“Starship Cooties”

I should have been working on my WIP, but instead I wrote this. It speaks for itself:




We were losing the war with the Bugs, so as soon as I turned sixteen I signed up to fight. The recruiter told me that after three months of boot camp, I’d be in space on the front lines, fighting my ass off. The recruiter was right.

The Bugs weren’t really compound-eyed, six-legged, tentacly aliens, of course. That was what the government had wanted us to think, but then someone had figured out that the government was releasing the same doctored photos over and over, so we knew they were just drumming up insectophobia to get everyone on their side. No one knew what the Bugs actually looked like. Maybe they were mutant lab rats wreaking vengeance for hundreds of years of experimentation, or maybe they were a collective AI, or maybe they were cute fuzzy sad-eyed mammals that we would all just want to cuddle if we knew who they were. We kept calling them Bugs, because we didn’t care if we hurt their feelings.

At boot camp I was introduced to my gun. I named it Jane, after my mother. Jane was all power and sleek lines, gleaming coal black with enough laser force to rip out the foundations of a building from 500 m. away. When Jane fired, the recoil was orgasmic. I would have stayed on the range for hours if I’d been allowed to.

Sure enough, after three months we shipped out. We were put in a kind of suspended animation, where all our body functions slowed down and our brains were flooded with tactical plans and information, so that when we came out of freeze we’d know much more about the Bugs and the battle than we could possibly have learned in six weeks of consciousness.

When we woke up, we were in orbit around a small planet that looked a lot like Terra, only the Terra of a thousand years ago, before all the overcrowding and pollution. Looking at it, I understood for the first time why people were nostalgic about the past. Why they wanted to preserve everything they could. Yeah, mankind had really fucked things up pretty good. And now we had the Bugs, who were invading our territory, destroying what was left of our culture, ruining everything that was noble and good, raising their hind legs and pissing on what we had worked so hard to achieve. I felt righteous. I stroked Jane and whispered, “Soon, baby.”

Before the drop, we were briefed by the Captain. We were all in awe of the Captain, who never cracked a smile, never fraternized, and had no apparent weaknesses. Military regulations didn’t allow the Captain to go into personal combat, which was a disappointment to all of us. (We were scornful of the boys in Ops; they stayed in safe orbit, pushing their buttons and flipping their switches and moving their mouses while our lives were on the line.)

The briefing room smelled like adrenaline. Everyone was leaning forward with excitement as the Captain showed the plans. We were laying an ambush. The Bugs liked this planet for their training missions because it was so Terra-like; we meant to wipe out one of their boot camps, so to speak. The scene of battle was a city. We would be fighting on streets and from wrecked buildings, with sniper fire on both sides. Jane and I had been hoping to be assigned sniper duty, but we drew Brute Force. Our job was to walk the streets and fire at anything and everything on ground level that moved.

As I was waiting for the drop, it occurred to me the Bugs must be a lot like us. The tactics we were deploying wouldn’t be much use against giant lizards or robot battalions. They had to be of similar size and physiology, or a Terra-model wouldn’t work so well for them either.

The drop was a hell of a lot scarier than I had expected. Simulations didn’t prepare you at all for the real thing. Cold, and dark, and intense pressure in my chest that felt like I was being crushed and a different pressure behind my eyeballs that made me feel like I was going to explode. I was sure that when it ended I was going to be a mass of gelatinous flesh and pulverized bone. But when it ended I bounced right back to normal.

The city looked like a typical Terran city, with skyscrapers, potholes, overturned vehicles, downed wires. The air was unbelievably fresh. I thought that if I died today, at least my lungs would be happy. Then I heard the sound of something crisping with electricity and I smelled burning flesh, and I saw that the grunt beside me was dead.

I don’t remember a lot of what happened after that. I remember smoke, and crouching, and broken glass reflecting the sunlight. I remember my ears aching with the noise despite my helmet. We were hopelessly outnumbered. The Bugs came from everywhere. They looked just like us, a little heavier, a little taller on average.

I fought hard, but I was finally surrounded with three other recruits and two seasoned vets. Jane had run out of power a long time ago. I stood silent, wondering what the Bugs were going to do with us. Then one of them flipped his face mask up. I was shocked. He looked like an ordinary human male.

“We’re going to win,” said the vet next to me.

“What?” I said, astounded.

“All right, bitches, all of you take your helmets off,” she said.

We did.

The Bugs collapsed like dominoes. Every single one of them. I stared while I rubbed the spot between my breasts where Jane’s strap had chafed.

“What – how – I don’t understand,” said one of the other recruits. She sounded as puzzled as I felt.

“Girl cooties,” said the vet. “It works every time.”


  1. MS. Ohich

    That was hilarious. Thank you. As someone who grew up on RH, it was totally worth the read.

  2. Kristi

    Nice. I like the way I thought “Cooties” referred to the Bugs. More!

  3. Louise

    Thank you this is great.

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