The Messy Business of Peddling DoomEaters by Darcy L. Wood – FREE STORY

DoomEaters Cover

A pill on the dance floor…think again about popping it. The danger you may be in. You never know what’s in it…or who…


The Martian club scene was as dull as an old Chrystopian’s unvarnished scalp, until the night I popped a pill on the dancefloor. This isn’t a tale about drugs; I’m not partial to comedowns, or addiction, but boredom can lead a person to do stupid things.

My friend, Вердгi1 — Virgil in Earth English — handed me the pill.

‘I don’t do drugs.’

‘Even though the Martian club scene is as boring as an Etonian head boy’s speech?’ He laughed and the tentacles on his back waved.

‘I’m here to dance and socialize,’ I shouted into his enormous ear.

‘And you have excellent rhythm, Zena — for an Earthling,’ said Вердгi1, ‘but this isn’t a drug, though this DoomEater will alter your perception.’

I won’t lie; I was curious. Adventure led me to Mars in the first place. Life on earth was crap since the ecosystem collapsed. The stars, alien worlds, were where adventures awaited.

‘What is it then?’

Вердгi1 eyed the ovoid bit of charcoal in my sweaty palm. The DoomEater sparkled like black ice, too heavy for its small size.

‘DoomEaters are a symbiotic race—’

‘Wait, this pill contains an alien?’ I asked, trying not to laugh.

Before applying for my Martian Interstellar Passport, I would have said that Neologis — an intelligent race of pancake-type creatures from Jupiter — were ridiculous. Yet, a Neologi shivered to the music in the corner of the dancefloor in all its finery, looking every bit like glittery dog puke. Alien life often defied my expectations.

‘Not an alien,’ Вердгi1 assured me, ‘one alien town per tab. They feed off negativity in mammalian brains, which means the carrier never feels bad. No more rainy days, or pangs of gloom.’

‘An antidepressant. Ha!’ I was tempted. Eating an alien town was the ultimate adventure. I grabbed my drink off the DJ booth and felt the alien town slide down my throat.

Вердгi1 raised his glass.

I lost myself to the synth pop under a rainbow of lights.


I completed three pirouettes on my journey to the bathroom the following morning; the DoomEaters were doing a knockout job. The rust-red landscape glowed as I raised the blackout blinds.

Qualms queued in my mind, despite my buoyant mood. This was unnatural. In all my excitement, I hadn’t asked about side effects, or how to flush out the symbionts if needed.

I decided to call on Вердгi1 on my way to work, as we both lived under Dome One. His door was ajar when I got to his apartment. My trepidation fizzled away too quickly, and I went inside.

The ultra-modern pad was a mess. The white room dividers were slashed, and smashed tech covered the floor. I probably should’ve phoned the police straight away. But, I didn’t.

Вердгi1 was dead.

Something had cleaved his skull in two, and green blood saturated the pillow. His limp tentacles had withered to grey around him as he lay in bed.

Shock robbed me of sadness at first, but when my grief bloomed, it didn’t last long. I was so focussed on Вердгi1 that I almost leapt through the ceiling when a hand spun me around.

‘You know this individual?’ asked the police droid. It was armoured in white and blue, and I could see my reflection in its visor.

I nodded.

‘I am Droid 226. Illicit Substances Branch.’

The droid had probably raided the place and killed Вердгi1. There were endless stories about hacked police droids and their corrupt enterprises. ‘Am I in trouble?’ I asked.

The droid computed for a moment. ‘If you have bought any illicit substances from this individual, you could be in danger.’

I played ignorant. ‘He’s my friend, not my dealer.’

The droid seemed satisfied. ‘The department may be in contact. Please show ID and leave.’

Grief and shock hit me like a tidal wave once I reached the lobby of the luxury flats. The droid marched past me. ‘Excuse me!’ I called. My head hurt.

‘Yes, citizen?’

‘What dangerous substances was Вердгi1 supposedly selling?’

The droid computed. ‘He was peddling symbiotic organisms from Attenborough Five, in the next solar system. Street name DoomEater.’

Every hair on my body stood up. ‘Dangerous how?’ I asked. ‘I mean they’re not drugs, are they?’

‘They are not. Their survival depends on willing hosts. However, humans have died after entering the symbiotic pact. The bovines the symbionts normally inhabit have even temperaments. Humans are more emotionally volatile; when they get upset, scared, or angry, the DoomEaters receive a massive meal. When that happens, they have a growth spurt.’

My aching head made it difficult to focus on the droid.

‘They have killed several humans by cracking their skulls open like coconuts.’

I watched my reflection in the droid’s visor as a spidery long black leg shot out of my ear.

The droid didn’t notice until the pain brought me to my knees.

‘Help! DoomEaters,’ I squealed.

The droid acted fast, and the theme tune from the Muppets blasted from its mouth speaker in what felt like a bad joke.

I collapsed, but the bizarre moment made me laugh aloud. The leg sticking out of my ear shot back in. Giggles overtook me. I was in shock. But with every bout of mirth, the pain retracted until, on the foyer floor surrounded by a small crowd, the charcoal ovoid fell from my left nostril.

‘Negativity feeds the symbionts, whereas bouts of positivity send them into a dormant state.’ The droid scooped up the pill.

‘Who killed Вердгi1?’

The crowd dispersed and the droid helped me up. ‘Вердгi1 was killed by DoomEaters. We picked the overgrown, hungry aliens up this morning and interrogated them. They planned an invasion of Mars as an expansion of their territories.’

‘War? Wow. A buffet awaited them here, especially due to the awful Martian club scene.’

The droid picked up the tablet. ‘You are now prisoners of war,’ he said to it, popping the black ovoid into a steel cylinder.





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