issue 6

Hollywood’s Favorite Abductee, by Kat Clay

I’m a girl with a reputation for being kidnapped. It’s my schtick you see. Last week, it was Frogman, stealing me away to his lilypad lair. Two months ago, Regis Studios paid me to sit captive for a guy dressed as a slug in a B-grade doozy. And don’t get me started on Big Ape II.

I got a great set of pins, a voice that can hit a high C, and a curly blonde bob which has me an altogether reputation of being Myra Myrtle, Hollywood’s favorite abductee. Whether it’s aliens, yetis, or scheming villains with an urge to tie dames to train tracks, I’m your gal.

It’s not a bad life. Sure, I’d love to make the A-leagues. But it’s a living, and it sure as hell beats what some gals gotta do to eat.

Anyways, I’d got a call from my agent, and Regis needed me to play the First Lady in a new film. Ma would be so proud. It was a big step up for me—usually the directors just wanted me to wear a short skirt, scream, and fall into the arms of the leading man—but this time I had a line, and damned if I wasn’t going to get it right.

Something magical happens every time I walk into a movie studio. Maybe it’s the burning lights, the bagels, or the fretting scriptwriters chain-smoking out the back of the hangar, but gee whiz, I love the smell of Hollywood.

The first drops of a storm were sputtering over L.A., so I arrived early to get my make-up done, early enough to catch the Director, Vince shouting at the DOP, “THIS IS THE PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE, NOT DOUBLE INDEMNITY. TAKE YOUR HIGH CONTRAST LIGHTING BACK TO 1944.”

The guy in the chair next to me said, “I heard the DOP gave up Mankiewicz’ first film. Now he’s working Killer Crabs from Uranus. Life, huh.”

“I’ll say.” He was handsome, with a chiseled chin and honest eyes. Must’ve been one of those up-and-coming Regis Studio stars. “Are you the leading man?”

He put on a pair of thick-rimmed glasses.

“I’m Garry Bainbridge—playing Specs, America’s top nuclear astro-geophysicist with expertise in space crustaceans. And now I can see you. Can’t believe I’m sitting next to Myra Myrtle.”

I blushed. He knew my name.

“I’ve seen all your films,” he said.

I was suddenly hot under my starched First Lady collar. Must’ve been the electric lights gleaming around the mirror. Here was this lovely fan, and I hadn’t seen a thing of his. “Is this your first feature?” I asked.

“I’ve done a couple of small gigs presenting science TV shows. Got my bachelor’s in biology too. I only ever wanted to be a scientist, but my uncle owns the studio, and he’s assured me a career in film will be more achievable than landing a man on the moon. Look at me rambling on. What about you? I mean, you’re Myra Myrtle. You probably don’t even want to talk to a nobody like me.”

Before I could respond, Vince’s voice bounced through the hangar. “SPECS! MYRTLE! You’re on!”

The set mimicked the Oval Office, if Ed Wood decorated it. Two American flagpoles stood behind a rickety leather lined desk. But what made it really classy was the obsession with gold filigree, which decorated every spare inch of the office, next to the cheapness of everything else—gold painted foam, cardboard, and rubber.

President Buck Danger was already sitting at the desk, examining his reflection in the sheen of the bull lamp, played by none other than Kirk Shale, Hollywood’s number one man of action. If you needed a war hero, or a wounded cowboy, or a crooning heartthrob who could also land a roundhouse kick, Shale was your man. He’d clearly got the bum end of a contract to end up in this flick.

The scene was this: while President Danger and Specs were discussing the plan to defeat the “space menace”, the killer crabs would beam into the set (read: set off the smoke machine and cut between shots so it looks like they ‘appeared’), and kidnap the First Lady (that’s me), and then I’d spend the rest of the movie tied up on a UFO bed writhing dramatically in a ripped blouse until President Danger rescued me.

At least, that was what was meant to happen.

The director called “ACTION!”

Garry burst through the door. “Mr. President! I must speak with you!”

“Specs! It must be important to have you so worked up. You’re normally as cool as a cucumber fighting threats to good American values with science. But first…” And that was Shale’s cue to swivel in his chair and wink at me, and I said, “I’ll pour the coffee, darling President.”

