Bewildering Stories

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I Won’t Be Taking Any Questions

by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith

An Alternative Election Story

It was late in the evening when the flying saucer arrived over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And then it came down slowly... tranquilly... peacefully... drifting down serenely... like a lazy feather falling Earthward at the end of a soft summer day. It was immediately hit, three times, by surface to air missiles fired by highly-trained service personnel, assigned to the White House and stationed up on the roof.

Then two dozen armed men poured out of the White House and positioned themselves behind the huge white Romanesque columns in front, and from there they kept up an amazing display of firepower.

For three hours bullets rattled off the thick titanium hull with two of the agents eventually breaking off the attack and driving to a nearby gun show to pick up more ammunition and also to deputize some fresh recruits and then return. They got back just in time: the Secret Service agents left behind were reduced to throwing ashtrays and silverware.

Not the good silverware, though. The only silverware Laura allowed them to touch was the silverware reserved for bi-partisan functions and for those rare occasions, those dinners where economists or ecologists sat next to each other and discussed Paris Hilton’s nose or Pamela Anderson’s book — or, rather, her book jacket. The jacket where she’s not wearing a jacket.

(Now back to the story.)

As soon as the ammunition was passed around the gunfire continued.

The aliens inside the spacecraft were neither annoyed nor alarmed. As far as they knew this was a form of greeting. A display of fireworks. A form of Republican respect.

But, the aliens were growing tired of all the noise. For a brief moment a portion of the flying saucer’s hull became translucent, then transparent. The men with the guns could see inside. Inside there were two dozen frail-looking creatures, all standing together, standing in a bunch, a lot of them holding hands with their interstellar companions.

They seemed a peaceful group, looking a lot like a church choir after a very moving religious experience or like a gaggle of very good children on their very first visit outside their very clean nurseries, looking a little like a group of those cute black and white Indonesian monkeys I saw once with the long black-haired tails. Timid they were, close to frightened, maybe just transferred to a new display in a new city in a new zoo. That’s what they looked like. The aliens. Peaceful.

Even though the occupants looked very peaceful and peaceable and peaceous and peace-loving, the gunfire only intensified. The reason for the increased hostility became clear as one of the Secret Service men yelled, “Look, it’s a gay wedding!” mistaking the holding of hands for a prelude to an exchange of vows.

Then one of the aliens yawned, and a few of the other aliens yawned, and one of them grabbed a microphone and its alien lips were seen to move, and a very loud voice issued from the dish-shaped interstellar vehicle: “Now we sleep.” The voice said.

The creatures could be seen drifting away from the edge of the ship and moving back into its interior. As a group they climbed up onto a raised platform and spent some excellent moments exchanging hugs and gestures that may have been grooming rituals, carried forward in time... to become... just... measures of individual concern for the group.

And then the transparent area turned translucent again. And then turned slightly grey... and then in an instant, turned totally titaneous almost instantaneously.

The firing slowly dwindled. Now only one agent was firing, his stance perfect, his face a mad grimace, his dedication unquestioned but his aim a little off. Each time he fired a new dent appeared in one of the dark limousines waiting in the driveway fifty yards to the right of the giant saucer.

The next morning arrived early; with tanks in position and flights of fighter jets circling The People’s House. On the portico was an assembled throng, which included heads of state and some of the best military minds, and the president, and the vice president, but not Colin Powell, because nobody knew his home phone number.

Just like in an old movie I’m drawing on for inspiration, the door to the saucer opened and out stepped a very tall robot. He walked forward and entered a big metal frame placed there during the night by scientists from MIT. There the robot stood perfectly still as the scientists poured a super-hard plastic resin into the frame. Covering him up for his own protection. Covering him over without allowing him to talk to his lawyer or state his business.

Then the president walked down the steps and over to the robot. He raised his hand in a Vulcan salute. “Gort, Nicktu Al-Quaeda Klaatu.” he said.

Cheney pushed the president to the side. “Nice try,” he said, “but wrong. Maybe you could get your speech writers to clean that up for you. And you’re holding your hand wrong too, moron.”

The aliens came out of their ship.

“Look,” Cheney said, addressing the aliens, “we’re almost set up inside, but can you give us a minute? We’re inviting some of the media and they haven’t all arrived. If you could wait by that damaged limousine we could be up and running in, say, five minutes. And then we’ll be happy to receive your support.”

The leader of the aliens tapped his universal translator, unsure if it was working, but he did move his entourage over next to the bullet-tickled transportation nearby. They were standing there by the car when the lawn sprinklers poked up and started spraying. After a few minutes the small interstellar delegation was soaked through and through, and some of the members on the outer circle could be seen shivering.

One of the canine-patrol policemen on the porch “accidentally” let his dog’s leash slip from his fingers. The dog chewed on some of the aliens but almost immediately gagged and dropped on its side in the driveway. The alien leader said something that came out of the translator as, “Good, good murdering doggie. Good, good double plus good doggie. Please out-spit my nephew’s youngest poisonous-to-earth-doggies half-removed hand.”

“We’re ready.” Someone said.

They all entered. The aliens were asked to sign a guest register.

