An alien ship drifts to earth and lands in a field outside Liverpool, England. The area is cordoned off and, much to the delight of the scientists, an Alien is recovered. It is promptly taken to a prison. The Alien is banged up, with patches of its surface skin torn off and its limbs damaged.
Once secured, the Alien is treated by doctors who do what they can for it. It is also attached to teach-to-talk devices, while the scientists eagerly await finding out what the Alien has to say.
The Alien eventually tells them its people call the planet it came from “Home,” but it doesn’t know what they call it. It isn’t sure how long it’s been traveling, but a long time—most of its life.
The scientists want to know why the Alien would undertake such a journey. And why come to earth?
The destination, the Alien says, wasn’t its choice.
While this all leads up to a single punchline, it is not predictable. The scientists are asking all the questions the reader expects, but they’re the wrong questions.
The scientists’ eagerness provides a nice contrast to the Alien’s nonchalance. This is a fun, if dark, little tale. It’s not going where the reader thinks. There are few of the little hints that such stories often provide, but the ending is consistent and logical.
Presumably, the title was misspelled by Daily Science Fiction, and it should read “Just Desserts.” I’ve never been to Liverpool, but I don’t recall reading about a desert in the region.
I rather liked this story.
According to his blurb, author Gordon Pinckheard lives in County Kerry, Ireland. Retired from a working life spent writing computer programs and technical documents, now freed he can write anything he likes to entertain himself and–hopefully–others.
His stories have been previously published by Reflex Fiction, Cabinet of Heed, Story Pub, and Gemini.
The story can be read here.
Title: “Just Deserts” probably meant to be “Just Desserts”
Author: Gordon Pinckheard
First published: Daily Science Fiction, June 29, 2020