Two aliens held up one plastic shopping bag apiece.
During the day, flocks of bags would bluster around in the scorching breeze, filling the sky enough to provide a permanent pattern of shade on the ground. At night, the aliens could barely see the stars for bags.
A full sweep of the planet had been done. Other than the bags, they’d found little else of note.
One alien had caught a Venus Orange one. It said ‘Sainsbury’s – Live Well for Less’ on it, but they didn’t know that. They thought it looked a lot like one of their colleagues from home, Zeon in Accounts.
“It’s got Zeon’s dimples,” said the alien, inspecting it.
Just then, a heavy gust blew sediment out of the bag and onto the aliens.
Black Willow Tree sediment
Staghorn coral sediment
Sediment from every layer of the Sinharaja Forrest
Sediment of a till receipt that had said,
– POPCORN CHICKEN BITES 0.89
– THE SUNDAY TIMES 2.70
– BAG FOR LIFE 0.10
but they didn’t know that.
“Careful, holding it so close,” said the other alien. “We don’t know if they’re sentient or hostile or what.”
“Yeah. We should get out of here.”
The other alien held a Neon Yellow bag. Unbeknownst to them, it said ‘This Bag is Green’ on it. They did not comment on whether it looked like one of their colleagues from home.
“We tagging them?” said one alien.
“Smile, Zeon!” said the other alien. The Zeon lookalike flapped in the wind like it was 2016.
They took a photo of the two bags flapping side by side.
They captioned it, ‘Two Earthlings’.
They sent the photo to the Archiving Department.
They took off, to sift through the rubble of the next planet.
Neil Clark is a Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions nominated writer from Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2020, his first print collection, ‘Time. Wow.’ will come out on Back Patio Press. Find him on Twitter @NeilRClark or visit neilclarkwrites.wordpress.com for a full list of publications.