Our first story in our New Voices in Sci-fi series is a fun little piece of flash fiction that explores the unavoidable hazards of love. It’s a heartfelt tragicomedy with a twist that the author pitched to us as something that could have been written by Kilgore Trout. It’s also a nice jumping off point for some of our darker stories to come. Still no happy ending though. Enjoy.
I went on a date recently…and for a while, I thought it was going great. Unfortunately, while I was mid-sentence in one of my go-to funny stories, my date interrupted me with an obviously fake cough before proceeding to bluntly inform me that she wasn’t really a woman in the “traditional sense.” She claimed she wasn’t even human. I laughed. She didn’t.
Keeping with her story, my apparently not-human date went on to apologize for leading me on. According to her, she desperately wanted to be attracted to humans but just wasn’t. I squinted and nodded, trying to look sophisticated and as if I understood. I didn’t.
Sensing the confusion, my date elaborated and began to describe the true nature of her being. Turns out, she was a queen—royalty from space, from a planet whose name I won’t even attempt to say or spell. I think it started with an “S.” Anyway, on this planet everyone looked human but were really made of glass, which was as hazardous as it sounds. Do anything or hit anything hard enough and your body could crack or collapse. And when I say collapse, I mean explode into a million tiny shards of glass. Death. “Game over, Man.”
Yet somehow, despite all this, these glass-people made do, living shiny lives filled with intelligence, love, and the starriest of nights. It was pretty great, but my date had a problem: she wasn’t attracted to her glass people. Despite how hard she might try, none of her relationships ever seemed quite right, regardless of how much time she spent emotionally and physically reflecting, ‘cause you know—she’s made of glass. Anyway, my date decided to travel the universe in search of a mate and love, both of which had eluded her glassy self for too long. I was her first human date.
Pleased with her story, the alien sighed with satisfaction and then stood up. Though disappointed with the outcome, she still managed to stretch out her polished hand and thank me. I was about to ask “what for” when she added “Because of you, I now know human beings aren’t for me. It was obvious almost immediately.”
I smiled half-heartedly and managed a “You’re welcome.” I’m pretty sure my voice cracked. Realizing the power of her words, my date tried to back-track, saying things like “great guy,” “friend,” and “not you, it’s me.” She was rambling on when again, mid-sentence, my now not-date interrupted herself with a loud and fake cough. Her eyes traveled over my shoulder, bulging and glistening as they reflected something of apparent desire.
“What is that?” she gasped, pointing her finger behind me.
I turned and saw a motorcyclist pulling up to the coffee shop’s ten minute parking spot. “Figures” I muttered, followed by the bitter thought, “Even aliens go crazy for a guy on a bike.”
Soon, the strange and romantically unavailable alien across the table from me started to cry. I watched awkwardly. True to her word though, my glassy and now platonic friend wasn’t interested in the male motorcyclist. She had fallen in love with…the bike. It was a lot to take in for both of us.
Overwhelmed and confused as to the strange course my Saturday had taken, I retreated—momentarily—into the dark confines of my cup of coffee. As I sipped, the glass creature of whom I had attempted to date was still staring outside, misty eyed, and swooning over the bike. At first, I was annoyed, my ego struggling with losing out to an inanimate object. However, as I continued to observe the creature in front of me, I realized I sort of understood. To wait, to travel, to hope, to carry the light of unknowable fulfillment across space and years of cold and then finally be shown a mirror into your own being after believing your quest futile, would be, well, kind of amazing. Upon thinking that thought, I felt my heart soften. As strange as it was, if this glass-alien-queen-woman-thing loved a motorcycle and it made her happy, then that made me happy too. Don’t let anyone ever tell you I’m not progressive.
Having never answered her question, the glossy creature asked once again what the motorcycle was. I had never had to explain what a motorcycle was to an alien before, so I fumbled over my words quite a bit, but I think she got the picture. After explaining, I told her I could introduce her if she’d like. Her eyes bulged like a cartoon’s.
