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Coming of Age Friendship Fiction

Two things happened last week: my dog Brodie died and I met a little green alien named Pterodactyl. I called him Terry.

          I was sitting on my swing in the backyard, not swinging just sitting, when a trail of smoke zoomed across the sky like a comet. I sat up straight to see what it was. It was getting closer, heading straight towards me. I heard a noise. It started soft then got louder, a high-pitch whistle. Like the letter ‘e’. “Eeeeeeeeee!” A yellow ring around the saucer and flames glowing around the jet engine. And then: BAM! It crashed right in front of me! It didn’t explode though, thank goodness. The porch was only a few feet away.

            The glass of the cockpit whooshed open and out burst a Martian, a tiny thing with scaly skin and two antennas. He had claws for feet, kinda like a rooster. And he made more noise than any rooster I ever heard. There was an extinguisher in his hands. He yanked the black rip cord and fired it at the ship. It exploded. White foam all over the wings and engine. He got blasted backward, tumbling antennae over claws until he landed at the base of the fence on the other side of our yard.

            He sat up and shook his head. When he wasn’t woozy anymore he dashed back to the ship. He waved his hands and hopped around in circles. He dug his palms into his eyes, making I can’t believe this groans. He sounded like my dad when the car quit in the middle of the road and he opened up the hood and out poured a cloud of black smoke. “I can’t believe this!”

            “Igzorp zoot myansk weezcup!” Cried the Martian.

            I stood up. “Hi.” I said.

            “Zeep!” He leaped up and spun three times in the air. He darted behind the ship and took cover. I walked over and poked my head around the metal frame. He was rocking back-and-forth, hands covering his eyes, antennas drooped, vibrating. Softly, he muttered:

            “Meezul zorp. Meezul zorp. Meezul zorp.”

            “It’s okay”, I told him, “I’m not gonna hurt you. You won’t hurt me, will you?”

            “Zoof.”

            I sat down on the ground next to him. He kept rocking. “I don’t know what zoof is.” A minute passed and he finally stopped. He opened his eyes. They were a color I’ve never seen before. I can’t describe them to you because there is no word for the color. We could only have a word for it if you saw it too.

            “Zoof”, he repeated.

            “I don’t know what zoof is.”

            He shook in frustration. His antennas glowed blue. Then, he sprang up, excited. He scurried past the front of the ship and rummaged inside. When he returned he had a little black box.

            “Zoof.”

            “I don’t know zoof.”

            He grabbed a stick and sped to my mom’s garden on the side of the house. “Winzip frygszkey.” He said. He wanted me to follow him. In the dirt he made strange markings with the stick. He looked at me and pointed to the dirt.

            “Zoof.”

            “I don’t know zoof.”

            He put the stick in my hand. He pointed at me. Then he pointed at the dirt.

            I wrote: “My name is Ben.”

            He hopped in the air and spun three times. He pointed his black box at the dirt and pressed a button. A blue light scanned left-to-right, then right-to-left, up-and-down, then down-and-up. Two beeps. The little box rumbled. The screen lit up and shuffled strange markings. The shuffling froze. The alien looked at me and said: “Earth. En. En-glish.”

            “Yes, yes, earth!” I hollered. “English! How did you know that?”

            He held the box to his antenna and replayed my question. It said something back to him. He tapped with his claw. “Trans. Trans-late. Trans-later.”

            “Cool! Does it know Spanish too?” I asked.

            He was confused. He typed something in the screen and then he wrote symbols in the dirt. He scanned them. Blue light. He looked back up at me. “Quest. Quest-chin. Quest-chin mark.” He drew a question mark in the dirt.

            “Here”, I said. “Try this.” I wrote ¿Hola cómo estás?

             He scanned it. “Earth. Span. Span-ish. Moon. Mun-dio. Español. No. No es-toy. No estoy bien.”

            I laughed. A Spanish-speaking alien. Who’da thought? “English,” I said. “I’m Ben.”

            “Ben,” he repeated. “Ben. You. Ben. I. Me. I am …” He made a noise I couldn’t understand. It sounded like a screeching saxophone and an airplane flying overhead. His antennas turned red.

            The ship made a gurgling noise. It shout out orange sparks and powered down. Like a computer – Veeeeuuu. The alien typed symbols into the box. He pressed the button. “Too. Too-owls.” He said.

            “Two owls?” I asked.

            He looked at the screen again and then back up at me. “Too-ools. Tools.”