I’m pretty sure Mamie Eisenhower never had to put up with this.

While I was pouring the coffee, making sure my pins pointed 90-degrees to camera so it could pick up my best side, the smoke machine rumbled, and the little green men (who were actually big pink crustaceans), entered the set, ray guns in hand, and said, “EARTH LEADER! TELL YOUR HUMANOIDS TO SURRENDER! OUR PEOPLE HAVE INFILTRATED YOUR PLANET.”

“What is this?” shouted Shale, throwing up his hands. “That’s not in the script. I told you, Vince, I’m only doing this because I’m cutting my contract with Regis so I can go work on Heart of Darkness: the Musical.”

“CUT! CUT! CUT!” shouted Vince.

Garry sidled next to me while Vince ribbed out the alien stunt guys, and I whispered to Garry, “Those special effects are neato. Did they spring for Harryhausen on this one?”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” he said, staring at the killer crabs through the dissipating smoke. “They have the faces and shells of giant isopods, the claws of a coconut crab, and what looks like a functioning oxygen pack, with a cable leading directly into their lungs. But there are only ten species of giant isopods on earth, and they live in benthic environments.”

“High pressure sea chasms—or Uranus,” I offered.

“The point is this: how would a Hollywood special effects artist know what a giant isopod looks like? Hey, wait on, you know science…”

And that was when the Pincer shot Vince, melting him into a glowing ash pile.

I shoulda been a bit more upset that Vince had been barbequed mid-shoot, but I was more concerned about getting my pay because I had rent due at the end of the week, and it’s a hell of a thing getting a cheque from a dead director. Trust me, I’ve tried.

The Pincers pointed their weapons at Shale, who was sitting at the presidential table, bug eyed.


Buck Danger might as well be renamed Cluck Chicken; in an instant he scrambled out of the president’s chair, kneeled before the killer crabs and shouted, “I’m not the real president! I’m just a body double. He’s the real president!” and pointed at Garry.

“Who? Me?” said Garry.

He looked cute in those specs, and if we weren’t trying to defeat an invasion of little green men to Hollywood, he’d be the kinda guy I’d take home to Ma in Reno.

Garry took the chair, gestured to the DOP to keep rolling, and placed his hands on the desk, looking altogether presidential, and said, “People of Earth. I come to you from the White House. Lay down your arms. The—what should I call you guys?”


“I urge you to surrender to these pinko pincermen.” Geez, he was a talented actor to deliver that without even a twitch of his mouth.

The alien leader spoke with his underlings in a high-pitched chittering noise. A claw man lumbered outside, then back in, and chittered back to his boss. That lead Pincer sure was angry because he shouted at poor Garry, “YOUR PEOPLE ARE NOT SURRENDERING!”

Garry stood, fist raised. “That’s because our people will never surrender! It’s against the human spirit to give up in the face of trouble!”

He was going so well, until one Pincer grabbed him with his coconut crab claws and pulled him over the desk, ripping his shirt. Garry tumbled to the ground, dazed, his broken specs dangling off his ear, ripped shirt revealing his muscled torso… I had to do something. No way little green men were going to get in the way of my line, my paycheck, or a date.

I grabbed the first thing I could find—the tall coffee pot filled with lukewarm coffee—and threw it at the Pincer. It stumbled back a little, its beady eyes twirling in confusion. They clearly didn’t have coffee on Planet Claw. It chittered nasty noises my way and pulled the trigger on his ray gun. I ducked—my entire career was about to go up in flames. But the weapon jammed; must be universal that projectile weapons don’t like water. I coulda killed for a crab mallet right then.

 “RESTRAIN THE FEMALE!” shouted their leader.

“Not this again,” I sighed. I yanked off my shoes, throwing the pointy ends of the First Lady’s stilettos at the oncoming Pincer. I was aiming for its eyes, but they were so damned small, my shoes bounced off the hard shell. The claw man picked me up and lodged me under what could only be his armpit. Let me tell you, Eau de Eau is not a great smell.

I thrashed under his arm, banging my fists on his articulated thorax. “Let me down! Or I’ll take you to the crab shack!” It didn’t have any effect, but I noticed a small tube running from a silver cannister on his back, and yanked. It made a sucking noise—kinda like a vacuum cleaner.

