Alien Equaliser

Mal shifted in his seat. His bum hurt. Happens when you sit for a long time, worse when it was a twenty-year clunker made before the era of airbags even. But he was on a stakeout. He couldn’t move until there was some sign of activity in the house he was surveilling, hopefully discreetly, just down the street. Suddenly, he sat up and watched as the garage door slid up. A black Lexus reversed down the driveway. It paused as it entered the street and the garage door came down again. It drove down the street and slowed as it drew level with him. The driver’s side window slid down. A hand came out, middle finger extended, and a voice yelled, “Hey Arsehole!” and the car accelerated into the distance.

Mal slumped in his seat and swore to himself. Bastard. What a waste of time. He’d obviously been made. He wondered what gave him away, but it could have been anything. It was depressing. To quote Detective Roger Murtaugh in the ‘Lethal Weapon’ movies, he was getting too old for this shit. The guy he had been watching was quite low on the drug dealing food chain anyway, not too low judging by the car, but the tip-off he had received indicated he might have led to someone more important.

Mal’s client would not be happy. Concerned his youngest daughter had fallen in with a crowd heavily into drugs, he’d hired Mal to do some snooping. Thus far, his investigation had led to this lowlife called Manny. So he’d been watching him.

Well, that idea was shot to hell. May as well go home. He turned the key, and with a sinking feeling, all he heard was a click. The battery had died. Shit.

Now he would have to ring roadside assistance to get him going. To top it all off, the oppressive clouds that had hung around most of the day decided that now was the time to release the deluge that had been promised so many hours before and rain bucketed down. He fished for his phone, and could not believe what he saw. Nothing, the screen was blank, the phone too was dead. He felt like screaming out loud in frustration. But he was a fifty-year adult, a male to boot. Men didn’t do that sort of stuff. But he did it anyway. The noise of the downpour muffled the sound of the ear-splitting shriek he let out. Nobody heard him, at least, nobody human.

Hidden above the dense rain cloud, by sheer chance, hovering just above Mal’s car, was an alien spacecraft, spherical in shape, containing an amorphous entity. Mal’s shriek was picked up by the craft’s external sensors. Driven by curiosity to determine what the noise was and where it emanated from, the entity left its craft and transported its amorphous form down through the cloud. It hovered above Mal’s car, then entered it. Mal, unable to believe the noise that had just come out of his own mouth, almost crapped himself when the entity materialised in the seat beside him.

“What the hell? Who and what the hell are you?” he stuttered.

There was no answer.

“Are you a ghost or something?”

There was still no response.

Mal’s heart was pounding in his chest.

A tendril reached out towards him. Terrified, he grabbed at the door handle and tugged at it. The door wouldn’t open. The tendril swirled closer, he shrank against the door, then mercifully, passed out.

Mal came to. He felt distinctly weird. But his mind was as clear as a bell. His body had been invaded, no, enhanced by an entity from another world. He felt an awareness that he now had powers that he’d never had before. Maybe like superman or some of the other superheroes like the Avengers he’d read about, and seen in the movies.

This alien appeared intent on helping him, unlike movie aliens who always seemed to be hellbent on destroying the human race, a sentiment with which he sometimes agreed. He looked forward to finding out what those powers were. Did they have any limits?. He wondered if someone shot him, for example, would he die? Now that would be handy to know!

And did the alien have a spaceship? Must have. If so, where was it? Secreted on earth or parked undetected in space somewhere. And were there more of them? He had lots of questions swirling around in his head. Hopefully, as time went by, he’d get some answers. All in all, though, he felt remarkably sanguine about everything that had just happened to him.

He reached for the ignition key and turned it. The car purred into life. The battery had been recharged. Was that the alien’s doing? He had a sense that it probably had been.

He turned on the car headlights. The downpour had passed. He eased away from the curb. As he headed down the street, a car passed going the other way.

“That’s that jerk, Manny,” Mal said aloud.

Now was as good a time as any to put whatever powers he had to the test.

He did a careful U-turn on the wet road and followed the other vehicle. It turned into the driveway of the house from which it had earlier emerged. The garage door went up, and the car drove in. Mal followed, pulling up right behind him. Before Manny could get out of the car, Mal was at his door. He yanked him out by his collar, and with a strength, he hadn’t had before, sent him sprawling to the floor of the garage. Increased physical ability, good to know.

Manny looked up at him with a mixture of fear and outrage.

“What the hell are you doing? I’ll have you charged with assault, you, you…”

He stopped.