“Would…you like that?” I repeated.
She nodded repeatedly and squealed with delight, which was kind of annoying and equally adorable. Walking outside, I motioned towards the bike, as if to introduce it to my not-date, when I realized I didn’t even know her name. I inquired and after a few pronunciation tutorials by her, I gave up trying to say it. I apologized and she reassured me it was fine after giving me a hard slap on the butt. Apparently, she had gone to a baseball game earlier and thought butt-slapping was a normal and encouraging gesture. Blushing, I thanked her and decided to simply use her self-appointed human name for the introduction. I turned around and addressed the bike.
“Bike, this is Crystal” I said.
Crystal curtsied and approached the love of her life. I watched like a nervous parent at their child’s first prom. Crystal immediately got on the bike, which I thought was a bit forward, but the bike didn’t seem to mind so I guess it was fine. Confident in her newfound love, Crystal began to talk to the bike, starting out with the basic stuff like where she was from, what kind of food she liked, and her opinion on offshore drilling. To its credit, the bike was a good listener. After a minute or two, I realized I had become a third-wheel to an anthropomorphic piece of glass and two other literal wheels, so I decided to leave and also to give up dating for a while. Almost immediately after turning around, I heard an incredibly loud and terrible sound: a crash. I looked over my shoulder, slowly, praying the sound wasn’t what I feared, but…it was. The bike had fallen over.
After a moment of indecisiveness, I began to walk towards it, covering my mouth as I anticipated an image I really did not care to see. It was bad. Crystal had been crushed. I stared at her remains, tiny pieces of beautiful glass shining and reflecting an indifferent summer sun. I covered my eyes due to the glare and ‘cause it was sad. I caught a glimpse of the bike, which was now scraped and not in great shape, but that didn’t really bother me. I hadn’t known it that well.
Bending down, I tried to grab a few pieces of Crystal’s glass but cut my hand in the process. I swore and dropped them, the bloody shards jingling as they made contact with the ground and their other fractured pieces. Somewhere, a door swung open. It was followed by a dramatic gasp.
“Are you okay?” I heard.
Looking up, I saw one of the baristas standing on the front steps to the coffee shop. She had a colorful tattoo on her arm. After an uncomfortable amount of eye contact, I managed to speak to the barista and asked her to call 9-1-1. She retrieved her phone from her apron and inquired as to where I was hurt. I told her it wasn’t for me, motioning towards the remnants of Crystal as if that was all the barista needed to see.
“Sir!” she shouted. “Do you need help?”
I looked away and shook my head, hiding my now misty eyes. “No…” I whispered, looking at my short-lived friend: a queen, a romantic, a butt-slapper, a traveler, an environmentalist, a dreamer, a beautiful creature. Within Crystal’s pieces I saw no end of light, each shard offering a glimpse of all the loves, losses, suns, and nights; a life.
Failing to hold back tears, I asked, once again, for the barista to call 9-1-1, this time clarifying who it was for. The barista looked at Crystal, then back at me.
“Sir, that’s just some broken pieces of glass.”
I shook my head. “No. I think she was more than that.”
About the Author
Kyle Stück—who enjoys describing himself in the third-person—was born in the jungles of Ecuador, a magical land laden with mystical and wise jaguars, empanadas, and a cool air that has yet to be matched. Currently, the up-and-coming writer resides in Fayetteville, Arkansas where he spends most of his days penning the horror, comedy comic “Evil Cast” and hosting “Humming Fools,” a podcast dedicated to all the artists and dreamers out there. Along with that, Kyle has a published collection of poetry under his belt titled “Culaccino: Tales & Thoughts from an Anxious Mind.” When he’s not writing or describing himself in the third-person, Kyle busies himself with absorbing all forms of media and eating/drinking with his fan-base, all of whom he normally refers to as his “friends and family.”
Check out his website: https://www.ominous.media
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