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This was a one-page ultra short story, maybe three paragraphs. I read it no later than mid-80s in a random story collection and it was probably a lot older than that.

There isn’t much to it:

An alien spaceship lands on some empty place and an alien being emerges. Some curious prairie dogs pop up to see what’s going on, and the alien(s) immediately kill them for sport.

Then,

Suddenly a hidden turret comes up from underground and destroys alien and ship in one blast with a futuristic weapon. One of the prairie dogs operating the turret quips to its companion: “funny, I always thought the humans would be the first ones to try.”

I can’t remember the book, story title or author. Weirdly, I came up empty when searching on the internet. You would think this would be easy to locate.

1 Answer 1

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This is The Thing from Outer Space and the Prairie Dogs (1964) by Gahan Wilson.

Printed in its complete form below:

A rocket ship landed on the Texas panhandle one bright, sunny day, in the middle of a prairie dog colony. The top of the rocket unscrewed, with a harsh, grating noise, and out crawled a Thing from outer space. The Thing carried a death ray, a mind twister, a pain amplifier, and many other ingenious instruments of war, torture, and destruction. It drooled green drool and looked about for something to kill.

When a prairie dog peeped out from its burrow, the Thing spun on its tentacles, and shot out a blinding beam of fire from one of its weapons that reduced the prairie dog to a cloud of idly drifting ash. The Thing burbled for joy and started hunting eagerly for more of the tiny creatures. At this point, two cleverly concealed trap doors opened in the ground, and from each of them rose a glittering, electronic cannon manned by a crew of uniformed prairie dogs. The cannons fired simultaneously on the Thing and destroyed it.

“It’s a good thing we were prepared,” said the captain of the prairie dogs, “But I could have sworn the humans would have launched the first attack.”

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  • 3
    For the record, I searched Google Books for the exact phrases ("The humans would" and "Prairie dogs")
    – Valorum
    Nov 27, 2023 at 19:50
  • Nice! That was really quick. I’ll accept I when the system lets me. Nov 27, 2023 at 19:51
  • @EuroMicelli - Always a pleasure
    – Valorum
    Nov 27, 2023 at 19:52
  • 5
    @Valorum The author might be dead, but it's unlikely he's dead for more than 95 years, so the story isn't in public domain yet. Story length has nothing to do with it. Copyright is automatically granted.
    – Nzall
    Nov 28, 2023 at 14:39
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    @Nzall: In the US, copyrights granted before 1978 had to be renewed at the appropriate time, or else they automatically expired. US copyright law is really complicated, and it is entirely possible that this short story is in the public domain in the US. Many older pulp works from the 50s and 60s were seen as low-value and their copyrights were never renewed.
    – Kevin
    Nov 28, 2023 at 19:32

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