Bedtime Stories

The nurse daubed at the patient’s pink, inflamed, suction cups. Only a light infection, it should clear up in a cycle or two.
“How’s that? Better?” he asked.
The patient nodded and flexed his beak.
“Excellent. Now where was I? Ah, yes, The Humans.” The patient’s eyes widened at the mention of the exotic aliens. The nurse shuffled in his seat, curling a tentacle around to take the patient’s temperature. “They’d just landed on an unexplored planet. They exit their space box onto the swampy ground, and stand gazing at the two purple suns.”
Giggles from two beds down.
“You,” the nurse said, throwing a tentacle up at the twins, “are supposed to be asleep.”
They squirmed against each other, heads and arms and legs becoming coils of smooth green skin, then they calmed. The nurse shook his head and chuckled to himself.
“‘Oh my goodness!’ Female1 said to her companion. ‘This is amazing, is it not, Female2?’
‘Indeed it is, Female1. Our fellow humans will be amazed when we return with our pictographs.’
‘Yes!’ Female 1 said, striding clumsily forward in her exploration shell, creaks and complaints at every step. ‘We shall pictorise it. For science!'”

“Dad, that’s stupid.”
“What? The aliens? Aliens might have tentacles. Have you seen any aliens? I haven’t.”
“No, silly. The humans. We don’t speak like that.”
“Some of us do,” he said, thinking of people at work the next morning. “Now where was I?”

6 thoughts on “Bedtime Stories”

  1. I really enjoyed this. It has so many levels, and I loved the last jump out to something like our world. It works so well because you have made the alien world seem so real. The aliens are described only very slightly but vividly enough that I had a wonderful internal picture of them. I particularly liked this sentence: “They squirmed against each other, heads and arms and legs becoming coils of smooth green skin, then they calmed.” It made me smile a lot.

    1. Thank you, please! :)

      I had vaguely octopodian aliens in my head. Something about squirming and tentacles…
      I’ve got a thing about stories in stories at the moment. I think it sort of worked.

  2. This is about a father telling a story about aliens in a hospital who are, in turn, telling themselves a story about human explorers on an alien planet.

    Female1 and Female2 are the humans in the tale, but when they were first mentioned I thought that they were patients in the hospital.

    I enjoyed the description of the aliens, their shuffling and squirming. As Cara said, it was very effective.

  3. Really liked the ideas in this one, the 13th floor like stacking of stories is cute and tight (you really get to know what is possible in 250 words playing this game).

    Love the alien descriptions and the general everydayness of the alien world.

    ‘People at work’ at the end seems a little aimless to me, wouldn’t have made much difference if it were absent. Perhaps the father might justify that Aliens don’t know how we speak – an option that has the advantage of explicitly clarifying the story within a story aspect.

    1. Thanks, dude!

      I was sort of trying to get across the human-ness of the alien world (since a human is telling the story). Also: squirm FTW, it seems.

      Re People at work: yeah, agreed. I wanted a “I know weirdos who speak like that” kind of thing, but space / time constraints were against me.

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