The little green man approaches Spacetrader Dan with the promise of more cocktails and a business proposition. Dan’s only on his second. Once they’re inside his unmarked ship, the little green man promises Dan it will be the perfect crime. He wants to be rid of his third horizontal living companion. Dan needs a million galactic credit units.
Dan admits Beach Blanket Baleen was supposed to be a surefire winner at the spacewhale racetrack.
All he need do, the little green man says, is to tie the companion’s antennas. He’ll be delivered to Dan’s ship in an escape pod. Because the planet is under quarantine, Dan can sell the specimen on the black market. Dan decides to help the little guy. Out of the goodness of his heart.
Of course, nothing is quite as it seems.
This is a fun little tale. Dan gets his comeuppance. He’s in a jam he got himself into. This may seem like desperation, and he does feel a twinge of guilt when he first sees the companion, “all soft and round and quiet,” but he also contemplates snatching the first little green man. If one “specimen” will bring a million galactic units, a second one—hey, even Dan can do that math.
I did find a little tiresome the allusions to pop culture from the sixties and earlier, e.g., the movie “Beach Blanket Bingo.” Also, when the little green man first talks about his third horizontal living companion, he tells Dan, “And I need to be rid of my third horizontal living companion. You know what they say about those.” He waggles his antennae and nudges Dan in the ribs. “Take my third horizontal living companion. Take him… please!” This last is a riff on the classic Henny Youngman line, “Take my wife… Take my wife, please.” There were few, however.
Just the same, this is forgivable with the nice surprise ending. Overall, I liked this little piece.
According to the bio on her website, author Tina Connolly grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, but now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon, “in an old house on a hill that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic.” Her books include the Ironskin trilogy, the YA Seriously Wicked series, and the collection On the Eyeball Floor. Her books have been finalists for the Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She co-hosts Escape Pod, runs the flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake.
The story can be read here .