Bionic Punchline

Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 14

“Take that, vile space thing!” shouted Captain Starjet, punching the alien with his bionic fist.

“Sorry,” said the alien as it staggered back, “but do you really have to call me ‘vile space thing?’ I don’t find it all that offensive personally, but it makes it pretty obvious that humanity is the brutish invader in this intergalactic war. Nobody’s supposed to work that out until it’s revealed that my people are actually kind and gentle outside of battle, and that the motivations behind this conflict are largely economic, rather than ideological.”

“Are not!” snorted Captain Starjet. “You’re just a gross tentacle monster that has to be vanquished in spectacular fashion. Frankly, I don’t care what you do outside of battle as long as you look suitably menacing while I pummel you.”

“See!” cried the alien, jabbing a tentacle in the air for emphasis. “That’s exactly why you’re the bad guy. Only that’s going to be a pretty rubbish twist if you give it away so soon.”

“Guys, guys!” called the director, making a time-out “T” with his hands. “Listen, you know I’m happy for you to ad-lib a bit, but this is just stupid. I actually can’t believe I’m having to explain this to you: you can’t openly discuss the plot on camera. If you absolutely must address these issues, you have got to do so with believable dialogue. Joe, maybe hint at a rich, wise culture outside the swarm-like battle-horde, but don’t just come right out and declare yourself the good guy. And Brian, the audience may be there to see Starjet punch some aliens, but that can’t be his only motivation for punching aliens. I mean, it’s not like he just gets up in the morning, flies into space and starts beating people up. He’s a reliable member of the Earth Defence Force fighting for—he thinks—a noble cau…”

“Allan?” Doctor Ling snapped her fingers in front of the patient’s face. “Allan, can you hear me?”

“Huh?” Allan looked around. “What?”

“You were having another flashback. This one sounded quite intense.” Doctor Ling put on her caring voice and leaned back, notepad ready. “Would you like to talk about it?”

Allan paused, still not quite sure that this room was real. “It…it was that film again: Splurg-puncher VI. It meant so much to me at the time, but whenever I think about it now…it was terrible. It was just an awful, awful movie. It wasn’t even tongue-in-cheek. Half the actors realised how much it sucked and just resigned themselves to it, the other half totally overcompensated. And…I can’t even blame them. It was such an awful movie. I can’t for the life of me work out how we reached film number six—not least because there weren’t even any others before it. I think I was going for a Star Wars thing or something…I don’t know.”

“You’ve mentioned Star Wars before, Allan.” Doctor Ling adjusted her glasses. “It keeps coming back: the character of Darth Vader in particular. Do you think this could really be about…your father?”

“I…” Allan looked around the room again. This was a sanctuary. In this room, he had already made so much progress. But there was still so far to go. “I don’t want to go back there,” he said, bluntly.

Doctor Ling placed a hand on his arm. “It’s okay, Allan. You don’t have to. You don’t have to because…” she stood, striking a theatrical pose as the walls spun outwards. “You’re on hit gameshow I Shrink You’re Right!

The studio lights went up, revealing a cheering audience.

“Allan, get ready to spin the disk of disorders and pick…your…prize!”

Allan watched as the garishly coloured prop was wheeled towards him, lights gleaming as it span.

“Xzargthrax?” Skishzxabb held a small torch in one dainty tentacle, checking each of his comrade’s pupils in turn. “Xzargthrax, can you hear me?”

“Blehburble…” mumbled Xzargthrax. “Wonna…beach holiday anna…VCR.”

“Nurse?” Skishzxabb stood. “Bring a stretcher, and sixty blurgles of Phlarlzamine: this one’s having recursive hallucinations.” He shook his heads at the senseless violence. “Looks like Captain Starjet punched him good.”


If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from Flash Fiction Month 2012 and 2013 collected in OCR is Not the Only Font and Red Herring respectively.

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