This was written for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction 2016 Challenge
This was the Round #2 criteria for my heat (#33):
Genre – Science Fiction
Setting – A Hunting Lodge
Item – A prosthetic limb
Dude Seems Squirrely To Me
We all go through awkward transitions in life. Why should extraterrestrials be any different?
Prixxod landed the zipcraft and winced as it docked to Hunting Lodge #7’s charging portal. The hammering vibration during connection meant he’d berthed poorly and evidence of that would be on the craft. Evidence his parents would notice.
Not a good start to his virgin solo flight.
Inside the lodge and divested of his flight suit, he stretched his cramped muscles and powered up a nearby console. The hunting ground popped into view.
Prixxod made use of one extruded prosthetic limb to hook to a nearby fluid-protein hose as he used two others to navigate the viewer’s controls. He zoomed in on the blue and green planet’s western hemisphere and tapped in population density queries. Yet another prosthetic scratched idly across a series of inflamed eruptions on his face as he checked the data. Once each completed its task, they reabsorbed.
He practiced a few transformations to mimic various humanoid configurations and called it good.
Fifteen minutes later, he entered the energy sheath connecting the lodge to the planet below. His descent speed increased beyond his calculations and halfway down he realized with sinking hearts his second virgin solo might also leave evidence of his ineptitude. But in a much more painful and personal way.
In a flash of reverse energy just before impact, Prixxod dumped into the spindly limbs of a small, city tree. The bows snapped under his weight. They, plus one angry, red squirrel and a surprised homeless man, cushioned his fall.
Other than his ego, very little was bruised and no limbs, prosthetic or otherwise, were broken.
A bottle blond in a red bandage dress nudged her friend and gestured with her chin toward a nearby table. Over the thump of bass, she shouted, “What about him, Hannah?”
“Are you kidding, Courtney? He looks homeless. And -” Hannah squinted through the pulse of lights, her nose wrinkled in disgust, “are those fur gloves he’s wearing? Super tacky.”
“You’re way too picky.” Courtney met the man’s eye, wrapped plump lips around the straw in her glass, and sucked down half of the second drink ordered that evening. An exhale of satisfaction feathered her fingers as they fixed her lipstick. “It’s called ‘grunge’. He’s cute.”
Hannah frowned as the man put his hands in his lap and bowed his head. “Who comes to a club alone?”
“He’s confident. No posse needed.”
Hannah didn’t reply. The lights had gone down as the DJ transitioned to the next song. Under the dim light of an exit sign, the man in question seemed to waver. “That’s weird.”
“Plenty of people go to clubs alone. It doesn’t mean they’re desperate or anything.”
The lights flared white hot then began pulsing at rainbow intervals. Hannah leaned forward. “What the –? Didn’t he just have a scraggly pube-beard?”
Courtney shrugged. “It’s the lighting. It plays tricks on your eyes.”
After a long pause, Hannah leaned back. “Well, at least he took the gloves off. They were creepy.”
“I didn’t see any gloves.”
“There were definitely gloves on his hands. Red fur.”
“It’s spring. No one wears gloves in spring.”
“Homeless men and hipsters do.”
Courtney raised her glass at a passing waiter. Satisfied she got her request across, she turned to roll her eyes at Hannah. “He’s not homeless.”
“He’s wearing a trench coat.”
“Businessmen wear trench coats.”
“It’s wrinkled and stained.”
Courtney’s heavy sigh was lost in the cacophony of dance music. “Are you a cyborg or something? How can you tell it’s wrinkled from here? You thought he had a beard a minute ago!”
The club was thrown into deep shadow for the length of a long bass line. When they spiralled back to life, Hannah’s hand clamped hard over Courtney’s forearm.
“Ouch! What the hell, Hannah?”
“Courtney, his coat.”
“What about it?”
“It’s clean and pressed now.”
“Oh my God, Hannah. You need to relax.” Courtney flapped her hand at the waitress. “Jameson’s!” She mimicked throwing back a shot and held up three fingers. “When the shots come, we’re going to invite him to join us.”
Hannah slumped against the door as Courtney fumbled with the key.
“The place is small. And the property manager lives right next to us, so we’ll have to be quiet.” The door swung open, Hannah landed with a thud, and Courtney whispered through a fit of giggles, “Oh shit. Shh. Pick her up off the floor? I have to pee.”
Prixxod watched the blond disappear down a hallway then extruded two additional arms to pick up the unconscious female and place her on a raised surface.
Her eyes fluttered open and she let out a drunken squawk of surprise. For an instant, Prixxod’s arm erupted into a mass of startled, bristling squirrels before he got his damaged prosthetics software back online. Mercifully, the female once again blacked out.
His parents had just had the software installed in him for this first, solo data hunt. He was so screwed when he got home.
“You guys, you have to be quiet!”
Prixxod whirled and retracted his arms as Courtney entered the room. She stopped, her eyes widened, and then she broke into another fit of giggles. “Not on the kitchen counter, silly!” She gestured a few feet to her right. “Put her on the couch.”
Courtney wasn’t sure what he’d said his name was. The club had been so loud, it had sounded like the chatter of an angry squirrel when he’d told her. Then when she’d asked in the cab, his hand had been up her skirt and all she remembered was that it sounded Russian. Or maybe French. It didn’t really matter in the end.
What mattered was that the guy was eager as hell and had foreplay down to an art form. Her head was reeling and she could barely catch her breath. He had moves like an octopus!
So who cared he smelled a little like a homeless guy. Or chattered during sex?
Hannah was too picky.