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“Vengeance is mine,” saith the little green men, at least in Mike Resnick’s story. When angered by their depiction in certain pulps, a group of little green men arrive bent on revenge . . . but what do they do when their target won’t cooperate? —BTS

Little Green Men Take Their Hideous Vengeance, Sort Of

by Mike Resnick

“Goddammit!” muttered Nelson as he clambered down the stairs in his pajamas. “Who the hell knocks on the door at four in the morning?”

He resisted the urge to stop by the kitchen and make a quick cup of instant coffee, and continued to the door, where the pounding was becoming louder and more incessant.

“All right, all right!” he growled. “Keep your shirt on!” He reached the door, unlocked it, opened it, and frowned.

“There’s nobody here,” he said in puzzled tones.

“We ain’t ‘nobody,’ Mac,” said a squeaky voice coming from somewhere around his knees. “And don’t you forget it!”

Nelson looked down and found himself facing five emerald green creatures, each armed with a spear that came up to his lower thigh. They looked like they had escaped from a Saturday morning cartoon, or perhaps an old Walt Kelly comic strip.

“I didn’t think I drank that much at the party,” muttered Nelson, blinking his eyes rapidly and feeling surprised that the little green men were still there.

“This is gonna be easier than we thought,” said one of them. “Okay, you malicious bastard, prepare to die!”

“Me?” said Nelson, surprised. “What did I ever do to you? I didn’t even know you existed until you knocked on the door, and I’m still half-convinced that I’m hallucinating.”

“You’ve made us a laughing stock the whole world over!” snapped the leader.

“What are you talking about?” demanded Nelson. “How could I do that if I knew nothing about you until half a minute ago?”

“Don’t you pull that shit with me, Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen!”

“There’s been a mistake,” said Nelson. “I’m not Neilsen, I’m Nelson.”

“Six of one, half a dozen of the other,” said another of the undersized group. “Let’s kill him anyway.”

“I don’t know,” said a third one. “He looks dumb enough to be telling the truth.”

“You guys wanna tell me what this is all about?” said Nelson. “Or do I just kick you off the front stoop, lock the door, and write this hallucination down in my diary if I remember it after I wake up?”

“Watch your tongue, Neilsen!” snapped the one that appeared to be the leader. “We Greenies are tough dudes, and don’t you forget it!”

“Actually, I’m going to bed and try to forget everything about you,” said Nelson. “If you’re still here in the morning, we’ll talk.”

“If we’re still here in the morning there won’t be enough of you left to bury!”

Nelson stared at them for a long moment, and then shrugged. “Okay, what the hell. Come in—but wipe your feet first.”

“Who do you think you’re giving orders to, Mac?” yelled the leader.

Nelson reached down with one hand, grabbed him by the neck, and lifted him until their eyes were on the same level. “You,” he said irritably. “You got any objections?”

“Me?” squeaked the leader, struggling to get the words out. “I only object to prejudice, bias, bigotry, and aggressive redheads named Thelma.”

“And you’ll wipe your feet and behave yourself?”

“Absolutely,” whispered the leader hoarsely. “Honor bright and pinky to the sky.” He paused and held up his hand in front of him. “Well, greenie to the sky.”

Nelson put him down. The five little green men made quite a production of wiping their feet—four of them on the doormat, the fifth on the dew-covered grass next to the stoop—and entered the house.

“In here,” said Nelson, leading them to the living room.

They went where he indicated and slowly, awkwardly, climbed onto the sofa.

“All right,” said Nelson. “What the hell is this about?”

“You’re sure you’re not Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen?” demanded the leader.

“I’m not Malcolm anything Neilsen,” replied Nelson.

“Not Malcolm Anything Neilsen,” said the leader. “Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen.”

“I’m not either of ’em,” said Nelson.

“You swear it?”

Nelson nodded. “On a stack of bibles.”

“That’s it!” cried one of the Greenies. “Let’s kill him now!”

“For swearing on a stack of bibles?” asked Nelson, frowning.


“Okay, what do you want me to swear on?”

“A stack of Smash-Bang Space Tales, of course!”

“A stack of what?” retorted Nelson.

“Go ahead! Deny it!” growled yet another of the Greenies.

“Of course I deny it,” said Nelson. “Hell, I never heard of the damned things.”

“Let’s cut his heart out!” said a Greenie.

“Slash his jugular and be done with it,” said another.

“I don’t know,” said the leader, frowning. “What if he’s telling the truth?”