Mal looked down at him, then pulled him up, held him in the air, then said mildly, “Ok, Manny, how about we go inside and have a chat.”

Manny looked down at him, then said meekly, “Ok.”

He led the way into the house through an interior door from the garage. He’d left the lights on earlier, and ushered Mal into a well-equipped kitchen. He sat down at the table. Mal seated himself across from him.

“So, you’re gonna tell me everything about your drug dealing, but first, how did you clock me? Never mind,” he said. Actually, Manny didn’t need to say anything. Mal could pretty much sense the thoughts running around in his head. Was that one of his new powers? Had to be. He was chuffed. Even Superman couldn’t read minds!

Manny looked at him in confusion and opened his mouth.

Mal held up his hand to silence him, closed his eyes and concentrated. A jumble of Manny’s thoughts crowded into his head. After a moment, he opened his eyes.

“You really are a scumbag, aren’t you. You’ve ruined so many lives. Even got your own nephew hooked so badly he killed himself. He O’D. Don’t know how many others.”

Manny goggled at him, open mouthed.

“How, how,” he stuttered.

Mal got to his feet.

“You’re done. I know you feel really bad about your nephew, but it hasn’t stopped you.

I know all about you now, who you deal with, where you get the stuff, how much dough you got stashed away, even which banks you got all your accounts in. The cops will get all that info. You’d save everyone a heap of trouble if you just topped yourself before they get you,” he told him brutally.

He turned on his heel, walked out of the kitchen, through the garage and got into his car. He found he was shaking with rage. Manny was just a low-level dealer but look at the carnage he’d left in his wake, the lives he’d ruined. He started the car and backed down the driveway. He decided to go home. It was quite late. He had a lot of thinking to do.

What to tell his client for example.

But now, he had enhanced physical strength and apparently could read minds, for starters. The stuff he got out of Manny’s head gave him plenty to work with. He wouldn’t tell the cops anything. He’d go after them himself. He looked forward to finding what else he was capable of and how he could best utilise whatever he had to right wrongs, and exact justice. What was that Denzel Washington movie? The Equaliser.

That’s what he’d do. Become an Alien Equaliser!


Below Average

Joey opened his mouth in a wide, noisy yawn. His jaw creaked. It hurt, but he was tired and it came quite involuntarily. It had been a long day, or so it seemed to him. He almost regretted the fact that he now had to drive so much further to get home. But only almost. He remembered why he had moved, and still shuddered at the experience.

It had been several months ago. He had been half asleep that morning and had spilt the milk he was pouring into his coffee. He had opened the cupboard door under the kitchen sink for a dishcloth and looked straight into the beady eyes of the biggest rat he’d ever seen. With a startled yelp, he scrambled backward and fell on his bum. Alright, so it wasn’t all that big, but the worst part was, it stared at him unblinkingly, before turning and leisurely disappearing back to where it had come from.

That was it, he had had enough. The rent was cheap, and it was close to work, but he wasn’t staying in this dingy, crummy flat with its musty smell, leaky shower, and now, unwanted and uninvited four-legged rodent visitor any longer. Auntie Bessie had this little holiday cottage an hour out of town, that she was happy to rent to him at a minimal rate. His old car, which he had rarely used when he lived in town was now getting a regular workout, and it really was showing its age but was going along just fine, so far.

And there was no one in his life at the moment, not since Monica had, in a fit of pique, told him he was so ‘below average’ in many respects, and she was sure she could find someone better. He was understandably hurt by her comment. Okay, he wasn’t the most ambitious person in the world. He enjoyed his job as a storeman at the furniture warehouse. After all, someone had to do it. He wasn’t all that tech-savvy, had no interest in video games, didn’t spend all his time poring over his phone, or a tablet, and enjoyed hiking and camping. Monica didn’t. At least the sex was good, she said, but that wasn’t enough to keep her, so she was off.

He turned off the main road onto a secondary road that led to another short unmade road which wound through rows of trees up to the cottage, which itself was almost completely surrounded by a stand of trees. He had installed outside sensor lights that came on when he pulled up and parked in front of the little porch, to give the house a more welcoming feel at night. Now, just as he turned onto the approach to the house, the car stopped without warning. Everything went dead, including the dashboard and headlights.

“What the hell?” he said out loud.

Puzzled, he turned the ignition key. Nothing, not a sound. It was pitch dark He wasn’t close enough to the house to set off the sensor lights. He reached for his phone and tried to turn it on. It too was dead.

‘Weird,’ he thought to himself.

