

    Living on the edge of the world meant living in twilight, watching dawns and dusks melding into one red blur, submitting to the whimsy of the tiny green men who yielded unfathomable power over us. We were the vestiges of the bygone era, cursed to a life on the edge.

    I hopelessly waited for a sign, perhaps a letter from the Mother.
    “Quit staring at the mail box, Steve!” An exacting voice resounded.

    I meekly began pouring the acid into the tiny vials. Paying my unpaid dues! The Petroleum plant was long gone, leaving this vermin as its legacy. The green alien men mocked us with this acidic green. The soil was steely; the lush leafy green was just a memory. I dreamt of Mother, but my reveries had always ended harshly.

    Today I looked up and saw the bluest sky and the shadows under the sun! A wisp of cloud appeared. “Mother?” I called out.

    Gradually, the rains came.

    (Judge’s Entry. just for fun.)
    Pratibha
    160 words
    @needanidplease

  20. Special Delivery
    John Mark Miller – 158 words
    @JohnMark_Miller

    The scattered whiskey bottles were my first clue that this was a bad week. “Dad?” I called, stepping into the dilapidated mobile home.

    “Did it come?” he called out hopefully.

    I sighed, too worn out to argue. “Let’s go see.”

    My heart sank as he hobbled out to the rusty mailbox. With trembling fingers, he reached into the compartment marked “Alien Drop Box.” With a triumphant flare, he yanked out a dirty envelope and waved it high.

    “I told you we’d hear from her! I told you!”

    I scanned the envelope and felt sick. “It’s just an old bill, Dad,” I whispered. “Some kid must have tossed it in as a prank.”

    He squinted. “Oh.”

    “Mom didn’t get abducted by aliens, Dad,” I said softly. “She left us.”

    He collapsed, wailing as if he was hearing this for the first time. We both cried so loudly, we never heard the tiny red flag on the mailbox pop up.

  21. You’ve Got Mail
    148 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    It irked Steve that the Alien got more post than he did.

    So far during their quarantine Steve had received a note of commendation from the President and a letter threatening to cut off his cable.

    The Alien got daily care packages – some sort of grey paste, a purple smoothie and, bizarrely, a KFC Variety Bucket. Each parcel also contained one metal part. It seemed his friends thought he could in time combine these into a makeshift rocket to fly home, like an extra-terrestrial member of the A-Team.

    The parcels were addressed in the manner so beloved of schoolboys – “The Visitor, Area 52, Nevada, USA, Earth, The Solar System, Space”.

    They were so addressed because the Government denied that there was any such place as Area 51, so the pair had set up their mailboxes outside Area 52, and their neighbours simply dropped their post round to them.

  22. The Takeover

    FBI agent Jack Stanley and Akh, the representative from 90377 Sedna were at their usual meeting point: two abandoned mailboxes in the middle of Area 51. It was pitch black. But even in daylight you wouldn’t be able to tell which was the human and which was the alien. The Sednaes were shapeshifters. In fact, if you had to take a guess, you’d probably think Stanley was the alien, with his eyes just a bit too far apart and his pointy ears.

    “Did you bring the money?” Akh asked.

    Stanley opened his briefcase. Ten million dollars.

    “That’s not right. We asked for 10% more because you didn’t pay last time.”

    “We can’t give you more. President’s orders.”

    Akh looked at Stanley for what seemed like hours.

    “It’s okay,” Akh finally said, as he put his hand on Stanley’s shoulder. Stanley evaporated instantly. Then Akh dialed a number.

    “It’s me. We’re done shapeshifting. Time to take over.”

