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Traffic - A short story from TERMINAL SPACE

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

I’ll miss my ship home. Why does this stupid bridge have to be shut again? Or shit again, as the humans say. ‘Clifton Bridge has been a load of crap since they opened the damn thing.’ I hear it every fruggling day.


They say it created the traffic over the River Trent, and these days it’s stopping it. Rusting reinforcement bars in the concrete supports now, they reckon. Could collapse, or drop sections onto vehicles passing under the bridge. Okay, but who cares about a few flat cars? Or why don’t they just close the underpass and leave the main road across the bridge open? But no – they always think they’ve got to over-react so it looks like they care… or are earning their grubby money by looking like they’re doing something. Humans! I despair of these Earthies sometimes, especially when I’m stuck in their endless queues of vehicles going nowhere.

All very well for the rest of them stuck in this queue, but I bet they don’t have a spaceship taking off any minute. I look like missing my trip home because of some old iron bars going rusty inside the concrete of an eyesore of a bridge.

So, today of all days, I’m stuck in the worst fruggling traffic ever. Four-lane carriageway being shunted down to one so we can crawl across a useless falling-to-bits bridge. I’ve been on this frantic dump of a planet for half a year. That’s a half-year too long.

Ahh! Movement.

Jerking forward—

Shuggery! Some tatty little Audi chopped me up.

BMW trying to force in – he’s got no chance.

Two asswipes in front of me almost hit each other.

Brake hard—

Oops – Nearly banged my tendrils on the windscreen. I do a quick check that anybody in the outside world is still seeing the human mock-up version of me. World? Huh. Not much of one. Especially when they do this kind of thing to me.


Fruggles! Nothing’s moving ahead. I need to move. Come on. Come on. Solid vehicles all round, like being drowned in a metal sea – like on Logam.

Ah! If I’m careful, I can light-hop ahead and they’ll never notice. Right… eyes everywhere for an opportunity – not difficult when they’re on the tip of every tendril. Okay… If I sub-vap that one, I can hop ahead into his spot. He’ll never notice. Anybody else might be blinking and not notice. Most of’em on the roads are kaylied this time of day, anyway, coming south out of Nottingham.

Oh, yes… done it. Easy. Nicely done, if I do say so myself. With four mouths – two reserved for speaking – it’s easy to say it myself.


And again… Yes! Great. This is better. Nobody leaning on their horns. Fat load of good it would do them if they did.

Come on… come on. Get this traffic on the move. It’s so slow. I need to get there. My ship’ll taking off soon. It won’t wait. Can’t wait. I’ll be stuck here for another half-year – over two thousand of their years. I really can’t face any longer on this dreadful planet. Fruggles, this is getting desperate.


Again… Ah, yes. This is progress – getting closer to the bridge now. Try a couple of places ahead next time – I’m getting good at the timing. But. I need to be in the other lane. So, I’m all eyes – and tendrils – for another chance. Signal so they know... Wait… Yes. Now. Vanish that one, and shift over.


Fruggle-it! Where’d he come from? Silent and fast up the inside, little white van man leapt into the space I just created – It was my damn space! I made it. For me. So he’s got to go. Treating me like that! Acting like all the other drivers are aliens who don’t matter. So I vapped him – Zappp! Gone – and straight re-formed into his place. Like I told the dash-recorder, ‘He’s probably in orbit round Yunrid by now.’ No loss.


Chuff, chuff! I could fly faster than this – except my wings are triple-folded when I’m driving, and it takes five minutes to unfurl, inflate, and get a full head of haemoid pumping through them. All while I’m on display outside. So that’s not on.

Ahh… traffic moving ahead. I can see movement a hundred metres in front – where it’s one lane. So it should be starting to move a bit steadier. Might make it yet.

Oh, ay up, what’s this bollard-brain up to? Some ranting lunatic behind me is out his car and coming this way. Here he comes… Raving at me. He noticed something, I expect. Smacking his hand on my side-window. All he’ll be seeing will be my human hologram looking steadfastly at the road ahead. But he’s irate, sure enough, so I have the choice of vapping him, or winding down.


The vapping was tempting, but I restrained myself, and wound my window down, and gave him The Glare – massed tendrils and eyes, plus ears like cabbage leaves, all waving at him.

I imagine he’ll be in hospital some time, the apoplexy he had when he saw the real me sitting here. It wasn’t helped by staggering away, falling over the barrier backwards and landing, I presume, on the carriageway below. It slowed the traffic down behind me, too, with his car just sitting there blocking them. But I merely wrapped my tentacles back inside, sucked my globulatory organs into place, and eased forward as there was a sudden space ahead. I’d have climbed out to have a look, but I don’t do caring. Not about Earthies, anyway.

Besides, if I get out this vehicle, I’ll just have to spread my wings – they’re feeling really confined and stiff after all this time in here.


And I really don’t want to stretch my wings in public again. Fruggle!

Look at all the fuss it caused that last time, when I was new here! Oh, my tainted tendrils! They’re still going on about it – after two thousand years! Even after all this time, they don’t let you forget… still making a big deal out of it.

We’d been stuck for so long, and we sheltered in this deserted place for the night, and I was getting terrible cramps in my pecs and lats. I had to spread my wings. We didn’t know there were any humans in there with us. But, of course, these Earthies – they get it all round their necks – totally wrong about me. Don’t know what they thought I was – just because I flexed my feathery bits.


I swore that would be the last time I ever took refuge in a fruggling stable, especially in anywhere called Bethlehem.

Trevor Watts

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