Excerpt: 'Daniel X: Watch the Skies'

They were laughing their slimy heads off. Not literally, but if one of these horrific creatures had actually knocked its own block off, picked it up from the floor, and eaten it, the boy wouldn't have been surprised.

"By Antares, they're good," one of the monsters said, slapping one of its six scaly knees. "It's just like Saturday Night Fever!"

And then the fat one in charge -- cradling the bullhorn in his left tentacle, nearly crushing the cheap folding canvas chair with his weight -- replied with a sigh.

"Yes, it's almost a shame we have to terminate them."

Chapter Three:

The five aliens were still hungry even after their fresh kill. They scuttled and hovered out of the news van they'd swiped from the local TV station and pressed their ugly wet noses against the windows of the Holliswood Diner. A young waitress with wavy black hair was reading a Sherman Alexie paperback at the counter.

"Business is about to pick up a lot," said the boss alien, who had a thousand-pound intergalactic champion sumo wrestler's body and the head of a catfish. No ears, no neck, no legs -- and no manners.

He reached out to his personal assistant -- a big-nosed space ape -- grabbed its cell phone, and punched in a number. The three other henchbeasts twitched with anticipation. This was looking to turn into a pretty exciting Saturday night.

When the girl leaned across the counter to pick up the diner's phone, a little spark leaped out of the receiver, arcing straight into her ear. Her eyes turned glassy as she put down the phone and went to open the door for them. "What did the Zen Buddhist say to the hot-dog vendor?" asked the lead alien as the waitress showed them to their booths, already chuckling to himself at the coming punch line.

"Make me one with everything" said the girl, robotically.

The creatures burst into laughter.

"Actually, on second thought, sweetie," he added, "Why don't you go and make us everything with everything. Chop-chop!"

"Good one, boss!" said his assistant, stealthily snatching his cell phone back from where his employer had rested it on the table. He carefully wiped it down with a napkin before putting it back in his purple fanny pack.

The waitress, in the meantime, had flown into motion as if somebody had hit the 2 button on her remote control.

She prepared and delivered to the aliens heaping stacks of eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, coffee, Cokes, bagels, burgers, turkey platters, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, onion rings, cheesesteaks, cheesecakes, clam chowder, gravy fries, banana cream pies, root-beer floats, and chicken-fried steaks. And several mugs of fryer oil.

"Careful or you'll burn her out, boss," advised one of the henchbeasts.

"Like I care," said the boss. "We got about six billion of them to get rid of. And, come to think of it," he said with a laugh that sounded like somebody blowing bubbles in turkey gravy, "there are plenty more where you came from too."

And, with that, he grabbed the henchbeast and pummeled it against the linoleum floor. The sound that filled the diner was like a roach getting crushed by a hard-soled shoe -- only much louder.

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