The pincer dropped me, grabbing for the tube. His pal helped him out, jamming it back into the hole where it had come out. I nursed my bruised shoulder; worse still, I had a ladder in my brand-new stockings, and they weren’t cheap.


The poor DOP had just moved from one terrible director to another. The leader and his two minions picked up the camera and the men, and marched back to wherever they’d came from, smoke still whirling in their exit. While this was happening, the crew stood frozen; they’d just seen their director zapped to ash, and insurance sure as hell didn’t cover death by ray gun.

I picked up Garry’s shattered specs from the ground, brushed off the dust, and declared, “We need to save the President! I mean, Garry.”

The rest of the crew waved me off, muttering something about pay. Right on cue, the real fake claw man arrived in costume from the food trailer, grasping a soda between his Pincers and drinking through a straw. “Did Vince chuck a tantrum again?” he asked. I recognized the guy vaguely from central casting—Danny.

“That’s Vince,” I said, pointing to the now conglomerated ash pile on the floor. “And I need your help.”

Outside, the UFO invasion of earth had caused a traffic jam on Hollywood Boulevard. They’d parked their silver saucers right down the middle of the street. Despite the oncoming rain, tourists in a double-decker bus popped Polaroids, while down below, the parking inspectors tried to explain quarters to the Pincers, who couldn’t grasp the money between their claws, and, frustrated, blitzed the parking meters into oblivion. Well, that was one way to avoid a fine.

There was no sign of the lead Pincer and his claw minions, so I hid behind a large warehouse crate at the studio entrance with Danny.

“How are we going to get on that ship?” I said, pointing to the closest UFO, two Pincers standing watch over the entrance ramp. “It’s guarded tighter than John Wayne’s Stagecoach.”

“Easy,” said Danny. “I can pretend to be a claw dame and distract them with my womanly wiles.”

I shook my head. “Do you even think that aliens from another planet would have similar gender expectations to Earth? Just because you’d stare at the next blonde who walked on set doesn’t mean that it’ll work on a bunch of…”

“Yoo-hoo!” said Danny in a husky falsetto, lunging a crustacean leg out from behind the crate. The two Pincers guarding the UFO grimaced.

I yanked him back. “It works in the movies,” he said with a shrug.

I shook my head. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. “You need to hand me over so I can get on their UFO.”

“You want me to hand you over to them Pincers?” said Danny in disbelief. “Forgeddabout that guy. Let the army nuke those aliens. Plenty of other fish in the sea.” But if there were plenty of other fish in the sea, why did I think Garry was the fish for me?

“I’m going, and that’s that.” As I started walking towards the Pincers, Danny hooked his pink rubber arm under mine. I didn’t win Reno’s best junior actress two years running for nothing. I kicked and scrapped like Jake LaMotta. “Let go of me, you Pinko!”


The two Pincer guards chittered at Danny. They chittered again, expecting a response. “Throw me to the ground,” I whispered.

I landed at the foot of the ramp into the UFO, right between the two guards.

“SPEAK IN CRETIN!” demanded one of the real Pincers.

“Hey, who you calling a cretin?” And Danny pulled one pink claw back and punched the Pincer in the face. Except that his costume was rubber, and the punch slid off the Pincer’s cheek. Before the killer crabs could react, I rolled over and yanked out the tubes from their backs. The Pincers flailed, reaching for their vacuum packs. It was like trying to fit into a tight dress at Sears but not being able to reach the zip.

Without help from their alien pals—occupied with a guy trying to sell them a map to the stars—the Pincers curled up into their shells, clutching their heads and chittering in low, distressed voices. Danny stood over them, looking mighty pleased with himself. “They ain’t just shellfish, they’re whoopee cushions,” said Danny.

My hair was messed, my stockings torn, and I’d lost my shoes. The least I could do was straighten my skirt, hold my shoulders back, and head into the UFO.

“Coming?” I asked.

Danny looked at me sheepishly. “Sorry, Miss Myrtle, the union doesn’t cover activities outside of California. You’re on your own.”

