Writing Prompt #57 — The Gas Station on SH-193

Prompt: Man has finally made it to another star! They land on a planet supposedly filled with life! Unfortunately, the only thing they find is a tiny gas station, with a clerk who looks oddly human… and he says the ice cream maker is broken

“You have ice cream here, on SH-193? Wouldn’t it melt?” Thomas asked, glancing down at the packs of bubblegum, e-cigarettes, beef jerky, with a large picture underneath of an array of lottery tickets.

The attendant titled his hat forward, then back. He rubbed the hanging skin below his chin, blinked. “Uh, yeah, of course we do — but not now, sir. Machine’s on the fritz.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “But we have a lot of other things, if you care to take a look.” He waved his hand towards the rest of the station.

Thomas looked towards the rows of potato chips, jerky, and rows upon rows of assorted snack bars and soda. Lining the back wall were refrigerators, filled with milk, juice, energy drinks, and more soda. “Uh… no, thanks…” He faced the attendant, who was adjusting his hat once more. His green eyes were wide. “But, um… How do you have a gas station here? We believed we were the first humans arriving here. What was your ship’s name?”

“I, uh, hmph…” He scratched his large nose, then coughed. “Just do, sir, and you are, sir.”

“I am what?”

“First humans here.”

“But aren’t you—”

“Yes, I’m human, too.”

“But wouldn’t that mean—”

“No, sir, it would not.”

Thomas went to scratch the back of his head, quickly realizing he was still wearing his suit. “Okay, okay… Well, I’m going to return to my crew.” He waved. “Thanks for talking to me.”

“Not a problem, sir,” he waved back, “have a good one.”

Thomas turned and walked to the exit. When he attempted to push the door open, it wouldn’t budge. “Hey, your door is stuck.”

“It’s not stuck, sir.”

Thomas tried again, but it still didn’t move. “I’m sure it is, I can’t open it.”

“That’s attended, sir.”

Thomas turned to the man behind the counter, who pulled his hat from his head, revealing a green tendril that slithered towards the ceiling. It looked down upon Thomas as a seam appeared as its end, and split open, revealing a yellow-tinted eyeball. “You see, sir, people come from all reaches of space,” the attendant said without moving his mouth, as if the air was speaking, “but can’t leave, only can join the others.” He waved a black, squirming tendril towards the rest of the station.

Thomas eye’s went wide and he stepped back against the door. The rows of snacks were now piles of bodies, some human without suits like his, others species he never seen before. The refrigerators were still there, but filled with frozen heaps of corpses.

“Sorry to have you go through this, sir, truly I am. Usually the ice cream maker is working and they go easy, but like I said before,” the attendant appeared before Thomas, his amorphous body writhing like seaweed, rising like billowing clouds, “the ice cream make is on the fritz.”

Read my previous prompt, “Waking From One World to Another.”

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