“He’s got an evil, duplicitous face,” said the one at the end of the couch. “I say we kill him now. Slowly and painfully.”

“I’ve had enough of this nonsense,” said Nelson, picking up the Greenie from the end of the courch by his left ear, grabbing his nose, and twisting it slowly and painfully. “You want to reconsider your statement?”

The Greenie screamed.

Nelson shrugged. “I’ve got all day.” He twisted harder.

“Leggo! Leggo!” whined the Greenie.

“And you apologize for your threat?” said Nelson.

“I cad talk udtil you led be go!”

Nelson threw him back on the couch. “I’m only going to ask one more time,” he said. “What the hell is this about?”

“We’re here on a top-secret mission,” said the leader.

“To do what?”

“To kill Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen, of course.”

“Why?” asked Nelson.

“He has made a laughing-stock of us in front of your entire population.”

“He’s a cartoonist?” asked Nelson.

“Of course not!” said another Greenie.

“Okay, I give up. What is he?”

“A liar!”

“There’s got to be a few billion liars walking the Earth today. What have you got against him?”

“He’s a world-famous writer and he tells lies about us!” said the leader.

This world?” asked Nelson, looking puzzled.

“Of course this world!” said the leader. He held out his hand and the Greenie next to him placed a magazine in it. He opened it and began reading aloud. “‘And this next thrilling interstellar adventure—The Ugliest Green Men in the Galaxy—comes from the pen of world-famous writer Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen.’” He turned to Nelson. “What could be clearer than that?”

“He could at least have called us the nastiest green men in the galaxy,” said another.

“Or the sexiest,” added a third.

“May I see it for a minute?” asked Nelson, holding out his hand, and the Greenie turned it over to him. He studied it briefly, and then looked up. “Didn’t anybody check the date on this thing?”

“We use a different calendar,” said the Greenie leader defensively. “By our reckoning today is Bennutibi 84th, in the year 90,306 S.V.”

“S.V.?” repeated Nelson.

“Since Vanessa,” explained the Greenie leader. “Twenty-two inches of green rapture, with kisses to die for!”

Nelson reached to the table next to his chair, picked up a tablet, activated it, logged onto the internet, and Googled the magazine.

“Ah!” he said. “I thought so.” He turned to the Greenies. “Smash-Bang Space Tales is what we call a pulp magazine, which is to say, cheaply made and probably cheaply written as well. The first issue of this one was dated March, 1934, it came out bi-monthly, and it died with the May, 1936 issue. That’s why no one’s heard of it. Ninety percent of the population wasn’t born until after the magazine died.”

“Okay, so we’re a little slow getting the news,” said the leader. “But surely a liar as famous as Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen has been reprinted all over your narrow-minded, primitive world.”

“Let’s see,” said Nelson, checking his tablet again. A moment later he looked up. “Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen sold six serials and one short story in his life. He died in 1941, and seems to have been published in only two periodicals—Smash-Bang Space Tales ran the serials, and Absolutely True Interspecies Love Stories published his short story before the entire staff was arrested and thrown into jail.”

“No!” cried the leader.

“I’m afraid you’ve been the victims of false doctrine,” said Nelson, not without sympathy.

“It’s your fault!” snapped the Greenie on the end, pointing an accusing finger at the leader. “We wanted to come right here, but you’re the one who took us three hundred light years out of our way just to watch Delectable Doris do her Dance of Spontaneous Eruption!”

“I didn’t notice any of you guys objecting when we were watching her.”

“And just to set the record straight,” added another, “it was her Dance of Spontaneous Combustion.”

“We can argue about this later,” said the leader. “Malcolm, old friend, where can we find Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen?”

Nelson checked his tablet. “Mule Shoe, Texas,” he answered.

“Good! Men, let’s get moving and take our just and terrible vengeance out on that scumbag!”

“Uh . . .” said Nelson. “I hate to tell you this, but that’s where the cemetery is.”

“Cemetery?” asked the leader, frowning.

“Yeah,” said Nelson. “Where we bury our dead.”

“You bury them?” demanded the leader with a shudder of revulsion.

“Of course,” said Nelson. “What do you Greenies do?”

“We eat them, of course.”

“Preferably with chocolate,” added another.

It was Nelson’s turn to shudder. “Well, anyway, he’s been dead for 73 years.”

“Damn!” muttered the leader. “Robbed of our fierce and hideous revenge.”

“Well, now that you know your target is dead, I suppose you’ll be going home,” said Nelson.

