Inside, Hozay glanced at the eleven other aliens in the craft, each one strapped into their seat, sitting motionless, staring blankly ahead in the trance-like state that defined their existence. Sometimes he envied them—not having the desire, or ability, to think for himself would certainly make life less complicated.
When the hydraulics of an overhead hatch hissed and a metal ramp fell gently to the floor, he quickly snapped his head back and faked an expressionless forward gaze, letting his mouth hang lazily open so that he would look just as dopey as the others.
The group's leader descended the ramp and opened a door to the outside. He looked around the room at his followers, fully pleased at their subservience. Then, he sent them a mind-control command: find food.
In an obedient synchronized fashion, the aliens unstrapped themselves and exited the ship in single file.
Hozay mixed into the middle of the line and, as always, mimicked the others movement for movement--lest the leader realize that he had a mind of his own and the ability to think, giving him the potential to stray from the herd. Of course, he did have a mind and he did have that potential, but he had yet to find the planet that was worth the risk of defecting.
As they stepped out onto the moonlit ground in the middle of a clearing in the woods, each of the aliens wandered away from the ship in a different direction. Hozay took in the sensations of this new world--the smell of various flowers and leaves, the feel of tree bark, and the sound of crickets and other late night critters. This place did not seem very different from so many others they had landed on.
But maybe, he hoped, it was different.
He looked around and, sure that no eyes were on him, gazed toward the heavens. With a deep sigh, he prayed. In his mind. No words. No gestures or movements. No indication of any kind as to what he was doing. He asked God, as he had so many times before, to let this be the place he could finally call home.
A bustling in the green brush at his feet grabbed his attention.
He kneeled and listened carefully. Something was down there, scurrying in the leaves. His eyes darted left and right, searching for the source of the sound. The alien shot his hand into the brush and snatched a brown rat. He stood and held the squirming animal up to the moonlight to study it. It was small, but that meant nothing. Sometimes, small things had delicious brains. He put the rat's head to his nose and breathed in.
The putrid odor burned his nostrils and flowed down the back of his throat where it settled like a noxious mix of infected cosmic dust. He gagged and coughed, and then slammed the little animal to the ground. For good measure, he stomped on it.
"Look!" a fellow alien said, pointing through a thicket of small trees at a dim light that shined in the distance.
Hozay joined the others and ventured through the woods toward the light up to a small campsite. As they neared a cluster of tents, a sweet smell permeated the still air. The aliens all stopped to take a few deep breaths, grunting and groaning with satisfaction at the delightful aroma. Then, each alien found a tent to enter.
But Hozay paused. He took another deep inhale, savoring the scent that tantalized his nose. It was unlike anything he had ever smelled before. This place was different.
A moment later, screams from a nearby tent flooded the night air, but they were quickly muffled and the night turned silent again. A groan of pain came from another tent but that also quickly faded to back silence. From another tent, the sound of a scuffle, but it lasted only a second, ending with a bone-shattering crack and a whimper.
A man with a shotgun burst out of the tent that Hozay stood in front of. "Who the hell are you?" he said, raising his weapon and pointing it at the alien's chest. He squinted to get a better look at the being that stood before him in the night. As similar as the alien looked to a human, it was clear to the man that it was not from his world. He pulled the trigger.
The shot rang out and a spray of lead peppered Hozay's chest. Unaffected, the alien ignored it.
A look of horror overcame the man. He stepped backward, tripping and stumbling onto the ground in his tent.
Hozay followed. He reached down and grabbed the sides of the man's head, pulling him up and taking a giant sniff into his ear. The alien's mouth watered.
As the man struggled to no avail, Hozay put his mouth to the side of his victim's head and sucked. Brain shot through the human's ear like a lumpy smoothie through a thin straw. When the alien finished slurping, he dropped the lifeless body and kneeled beside it.
He dug his fingers into his victim's facial orifices, struggling to reach deeper into the human's skull and scrape up every last bit of brain. As he sucked his fingers clean from the most delectable meal in a hundred thousand light years, another thought command came from his leader: bring food.
Before returning to the ship, Hozay closed his eyes and savored the wondrous taste that lingered in his mouth. Silently, he again asked God to let this finally be the place he can call home. Then, he started back toward the ship with the others.
The now brainless human victims stumbled out of their tents and followed.