    156 words
    @bartvangoethem

  23. Jezza’s Luck
    147 words

    R U serious
    Totally
    No 1 eva eats that shiz
    >i know* but he is, Ha ha
    Can U take a pic?
    U still not believe me?
    Yeah, but…
    Mate, I’m at work* I can’t take pics of da customers!
    OK, What’s he look like then?
    Totally Fugly
    Howso?
    Heads too big for his body
    and…
    Eyes are tooo far apart
    What? like a bunny?
    Yeah, kinda sideways! Creepy
    Haha, does his nose twitch too?
    Nah, nose is turned up
    Kevin Bacon?
    Nah, Miss Piggy!
    LOLZ
    He’s eatinglike a pig too! Totally troffing!
    Grammar police mate!
    Sue me!
    2nd helping OMG!
    Sheesh! Vomit much
    I might tho’ Holy crap in a hat! His tongue!
    What?
    Hey, you still there?
    Jez?
    Jezza?
    Sorry mate, 9th turd is lining up with the Great
    Celestial Fan?
    Did Fugly Dude want more grub?
    Nah, bastard did a runner
    Buggeration
    Totally

  24. Okay who is this Steve Medlin?

    My post box has sat alone in this scrubland for decades, how else would I get my mail from home? It’s always been just me and Dakota. I call him that in homage to his long lost state. Found that information on his car bumper sticker. The day they came and pierced my brain for medical science was the day Dakota came into my life. He was a technician who felt compassion for me and mistakenly thought he’d help me to escape. His colleagues all got fried and Dakota got everlasting servitude. His brain waves finely tuned to keep me safe. Lost count of his fellow countrymen he’s disposed of.

    He’s emptying both mail boxes now, staring at what looks like a bill. Handing it to me it’s a tax demand. I hear the drones of aeroplanes, the tracks of tanks in the distance. Dakota smiles, nothing stops the federal tax collector.

    StellakateT
    152 words

  25. “Dear Robbie”
    (160 words exactly!)

    “Desert is beautiful. Found what I lost. Love Always, Gram.”
    The postcard with expansive sands and scarce bushes was all he had of her.
    Once he had asked, “what are you looking for when you go to the desert, Gram?”
    “Something I lost.”
    “Your marbles?” he asked.
    She laughed. “Yup, lost my marbles.”
    Until she didn’t come back.
    Robbie drove annually to the desert with a letter telling Gram about the girl he was dating, graduation, the bills he couldn’t pay.
    He arrived at the spot they found her car. A shiver ran down his back.
    He set his letter under a rock.
    There was rumble.
    He spun around. A green light came down on the top of a nearby cactus and he stumbled backward toward his car with a scream. As he reached his car something glinted on the ground. He stepped forward, ever curious, one eye on the sky.
    One green marble lay in the dirt.

  26. Paying A Flying Visit

    It has taken the Red Planeteers light years to reach the quarter-inch thick bulletproof metal box on its chipped pole – Black Mailbox 80, owner Steve Medlin, with its Master Lock and contradictions. For a start it’s faded white; for another thing, it’s not used by Medlin, nor anyone else the hundreds who camp around and converge upon it and the Extraterrestrial Highway have ever seen. The signs towards Rachel with their question marks are there for those in the know, though any activity takes place when they’re not looking. Suggested sightings are delusional; sometimes placed to mislead and misdirect – misinformation at its best.

    They often wish there was a more convenient drop box – somewhere around Deimos or Phobos, as opposed to Route 375. It would be a sight easier – and cheaper – to sort interplanetary tax liabilities. Still, if Area 51 showed on planetary positioning systems, perhaps the payment wouldn’t be perennially late. They always take a wrong turn somehow.

    (160 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

  27. MAILBOX

    “Dad, you’re kidding me right?”
    “No, honestly.”
    Exty considered the idea of scribbling hieroglyphics on a thin sheet of reconstituted tree, of folding that into quarters and then sticking it inside another similarly folded sheet. He laughed again, his antennae vibrating and his limbs wibbling. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends at school next week.
    “And then they get some poor dude to drive all the way out here into the desert,” Exty snorted, “using some cart powered by a combustion engine to deliver it to one of these boxes… Really!” It was an odd place to find a mailbox unless you noticed the ruined foundations just off the track.
    “Of course they’re not all handwritten. Most are printed by machine,” his father said removing post from a box. They sauntered back toward their spacecraft.
    “What you got?” asked Exty.
    “Oh, just our bill for wireless broadband.”
    Father didn’t mention the other letter containing his secret instructions.