Flying a UFO was not as hard as it looked. I mean, I’d seen a bunch of movies with aliens, acted in a bunch more. The rules of gravity are the same everywhere. Get enough lift and you’d be able to fly—although if that was the case, I needed to change my hair spray.

The throttle buttons were on the left of the hypersonic attitude indicator near the navigation sidestick. And there had to be a rocket propulsion system because there was no way this little discus was aerodynamic enough to use Hollywood Boulevard as a runway. I took a stab—when in doubt, push the big, red button.

The UFO shuddered to life under my feet. It was a small ship, with seats for only two. I wondered whether this invasion of Earth was all show. There weren’t enough Pincers to capture the whole of Earth, so they’d taken the President instead.

Hollywood Boulevard lifted away under my feet. I gripped the joystick and got a feel for the UFO, although I almost clocked the side of City Hall.

I didn’t have a plan, but sometimes you just had to wing it. And I was winging it up well into the atmosphere, through the clouds until the light became that of the pure sky. No pollution. Just the moon, stars, and little old me.

I was the first woman in space.

But I couldn’t take in the galaxy’s whirl; I had to find Garry and stop those Pincers from taking over Earth. Sure enough, a bunch of those UFOs hovered in the planet’s exosphere. I figured if we had the White House for our President, then the biggest and shiniest ship would house their commander.

I navigated the UFO through the armada of ships. I gotta say, these things handled better than a Cadillac. The landing bay was just big enough for one of the smaller ships. I might’ve chipped a window on the way in. “Hope you’ve got insurance,” I said, realizing I’d forgotten to check for the one thing I needed right now—brakes. The saucer skittered across the landing bay, bowling over a couple of Pincers and several crates of pink slime, before crashing into the end of the bay. Glass smashed all around me. I held up my hands to stop it from cutting my face.

Dazed, I unstrapped myself from the driver’s seat and picked my way carefully through the shards of glass. The control panel sparked behind me. One thing was sure: I wasn’t getting home on this hunk-o-junk.

Before I emerged from the UFO, I needed supplies. I searched their version of cupboards—large fleshy sacs which popped like pimples when you opened them. There weren’t no shoes on this ship—at least in a size seven. But there were guns, and lots of them. I grabbed the biggest weapon I could find—a hand cannon, plus a load of ammo, and two smaller ray guns—and made a holster from some webbing, tying it to my First Lady costume.

As I lowered the exit ramp, smoke billowed out from the now on-fire navigation system. I walked out, gun forward, not knowing what I was getting myself into. It was darned hard walking on this ship too; I felt like some kind of robot cop, stepping out one foot at a time, guns blazing. Must’ve been the air pressure.

Pincers surrounded the entrance, but I coulda sworn they looked almost scared. I’d be scared too by this crazy barefoot woman, covered in grease and goop. Thank goodness there weren’t any paparazzi on this ship.

The Pincers here looked different—none of them were wearing the cylindrical oxygen vacuums like the claws back on Earth. I pointed the hand cannon at one of them and said, “Take me to your leader.”

As I walked in, the lead Pincer was shouting at the DOP. “THAT IS NOT MY BEST SIDE! YOU SHOULD FILM MY RIGHT CLAW!”

The DOP moved the tripod, his face covered in a sheen of sweat. He looked up when I entered. “Myra Myrtle? Oh thank God!” And swung the camera around to capture my entrance. Geez, he coulda let me get into makeup first!

“MY CLAWLORD,” said one Pincer, bowing lowly as he brought me into the room. “THIS HUMAN FEMALE HAS INFILTRATED OUR DEFENCES. I HUMBLY BEG YOUR—” The Pincer didn’t finish before he was fried on the floor. The delicious smell of cooked lobster wafted into my nostrils.

“Put the weapon down,” I said, aiming the hand cannon at Clawlord. He placed his weapon slowly on the floor.

“Now you’re going to give me the President, and the DOP, and a new spaceship, and we’re going to get out of here, and you’re going to go back to your planet, and we’re all going to live peaceful-like from here on in,” I said.


Oh, hell no, I wasn’t going to take any sass from a giant crustacean overlord today.

I pulled the trigger. The gun fritzed in my hands. The shock forced me to drop the weapon.


