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Bonus Story

Konstantine Paradias


Konstantine Paradias is a jeweler by profession and a writer by choice. His work has been published in the World War Cthulhu Anthology, the AE Canadian Science Fiction Review and The Battle Royale-Slam Book by Haikasoru. His short story The Grim is nominated for a PushCart award and his other comedic time travel piece How You Ruined Everything has been included in the Tangent 2013 recommended reading sf list.

Contact Konstantine at

"Story Synopsis: When the Nur’Faxian delegation make contact with Earth, they decide to visit a StarBurst Coffee Shop and try some of Terra’s most famous beverage. Lucky for them, they happen upon Lloyd Layton, a small man with very big aspirations."
-- Konstantine Paradias

Can't add anything to that, so sit back, take a sip of your favorite cold, caffeinated beverage and enjoy.


How Frappuchino Destroyed the World

By Konstantine Paradias


Before he became Absolute Satrap of Earth and Imperial Coffee-Lord in Service to the Nur’Faxian Hegemony, Lloyd Layton was a mediocre, eternally embittered employee of StarBurst coffee shops, seemingly doomed to a life of anonymity.

If the Nur’Faxians hadn’t stumbled on the Pioneer space vessel and discovered absolute proof of the existence of another sentient (though extremely backward) species, he would have remained so. It is entirely possible (the last free savants of mankind speculated, as they shared a spit-roasted rat in their underground hideouts) that Lloyd would have lived alone, unloved and without a retinue of slaves at his command, without even a single piece of property in his name. In fact (and to this they all agreed) Lloyd would have died in the manner that he had lived, his last words a bitter soliloquy, addressed to the herd of cats milling around his bed, his final wisdom lost to their animalistic brains.

But, as history would have it, Lloyd had to be the only employee chosen to service the Nur’Faxians on behalf of the StarBurst Corporation. His duty was to greet and provide caffeinated beverages to the representatives of mankind’s soon-to-be overlords. He had been hand-picked by a special UN committee, chosen for his average intelligence; his lack of enthusiasm but above all, his ability to make a decent venti cup of Caramel Frappuchino Latte with mocha sprinkles.

This happened in the impossibly short span of eight hours, during which SETI received a mathematical acknowledgement from the Nur’Faxians, which roughly translated to ‘HELLO THERE, MIND IF WE COME OVER?’ The frantic radio response that followed was taken by the future lords of the Earth as a YES.

The Nur’Faxian delegates materialized in the middle of Times Square three hours later, causing some considerable panic. Lloyd of course missed this history-altering news-flash by virtue of having slept in. He was awakened three hours later by his manager. His manager was screaming at him that he was needed right now and was to haul his sorry behind over to serve the Nur’Faxian delegation.

The Nur’Faxians had been drawn to the minimalistic design of the hundred-foot-high StarBurst ad set in the middle of Times Square and had immediately requested coffee-based beverages.

Thus, Lloyd Layton was provided a fully armed escort and was led into an APC vehicle, where he was hailed by a four-star general who called him ‘Sir’ and briefed him extensively on the nature of his mission. Lloyd only picked at his nose and nodded through the briefing, his sleep-addled brain struggling to make sense out of the situation.

The armored convoy drove through eight evacuated city blocks at top speed, reaching Lloyd’s place of work in less than ten minutes. Secret Service Agents had arranged to remove all employees and StarBurst customers from the premises almost an hour ago, to secure the area for the arrival of the President of the United States himself. Lloyd discovered (to his amazement) that his counter had been cleaned for him almost to a mirror-shine and that his coffee, whip cream and syrup supply had been re-stocked.

“Just make the coffees and try your best to stay quiet.” the four-star general told Lloyd, before clapping him once on the shoulder and assuming his appointed position inside an M104 Wolverine tank, inconspicuously parked just down the street.

In the time it took the Nur’Faxian delegation to complete their window-shopping spree before finally reaching the StarBurst shop, Lloyd had helped himself to the freshest bagel on display and stuffed his pockets with tip money. Lloyd was halfway through updating his FaceSpace status, when the door chimed its grating jingle and the Nur’Faxian delegation hovered inside the shop toward Lloyd, their giraffe-like necks bobbing up and down, examining every nook and cranny of this brave new franchise.

Lloyd mustered his happiest little grin under the circumstances and muttered in his least-terrified tone of voice:

“Hi, my name is Lloyd and welcome to Starburst. Can I take your order?”

“Yes, Lloyd-of-StarBurst. We would like to try a coffee-based beverage.” Said the Nur’Faxian delegate in  perfect Queen’s English accent.

“Is there anything you would like in particular?” Lloyd asked. His eyes were transfixed on the shimmering gasses that were released from the slits on the Nur’Faxian delegate’s neck; the tiny pair of limbs that extended beneath the alien’s chin clicked their miniscule fingers.

