Urges – a free short story.

This is a SF Short Story which I wrote (a long time before DART) partly to try first person and see how it suited my writing – but mainly for fun.

Urges is about a man with an obsession – who finds himself involved in an alien encounter. The story is set in the USA so I tried to impart the kind of laid-back drawl in my protagonist’s “voice” that I personally find very entertaining.


by Dale Renton

I want to make one thing real clear from the start. She was dead when I found her. Stone cold and stiff as a board. And I wouldn’t have done any more than take a look if she had just laid there, like dead people are supposed to. If she’d done that, like as not I would have got back in my car and kept on driving. I wouldn’t have called the police. I haven’t always been on the best of terms with the law. But like I said; she was dead when I got there. Stark naked, too. Did I mention that?
There’s a lot more nothing than something the whole length of the road from Tulle to Denville. I sure as hell wouldn’t drive up there to admire where the scenery ought to be. Fact was, I had just sold some silverware that happened to have come my way. My billfold was making a bigger lump in my pocket than I was used to and there’s no such thing as a real poker game in Tulle. I made a few calls, put some gas in the car and headed north on the 483. Found her by the highway, just after the last something gave way to a big stretch of nothing.
Some folks I know would say it was fate made me pull over at that particular place. Maybe they’re right. Maybe there’s someone or something out there that tugs on a string every now and then to make things happen just so. My own theory is that the four empty beer cans on the floor of my car had a lot to do with bringing me and her together. You can drive a long way looking for a tree by the side of the 483. I was considering just standing behind the car, figuring not too many vehicles passed by there anyhow, when I saw the rocks. They looked as if they’d been there the best part of forever but I couldn’t recall seeing them before. Half a dozen boulders, most of them bigger than my de Ville, clustered together like hens’ eggs.
I pulled onto the shoulder, stood behind one of the rocks and watched a little stream of my own creation work its way down the slope. The ground was so damn dry it wouldn’t soak it up, just sent it running across the surface like it was glass. That’s when I saw a leg, sticking out from behind another rock. I zipped up and walked a few steps closer. The leg wasn’t moving – not even when I called out – so I kept shuffling forward until I could see.
At first I thought she must be one of those department store dummies, maybe from the sports department, because she was running. She wasn’t going anywhere but her arms and legs were set like she was striding right out. Looked like she was in a race, other than the fact that she was lying on her side. I moved close, bent down beside her and took a hold of her wrist. That was easier than it should have been because her arm was stretched out in front of her, a foot off the ground, in a way that didn’t look right. I figured she must have stiffened up like dead folk do, although I couldn’t work out how she did that with her arm in the air. Her skin was cold and I couldn’t feel a pulse. Then I noticed something else about her. That naked, running-nowhere lady was just about the most beautiful woman I ever saw.
Her eyes were green, like spring grass. Wavy red hair fanned out around her head and her neck was long and graceful. I think that’s the best word to describe her. Graceful, all the way down past the curve of her hips, along her golden-skinned legs. It didn’t seem right to leave her staring at nothing so I reached out to close her eyes. Her eyelids wouldn’t budge.
A truck ran by on the 483 and I ducked down. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do to help a dead woman – beautiful or not – and I didn’t plan on staying. I just hoped the truck driver hadn’t taken any notice of the de Ville parked on the shoulder. The police would find this lady, sooner or later, and it would make my life a whole lot easier if they never knew I’d been here. I took one last look at the redhead and started back up to the road.
“Help me!”
A woman’s voice. I spun around so fast I slipped and all but fell on my ass. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck and my heart was thumping fit to bust. She was still lying there, just like before. I straightened up and took a good look around. Nothing and nobody.
Damn fool…
I was just getting into stride with cussing myself out when I noticed something had changed. I blinked a couple times and squinted. I don’t know what it is about squinting that makes folk think it’ll help them see better. Anyway, I squinted at her. Her eyes had closed.
I confess right at that point I thought about getting out of there as fast as the de Ville would take me. I even backed away a couple steps. But if she was alive…
Her wrist still felt cold. I pressed my finger to the side of her long, graceful neck. My own heart was settling down and I concentrated for a while. The lady may have been alive long enough to ask for help, but she sure as hell was dead now. I stood up and turned away.