            “Oh! Tools! You need tools! To fix your ship!”

            “Fix. Fix ship.”

            “You’re a fast learner! Follow me, my dad has tons of tools in the garage.” I led him to the front door. He bounced along next to me, happy that he would have what he needed to be on his way. I pressed the button on the side panel and the door rolled up above us. Saxophone Airplane saw the back wall where dad’s gadgets hung and meeped. He did three spins and danced inside. 

              He snatched a socket wrench, a mini blowtorch, a hammer, a mallet and six screws. He searched through the drawers in the bench and huffed. His antennas drooped down. They turned yellow. He spun around and stared at me.

            “Weezkeep. Weezkeep bing.”

            “English.” I said.

            “Weezkeep bing,” he said into his black box. Pitter-patter. Beep beep. Whoosh. “Band-aid.” He said.

            “Band-aid?”

            He looked at me and then he looked down. He held up his claw– he had only three on each hand. That means I can still teach him middle finger. He was bleeding. His blood was shimmery gold.

            “Oh! You’re bleeding! One second.” I searched the bin with all my sports stuff. “Hockey stick, knee pads, helmet, tennis racket, sneakers, baseball bat. Ah! Here we go. Band-aids. I got these in my stocking last Christmas. Can you believe that? Worse than socks.”

            Saxophone Airplane opened the box neatly. He peeled the paper of the band-aid and slowly wound it around his claw. He inspected it three inches from his eyes. They were another color now. That color doesn’t have a name either but I think it’s the color thank you is made of. Thank you and butterscotch.

            He looked up at me.

            “Bizquip zinzadel”

            “English.”

            “What. What this?” He pointed towards the cartoons on the bandage.

            “Oh! Dinosaurs.” I said. Those are dinosaurs.”

            “Dino. Dino-sores. Dinosaurs.”

            “Yeah those are flying ones, like birds. They’re called pterodactyls.”

            “Tero. Dack. Ptero-dactyls.” He whispered something into his black box. “Where?” Where quest-chin. Where quest-chin mark.” He asked.

            “They’re not around anymore. Long gone. It’s just us people now.”

            “Just people.”

            “Yeah I know, boring. Hey, how do you say your name again?”

            He made the saxophone airplane sound again. The bikes hanging above rustled.

            “In English?”

            He typed in his black box. Buzz. Beep. Whoosh whoosh. Does not compute flashed on the screen. His antennas turned orange. He gathered his tools and cruised back to the ship. He popped the hood and started tinkering around. I sat on the ground and watched him work.

            “You’re the first alien I ever met ya know.”

            Bang. Fwoosh fwoosh. Tack. Thwock.

            “But I can’t pronounce your name.”

            Fwip. Bang. He tossed a screw and a rubber belt over his head. They landed in the yard.    “Maybe I’ll call you Saxophone Airplane.”

            Vwoooooom. An orange glow from the inside of the ship. A shower of yellow sparks.

            “Or maybe Dinosaur.”

            A twist of smoke trailed into the sky. Two more whooshes from the mini torch.

            “Or pterodactyl.”

            The alien poked his head out from the hood.

            “Tero. Tero. Dack. Till.”

            “You like pterodactyl?” I asked

            He muttered into his black box. Blue light.

            “I like. Tero. Tero-Dack-Till. I like pterodactyl.”

            “Great,” I said. “Then your name is pterodactyl. How about Terry for short?”

            “Terry.” He said.

            He ducked back into the ship and started whacking something with the mallet. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! “Izkorp Zeedle.”

            I think that one was a swear.

            “You’re a funny-looking guy.” He held the black box out of the ship and pressed a button. “Repeat.” The box requested. “I said you’re a funny-looking guy. I thought aliens were supposed to be big and scary. But you’re small and kind of like a cartoon.”

            Boom. Bang. Thwack.

            He jumped out and held the black box to his ear. Blue light. He set the box on the grass and took two steps back. A purple light flashed over him from the sensor. It was bright so I closed my eyes.

            I opened them. Terry looked like me. Well, not like me, but like a kid. Dark hair under a corduroy baseball cap. Brown eyes and a round nose. Blue jeans with a rip in the knee. He was kind of chubby. I think aliens have a lot of data on humans.

            “Whoa!” I cried. “How’d you do that?”

            “Zwizzle.” He said.

            “English.”

            “Black. Black box. Trans-more. Trans-more-for. Transmorpher.” He went back to banging away. I sat down.

            “I wish you could stay Terry. We could shoot some hoops in the driveway.”

