Black Petals Issue #92, Summer, 2020

Master Smasher

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Mars-Chris Friend
Misty Page-A Game of Chess
Sean M. Carey-Chilled Bones Under Lovely Skin
Roy Dorman-Death in the Round Room, Part IV
Lael Braday-Magical Perspective
Matt Spangler-Master Smasher
Lena Abou-Khalil-The Nowhere Man
Grace Sielinski-'Port
Gavin McGarvey-The Black Petals
Marc Dickerson-Theater is Dead
C. S. Harbold-The Whispering
Dean Patrick-Vincent's Warning
Doug Park-We Get Him Together
Joseph Hurtgen-Worlds to Conquer
Mickie Bolling-Burke-The Bringer of Darkness
Aaron Hicks-The Last Days
Cindy Rosmus-Out of Juice
Matthew Wilson-Endless Men's Hate
Michael Steven-Hell Rift
Sean Goulding-Hypnagogic
David C. Kopaska-Merkel-In the Land of Giants
Loris John Fazio-The Thing in the Woods
Loris John Fazio-The Beggar Knows
Richard Stevenson-Peg Leg
Richard Stevenson-The Alkali Lake Monster
Richard Stevenson-The Green Man

92_bp_mastersmasher_mdavis.jpg
Art by Michael C. Davis 2020

Master Smasher:

a fragment from the lost novelization of Spacenet

by D.B. Sphinx

(as translated by Matthew B. Spangler)

 

          Where am I? thought Jay, his eyes fluttering as he took in his surroundings. The ceiling above him appeared to consist of a series of green metal panels enclosed in a blue metal shell. This doesn’t look like science class at all! He sat up in what looked like one of those spinning black chairs he plunked himself in when his mother took him in for his bimonthly moptop trim.

          What he saw next made his jaw drop. Before him was a large window pane that appeared to look out into outer space! Stars, asteroids, space junk, all whizzed past the, the … well, he must be in a spaceship! It didn’t make any sense. Only ten minutes ago, he had been presenting to the class his design for a prototype shuttle that harnessed the energy of stars to propel into the farthest reaches of space. There were snickers – there always were – and Brett, his hand cupped over his mouth, had let out a “nerd!” just loud enough for everyone to hear. Oh gosh, did he hate that bully. If only he had the strength … But he needed to focus on his present situation.

          He slowly scanned the interior. More green panels, with row upon row of buttons, knobs, levers and lights, encased by blue metal. What did they all do? He seriously should have put a little more thought into his design. Maybe he could redirect the ship back to his home in North Carolina. But that was silly. He couldn’t land a shuttle in his backyard.

          And then he saw it. Crouched in the shadows emanating from a passageway that led into the recesses of the ship. Eyeing him, as if it were about to pounce. And then … it spoke!

          “Alrigh’, butt, ‘ow’d you get in ‘ere?”

          How could it speak … and was it English, or some sort of alien dialect? And why had it called him a butt? That sounded kinda rude.

          “What’s the matter, cat got yer tongue? I thought their species ‘twere wiped out by the toxoplosmosis vaccine.” Jay stared at it silence. “Come on, boyo, haen’t you e’re seen a Caninoid Of Rare Genetic Intelligence?”

          Caninoid Of … oh. He got it. “You mean … you mean, you’re a corgi.”

          The CORGI shuffled forward, its oversized front paws splayed out threateningly. It rolled up its lips to expose its teeth. “Wot did you say, boyo?”

          Jay recoiled in his chair. “I didn’t mean to offend, sir. It’s just … well, I’m not sure where you’re from, but where I come from, you’re a … you’re a dog.”

          The CORGI snarled and lunged forward. “I should nip yer ‘eels fer such an insult! I’ll hae’ ye know I’m a captain first class of this ‘ere SRP.”

          “What’s an SRP?”

          “What a gormless little calf ye’ are?” (Seriously, what language was this dog speaking?). “An SRP! Squirrel Recovery Pod! Surely ye’ ‘eard about the sciuridaeic shortage in the Caninoid system?” Jay stared at him blankly. “Boyo, ye’ is daft. Anyways, there haen’t time to explain. Assuming those peepers work better than the gray matter ‘twitch they’re ‘tached, ye’ll see in front of ye’ that we are about to face an assault from an alien spacecraft.” Jay looked out into space and saw an oval-shaped glow on the horizon that appeared to be widening ever so slightly. “Now, if ye’ll kindly ‘elp me into me captain’s chair.”

          The CORGI shuffled forward and leapt into the chair next to Jay. Shouldn’t he be weightless? And corgis are so fat. Jay shook off the thought. “Well, don’t just sit there like a sheephead, boyo. Fetch me up then.” The alien pooch lay on its back in the chair, exposing his stomach and, er – “Impressive, eh? Lack of bollocks aside.”

          “I don’t know what those are,” said Jay.

          “Never mind the bollocks. Give us a heave-up.”

          Jay reached for the CORGI’s front legs. “P’raps a little scratch around the belly parts first?”

          “I thought you said we were in a hurry.”

          “Yes, yes, go on then, ye’ poxy funnel!”

          Jay’s parents had said he couldn’t have a dog because of his allergies, and now he got it. He pulled the CORGI upright. “Sorry, boyo. I’m off the CBD, ye’ see? Now be a good lad and give us a little scooch to the instrument panel.” He did as he was told, and suddenly the CORGI’s paws were everywhere, pressing buttons, flipping switches, pulling levers. “Alrigh’, ye’ ready for battle now, young Gryffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth?”

          “Come again?”

          “Let’s put the fiddle in the roof!”

