Hey, Hollywood: your aliens have gotten boring.
I came to this incredibly intelligent conclusion while watching The Tomorrow War on Amazon Prime. Chris Pratt’s latest sci fi action flick about a family man recruited to travel into the future to battle extraterrestrials is amazingly stupid but also perfectly fine for a Saturday night on the couch. The most mind-numbing part is a character’s early assertion that “if the public finds out what the aliens look like, no one will agree to travel forward in time to fight them.”
You know what? No one’s afraid of teeth and tentacles anymore.
Like pretty much every other evil extraterrestrial to grace our screens in the last twenty years, the villains in The Tomorrow War are icky, feral looking beasts with dangling appendages and the sort of pointy teeth you could floss with a rope. Look, I get that H.R. Giger’s designs for the xenomorph in Alien are iconic and emblazoned in every director’s mind, but it’s time to move on.
It’s time for Hollywood to design an extraterrestrial for more modern audiences.
I know what you’re thinking: Scott Colby, supposedly you’re a writer, why don’t you fucking do it.
Fine. I will! Here’s a little short story for you to show you how it’s done.
The arrogant bastards told us they’d be coming. They gave us the when and the where, and left us to figure out the welcome.
It’s like they were daring us to take a shot at them.
And so we obliged.
The U.S. Military filled that stretch of desert with its best and brightest. I’ve never seen so many of my fellow servicemen and women in one place. Choppers and jets streaked across the sky. Shoving that much firepower into one corner of the Arizona desert would’ve seemed foolish if we hadn’t known what we were up against.
Four hours before arrival, I was deployed right on the perimeter of the landing zone, beneath a blanket designed to make me look like just another patch of the desert. I spent hours lying on that warm sand, staring through my scope at miles of empty desert, the barrel of my rifle just barely sticking out past the camouflaged fabric. Did I feel better knowing there were three hundred other highly trained snipers doing the same? Not really. I still had to pee in a bag.
I wasn’t allowed to look up, but I knew when the ship was coming. Harsh winds whipped up the loose desert scree as the saucers touched down on their three spindly legs. The vessels glowed with an otherworldly energy that messed with my scope. The worst part? None of this clearly advanced technology so much as hummed. Those fuckers were dead silent.
I hated them immediately. These assholes thought they could just draft our planet into their interstellar empire? No way.
Our orders were to hold fire until the bastards showed themselves. That worked fine for this soldier. Though I had no way of accurately assessing their tech, something told me my rifle didn’t stand a chance against the exterior of those ships.
I kept my weapon trained on the nearest saucer. After a few seconds that felt like an eternity, a ramp melted out of the side of the thing, unfurling from a bright opening like some horrible tongue. It shimmered and then solidified into a set of stairs.
This is it, I thought, disengaging the safety on my rifle. Come on out so I can give you bastards a warm fucking welcome.
Humanoid figures appeared in that opening. As they descended the steps I got a good look at them. They all wore matching white uniforms with blue lettering. A slash of bright red colored their faces underneath a poof of brown hair tied with a blue band.
Oh no, I thought as I recognized the aliens. Oh fuck.
It was Flo from Progressive. And there were hundreds of her streaming out of every ship in that LZ.
We’re fucked. The human race is done for.
I released my rifle and reached for my sidearm–not for the aliens, but for myself.
See? Isn’t that so much scarier than another insectoid wolf-octopus hybrid?