    @CliveNewnham – 158 words

  28. Paid In Full

    (152 words)

    Bruce shook his head. “Next you’ll be telling me there’s a tooth fairy.”

    “Honest, it’s true. I’ll prove it.” Reaching into my inner jacket pocket, I pulled out a utility bill. A final demand typed in red, threatening imminent disconnection of my internet services and further additional charges to be paid. Due today.

    “And you just put your unpaid bill in the box and aliens pay it?”

    “Exactly that. One every month. No more than that or else there’s consequences.” I slotted the bill in the box, waited for the actinic flare and then drew it out again. “Look,” I said, “Paid in full. Written in large green letters.”

    “So why isn’t everyone doing this? There has to be a catch.” My friend looked at me sceptically, still not believing.

    “There is,” I began, hesitantly, ”a qualifier. You have to always bring someone for them to abduct…”

  29. Steve, Keeper of the Box

    ———-

    INCOMING MESSAGE FOR STEVE

    Steve punches the button. “Yeah?”

    ACTION REQUIRED – PLEASE OPEN DROP BOX

    “What’s this about?”

    PLEASE OPEN DROP BOX

    Steve trudges out of his trailer. “You know you guys haven’t paid me in six months.”

    He pulls out his keys and opens the box. Inside there’s a thing that looks like a credit card that glows.

    “Okay, the box is open. Now what?”

    PLEASE UNLOCK BOX 80

    “What the – nobody’s supposed to open Box 80. That’s my job. Secure Box 80. Nobody touches Box 80. That’s why you pay me. Did you forget?”

    PLEASE UNLOCK BOX 80

    “Using this?”

    PLEASE UNLOCK BOX 80

    He shoves the card in a slot on Box 80 and the front pops open. Inside is a red button the size of his fist.

    PLEASE PRESS BUTTON

    “Fine.” Steve punches the button. “Maybe now you’ll pay me.”

    RESET SEQUENCE INITIATED

    The asteroid changes course and heads for Earth.

    ———-
    155 words w/o title
    @betsystreeter

  30. Home
    (160 Words)

    Prophesy was spoken eons ago of the last days and they had come to pass. Rains flooded the earth. Famine and drought struck the land. “The release from distrainment is nigh,” predicted the oracles.

    “The great tower!” The mystics dreamed, “The people will meet those that bring us home.” Home to the stars where legend says the people are from.

    After generations of impatience, the leaders decreed, “A long time has passed since the mystics spoke. Anyone coming is way past due. Climb the great tower so the people can be seen.”

    All left, except the very old and very young. The people climbed to find their gods or their freedom; together, they saw the bright lights of deliverance.
    ——————————

    “Here comes another one,” laughed the driver as the high beams found the cars target.

    In darkness of night, the teenage passenger hung out the window, drew back the bat, and swung. “Home run, knocked that mail box to kingdom come!”

    • Ha! I never engaged in either mailbox or pumpkin smashing, but there were other moronic teenage activities that I remember with a cringe-worthy fondness.

  31. Saturday 1:07 p.m.
    @Meganbesing
    154 words

    “Psst. Larry?”
    “Why do you always insist on whispering? What, what do you want already? You only stopped talking two seconds ago.”
    “Can you see her?”
    “For the fifteenth time today, no.”
    “But it’s time.”
    “No! Well…wait.”
    “Is that a no or yes?”
    “Shh!”
    “Oh, now he wants me to be quiet.”
    “Shut up! Don’t make me come up there.”

    “Hey ya boys. It’s another hot day.” The pretty blonde says as she leans out of her car window. “One for you, and you.”

    “Psst, Larry, what did you get?”
    “A cardboard picture of a dog or baby or something.”
    “Ha, I got a bill, a second notice even. I win!”
    “Yeah, I lose alright. Because I’m stuck with you! Why couldn’t I be forever connected to sally on 83.”
    “Sorry…Uhh…maybe Sally will write you tomorrow?”
    “Stupid. Tomorrow’s Sunday. No mail.”
    “Right. Soo…Want to play twenty questions to get your mind off Sally?”
    “No!”

