Planet Exxon

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for February 20. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from yours truly. My story this week weighs in at 98 words.

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Planet Exxon

Zlu and her brother Crog laughed as they simultaneously reached the glass entry to the planetary exhibit. “You first,” Crog gurgled, shooting out a forked tongue to pull open the nearest door.

“Did they find any life on the new planet?” Zlu asked.

“The brochure says it appears to only contain plant life, but there were indications that sentient beings once lived there. See that spiky rock. It was found beneath a sheet of metal—something that looked forged.”

Zlu walked over to examine the display. “Look at these strange characters. I wonder what they mean.”

O I L  C O M P A N Y

46 thoughts on “Planet Exxon

  1. Dear Marie Gail,

    I think we know the planet, right? Nasty bunch of aliens…destroyed their food supplies by genetic modification and their water with oil spills. I love the image of him opening the door with his tongue.

    Shalom and Nanu nanu,


  2. Sandra says:

    And this is how our existence might be explained away. Scary stuff. Lovely photo.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Sandra. Somehow this photo just insisted that I write either SciFi or fantasy in response. Glad you liked it.

      The photo was actually one of several I took at museums in Houston while I was there with my parents this past fall. Dad has some serious health concerns, but we thought it wise to sneak in some sightseeing while visiting the specialist there.

      Marie Gail

  3. elmowrites says:

    Great photo, MG, and I like how you make this world seem other without forcing it. So might it come one day.

  4. I too love the door opening tongue! A great photo, but it made me work to come up with an idea with week!

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Claire.

      It seems this photo has been pushing the Fictioneers out of their comfort zones. I look forward to seeing what you put together.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  5. Oh I wonder what happened right before.. we missed the opportunity to meet those sweet little Aliens it seems like.

  6. I love the fact that these aliens have brochures! Cheers.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Alicia! I wonder if the brochures and those glass doors at the museum are any indication that these aliens are following the same path as the earthlings did toward demise.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  7. Nice, Marie Gail. I wonder if they find out later that those words were the cause of our extinction.
    This is a great picture. Where did you take it? When I first looked at it on my phone this morning, I had no idea what I was looking at, but later on the computer I could see it a bit better. Quite a nice one.

    • storydivamg says:

      Glad you like the photo and the story, David. The photo, with which I am rather unimpressed as an example of photography, was taken in Houston at the Museum of Natural Science late this past summer. Turns out that the ambiguity of the photo makes for a decent story prompt, so I’m glad Rochelle chose it.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  8. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Marie Gail, The picture is awesome, and I hope your father gets better. My sister lives in Houston and they had just moved there when she got cancer in 1996. She’s still playing tennis and she has an incurable type. The story is neat and I like the sci-fi feeling of it – gosh we’re either going to kill everyone by battle or kill the planet – it appears. Sure wish we could all count to ten and smile. Nan 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much for all your kind words, Nan. Dad is doing somewhat better, but it can be hard to tell, given his particular issues, when things will change suddenly.

      I’m glad you like the story. It struck me as odd that so many oil companies had clearly pumped donations into this particular Museum of Natural Science. I guess that’s Texas for you.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  9. gahlearner says:

    This is a great story, I love these aliens. I wondered about the picture, too. What crystal is this, do you know? I would have guessed at amethyst…

    • storydivamg says:

      Hi! Thanks for the kind words.

      I’m not sure what the crystals are, and I didn’t find any information at the museum’s website about this particular display. As I’ve mentioned previously, the photo was originally taken because it made me think of Game of Thrones. I thought it was black onyx, but I am woefully inept at identifying any sort of mineral these days.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

      • gahlearner says:

        Black onyx is probably more likely than amethyst. It’s not so easy to see because of the reddish tint. Great crystal anyway. I have a passing interest, because they are so pretty and I love gems, LOL. But I don’t know all that much about them.

  10. draliman says:

    Oh dear, I wonder what happened to us 😦
    Nice story!

  11. Marie, I appreciate that you wrote a cautionary tale without shoving it down our throats. Opening the door with his tongue gave us the aliens without forcing those either. Good job.


  12. afairymind says:

    Good story. I wonder what exactly happened to cause humanities extinction… I too love the way the alien opened the door. 🙂

  13. This is great! — “O I L C O M P A N Y” This could one day be true. Chilling. 😮

  14. erinleary says:

    I’m glad to know what the photo is of – it kept me puzzled for a while. But as you point out, sometimes that bewilderment makes a great prompt.

    I enjoyed your story – I saw the foundations listed and thought I was looking through a broken window at a financial institution, which led to my story. Yours was fun – a lighthearted look at our post apocalyptic world.

  15. rgayer55 says:

    I think the one with the long forked tongue was once an oil company spokesperson. “It doesn’t hurt the environment. We’ll plant a few trees. There will be no long-term effects.”

  16. Amy Reese says:

    Thanks for the photo. I almost wrote a sci-fi piece as this photo lends itself well to that. Oil will be the end of us. We can’t seem to give it up. The aliens will be scratching their heads. What idiots they were! Great story.

  17. Such fun. Love the names. And the tongue.
    Your picture! Hadn’t realised.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Patrick. (One of the worst photos I’ve ever taken, but it’s been awesome as a photo prompt.)

      Glad you enjoyed the story. The names (and the body parts) were fun to invent.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  18. Of course an Oil Company would leave the only legacy after destroying the planet.

  19. Sci Fi is not my genre of choice but I do enjoy a brief foray into the what if every now and then.

  20. Margaret says:

    Your aliens are great – very appealing. Pity about the planet. Thank you for the prompt; it had me scratching my head for quite a while I must confess.

  21. Good story, Marie Gail. I figured with those names their parents were either very creative or aliens. The forked tongue brought doubt to an end. That tongue was handy. Looks like the oil company did us in. Well done. 🙂 — Suzanne

  22. subroto says:

    Well oil be damned! Could very well happen in the future. A cautionary tale.

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