“Uh . . . we’d like to, Malcolm, yes, absolutely, but . . .”

“There’s a problem?” asked Nelson.

“We don’t know how,” said the leader.

“It was hard enough just getting here,” said another Greenie.

“I hope you can cook for six, Malcolm,” said still another. “In the meantime, how many bedrooms have you got?”

“Not enough,” said Nelson.

“Well, I suppose we can all sleep in your bed. But I warn you: I snore.”

“I suppose as long as I’m stuck with you for a day or two . . .” began Nelson.

“We have life expectancies of 425 years, give or take,” said the leader.

“I hope you weren’t planning on spending 425 years in my house,” said Nelson, frowning.

“Certainly not, Malcolm,” replied the leader. “Hell, we’re all in our forties already, except for the kid there.” He gestured to the one on the end. “He just turned 33.”

“I think if you’re going to stick around,” said Nelson, “you’re going to need names.”

“We have names,” replied the leader with dignity.

“Okay, what are they?”

“I’m The Leader, he’s The One on My Left, he’s The One on the End, he’s The One on My Right, and he’s The One on the Other End.”

Nelson shook his head. “I’m afraid that won’t do at all.” He lowered his head in thought for a moment, then looked up and pointed at The Leader. “You’re Groucho,” he said. Then pointing at the other four in turn, said: “You’re Harpo, you’re Chico, you’re Zeppo, and you, The One on the Other End, you’re Gummo.”

“We don’t like the names,” said Groucho.

Nelson shrugged. “Okay,” he replied. “Close the door behind you on your way out.”

“But we’ll answer to them!” added Groucho quickly.

“That’s more like it,” said Nelson.

“Uh . . . what do we do now?” asked Groucho.

“I’m thinking on it,” replied Nelson. He looked at his surroundings and frowned. “You know, this is a pretty shabby place in quite a state of disrepair.”

“We don’t do repairs or decorating,” said Groucho.

“Damned right!” chimed in Harpo.

“Harpo doesn’t talk,” complained Nelson.

“Why the hell not?” demanded Harpo pugnaciously.

“When I remember I’ll tell you,” said Nelson. “In the meantime, I’m thinking about what we can do.”

“But no decorating,” said Groucho.

“Or painting,” added Chico.

“Or yardwork,” said Gummo.

“Oh, hell, I’ll do any of those things,” said Zeppo. “But I charge triple time.”

“Don’t understand me so fast,” complained Nelson. “I don’t want to improve this place. Hell, I don’t even like it. No, I want a new, luxurious place.”

“Just for you?” demanded Groucho.

“What the hell,” said Nelson. “Since you’re going to help me get it, for all of us.”

“I call that damned generous of you, Malcolm old friend,” said Groucho. “I must say, I would never guess you had enough wealth at your fingertips to do that.”

“I don’t,” replied Nelson. He smiled. “But I have you.”

“You’d sell us after everything we’ve been to you?” demanded Harpo.

“The thought never crossed my mind,” said Nelson. “But thank you for suggesting it.”

Now do you know why you’re supposed to be mute?” growled Groucho.

“Let’s get back to the subject at hand,” said Nelson.

“Painting your new house?” asked Gummo.

“Getting enough money to buy a house with six bedrooms, unless you guys all sleep together, in which case I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Okay,” said Groucho. “What about a new house?”

“You guys don’t paint, clean, or do any other kind of work as far as I can tell.”

“That’s a canard!” snapped Zeppo.

“A canard?” repeated Chico, raising his spear. “Where?”

“So,” continued Nelson, “I figure you can at least fight.”

“You betcha!” said Gummo.

“Us little green men are tough dudes,” added Zeppo.

“How are you at following orders?”

There was a moment of silence. Then Zeppo spoke again. “Us little green men are tough dudes.”

There was a vigorous nodding of little green heads.

Nelson grimaced. “We’ll come back to that.”

“Just point to whoever you want killed,” said Groucho. “Then shield your eyes, because it won’t be pretty.”

“I don’t want anyone killed,” answered Nelson.

“What fun is that?” asked Chico.

Nelson stared at the five of them in silence until they began twitching uncomfortably.

“Say something, damn it!” said Groucho at last.

“I’m wondering how you guys would be at a new trade.”

“Does it involve lots of violence and bloodshed, and maybe a trophy wife or two?”

“I don’t think there are any Greenie women on Earth,” replied Nelson.

“We ain’t fussy.”

