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Early Warning

Jay Cutts writes purportedly humourous sci fi and fantasy, among other genres. He is inspired by the late Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. He has published two novels. Death by Haggis is a tongue-in-cheek noir detective novel. Annie Gomez and the Gigantic Foot of Doom is about a high school girl and her misfit friends saving humanity from something or other. You don't want to know.

His many short stories range from silly to poignant. And back to silly again. You can read more at cuttsbooks.wordpress.com
Tom was visiting his Uncle Roy in the small farming community of Jamesville. His uncle handed him two foam pellets.
"Get ready to stick these in your ears, Tommy. At seven sharp every evening we test the Alien Attack Early Warning System sirens. Don't want to get caught with our pants down like those poor folks over in Danstown, Lord save 'em.
If we detect an attack, the sirens tell everybody they got ten minutes to go charge up their plasma cannons. Those things'll take down an alien in seconds and turn 'em to mush."
A couple minutes later Tom removed his ear plugs. "Man, that was loud. Good thing, huh? How come nobody went for their guns, though?"
"That was just a test. Everybody knows the seven o'clock siren is a test," Uncle Roy said.
Tom scratched his chin. "But what if the aliens wait till exactly seven to attack?"
There was a sound outside like thunder crashing in the midst of a vast avalanche and Uncle Roy never had a chance to answer.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, April 25th, 2019


It was the fifth night of a seven night meditation retreat in the great cold countryside of western NY. I was sitting very still, barely breathing, alongside thirty fellow retreatants, when the fire siren of the nearby town went off and then faded away. And then went off again and faded away. And again. And again. And again. And again.

I wondered if there were actually some emergency. Probably not, I thought. Just testing the old siren. Everyone knew the siren went off every Friday night at 8 pm, right? Just a test. Ignore it and it will go away.

My mind churned away for the rest of the 30 minute round of sitting. When the bell rang to end the sitting, I grabbed a handy napkin and wrote out the story that appears below. I gave it to the guy next to me, my old writing companion Terry Boothman, who squinted at it, read through it painstakingly and then looked up at me as if to say (it was a silent retreat) "Huh?"

- Jay B Cutts
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