He liked the taste of socks, especially the woolen ones.
He would hang out in the Laundromat, his worn
stocking cap pulled low on his brow, and wait for the other
people to leave. They
invariably would, whether to get a cup of coffee
or a frozen yogurt, and then he would pounce.
moved fast for an old man, pushing his human shell to its limits. Down
the line of dryers he would go, flinging open their doors and searching
for the food he liked best. This
time, he snagged seven white athletic socks, four fleece socks of assorted
colors, and one beautiful, beautiful pink woolen gem. He stuffed
them in his mouth, swallowing them down in efficient motions. He
systematically made his way back up the row of dryers, slamming the doors
shut, flinging extra coins in them where needed, and turning them all
back on. It had taken perhaps thirty seconds, all told.
By the time the bell on the Laundromat door
jingled, he was standing inconspicuously in front of his own washing
machine, waiting for his underwear to finish its dance with detergent
and hot water.
“Mr. Adams, you’re in here every
week, aren’t you?” the little punk girl said.
“Always in here, sweetie. Got to
have clean clothes like everyone else.”
“Didn’t you used to be famous or
Mr. Adams smiled at her. He had been famous
once. Or the body he was wearing had been, at least. It had
been a long, long time since he had landed on Earth.
“I could swear I’ve seen your picture somewhere.”
“No, no, you haven’t,” he told her, and she went back
to drinking her coffee and reading her old-fashioned book of alien stories,
the one that had his name on the cover.
It was that book’s fault, really.
The Grand High Lord had been a fan of Mr. Adams’ anthologies
for decades, always leeching the newest e-book edition through
the satellite feed. He thought it funny that the humans
wrote “science fiction”, and never got anything
But when Aliens In Our Midst had been published, the
Grand High Lord had decided that Mr. Adams would be just
the right one to be occupied and used for colonization scouting.
Which is how Vexrin had ended up on Earth, doing
the Grand High Lord’s
bidding, and really missing a
good Gyurax for lunch. Socks didn’t hold quite
the same appeal.
He had spent years on the Gyurax problem: years
of calculation and hunting and trying to find a food source
that was anything like it. The humans had everything
else that his race needed, but their inability to replicate
the distinctive taste and shape of a Gyurax’s appendages—the
sacred food of his people—for that, he couldn’t
Socks were an acceptable substitute, but only
the woolen ones came closest to the taste of
could have learned to knit socks out of fine
merino, but Mr. Adams’ body had gotten old too fast,
his fingers becoming arthritic. He had spent
all the Earth money he had on socks, and then resorted to
stealing them, when his funds ran low.
Vexrin said goodbye to the punk girl when his
underwear was done, and walked home in the bitter
cold to his apartment. He jacked into the net, checking on
the status of his plans.
Two breeders in Cuba who were working on patio
sheep, miniature versions of the animals that
might do for snacks. Check.
These are not the aliens
in this story.
I have no idea what they
Who can tell with aliens, really?
Seventeen flocks of regular sheep being raised
in Australia, which would tide over the incoming
And the four thousand knitters he had duped into
playing a giant online contest, as they knitted
pair after pair of woolen socks, in an effort
to be the fastest sock knitter in the world and
win a million-dollar prize. Check.
All those socks being produced, just waiting
for the Grand High Lord and his ship to arrive and collect
He poked his antennae out of Mr. Adams’ head, letting
their red tips catch the signals that floated
down from space. In twenty-four hours, they would
be here, he was told. In
twenty-four hours, he could go back to his gorgeous
red-haired body with the three bulging eyes,
and his graceful antennae in full sight. In twenty-four
hours, Mr. Adams’ body
would disappear, most of humanity would be gone,
and he might get Gyurax to eat.
But best of all, the Grand High Lord was about
to discover sheep.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenny Rae Rappaport lives
with her husband and cat in central New Jersey,
and is currently working on a novel. Her non-fiction
has appeared in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic
Medicine Show, her poetry in Everyday Weirdness,
and her microfiction in Thaumatrope. She is a
2002 graduate of Orson Scott Card's Literary
In addition to writing, she runs and
operates her own literary agency, The
Rappaport Agency, LLC. In her spare time,
she knits and hand-dyes yarn. She blogs here.