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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#TuesdaySerial: Xenocide, pt 1

This is a story I began in January 2008, the kind of scifi-detective mashup I've always wanted to do, and never finished. I first envisioned it as a flash, but soon realized I would need a lot more room to tell this tale. I got hung up on it, moved on to other things, but Deputy Adler was sitting in the back of my mind, waiting for a connection. Things got rolling earlier this month, taking the story from 600 to 2900 words — then I had a word-storm over the weekend, adding another 3300 words in two days. I think I have 1500–2000 words to go, and I know how it's going to end and wrap up. It won’t get left hanging, and it won’t blow up into another gigantic three-year project.

So come ride with an exurban cop on the strangest case he’ll ever see…

Xenocide, Episode 1
The Smell of Worms and Burnt Coffee

“Do I have to say it all over again?” The kid looked frustrated and nervous. “I bought a Coke up here and was gonna drink it down at the creek. I like to sit down there, y’know? It’s cool and quiet.

“So I smelled something weird, and walked down there —” he flailed a hand downstream — “and saw the body. I smelled a dead deer once, and that didn’t smell nothin’ like this. I ran back up here to the gas station and called you guys. So can I go home now?”

“Yeah,” I said. “You might have to tell it one more time, in front of a judge. But it’ll just be a deposition. You won’t have to go to court. You want a ride home?”

The kid — Jacob Moss — shook his head and got moving. Like as not, he had a little weed on him, but he wasn’t a troublemaker. If he didn’t get stupid about it, we’d never have to do business again.

“Hey, Adler. Steve.” It was Tenesha Davies, one of the EMTs. Short, black, all business, but cute as all get-out. “You gonna come down and process your crime scene so me and Ali can — we’re not sure — well. Come see for yourself.”

I ducked under the tape and took pictures of the scene, and Tenesha started talking. “Whatever that thing is down there, it’s ain’t human.” Now that we were back down at the creek, she seemed a little pale under her coffee complexion. 

“You sure? It could have been here a while.” But Moss was right: the smell was wrong. Dead people don’t smell like worms and burnt coffee. I handed Tenesha the camera and approached. The body was wrapped up in something like a blanket, with a leg sticking out. The light was tricky down here, and I suspected the leg was broken; I could see how someone might have jumped to conclusions — but Tenesha? I held my breath and flipped the blanket back.

My brain went in several different directions at once. The cop saw the telltale pattern of a shotgun blast at close range. But the college biology student saw a pattern that looked more arachnid than human: oblong body, way too many limbs, and something that sort of looked like a breathing mask. A deeper part of me just wanted to get away from that smell and that sight. A long way.

“Some kind of animal?” Tenesha said.

“Not an animal. Animals don’t wear masks and carry stuff.” I pointed to the mask and what looked like a bag underneath the body. “But you’re right, it ain’t human.”

“So what do we do with it?”

“Take it to the morgue. Let Doc Dix figure out what to do with it. Then we could get us a coffee.” I hoped. “Here, hand me the camera. I need some more shots before I process this. Can you hang around until I finish?”

“Me and Ali have to cart this thing off. We ain’t goin’ nowhere. Much as I’d like to do just about anything else.”

“Me too.” I took a shallow breath. “Can you guys keep this quiet? I don’t think we want this all over the evening news.” I paused. “Yeah, the kid will talk, but nobody’s going to take a pothead seriously.”

“I’m not sure if anyone would believe we carted a dead alien, for that matter. But yeah, we’ll keep it quiet. Human or not, this is a crime scene.” She smiled. “Maybe we’ll need something a little stronger than coffee.”



  1. Building your own X-files, FAR? A good start, looking forward to seeing where this goes. =)

  2. Oh interesting! What is this being? Can't wait to find out where you are going with this.

    Great start FAR!


  3. Hi guys!

    John, the FBI does make an appearance…

    Thanks, Helen. Whatever it is, it does have a definite odor to it!


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