"For many of your Earth decades," the alien said, gill-slits flapping along its methane bladders, "you have screamed for our attention. And we have heard you."


The members of the human first contact delegation (all male, all white, of course) beamed glassy smiles; the cameras were recording the momentous occasion, after all, and the p.r. experts had warned the politicians and scientists that "when you drill down, and get really granular, frowns will message the wrong talking points."


The alien squelched in its pool of petroleum distillates, harrumphed more methane, and continued. "You have sent your primitive radio signals into the stars. And your microwave bursts. The audio and the video that you refer to as 'high definition.' And so, we heard you, and we came to meet you at last."


The delegation applauded politely and several p.r. advisors scuttled closer. The alien was impressive, but most of them thought his delivery could use a little work. Too much slime, not enough shine.


The smiles faded as the first blasts erupted, clouds aflame as hosts of orbiting starships unleashed monstrous destructive power upon the vulnerable Earth.


"We could tolerate the advertising. Buy Doritos. Smoke Marlboro. Get fat, drink Bud, and die of cancer," the alien screeched.


"We could handle the endless banalities of your 'reality television.' Swap mates for money, lie to your loved ones for popularity, preen before the cameras for meaningless accolades," the alien hooted.


The blasts drew nearer, and the delegates huddled together, pale and terrified.


The alien rose on its haunches, a thin sheen of gasoline leaking from its pores. "YEARS! Years you've spent, flinging your fecal 'culture' into the void, as if the rest of the universe should care! Haphazardly spewing your fetid entertainments at the rest of the civilized universe!


"And we TOOK it. We're not monsters. You're children, we thought. You'll LEARN. We endured your Richard Nixon. Your Urkel. Your hideous, hideous Coldplay."


It shuddered at the thought, neck-sacks pulsating as it struggled to catch its breath.

"But sending the parade of images and stories and alleged musics—Mother of Stars, the accursed musics!—of the one you call Bieber?"


It paused again, making sure it looked each delegate square in the eye (as best it could; the jellyfish tangle of eyestalks made it more difficult, but as a result, there could be no doubting its sincerity).


"That Bieber shit was simply the last fucking straw."


The alien's digital membranes extended and triggered the teleportation system, returning it to one of the hundreds of death ships overhead. A spiderweb of energy embraced Earth, ripping it apart.


Sensory beams probed every last thought of every last exploding human, to be recorded and broadcast to the uncounted trillions watching from their respective homeworlds.


Continents dissolved. Oceans boiled off into clouds of steam. The human delegation burst into flame.




The alien sighed, a moment of melancholy creeping up on him as he uploaded the last human thought, the epitaph of the species. He paused the upload, reading carefully:


"Not bad," thought the last p.r. man on Earth, in the instant before he evaporated. "A little heavy-handed, but he sure stayed on-message. I could totally work with that."


"Good riddance," the alien muttered, before deleting the last recorded human thought forever.



Flash-fiction: "Had It Coming"

For Douglas Adams.

© 2013, Eric Trautmann/Fedora Monkey Studio