Contest #210 shortlist ⭐️


Science Fiction Fiction

16 January 2024

Dear MI5

I believe you handle external threats to the U.K. I am not sure how much of a existential threat they are, but aliens have arrived. They are on my desk. Let me tell you about them. They really are VERY small.

When they stand to attention they look remarkably like half a match-stick. Their legs and arms fold into their tiny little trunks and almost merge into the surface. Their red ‘heads’ grow up from their trunk without necks and I cannot see eyes, nose, mouth or ears. Their bodies are flexible though and they can leap surprising distances using the spring of their whole bodies. I have had to pick up a few that have inadvertently leapt off my desk before Patsy, my highland/fox terrier cross got to them.

They have a spaceship (on my desk) about the size and shape of a rugby or gridiron football. It has a matt black surface with no perceivable breaks so it is a surprise when openings appear. Inside seems to be a complete jumble of shiny objects. I cannot interpret what the objects are for.

They have worked out how to send signals of some sort, presumably over wifi, to my PC, but they have disabled my internet connection so I am unable to forward those signals to anyone. I am also unable to make phone calls. They seem to know how to manipulate and interrupt electromagnetic signals. The information they send me includes sounds much like my dog’s farts and symbols that remind me of Akkadian cuneiform.  

They come out of the football at odd intervals and make strange martial sounds which may be perceived as music while they march up and down my desk in squadrons of 20. They all look alike to me so there might be hundreds of them in there or there may be just 20.

When I move around the house the ‘football’ follows me and if I try to leave via my front or back door the football gets in front of me and will not let me through. I am unable to push it aside even though it seems to be just floating in the air. They clearly have some amazing technology with force fields or the like.

I am writing this letter because it’s the only way I can communicate. They don’t seem to understand writing by hand. I am slipping this under the door when the postie comes by. I would raise an alarum with her when she is at the door but I fear what the aliens might do in response.

Can you please send someone round to help resolve the impasse here at 26 Grove Road, Wimbledon SW20 6TY.


Jonathan Starfield (sic)

20 January 2024

Dear Mr Starfield

Hold on. We will be round imminently.

Only joking, along the lines of your letter to us of the 16th inst. 

I am sure you will appreciate that MI5, which does not exist, has more to worry about than a football and a few matches on your desk.


Hortense Cummerbatch, Regional Nuisance Handler

23 January 2024

Dear Mrs Cummerbatch

I am grateful that you have replied to my letter. So few people these days seem to appreciate that ignoring a polite inquiry is the height of rudeness, and we are subjects, it sometimes seems, more of Rudeness than of His Majesty.

I was disappointed however to garner the impression that I was not believed and that, indeed, I may have been the butt of some ridicule in the corridors of the previously highly-esteemed MI5.

If an alien spaceship was to land on your desk I am sure you would like to feel that His Majesty’s loyal supernumeries were willing and able to leap to the breach and provide all the requisite assistance.

Indeed this inconvenienced humble subject of the King has every right to expect succour. My expectations are not for a squadron of HM’s finest but simply a man from Porlock who can verify the veracity of my claims and then allow HM’s government and armed forces to take over in this quite exceptional circumstance.

Really it is too much that I should be expected to administer the nation’s response to a novel and confident alien force on my own, however self-confident and unalarmed I may be.


J. Starfield

27 January 2024

Dear Mr Starfield

I will not deign to reply to further correspondence along the lines with which you sadly feel obliged to persist.

If you must, please bring the alien objects to the Bethlem Psychiatric Hospital in Monks Orchard Road, Beckenham where they can be assiduously interrogated by our alien experts.



1 February 2024

Dear Madam

Flippancy and derision are the fallbacks of incompetence. Clearly you are unable to grasp the difficulty of my situation and the opportunity for your career. I am delighted however to be able to demonstrate ineluctably that I have aliens in the house. I have spoken to them.

Their computers, which are vastly superior to our own, have analysed the written words, audiobooks and podcasts on my PC and my phone and we have been able to communicate. You can imagine the surprise and delight with which I received this demonstration of their immeasurable superiority. That the speech coming from my speakers is in a clumsy yet comprehensible simulacrum of the English language is beyond extraordinary. It is sensational.

We are communicating. We are building trust and consideration. I am friendly, humble, self-deprecating and helpful. I am not tendentious or over-bearing, as seems to be the style encouraged in your own less than venerable institution.

They have told me that tomorrow they will demonstrate some of their capabilities. They appear happy to share them with me, which is more than I deserve as a lonely neighbour from a distant galaxy with few grudges upon which to act.

This may be my last communication, or it may not be. In fact this may be the last opportunity for HM Government to reverse its to-date unconscionable refusal to take seriously my loyalty to, and fast-diminishing admiration for, the panjandrums and nabobs of the Great British Public Service and to believe what I say. I have aliens on my desk!

Cum melancholia et desperatione


5 February 2024

Dear Mr Starfield

I wish you would just disappear up your own fundament, if you haven’t already.


P.S. This is a private view and in no way expresses the views or opinions of my departments, my superiors or HM Government or any of its departments.

9 February 2024

Dear Mrs Cummerbatch 

The demonstrations of the alien weapons was most elucidative. You will note in the evening news that the Brighton Pier has burnt down, a sinkhole has appeared under the M25 between junctions 12 and 13, a fire in a generator has caused the closure of a major nuclear power plant, and Rockall has disappeared under the waves of the North Sea. None of these are coincidences.

I ask only that you take me seriously and we open discussions.

Please don’t send police around. They will not be treated kindly.

