Fiction: Gunselle Versus Space Alien

By Russell Thayer

A man and a woman stumbled together through a heavy iron door. The hooded bulb above cast yellow light along the alley as they began to kiss, the swarthy man pressing the dark-haired woman against a wall of dirty brick. He pawed her breasts until she lifted the skirt of her blood-red dress. The man smiled at the coming wallow, then kissed her smeared lips as she pulled a knife from the leather sheath strapped to her thigh and stopped his hungry mouth by working the blade into his neck. When she found the artery, hot blood bathed her hand as it gushed to freedom. She clutched him tight until he drooped against her manhandled chest. Then she let him go, his head hitting concrete with a dull crunch.
“That’s what happens,” said Gunselle, “to naughty scientists who pretend to love their wives, but cheat on them with pick-me-ups they find in bars.” She squeezed blood from the blade with her fingers before returning it to the sheath, then adjusted her brassiere. She’d collect the final G from his wife in a few days, and then the grateful woman could marry her lover. Another job completed. Everyone happy. Well, almost everyone. 
Gunselle squatted to go through the man’s pockets, movingcash to her purse before dropping an empty wallet next to his feet. Another back-alley robbery. While wiping lipstick from his mouth with the hem of her dress, she turned her head toward a strange humming sound.
A silver orb the size of a bowling ball glinted as it flew under the soft light of a streetlamp at the end of the alley. Two narrow red rays emanated from the machine, cutting the air with intense focus, placing points of light on bricks as the beams moved independently of one another. Gunselle took a few steps forward, then froze as a red eye of energy passed across her chest. In a second, it sprang back to find her, the beam moving around on her torso, taking stock of her body like the eyes of a wolf.
Her strong heart began to thump as a looming form appeared through a cloud of mist in the middle of the alley, its bulk blocking the light from the streetlamp.
The humanoid apparition lumbered toward her in a baggy, otherworldly suit that looked as though it were made from sewn together leaves of tin foil. The monster must be eight feet tall, she guessed. Its hairless head, skin as green as absinthe, studied her from the inside of an upside-down fishbowl of clear glass or plastic.
A familiar voice invaded her thoughts.
I come in peace.
Gunselle’s nerves twangled. The improbable presence somehow used her own voice to communicate with her mind, yet it sounded different. Hollow. Electrified. A sudden inner chill raised goosebumps on her flesh, and she wondered if the being was peaceful enough let her return to the bar to look forher mislaid cardigan.
As if reading her thoughts, the giant lifted a sort of wand. Gunselle noticed an aura of red light surround her body for a moment before she suddenly felt heat envelope her.
“Warmer?” she asked. “Is that possible?”
It raised the wand again. The heat increased.
“Ouch. A little too much,” she blurted. “Take it back by half.” She shook out her arms when the heat felt right. “Ah. Thanks. That’s a clever trick.” 
The space alien trod closer. She could see through the transparent helmet that it possessed two dark eyes, a gaping sinus cavity, and lips that curled up at the ends into what some might call a “shit-eating” grin, yet nothing in Gunselle’s earthly experience suggested to her whether the smooth-featured creature might be classifiable as male or female. She had no sense of it. Perhaps there weren’t two sexes on its planet, moon, or whatever swirling vortex it hailed from. No division between creatures. No sex at all. No man versus woman in the end. There must certainly be less violence in its world, she imagined. After unclasping her purse. She held it in front of her, against her pelvis, her hand on the pistol she always kept inside.
I sense your confusion and fear, but do not be afraid. Our life forms self-generate. And I come in peace.
“I’m not afraid of you,” said Gunselle. “Something always ruins your nefarious plans in the end. In the movies, anyway.”
I am not in the least nefarious. I have not come to maltreatanyone.
“Then why are you bothering me? It’s late. I’m covered with blood. I need to go home and take a bath.”
I bring a dire warning to your planet.
“Let me guess. Invaders from Mars?” She almost laughed out loud. Earth’s mighty military forces produced weapons that could obliterate any invading space alien. This ignorant beinghad wasted a trip.
