After the spacecraft crash lands in our backyard, we pull out an alien, its freckled, grey skin smelling like wet shoes, its oval, lidless eyes darting a glance on our foreheads. I inspect the capsule, the size of our compact car, shut dead. In your arms, the alien curls, a large bean. It draws out a tentacle, smooth and restless. The tentacle has an opening that blinks like an eye, raises like a fist, and we can’t help but wonder at possibilities.

After the alien steps inside our house, something stirs behind its gaze― subterranean and sunken. Clocks stop and lights flicker. It lies down on the bed, between us, and the walls close in, making us touch. It pushes its tentacle into one of our nine openings and we’re live wires, humming, twitching― a wave of ecstasy up our spine. Its slime smeared inside out, our skin neon pink― an electric fabric.

After the alien penetrates us, we lose our appetite. The fridge is stacked with ham, bread, and juice, but we don’t open it. Outside, nothing changes, the same orange sludge smeared across the sky, bright and blistering. The alien nibbles on our shadows. Each appendage it licks disappears from our bodies, the wound sealed by its tentacle. After a week, it has my left ear, your toes― stiff organs pasted on its periphery. We stop fucking each other, we rarely speak, miss work. We’re glued to relentless inserting, giving, forgetting.

After our limbs are gone, it’s impossible to carry the alien. We push ourselves, inch towards it, crave for the proximity and shudder in fear, thinking what might happen when we have nothing left to offer. Its magic fin is our drug and we’re crack whores.

After countless hours, the alien has more freckles than before, little craters of fire. Our body parts on its surface have decayed, fallen off all over the house. No matter how scorching, we fight for its tentacle and insert it into whatever is left of us. The heat drills into our cells, welding them into new structures― creating space, space between spaces, large pits of unknown.

After the alien dies, we try to consume its tentacle but it’s a slab of rubbery meat, nothing left to give. The clocks are ticking again. A warm hunger rises in our gut and mists our eyes. Licking our lips with anticipation, we slump next to the closed refrigerator― our torsos seeping with mucus and blood under a harsh glow of light. Pleading and guilty, startled of our own voices, we feed on each other’s shadows―dark spots on the floor, shrinking. Skin against skin. Ruptured white from inside, our flesh clings to the bones guarding the prune-shrunk hearts, wanting the burn in our chests to go away, the lights in our eyes more distant than the stars.






Tara Isabel Zambrano works as a semiconductor chip designer in a startup. Her work has been published in Tin House Online, The Cincinnati Review, Slice, Bat City Review, Yemassee, The Minnesota Review, and others. She is Assistant Flash Fiction Editor at and reads prose for The Common. Tara moved from India to the United States two decades ago and holds an instrument rating for single engine aircraft. She lives in Texas.