“We saw the effigy to your Venti-Caramel-Frappuchino-with-mocha-sprinkles. We would wish to try that.”

Had the Nur’Faxian delegates chosen Lloyd to make them some other beverage from StarBurst’s extensive menu, perhaps a Cappuccino Affogato, a Café Bombon or even an Espressino, then perhaps the Earth would have been spared their iron fist and millions would not have been forced to toil under the rule of Lloyd Layton. However, this would require one to extend his suspension of disbelief to the point where he’d be convinced there was some sort of justice in the Universe.

Instead, they ordered for half a dozen of the stuff and watched with awe as Lloyd poured the half-congealed, crystallized, caffeinated goo into the transparent plastic cups, topped them with majestic whipped-cream domes, adorned those domes with caramel trails on which he sprinkled mocha with the same reverence that a Renaissance painter would reproduce the Madonna’s grieving countenance.

The aliens studied the strange beverages with fascination, running the tips of their long, multi-jointed fingers across the condensation of the cup. They struggled with the bendy, primitive tube contraptions that stuck out of the cream-summits and slipped their long, forked tongues through the plastic rings in the tops of the cups, tentatively tasting the sweetness sprinkled on top of them. After a few minutes of struggling with these contraptions and some gentle goading by Lloyd, the Nur’Faxians finally managed to take their first few sips of Earth coffee.

The change wrought upon the delegates by the caffeine was drastic. On the first gulp, the half-dozen alien delegate’s necks snapped up tightly with a whoosh!

On the second gulp, their skins turned the color of fish-bellies reflecting the sunlight.

On the third gulp, just as the Secret Service agent was about to dial NASA, the Pentagon and his family just so he could say his final goodbyes, the Nur’Faxian delegates grinned a lizard-like grin, all teeth and gums.

The head of the delegation (a Nur’Faxian with a significantly longer and ribbed neck) asked Lloyd, who had crawled behind the counter:

“What a marvelous substance! Such a miraculous concoction! Tell me, Lloyd-of-StarBust-Coffee, have you more of it?”

“Yeah, man.” Lloyd muttered, rising up from the counter, transfixed by two-dozen pairs of eyes. “I got tons here.”

“Then bring us more of this Venti-Caramel-Frappuchino-with-mocha-sprinkles!”

“Aye!” the delegates said, rapping their fingers on the table in anticipation. Lloyd, spurred on by their enthusiasm produced more of the gooey caffeinated goodness they asked for and brought it over.

“Tell us, Lloyd-of-StarBurst-Coffee, do you make this beverage yourself?”

“No, I just work here. But I’ve been doing this for a while, so I’ve gotten good at it, I guess.”

“How long have you been studying and preparing this magnificent concoction, Lloyd-of-StarBurst-Coffe?”

“I don’t know, about two years, I guess.”

The delegates turned to each other and began conversing in the raspy tones of their mother-tongue, translating the Earthly span of seven hundred and thirty days into Nur’Faxian rils, shuuls and sbubs. After a long and heated debate, the alien delegates finally turned to Lloyd and said:

“That is a very short time for a man to master the ways of drink.”

“Guess I’m just that good at it, then.” Lloyd lied. His served beverage was mostly created by a machine, packaged and frozen and stored in the shop’s tanks weeks in advance by underpaid Argentinian workers. All he really did was simply add some extra whip-cream and about a teaspoon of extra caramel sauce to drown out the taste of their spit in the brew. The Nur’Faxians were thankfully unaware of that.

“We would be interested in introducing this elixir to our homeworld and our Colonies, Lloyd-of-StarBurst-Coffee. In fact, we would be willing to provide the man who would give up its secrets with an emperor’s ransom.”

“That so?” Lloyd said, and he was invigorated by malice of such magnitude as the time he’d dropped a toad down Amy Donovan’s blouse back in third grade. The Secret Service agent looked over, his hand reaching for his gun. “Like, what would you do, for the coffee?”

“What would you ask of us, Lloyd-Of-StarBurst-Coffee?” asked the Nur’Faxian delegate, immobilizing the Secret Service agent inside an invisible force field with a flick of his wrist.

“Well, um, a better counter, for starters?” Lloyd hazarded.

“You will have a hundred thousand slaves to brew your elixir in your stead, conditioned to prepare it according to your specifications.”

“Well if I’ve got like, a hundred thousand slaves, I guess that’d mean I would have everybody who worked for StarBurst Coffee in my command.”

“Then that is what you shall have.” The Nur’Faxian head delegate said, flashing his grin at Lloyd, who pressed his advantage.

“In that case, I’d need a nice place to live. Like, a mansion or like maybe a private island, to watch over the, um, brewing operations?”