          Jay looked out the window now and saw, to his horror, that the glow had taken a definite shape now. It appeared to be an oval ship with some sort of gridlike shield protecting it. “What do I do??”

          “Ye’ see that stick in front of ye’? When I say the word, ye’ start firing like it ‘twere the scumbag Staffordshire terriers at Crug Mawr!”

          “So you do have breeds like we do.”

          “A terrier means ‘e’s never been in space, ye’ chopsy humanoid.” The CORGI grunted and sniffed the air. “Now get ready!”

          Jay locked his gaze with the window again, and his heart skipped a beat as he saw the missiles shooting through space towards the shuttle. Plumes of fire streamed behind feather-like tails that fitted into spherical ends of the projectiles. Wait, where had he seen this shape before? He thought about that one day in gym class, where they had all made fun of him because of his prowess in …

          “Hey, Mr. CORGI, are those –“

          “Shut it! I’ve gotta put up the shield deflector!”

          As the missiles hurtled forward to carry out their deadly intent, a gridlike network of interlocking squares materialized in front of the shuttle. The move came just in time, as the missiles struck the shield and bounced off harmlessly into space.

          “Now fire, boyo, fire!!”

          Jay clutched the stick and began rapid-firing the button on it like there was no tomorrow. More feathered missiles shot forth from unseen barrels beneath the shuttle and sailed forth to the enemy ship ahead, which seemed to inch closer and closer. Most of them reflected off the ship’s shield, but suddenly one made contact and a ball of fire exploded from its side.

          “I hit it!”

          “Great shot, boyo! Now see if ye’ can strike it again!”

          Missiles streamed back and forth between the ships for what seemed like an eternity, though in reality it was only a few minutes. The CORGI skillfully maneuvered his stick to dodge missiles that evaded the shield, while Jay fired as if his life depended on it (and it did!).

          With their foe’s ship sustaining several hits, Jay and his furry comrade seemed to be winning the battle. Then, suddenly one of the enemy missiles veered off course and around the side of the shuttle.

          “Oh no, a tracker!” yelled the CORGI.

          Krentenkakker! The shuttle lurched wildly as the missile struck the hull. “We’ve been hit!” the CORGI screamed. An alarm sounded as smoke filled the cabin, and the vessel began shaking violently. In the distance, Jay saw the enemy ship make a sharp flanking turn and disappear off the horizon. “What do we do??” he cried.

          The CORGI leapt off the seat. “You take the control, butt! I’m gonna see if I can’t rewire this short red cow for an emergency landing.”

          “Okay, okay!”

          “Thank, drive!” The CORGI scampered off down the passageway. Jay grabbed the stick, and began daydreaming of some sort of futuristic device that would automatically translate foreign languages into English.

          He was awakened from the reverie by the sounds of heavy boots stamping down the passageway. Panic gripped him, and he swung his head around. Suddenly there appeared in the cabin a band of alien creatures with protruding brows and uniforms of … hmm, well, they seemed to be denim. Cross earrings dangled from their pointy ears, and their leader looked like … holy cow, was that Brett?

          “Well, well, humannerd!” said alien Brett. “Looks like someone has been getting in some feathered missile with spherical bulb end deflection practice after school.”

          “Come on, Brett, just leave me alone!”

          “Who is Brett?” The alien aimed a laser gun at Jay. “Never mind that. Now your little ship, and all its precious cargo, belongs to me.” He opened his mouth, exposing a grotesque set of yellow-stained teeth, and laughed mercilessly. “But first, I’m going to give you a good killing.”

          “No, no, Bre – I mean, whoever you are, please don’t! I’m not even supposed to be here!”

          The other aliens joined their leader in laughing, which echoed throughout the cabin. Sweat ran in rivulets down Jay’s back as alien Brett cocked his gun. Suddenly a series of lasers blasted down the passageway, and seconds later, the alien good squad was lying in a pile in the cabin, smoke rising off their bodies.

          The ship seemed to steady, and a passel of mice darted through the smoke clouds. Fixed to their backs were tiny laser pistols, their barrels also smoking, and behind them was the proudly strutting CORGI.

          “But, but .. how?” asked Jay.

          “Well, boyo, it’s just like I said,” replied the CORGI. “No cats.” He flopped down on the floor, belly-first. “Don’t forget to collect your treasure, now.” He pointed a splayed paw at alien Brett. “There, in ‘is pocket.”

          Jay hesitated, then approached and bent over alien Brett’s lifeless body. A weathered ring pattern had formed on his back pocket. Jay reached down and retrieved from it a round cylinder with a pungent brown substance adorning the rim.

          “Wow, it’s … it’s snuff.” He wished he knew more curse words.

          “No naughty smoke on these ones, I reckon. Still, that’s some right lush chew, I bet.” The CORGI yawned. “Well, I’ve been up almost three hours, and am completely knackered. Looks like I can count on ye’ to steer us on a course to more squirrels?”

          Jay clutched the stick. “You bet, cap’n! Think, drive!”

          “Whatever, butt. Try not to sound off like a pepper mill while I catch me beauty sleep.”

          “Sure.”

          Jay throttled the ship forward, and the new mates rocketed off into adventures unknown.

 

GAME HINT

Use the button that says “Tracker Mode”

to deploy the feathered missiles in tracker mode.

 

END






Matt Spangler is a freelance writer and playwright based in New York. His stories have been published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Blood Moon Rising, The Horror Tree, and Red Fez. He ran the Washington, DC-based theater company Next Day Theater from 2015 to 2017, and launched the audio fiction podcast series Parabasis in 2018.




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