Hard Edits


Funny space fiction? Space Squid’s got you covered right here. We’re calling our new double-shot of funny sci-fi flash fiction HARD EDITS, and you’ll soon see why.

Okay, we’ll tell you why. In “Track Changes,” a word processor documents some odd tonal changes to a news story with humanity-wide implications. And the macabre “Got legs?” takes us down a dark road of body modification. Buckle up! You’ve got some hard edits ahead.

Track Changes Found on Tablet of Trish Meadors, Former Writer for The Houston Chronicle

by Dantzel Cherry

The Houston Chronicle, Lifestyle Section

December 22, 2024

The End of Our Species as We Know It Historic Inter-Species Union – Exclusive Interview with Governor Hlotll Uedaaly

By Trish Meadors

When insufferable quisling Allie Kingston, 27 Earth years, of Spring, Texas, learned she was expecting a child with Despot Governor Hlotll Uedaaly, approx. 400 Earth years, of the Spica solar system, she finally admitted some misgivings.

“I mean, who knew that was possible? But the Spican doctors said their interspecies pregnancies usually work out, and so far, so good. Looks like I won the genetic jackpot!”

The guinea pig mother-to-be knew this betrayal would come as a shock to her parents.

“To them, Hlotll was just the overlord of Earth,” Ms. Kingston said, from her parent’s new spacious home built on the ruins of Magnolia. “They didn’t understand this was the best way to help human-Spican relations. Luckily they came around pretty quickly, especially after they met Hlotll and saw that being friends with a Spican allowed them some benefits. Now Mom’s super excited to be a grandma.”

Opportunistic Ms. Kingston, a smug bright-eyed PhD studying history at University of Houston, has always been quick to betray her planet adopt the latest greatest thing. On the historic day of June 14, 2023, as the President officially surrendered to welcomed the Spicans, she was among the crowd in D.C. holding up one sanctimonious sign reading “I’ve learned from history. Have you?”

She was also swift to assimilate adopt the garish Spican fashions, from the tips of her chrome-plated shoes to her eye-magnifying glasses. “I think of my style as a fusion of the best Earth and Spica have to offer – just like our baby,” she said, twirling the tip of her long purple hair, coiled in the shape of a giant tentacle.

Hlotll certainly seems to agree. Our Houston-based despicable overlord governor keeps a possessive tentacle wrapped casually around Allie’s waist, and takes frequent opportunities to tickle her pseudo-tentacle, to which Allie laughs annoyingly infectiously.

“I am a Spican of duty first. I always thought myself above the human concept of love-” tickle “-but as Allie interned for the pathetic excuse for human-Spican ambassador, she helped me see -” tickle “-my duty to a species such as yours also means learning to love. How am I to rule humans without understanding love?”

Hlotll literally traveled the galaxy before finding the consummate ‘ego stroker’ love. As an offspring of the Spican emperor, he conquered settled nine other star systems before assuming his new role as the North American overlord governor. It wasn’t long after he’d settled into the fittingly affectionately dubbed “Palace of Death” “Cerulean Mansion,” that his path crossed Ms. Kingston’s. His eye was drawn toward her love of cowardice life and ear-splitting joyful laugh, and on the evening of Bloody Saturday, January 6, 2024, after quelling a heroic uprising by heroic freedom fighters demonstrating his strong leadership against local terrorists, he asked Ms. Kingston out on a date.

funny-space-scifi“I’ve never come across a lifeform-” tickle “-so fascinated in me, simply for who I am.”

“What’s not to like?” ass-kissing Ms. Kingston said. “If someone asked me for a list of qualities I would want in an ideal person, my list would fall so short of Hlotll.”

Among the activities that the couple enjoys are sex, testing out and destroying unworthy new restaurants, more sex, and discussing Spican and human history.

“They’re just elegance personified,” soulless traitor friend Kristyn Jensen said. “Seeing them together gives me hope for eventual peace with Spicans and humans.”

It didn’t take many late-night sleepovers talks for Ms. Kingston to be sure she’d picked the one she wanted to spend the rest of her worthless life with. Before long the couple knew they’d forged a love that would protect them from the freedom fighters the dissenters, particularly after announcing Ms. Kingston’s pregnancy early this summer.

“They’ve overcome multiple assassination attempts, but it’s only pulled them closer together,” fellow invader Spican Illynnl Cyotm said. “I still don’t understand the love thing, though.”

Humans aren’t the first intelligent species to mix their genes with Spicans, so the Spican doctors weren’t surprised that it took only four months of gestation for the anti-Christ fetus to develop. To celebrate, the happy couple hosted a party, first and hopefully last of its kind for humans, on December 21, 2024 at the Cerulean Mansion with their closest sycophants and hangers-on friends and family in attendance.

And Hlotll found a way to make the evening doubly troubling for humankind special. They were on their way to the party when they stopped to massacre an entire city block of protesting citizens quell yet another rebellion, and Hlotll dropped to one tentacle right in the ruins street and popped the question with a stolen, oversized, breathtaking 7-carat oval blood diamond ring from Tiffany & Co.

“Spicans have never heard of marriage before now, but if it’s important to Allie-” tickle “and to humans, it’s important to me,” Hlotll said in an effort to legitimize his rule. “Especially with a youngling on the way.”

