The Secret Device

cell phone

© A Mixed Bag 2012

Remember, Z’kin. You’re holding one of the most sophisticated computing devices ever conceived. It has multiple scanners to gather data on their entire environment, communications circuits allowing you to contact our ship in orbit, and a voice interactive interface which can instantly answer any question.

“Not, Z’kin, Commander. My code name is Gary Evans.”

“Right. Of course. We’ve landed in a wooded area just outside of one of their communities. It’s just before dawn, so after you leave the shuttle, we should be able to launch undetected.

“Thanks, Commander. I’ll contact you daily during my scouting mission.”

“Good luck Z…uh, Mr. Evans.”

His alien form altered to look human, “Gary Evans” exited the shuttle and walked the five miles to the city. By the time he got downtown, the streets were bustling with people going to and fro.

The alien reached into his pocket secure in the knowledge that his secret device gave him mastery over his mission.

Then he saw them. They all had one. Every person he saw was looking down at their screens, rapidly tapping out messages or talking to “Siri”. His secret device was all too common here.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction writing challenge. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words based on the photo prompt above. My word count is 192.

When I saw the photo prompt, I thought of how the hand-held communicators in the 1960s TV show “Star Trek” seemed so advanced, but now, today’s cell phones are so much more sophisticated. Imagine an alien race who wants to scout Earth thinking some of their technology is so superior only to discover we have the same thing.

To read other stories inspired by the photo prompt, go to

27 thoughts on “The Secret Device

  1. Haha! Well at least his super-sophisticated device won’t stick out like a sore thumb. When he talks to it, or it talks to him, no one will think anything of it. He’ll fit in perfectly. Fun story!


  2. Good story. We chose a similar starting point but went in different directions. I think we might have watched the same B movies as well – why is the boss alien always called “Commander”?


  3. Hah, very well executed! Poor “Gary”; not quite the special butterfly after all.

    And very apt, about the Trek. I recently treated myself to the film boxset of 1-10 of the movies (some TOS, some TNG) and plan to binge-watch when I have holiday time in June. I love to look at what people imagined “the future” to be like, and it’s surprising how close we’re coming (and occasionally, surpassing) Trek-tech.


    • I vaguely recall a TV show from the 1960s where aliens came to Earth thinking they were all very advanced only to find humans had most of their tech already. It was supposed to be a comedy and I don’t think it lasted very long.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean. A few weeks back, my brother was trying to find the location of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant and Siri kept trying to send us to the state of Texas.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny. Maybe with this knowledge, the aliens will initiate first contact. They better be careful, though. Maybe they should wait a few more years and observe. Good writing, James. 🙂 — Suzanne


    • Thanks, Suzanne. The aliens still have a clear advantage in space travel, but apparently, not all technological development moves at the same rate.


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