(I first wrote this in September of 2002 for a fantasy football blog of all things.  All rights reserved.  Enjoy!)

“I miss Tom”

“Amy, we all miss him,” Bery said softly, consoling his sobbing daughter.  “He was like a father to us all, and I wish we had time for a proper burial, but someone’s going to have to push him into the Bay now.”

“How can we stop them?  I’m just tired, tired of all this.”

“I don’t know how to stop them, no one does; wish I did.  I’m tired too.”

“I’ll go push him in dad.  It’s my turn anyway.”

“No, I’ll do it.  Where’s the gas.”


The world no longer belonged to the humans.  Massive monsters had invaded the earth three years ago tomorrow, and an unprepared world could not defend itself from their attacks.  Nothing had stopped them so far — not conventional weapons, not even weapons of mass destruction.  The deployment of those had killed more humans than monsters.  These otherworldly monsters, it seemed, thrived on radiation.  It only encouraged them.

The sea monsters, Leviathan, were devouring all the sea creatures.  Who knows how many fish and sea mammals had become extinct in just three years.  The land creatures, Jumanji, were just as ferocious, and their lust for meat was no less.  Unfortunately, they did not discriminate between man and beast, and in fact, since the humans had been more “pesky,” in their attempts to defend themselves, they were a much more frequent target at suppertime.  Bravado meant nothing to these creatures.  Courage cost lives.  Now there were few people left — pacifists and survivalists mostly; only those who chose to hide had lived.  Now with most, if not all the earth creatures gone, even the few remaining humans were frequent targets.  Each surviving pocket of humans felt that they were the only ones left on earth.

The amazing senses of these creatures allowed them to sniff out any meat-eating creature.  Herbivores were tracked by their feces.  The surviving humans had learned long ago to go vegetarian, start no fires, and to keep all their garbage (including fecal matter) a long way from where they lived.  Now, most people lost their lives on trash runs and trips to the can because the monsters were drawn to the scent of all this.  Lysol and double-bagging couldn’t stop that — only gasoline seemed to help cover the various scents.  That’s why the survivors of San Jose had moved to the refinery in Benecia.  Bery was the one who came up with the idea of going there. Pat had the idea of using gas instead of water for the toilet, which helped hide the scent.  Brian had come up with the idea of creating a trash catapult that could reach the San Francisco Bay, but this was not perfect, and the rotting trash that didn’t reach the Bay did keep some of the Jumanji close — perhaps 200 yards — and that was unacceptable.  The trash that did reach the Bay was quickly devoured by the Leviathan.  Those bottom dwellers were not such a threat to the humans because they kept to the sea, but the land-based Jumanji were a constant threat.

In the refinery, one of the now empty massive oil tanks was the San Jose group’s home.  Another connecting tank had been converted to a garden with some success, but the group all wondered what they were adding to the vegetables they grew; probably lead at a minimum.  Another tank was the catapult site — not a catapult actually, but a trebuchet, since a trebuchet was more accurate once dialed in.  Its smooth action was also much less likely to break a bag and scatter trash.  Still, it wasn’t perfect and today, a bag had broken so the trash needed to be cleaned up before the heat of the day lessened the amount of protective gas fumes that helped hide the group.  It was Tom who was next in line to clean up the remnants of the broken trash bag.  Tom had bought it near the Bay, just as Joe, Todd F. and Carrie had done on previous runs.  Since he was covered in gas, the Jumanji couldn’t smell him, but there was still the matter of their visual acuity, which hadn’t been solved yet.  The Jumanji could see the fumes the gas gave off, which was a blessing and a curse.  Once anyone was outside the safety of the oil tank fumes, his fumes could be seen even before they themselves could be seen by the Jumanji.  With Tom now gone, only Brian, Bery, Amy, Shaun, Mike, Wes and Pat were left.


“Team purple, do you see any life?”


“Team green?”


“Shall we rid the planet of our pets?”

“We’re ready to go Flyers.”

“Same here.”

“Shall we kill some pets Ekim?”

“We shall Hplar.”

“Purple and Green:  Deploy the weapons!”


“What was that?”

“I don’t know, but it was loud and bright.  I hope it wasn’t another nuke.”

“Do you think dad will be OK out there Brian?”

“From the blast, or the Jumanji?”

“The blast.  Both.  you know.”

“Let’s pray.  Dear God, please protect.  .  . Bery!  You’re safe!  Thank God!  What happened?”

