That’s Settled

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I’m finally in the clear. I used to have a list of problems as long as my arm, relatives with problems, employees with problems, a bank account with problems, but that’s all settled. I have nothing to worry about anymore.

Because my ship finally came in. It wasn’t the ship I was expecting, unfortunately. I was hoping for some sort of luxury cruise liner, with a nice berth overlooking the ocean, or the Olympic-size swimming pool. Seats at the captain’s table, free bar tabs, chips for the casino, luxury accommodations in every port of call. Instead, my ship fell out of the sky, KABOOM, into the backyard.

First, I heard this awful mechanical sounding THUNK, and then something whistled past my window and screeched to a stop next to the garage. Amidst a cloud of dust and acrid smoke, the hatch popped up on this little tin can gizmo and two tiny green men climbed out, making noises like chipmunks. They appeared to be having a nasty argument with each other, but I didn’t see any blood or guts and their tin can was still in one piece, although the chassis did look a little lopsided. I’m not sure if that’s how it was designed or that’s what happened when it hit my compost bin full-on.

There was a kind of ripe odor in the air, but that was probably mostly from the fresh garbage and manure in the bin that was now scattered about the yard and partially burying their flying can. The green men looked around, trying to get their bearings, when all of a sudden my dog came charging out of the open door, barking and running full speed toward them. I called her to stop (but that never does any good) as she lunged at them, teeth bared, looking for all the world like she was about to grab one by the neck and wring it out like a baby rabbit, when there was a blinding flash of light and the dog just froze solid in midair and fell to the ground, covered with a coating of ice, suspended in mid-leap like a stuffed doll.

“Uh oh,” I said, “This can’t be good.” I turned on my heels, about to run inside, lock the door, and call 911 and my mommy, when there was another blinding flash, and I felt myself flying through space, spinning around like I was on the rotor at the State Fair. When I came to my senses, I was strapped into a tiny padded chair inside the aliens’ tin can. They were sitting next to me, licking ice cream cones. One had pistachio and the other tutti-frutti. Somehow I was the same size as they were and when I looked out the window of the vehicle, which provided a panoramic four-dimensional view of time and space, I could see all of Earth and all of its history, plus all of its future in one brief glance. I shook my head and blinked, expecting to come to, or wake up, but when I opened my eyes again, the world was gone, and we were somewhere out in deep space, particles of matter whizzing past like schools of fish, or stardust memories.

“Who are you and where are you taking me?” I demanded. They started chattering with each other and then made a twittering noise much like laughter. A second later, the sound in my ears was retuned so that I could understand them perfectly. Now they spoke in elegant King’s English.

“Your planet is disintegrated and we’ve saved you as the last specimen from it. You contain a wealth of DNA information describing basically every variation of life that ever existed on your planet, plus your genetic code has been randomly chosen as today’s Pick 6 Trillion Lotto combination. So there is no longer any need for your Earth nor any need to worry about its fate. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and in fact it had already happened before we came. But fortunately for you, that was not your fate. You will not be just another finite living creature on a finite dying planet. Instead, we are taking you to the central universal repository of All That Is so you can represent the sum totality of what your little bubble of protection had to offer the rest of the universe. You will be joined and merged with All That Is, the living embodiment of universal love. Yes, you are going to become at one with God. Would you like some ice cream?”

I struggled in vain to break the bonds that tied me to the tiny padded chair. How could this have happened? And on the same night that I’d planned on watching the seventh game of the playoffs. Now I’d never find out who won. And I’d never be able to collect the 500 bucks my brother-in-law owed me. Which was probably true anyway, but still.

“Don’t do this to me. Take me back!” I demanded.

“There is nowhere to take you. Just a cosmic hole in the sky.”

“Well, drop me off there. It can’t be any worse than the place I used to rent in Newark.”

“No, sorry, you’re just going to have to make the best of this. I’ll tell you what, how about if we play the game where we pretend we’re magic genies and grant you three wishes? You can have anything you want, but you have to have it right here, right now.”

I thought quickly. “Anything?”

“Yes, master,” the little tutti-frutti alien said in a computerized voice. “Your wish is my command.”

“OK, first of all, I want to know everything that you know. Give me all your knowledge, wisdom and skills.”

“Really? OK, you asked for it.” All at once my brain exploded. I could suddenly see the entire universe, all the way back to the creation, the Big Bang itself, and all the way forward to the Coalescence, The Big Implosion. On a more practical note, I suddenly knew exactly where I was, who I was with, and how to operate the space vehicle myself. I easily undid my ties with thought waves, grabbed the controls, and veered off on a new course, taking us perilously close to the far edge of nowhere, near the pools of miasma and directly into a galaxy made entirely of melty chocolate chips.

“Whoa, this is fun!”

“Hey stop that,” little tutti-frutti implored. “We have a job to do. Take us back home! Please.”

“Sorry, boys, it’s too late for that now.”

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