A Man of Rank by Michael Bettendorf

The planet felt Captain Stills of rescue team N.E.R.O on its skin. The coward hid and watched while the crew was feasted upon by the alien swarm, whose napalm-like saliva melted through their suits. Their skin stretched, pulled apart in slow-motion, across the planet’s dusty landscape as the cries of the surviving crew dwindled to silence. Feed, the planet demanded, for it was a jealous being and would accept no conquerors—not even one. The swarm obeyed, nourished, reducing the captain to a latticework of viscera upon the alien demesne. No longer a man of rank or purpose.

Michael Bettendorf (he/him) is a writer from the Midwestern US. His recent work has appeared/is forthcoming at The Drabblecast, The Horror Tree, and elsewhere. He works in a high school library in Lincoln where he tries to convince the world Nebraska is too strange to be a flyover state. You can find him on Twitter @BeardedBetts and www.michaelbettendorfwrites.com.

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