Advanced life forms do not invade each other. They come only in peace. And there is no life on your system’s fourth planet. Not anymore. Many million orbital cycles ago its inhabitants destroyed themselves, and without my help a similar fate awaits your world.
“Okay, Nostradamus. Hit me with the bad news."
The continued utilization of fossil fuels will warm your planet until all life is destroyed. You will become as dead and dry as the fourth planet in your system. 
“It’s called Mars.”
I know that. You used the word earlier and I understood immediately which planet you were referring to. I know everything, Vivian.
“Then you know too much.” Her hand tightened on the pistol.
Unhand your weapon. I come in peace. Dr. Morrison at your Standford University met with me a year ago. He wasawaiting my return. 
“Dr. Morrison, you say?” Gunselle glanced over her shoulder.
Yes. The male behind you.
What did you want with him?
I have brought your people a device that will lead to climate salvation. I was to deliver it to Dr. Morrison this evening at his laboratory, where he would develop a similar machine, at a larger scale, then present it to the world as his own invention. He has been studying your planet’s warming climate for ten years. He did not appear. The orb has tracked him to this location. This gift was for him. For everyone in the end. And now you’ve destroyed all hope.
Gunselle’s seduction skills had been refined in her ownlaboratory, and Morrison had succumbed to her charms with ease. Not once had he mentioned the need to get back to his workshop to meet some roaming space alien in order to save the world. And if this avocado-colored ambassador was about to get tough, perhaps she could make it understand that this whole situation was the wife’s fault. Not hers.
“He never said anything about that. About any of it. He just wanted to stick his hambone in my beaver.”
You have a great power over men.
“I can usually get them to do what I want.”
Then perhaps you should be the one to deliver the device to your leaders, to convince the United Nations to discontinue the practices which are leading to the catastrophic warming of your atmosphere.
“Why would the leaders of Earth listen to me? Can’t you appear before them in all your shiny glory and tell them yourself?”
The first reaction of your leaders would be to destroy me. It is always the same. You must convince them that – “
“You come in peace. I get it.”
– that you have invented a device which will lead to your planet’s salvation.
“Look. That’s not going to happen. I didn’t even finish high school. I’d have to tell them the truth, and no one is going listen to me talk about space aliens and their impending doom scenarios. Not unless I’m pitching a story at Universal Studios.”
Your leaders will listen to a strong female earthling if you gain an audience, present the facts, present the device, and then carefully explain its purpose.
“Don’t be dumb.”
It is your duty to save your planet.
“Jesus Christ. Shut up. I’ll think about it. How soon until the Earth is cooked?”
One cannot know the exact date.
“It’s July 25th. 1948. I thought you knew everything.”
It will be a slow roasting, but with this orb replicated to a larger scale by your greatest scientific minds and sent into your upper atmosphere, circling the planet as an army of satellites, the controller in my hand will be able to bring rain to parched landscapes, prevent the melting of polar ice, and stem the rise of your sea-levels, thus preventing the endangerment of major coastal cities by flood and tempests of unmatched fury.
“Look. I’m a busy woman and I keep a tight datebook. A week? A month? Give me some idea how much time we’ve got.” She had to be in Fresno on Wednesday to complete a job for an Oakland mobster. A hit on a witness in an upcoming trial. She certainly had no time to galivant across the country to New York in order to convince the United Nations Assembly to listento wild claims by a space alien that the human race was hurrying down a path of self-destruction. 
I will estimate that complete death of all life on your planet due to a warming atmosphere could begin to happen in as soon as one hundred of your orbital cycles.
“Wait. If you’re talking about a hundred years, it’s a sure bet that no one on this planet will think that far ahead. I’d be wasting my breath.”
I have experienced this resistance on other planets. The controller I bring has many functions. One brings joy. Perhaps this feature will convince you to act in the interest of others?
The space alien alerted its controller with a few taps, then reached down to touch Gunselle where her thighs came together under the blood-soaked dress. She was about to brush the baton away with a bit of crossness, when an eruption of pleasure suddenly shot through her entire being. The unearthly blast gripped her senses with a power far greater than anything she had experienced at her own hand.
“Oh my God,” she whispered. It took her a few seconds to get off her knees. What else could that wand do?
