EXCERPT | "Holly Jolly" by James Dorr

Illustrations by Sam Rheaume; read the full story  in issue 6

Illustrations by Sam Rheaume; read the full story in issue 6

Have a holly, jolly Christmas!

            It’s the best time of the year.           

—Johnny Marks

He hated Star Trek. But what could he do? By an accident of fate, warriors of the Gl’iel—thin and with ears that came to points at their upper tips—resembled a popular character on a TV show on this backwater planet. A science fiction series that seemed to be constantly rerun on something called the “Syfy Channel.” And so, while the enlisted ranks suffered ear-bobs and the consequent dulling of their special Gl’iel senses (thus passing themselves off as high-school age humans), officers like Chu’ka were forced to find other means to blend in with the Earthling population.

It wouldn’t do to pass this planet up—too many species as it was were forced to compete for so few globes suitable for expansion. But fortunately there were Star Trek conventions on nearly every weekend in this sector, where Chu’ka not only looked like he belonged, but was in a position to learn Earthling secrets. He was always welcome at parties as long as he wore his “uniform,” an insultingly bland parody of actual Gl’iel military regalia. He would imbibe tongue-loosening liquids and chat about other “cons” he had attended. His hosts, in turn, would blabber about their lives, their mates, and—of special interest to Chu’ka—their jobs. On one occasion, he learned of an upcoming Earth-wide ceremony that could be used to his advantage.

At least he could get rid of his Star Trek disguise, although, he had to admit it had served him well thus far. “Going to an audition,” he had learned to say on those occasions when he was challenged between conventions, “and I haven’t had time to get out of costume.” The line had gained him the sympathy and even the respect of the planet’s local authorities.

Indeed, sometimes these people, ostensibly guards to catch enemies like him, were downright nice. “A pity they’ll be killed,” he often said to himself. But business was business—and his was conquering this planet, that, as he had learned, was on the verge of a celebration of something called Christmas.