Not Just A Power Outage

Short Story by Serena Mao

Photos by Kishore Rajesh, Kaitlynn Gray, and Michelle Lum

“After five relaxing days of procrastination, it was finally Friday, and the physics p-set was due concerningly soon. But even after settling comfortably into my favorite outdoor study spot beside Galileo, it seemed my brain still wasn’t being terribly cooperative. Sighing, I closed my eyes, shifting my attention to the calming drip-drops of the koi pond. Drip, drop. Drip, drop. Driiiip. Drop.

Something was horribly wrong. The typical 0.4 seconds in between drips had been temporarily disrupted. Springing to my feet, I rushed over to the stone fountain, frantically making sure my favorite koi fish hadn’t dropped dead.

He wasn’t. At least not yet — the water level was steadily dropping, shortening Wally’s lifespan by the second. Scanning the walls of the fountain, I gasped as I noticed a hose emerging from the tank, sucking precious fluid from Wally’s slimy home.

I heaved the tube out of the water, and my eyes began searching for its source: which I couldn’t find, because the hose led through the door to Galileo, begging me to follow. I love a (non-physics) challenge, so I yanked the door open and carefully traced the hose’s path. Vaguely remembering that the Libra Complex should be closed for Omicron-related reasons, I brushed the thought aside as I rounded the corner of the Makerspace.

What met my eyes wasn’t your “typical alien,” if such a concept even exists: it resembled a gooey, amorphous mass (think Ditto, from Pokémon). Hand-like appendages appeared to extend from and retreat into its viscous body at will, and without noticeable feet, it oozed around like a slug.

‘Can you stop staring?’

I almost fell backwards. ‘S-s-sorry,’ I stammered. ‘I didn’t realize I was looking at your… uh… face.’

‘What’s a face?’ The creature furrowed its “brows.” ‘You know us Blobs aren’t good with human vocab. Whatever. I already told you proctors not to mess with the hose.’

‘Right, I’m a proctor.’ As a frosh, and definitely not a proctor, I hoped lying to these Blob-aliens didn’t violate the Honor Code. ‘So, what’s the hose for again?’

‘I already explained this. Water for our spaceships is like gas for human cars. We need full tanks for tonight. And there’s no way that stupid fountain is going to be enough.’

I shivered as thoughts of a dried-up Wally crept into my head. ‘Can’t you use some other non-fountain water? Like just redirect the entire dorm water supply and have some mercy on the koi.’ I quietly hoped the aliens had a sense of humor.

‘Genius.’ I heard a gurgling sound that I assumed was alien throat-clearing. The Blob raised its voice, addressing the dozens of other Blobs that I suddenly noticed were also sliming around the Makerspace. ‘Guys, we’re gonna take the water from the kids. Get one of the proctors to arrange the emails.’

‘How are you gonna do that?’ Before I could burst out laughing, an email notification interrupted my thoughts:


They actually took my suggestion. Not gonna lie, I was pretty flattered at first. But then, my phone started buzzing like crazy, informing me that my roommate had lost water mid-shower. ‘Hey guys? Maybe using Res-End water for fuel wasn’t the best idea.’

‘Shut up. You proctors know it’s important,’ the Blob retorted. I was confused, but mostly annoyed. This didn’t seem like the most ethical solution to their questionably urgent problem. But wait a second — this whole stupid thing was my idea, anyway. After contemplating the idea for around thirty seconds, I reluctantly concluded that I should probably self report for causing this whole mess.

Stepping out the Makerspace though, I suddenly realized I needed to pee. Taking a detour into the bathroom, I immediately stopped in my tracks. Slumped on the ground, a medium-sized Blob was shivering in a teary puddle, emitting a feeble, whimpering sound

‘Is everything okay?’ As an empath, I naturally felt compassion for the Blob. Stepping closer, I noticed a small square cardstock nestled within the folds in the Blob’s body. It appeared to be an alien Polaroid of the Blob posing next to… a smaller Blob?

‘That’s my Blob-ter. Blob-daughter,’ it whined fondly. ‘And she’s not gonna survive another week if we fail. No Blob will.’

‘What? Why?’

‘I already explained this to you proctors… whatever. Before humans colonized Earth and drove us Blobs out to Blob-earth, we hid a few emergency Blob-tree-seedlings under the trees here at Mudd. Now, we’re here to take them back. Growing them is our only hope to recapture car-Blob dioxide and slow Blob-climate change.’

I hadn’t been as confused since doing that week’s physics solo problems. ‘Why didn’t you just put the seedlings in some Public Storage?’

The Blob appeared frustrated. ‘Don’t you remember? Humans drove us out. They wanted all of Earth to themselves, and to never see Blobs again. The only people that pitied us were a few Harvey Mudd proctors, and they’ve passed that sentiment down through generations of proctors. No one else can know we’re here right now. But with our huge spaceships and blobbiness, there’s no way others won’t notice.’ It began choking up. ‘We’re destined to fail.’

Suddenly, the need to pee had vanished. ‘I have an idea.’

Once the water tanks were full, my idea had once again become the new plan. At 10 p.m. sharp, the head proctor flipped a few switches — sending the entirety of campus into pitch-black darkness. Checking my phone, the campus-wide notification flashed across the screen:


Perfectly on cue, emails from each dorm’s proctor began blowing up my phone, each urging Mudders to “PLEASE STAY INSIDE.” With no light in sight, and all the Mudders gathered indoors, the blobs could do their thing and go perfectly unnoticed.

‘Alright, it’s go time.’ Simultaneously, all the blobs scattered to hop in their water-fueled spaceships, taking flight somewhere above. Even after stepping outside, I could barely make out the metallic outlines of the ships — but I could feel the strong winds they created as they swished through the air. Every minute or so, I’d hear a huge CRA-A-ACK: and I’d smile, knowing another tree had been uprooted, and another Blob-tree-seedling had been collected.

By the time they left the next day, all of Claremont was ravaged with destruction. Blobs aren’t exactly the most experienced or inconspicuous thieves, as evidenced by the toppled outdoor classrooms, damaged power lines, and disproportionately high number of downed trees. Luckily, the administration and students simply went on with their busy lives, chalking it up to the Santa Ana winds.”


I wrapped my storytime up with a satisfied sigh. “So that’s basically why I didn’t finish my miniquestions. Pretty sick, right?”

For some reason, my physics professor looked incredulous. I braced myself.

After a silent minute, he shook his head as if deeply disappointed. “I’ll give you an extension after you self-report for lying to those aliens.”


Disclaimer: Though I badly wish Blobs were real, this story is pure fiction.

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