“Do you have a current picture ID?”

They did, though it was a group photo.

They were ushered into the press room. They were asked to step up on stage. They weren’t given a lectern. They just stood there. Their cat eyes and their long slender fingers marked them as un-American.

“Spielberg had it wrong,” said one of the reporters to another,”they don’t look a bit like ET.”

“But he was dead on with that movie, The Breakfast Club,” said his friend, “and dialog is hard to do, especially teens talking. I think I’ll always remember that one line about what happens when you grow up. Your heart dies. Now if you want good crime dialog, you should see that movie Blood and Tortellini...”

The first reporter nodded, and then looked around. There weren’t very many reporters. “Say, where is everybody?” he asked.

“They only invited newspapers who haven’t apologized for being taken in by all the deceit,” was the answer, “so they only invited the tabloids.”

“Oh,” said the man who had already written, many times, “Aliens Land on the White House Lawn.”

Suddenly there was a commotion and Donald Rumsfeld entered the room. He walked right to the big podium and tapped on the microphone, making sure it was working. “The president is busy, so he won’t be here. The vice-president is busy, so he won’t be here. What’s his name... that Secretary of State guy... the one who sold his soul to the devil by lying to the U.N... he’s scared of me, so he won’t be here today either. That leaves it to me, the Secretary Of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. I’m here to make one statement and then I have to leave.”

He took out a piece of paper. He began. “On June 18, 1939 nine young airmen, brave soldiers all, set out on a routine training mission, flying out of their Air National Guard base in Pensacola Florida. Until they are returned to us we will not be responding to anything these criminals have to say. I’m sure if Kerry were president he’d be talking to these vile kidnappers and raising taxes, but we in this administration still have our backbones in the right place.” He turned and left, taking his entourage with him.

The chief alien nodded and began reciting a speech he’d rehearsed many times during the seventy years of space flight it took to reach where he now stood: “As you know space travel is arduous and not to undertaken without thought and planning,” he said. “The reasons we’ve come are threefold. One....”

“What about those missing airmen?” someone shouted.

The aliens closed themselves into a circle facing inward, unlike water buffalo who face outward when threatened; water buffalo face outwards when attacked, and they paw the ground and throw dirt up in the air by scratching the ground with their big feet, and they have strange horns, horns that look funny with curved parts, parts that always remind me of a poster I saw once, a poster for the movie Hairspray. After a minute the aliens turned back out to face the reporters.

“As airmen ourselves, we, too, think your airmen are very brave. And we too understand how maybe the ocean was very deep that day or slow to warm with cold air sometimes coming down into old-style rotary engines.” He was placing one of his hands high overhead and then letting it swoop down like a hawk.

The newsmen started chanting, “U.S.A, U. S. A., U.S.A!” A chair was thrown. One lady reporter whose station was in the middle of sweeps week tore her blouse open and started yelling, “Hey, look at these!”

Guards pushed the aliens out of the room, out of the building, and across the lawn.

Back in the saucer there were arguments. One alien offered to resign his post. The others took him up on it, and made him place his name, again, on the square tallyboard of shame each adventurer normally kept hidden under a pile of some substance that resembled coal, but was visually very different.

The aliens sat and considered every option. They were left with only one alternative. They would have to fake the return of the missing men. First they searched through the Internet with their computer, first typing in the phrase “naval encounters” and thereby getting lots of very strange pictures of interesting/weird nude activities. Then they abducted some men and erased their minds and dressed them like airmen of the required period, one of the aliens sewing the uniforms far into the night.

The next day they approached the White house again. They were ushered in to Donald Rumsfeld’s office.

“Here are your aviators.” They said. The lead alien started his speech for the second time. “As you know space travel is arduous and not to be undertaken without thought and planning,” he said. “The reasons we’ve come are threefold. One: Even though we have decided to allow you to join our federation of planets...”

Rumsfeld stopped him. “I’d like to sit and talk but I can’t. I’m supposed to be at a briefing on Syria’s defenses, right now. I do wish you’d have brought these airmen last night or even earlier, just a little earlier. You see, an hour ago some junior-level military commander in your area may have exceeded his instructions somewhat, and using laser-guided precision ordinance he accidentally destroyed your home planet.”

“No! Oh no.” said one of the aliens.

“I’m happy to announce no other planets were involved,” Rumsfeld said and then he pushed them all out into the hall and locked his door and stormed away.

One of the aliens fell to his knees on the floor. The others were all weeping. “My family.” One said. “My son. My youngest. He was turning 100 today. He was going to receive his first snorp-cat. His very own snorp-cat. We even had a name picked out. We was going to call it Bubba the cat. Now what do we do?”

They walked back to their space ship. They hugged each other. They cried and hugged some more. “What’s wrong with these guys?” one of them said. “All they seem to understand is violence.”

They went to a small cabinet and withdrew a small box.They opened the box. Inside was a very small machine. It looked like it belonged on one of those battling robot TV shows. On the side of the spiked machine was the word, UN-FOCUSED MILITARISM.

Long into the night they would discuss whether to switch on their own precise though clumsy machine.

Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith

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