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Author: Dawn Corrigan
Location: Gulf Breeze, Florida

diamond icon Dawn Corrigan's fiction has appeared or is forthcoming at Unlikely Stories, Dogzplot, The Abacot Review, Hobart Pulp, Opium Magazine, Wigleaf, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction appears regularly at

Why We Should Join the Intergalactic Zoom Ball League

I was out walking in the Gulf Islands National Seashore when an alien fell into step beside me. "Tell me a little about yourself," I said.

It was from a planet system over that way (it pointed up and to the left).

And its people?

When its species achieved nuclear fission, there were 12.2 million other species on the planet. By the time they mastered cold fusion, it was down to 737,000. Then conditions improved again for speciation, and now, it was proud to report, they were back up to 3.8 million.

I thought it was interesting that these were the details it chose to share.

They were the ones that mattered, it said.

And what brought it here?

"We like to watch sentient species develop."

For science?

"For sport. The Intergalactic Zoom Ball League is more popular than ever, and the big teams are always scouting new talent."

"And you think we might be able to play?" I asked, feeling flattered.

"Well, sure. Either you guys, or the chimpanzees. We're keeping an eye on the dolphins, too. They could really come in handy during the aquatic round."

"So you're here to abduct our best athletes--Kobe, Mia? And take them back for tryouts--after the requisite probing, of course?"

Absolutely not, it insisted. There could be no recruiting until after cold fusion. Those were the rules.

"It must be fascinating," I said. "Seeing all the different ways sentient life evolves."

"Oh no," it said. "It's always exactly the same. At first sentience arises out of ruthless competition. It's a great survival strategy, and a sentient species inevitably reaches planet dominance. Then the species realizes the same ruthless competition that drove it to dominance is about to make it extinct. It races to learn cooperation before wiping itself out."

"Boy, does that sound familiar!" I said. "It's comforting, though, to know we'll make it."

"You might, definitely."

I was worried about its choice of words. It sounded like it had been around the block, so to speak. It probably knew what it was talking about. What did it think our chances were?

"My bookie gives you 1500 to one."

"That's awful!"

"Don't look at me. I'm betting on you. If I win this one, I'll be able to retire to Capella."

The alien smiled sheepishly, and gave a little shrug. When it talked about betting, it looked a little like one of my uncles.

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