As a way of opening the conversation, I would be grateful if you could deposit £20 million in my Barclays current account. My aliens inform me that I will be able to access the account online. We have built up a really lovely level of trust and mutual appreciation. They are not at all happy at the way I have been treated. Like me, they only wish to be taken seriously and listened to.

By the way they come from the planet Scltch which appears to be somewhere in the Crab Nebula.


Jonathan Starfield

11 Feb 2024

“Mr Starfield!”

The policeman banged on the door.

“Mr Starfield, we’d like to talk to you.”

Jonathan opened the door.

“Why officer, they’ve taken me seriously at last.”

Jonathan learned forward and looked out and around, then back to the policeman.

“You are on your own?”

“Yes sir, now, we’ve heard you’ve been making outrageous claims and have even demanded money from the government.”

“They sent you…on your own?”

“Well, clearly, now…”

Jonathan slammed the door shut. The officer banged on the door again. There was a huge explosion – he was blown off his feet and he felt a wave of heat. His car was completely on fire.

The door opened. Starfield looked out at the burning car, the policeman struggling to get up.

“Of cats and pigeons,” he said, smiling, and shut the door again.

The squad sent next could not get closer than 50 metres to the house in Grove Road. The force field was only visible as a slight interruption in the air, like a heat shimmer. Nothing could get through it. They watched as Jonathan Starfield left his house wearing a dark blue suit, a pressed white shirt and a light blue tie. A sorry-looking mongrel trotted at his heels. The sleek black object shaped like a rugby ball followed him, floating in the air.

He got into his 1960s Mini followed by the dog and the floating object and drove away from the police down the suburban street. The shimmering travelled with them.

The police helicopter called in: “He’s driving towards Hammersmith. Any car that comes close seems to stop working. A police van tried to ram him but bounced off the – for want of a better word – force field…

“He’s heading up Fulham Palace Road…

“…now up the A219. You don’t suppose he’s heading for the BBC do you?”

The Prime Minster had his shoes off and his feet on a pouffe, sipping coffee and watching the TV. He had been informed about the strange events unfolding and was curious. Force fields indeed! The Met chief was clearly under some form of misapprehension. 

The camera showed Jonathan Starfield siting at a news desk. The black rugby ball the prime minister had been told about rested on the desk beside him. A decidedly ratty-looking dog lay in front of the desk.

“I tried to tell the government about my new friends,” Jonathan Starfield gestured at the black object, “but they wouldn’t listen.” He spoke in a high-pitched voice more like a cartoon caricature than a news reader. “So now things have changed. I would have been happy with a polite response and intelligent curiosity, but would they listen? No, they wouldn’t. We have been led by idiots.”

“Oh don’t turn it off,” he said to someone off camera. There was a noise, something like a body collapsing to the floor. Someone screamed. More sounds of people falling to the floor.

“Look. Just let the camera run and everyone will be OK. No-one has died. They’ll wake up in five minutes. Can we get on now?”

“Why doesn’t someone just shoot him?” the prime minister asked.

“Did you see the video someone put online when the SAS tried to shoot him outside the BBC?”

“Do I look at videos online? Show me!”

The assistant held a phone to the PM. He watched as soldiers shot at Jonathan Starfield. Bullets pinged off the force field. Then, as one, they dropped their weapons which glowed red hot on the ground, then melted.

“Bloody hell,” the PM said, sitting up.

“Listen, listen,” the assistant said, pointing to the TV.

“I am now in charge of Britain,” Jonathan said. “Everyone should just go on with their normal lives. Politicians should go home and get other jobs. The armed forces should focus on protecting our nation.” He giggled. “In fact I may be in charge of the whole world. My friends here are going to get rid of all nuclear weapons, missiles no matter what their range, chemicals weapons, artillery - every weapon that can kill another person or animal. Sorry America.

“We are going to focus on being better people on a better planet.

“But first, we are going to make two subjects mandatory for all primary, secondary and tertiary education - English Literature and Language, and Politeness and Consideration.

“The key to civilisation is writing better letters and being nicer to other people.

“Oh, and I want to have a word to Hortense Cummerbatch at MI5.”

August 07, 2023 12:27

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Amanda Lieser
20:00 Sep 14, 2023

Hi Lyle! Oh, what an interesting take on the prompt! And a particularly funny perspective as well. I love that you decided to start everything off with letter correspondence, and I could tell that the narrator was perfectly comfortable with holding in his own truth beyond what the rest of the world might have to say about it. I loved that the narrator was so well characterized in the letters as well. What an interesting way to take things-seems like what’s gone around shall come around to poor Hortense. Congratulations on the shortlist!!


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Mary Bendickson
05:15 Aug 25, 2023

Congrats on shortlist. Clever 🤓


Lyle Closs
18:18 Aug 25, 2023

Thanks Mary :-)


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Philip Ebuluofor
12:46 Aug 20, 2023

I like spy works. I suspect that this work promoted this week's prompts. Congrats.


Lyle Closs
19:56 Aug 20, 2023

Thanks Philip :-)


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Wally Schmidt
17:06 Aug 18, 2023

Witty, moralistic, and highly entertaining. I didn't realize you could have a mic drop moment in reading, but you created one with "Sorry America". Loved what you did with this story. Looking forward to reading more of yours. Congrats on the short list!


Lyle Closs
18:48 Aug 18, 2023

Thanks Wally - much appreciated. :-)


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Charles Corkery
04:50 Aug 17, 2023

Very amusing. Well done


Lyle Closs
18:49 Aug 18, 2023

Many thanks Charles


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Olive Silirus
21:28 Aug 14, 2023

Very interesting story! I liked it a lot.


Lyle Closs
18:34 Aug 17, 2023

Excellent! Thanks Olive.


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