    • Hey, this is a great idea. Maybe I should start giving my overdue bills to random strangers standing on the corner! Of course they probably wouldn’t find a fat, graying woman pushing 50 “hot,” but you never know! 😉

  32. Spaceball Steve

    When I was thirteen, I was in the Academy durin’ the school year, but lived with the Whalens durin’ the summer. I was a servant, but it was better’n spendin’ time in that ole rotten palace of Satan with my father.
    Anyways, there was this feller out on Route 61 that everybody called Spaceball Steve. He was a 66-year-old retired transport pilot. ‘Course in 2109, we all knowed that there was life on other worlds, but ain’t nobody had ever encountered them gray flyin’ saucer jockeys that was supposedly studyin’ us Earthlings like lab specimens. Steve believed in them fellers, an’ everyone laughed at him.
    I didn’t laugh, ‘cause I reckoned Steve had reason fer believin’. Maybe it gave ‘im reason ter keep livin’. When he died, he didn’t leave behind nothin’ but unpaid bills an’ stuff as looked like useless junk ter most folk. I was his only mourner.

    Opal from @UndeadNether
    150 words

  33. “Long Distance”
    159 words
    @MseeseTweets

    “Mabel!”

    “Yes, Caleb?” came a reply from the kitchen.

    “Could you come here a minute?”

    Mabel shuffled into the dining room, and set a mug of coffee and a still-steaming piece of peach cobbler in front of her husband.

    “Yes, dear?” she asked.

    “Have you been calling your sister in Cleveland?”

    “No.”

    Caleb furrowed his brow and humpfed. “Then how do you explain this?” he asked, handing her the phone bill.

    “$4,000,373,221.18. That is kinda high.”

    “You didn’t call her?”

    “Not a once.”

    “Well, if you didn’t make those calls, who did?”

    “It says the calls were to Mars.”

    “Mars? Where’s that?”

    “It’s…somewhere in Van Zandt County.”

    “We don’t know anybody there.”

    “Oh look, silly. It’s not our bill. It’s addressed to our neighbor.”

    “Oh. OK. I’ll go and stick it in his mailbox.”

    “And if you see him, just nod. Don’t say nothing. You remember what happened the last time, don’t you?”

    “Do I? My orifices still hurt.”

  34. Plant My Roots (On Barren Lands)
    160 words

    Somewhere out in the vast nothingness of the Nevada desert stood a single mailbox.

    It wasn’t unlike the other mailboxes that could be seen strategically placed in front of the suburban houses spread throughout the residential districts of Las Vegas. It still held the unpaid bills and letters from its last owner, whose name was stamped on its side. There were other words littering its body too but those were little more than marks left by the hands of man and time alike.

    Once it had been well cared for, used every so often if not every day but now it stood alone.

    The house that it had belonged to was long gone, swallowed up by the desert, leaving behind nothing but a memory.

    The man that it had belonged to was gone too but his departure was less permanent…so it waited.

    Perhaps one day its master would slither from the earth in much the same way he had left.

  35. Transference

    The quiet man and the other Brian were tethered by an invisible rope of longing. One missed his son, who headed east with his new family after the divorce. The other was stranded in the broiling desert, galaxies from home.

    Crash and discovery. Replication.

    The man taught him how to throw a looping curveball. He gave him a Yankees cap and let him use his son’s discarded glove. They passed the empty nights together in the parched yard, the smack of a hardened sphere of cowhide against worn leather telling stories of lost things.

    The other Brian knew his family would come for him, they always did. But he knew the real Brian was just a ghost in the desert, a fading pixel. An unpaid debt to a delinquent father.

    He continued to mimic a boy while he waited. They watched superhero movies and inhaled chili dogs. Went fishing.

    He wanted the quiet man to find peace before he departed.

