Short Story
                                     Take Me To Your Horror
                                                                     By Christa Carmen

     He had one chance to make things right. One opportunity to redeem himself. His ship had touched
down in a wooded area near a small body of water, and he had to go only a short distance before he found
what he was looking for.

     The female Earthling was small and lithe; the tendons in her arms jumped as she carried a bag from
her car to the entrance of her home. Zero stalked into the yard, placing his oversized feet over the prints
the woman had made with her sneakers in the mud as he got closer to her door. His name hadn’t always
been Zero, but he’d been demoted after this latest failure. Demeaned by his own planet for his inability to
conquer a new one. Until he triumphed over another species, his kin would refer to him only as Zero, the
absence of all value.

     Zero slipped through the still-open door and followed the woman inside. He sensed that she’d heard
him, saw her turn and crumple to the floor. On her hands and knees, staring at the shag carpet, the
Earthling groaned.

     “Lift your head,” Zero told her. “Look unto me.”

     The woman looked.

     “What’s your name?”

     “Ania,” she whispered, too frightened to deny the being a response.

     “I am Zero. I’ve come to Earth to render a verdict. To determine the feasibility of stripping your planet of
resources to replenish my own. You...” he paused, placing one long-fingered hand under Ania’s chin.
“…will help me. From you, I will determine what it will take to rein over the Earth and its beings.”

     “What...what do you want to know?”

     “I want to know about you,” Zero said. “About that which is inherent to your race,”

     He watched the Earthling woman consider this. Zero needed her to do as he asked, so he assuaged
her fear: “I cannot force you to help me. But if you do not give me information I can act on, another Earthling
will.”  And if I return with instructions that lead to dominion, I’ll be a hero, Zero thought. If not…

     Zero’s tone had soothed Ania; she mined her inner strength as if excavating a cache of diamonds.
“Come,” Ania said, moving further into the house. “I want to show you something.”

     Ania pushed buttons on a small machine, light emanating from a screen above her.

     “It’s common for humans to record their daily lives. It’s a way to preserve the past, our culture. It’ll be a
good way to show you what our planet is like.”

     An isolated farm house appeared on the screen. A car pulled up to the structure and six Earthlings

     Zero watched the Earthling’s home movie until he could stand the sounds of the chainsaw and the
screams no longer. Why the huge Earthling with the leathery face had chosen to film this misery, or why he
butchered the other Earthlings in the first place, Zero couldn’t fathom.

     Zero felt Ania regarding him.

     “Ready to see another?” she asked. “Perhaps one that depicts a different type of Earthling altogether?”

     “Please,” Zero said, his unease palpable.

     He lasted through even less of the recorded story of a cannibal named Dr. Lecter. Zero internalized
language through a process not unlike osmosis, but ‘cannibal’ was a new word for him. An equivalent did
not exist on his planet and it was a concept he couldn’t have conceived of before watching the ghastly film.

     “Another?” Ania asked.

     The thought of the shame Zero would face should he return to his planet with news of a world too
difficult to conquer was crippling. He couldn’t give up yet, but the prospect of another movie filled him with
dread. “No. Something different.”

     “I have an idea,” Ania said, her green eyes flashing. She retrieved something from a set of shelves. “I
will read to you from the autobiography of our most esteemed celebrity.” she opened to a spot in the

     “On a Wednesday night another girl, who I met at M.K. and I plan to torture and film.” she looked up.
“See, I told you we love to film everything.”

     “Who is the subject of this story?” Zero asked.

     Ania’s smile was guileless. “Patrick Bateman.”

     When Ania had completed the passage, detailing the rat, the Brie, and the chain saw, Zero’s gray skin
had gone green.

     “Enough,” he said.

     “Wait,” Ania said. “You can’t claim to know planet Earth if you don’t know the customs surrounding our
cuisine. One last lesson.”

     Zero followed Ania out of the house. Dry leaves swirled around their feet as they traversed the
deserted road. Up ahead, a crowd was gathered.

     Zero hesitated. “There are too many Earthlings.”

     “Don’t worry,” Ania said. “It’s almost All Hallows’ Eve, a holiday where Earthlings dress up in costume.
You’ll fit right in.”

     They stood in line under a sign that read: Haunted Hayride.

     “That’s the name of the restaurant,” Ania explained. She seemed excited.

     A man walked around the grounds, trailing red tickets behind him. “Apple cider!” he shouted. “Candy
apples! Donuts! Get your tickets here! Survive the ride and you’ll get your treats!”

     Ania purchased tickets. The cart had filled before they reached the front of the line and Zero watched it
roll off into the woods. The screams began not long after. The sound of footsteps chasing the wagon
crashed through the underbrush. The rumble of a chainsaw filled the air. Zero thrust the tickets into Ania’s
hand and ran.

     “Where are you going?” Ania called after him.

     “I surrender! There is zero chance of staying on this planet of horrors!”

                                                                                     * * *

     Zero’s ship lit up the sky moments later. Ania watched from atop a hay bale, a wad of cinnamon donut
pressed against the inside of her cheek. She almost felt bad for the being she had tricked so mercilessly.
If the others on his planet were privy to Zero’s experience on Earth, there’d be no coming back from that.
No coming back from that at all.

                                                                             THE END
About Christa Carmen

Christa Carmen lives in
Rhode Island with her
husband and one
stubborn beagle.  In
addition to numerous
other anthologies and
eZines, her short story,
"The Girl Who Loved
Bruce Campbell" is
forthcoming in Year's Best
Hardcore Horror, Volume
2, and her first novel is
coming soon from Black
Rose Writing.
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.