“How do you think you’d be at surreptitiously entering a bank or a jewelry store at night, avoiding all the safeguards, stealing money or jewelry, and coming out without having set off a single alarm?”

“Piece of cake,” answered Groucho.

“Right,” agreed Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo.

“Make it a piece of pie,” said Gummo. “I don’t like cake very much.”

“Okay,” said Groucho. “We’re all agreed. I’m your leader, and the big ugly guy who doesn’t shave or bathe often enough—sorry, Malcolm—is my leader.” He turned to Nelson. “Okay, who do we plunder?”

“Come to the garage,” said Nelson. “We can’t have anyone see you walking down the street.”

“What’s a garage?” asked Zeppo.

“What’s a street?” added Gummo.

Nelson opened the door to the garage, got the Greenies all loaded into his seventeen-year-old Chevy, and soon had parked in back of a small, tasteful building.

“This is the place?” asked Groucho.

Nelson nodded. “The Diamonds Are Forever jewelry shop.” He grimaced. “They don’t like to admit it, but at this joint payments are forever too.”

“So what, exactly, do we do?”

“Sneak in, don’t set off any alarms, and bring out all the gold, diamonds, and pearls that you can carry. If there’s too much loot to carry, leave the pearls.”

“What are pearls?” asked Chico.

“They’re just like marbles, only white,” answered Nelson.

“Oh,” said Chico. “Thank you.” Then: “What are marbles?”

“They’re colored pearls, you idiot!” snapped Groucho.

“Steal now, argue later,” instructed Nelson.

Ten minutes later the five Greenies emerged, loaded down with enough jewelry to buy a palace for each of them once they’d converted it into money on the black market (though Groucho kept insisting that they’d do even better at a green market).

“Well done, team,” said Nelson as they piled into the car.

“They made it very easy for us,” said Groucho.

“Such pleasant surroundings,” added Harpo. “They even made a home movie of us to remind them of this triumphant evening.”

A home movie?” roared Nelson.

“Yes,” answered Harpo. “And me without a comb.”

“Why would you want a comb?” asked Zeppo. “None of us has any hair.”

“Let me get this straight,” said Nelson urgently. “They had a camera trained on you?”

“Right,” said Gummo. “They forgot to activate it, but we found the switch, and now they have a keepsake of our visit.”

Idiots!” yelled Nelson. “Where the hell is this camera?”

“In the ceiling. About twice your height.”

“Did we do anything wrong?” asked Chico. “Besides break and enter and rob and pillage, I mean?”

“Shut up,” said Nelson. He lowered his head in thought. “We’ve got to misdirect them.”

“How?” asked Groucho. “They’ll know the store was plundered by Greenies.”

A smile slowly took shape on Nelson’s lips. “Ah,” he said. “But which Greenies?”

“There’s only us.”

“You know it, and I know it,” replied Nelson. “But nobody else knows it. Hand me a copy of that damned magazine.”

Harpo produced Slam-Bang Space Tales and passed it over to Nelson, who pulled out a pen and began writing on the cover.

Compliments of Nastiest Green Men in the Galaxy. Watch for us in our next exciting story, in which we will rob the biggest jewelry store in Baltimore, Maryland.

He paused and looked at what he’d written, then shook his head. “There’s nothing left to rob in Baltimore,” he muttered, changing the location to Boston.

I dare you to stop me and my Greenies. <signed> Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen.

“You all got new names,” he said. “Why shouldn’t I?”

“So where’s Boston?” asked Groucho.

“A few thousand miles from Dallas, where we’re heading as soon as I start the car.”

“We’re not going to Boston?” asked Zeppo.

“Of course not.”

“That’s hardly sporting of you,” said Gummo, “now that you as much as told them to try and stop us.”

“On the other hand, he’s making us notorious instead of infamous,” said Groucho.

And that statement was indeed predictive. After they’d successfully robbed banks and jewelers in Dallas, Seattle, Denver, and Orlando—they spent a whole day visiting Disneyland, where everyone thought they were employees—they were finally arrested and incarcerated in Chicago.

Their ten-year sentences simply meant that the Greenies could catch up on their sleep, which they did for the next decade, after signing contracts permitting two movies, one TV series, and one Broadway musical to be based on their lives and adventures.

They did not sell the literary rights to their life stories, because their cellmate, Malcolm Frothingham Neilsen, was producing one bestseller after another about them.

All of the biographies, which read as fast and exciting as novels, first appeared in the resurrected Smash-Bang Space Tales.

And that is the true story of our First through Fifth Alien Contacts.

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