“I had just gotten to Tom when a Jumanji spotted me, probably the same one that killed Tom.  He had me dead to rights when a blinding light appeared in the distance, followed by a loud bang.  I was running for a place to hide when a fierce wind knocked me down.  When I looked back, the Jumanji was gone; just gone.  One second, I could feel his breath on my neck, the next second — nothing.”

“I’m just glad you’re safe.”

“Me too dad.”


“What’s your reading Flyers?  Hplar, can we land yet?”

“Still a few sea creatures left Ddot.  OK, they’re evaporated.  Team green, you won’t be eaten anymore.  You’re OK to land and start terraforming.  The planet is ours.  Team purple.  .  .  Hang on a second.  I see some indeterminate life-form readings at coordinates by  Can you investigate?  Be careful Tnerb and Nevs; some of these lifeforms have smarts.  Exterminate with extreme prejudice.

“Don’t we always?”

“Let’s be honest Nevs, Team green has been kicking your posterior flap on the last seven planets.”

“But I do have more planets under my belt.”

“True, but I’m interested in getting my commission on this planet.  You remember how badly you failed on that red planet last year?  You tried twice and the inhabitants of that planet beat you, beat our creatures, beat everyone.  We didn’t get our commission.”

“Why don’t you send team green to that red planet.  You know they can handle the colder climates better than we can.”

“Anyone can terraform a planet under ideal conditions.  Get to work Nevs.”


“I’m going back out to get Tom.  It’s almost sunset.”

“Be careful Bery.”

“I’m going too.”

“No Amy.  Stay with the group.”

“But I’m already gassed up.”


“Team purple to Flyers”

“Go ahead”

“Your life-form is a recently dead creature. Bipedal.  Big Brain.  Can we proceed?”

“There’s movement in the large circular structures behind you.  Proceed with caution — the material in those tanks is flammable.  Use passive weapons.”

“OK. Purple out.”

“That Hplar really bugs me.”

“Ya, but what are you going to do Nevs.  They are the master race.”

“It still bugs me Tnerb.  Maybe we should deploy some pets in his ship.”

“We could do that on one ship, but then there’s still Ekim to deal with.  You can’t get them both if they stay apart, and they always do.  So long has they travel in pairs, we can’t touch them and you know it.”

“But I hate the idea that with one touch of a button, they can end our lives.”

“Let’s just concentrate on our job.  There are worse ways to earn a paycheck.”

“Name one.”


“Amy, I told you to stay back home!”

“My turn — remember?”

“But we can’t be out here together.”

“Don’t worry, the Rinaldo family name will live on.”

“We stand a better chance of that if you go back to safety.”

“Dad!  What’s that by Tom?”

“Don’t know.  It’s new, and ugly too. Wonder if they had something to do with the Jumanji’s disappearance?”

“They look pretty fragile.”

“But those weapons don’t.  We need to warn the others.  Let’s get out of here.  They’re coming this way.”


“Sure, .  .  . Travel the universe.  See exotic planets.  Meet exotic creatures — and kill them.  I’m suing the alliance.  The brochure never said anything about sadistic, life-threatening overlord Flyers.”

“Shut up Nevs.”


“New creatures are heading this way!  Not Jumanji”

“Will weapons work Bery, Amy?”

“Looks possible.  Let’s use gas and electricity as a backup.”

“What about fire?”

“I’m willing to set this place on fire if we have to.  I think this is the next wave of creatures.  They look smart —  not like the Jumanji and Leviathon.”

“I haven’t seen a flame for a while myself.  Let’s do it.”


“Tnerb, How’s your sister doing?”

“You tell me, you saw her last.”

“Did not.”

“What’s that?  Those creatures are shooting gas propelled projectiles at us.  Registering hits on our armor; electrical current on the ground as well.”

“They started a fire too.  Yawn.  Is this the best these creatures can do?  Better adjust our armor to max cool before we heat up too bad.”

“Just so long as that flame doesn’t go away anytime too soon.”

“The coolers do work a little too well in this armor.”


“Yes team purple.”

“We found some lifeforms.  Not much of a challenge.  Cleaning up.”

“OK.  Once you’re finished there, proceed to the terraforming site.”

“Will do.  Out.  .   .  What a Jerk.”

“OK Nevs, you take that side, I’ll take .  .  .  What’s that . . . freezing mist!  Can’t move arms to adjust armor.”

“Me neither.  Let’s get out of .  .  . ”


“What happened?  I thought we were toast.”

“We might still be if we don’t get out of here.  Looks like the fire suppression system went off.  And I didn’t even know they had one here.  Makes sense though.”

“Mike, you OK.”

“Man, I was hot, now I’m cold.”

“Dante’s Hell?”

