Alien Taxidermy and Love Have Four Things in Common
Another one fell from the sky today. It landed on my old pickup, with legs sprawled in every direction, long neck draped over the headlights. It didn’t leave much of a mark, so I think it was a flyer. Hollow bones; lightweight. I didn’t even hear it hit. Low mass means low impact, so the body was in good shape. The guts came out, though. Yellow fluid spilled out of its mouth, with a lot of chunky, meaty bits. Rex cleaned them up, but I don’t think he liked the taste.
As far as aliens go, it was mundane, but I could work with that. The art is in the presentation. I imagined it perched on an old bumper I pounded out to look like a flying saucer. I could stretch its arms out to show the webbing, dig its claws into the metal plate to make it seem dangerous. On its world, it was probably poultry, but here it could be anything. I think you would have liked it. A piece of the unknown.
I threw the space chicken over my shoulder and brought it into the shop. I have others waiting in line, but I think I’ll work on it tonight. It seems special, somehow. I want to make it special for you.
Rex had a good dinner last night. I cleaned out the meat and organs, and he watched me the whole time. The bones were hollow like I figured, and crushed between my fingers. A flyer for sure, but maybe a low-grav environment, too. For a body never meant to support much weight, this wasn’t the best place to wind up. Rex ate the heart in one bite, but worked his jaw like it was bitter. It didn’t stop him watching the bowl on the workshop table, and whining until I threw some more to the floor.
You were right about the aliens. Even in the limp castoffs and viscera there’s beauty.
I’ll always regret the fear that held me back.
I measured the space chicken, but made some creative modifications. The feathered skin of its neck sagged a little, so I factored in extra bulk. I figured I would make it like a bullfrog, the kind that puff out their throats to scare off predators. Maybe that’s even what it did.
Measurements in hand, I went about carving a body for it. Most of it could be turned on the old lathe, with just a little hand work to shape it. The neck was a manual job. A long, curved piece shaped with a knife and hand-sanded to get that nice smoothness.
That was always my favorite part. It’s patient work. Following the grain with every push of the sandpaper. Working until it’s smooth, then switching to a finer grit to bring it out. It’s like our love. It’s being willing to put in the labor, because you know how beautiful the result will be. I want to make it perfect for you.
I guess that’s like our love, too.
I worked on other projects while the skin dried. The sky has provided a lot of subjects lately, and I can’t keep up with them. Rex got a full space frog the other day. I know, I should come up with real names, but what if they already have them? Wherever they come from, maybe someone has already named them. It was small, maybe two hands wide, with gills running all down its bumpy sides. It wasn’t slick like our frogs, though. More snake-like. The air was probably what did it in. The air kills a lot of them. Maybe they can’t breathe it, and they suffocate. Maybe they are aquatic, and emerge into our atmosphere with no water. Then there’s the fall. I guess that’s what does it in the end.
The bird was dry enough this morning, so I inserted the plug. It took some maneuvering to get the throat to wrap around, but I got it in the end, and sewed it shut. I always like the feathered ones. Once they’re sewn back up, you can’t tell they were ever open. For the wings, I used a thick copper wire. I think it will be sturdy enough. I pounded a stake into the bumper UFO, and pinned its claw to the inside. I hesitate to call it a claw now that I’ve spent some time with it. It’s too blunt to cut much of anything. Maybe they used it as a hammer for space mollusks.
They keep falling, and I’m not sure what to do anymore. The frog didn’t agree with Rex, and he hasn’t touched anything alien since. I’ve started using the kiln to dry them out, and heat the house with them now. Some burn better than others, and some don’t burn at all, but I’m getting it figured out.
I keep hoping one of these days you’ll fall from the sky as well, landing with all the grace you had when you were still here. I could catch you in my arms, and you would know that you are home.
I’ve finished up the space chicken. I told you I don’t name them, but that might have been a lie. I put a funny jumble of letters under each one when I put them on the store shelves. It doesn’t mean anything. I don’t even remember what I called this one. Tourists seem to like it, though. It feels more genuine. I painted its eyes blue, like yours.
They don’t sell like they used to. Tourism has slowed to a crawl these days. You remember the old headlines? “Portal appears in rural neighborhood!” People came from around the world to see it. To see what was on the other side. Nobody wanted to know more than you, though. Nobody else was willing to take the risk.
I just thought of another way our love is like taxidermy.
Our love is forever.
I’ll see you soon, honey. I promise.
About the author:
Addison Smith has blood made of cold brew and flesh made of chocolate. He spends most of his time writing about fish, birds, and cybernetics, often in combination. His fiction has appeared in Fireside Magazine and Daily Science Fiction, and you can find him on Twitter as the @storylizard.