“You will be provided with an anti-grav palace, staffed with the finest pleasure-slaves in our Empire. D’Ruuk, show Beverage-Lord Lloyd what he’ll be getting.”

One of the delegates (his neck adorned with a series of platinum rings) produced a three-dimensional image of a multi-breasted, scantily-clad Nur’Faxian beauty. Her charms were, however, lost to Lloyd’s mammalian brain.

“Um, I’d rather have some human women, you know?”

“Who would you prefer? A starlet of Earth? A swimsuit model? A perfect organic automaton, painstakingly recreated in the semblance of the limbless Venus-of-Milo? Our study of your planet’s informational super-highway has given us great knowledge of your tastes.”

“Nah, I’d rather have Becky White” Lloyd said, the name of his high school cheerleader ex leaving his lips before he had time to even think it. With a scan of his mind and a clap of the Nur’Faxian delegation’s hands, Becky materialized beside him, dressed in the two-sizes-too-small outfit of her glory days, twelve years older and thirty pounds heavier.

“Lloyd? Lloyd Layton? What the hell are you doing here? And who are you with? Oh my God, are those the aliens from-” Becky began but was suddenly silenced with a telepathic command.

“Would you have anything more, Lloyd of the Laytons?”

“Do I?” Lloyd said, running behind the counter and going through his duffel bag, where he kept his little diary of people he wanted killed, stuff he wanted done and things he desired but never had enough money for. In it were the names of school bullies (now grown drunkards or eternally grieving family men), degrees, awards and nominations for things he had never gotten around to doing (but considered himself worthy of anyway) and rows upon rows of material goods that he secretly knew he would never find any use for (yet had desperately desired).

“They are all yours” the Nur’Faxians said, dropping those things on lloyd’s feet. Lloyd’s knees went weak at the sight of them.

He stuttered as he brought more Frappuchinos over in exchange “You got yourselves a deal.”

The Nur’Faxians nodded in assent, conversed in their mother-tongue a little bit longer and then said:

“You understand, of course, that we will require vast amounts of this beverage. The Nur’Faxian Empire spans nearly two galaxies, and we number in the quintillions. We will require Earth to produce vast amounts of the coffee to sate our appetites.”

“Um” Lloyd managed, his mind struggling with the vastness of consumer demand laid on his feet. “I don’t know if we could manage that, man, I mean we only make this in Brazil or Argentina or someplace, we’d need like, two planets’ worth of the stuff to even begin to cover all this need for coffee.”

“Worry not your exalted head, Lloyd of the Laytons. My colleagues have drawn a simple, yet efficient plan: we will turn your planet into a vast coffee plantation, after draining the oceans and ridding it of any unnecessary fauna and flora. Two percent of the Earth’s surface will be left untouched, to cover for the habitation needs of your subjects.”

Lloyd thought it over, but for the life of him (even as he looked into the wide, terrified eyes of Becky and ignored the muffled pleas of his enemies), found that he could not honestly care for the blight that he was about to bring upon his own species. Suddenly, it hit him. “Yeah, but where will I live? I’m gonna need some space, man.”

“Your planet has a sizeable moon. We will adjust it according to your specifications. We trust this is alright with you?”

Lloyd thought of the magnificent view from his domed moon-palace, the sight of Earth ruined, broken and conditioned to fulfill his every command and reached out to shake the hands of his benefactors. Their long fingers had locked around his palm, squeezing it gently yet firmly, when the President of the United States came through the door with his personal security detail. He stopped at the sight of Lloyd, the alien delegates and the mound of crumbling gadgets that was massed in the back of the store.

Finally, he managed a high-pitched, hysterical “Just what the hell’s going on here, gentlemen?”… before he and his detail were turned into miles of red, glistening ribbons with a snap of the delegates’ fingers.

The takeover of Earth was over in a matter of minutes. The Nur’Faxian battle-fleet materialized in LaGrange space, bombarded Earth’s major population centers, neutralized mankind’s nuclear capability and had teleported ground troops to pick off two-thirds of the population by 2 PM, Greenwich Mean Time.

Ecoforming of the Earth’s Moon was completed within two days, while the draining of the oceans and the re-location of the remaining third of mankind was completed by the end of June, in time for Independence Day.

And Lloyd Layton, who found himself reclining on his baby-sealskin couch from his vantage point on the Sea of Tranquility, looking down at the planet-wide coffee crops manned by the last surviving members of his species, did not for one moment stop to consider the magnitude of his treason toward his kind and his planet.

He sipped instead at his Venti Frappuchino, ran his fingers through Becky White’s hair (who had grown silent and much more cooperative since her regulation lobotomy) and thought how he had finally come out on top, the way he had always thought he deserved.



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