Contemporary Science Fiction

Jen turned the early evening news off, tossed the controller onto the cushions and got up from the sofa. It left the room lit by street lights.

“Why did you turn it off?”

“They don’t know anything. All those heads getting paid to tell us what they don’t know yet, again and again.”

Tim followed her toward the kitchen.

“Don’t you get it? It’s like Christ getting up for Easter eggs is to your Christians, it changes everything.”

“Do you have to take cheap shots at religion at every opportunity? I know it will change everything, I’m not stupid. Has it occurred to you that they will think we are? Stupid I mean. What’s the saying? That guy in the wheelchair.  Its Columbus again, but this time we’re the Indians.”

“Stephen Hawking, Why would they think we are stupid?”

“Cos we struggled to get past the moon? Cos we have wrecked our planet? Cos we spend half our resources trying to kill each other?”

“What about Mozart and the Sistine ceiling and.. the Beatles?”

“You remember that tumble down, infested old house we looked at last year? You think we would have changed our minds and bought it if there had been a tiny beautiful, little ashtray in the second bedroom. I don’t think a flash of inspiration every thousand years is going to save us. They’ll think we’re morons”

Tim laughed, “OK, good analogy, I’ll give you that one. What about knowledge, physics, String theory?”

“Tell me, idiotic earth man, did your theory of quantum gravity. get you to another galaxy? Light years away?”

“Jenny, I’m touched, you do listen to me sometimes.”

“I don’t get much choice do I, all you and your game playing nerds ever talk about. Accept it, we’re the apes, the … what are they called?” She did an impression of a stooped Neanderthal and loped into the kitchen.


She touched her nose. “Yea, we are the Neanderthals and they have invented atomic weapons”

“We don’t know what capability they have.”

“Metaphor dummy. Neanderthal! The point is we don’t stand a chance”

Tim stood in front of the kitchen counter, idly examining the random items in the bowl on the worktop.

“Well we can’t exactly run away can we. They might be nice. Teach us stuff, improve things, save us. Perhaps they’re Christians, maybe he dropped in there after here”

Jenny shook her head from side to side. “Neanderthal.” She turned to the other side of the kitchen and switched on the strip light above the counter. Tim looked at her body, silhouetted by the neon. She filled the kettle and dropped it onto its base. Its little red light came on and it started to quietly hiss. She fished a mug from the illuminated interior of the dishwasher.

“We could.” She caught Tim’s puzzled expression. “We could run away. We could go to my dad’s at least.”

“What the hell would I do there? You’re alright, he has a piano. You could play and write, what the hell do I do? The nearest village is miles away and I didn’t notice any physics labs.”

“That’s the point, its miles from anywhere, from anything. That’s why it might be safe.”

“In this ‘end of the world, everybody dies, dystopian future’ you are imagining, what do we do there? How do we survive? What do we eat?”

“There are sheep and goats, rabbits, there’s a lake.”

“I know, tell you what, I’ll hunt and you can keep the fire alight. On Friday nights, instead of Netflix we can watch the cows in the field. Are there Nuts and berries? Please tell me we get berry ice cream for ‘watch the cow in the field’ night.”

“Don’t mock it, seriously Tim, I’m scared. I don’t want to be wishing we did something in time. And yes, cows too. Cow’s milk strawberry ice cream. But seriously, I always thought if the end of the world was coming, when the wind blew, I’d go stand on the roof with my arms spread, but it’s different now. I want us to stay alive”

“Jesus, don’t you think you’re being a bit dramatic?”

“Well yea, Aliens at the end of the world classifies as drama, don’t you think? I think in this situation it’s allowed, don’t you? Reasons to be dramatic number four, end of the world, tick. Do you want tea?” She ticked the air, then waved the glass jar of teabags in his direction..

“Nah, I’m going to have a beer.”

Jenny opened the fridge and its light illuminated her body, showing her young curves, making soft shadows. She took out the milk and a lager. “Here.”

“Not joining me?”

“Nah, tea’s good. So my dad’s is about as safe as we could get.” She sniffed the milk.

“I don’t think your dad would be wild about us turning up for a long visit. You only see him every six months. I think I’ve only spoken to him three times and one of those was an argument about conservative housing policy. Anyway, I thought you subscribed to the ‘a perfect family is loving and in a city far, far away’ school.”

“Yea, but I’ve started to think family is maybe more important,” Jenny turned her nose up and offering the cup to Tim, asked, “Does this taste funny?”

He sipped from her cup, “Fine, ‘cept for the arsenic.”

“Oh, that’s what it is, thought it might have been the milk”

“Perhaps They have genetically modified the cows.” He hummed the ‘outer limits’ tune, badly.

“I was sick yesterday.”

“That’s definite then, they are subtly poisoning us”

“Its like your mum and the rats in her outhouse. Pest control, this planet is infested. Overrun with dumb animals. Put out poison.”

“Actually, they won’t need the arsenic, the lead levels around here are probably killing us slowly already.” Jen had insisted they buy the city centre studio apartment the previous year.

“Can we at least visit dad for a bit? Clean air, less lead.”

“Oh Jen, its so flipping far and there’s nothing there and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like me. And I don’t think the end of the world is next week.”

“He does like you, you know, ‘cept for your insane views about housing policy.  And he’s family, an’ it’s been nearly a year. Last time I saw him was Bridget’s wedding.”

“Why this sudden interest in family and wanting to see your dad?

She bit her bottom lip.

“Because we are not alone.”

“Yea, yea, but why so concerned with family, why now?”

Jen put her cup on the counter and took a step towards Tim. Emphasised her words.

“’’Cos, we’re not alone”

Tim looked confused. Jen rolled her eyes

“Because we, you and I,” she pointed to Tim and herself and looked at her stomach, “Are no longer alone.”

The glimmer of understanding took a minute.


Jenny nodded, “Yea, it’s not just us now.”

“Are you sure? how long?”

Yea, I’m sure, I know you’re the scientist, but trust me, I’m sure. Early days but certain.”

Tim gazed at her tummy with a growing smile, “wow, we are not alone.”

August 07, 2023 21:51

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Graham Kinross
02:16 Nov 23, 2023

Very understandable reactions to first contact. I agree with the harsh critique of humanity and its achievements weighed against its self destructive nature. I would be terrified. Reminds me of so many science fiction movies like Independence Day but also Melancholia where the only one keeping her cool was depressed to begin with.


Vid Weeks
10:43 Nov 23, 2023

Thanks for the comment Graham. I'm not familiar with Melancholia, I must check it out


Graham Kinross
11:56 Nov 23, 2023

You’re welcome. It’s definitely an interesting film, not a feel good thing though.


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Vid Weeks
21:37 Aug 16, 2023

Thanks Tom very nice feedback, I appreciate it I thought the clues were all there haha, Jen had been sick, her sense of taste was odd and she didn't want to drink a beer. But then Tim missed it too


Tom Skye
21:40 Aug 16, 2023

Haha I think I was too focused on the aliens thinking we are stupid debate. It was very good dialogue. I guess that means there could be a parallel with humans being stupid and him being too stupid to realize she was pregnant? 😂


Vid Weeks
21:52 Aug 16, 2023

Well I guess an alien invasion would be distracting


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Tom Skye
21:26 Aug 16, 2023

Very nice twist on the prompt. Genuinely didn't see it coming and havent seen it used that way in any others. I really enjoyed this because it was packed with pop culture references which in many ways gave nice misdirection about where the story would go. The end was a pleasant surprise. Really nice job


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