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  • Writer's picturePete O'Brien


Updated: Aug 9, 2023

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by Pete O'Brien

I was having trouble thinking of something to post on my blog and media channels, and the writing was coming slow, nay, it wasn't coming. So I decided what I needed (a good writer gets to decide what his problem is) was a deadline (today!) for a story in two. That is, I would post a story, I would write it finished today, in half. And in two weeks time, I would return and write the other half. It would be finished in two. Thus.

No sooner had I made this decision, for, like a certain figure said, so the writer me says, though by no means with the intention to call to mind a certain figure, I am the decider. And so my story, which would be no longer than two pages single spaced by the end, proceeded, such that No sooner had I made the decision than a space alien entered my rooms unannounced, beeping loudly, and swinging a great light around, and oozing goo as it came, like a slug; I could tell at once it was a space alien, the government had been ferreting them out in any case, and this one was one in every respect. The beeps subsided after a while, as he ran them through his automated translator gizmo light beam shooter, I mean flashlight device, but fancier and more advanced than ours, and out came the voice that told me straight away what to do.

First of all, the space alien told me to drop what I was doing, by which he meant, stop feeling blocked by not being able to deliver the goods to my story, and proceed at once to publish, this very day, via my blog and media channels, the first installment of a story about him, Horace Greenbelt Zycodowlteraiza, the space alien, who had come quite a long way from across several galaxies just so he could go back and tell the twas, which he clarified straight away for me, were the third sex of his kind, that he had run around the stars, done some real fancy navigation, the first of its kind, and come right round, just like a Magellan or Vespucci, to Earth and back, in the manner of the Ooze (his kind), who liked to visit places, rather like people here climb mountain peaks or tick off every State stepped in, and say just what it was like, and especially that he had done it, and it was the 450th destination on his list, so he was doing fantastic. Moreover, this Horace was evidently an especially gifted navigator, just like a Magellan or Vespucci, yes, for he had accomplished this feat first, none other of the Ooze had done so much as that, in this their golden age of explorers.

Now the Ooze I have to say were both beautiful and ugly. I say so based on this encounter with Mr. Zycodowlteraiza, or Mr. Z, as his body shimmered gray and metallic. He had three legs and three arms, and a very large head. His eyes popped out of his head on springs. Everything else about him, apart from the springs, was a gelatinous mass. He came quite close and requested that I touch his shoulder. I did so, feeling rather important, as I was quite sure no human had ever done as much with respect to the Ooze. My hand plunked quite deeply in, received a wonderful massage, popped out the other side of Mr. Z, and then zipped back through him and back to me. What I wasn't expecting was that as a result of pressing into Horace, I would lose my human arm and be granted an arm such as the Ooze possessed.

Z. laughed and smiled, and admitted at once, that he'd tricked me. It was the custom of the Ooze to change the bodies of others, but he assured me I wouldn't be disappointed in the least, as an arm of the Ooze was quite a lovely thing, and not something to forgo. I considered my arm, weighed it in my mind against my former human arm, and as I had an open mind and an appetite for adventure and pioneering experiments, concluded that Horace had done an excellent thing (indeed he probably knew in advance I would be pleased, when he was scouting out humans for the most likely one to visit). For a moment then, I stepped aside and started punching the walls of my flat, changing them also into Ooze material, and finding myself more and more pleased that I had had to cancel my doctor's appointment that day and get the laundry done instead.

Horace smiled even more broadly, and sat down in my chair.

I live alone, you see, I'm a writer who gets paid very little, I have but one chair and but one room in the rowhouse of flats.

As Horace was resting, and as he was about to speak, I do believe, there came a knock on the door. And I realized at once, it must be my neighbor to inquire about the change in her wall, which had gone from cheap plaster to quality Ooze. Cecily Stogle was blind. I opened the door and she said, "About the walls."

I'm afraid even though I had expected it, I was caught rather off guard. I was stone quiet, Horace started to hum in a low tone, and Cecily, through her oversized dark glasses (she had on black overalls, a purple vest, sandals, and had her dog Parachute on a leash behind her), said, "They're lovely. I like it. I'm leaving tomorrow. For good. Don't tell anyone."

She closed the door for me, and then I recalled, it was what she said every time we met. She said the most peculiar things, and always the same most peculiar things. Though this time the communication felt a bit more weighted, as though she herself had put on a Magellan hat and was about to rocket into space, like the alien seated in my chair behind me.

I turned around.

Horace smiled and said. "Well done, Leopold. I have been entranced by my own journeys. I am happy to say I'll soon be home again. You will understand all my communications, because my translator software is quite good. I feel sure you have written the story already. I believe in fact that you have done twice as much as I asked, and have in fact concluded the task in one go, for by now I can almost see the second page come to fruition, and would you like to come with me, you have an Ooze arm, you will fit in, I will see to your Ooze education, you will learn very much, and no one will have to worry about you anymore. You will be paid in Yagas, which is a sort of food that keeps the mind and the body both going very smoothly, and you have now done more than double the work, you're on to a third page, as I can imagine it happening, you could write it all down on the journey. You are single, you are middle aged, it is a fine proposition, you have an appetite for discovery and adventure. Here, writers are expected to be paid little if anything. Debt is the general rule. But where I am going, you will experience total equality, and be able to keep your human body, with the exception of the exchanged arm, and you will like that, I know. And so will the Ooze. I feel you are ready to go. You have only your dear brother here on Earth anymore. The rest of your family have all but forgotten your existence. It's a fine--"

"Yes!" I cried. "I will come with you! And I will give up the violin!"

Mr. Z. jumped up from the chair, and embraced me with all three arms. Then, without either one of us saying any word by way of explanation or invitation or expectation, we proceeded to wrestle on the floor, each of us keen on, I could just feel it!, saying to the others, "Why, when we met, we wrestled, because that is what it is to do when you meet a stranger of another kind! Even if the one is of species based on a binary or binary-shared gender division, and the other on a tri-gender division, it doesn't matter. The thing is to wrestle, because wrestling is a proud sport!"

The journey through the stars was something I will never forget. And when I arrived on the planet of Tofittlezogg, I was exceedingly happy. I felt like I had my life back, everyone was so kind and profound. Wherever I went, each of the Ooze made it a point to treat me with great respect and blarney. And my arm was the very, very best.

"Cured" © July 28, 2023 by Pete O'Brien. All Rights Reserved. "Cured" is a work of fiction, involving persons and events imagined. Any apparent match to real life is coincidental.


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