“Holy crap!”
This time it was me who was talking. I usually come up with something more sociable when I first meet somebody. But what would you say if you turned around from a beautiful, running-nowhere, naked, dead woman and found yourself face to face with a tall, muscle-bound, handsome-as-a-movie-star, naked man?
“Howdy,” said the stranger.
I wasn’t sure how to respond so I pointed at the redhead. “She a friend of yours?”
He laughed. “Hardly. She’s an entertainment unit.”
Like that was supposed to make everything plain. This whole situation was getting more and more peculiar and the kind of explanations that were dancing around in my head were the kind that get you fitted out in a jacket with buckles where the cuffs ought to be.
“I think she’s dead, mister. Better call an ambulance.”
He shook his head. “She’s in tea stasis.”
I never heard of tea doing that to anyone. Not that I take tea, myself.
“Take a look,” I said. “I thought I heard her say something a minute ago but she hasn’t got a pulse.”
The naked man looked at me like he thought I wasn’t real smart. “Of course she doesn’t have a pulse. I only let her out of stasis long enough for the sensors to locate her.”
He walked past me, over to the redhead. He was graceful, too, the way he moved. He held his hand out over the girl and that was when I first saw the shiny thing.
“This is her transporter,” he said, looking at me with eyes as blue as the lady’s were green. He held it up. It looked like an egg, silver-bright, cut in half along its length. The flat side was resting in the palm of the stranger’s hand and I could see three colored studs set in the curved side. One red, one green, one black.
He laid the transporter on her shoulder and looked up at me. “I set it to stasis when the unit ran away.”
I’m pretty sure my face registered the depth of my lack of understanding, because he shook his head, said “Watch,” and pressed the black stud.
The redhead jerked and her eyes moved around, settled on me. She opened her mouth to say something but it never got past her lips. My naked buddy touched the black stud again and she froze back the way she had been.
“You see?”
It was a moment before I registered he was talking to me. I nodded my head a little. I had seen, all right. The stranger stepped over to me, leaned forward so he could stare into my eyes from close up. He caught hold of the collar of my shirt and tweaked it. I wouldn’t normally take too kindly to that but I was distracted. He let go my collar, looked down at himself and a smile spread across his face.
“Clothing!” he said, like it was the smartest thing anyone had ever come up with. “I forgot how uncomfortable its absence makes you. If you’ll excuse me?”
It sounded like a question, but he didn’t wait for me to answer. He turned around and walked straight into the nearest rock. Except it wasn’t rock any more. Not when he walked into it. It skinned over, blacker than night, just sort of slurped him in. Then it was rock again and I was alone with the redhead in tea stasis.
Maybe I should have got the hell out of there. I gave it some thought while I walked back to the car. Pictured myself doing better than a hundred along the 483 by the time the stranger slurped back out of the rock in a three-piece suit. But it was never going to happen.
I get urges.
I popped the trunk of the de Ville and lifted out the case of beer I keep in there for emergencies. I was half way through the first can when the rock turned midnight black again. He wasn’t wearing a three-piece, or even a tie. He was dressed in a loose kind of blue coverall, lots of pockets, cinched with a belt that had stuff I didn’t recognize clipped all around it.
He looked at the can I was holding out to him. I couldn’t tell from his face whether he was suspicious or surprised.
“Thank-you,” he said, then fumbled with the ring-pull until I showed him how it worked. We both took a mouthful.
“Quite good,” he said, and smiled at me.
“Even better when it’s cold.”
“Of course,” he said. He slid a shiny, silver pencil out of a holder on his belt. I licked my lips.
He reached out for my can. “If I may?”
I didn’t know what he was going to do with my beer but I let him take it. I had more important things on my mind. He touched the tip of the shiny pencil to the side of the can then pressed on the end of it like clicking a ball-point. He did the same thing to his own beer then handed my can back to me. There was water beaded all over the outside and it felt cold. Real cold.
From right about then we started to get along pretty well. We didn’t talk much at first, just sat there enjoying the feel of the sun on our backs, maybe the quiet, too. I crushed an empty, reached another couple out of the case and held one out to him.
“Let me tidy up, first,” he said then he moved over beside the redhead. I didn’t say anything. Just watched.
