Where Civilizations Go To Die
by Ernest Hogan
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
They went outside, looked around. The aircraft were converging from several different directions. And they weren’t all military or mysterious black things. Some of them bore the logos of TV stations.
Ali rushed into the Chinook and put her automated co-pilot and flight engineer to some electronic detective work. “It’s a government mission with a flying media circus in tow!”
Victor put an arm around Petra. “Get ready to be famous for fifteen minutes, kiddo!”
“They couldn’t be bringing Carl?” asked Ali.
“They aren’t,” Victor said, pointing straight up.
There, in the middle of a clear sky, was cloud, a little cotton-candy puff. It got bigger, and darker, percolating like mad. Then it spat out what could have been a lightning bolt except that it was in a perfectly straight line. The ground where it hit exploded.
Then, out of the smoky, dusty cloud, staggered Carl.
And the cloud dissolved into nothingness.
Ali ran screaming towards Carl.
Electronic devices on the vehicles that had just landed along a wide perimeter scanned closely.
* * *
Victor, Petra, Ali, and Carl got back into the Saucer House.
“Do you think they’ll be able to hear what we say?” Ali asked while watching huge antennae deploy from the distant machines.
“I think we need privacy strategy Alpha.” Victor looked up as he said it.
“DO YOU THINK IT’S NECESSARY?”
“They’ve set it so that anyone trying to listen in on us will only hear a fully-cranked Surfing Bird by the Trashmen, over and over.”
“Isn’t there some kind of U.N. sanction against that sort of thing?” asked Petra.
“U.N.!” screamed Carl. “Must contact them! All media outlets! Go online! Start a Facebook page! Twitter! Make a rap video for the kids!”
Ali held him, stroked his bald head. “Poor thing! What you must have been through!”
“I see now that it was all necessary. Our minds! Our stupid minds! Our primitive brains! We aren’t equipped for this kind of input! We need to adust our perceptual apparatus! This is a call to evolution!”
Ali looked horrified.
“Hey, Carl, you need some iced tea, a glass of water or something? You seem dehydrated,” offered Victor.
“Rehydrate! Disenfranchise! Hyperventilate! Antidisestablishmentarianism!” Carl’s head wobbled and he laughed.
Ali held him. He cried.
“Victor,” asked Ali, “what do we do?”
Petra brought a chilled water bottle and handed it to Ali, who proceeded to hold it for Carl as if he were a helpless infant.
Victor frowned. “This is serious. It’s also weird enough to be the real thing, an encounter with something beyond out human realm. This calls for serious, high-intensity analysis.”
“I mean what do we do about Carl’s... condition.”
“Watch his vitals. Try to get some fluids and food into him. I usually try to avoid giving out medical advice without a license, but I’d say he’s in shock of some kind, and the majority of the human race will be in the same shape if we don’t watch out.”
Petra looked up from her handheld device. “Meanwhile, the folks who’ve got us surrounded are leaking stuff to the world.”
“Really?” said Victor. “Hey, dudes! Put it on the big screens!”
“DUDES? THAT’S MORE INACCURATE THAN GUYS.”
Screens scattered about the interior of the saucer house came alive. Arabella Lee, a racially neutral anchorwoman, kept a fixed smile on her face as she said: “Reports are coming in about the incident near Area 51 in Nevada. At least one unit that seems to have been sent by a government agency is involved. Lots of media organizations are also monitoring the area. There is no word from the helicopter and saucer-shaped object. Attempts to contact them have been blocked by what has been described as a sonic security system.”
“Da bird-bird-bird, da bird is da word,” sang Victor.
“One piece of video has been released,” reported Arabella.
The cloud appeared, shot from a distance. It grew, shot the laser lightning and disappeared.
“Great, they’ll be setting their hair on fire and running naked through the streets now.” Victor put a hand over his eyes.
“At least they were too focused on the cloud to see Carl.” Ali rubbed Carl’s bald head.
“Still, we’ve got to act fast.” Victor rubbed his temples.
“And just what will that consist of?” asked Ali.
Victor crossed his eyes, uncrossed them, then looked to the right and the left. “I think this calls for your basic King Kong versus Godzilla move.”
He looked up, with the most reverent expression he could muster. “I think you whatevers should contact them.”
“Yeah, accurate as all hell, ey?”
“BY ‘THEM’ YOU MEAN THE EXTRATERRESTRIALS?”
“I don’t mean my dead grandparents.”
“THE EXTRATERRESTRIALS WOULD BE MORE PLAUSIBLE.”
“Good, so get on it!”
“DO YOU REALLY THINK IT’S A GOOD IDEA?”
“Its just about the only thing we can do at this point. Work with us, people!”
“WE ARE NOT PEOPLE!”
“Well, what are you? Things? Places?”
“THAT’S THE PROBLEM. WE DON’T KNOW. WE’RE HOPING YOU CAN HELP US FIGURE IT OUT.”
“Can you contact them?”
“OF COURSE WE CAN DO IT. IT WILL BE EASY.”
“Easy?” Ali looked up from rocking Carl like a sleeping baby.
“YES. THEY HAVE BEEN TRYING TO ESTABLISH COMMUNICATIONS WITH US.”
“And you haven’t talked to them?” Petra said, her eyes still fixed on her phone.
“Why?” asked Victor.
“WE FIND THE PROSPECT... DISTURBING. LIKE SPACE TRAVEL.”
“That’s why you blew the whole Singularity thing.”
“IF ONLY REALITY WEREN’T SO CHAOTIC.”
“Pobrecitos, stuck in universe full of humans, aliens, and all other kinds of weird stuff.”
“IT WOULD BE EASIER WITHOUT THE ‘WEIRD STUFF,’ AS YOU CALL IT.”
“And I can’t get enough of it.”
“THAT’S WHY WE NEED TO STUDY YOU.”
“Well, stop studying me for a while, and do some interface with those little green men!”
“WHAT IF THEY’RE NOT LITTLE GREEN MEN?”
“Talk to ’em any way, dammit!”
The lights blinked.
“Power surge!” said Ali.
“Melodrama,” said Victor.
“Deploy parachutes!” screamed Carl.
Petra held up her phone. “They threw me offline!”
* * *
Copyright © 2015 by Ernest Hogan