            “Shoot. Shoot hoops.”

            “We could go fishing in the creek.”

            “Fishing. Creek. Fishing in creek.”

            I’ve got a firework under my bed that mom doesn’t know about. My big brother Josh gave it to me before he left for college. He told me don’t tell mom and don’t blow your hand off.”

             “Fire. Firework.”

            “And my dog, he can’t morph, but he knows a bunch of tricks! I taught him myself! He can sit and shake paw and when you balance a bone on his nose, he won’t snap at it until you say Go! His name’s Brodie and…”

            I stopped. I forgot.

            Terry stopped working. The tools stopped clinking. His head popped from the ship. “Brodie. Brodie and. Brodie and quest-chin mark.”

            “Nothing.” I said. “I forgot. Brodie’s not here anymore. He’s gone.” I looked over to the railing on the back steps. A water bowl and tennis ball. A tied-up chain that gave him free-range of the yard when we were piled in the van somewhere as a family. A teal bandana that he wore around his neck. I walked to the stairs and sat down. I put my elbows on my knees and my hands on my cheeks.

            Terry got out of the ship and walked over.

            “Igthorp zvend?”

            “English.” I said.

            Black box. Blue light. “Gone. Dinosaurs. Gone like dinosaurs?”

            I nodded in my hands. “Yeah, like the dinosaurs.”

            Terry sat down next to me. We both stayed quiet. Then he put his arm on my shoulder and he made a sound like a tea kettle whistling and an elephant trumpeting. He did it again. Then he said: “Gone. Gone too.”

            “He was your friend?”

            Blue light. “Friend. Yes.”

            “Gone?” I asked.

            He was quiet for a moment. “Quest. Quest-chin mark.”

            “You don’t know if he’s gone?”

            He typed on the screen. Blue light. He looked at me. “Looking. Friend. Looking for my friend. Up there.”

            I nodded. His antennas turned blue. They slumped down.

            “Is that why you need to fix your ship?”

            Terry nodded.

            A hummingbird buzzed by. A car honked its horn a block over.       

            “You know,” I said, you don’t have to look like me. It’s okay to just look like yourself. I like you the way you are Terry.”

            He punched commands into the black box. He placed it on the bottom step and hopped back. Purple light. A little green Martian with eyes the color of nothing. Two antennas, baby blue, quivering. Scaly skin. And claws curling into the dirt.

            “Zoof.”

            “Whenever I felt sad, I used to come out here and throw the ball for Brodie.” I picked up the tennis ball and walked ten steps past my new bud. “Do you want to have a catch?”

            “Zorg.”

            “English.”

            Beep beep. Bing! “Try. I try.”

            I tossed him an easy one. It slipped from his grip and bounced away. He retrieved it and tossed it back. “You throw like a girl.” I teased.

            Black box. Blue light. Beep beep. Fwoosh. “And you toss like a moozdorf.”

            He missed a few more, but on the fourth toss he caught it, his claws interlocked like the game at the arcade where everything slips away at the last second. He threw it back and I caught it with one hand. Then he caught it with one hand too.

            “You’re a fast learner Terry.”

            We tossed for ten minutes and then Terry made the sound again. Tea kettle elephant trunk. “Me and him. Zoom. We zoom. Ships. Zoom.” He typed into the black box. Beep. Fwoosh. “We zoom. Fun.”

            I smiled and nodded. “I understand.” I said. We tossed the ball until the sun started to go down.

            Terry hopped over to me. His antennas dropped. They were gray now. “Go,” he said. “I go.”

            “I know. I wish you could stay”

            Black box. Blue light. “Too. Me too.”

            He climbed onto his ship and pressed a button on the side panel. The cockpit opened and he boarded.

            “I’m glad I met you Terry.”

            He nodded. He paused for a second and then started the engine. Yellow light glowed around the saucer.

            “Hey, Terry?”

            He looked at me.

            “What is zoof?”

            His head disappeared and he rummaged on the floor. Then he tossed me the little black box. He made a clicking gesture with his hand.

            “Zoof.”

            He closed the glass window and zipped away. An orange glow and a meteor tail. I watched until the dash disappeared in the sky. The stars were starting to come out. I pressed the button on the black box. “Zoof”.

            Beep. Beep. Fwoosh.

             Zoof. Zingzandzadorn. Zangish.

             I looked up towards the sky. Terry was gone.

             Translation: Earth. English. Friend.