He pulled on the car door handle to open the door. It didn’t budge. Frantically, he pulled at it again and pushed against it. Nothing. He reached across to the passenger side door and tried the handle. Again nothing. He was starting to panic, then suddenly, a feeling of calm overcame him.

The pitch dark was gradually lightening and giving way to a blueish hue and he could feel something pulsating right through his body. Yet, he felt no fear, settled himself back in his seat, then eased into unconsciousness.

Joey awoke and blinked at the sunlight filtering through the trees. He was sitting in his car at the commencement of the road up to his house, next to the mailbox. He furrowed his brow in puzzlement. Why had he slept in his car? Had he been just too tired to drive the short distance to the house? He couldn’t remember. But oddly, he felt quite refreshed and alert, not sore and aching at all. He reached for the ignition key and turned on the engine. The car started instantly, another first, the ancient motor running smoothly, What was going on? But he had no time to waste wondering about it. A glance at the dashboard clock told him he should be leaving for work in just a few moments. He raced up to the house, and in very short order, had a shower, a change of clothes, and was now on his way into town. Breakfast would have to wait until he had his morning break.

The car ran smoothly, the sound of the quiet engine leaving him wondering, but he had no explanation, or maybe this was what happened just before it packed up completely. He turned on the radio and listened to static-free music, something else that had never happened before, then the news came on. An item caught his attention. Apparently, there had been a meteor shower the previous night, according to hundreds of excited skywatchers, who reported seeing brilliant blue lights streaking across the night sky.

‘That’s as good an explanation as any for what had happened to me and the car,’ he thought with amusement. ‘It was aliens of course. They made me fall asleep on the road and fixed my car!’

The thought entertained him all the way to work.

He found himself at the warehouse with plenty of time to spare. Enough time to make himself a coffee in the staff room. Everyone had contributed towards the purchase of a coffee machine which produced quite a reasonable tasting coffee. As he walked in, he was surprised to see an attractive young dark-haired woman making herself a coffee.

“Hello,” he said tentatively.

“Hello yourself,” came the response, accompanied by a smile.

“Um, I haven’t seen you before,” he ventured.

“I’m Joey.”

“I know,” came the surprising response.

“Oh? Well, you know me, but I don’t know you,” he said.

“And how does that make you feel?” she asked slyly.

“At a disadvantage,” he replied.

“Good,” she said, picked up her mug and walked out the door.

He gaped at her retreating back.

“What the hell?” he said aloud.

“Who are you talking to?” a male voice asked.

It was Brian, one of his coworkers, who had entered the room by another door,

“That woman who just left, who was she?”

Brian shrugged.

“I dunno, one of the bosses I suppose.”

“Have you seen her before?”

“Yep, I think so. Why? Got the hots for her? Mate, you don’t have a hope in hell,” Brian chuckled.

“It’s not that. She knew who I was, called me by name, but I didn’t know her,” Joey told him, as he made himself a latte.

“Yeah, maybe she’s HR or something, they generally know who everyone is,” Brian asserted.

‘She also said, ‘Good,’ when I told her I didn’t know her,” Joey told him.


“Why would she say that?”

“How would I know? She’s a woman. They’re strange creatures,” Brian said with feeling.

Joey knew Brian had been divorced twice. He shook his head, drank his coffee and headed for his workstation.

The rest of the day proceeded without incident. Busy with a large shipment of new furniture that arrived, Joey hadn’t had much time to think any more about the mysterious woman, but he caught himself thinking about her at lunchtime when he was having a sandwich bought from the mobile food van that turned up every day. He wondered idly if she worked in the offices on the first floor of the warehouse, but had no legitimate reason for going up to satisfy his curiosity. His thoughts also turned to what happened to him the previous night. Falling asleep in his car, what was that all about? And the way the car was now running so smoothly. It was all rather strange.

It was the end of the day and for once, he finished on time. As he walked to his car with his workmates, he saw, across the car park, the mystery woman. She was getting into a two-door BMW.

‘Of course,’ he thought enviously. If she was one of the managers, she could well afford it.

He got into his old Ford, and watched as she drove out of the car park. On an impulse he could not explain to himself, he decided to follow her. He stayed well back, leaving several cars between them. She drove quite sedately and stayed at the speed limit. Quite soon, they had left town, and traffic was thinning. He dropped further back and realised she was heading in the same direction he usually took when he went home.

‘Did she live out in the country too?’ he wondered.

He soon found out where she was heading. He watched with bemusement as she came to the secondary road, turned onto it, then again onto the unmade road, and pulled up in front of his house.