    Chris Milam @Blukris
    160 words

  36. Moving Wall
    I opened the door before the last chime of the bell faded. The screen door shoved a box off the porch. I caught a glimpse of a figure racing across the intersection as I retrieved the package.
    The box was addressed “Medlin, 3rd house on the right.” There was no return address.
    I torn the box open. It held a key and a slip of paper. My hands trembled as I read the note: “Game over. U O Me.”
    Forty years ago—The desert cave, moving walls, area 51. The pet store paid $25 each. They wanted all I could get. I slept in the cave by night and carried toe sacks out by day. The wall of tarantulas never stopped moving.
    One night I felt eyes, many eyes, on me. I never heard, but felt the words hiss in my ear, “Bring my babies back—or pay.” as I ran between giant legs, never looking back.
    159 words

  37. The Chair

    The armchair hummed menacingly, Clem’s wife hated the chair, the “Marty Crane Memorial’ she called it. She’d hate it more now, infuriated by the coloured cables that connected the chair, via various gadgets, to the TV remote.

    Clem’s DIY time machine.

    Well, she was in Vegas. Hiding from the red letters that filled their post box.

    Clem double-checked the date: 2014. He sat down and changed the channel.

    Colour filled his vision, he plummeted, rose, fell. He was Marty McFly, fleeing austerity in an armchair.

    POP!

    Everything stopped. Clem was dismayed to find himself sat still in his ramshackle domain.

    The date:

    2210

    Clem punched the air.

    A knock at the door.

    Clem rose, opening it, revealing a small man in robes.

    ‘He who is called Clem?’

    Clem nodded.

    ‘Hallelujah! The day that the lady of Vegas prophesized, that ye will now pay the fukin-bill-of- expanding-numbers.’

    Beyond the man, Clem watched hordes of people bow in prayer.

    @imageronin

    160 words

  38. Bargain

    Waking up isn’t easy when you’re being baked alive.

    A groan scratched its way out of my throat as I opened my eyes to the blistering sunlight. Soreness in my shoulders and ankles dissuaded me from moving.

    One of only two shadows on the sand moved. Grit scraped my eyes as I tried to blink the motion away.

    “Oh shut up.” The shadow fell over me for a blissful instant of relief, chased away by her grin. “How ya doin’ down there?”

    “What the hell you stupid—”

    “Ah, ah. Careful.”

    The scorching spotlight found my face again. She spat, taunting me with the waste of water.

    “You owe me,” I reminded.

    “Well now, that’s why I’m here. Your forget that little issue, and I’ll cut you free.”

    “Are you off your—”

    “Or.” Her shadow moved out of sight. “I could just leave you here, while I come up with the money. Shouldn’t take more than a couple weeks.”

    (160 words; @AriaGlazki)

  39. Express Mail

    I had to put a lock on my damned mailbox because of them damned tourists looking at my mail. No, tourists ain’t the right word for ‘em. Nut cases. Nut jobs. Weirdos. Wackos. There’s a big ole sign the guvmint put up telling them folk not to trespass, but they do it anyway.

    I mean, I put the other box up as a joke, but of course they put all kinds of crazy stuff in there. Like a real bug-eyed monster from outer space is gonna answer a letter from some Trekkie who thinks little green men are real.

    So, one day I clean out the joke mailbox, and what do I find but some odd, shiny envelope with strange writing. Postman’s done stamped it postage due ‘cause there ain’t no stamp on it. Well, I ain’t paying for it. The jokester who put it in there can take care of that.

    Well, now, ain’t that the weirdest light…

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 not very inspired words

  40. Settler
    by A J Walker

    Three months into his exile Ash was there watching the shadows shortening across his scratchy yard as the morning stretched into his valley. He prized this beautiful isolation. He bought gas when he needed and had a generator for his meagre needs. He didn’t need to be connected – apart from the phone; that was a matter of life and mum.

    Phone line: Dead.

    He had to venture to the gas station to connect; with people. With systems.