August 12, 2023 05:21

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26 comments

Matt O'Brien
20:21 Aug 22, 2023

Nice work Sean! Great read! Unexpected friendships developing just when we need them is always a treat!

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08:55 Aug 25, 2023

Zwom zlizzle zmend zeeble !

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Marty B
23:24 Aug 23, 2023

I like the connection to a lost dog friend, Brodie. These are great lines 'They were another color now. That color doesn’t have a name either but I think it’s the color thank you is made of. Thank you and butterscotch.' Thanks!

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Sean Packard
04:24 Aug 24, 2023

Thanks Marty!

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Ken Cartisano
02:38 Aug 23, 2023

That was a really fun story, Sean. Brilliant opening line. I soon as I read the first two sentences I knew I wanted to read this story and I'm glad I did. Lots of funny phrases and images. You may not believe me when I tell you this, Sean, but every time a woman tosses me something, anything at all... guess what I say. That's right. 'You throw like a girl.' (I only say that to women though, let's be clear on that, not men, or girls.)

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Trevor Sanchez
15:22 Aug 22, 2023

Sean, Exciting work you have here. Your story hits close to home reminding me to connect with emotions that often come into our lives unexpectedly such as the loss of Brodie or the arrival of our little green alien friend “Terry” . A great friend of mine and I were just talking during our 4 hour road trip back from a race of mine this weekend about the loss of his dog and how he’s dealing with the absence of his friend. I mentioned that energy is not created nor destroyed, it merely transforms. This beautiful short story serves as a remin...

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Sean Packard
04:25 Aug 24, 2023

Glad I fit in your universe Trev :)

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14:35 Aug 22, 2023

Very creative Sean and a lot of fun, though heartbreaking also. Just a really nice read. thanks for sharing.

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Sean Packard
04:25 Aug 24, 2023

Thanks for the nice words Derrick!

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Kendra Keenan
05:09 Aug 22, 2023

Sounds like Terry's friendship came at just the right time. Loved this short read — everything from the playful sounds to the human-alien language barriers. A special quote that stood out to me: "...That color doesn’t have a name either but I think it’s the color thank you is made of."

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14:31 Aug 21, 2023

Hey man, I really enjoyed the story. I was having a bad day, and your story helped me out. As an animal lover, I could feel the loss of Brodie through the words written, and Terry was a delight. Good Work!

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Sean Packard
15:06 Aug 21, 2023

I'm glad you enjoyed it Pranav, that means a lot to me.

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M. M.
14:02 Aug 20, 2023

The first line catcher "A little green alien" thing caught my attention right off. Funny, witty (except for Brodie dying) and nicely done. I might have held off on the name calling him "Terry" in the beginning, you mentioned that in the well done back and forth dialogue, allow the readers to grow with the friendship. JMO, fantasy is tricky but fun. Nice work

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Sean Packard
15:05 Aug 21, 2023

I think that's a good suggestion reading it back to myself now. Thanks for the thought!

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Doug Packard
14:01 Aug 20, 2023

Quirky imaginative alien dialogue. Fun to picture Terry actually talking.

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Sean Packard
18:34 Aug 20, 2023

Gracias padre!

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Judith Jerdé
23:10 Aug 19, 2023

Sean, very creative and funny. I loved all the back-and-forth and alien Dialogue. But of course Brody’s dieing grab my heart, sigh…

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Sean Packard
18:32 Aug 20, 2023

Thanks Judith! Keeping the dialogue interesting was a big goal of mine in a prompt with just two characters interacting. Appreciate you!

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Jesse Ignell
18:28 Aug 19, 2023

I hope that Terry Buckets returns someday so that they can shoot hoops in the driveway and trash talk each other in Spanish.

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Sean Packard
18:33 Aug 20, 2023

An easy 25 and 10 for the extra-terrestrial. Esta es mi casa ahora!

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Meggan Brandt
18:07 Aug 19, 2023

Fun read! I enjoyed the innocence of the child and the descriptions of the sounds.

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Sean Packard
18:34 Aug 20, 2023

Thanks for taking a read Meggan!

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Kelly Harris
17:40 Aug 19, 2023

A great story of an unlikely friendship!

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Sean Packard
15:19 Aug 21, 2023

Zoof!

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Nicki Nance
14:18 Aug 19, 2023

The sounds were brilliant. The characters were delightful.

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Sean Packard
18:32 Aug 20, 2023

The most sound-heavy piece I’ve ever written :). Thank you Nancy!

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