The DOP sighed as he filmed my rough handling by the Pincers and turned the camera back on Clawlord.

“Myra Myrtle, is that you?” Garry held up a broken pair of specs to his eyes. They’d roughhoused him for sure; he had a big shiner on his right eye. He sat up on the small prison room bed. I ran to his side. “What have they done to you?”

“Oh, nothing I couldn’t handle. They still think I’m the President. So far I’ve convinced them that Burt Lancaster is the Minister of War. It means a lot to me you came to my rescue.”

“It does?” I beamed at him, and he grinned back with a split lip.

“It seems we’re in a hell of a pickle,” he said. “I can’t think of how we’re going to get out of here—but there’s no one I’d rather be trapped with in a prison cell on a flying saucer facing our impending doom. Oh, God!” He clutched my arm and wept into my shoulder. I patted his back gently. One of us had to hold it together.

“There, there, Garry. Like my Ma says, there’s always a way out. You just gotta stop and think rationally.” Men were always so emotional—jumping into trouble, then crying to mama whenever they got a stubbed toe. I kept stroking his back, and his weeping melted into a soft little blubber.

“You know,” I said, “when I was preparing to be kidnapped by Frogman, I read a lot about scuba divers. Isopods are reverse scuba divers; they’ve come up in atmospheric pressure. They must have had to acclimatize to Earth, using the vacuums on their back to remove oxygen from their system. But they’re not wearing them on these ships. So, what would happen if we rapidly took them into a low-pressure environment minus their doodads?”

Faced with a scientific question, he perked up. “Best-case scenario, they’d spontaneously explode. Worst-case scenario, they’d probably faint.”

I’d seen as much with the two guards outside the UFO on Earth.

Like I said, there was a storm brewing over Hollywood. And every girl from the Sierra Nevada knows what a low-pressure system looks like.

“There’s only one problem. How do we get out of here?” said Garry.

“Are you prepared to do the best acting in your career?”

The President of the United States was ready to surrender. The Pincer guards had taken us back to the control room, where Clawlord sat on a giant silver chair.

Garry entered. “Your people have bested me with your advanced technology. I cannot hold on any longer. I’ll tell you the secret of our Alpha-Ray!”

Boy he was really chewing the scenery. But the audience was lapping it up. Clawlord stood and descended from his throne. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN ALPHA-RAY? WE DID NOT DISCOVER ANY SIGNIFICANT TECHNOLOGIES DURING OUR SCANS OF YOUR PUNY PLANET!”

“That’s because it’s protected by a baryonic shield. Once you control the Alpha-Ray, you control Earth! And I have the key right here.” He held his hand aloft with the brass key from my downtown apartment. The Pincers were entranced. Clawlord reached for the key, but Garry snatched it to his chest protectively, luring them away from the UFO controls. Clawlord narrowed his antennae, but still walked towards the President, pushing me aside. “MAKE SURE YOU ARE FILMING THIS SURRENDER, BROADCAST MAN!” he shouted at the DOP.

“I suppose I’ll pour the coffee, darling President,” I said, sneaking towards the cockpit controls, my stockinged feet quiet on the glossy floor.

I had moments to figure out the controls before the Pincers saw through our pretense. Thankfully, it wasn’t my first time flying a UFO. At least the Pincers didn’t drive stick.

Earth loomed large in the window—that beautiful planet, so small from up on high. So, what if I wasn’t an A-list celebrity? Up here, I had the chance to save the world.

I grabbed the joystick and pointed it towards the west coast of America. Clawlord looked over his shoulder. But it was too late.

“MEDDLING FEMALE! WHAT HAVE YOU DOOOOOONE…” His shouted words trailed off as we plummeted towards Earth’s atmosphere. I clung to the control panel. Pincers flew sideways, then the other way. Garry, knowing what was coming, had clung to the netting on the wall of the ship. The heavy camera kept the DOP in place. I realized the high pressure which was throwing the aliens around was keeping us more stable.

Somehow, I buckled myself into the driver’s seat, pushing the saucer into a steep dive.