He saw her exit her car, and stand there waiting for him to stop behind her.

“Hello again, Joey,” she said cheerfully, when he reached her.

For a moment, he was speechless, then, thinking quickly, he realised that the obvious response would be,’What are you doing here?’

So instead, he said, ”Hello to you too. Come on in,” strode past her, mounted the porch, unlocked the door, and gestured to her to enter. She gave him a mischievous grin, and he caught a whiff of some exotic perfume as she passed him and entered the hallway. He shut the front door and ushered her into the small living room.

“Have a seat, would you like a drink?”

“Bourbon and coke please.”

“Coming up,” he said.

Fortunately, he actually had some cans in the fridge, poured hers into a glass, got himself a beer,

returned, handed it to her, and sat down across from her. He raised the bottle, and said, “Cheers, whoever you are. Welcome to my humble abode.”

She laughed delightedly.

“Cheers to you too, Joey.”

“I think you look like a Gladys,” he said thoughtfully.

She pulled a face.


He nodded and took a sip of his beer.

“Yes, definitely. You look just like my auntie Glad.”

“You don’t have an auntie Glad,” she told him.

“And how would you know that?”

“I know everything about you, Joey,” she informed him.

“Well, like I said before, you have me at a disadvantage, as I know nothing about you, including what you’re doing in my house,” he said mildly.

She drained her glass.

“Do you have more? I quite like this,” she said.

He looked at her, then said,” In the fridge. Help yourself. You don’t seem to have any trouble making yourself at home.”

She got to her feet and walked into the kitchen. He watched her.

‘She’s a very attractive woman,’ he reflected. He could get used to having her around, despite the weirdness of this whole situation.

She returned with her refilled glass, sat down again, and said, “So Joey, what do you think is going on?”

“Not a clue,” he said promptly.

“Do you remember what happened to you last night?”

Mystified, he said, ‘I fell asleep in my car, but how do you know that?”

“You didn’t fall asleep, you were, for want of a better word, merged.”


“You were merged with a species from another world,” she informed him.

“You’ve gotta be frigging kidding me!” he exclaimed. And he’d only been thinking about aliens earlier, but not for real.

She shook her head and said,” I was too.”

“You? How do you know this?”

“I just do, just as I know about you, and your car.”

“My car? How? Wait a minute! Even if I thought for a second that you weren’t seriously deranged, how come you know this and I don’t?”

She smiled sweetly, and said,” Because the species are feminine, or at least, females are dominant, so I was given that knowledge.”

Joey was speechless.

She patted him on the hand.

“It’s alright, they chose you because you have empathetic qualities, which not too many males have.”

He was struggling to say something and finally found his voice.

“Okay, If I believe you, and it’s a bloody big if, how did you turn up at my work and what’s with not telling me your name?”

“Oh,” she said airily,” that’s just my sense of humour, and as it happens, I do work there. I started a few months ago. I’m the new HR manager. A happy coincidence, don’t you think?”

Joey drank the last of his beer, even though it wasn’t as cold as he would have liked any more,

got up and retrieved another from the fridge. He felt he deserved it.

He sat down again and said, “Okay, so why are they doing this?”

“Curiosity. They want to know about us, what makes us tick. They’re sort of like anthropologists. They do this on lots of inhabited planets. They don’t mean us any harm.”

“So there are other planets with inhabitants?”

“Of course. It’s a bit conceited to think we’re the only ones.”

“So they didn’t give us superpowers or anything.”

She laughed. “No, they didn’t”

“I’d have preferred superpowers,” he grumbled.

“Typical male,” she said.

“So what happens now ?”

“Nothing, we just live our lives as if nothing has happened.”

“But we’ve got aliens inside of us!”

“It’s not like that, it’s more of a psychic merge. We won’t notice anything different.”

“I’d still rather have superpowers. And what happened to my car?”

She shrugged.

“Consider it a bonus.”

“Does that mean it’ll run forever?”

“I don’t know.”

“Aha!” he exclaimed.

“Something you don’t know!”

She smiled warmly at him, reached out and took his hand, and said,” I do know this. I think you and I are going to have an interesting life ahead of us. What do you think?”

He looked into her eyes. They were dark and full of promise. Perhaps she was deranged. At this point, he didn’t really care. He squeezed her hand and nodded. Fleetingly, he thought of Monica. Maybe he wasn’t quite so ‘below average’ after all.

“By the way,” she said, “My name’s Laura.”