The Camera Never Lies

by Allen "Shockwave" Kitchen


The 4 year old boy collapsed at the alien's feet. Dirty and crisscrossed with cuts from his run through the remains of the war-ravaged city, the child looked the very model of a war-orphan. There was no-one to bathe him. To feed him. To clothe him. He had no-one now - the destruction of the city had taken them from him.

The tall, regal-looking alien looked down at the sad little creature at her feet. Her green arms and breasts were bare while her shoulders and waist were covered with a fine, gold cape and skirt, intricately detailed with brown symbols that changed shape on their own. Standing a full seven foot tall above the boy, she tapped him tentatively with a leathery foot while trying to keep her golden robes from touching the ground. The boy made the barest of whimpers. She looked upon him with huge, deep black eyes, gazing thoughtfully at him for a moment.

Then she bent over at the waist and lifted the child effortlessly in her arms. Her robes flowed like silk in the wind as she turned and walked soundlessly toward her private spacecraft, parked on top of what used to be a shopping center. The hatchway opened like a cat's eye and a bronze-colored ramp rolled like carpet from the opening down to the ground where the tall green alien stood waiting.

She carried the child through hallways that glowed without lighting fixtures. She stepped to the nearest diamond-shaped marking on the wall and walked through it without waiting for a door - the molecules moved aside for her as she passed. Inside was a black basin with slivery tentacles and several oval water nozzles. The alien placed the child carefully in the basin and then stepped back, waiting patiently as the automatic washing basin gently cleaned the naked child.

The alien woman then took the child in her arms again and walked through another wall and into the center of her ship. Globes glowed every color imaginable along the walls. Lights crisscrossed the circular room, pausing to twist into some alien shape for a second or two before untwisting and disappearing into pinholes along the floor. The alien walked with the child in her arms to the ornate chair against the farthest wall. The brown seat was surrounded by shiny studs that projected tiny laser lights, all of which tracked the movements of the female's head.

The child awoke with a small sob. He looked up at the alien female and blinked, as if unable to trust his own eyes. The alien then smiled down on the boy. She leaned forward to the boy's cheek, a toothy grin still upon her face. Then she opened her mouth and laid her sharp, black teeth on the boy's neck. He let out a surprised yelp as her razor-sharp incisors began to…

"Cut!" the director shouted out loud. The alien looked up in surprise and dropped the boy, who landed in a heap at her feet. "Cut! Cut! For the hundredth time, cut!" the angry little man shouted as he charged up toward the chair.

"Why did you stop the recording?" the alien demanded. Or at least it should have been a demand. Their soft, hissing voices were made even more difficult to understand by their lack of fine muscle control in their lips.

The director, a squat little black man about 50 years old and sporting a bald head, waved his hands in the air. "How many times do we have to go through this?" he demanded. "You are supposed to wash, then kiss the child. You are not, I repeat, not supposed to bite him!"

The alien woman rapped her black-clawed fingertips on the right armrest. "That is most unrealistic," she said.

The child then put his hands on his neck and checked his injuries. The tiniest amount of blood showed on his fingertips. He stared at his hands, looked up at the alien woman again. Then he began to cry.

"Oh for crying out loud!" the director fumed.

"She bit me!" the child bawled.

The director dropped his right arm and script down to his side. He turned his head to look over his shoulder. "Maggie!" he yelled. "Get in here! Our hand-picked actress from the stars just bit another actor."

From behind the three camera men stationed around the periphery of the room, a red-headed short haired woman came running. She was dressed in blue jeans and a button-down white blouse that was streaked with crimson palmprints. "Oh damn it, not again?" she complained aloud. She reached the child crying on the floor and kneeled down. "Louis? Are you all right?"

Lewis shook his head emphatically from side to side.

"There, there," Maggie crooned as she gathered the naked boy up into her arms. "I'm sure she didn't mean to."

"She bit me," Lewis repeated, wiping his eyes.

"You see that, Lendri?" the director shouted to the green-skinned alien. "Do you see what you've done? Do you know how hard it is to find actors willing to work with you when you keep trying to eat them?"

Lendri made a dismissive gesture with her clawed hand. "We eat humans," she said as if she was discussing the weather.

The director grew red in the face. "And that's precisely what we don't want people to think about!" he shouted. "That's what this whole public-relations effort is all about; making people understand that even though you destroyed some of our cities and devoured the members of the Supreme Court, you can bring a great deal of good to our world. Your queen wants us to show how sympathetic and wholesome you can be when you aren't hungry."