 The front of the saucer burned with orange light. I tried to maintain control of the joystick as it shuddered with our rapid descent. I didn’t want Garry and I to conk out from the G-forces. A freefall would be deadly for all of us, and I still had hope of getting out of this alive. Who wants their death splashed on the tabloids without perfect hair?

Garry inched his way into the co-pilot’s seat, while Clawlord and his chums slid from side to side behind us.

He clutched the control panel as we hurtled through the clouds, and I flattened our descent high above Hollywood, where the storm was raging. As the ship levelled out, the clouds rumbled on either side of us. Lightning flashed in front of the window. If one of those bolts hit the ship, we were goners.

Too late, I caught the reflection of Clawlord in the windscreen. With the ship level, he’d regained his feet, and pointed it straight at us.

“Well, this is it,” said Garry. “It’s been swell.”

Swell! I came all the way out into space to rescue a guy who thought it was swell? I took one last look at Hollywood and straightened my back, when Clawlord stumbled. Before he could fire, he toppled over, clutching his head and chittering, rolling up into his shell. The other Pincers collapsed on cue. We’d done it.

Garry turned to me, taking my hand. “Myra Myrtle, you’re amazing. Where did you learn to fly?”

“My Ma was a first-class WASP back in World War II. She flew B-29s and can still sharp-shoot a bottle at a hundred paces.”

“If she’s anything like you, I’d love to meet her.”

It was really hot in the UFO, but that was probably because we just got hit by lightning. I jerked back on the joystick, but it was too late. Flames licked at the windows. Hollywood loomed large. Tanks had surrounded the saucers on the Boulevard. I couldn’t let the ship crash into the city, so I did my best to aim for the only uninhabited landmark in town: the Hollywood sign.

The saucer hurtled towards the sign, those big white letters getting bigger and bigger until—smash! We cracked through them, one by one, pulling up stumps and wooden signs and posts, and skidded along the steep hillside, dirt kicking up through the broken windscreen.

I needed to work on my landings.

After checking all my bits were still moving, I unbuckled the seatbelt and staggered up, helping Garry out of his seat. He leaned on my shoulder—he’d been pretty beat up—but he uttered the words, “Oh Myra,” and I kissed him, plain and simple.

To his credit, the DOP, who was called Mike and turned out to have three kids, kept filming us the entire time. “For posterity,” he said. “And so people don’t think we’re nuts. Say Miss Myrtle, did you ever think of directing?”

Before I could answer, a hole in the metal shell blasted open. Marines boarded the ship in formation, followed by some bigwig—he had a million shiny badges on his green uniform, and was smoking a cigar.

He stepped over the unconscious body of Clawlord and reached out to shake Garry’s hand. “Well done, son! You saved the earth from Pinkos. Whaddya want? Promotion? Name in lights?”

“Actually Sir, it was Miss Myrtle here.”

The general looked down his cigar at me. “Say, are you Natty Myrtle’s daughter? She saved my hide more than once. Ballsiest pilot I ever knew. Like mother like daughter, eh?”

I nodded.

“Now this here is a state secret and we gotta keep it that way. Don’t want the public to panic thinking there are aliens out there. You’ve got the footage, haven’t you, cameraman? We’ll release it as a picture. The UFO landing on Hollywood Boulevard was part of the publicity campaign. We all know the best way to cover up the truth is to make a movie out of it.”

In the weeks that followed, I even got a call from the big cheese. He’s forming a new program to deal with this “space menace”. Something about beating the pinkos at their own game.

I told him NASA sounds like a de-gas pill. But I also told him about this science whiz who’s the world’s foremost expert on little green men.

They gave Garry a job at some air base in Nevada. It’s closer than Washington, and we can catch the weekend shows on the strip.

As for me?

First Lady Danger versus the Space Pincers was a smash. Seems there were all these other gals who were tired of seeing women getting abducted when they knew full well we could save the world.

It made the cover of Photoplay. The headline? Myra Myrtle: First Lady of Hollywood. Just wait ‘til I tell Ma.

Kat Clay is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. Her short story ‘Lady Loveday Investigates’ won three prizes at Australia’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards. She has been nominated for the Aurealis, Ditmar, and Australasian Shadows awards, and her work has been published in Aurealis and Weird Fiction Review. She can be found at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s