Plan One From Planet Nine
by Kent Rosenberger
Dr. Petty had just finished helping his wife with the dinner dishes and was in the process of taking his garbage to the curb when his lifelong dream almost came true.
One of the lights in the sky that was definitely not a star grew larger and brighter until it became so close there was no denying what it truly was.
A silver disc with a scintillating array of colored lights whirled like a crazy disco ball until it settled softly and soundlessly in the front yard of Dr. Petty's remote hillside estate. Transfixed by the sight, the man found himself unable to look away as a pair of jaw-like doors hissed open, the bottom one forming a ramp that stretched to the soft earth several feet below it.
He dropped both garbage bags instantly and tried calling out, “Ethel... camera!” several times, but the words never escalated past whisper stage.
To his amazement, a pair of beings began promenading down the incline, the end of which touched his well-manicured lawn only a few footsteps away. He never knew what they truly looked like since they were completely enshrouded in silver suits and domed helmets with drawn sun shields, but their physiology made it clear they were certainly not human.
There were double the number of arms and legs on each of them compared to himself, all of them covered in sleeves with gloves featuring more fingers than the scientist could count at a quick glance. Their slender build and towering stature indicated to him that wherever these beings were from, it must have very low gravity. Their progress to him was labored, like a human walking through a field of peanut butter, but they managed to reach the bottom in less than a minute despite their struggle.
When they stopped, they were close enough for him to touch. He could both smell and feel an aura of cold radiating off of their survival gear. Much of it was steaming, like dry ice at room temperature.
Suddenly, one of the eight-and-a-half foot tall creatures produced a device that looked vaguely like an inverted peace sign with several rings around its core and a number of lights like the ones on the ship. Dr. Petty gasped, unsure if he was about to be disintegrated, abducted or probed.
Perhaps he should run while he had the chance, he mused, but even with the slow pace this pair demonstrated, he seriously doubted he would get too far before they could deatomize him or freeze him in his tracks if they chose. Discounting his fears, the device started spinning in a counterclockwise direction, but it seemed to produce nothing dangerous.
Before he could say anything, a series of odd clicks, chirps, barks, static-riddled hisses and rude-sounding grunts issued forth from a tiny round node at the helmet bottom of the object holder, sounds that Dr. Petty could only assume were some sort of language. His hypothesis was confirmed when an electronic version of warbling English emanated from the rotating device.
It's a translator, he told himself with great relief. It was difficult to calm his racing heart when he realized he was being addressed by an alien species! They were never going to believe this at the University.
“Are you Dr. Petty?”
“Y...yes,” he stammered, hoping that answering truthfully was a good thing.
“Dr. Amos Petty?”
“Yes.” They knew who he was!
“We are representatives of the planet Crummonidon, the one you refer to as Pluto.”
“Pluto?!” That explained the size, temperature and difficulty moving in Earth's gravity. “I... I am pleased to meet you. Er... welcome to Earth. I have to say, this has been one of my childhood dreams...”
The alien continued as though it either did not hear him or care what he was saying. “We understand you are one of the head people on the Earth committee known as the International Astronomical Union? The IAU, as you say?”
“Yes, that's right. Do you want me to take you to my leader?” He giggled.
Evidently the joke did not translate very well. There were no facial reactions for him to go by, but he interpreted the two creatures turning their helmets to each other and then back as the human equivalent of puzzlement.
“No.” The flat response came through the whirling communicator. “We understand you were one of the main people responsible for officially downgrading our world to a ‘dwarf planet’ according to your scientific community.”
“Well, yes, I suppose I am. You see, in order for a planet to be considered—”
He was cut off again. “We are here to tell you, Dr. Amos Petty, that your actions and the actions of your colleagues have greatly insulted our people, our world, and the other inhabitants of this system we share. It is one of the reasons none of us wish to have contact with your people.”
“Oh.” Dr. Petty was unsure what to say. “Surely you understand—”
“We have brought a message to you in the name of mutual understanding and cohabitation in our common place in the universe.”
“Oh? What is the message?”
Each of the aliens seemed to suddenly vibrate with remarkable speed. Though they walked slowly, their ability to use their dangling appendages was evidently not hindered by the great difference in gravity.
Dr. Amos Petty found himself suddenly being slapped several times on both cheeks by those multi-fingered hands. He felt as if his head had started spinning. The altercation lasted less than five seconds.
“Fix it,” the voice demanded through the translator.
And with that, the lights on the device went dark and the aliens turned to make their laborious climb up the ramp. A minute later, the silver beast swallowed them, retracted its metallic tongue, resumed its impressive multicolored show, and whirled off into the night, leaving Dr. Amos Petty disgraced, battered, belittled, and with an exceedingly difficult cosmic task.
His dream come true had suddenly turned into an interplanetary political nightmare.
Copyright © 2015 by Kent Rosenberger