    ****

    Meanwhile the postman put another letter in the trash; he was so over the whole ‘Area 51’ thing. Kids addressing things to “Alien, Area 51!”.

    ****

    Arthur called the phone company.

    ‘Notice? I’ve not received anything,’ he said to the administrator.

    The girl said,’We’ve sent several letters, sir.’

    A pause: ‘Sir, what’s your name?’

    ‘Neil,’ he said. ‘Arthur Neil.’

    ‘Oh. We’ve got you down as “Alien. Area 51”.’

    Arthur despaired at his dyslexia.

    ‘A Neil, not Alien,’ he said embarrassed. ‘Sorry.’

    @zevonesque
    160 words
    (Letters/Settler)

  41. Past Due

    Steve crept out before suns rise, the portal hissing closed behind him, but not before the cat-thing slipped out, pseudopodia dragging along as it drifted lazily above the lawn.
    Steven bounced to the mailboxes, checked his own, then carefully prised open his landlady’s. He was rifling through the letters, looking for the tell-tale Oxycorp logo, when he felt a shadow fall across him.
    He turned to face the undulating bulk of his gargantuan landlady.
    “Mrs Gerflergelbergel-
    She raised one of her great fleshy appendages and draped it around the faceplate of his outdoors helmet. Steve thought it may be a foot or a hand.
    “Are you looking to see if you have been paid, perhaps? Or maybe looking for this?”
    She held up the final notice from Oxycorp.
    Steve hung his helmeted head.
    “I can’t pay that.”
    Mrs Gerflergelberg squealed excitedly.
    “Well, perhaps we can come to some arrangement?”
    The appendage puckered against his faceplate.
    It was not a hand.

    160 words
    Karl A Russell

  42. Llorona (160)
    @brett_milam

    Pickin’ strawberries or as the boys called it, la fruta del diablo, in the searing desert for 15 hours made your cotton throat gravitate to a Corona.

    Just as I submerged a lime in the liquid gold, the small window in the living room smashed and a brick landed on the wooden floor.

    Wrapped around the brick was a paper with a slew of English words I didn’t know, except for three: “dirty spic” and “alien.” Because I heard those on the way to the fields.

    I just wanted to tell them my name was Javier and I was fucking poor.

    Pinche pendejos, I muttered and sat down on the couch.

    Sometimes, like now, leaving behind Liz and nascent Angelica didn’t feel so goddamn noble.

    With that day’s toils, I fattened an envelope, addressed to our mud-brick casa in the small borough, Sánchez Taboada, a few miles from the border. Licked it with my lime tongue.

    And then I sipped.

  43. Tales from Jackass Flats

    Jed smiled as the tourists looked at the twin mailboxes questioningly. The two had stood there for years, one marked Steve Medlin and the other ‘Alien’ but so few knew the story behind them.

    Living in the shadow of Groom Lake, the residents of Jackass Flats had two forms of entertainment: making fun of the “Alien enthusiasts” or making money off of them. The two, not being mutually exclusive sometimes meant making money off of explaining the jokes.

    He nodded towards them and began his tale.

    “One of our residents, Albert set up that spare mailbox as a joke, but then the mail started coming in. It started with fliers addressed to ‘occupant’ followed by credit card offers.”

    “Before anyone knew it, he started getting bills, followed by bill collectors, demanding information.”

    He shrugged. “In the end Al Ien was forced to admit— there was no Steve Medlin on his road.”

    @mishmhem
    151 words (not including title)

  44. Waiting (158 words) @LadyPutz

    “Who is Steve Medlin?”

    “Who?”

    Agent Yates tilted his head to the side, listening to me, but his eyes were locked on the horizon.

    “Steve Medlin. Name on the mailbox.”

    The wind wailing across the desert carried the crunching scuff of my boots away down the road. It also masked the scrape of my key in that damn rusty lock.

    Route 7 cuts through the desert separating Texi from Novaterran. Agent Yates and I had arranged to meet our Texi contact and finish the deal.

    “Hey, there’s something in here,” I said to Yates. His back was still to me. He mumbled something.

