The Night of the Coral Polyp

Vydáno dne 24.11.2009

Krátký příběh malého mimozemšťánka na naší planetě. Povídka v duchu sci-fi tvorby Kilgora Trouta/Kurta Vonneguta.

The Night of the Coral Polyp

Zack Nelson


It was a dark and stormy night. Jasmine and Dink sat in the dugout of their high school baseball field, smoking their second joint that evening. A bright light whizzed by overhead, circling around the field.

"Jaz, look -- a shooting star," said Dink.

"Where? Oh, I see it..."

"Uh, Jaz? It's getting bigger." They looked at the glowing brownish white light which hovered over the diamond.

"Dude, Jaz, we should go."

The light took shape as it descended on the field. It was oval-ish and brown. It landed on the pitcher's mound. Jaz went to inspect it. Dink scurried after her.

"Dink, check it out: it's a football."

Sure enough, sitting there on the mound was an official-size football, brown with a white circle at each end, and white stitches down the middle. It had ceased glowing.

"Don't touch it," warned Dink. Jaz crouched down, reaching for the football.

Suddenly, the stitches parted. The same bright glow emanated from the opening. A smallish being emerged.

It was about five inches tall, sort of cylindrical, with bright red skin and hundreds of little arms, each in the shape of a flower. It looked slimy.

"Woa," whispered Dink.

"I don't get it," said Jaz.

"What do you mean you don't get it? It's an alien."

"No. I mean, it came out of a football..."


"This is a baseball diamond." The two of them just crouched there, staring with open mouths. The alien plopped itself down onto the grass. It wiggled its way toward Jaz, then tripped and fell over.

"You killed it," said Dink. He leaned over Jaz to get a better look; sure enough, it had stopped moving. "Ugh, it's gross."

Jaz picked the alien up, setting it upright in her left palm. The alien wriggled a bit, and bent over, revealing to Jaz and Dink a small opening in the top.

"It wants food," suggested Jaz excitedly.

"No food, please. Not hungry," came the reply.

"That's its mouth, moron," said Dink. "It's trying to say something..."

The alien cleared its throat. "Thank you. Thank you. I'll be on my way now. Thank you. Goodnight." With that, the alien jumped down and squiggled off toward third base. After traveling from the farthest reaches of the galaxy, the last thing it needed was some half-sentient monkeys intervening in its own private affairs.

The young alien's name was Mua9sckvkxv8uai4rghqiU. Its friends back home gave him a nickname, however. The nickname was Enola Gay.

Enola Gay was actually a highly evolved red coral polyp colony. Its home planet was entirely submerged under water. All the continents were coral reefs. Each coral reef contains thousands of polyp colonies. Each colony was home sweet home to about one hundred polyps.

It is a well known fact that aliens such as Enola Gay live peacefully in a communal society based on cooperation and hard work. Many planets look up to them as role models for sentient beings in this galaxy. The polyps within the colony known as Enola Gay, however, were not altogether happy. They had to work for their food just like everyone else, and had to share their food like everyone else. That is, until Howard was born.

When Howard came into being as a part of the greater organism that is Enola Gay, he immediately demonstrated how proficient he was at snagging spacefood that was just drifting along. Rather than pass this food on to the rest of the colony, Howard scarfed it down himself. A growing alien has got to eat!

One thing led to another, as things often do, and soon each polyp in the colony was eating the food it caught. Hooray, thought Enola Gay. I have finally found a way out of that boring rut. Screw this! I'm outta here.

Enola Gay squiggled its way to the park a few blocks away. It took several hours, not because aliens move slow, but because the polyps were bickering among themselves about whether to turn left, turn right, go back to the ship, or get Mup-Mup. A Mup-Mup is dinner on Enola Gay's home planet. In the meantime, Jaz and Dink agreed that from now on they would Just Say No. They discussed the social and political ramifications of what they had just seen. They ended up deciding that they hadn't actually seen anything at all. What a shame.

Once it had discovered that it could provide for itself, Enola Gay lifted itself off the small watery planet and hurled itself through outer space in search of a hospitable planet.

No: once Enola Gay had discovered that it could provide for itself, the small watery planet said fine, be that way, and it spit Enola Gay out, persona non grata.

So Enola Gay wandered through the brightly lit park. One little polyp named Polly pfiffled another polyp named Sam. Pfiffling is roughly equivalent to pulling the chair out from under a person as he or she is sitting down. Sam recoiled into the protective shell of Enola Gay and whipped Polly with one of his tentacles. They both stopped, because now they were even.

Enola Gay tripped over itself. Polyps Bobby-Ray, Hans, Yolanda, and Oscar spread their tentacles out over the cold wet grass and pushed the rest of the colony upright. Enola Gay squeaked.

