The moustached local news reporter announced on Tuesday night that aliens had arrived.
Everyone went outside and gazed at the elliptical objects hovering above us, grey and silvery and fluid, like molten storm clouds.
Some of my neighbours were frightened. They proclaimed it was the end of days and loaded their cars with suitcases, trophies, golf clubs, snacks, dogs, gerbils and cats.
One of my neighbours informed me she had had a dream about the aliens, but she termed it a prophecy. She held up her hands to the sky and asked them to transport her. “In the prophecy, they gave me the power to fly,” she said, smiling at me, revealing yellow and cracked teeth. She was wearing a white nightgown and it fluttered in the breeze, like a flag of surrender.
Politicians spoke on the radio. They told us to not be afraid and everything would be handled. They would collect taxes from the aliens, and the aliens would need to apply for citizenship and wait their turn like everyone else. They were sending census takers to the alien ships to discover how many of them there were, what their nationality, religion and sexual orientation were, and whether they intended to kill us.
A huge line wrapped around our local sporting goods store. Everyone in line muttered and murmured, waiting for their chance to buy pistols, rifles, knives and crossbows. There was a run on toilet paper and canned goods. An eight-year-old down the street guarded his house with a crossbow and box of M-80s. His father sat on the porch, rocking in a peeling wooden chair, next to hoarded cans of peas, soup and Vienna sausages. He nodded at me as I walked by, smiling while his son aimed the crossbow at my head.
The Mayor announced that all businesses, churches and schools would be closed until everything could be sorted out. He told us he had it on good authority the aliens only wanted to talk. A reporter asked him what they wanted to talk about, and he said he wasn’t sure, but he’d heard the aliens were interested in franchising a tofu drive-through restaurant.
My wife refused to come outside at first. She said it was all a hoax. She perched in the dining room like a cat waiting to pounce on a ball of yarn, posting pictures of our dining room furniture on Pinterest. She described our dining room table as ‘rustic, yet modern’. I bought it two weeks prior at Ikea, being assured by the greasy, blonde-haired salesman that this model was the culmination of Swedish technology and craftsmanship.
Once the night sky swallowed all light, I went inside and again asked my wife to come see our galactic visitors. She relented when I told her the alien ships were extremely Instagrammable. She spent half an hour applying foundation, mascara and lipstick, and selected a red skirt and a vertical striped shirt that she said was all the rage in Milan.
I grabbed a flashlight and we went outside, tilting our heads at the silver and black sky. I flicked on the flashlight and examined our new visitors’ ships with their silver hulls and absence of doors or windows.
The beam of my flashlight reached the top of one of the ships where I saw a shimmering, silken reflection. I waved my flashlight around and observed several more strands of the glistening threads.
“Those aren’t ships,” I told my wife.
She did not understand so I waved my flashlight high into the darkness. I found towering yellow and black cranes, suspending the silvery orbs in the sky with strings, like the world’s most magnificent and useless puppet show.
Friends and neighbours gathered around me, mumbling to themselves that they knew it was fake all along. The young boy with the crossbow fired an arrow at the sky. The arrow launched feebly and hurtled back to Earth, planting itself on a roof across the street.
Rain slapped the ground and we all turned to go back inside, but when we tried to open our doors, we found they were all locked. I peered in the window of my house and saw smiling, ecstatic faces. There was a man, a woman and two children. They were sipping hot chocolate and getting ready for bed. They waved at us enthusiastically, smiling the whole time.
We stood in the rising mud and watched, assured that these new families would achieve far more than we ever had.
About The Author
Neal Suit is a recovering lawyer. His fiction appears or is forthcoming in Blue Lake Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Mystery Weekly, (mac)ro(mic), and others. He may be reached on Twitter @SuitNeal
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