“What changes this little one brings, and it hasn’t even arrived yet!” Ms. Kingston added ominously.

With any luck, the demon child will claw its way out of her belly this will be a moment all humans can celebrate.

As a sign of his generosity, Hlotll is granting all survivors citizens an extra hour before curfew tomorrow night. so take advantage of the darkness before it’s too late. We fight at 7PM!


A note to our readers: Following Trish Meador’s unfortunate car accident earlier today, this piece was lightly edited by Dnna Blllighlll, new editor for The Houston Chronicle.

* * *

Got legs?

by Judith Field

The sound of the humming and gurgling boiler is amplified by the pipes, and the water tank in the cupboard. Six o’clock. Too much stuff to do. It’s enough to make you pull your own head off.


What part of me will hurt today? Better take the register. 

Neck – yes

Abdomen – no

Spinal curvature – yes, but what’s new?

Right hip – yes

Right knee – yes

Right foot – yes

Left foot – no

The best thing to do would be to get rid of my right leg. I switch on my phone. Search for “through-the-hip amputation”. I buy “Be your own orthopaedic surgeon – made simple for dummies” for 1p plus £2.80 postage, on Amazon.

I read the book, twice. I get a good mark in the “test yourself” exercise at the end. Not 100%, but I’m sure I can find the right page in the book if I can’t remember what to do.

The kitchen drawer won’t open more than an inch. Rattling it doesn’t help. I manage to slide my hand in and drag out the carving knife. Ironic or what? I put my hand in again and extricate the cleaver.


I lean against the kitchen wall, applying the fifty styptic pencils I bought to the place where my leg used to be (the book didn’t include medical terminology). The leg lies on the floor. What to do with it? Nobody will be in the kitchen for hours. If I can’t come up with an idea, I’ll leave it in the yard for the urban fox.

I hop towards the door. As I steady myself against the frame, a voice calls to me. I am sure I’ve heard it before.

“So then – all this bloody stuff to do. It’s enough to make you pull your own head off.”

By making a lot of little hops, I turn.

The leg has grown another me. She/I stand/s naked by the sink, with that familiar body like a twisted pillow sprouting a head, two arms and two legs.

“Does your, er, my leg still hurt?” I ask.

She shrugs. “Yes, but these things seem to come and go. It’ll be OK. Let’s go and find me something to wear.”

She heads up the stairs, I drag myself after her. She mutters about how much stuff there is crammed into the wardrobe. Most of it doesn’t fit. “But I’m going to lose weight. Then I’ll have a big clear out, find stuff I’d forgotten I had. Just like visiting a charity shop, only for a change everything’s not size eight.”

“Yes, you will lose weight,” I say.  “I can hardly do all the skivvying about like this. You can do all the schlepping, all the go-fetch-put-and-take. And I’ll do all the other stuff, the personal admin, the sorting out of the rest of my, er, our family’s life.”

And that’s how it worked out. I direct operations from my wheelchair. It’s hard to attach a prosthesis after a DIY through-the-hip amputation. Of course, it would be great if I grew another leg, but that’s pure fantasy.

About the Creators

Dantzel Cherry’s short fiction has appeared in Fireside, Cast of Wonders, Galaxy’s Edge, and other magazines and anthologies. She lives near the mountains in Utah with her husband, daughter, three cats, four chickens, and an ominously growing horde of plants and baked goods.

Frankenstein monsters don’t get enough genre love. How would you revive the Frankenstein trope in the 21st century?
Well, funny you ask! I wrote one of these a few years back, titled “Brothers in Stitches,” in which an experiment goes wrong, leaving numerous Frankensteinien fellows with freedom and full bellies. Monsters need friends and futures worth dreaming about, and it’s the least we can do to give that to them.

What’s your favorite imaginary sound, and why?
The sound of vindication – that beloved moment when someone pauses in their argument and realizes YOU WERE RIGHT.

Read Dantzel Cherry’s question for our Dear Aunty Stanky column.

Judith Field writes: “I live in London. I am the daughter of writers, and learned how to agonise over fiction submissions at my mother’s (and father’s) knee. I’m a pharmacist, medical writer, editor and indexer. My fiction, mainly speculative, has appeared in a variety of publications, in the USA, UK, New Zealand and Australia.”

You’ve just discovered you’re a zombie. As if they are in control, your legs take you to the local Walmart, where no one seems to take notice of you because your rotting face is concealed by your cheery Hello Kitty facemask. You’re hungry. What do you do next?

I’m a vegetarian so I’d buy myself a jar of pickled walnuts. They look like brains that have gone off a bit, all the better for a zombie.

Who is your favorite acid jazz artist, and how do you think they should adjust their material to appeal to the cephalopod demographic?

My favourite artist is Jamiroquai. He should wear hats with tentacles and rename his songs, for example “Half the man (is easier to swallow than all at once)”.

Read Judith Field’s question for our Dear Aunty Stanky column.

About the Artist

Our very own D.R.R. Chang is a designer and game writer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Avast, Ye Airships! and the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology, and you can get a free demo of his janky retro JRPG, which was formerly on Steam. He does Space Squid illustrations, editing, and other squid stuff.

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