Title: Truck Stop Earth
Author: Michael A. Armstrong
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Aliens, UFO
Publisher: Perseid Press
Release Date: August 1, 2016
The mother of all alien bases. The big one, the megabase, the center of the Alien Occupation Government, the headquarters, the brain, the nerve center, the absolute pinpoint big base, right there, right in the hills above Della. Forget Roswell. Forget Machu Picchu. Forget Stonehenge and Tikal and all those alleged alien bases, abandoned every one of them. This was the big one, right now, the source of all my troubles, the world’s troubles, the whole solar system’s troubles. Right there.
Out there across the valley, shining across it like a beacon, was a big flat mountain. “Oly’s Mountain” I later heard it called, or Table Top, some said. I could feel it, feel the humming and the disruption of the ether right down to my bones. I didn’t even have to take out my little pocket detector that’s disguised as a Swiss Army knife. I knew, I just knew. And my butt chip burned like an exploded capsule of sulfuric acid. God damn, right there in the mountain — not on it, in it.
The guy was really skinny, now that I looked at him, with long arms and long legs, only a short little torso. His arm seemed to bend where arms usually didn’t bend, high up toward the shoulder, so his lower arms flopped around like eels. He had a pointed chin covered with a thick red beard, only the hair sticking out of his floppy black pile beret was coal black streaked with gray. Either the hair covered his ears or he didn’t have ears. He had long narrow feet and wore purple tennis shoes. I walked lightly on the sand, my usual stealth walk that an old Indian had taught me, but even then, at five yards the guy swiveled his face around to look at me. The way he moved his head, and that he could turn his head 135 degrees, clinched it for me.
Yup, he was a Gray all right.
OK, plus my butt chip seared like a hot poker. I can spot aliens easily, or spot people who look like aliens easily. The thing is, after nearly 500 years of occupation, people look more and more like the aliens, or maybe the aliens look more and more like us. It’s not that we interbreed or anything — that would be like a platypus breeding with a duck — but that over time the aliens have corrupted our body memes and we’ve corrupted theirs.
“Rat Hole’s closed to camping,” he said to me as I came up to him.
“Got a chit,” I said. I showed him the little piece of stamped metal.
“‘Kay.” He had that little click some of the aliens have, not quite a lisp, just a click. “I’m Tom. I run the Rat Hole.”
“Name?” Tom asked me. I gave him my cover name, and that’s all he cared about. No address or city or any of that shit. Maybe Tom knew I’d lie or maybe it didn’t matter to him. He handed me a flimsy, a sheet of paper his tablet spat out.
I took the flimsy and saw that Tom even used the alien font they like so much, the funny one that makes all our Roman letters slanted backwards, and puts serifs on some letters and not on others. That really pissed me off. You’d think that an alien occupation government that had secretly controlled the world for half a millennium would at least be coy. Assholes.
“Read it,” Tom said, “Them’s the rules. Break any rule and you’re out on your butt. Understand?”
I nodded. The only rule that really mattered was “Don’t get caught.”
I squinted at that. That meant he was recording and didn’t want to waste the storage space on recording a nod. “I understand.”
“Cool.” He pointed his finger at me in that stupid little cocked gun gesture. Shit, I really hate that. Aliens are like pit bulls gnawing on a good bone: once they find something they like, they stick with it. Tom waved at the camping area, logs and stuff around it and maybe a few spots left. “Camp anywhere inside the logs and don’t rip up any vegetation.”
“Cool,” I said, and pointed my finger back at him, same gesture. I even put a little click at the end. He turned his head at that, smiled that pointy-toothed grin the long Grays have, and walked away.
So, I thought. Already a day in Della and I’d found my first alien.
I couldn’t wait to toast the fucker.
“The most important thing to know about this book is that it’s fun. It is, in fact the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time. Other books have perhaps explored more profound emotions but if you want to spend a few hours alternating between a grin, a rolling chuckle, and laughing out loud you probably won’t do better with anything contemporary.
What we have here is the memoir of a screaming nutjob, as told to author Michael A. Armstrong. The nutjob in question, James Ignatius Malachi Obediah Osborn is a multiple alien abductee, fierce fighter in the Resistance movement against the Alien Occupying Government. He can spot ‘em among the general population, because he knows their disguise tricks. Or maybe he’s just nuts, hard to say.
That’s where a lot of the tension in the story comes from. Some of what he believes is pretty convincing. Some of it just seems loony tunes.
After a scary encounter with the grays in Florida Jimmo heads for Alaska where the adventure continues. Aside from maybe being nuts Jimmo is a pretty competent fellow who can find work and do it well, fighting fires while fending off alien attacks.
He purports to be a spec ops veteran of Desert Storm, although while others were defeating Saddam he was further out in the desert, hunting grays with Delta Force. Thing is, he still talks the talk right. The guy has definitely been somewhere and done something.
Another thing this books does well is present the society of adventurous spirits who have absconded to Alaska as the last frontier where you can get a decent latte. A more brave and gaudy collection of tatted, pierced and bizarrely coifed expats can hardly be imagined. And, to paraphrase Ronnie Hawkins, Jimmo gets more trim than Frank Sinatra.
Warning: if you have a problem with people who unabashedly talk nasty, well, maybe you should read Jane Austen instead.” – Jim Morris, Vine Voice
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HN3JAJS
Michael Armstrong was born in Virginia in 1956, grew up in Tampa, Florida, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1979. He has lived in Homer, Alaska, since 1994. He attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop and received a bachelor of arts from New College of Florida and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. His first novel is After the Zap. Michael’s short fiction has been published in Asimov’s, The Magazine of Science Fiction, Fiction Quarterly, and various anthologies, including Not of Woman Born, a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and several Heroes In Hell anthologies. His other novels include Agviq, The Hidden War, and Bridge Over Hell, part of the Perseid Press Heroes in Hell universe.
Michael has taught creative writing composition, and dog mushing. He is a reporter and photographer for the Homer News. He and his wife, Jenny Stroyeck, live in small house they built themselves on Diamond Ridge above Homer, which they share with an incredibly adorable labradoodle.
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