The stranger pulled the silver half-egg out of a pocket on his coveralls and put it back on the naked lady’s shoulder. This time it was the green stud he pressed. I still have trouble fully believing what happened next but I saw it, and I’m not crazy. Not that way. She skinned over black, just like the rock did when my beer drinking partner walked into it. But it didn’t stop there. She lost her shape, kind of flowed together into a black bubble then the bubble twisted and turned and disappeared into the shiny thing, like water down a plug hole. The stranger slipped the shiny thing back in his pocket, came back over and sat. I held out the can to him and my hand was only shaking a little bit.
“Did you kill her?”
“No.” He popped the ring-pull like he’d done it a hundred times before. “I just put her back in the transporter. It’s how we travel.”
I nodded my head as if he’d said something I understood. “You’re not from around here, are you?”
“My home is more than a hundred light years from here. It’s your home too, in a way. This is a seeded world.”
This was getting way beyond anything I could work with, but I smiled. One of those smiles you give when you want someone to keep talking and let you drift along wherever they take you.
“I expect you’re wondering what I’m doing here?” he asked.
“You going to tell me?”
“Perhaps. Why shouldn’t I?”
We were heading in a direction I wasn’t keen to take. I’d heard enough stories about alien cover-ups and people disappearing and the like. I had no intention of being one of them.
“Aren’t you worried I’ll tell someone? The authorities?” Might as well find out where I stood.
“Who would believe you?”
He laughed and I felt a little of the tension slide out of my spine. I laughed right along with him.
I’m not sure how long we sat there after that. He asked me lots of questions, most of which I couldn’t answer. I told him things I did know, like where to buy the best steak in the county, why a straight flush beats a full house, a few of the multiple evils of taxation. I asked him a couple questions, too, but if he knew whether the CIA was mixed up in the Kennedy thing, he wasn’t letting on. He told me how his spaceship worked. Same as the transporters, he said. If you can believe it, most of the stuff in this universe of ours, at least the matter part, is a lot more nothing than something. Kind of like the road from Tulle to Denville. Seems that if you get rid of all the nothing, you can fit something real big into something real small. I asked how that helped him travel from star to star.
“Speed is just a function of time and distance,” he said. “Once you remove most of the distance, you get places very quickly.” We touched cans.
The sun was close to setting when we finished the last of the beers and my alien friend stood up. He swayed, just a little.
“Time for me to go,” he said.
I climbed to my feet and offered him my hand. “It’s been a pleasure,” I said. We shook. I clapped my arms around his shoulders and gave him a hug. “I’m the only man on this earth with a friend from a hundred light years away.”
I swear he choked up just a little then. Beer can do that to a man. Might have even been a tear in his eye when he turned around and walked back into the rock. I backed away some. I wasn’t sure what would happen when he started fooling with distance and stuff. Matter, that is.
Turned out to be a lot like what happened when he put his entertainment unit back in her transporter. The whole cluster of rocks skinned over black, ran together, stretched up into the sky like a rubber band. Then the end of the band snapped off after the rest and there was only me and the de Ville and a pile of empty beer cans by the side of the 483.
That was four days ago. I made it to Denville that night, even found a game – but I couldn’t keep my mind on the cards and I was close to broke by sunrise. Drove home the same day and couldn’t pick where those rocks had been, though it was sure and certain I went right past the spot. I wasn’t too upset about how things had turned out. I had got one of my urges and I had satisfied it.
I’m pretty good with the shiny, beer-chiller pencil now, though I did freeze one can solid and sprayed another one all over my television before I got the hang of it. Yes, you guessed it. I took it right off my alien buddy’s belt when I gave him a good-bye hug. I can’t resist shiny things. Never could.
I have been left with a problem, though. The transporter. Yes, I got that, too. But I never found out what the other stud was for. You know, the red one. The one he didn’t press. There’s only one thing I can think of that it could do. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
But that shiny half-egg is from a different world. What if I’m wrong?
Damned if it hasn’t given me another kind of urge. The itching kind.


  1. Tanushri A
    23/01/2022 at 8:10 pm

    Ahh this was awesome!
    It’s been a long time! Missed your writing. (Hoping more is coming soon.)

  2. Tanushri A
    24/01/2022 at 3:32 am

    The ending has left me with an urge to know what the red button does…

    • 24/01/2022 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Tanushri – it has been a long time – hope you are well! I expect you’ll be able to guess correctly what the red button does 🙂
      And I don’t think the protagonist in “Urges” would be able to wait very long before finding out.

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