Lendri lounged in her chair. The beams from the studs followed her movements. It was like looking at a spiderweb made out of water. "Lendri is always hungry," she announced.

"What? We just had lunch not an hour ago!"

"Lendri is hungry. Humans are food," she added.

The director threw his script on the ground. "Not in front of the cameras, we aren't!" He shouted. "You're supposed to be helping with public relations - your queen demanded it."

"I do so."

"Public relations does not mean eating the public!" The director turned to face Maggie again. "How is he doing?" he asked, pointing to the child.

Maggie had wrapped a robe around the child and crouched in front of him. The boy was still sniffling as she placed a bandaid onto his neck. "It's just a scratch," she replied. "Louis will be fine."

"Good. Good. After we all take a 15 minute break, we'll pick it up at the beginning of the chair scene again."

Maggie turned and glared at the little bald man. "What? You can't expect Louis to get up on that monster's lap and keep working - not after what she did to him!"

"We don't have anyone left who will do the job."

"I can't imagine why."

"Like you said, it was just a scratch. He'll be fine." The director turned and glared at the alien Lendri again. "And this time, you'll keep your teeth to yourself. Right? Or do I have to contact your queen and explain how you're ruining her plans?"

Lendri blinked. "Child smells so good," she whispered, almost petulantly.

The director stood motionless for a couple of seconds. Then he turned and faced Maggie and Louis. "You know what?" he announced. "I've just figured it out. She's biting Louis because he smells good to eat. Right?"

Maggie nodded. "But he was rubbed down with mayonnaise," she replied. "The aliens can't stand the smell or taste of it."

Lendri hissed aloud. "Vile, nasty mayonnaise," she spat.

The director crossed his arms over his chest triumphantly. "Ah, but in the washing scene, all the mayonnaise got cleaned off of him. So at the next scene, it wasn't there to repel Lendri. So she automatically started to eat him. We'll just cover him in Mayo, then start the chair scene once more. That should be the end of the problem."

The director turned to face the small crowd in the antechamber.

"Fifteen minute break!" he yelled. "Everyone take a break. And get some more mayonnaise in here. I don't want any more accidents on my set. And when I say Mayo, I mean Mayo! No more of that Miracle Whip crap - the aliens think we taste pretty good in that, so it kind of misses the whole point."

Maggie stood up, patted Louis on the back and then left him in the care of one of her hirelings to take aside and cover with Kraft alien repellant. She then walked quietly up to the director, who was bending down to pick up his script again.

"You know, I've worked in public relations for a long time," she softly told him. "I've worked for the tobacco lobby, the gun industry, drug legalization committees and even a major political party. Many a time I've gone to sleep wondering if I've sold my soul. But doing public relations work for the alien race that has destroyed our world and eats us any chance they get?" Maggie sadly shook her head. "If I still had a soul, I guess it would be pretty ruined by now."

The director snorted in amusement as he stood up. "Yeah, but it pays the bills." He turned to Lendri and pointed. "All right you, let's get the scene right this time. And for God's sake, cover your breasts! I don't care if that is how you normally wear your clothes - we are shooting a public relations film, not a porn flick!"

The director turned around and started walking back to his chair while Lendri adjusted her clothing. "Damn it," he lowly muttered in passing. "I hate working with aliens."

Raven's Comments:

A fun story, if you take your humor black. :) I have to admit, I laughed and giggled at several points in this tale. The characters are fairly shallow, and the premise of man-eating aliens is a bit clichéd, but you make up for this with deliciously dark humor and strong descriptive ability. The idea that mayonnaise is the one thing so repulsive that the aliens won't eat it probably deserves the Douglas Adams Award for surreal humor, all by itself. I'm still giggling at the expression "Kraft alien repellant". :)

All that said, there is something a little disconcerting about the story, a sort of internal dissonance that's hard to ignore. Let's face it, the situation that's depicted here is really horrifying; it's hard to imagine something that upsets our primal mammal instincts more than the threat of being eaten by something stronger than us. You don't really touch on that aspect of things here, but I can't help feeling a little sickened by it even as I'm laughing. Of course, maybe that's the effect you were going for -- and if so, well done.

Spelling/Grammar: A
Technique: A-
Creativity: B
Artistry: A-
Applicability: A-

Final Score: 44 out of 50

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