Harrison and Mason are recurring characters in some of my flash fiction. I try to write each one so that it can be enjoyed as a standalone, but if you’d like to read their journey together from the beginning, it’s all available right here to read for free on my website. They are a fun couple who have a little boy, Jaxon. Mason is an attorney, and Harrison is a stay-at-home dad. Mason and Jaxon had rather active imaginations, and Harrison…not so much.
As with most of my flash fiction and bonus scenes, they are written from prompts. Either a concept, a set of words, or an image. Often a mixture of two or three of those things. This new one is from all three.
This scene I’m sharing today was first published in my September, 2023 Newsletter.
The image at the top of this collage is a photo I took of a page from a book of prompts. It includes a story concept and ten prompt words. I also found an image (we’ll imagine that’s Jaxon and Mason in the pic) to add just a little more to the story concept.
Adventures with Harrison and Mason
Write the Story: An Alien in Disguise Among Humans
Include the following in your story:
Aurora Borealis ~ paint brush ~ corn field ~ cluster ~ lineup ~ overlook ~ suspect ~ bridge ~ dome ~ dash
Harrison quirked an eyebrow as Jaxon zipped closed his backpack. “Why did you put a paint brush in there?” Not to mention, where had it come from? Had he and Mason purchased it in Fairbanks earlier in the day, or had they actually packed it for this Labor Day weekend trip here to Alaska?
Jaxon and Mason exchanged a glance. A look Harrison was eminently familiar with. It was their “Daddy won’t understand” look, which generally meant it wasn’t a paint brush—duh—it was a magic wand. Or maybe they were planning to teleport to India to paint an invisibility veneer on the dome of the Taj Mahal after this cover-story/purported purpose of their holiday excursion was over? With Jaxon and Mason, one never knew.
Harrison managed not to roll his eyes and didn’t push the issue. “Come on.” He cocked his head toward the door. “We’ve gotta dash. The Aurora Borealis won’t care what you two are up to.”
He added a smile to soften his words. He wouldn’t want to give the impression he didn’t care what they were up to even though their make-believe games typically eluded and excluded him. Not that they pointedly excluded him. He just didn’t share the impressive imagination Jaxon had inherited from Mason.
“Right.” Mason returned the grin. He placed a hand on Jaxon’s shoulder. “Do you know what else we should be able to see in the night sky tonight? It’s very special to Daddy.”
Jaxon perked up and shook his head. Harrison had no idea what Mason might be referring to, but judging by the sparkle in his husband’s eyes, he wasn’t meant to. He was only meant to play along.
Harrison closed the hotel door behind them and said in a hushed tone, “Do you think Jaxon is old enough to hear the truth?”
“What truth?” Jaxon literally bounced as they strode toward the elevator. “And what else will be in the night sky?”
“Pleiades.” Mason left his reply at that. One simple word.
“Is that a star?” Jaxon’s brow scrunched.
This much Harrison knew. “It’s a cluster of stars, also known as the Seven Sisters.”
“Oh.” Jaxon shrugged. “Why is it so special to you?”
Harrison looked to Mason for help. This was his purview both in general and specifically for this thread.
But Mason just grinned innocently back and said, “Yes, I think he’s old enough to hear the truth. Go ahead and tell him.”
They stepped into the elevator behind an older couple. Harrison’s mind whirled and zoomed in on the only space-related idea that occurred to him. “If you’re sure…” He swallowed and looked into Jaxon’s wide eyes. “Well, that’s where I’m from.”
“Wait…what?” Jaxon laughed. “You’re from a star in Pleiades, not Pop?”
The older couple who was closed in the elevator with them shuffled away a few steps. Harrison ignored them and huffed. “Is that so hard to believe?”
Jaxon tilted his head like he was pondering the wonders of the universe, which Harrison supposed he was. Finally, he nodded. “You are more like a robot.”
Mason snorted a soft laugh, but his eyes had a soft, understanding look in them.