By now none of the polyps were sure where they were going, or how to get back. Enola Gay hungry, but had no idea how to go about getting food; food simply didn't just drift by here on this planet. Enola Gay made it to the street, which it found rather uncomfortable. A station wagon crept by at fifteen miles per hour, and one clever little polyp saw an opportunity. It shot out a tentacle, shouting at the others to do the same. In less than a second, Enola Gay was being dragged along by the speeding metal monster.

Jaz and Dink drove to the 7-Eleven to pick up some munchies. Jaz and Dink were aliens, too. Most teenagers are. They are simply kids who have little microscopic radios implanted in their skulls, receiving messages from some maniacal grown-up who is secretly plotting to wage peace on the world.

Jaz got twinkies and a Big Gulp, while Dink got Hickory Smoked Turkey Jerky and chocolate milk. Incidentally, Enola Gay knew nothing of Jaz and Dink's unconscious plan for global harmony. Jaz and Dink simply went back to their respective houses. They will be making no further appearances in this story.

What more is there to say about them? Move on! Move on!

Exhausted and hungry but still alive, Enola Gay let go of the car and bounced off the pavement with a soft schlupping sound. It rolled into the gutter, where it boinked onto the sidewalk and smacked into the window of an appliance shop. All internal alarms went off. Code Red! Code Red! Alien down! Help!

Not surprisingly, no one came to help. An old bum who just happened to be walking by eyed Enola Gay warily, then walked on. Enola Gay farted. The farts of aliens such as Enola Gay smell like roses. To aliens such as Enola Gay, roses are among the most repugnant things alive.

After gathering its wits, Enola Gay hoisted itself up and peered into the window of the store. A dozen televisions of various shapes and sizes were showing the Discovery Channel. Enola Gay stared at the daisy on the screens before it. The daisies, thanks to time-elapse photography, lost their petals in the space of a few seconds. A round ball of fuzzies now covered the end of the stem. A breeze came (on the television), and all the fuzzies blew away. Each little fuzzy will go wherever the wind blows, seeking a burrowing place to start a new life as a daisy.

This all slightly annoyed Enola Gay, or rather various members of Enola Gay. An ubba-yubba, or shoving match, ensued. Barry, Gordon, Nina, and Nigel won; Enola Gay moved on to the next store. The next store was a pet shop.

Enola Gay couldn't believe its sensors. Inside the store window sat a giant aquarium, filled with saltwater inhabitants. clownfish, eels, anemones, and sea stars populated the tank. But more importantly, the little alien saw a relative: a tiny colony of yellow polyps sticking out of a smallish chunk of coral reef. The yellow polyps all seemed to wave at Enola Gay. Bob and Jerry and Phil, all part of the happy Enola Gay family, argued among themselves whether this was indeed a cousin, and whether it was in their best interests to free it. Kip stepped in and said that it was their duty to liberate the poor, trapped coral. Easier said than done!

Not quite sure of what it had finally decided to do, Enola Gay continued on, blorping down the street, minding its own business. Inside the busy aquarium, the yellow alien named Asdrlgvmue094t cried mournfully at its lost chance to return home.

That night, Howard the polyp fut-futted eighty-seven of his siblings. Fut-fut has no exact translation in our language. It is something aliens never do to one another.

Somehow, Enola Gay made it to another grassy area. The moisture was soothing to the remaining polyps, who were all quite shaken, but nonetheless determined to live through the night. Tomorrow, thought Zon, we will find food for our colony.

Tomorrow, thought Howard, I will eat.

Enola Gay staggered through the muddy field. It sensed running water somewhere near. It was a small brook, which fed into a local river, which fed into the Pacific Ocean. Enola Gay dragged itself toward the gurgling sound. Unfortunately, an opossum intercepted it. The opossum sniffed Enola Gay, then took a bite off the top. There were a few little alien screams, but the opossum didn't hear them. In fact, it decided that alien didn't taste so good after all, and dropped the little bit it had taken. The rest of Enola Gay fell over with a shudder.

The opossum was from another planet, too.

When Enola Gay awoke under the harsh yellow light of the local star, it felt something it had never felt before.

"He loves me," a soft voice echoed. This was accompanied by a sharp stabbing sensation.

"He loves me not..." Again the stabbing. Some of the polyps felt a sudden sense of loss. Some polyp whispered that Barbara was now gone. Another whispered, which one was Barbara, I forget.

"He loves me..." Howard decided it was time once again to take matters into his own tentacles. Polyps were being plucked mercilessly from their home! The colony depended on him!

"He loves me not..." Howard couldn't see what was going on. He had fut-futted the polyps near the sensory organs. Now there was no way to see, no way to tell what was going on.

"He loves me..." Howard panicked. He snorgled. He whipped his tentacles about, trying to latch on to anything, anything at all. Where are the others? What has happened! Enola Gay, where are you!

"He loves me not..."

Time now, thought Howard, to go back to the ship.

The young girl plucked Howard.

"He loves me."


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