So I spent hours making sure stories were not repeated. I made a list of first lines because over time some were given two (or more) titles. But. One, one page story is in twice – a story about Herb’s arrival. So, in truth, there are only 100 short stories (unless you count one twice).
At the very bottom a purple blob of fur pushed itself into a crack between two rocks covered with barnacles and starfish. The starfish slowly inched their way away while the barnacles continued their existence pretending not to notice. He was not a creature of the sea; he could not naturally breathe in the cold, dark, salt water. He was not a creature of Earth and could not breathe naturally the air above the water either, but he made do not being a being that breathed. He absorbed. The water here and the air above held all the ingredients he needed to survive. So physically surviving was not a problem, but that did not mean survival was not a problem. He was a creature of constant communication; his kind were never without the touch, well almost never. When his spaceship, a worthy ship he had taken off automatic pilot on a whim, clipped the rock, which for no good reason had protruded out of the sea, at that point all communication with his kind had ceased. He reached out cautiously with his sensor field for other life and became aware of a bright orange starfish. He enveloped the starfish in a bubble of questioning until he found it’s central place of thought. The starfish thought in a startling different fashion! He tried to make sense of what he found. He searched data banks within his own massive storage facility until he found the word that represented what the starfish was trying to communicate: fear! The Starfish thought only of fear, wave upon wave of fear. The starfish’s fear motivated only one action and the starfish continued to inch away from the blob of purple fur that had intruded upon it’s home. He, the blue blob, sent a message of peace, he urged it to relax but he realized much of his communication was misunderstood by the starfish and he was only able to convince the animal to be slightly less frantic. The blob pushed itself more securely into the crack between two rocks and urged himself to relax without much more success. His body found the nutrients it needed, obtained the temperature that supported its internal functions. He stayed squeezed between the rocks as time passed around him. The starfish returned. The barnacles grew. Above the sea the seasons changed from summer to fall to winter and to spring but the ocean changed very little. The purple blob of fur almost gave up hope, and then he did. When all hope faded he filled an internal bladder with gas and floated to the surface of the sea, he floated with the kelp and foam from wave to wave, from day to day, until the water changed to sand. He pushed the points of his slenders into the coarse sand until the mass of his oval, purple fur covered blob of a body was held a foot above the sand by the four slenders he used as legs, the points of his slenders dug into the sand about four inches and made movement difficult. He pulled up one slender until the point cleared the sand, adjusted the angle of the slender and put it down six inches in front of him, he did this one at a time with each of his four slenders and with practice found he could move at a decent pace along the sand, next to the ocean. He moved along the beach, a purple fur covered blob with nowhere to go and without the constant communication he had always had with his own kind. He traveled in a slight curve, keeping the salt water close at his side, moving forward, or backward, or sidewise, he had no way to know but he continued which gave his life purpose and brought him back from his hopeless state. He felt, for the first time since his ship had clipped the rock that he might consider continuing as a life form.
“Herb,” Jimmy whispered to his friend sleeping in a pile at the end of the singlewide bed.
The purple lump of fur moved slightly and made a noise that could only be made by beings from outer space that had doby valves.
“Herb,” Jimmy risked a slightly louder whisper.
Herb could not whisper but the volume on his doby valve could be adjusted to reduce or increase volume, he answered quietly, “What do you want Jimmy?”
“I heard something moving in the front room.”
Herb went completely silent and still for an instance and then said, “it was the cat. Go back to sleep.”
“How do you know that? You were asleep!” said Jimmy forgetting to whisper.
“I checked my recorder, it was the cat.”
Jimmy relaxed, if the space alien at the foot of your bed said it was the cat you could be sure it was.
“Jimmy?” Herb said trying to mimic a human’s sleepy voice with his doby valve generated speech.
“Sometimes I think we should put the cat in the blender for a few minutes and then drink him.” Herb could not eat as humans do but needed all his food to be liquefied.
Jimmy sat up in bed and completely forgetting to whisper shouted, “What!”
“Just working on my humor,” Herb responded, on my world there is no humor. It’s one of the things I find very interesting.” He paused and thought for a second. (Herb can do a lot of thinking in a second with a brain oval four times as large as a human’s.) “I wouldn’t really eat the cat Jimmy,” he thought another half second, “unless you want to?”
“I think we will hold off on eating the cat for awhile,” Jimmy said, “go back to sleep.”
“Okay, Jimmy.” The room was quiet for a couple minutes.
“Jimmy?” Herb said using a low volume setting on his doby valve.
“What now Herb.” Jimmy said impatiently.
“Thank you for letting me stay at your house.”
“No problem, go to sleep.”
“And thanks for keeping my research of the human race a secret.”
“No problem, go to sleep.”
“And I’ve decided we should eat the cat.”
“Humor?” Jimmy asked.
“Yes, Jimmy, I think I’m getting quite good at it.”
“It could use some work. Go to sleep!”
Jimmy rolled into a ball and covered his head with his pillow. Herb thought about his study of humans. His first report had been accepted by his fellow life forms and more information had been requested, high praise on his planet. Humans were very different. They couldn’t levitate, but did almost all their physical interactions with hands and feet. Herb had legs he called slenders, they were about three feet long when fully extended but he had no knees and just hard points for feet. He had no arms or hands at all. Humans had very small brains and they carried them exposed on top of skinny necks. “That’s funny,” Herb said at a volume only he could hear. Herb joined his earth boy friend in sleep.
Jimmy’s father nudged Jimmy’s mother lying in bed next to him, “Jimmy and Herb were talking again.”
“They have a lot to talk about,” Jimmy’s Mother pointed out having been informed not long ago about Herb’s far away planet.
“I think they said they were going to eat the cat,” Jimmy’s Dad said sounding a little worried.
“Go back to sleep.” And the house remained quiet for the rest of the night.
Jimmy’s sister, alone in her bedroom, her eyes wide open, pulled her kitty so close to her and held her so tightly that the kitten growled not understanding she was just being protected. Jimmy’s sister knew she was not as smart as her older brother but it seemed, to her, a strange thing to let a super intelligent being from another planet sleep on the foot of your bed.