Aphelion Issue 253, Volume 24
August 2020
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

What Goes Around, Comes Around

by Charles Moulton

Dear Mr. President,
Here is a copy of the mail Chao Guangxi sent to Mrs. Li.
Maybe it can shed some light upon how we deal with this newer situation.

Official regards,


Yang-Tze Environmental Clinic Research Centre
March 11th, 2019

Dear Mrs. Li,

How serious the situation actually was must’ve become obvious to Xiang only at the very end. Why he reacted the way he did is hard to say. He had been guiltier of more brutality than his colleagues. By now, the Pacific Ocean overflowed with dead sharks, dying slowly because he had cut off their fins for profit. After all, the wealthy Chinese landowners needed their shark fin soup to get the potency of the bridegrooms to soar sky high.

There was no sight of anything unusual at all at first. Neither Xiang nor the colleagues had thought it might be wrong until they saw the wounded and dying man floating up toward the ship, mutilated just like one of his sharks.

At first, the UFO was nowhere in sight. What caught Xiang’s attention was only the body itself. It lacked arms, floating like debree on a lonesome wave. I think he realized he knew the man, a short and rough sea captain north of Shanghai. Strange thing, though. Xiang mumbled in my presence that he had met him a week before at the airport on his way to Singapore. He could impossibly be floating without arms somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. And yet, here he was, thrown away like garbage - just like a shark.

An unbearable silence hit the deck, the crewmen all dropping their knives with loud metallic clangs, the sharks slipping back into the ocean and disappearing happily into the deep.

From where we stood, Xiang and I both heard the mumblings and cries of the colleagues as they helped the armless man up upon the boat, shaking him, trying to find out how he could be found alive floating in the Pacific without arms.

When the spaceship landed on the water – I shall repeat that: on the water – the silence on the deck turned into a painful gasping awe. We all felt the atmosphere change from shock to terror, I think. Illegal types, trained fishermen, mafia mediators, unemployed guys, all of them now trained animal killers, all of them afraid and desperate, fearing they would be punished, not by the law. By alien visitors.

I grabbed Xiang by his shirt, pulling him away, almost ripping the cloth in the process, telling him we should run to safety on the lower deck. He pushed me away, calling me a coward, insisting on facing the situation. Immediately after that, he ran over to the other sailors and started screaming at them that they were criminals and bloody murderers. “Give up, you morons,” he yelled. “Admit everything.”

The aliens would’ve found him regardless of where he went.

Instinctively, he knew that.

This time, there was no escape to speak of.

It might’ve been getting caught, as it were, punished by having one of his own kind mutilated like an animal by creatures higher than him, that transformed him. It was something he couldn’t escape. So far, he had always escaped the law. I know how much you suffered through the years through his behavior, Mrs. Li.

When the spaceship doors opened, I pulled Xiang back, embraced him, pleaded for us to hide, wait it out, admit everything, change, whatever, for us to move with me back to Beijing and open a bookshop like we had originally planned. Xiang didn’t listen. He clutched that knife so hard, pointing it at his own stomach.

The spaceship started vomiting out all these dead sharks without fins. It really looked like vomit, Mrs. Li. All of these dead sharks appearing out of nowhere, falling out of that thing. No one knew how so many sharks could fit into such a small UFO. In fact, there were so many that I feared that we would never be able to leave the region at all. The waves alone threatened to capsize us.

Xiang started screaming that judgment day had arrived and when I tried to hold him back, he just shouted at me to fuck off, that he should have listened to you. For the first time in his life, he realized that his actions had had serious and lasting side-effects.

It’s hard for me to tell you this, Miss Li, but your son’s last words were to tell you that he tried to be a good person after all, just like you wanted him to be. He regretted killing so many sharks, so he killed himself, shoving his bowie-knife into his own belly.

The aliens, big amphibian beasts with oversized foreheads and big fish-like eyes, told us to stop our shark- and whale-hunting or more people would suffer.

Of course we stopped. We have told other hunters to give it up, as well, but they won’t listen. The Chinese mafia won’t, either.

Please forward my greetings to our friend, the sea captain. Maybe he can help us convince other poachers to stop. The aliens mean business, I think. Is the captain still in hospital? If he reveals the secrets of what really happened to him that day, please tell me about it. I believe you told me he has refused to speak, only uttering one word again and again: “Payback!”

We will see each other at the cemetery tomorrow to lay flowers on your son’s grave. I look foward to speaking with you about my developments. I have no contact with my former criminal companions. The police have insured my safety under the “Witness Protection Programme”. It seems my former criminal companions are not a threat, not anymore.

I have been interrogated numerously by the law at the Yang-Tze Environmental Clinic Research Centre. They will not tell me why they brought me here and not to a prison and are very tight lipped about what they call “the alien problem”. I have heard the words “our aquatic origin” being mentioned.

Obviously, the earthly-alien negotiations aren’t going that well.

They’re punishing the whale poachers now. I have heard stories of floating sea captains without eyes.

To the aliens, it does not seem to matter if you were or are a poacher. Former criminals have been punished just as severely as active whale- and shark-killers. I have not asked my interrogators, but from what I understand the aliens returned after a long absence and were shocked to find what they found.

I will be arriving at the cemetary tomorrow with three bodyguards. Please have the package ready. I will foreward it to the chief interrogator, who seems to be the one who communicates with the aliens from time to time. We need to show the aliens a poacher with a big heart, his childhood love for the sea, his early stories about marine life and his diaries about being lured into becoming a poacher.

Maybe we can convince the visitors there’s hope for humanity after all. I will sign off for tonight. Until tomorrow, Mrs. Li.

Chao Guangxi
Former Poacher



Administrator’s note:

Mr. Chao Guangxi was responsible for a serious negotiation with the alien visitors the following week, on March 19th, 2019, which caused the aliens to stop their murderings of humans.
These first alien visitors have not been seen again, for a while at least, although other sightings over slaughter factories worry the population anew. Two slaughter factory CEOs were found hanging on spikes in their fridges yesterday. Are these new deeds committed by the same creatures or new ones?
156 billion animals are slaughtered yearly on our planet for mass consumption.
The aliens seem to be serious about protecting the animals.
How do we react?

Boqin Hui
Speaker of the Houses of Parliament
Beijing, China


2019 Charles Mounlton

Bio: Charles E.J. Moulton has been a stage performer since age eleven, growing up triligually as the son of opera singer Gun Kronzell and actor, author, singer and playwright Herbert Eyre Moulton. He has 138 productions, 700 concerts, 16 books, 165 published pieces to his credit and is a chorus master, drama- and vocal coach and the editor-in-chief of the theme-based, bimonthly journal “The Creativity Webzine.” He is a steadily working actor, opera-, jazz- and pop-singer and an Elvis-impersonator. He has also worked as a tourguide and as a translator. He is married and has a daughter.

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.