“Blue Devil.”

“Whatever.  Let’s go.  It’s hard to breathe in here.”

“Was it the halogen?”

“It was probably the cold that killed them.  They were doing fine in the fire.  Let’s grab the extinguishers on the way out.  We may need them as weapons.”


“Nevs!  Tnerb!  Come in!”

“No use Ekim, their life signs are gone.  For some reason, they couldn’t adjust their armor in time.”

“They had the old manual ones the Domites made?”

“Ya, the ones with the cheap Aztek power supply.  Nevs and Tnerb were Domites after all.  It would be unpatriotic of them to buy good armor from outside their dome.”

“Shoot, and I always thought I’d do them in.  Especially Nevs.”

“Ya, I know what you mean.  I always did want to press the button on him.”

“I’m going to anyway.  They may have found a way to escape our detection or give a false reading.”

“Just the purple team.  We still need team green.  Call ’em.”

“Team green?”

“Here Flyers.”

“Team purple ran into trouble.  Can you go help them out?”



“OK.  Out.”

“Hope we get our commission.”


“Two more just arrived over there.”

“I see ’em”

“Should we extinguish ’em?”

“Very punny.  They have weapons, and now they know we’re here.  We’d better be cautious.”


“We’re here Flyers.  Where are the lifeforms?”

“To your right team green.  Nhoj, flank them.  Ddot go right in.”

“And team purple is where?”

“They aren’t doing so well at the moment.  I told them that some of these creatures had smarts, but they didn’t listen.  Proceed without them for now.  You may join them later.”

“Don’t you mean they’ll join us?”


“Purple Slackers!”


“One went off to your left Shaun.”

“I think they’re going to try to attack from two sides.  See anyone on the other two sides?  Wes?  Pat?”


“No strange, alien things over here.”

“Man, these guys are cocky.  They don’t even try to hide.”

“They must have some sort of force field or something.”

“Not very good ones if it can’t handle cold.”

“.  .  . or Halogen.”

“Right.  Remember, not until you see the whites of their eyes.”

“Does that really apply here?”

“Probably not.  Shoot ’em when you recognize a feature.”

“Again, does that really apply?”

“Ten feet or less!”

“I can work within those parameters.”


“What do these creatures have for weapons?”

“Their weapons are thermal based; some sort of coolant in a canister.  Not very effective against this armor.”

“We’d better warn team purple to adjust their suits.  They’ve got manuals.

“Backwards Domites!  They live in comfort, but they never produce anything good.”

“Nevs, Tnerb. You there?  Team purple?”

“Flyers?  Where’s purple?”

“Please proceed without them.  You have the better armor.”


“See, even the Flyers know about Domite design.”



“Retreat!  This isn’t working!”

“Maybe they’ve adapted like the Borg.”

“You watched too much TV.”

“I’m pinned down.”

“Me too.”

“Amy, stay down!  You’ll get hit!”



“What’s up Nhoj?”

“I don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s hurting my eyes.  I can’t see.  Better move away and come get me.  That female creature must have a defense mechanism.”

“I ran away from home because of females.  I was surrounded by them.”

“Me too, and they scared the hell out of me.  But I mean it; get over here.  My skin is starting to itch.”

“So far, I’m unaffected.  Coming around to you.  Yeeeeaaah.  I see what you mean!”


“Daddy, I’m scared.  Now there are two of them and they have their weapons pointed at me.  Daddy, I’m scared.”


“Why don’t they shoot?”

“I don’t know Wes.  I’m just glad they don’t.  Looks like they’re retreating.

“Retreating?  They’re falling!”


“Carry me Ddot.  I can’t move.  I feel, I feel, helpless, week, pain, must move, yet, I cannot.  Aaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!”



“Shoot!  Lost team green.  Hplar, let’s get out of here.  There’s nothing more we can do.”

“I’m with you buddy.  I shudder to think what they have down there that could harm us.  I guess we forfeit our commission until we get another cleaning team or two.  Can’t say as I am disappointed to see Team green and team purple go though.”

“Copy that.  Whoever wrote in that brochure about leading teams to victory never met these guys.”


“It’s like they melted.”

“Woah, what a mess.  That stain is gonna stay a while.”

“Smells like cheese.”

“Is it over dad?”

“I think so, for now.  You can stop crying.”

“Please, crying makes me feel weak.”

“Scares the hell out of me.”

“Me too.  I feel helpless.”

“Me too.”

“Me too.”


And so, the human race was saved, for the moment, by a power so incredible that no man, alien or otherwise, can stand against it.  Estrogen.