    There were two things in the box, a .77 Gremlin pistol and a bill for Steve Medlin. The bill had big red letters “FINAL NOTICE.” Didn’t say what for.

    “One bullet is all I need to pay my bills,” I said to the wind as I pointed the Gremlin at the back of Yates’ head.

  45. The Mail Box

    It is tough working for the US Government; especially if your assignment doesn’t exist. It makes unpaid subscription bills really tough to deal with and your retirement, well, let’s just say you die in the job or you die. Then, of course, there is the alien. He, no make that it, crash landed in 1947; Uncle Sam tried to cover it up, and only mildly succeeded. What a croc!

    So, there you are at the mail box. It is marked “alien”. Ha, ha the world thinks. Only you know it is really for a dam alien. It gets mail. It reads the trades, the Times and the Post, even Vogue for some unearthly reason. The Colonel says make it happy, so you trudge to the box daily, get the alien’s mail. And dam it; it does smile when you hand over the latest PC Gamer. After all, it is the one light years from home; your trailer is next store.

    160 words (exclusive if title)

  46. Inside Man

    As Roger passed the infamous letters box, he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket.

    -Delete blog
    -Purchase gym membership
    -Sublet apartment
    -Apply for CIA job
    -Pay overdue bills
    -Position myself to work on CIA/Air Force joint projects
    -Move up in clearance levels

    There was a red line through these items. The rest of the items on the list would only have been visible under ultraviolet light. A red line crossed out:

    -Get access to Area 51/Groom Lake facility

    The last two invisible items that were not marked off:

    -Acquire classified information on Extraterrestrial Encounters
    -Leak information to trustworthy Internet site

    Six years of careful infiltration had led up to the events of that evening when the facility’s ranking officer had pulled Roger aside and up’d his clearance to the highest level so he could join a vital project.

    An hour later, Roger was walking out of the building empty-handed.

    A plane! It was just a damn plane!

    @acmarkz
    159 words

  47. The box stood, unopened, for more than a half-dozen years. Well, technically, it was on federal land, and it wasn’t addressed to me, so there I let it sit.

    I’d been down south, repairing a fence that got knocked down when something had spooked the cattle overnight. Got a call from Old Ben that a few head had gotten out, and there went my Friday. Could have been worse, if grass grew thicker than the hair on my head in these parts, but I’ve been farming dirt for the last six-seven years.

    When the post was back up and the cattle back home, I took a ride to check the rest of the fence. I was about to turn back home when I saw the box was gone. In its place was a bright red sticker. “Andorian Brandy of the Month Club,” it read. “Membership Cancelled Due to Lack of Payment.

    “To reinstate delivery, notify the nearest telepathic agent.”

    159 words
    @drmagoo

  48. The Alien
    Carlos Orozco–@goldzco21
    [159 words]

    “Why are we out here again,” she said. “We never find anything. We only waste our money and time on the nasty hotels and the five-hour drive. We have unpaid bills we need to tend to. We can’t live like this.”

    He ignored her looking toward the Eastern Sky. The sun overhead baked the landscape causing heat waves to rise from the dry, red earth.

    “Well?” She said, breaking his concentration.

    “It’s different this time. I can feel it.”

    “That’s what you always say; then we just stand under this scorching sun until we almost dehydrate, never finding anything.”

    He said nothing. She looked at him leaning against the mailbox, sweat stains on his back. He had not always been like this. She loved him once. Now as she looked at his small body and bald head, she did not recognize him. He had come to find an alien, but it was she that was looking upon one.

  49. Owing the Man Upstairs

    @SVBookman – 158 Words

    Marcelle, postman extraordinaire, had volunteered for this route. He loved the long drive out into the middle of the desert before beginning the delivery of mail to people who, often, never dealt much with another person. Steve Medlin was one such individual. His mail box was so unique and so, well, different, that Marcelle always enjoyed reading all the wording and placing the letters in the various slots. This was the first time he had gotten to use the “alien” slot. There was no cable out here, no Internet, no phone lines for that matter. Little or no reception for miles made this location only a place for those who were hermits down deep. They might be open-spaced hermits, but hermits, nonetheless.

