ARIA: Returning Left Luggage
By Geoff Nelder
In Returning Left Luggage, Book Two of the ARIA Trilogy, we finally meet the aliens. Unlike most science fiction aliens, these ignore the remaining humans, or make use of them for labour. They don’t bargain on encountering the psychotic Dr Antonio Menzies, and when he discovers how to use their telepathic-controlled gadgets, odd things happen.
Meanwhile Ryder’s isolation group are in the South Pacific facing invasion problems of another kind. That, and trouble in the French Alps, along with a runaway exotic weed, makes this sequel one you’ll not want to miss.
Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia
Without our memories, who are we?
“If you like your sci-fi offbeat, original, and backed by solid science, then you’re going to love ARIA.” Kenyon Charboneaux.
“As usual, an unusual, mind-blowing read,” Gladys Hobson.
Mike Resnick – “An intriguing premise.”
Jon Courtney Grimwood – “Geoff Nelder inhabits Science Fiction the way other people inhabit their clothes.”
“ARIA is a smart, entertaining gem,” Ira Nayman on Goodreads.
Manuel hated his foraging trips.
The actual breaking into stores carried excitement, but he encountered rotting corpses,
snarling dogs, and once, a black bear.
He drove down the wide Inkster Boulevard on the northern outskirts of Winnipeg having
raided the outermost stores earlier, avoiding the dangers of the city centre. The
Chevy truck held all the essential burglary tools and a shotgun.
He drew into the parking lot of a Mac’s Superstore where a dozen parked vehicles
gathered dust, guano, and moss. He didn’t clean his own: mud was the in colour. He
shouldered two backpacks and carried the shotgun.
The automatic sliding doors had been forced, but he preferred a delivery entrance,
make one if necessary, and keep the front for emergencies. He leant against the doorway
holding his nose and with eyes smarting. It could be bodies, freezer food, worse.
He could find another store, but he shouldn’t let his offended olfactory sense interfere.
Trying to breathe through a forced smile to counteract a gag reflex, he ventured
to the edge of steps leading down into the store. Skylights and the doors let in
sufficient sunlight to illuminate the stacks near the front entrance. Flies flitted
around in the crepuscular light beams. He could make out the avoidance zones: butchery,
fruit, and the bakery. He should have added alcohol to the prohibited list, but man
cannot live on baked beans alone.
He listened. A bird flapped a blind near a high window. He headed down to find tinned
“Aargh, what...?” Water. He sloshed over to the canned meat. Empty. Cursing, he splashed
around to grocery. Good, there were cans–extra hot curry. He shuddered but put them
in a backpack along with a jar of pickled eggs.
Behind him, a man’s voice said, “What the hell are you doing in our store?”
Manuel fingered his shotgun while saying, “No harm intended. It looks like—”
“Leave your weapon alone and turn round.”
“—you’ve already taken most…” Manuel fell silent when he saw three silhouettes in
the front doorway. Was this his last and most ignominious hour? Up to his ankles
in filthy water, his nose so pinched it wouldn’t be able to open for days, and a
miserable failure at snaffling more than a drunk’s supper. He couldn’t see if they
had a weapon. Hey, they wouldn’t see him clearly either. The speaker had bluffed.
Maybe a cheery greeting would stave off violence.
“My name is Manuel.”
The man in the middle spoke with a Southern accent. “This is our store.”
“’Course it is. Hey, I only have four cans and a jar.”
“Don’t matter none. You shouldn’t be in here.”
“Nah,” said the friend on his right.
They would have suffered the ARIA as he had, endured the headaches and amnesia. He’d
“I have stuff you might want.”
“Can I come up?”
Manuel worried about his weapon. Was he their prisoner, or, if unarmed, were they
They grinned crooked teeth at Manuel. His shotgun remained slung around his back,
but they should be able to tell he had one from the ammunition belt. He could see
now that they were in their middle thirties. Maybe they’d escaped ARIA by being on
a prairie farm. He stifled a laugh at their dungarees and hillbilly shirts.
“Where is it?” said the tallest one, who spoke and thought for the others.
Manuel offered them the jar of pickled eggs.
“Foul, no, they should be fi—ah, you said fowl, hens. Right, how about these?”
The cans of curried vegetables didn’t broaden their grins.
“You caught me too early.” He laughed, but they stopped grinning.
“You eat it.”
Manuel couldn’t tell if that was a command or a thanks-but-no-thanks.
“We got grub if you want.”
Ah, they saw him as a fellow victim. “Okay. Is it far?”
“Not in your pickup it ain’t.”
And he thought the camouflage was clever. “All right, but I’m driving. My name is
Manuel, what’s yours?” He’d been directed towards the centre of Winnipeg.
“Chilton.” He held his right hand across to Manuel, who risked a quick shake, grabbed
the wheel again to correct the vehicle after a tyre met a wayward trashcan.
“Hi, Chilton, good name. Have any of your group worked with the Zadokians?”
“The aliens are from the planet Zadok. Did you work in the domes?” It was like climbing
a down escalator.
“Those two idjits did. Had a calling. I woke up to an empty house. They came back
at night crying.”
“What do you do for leisure these days, Chilton?”
“Ha ha, very funny. Oh, you’re not joking.”