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The Prison of the Avian Vintners 515 words

It is hard to remember a time before the aliens ruled over us, even though they only arrived twenty years ago. I was fifteen at the time. Fifteen when I saw my first alien. They arrived in a generation ship, after thousands of years of travel, and it was not long before they had control.

It is funny to think that you might not know our alien masters, but if this journal survives you may not. They look something like birds, or perhaps more like feathered dinosaurs. Standing a little taller than us, they are scaly and covered in fine plumage. Unlike birds or dinosaurs, they are uniformly grey, with their feathers being a mottled grey that provides some level of camouflage. They do not wear clothing, instead of carrying tools or supplies on slung pouches. They can stand on their hind legs and work with their forelegs, but they walk on all fours.

Our avian overlords have toothy beaks and a ring of eyes that circle their head, with four larger eyes looking forward. Their faces remind me more of spiders, except for the beak. That reminds me of dinosaur movies I saw as a child.

I’ve spent most of the last twenty years working as a slave, in a wine-making prison. We only work a few hours a day for the overlords, but life is not easy. Life is not easy at all, because we are not provided for and have to spend the rest of the day growing food, mending clothing, building shelter, all of the necessities of life. I am a slave, working for avian wine-makers.

As long as we make the wine, our masters leave us alone. Escape attempts are punished with death, but there is nowhere to escape to anymore, so no one attempts to escape anymore.

We can grow just enough food to keep going, and some of us have children. I don’t, my wife had problems the when she was pregnant with our first child, and never was able to get pregnant again. I wish we could have children, but then again I am happy that no child of mine will grow up in an alien prison. There are plenty of children, but without education, they seem almost as alien and the wine-demanding avians.

I never understood why we are making wine; I don’t think the avians can eat or drink anything grown on the Earth. Their food all comes from orbit, from the generation ship, unless there are prison farms growing alien purple goats or whatever food animals they eat. I suppose it makes sense for them to farm food animals on the Earth, but then those animals would need feed from orbit, wouldn’t they? Maybe there are enormous hydroponic prisons growing alien hay for alien goats for the alien avians.

My wife and I watch the sky at night. There is no electricity, no movies, and the same dozen adults every night, so the sky is our main entertainment. We used to have over twenty adults, but our avian overlords occasionally come and take someone.

 

Fun & Terrible Writing Exercises

Daily or weekly writing exercises can be a fun way to practice the art of writing and break out of writer's block. In my case, I use the Title-O-Tron to generate a random "Pulp Sci-Fi" story name and write a 500+ word story at least twice a week. These are intentionally rough and unedited because they are just a way to warm up for the "real" writing, and I probably should not share them with the public... but if you are thinking of becoming an author this kind of writing is fun and I hope sharing my process will help motivate you.

Stephen Hermer