Wednesday, July 7, 2021

“Alone” • by Novae Caelum


We have a hard time socializing with normal people, though our parents always said an emperor should try.

So we sit in this bar with a mug that could melt eyelashes, if ours weren’t false.

“You alone tonight?” A femme person plops in front of us.

“Alone and wish to stay that way.”

The person flashes knife-edged nails. “No worries. Give me your credits, you can be alone as you want.”

A shadow falls. “I think you need to leave,” a masc person says, setting down our order of steaming stir-fry.

Mm. We’re pretty sure that wasn’t our waiter. Security will never let us just be alone.

¤     ¤     ¤

Novae Caelum is an author, illustrator, and designer with a love of spaceships and a tendency to quote Monty Python. Star's had stories in Diabolical Plots, Escape Pod, Clockwork Phoenix 5, and Lambda Award winning Transcendent 2: The Year's Best Transgender Speculative Fiction. These days star can be found serializing queer space opera epics, with which star hopes to take over the world. At least, that's the plan. Find star online at



A few words from the publisher:

Bruce Bethke here. This week The Pete Wood Challenge is bringing you seven new flash fiction stories, all of which key off some slight variation on the phrase, “I’m pretty sure he wasn’t our waiter.” In an ideal world we’d like to see you express your appreciation for these stories by taking a closer look at our books and magazines—

For example, consider this audio book, THE FUGITIVE HEIR: just the perfect thing to listen to while you’re in the car, driving to your summer vacation getaway.

But if you already have all the books, ebooks, and audio books you could ever possibly use, then I’m going to pull out my old public radio hat, dust it off, put it on, switch to my on-air voice, and tell you that Stupefying Stories and Rampant Loon Media are supported by the generosity of readers and listeners just like you. If you appreciate the kind of programming we’re bringing you, please show it by clicking the button below and making a donation today. All major credit cards are accepted, and all donations go directly to paying the authors and artists who create the content you’re enjoying on this site.

Please don’t make me escalate to coffee mug and tote bag level.