Harrison sputtered and affected an indignant posture with his hands on his hips. “I am not like a robot.”
“I know, I know.” Jaxon rolled his eyes and giggled. “I just mean you’re…literal…like a computer program or something. I can see an alien being more like that.”
Like a computer. Or, more accurately, like someone who was—just a bit, mind—neurodivergent. “Okay, that’s fair, I guess.”
The elevator dinged, and they strode through the lobby and veered toward the parking lot. The older couple gave them a wide berth.
“Tell him about how we met.” Mason’s grin had a sly tilt, and he had a wicked gleam in his eye.
“Yeah.” Jaxon’s entire expression mirrored Mason’s. “How did you meet Pop? You guys told me it was at a college party.”
“You were too young for the truth then.” Harrison’s mind whirled again. What did he know about alien lore? “But Pop was a college student, so that part was the truth.”
Jaxon waited expectantly for more, and Mason didn’t jump in. Crop circles was the only alien-related thing that came to mind. Lame, but… “My team had dropped me off to scout around the day before, and our ship had left a big circle in a corn field.”
“I remember that,” Mason said, finally, finally, jumping in to help. “A bunch of us had been crossing a bridge, and that overlook had given us a good view of the field. I told them it was an alien crop circle, but they’d just laughed it off. Said it was weird, though, that the farmer would waste so much of his field like that.”
“Right.” Harrison unlocked their rental car and they all buckled in. “I was lurking behind one of the trees running alongside the creekbank, still deciding which kind of earth creature I would shapeshift into.”
“You’re a shape shifter!?”
“Well yeah. I mean, what are the odds that I would look just like earth humans, otherwise?”
“Okay, good point. So can I see what you really look like?”
“Of course not. I would never get approval for that. Even Pop hasn’t seen that.” Harrison coughed. “Anyway, Pop was part of a group of young men—college students, I know now—standing there looking like a row of suspects in a police lineup.”
“Tell him why I’m the one that caught your attention.”
Harrison cast some side-eye at Mason, but Mason ignored it and put the car into gear and steered them toward the countryside, away from the city’s lights, the better to view the night sky.
“Right, well as you know—” Harrison fixed his gaze on Jaxon in the vanity mirror on his visor. “—I’ve got excellent hearing.”
“And eyes in the back of your head, I’m pretty sure,” Jaxon grumbled.
Harrison snickered. “I heard Pop trying to convince his friends about the reality of the crop circle. Clearly he was the most intelligent of the group.”
“How did you understand the language? I mean, as an alien your people might not talk anything like we do. It might be all titters and clicks or something, right?”
“Very astute.” Harrison had seen enough Sci-Fi to answer this one. “We’d been observing from space for long enough to be able to program the translators embedded in our brains with the human language of the region we’d decided to infiltrate.”
“Wait a minute. You said earlier you were still deciding which species to shapeshift into.”
Oops. “Right. See? You’re just as smart as Pop is. But even though humans are who we wanted to observe, that could possibly have been better achieved with me as a dog or other animal. I just needed to be able to understand the humans around me.”
The glance Mason shot his way had good save written all over it.
“Ultimately,” Harrison continued. “I decided to shift into a human because the laws of physics still apply to shape shifters, and they were a more compatible size.”
“And you decided you wanted to be with the smart human? Pop?”
“And you told him you were an alien?”
“Only because he figured it out. And I trusted him, and he trusted me when I said we had good intentions and only wanted to observe for a few centuries to decide whether this world was a good candidate to join the coalition of advanced worlds. Even if the verdict is ‘no,’ it’s not like we’re going to aim a death ray at you or anything.”
“Cool.” Jaxon nodded approvingly, and Harrison grinned. He might not be in Mason’s league, but he could hold his own on occasion.
Mason clasped his hand and brought it to his lips. “Maybe when your crew comes back for an update, you can take us for a spin around the solar system?”
Jaxon giggled. “Maybe I won’t tickle you with that paint brush to make you think a spider landed on you when you’re looking at the sky after all.”