    Apparently, Steve was a bit of a loon. Or, at least, Marcelle and others had thought so. Now, here was a post, labeled “overdue” and the address was, literally, “out of this world”. Who woulda thunk?

  50. ODDS ON THE LAW

    You have to know them to believe the situation. You just can’t have cattle run free destroying fences like Allen’s do. He thinks YOU should fence HIS beef out of your OWN property!

    Now………..can you see Allen talking to his neighbor, Steve?

    “How ya doin’, Steve?”

    “Look here, Allen, yer bull just bred my open heifers again this year. The offspring are looking odder each season. I can’t afford this kind of thing at the stock sale!”

    “So sue me, Steve……………while yer fencing my bull out!”

    Well, you could see the smoke rise around Steve’s ears. Sue sounded good. Sue would be the name of the blind woman with the scales, and the heavy scalepan would be his: a lean on Allen’s property.

    You all know how this ended, don’t you? Remember Steve’s odd calves? Well, Allen wasn’t “Allen.” He was “Alien,” and the lean was on his long gone agricultural plasma vessel.

    WC 153, title excluded

  51. Taken

    The desert sun does nothing to sooth the bruises. Time has no business in this wasteland, so I’m surprised to see the mailbox sitting there as if it’s staring at me in wonder.

    In my desperation, I search for some sign of help. Nothing besides the beaten wood. The temptation to lie in the dirt and let the sun take me is almost too much to ignore.

    “Are all humans as ugly as you?” I can’t find it. This voice that mocks me. There’s nothing but dust for miles on either side, besides the lonely mailbox. That should’ve been my first clue. Two green eyes peer from inside. This must be what death looks like.

    “Hm. It seems I’ve forgotten to pay this. Who needs cable anyway?” It glances back at me. “Should I take you away?”

    I’m not sure how I know. I just do. My body has left the plains of the earth. Heaven never looked so sweet.

    160 words
    @chinchinunicorn

  52. Bounty
    Taryn Noelle Kloeden
    @tnkloeden
    160 words

    “WANTED DEAD, ALIVE, OR IN STASIS:

    Interstellar fugitive Gorilaxis”

    I glance up from the screen implanted in my wrist and into the yellow dwarf this planet called a sun. 110 degrees was considered hot here. My biosensors ping as soon as I cross the threshold of“Eddie’s”. Humans were voluntarily ingesting ethyl alcohol. Talk about a primitive planet.

    I approach the female serving “refreshments”. My cloaker must’ve been working, because she didn’t scream.
    “You seen this…man?” I slide her the picture.
    “Clancy? With prosthetics, takes pictures with tourists for 50 bucks a pop? He’s got a double-wide by Medlin’s place. 10 miles down the highway.”
    “Thank you.” I consider incinerating the place. Might give me an edge on the competition. But probably not worth the fine for killing a Class D species.
    “Would you remind him he “forgot” to settle up his tab.”
    I make a note to add petty theft to his list of offenses.

  53. The Game
    160 words

    The mailbox was Lotaar’s contribution to the Alien Abduction game. It provided humans subjects that were never believed when they told their tale. Most of the humans dropping letters in the box were deemed unwell by Earth society.

    He went down to what is called the exam room by humans and made sure everything was in order. The Var’een didn’t need the crude examination that humans imagined. They duplicated the environment from the stories for a reaction. A portion of the game evolved to guess which kind of reaction a human would have; holy fervor, subservience, defecation, terror, confusion or violence.

    The violence reaction sometimes lead to injury of the human which put the Var’een at risk of losing. The main goal of the game was a challenge to humans. “We are here, can you prove it?” Not that the Var’een cared if the humans proved it. Watching them try was so funny because it was obvious extraterrestrial life existed.

  54. I forgot about the unpaid bill portion until I was getting ready to post. Since this is ineligible anyway, I didn’t go back to add it.

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