The device has many features beyond controlling the temperature of a selected environment and stimulating the two-sex mating reward. You are wrong about what you are about to do.
The pistol was a tool she was never wrong about.
“Hand it over.”
That was my intention all along.
“Stop yammering. Give it to me. The thing in your hand. Now.”
Have patience. I have journeyed a great distance to present it to your people.
“Don’t try anything funny,” said Gunselle, taking hold of the shaft when he held it out. It was the length of a large banana, but there was no curve to it. It felt lighter in her fingers than a Milky Way bar. The thing had a rounded side and a flat side. As she turned it over, her thumb bumped a glassy area on the flat side and a small television screen came to life. Many small symbols appeared. “How does this contraption work?”
To galvanize an application, you must touch a symbol on the screen. That will activate a sub-screen, with commands and volumes related to the function you have chosen.
“This heating and cooling feature that you go on and on about. How does that work?”
Look for a round symbol that might represent a sun. Your source of warmth.
“Okay.” She tapped the symbol, giving birth to another screen.
Tap above the new symbol to increase the temperature of an object you’ve selected by pointing the wand and pressing the main control key below the screen. Tap below the symbol to cool the object. The object must be within approximately ten human strides from the orb.
“Makes sense.” She pointed the wand at dead Dr. Morrison. The red aura she had experienced earlier appeared around him. Then she tapped the symbol above the sun until the carcass burst into flames. 
You have gone too far!
“Sorry. I’m just getting the hang of this thing.”
Return it to me.
“I just took it from you. At gunpoint. Watch a movie sometime.”
I command you to return it.
The space alien took one step toward her, reaching for her neck with its shiny glove.
Gunselle fired her pistol at the chest area, causing the broad shape to collapse. It surprised her that the underpowered .32 slug would penetrate a suit designed for protecting the inhabitant from any number of physical dangers. Almost immediately, the thing’s features melted into a pile of fine ash inside the bubble. She removed the clear helmet by unscrewing it, and tried to smash it on the concrete. It refused to crack, bouncing a few times before she collected it and placed in a trash can. The space suit tore open like tissue, and she dumped the alien’s green ashes onto the concrete before crumpling the foil outfit into a ball the size of a grapefruit and tossing it into the can with the helmet. As she placed the lid over the evidence, a gust of wind snaked down the alley and blew the earnest creature’s remains into the dried leaves and cigarette butts collected at the base of the dirty brick walls.
The wand remained in her hand as she began the walk to her apartment, the pistol back in her purse, the orb following just overhead. Glancing at the screen, she pressed another symbol out of curiosity, almost walking into a light pole, and watched the red lines erupt from the ball. After poking up and down and sideways, she aligned the red beams on a corner mailbox. Gunselle tapped the symbol again and the mailbox dissolvedinto a pile of melted iron and undelivered mail. She envisioned asquad car barbecue in her future.
The lobby of Gunselle’s apartment building stood empty after midnight. The orb followed her up the stairs to the second floor. Once they entered her apartment, she used a broom to sweep her obedient new pet through the air and into her bedroom closet. After opening a bottle of wine in the kitchen, she filled her clawfoot tub with cold water. Standing in the bathroom doorway, she activated the wand and found the temperature control symbol. She touched the screen. The orb vibrated in the closet. Pointing the stick at the tub, she poked the thing again and the tub was at once surrounded by the red aura. She tapped the symbol above the “sun” until the water temperature became hot to the touch. Placing the wand under her pillow for later exploration, Gunselle settled onto her sofa in the living room with a glass of wine, turned on the reading lamp, and picked up the latest issue of Life magazine. After an hour, she went to test the temperature of the bath. It was still hot. As hot as she could handle. Just the way she liked it.

Russell Thayer’s work has appeared in Brushfire,Tough, Roi Fainéant Press, Guilty Crime Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Close to the Bone, Bristol Noir, Apocalypse Confidential, Hawaii Pacific Review, Shotgun Honey, Rock and a Hard Place Press, Revolution John, Punk Noir, Pulp Modern, and Outcast Press. He received his BA in English from the University of Washington, worked for decades at large printing companies, and currently lives in Missoula, Montana. You can find him lurking on Twitter @RussellThayer10