My Lunch With an Alien
Copyright 2017, John Manimas
I had told myself I would be totally honest with him -- her, it, them? Certainly they can detect any falsehood. I best not even think of lying to a superior being whose brain includes a lie detector. How will I apply the "Blade Runner" test? How will I know whether IT is organic or robotic?
"You look a little weird. Kind of like a real human dressed for Halloween with pasty-powder makeup. The eyes -- you know ."
"Yes we know," he said. "We don't mind if we make Earth humans a little uncomfortable. We don't want them to get close except on our terms. Like the first Thanksgiving maybe."
"Yes of course," I said, nervous feelings trembling in my words.
He apparently (based on previous perfunctory communications -- We are not male and female like Earthums) was inserted into an oddly formal black suit. It was somehow tight in some places, loose in others. He wore a coal-black wide-brimmed hat, wildly misplaced as a fashion statement, kind of a Stetson crossed with Safari umbrella. The hat, tipped downward close to his browless eyes, made him look like a ghost playing the role of a bad guy in a C-grade western.
I had to forget that, and contemplate my mental rehearsals of what to say to this alleged alien, who only hinted at why I was selected to be the initial contact with the general populace. Something about my taking alien life seriously and I appear to be unusually realistic for an Earthum. I definitely considered the realistic possibility that the true reason for his saying I was the first Earthum to be contacted directly was to recruit me to do their dirty work, be a traitor to my species, in exchange for favorable treatment. The oldest military strategy in the world, this world, maybe their world too.
So. What do I say? No deal? Or, shall I maintain an attentive silence, however long it may take? What the fuck anyway. If I go along with a plan for me to help them invade Earth without opposition, while I am opposed to their plan, how will I hide my true thoughts from them? They seem to know any thought we have, as though we have spoken it out loud. I'm fried.
But I am still pathologically curious. Us Earthums are part housecat.
The pregnant pause. My mind raced to: They are probably meeting with thousands, maybe millions of primate Earthums like me, serenading us with how we are special.
The silence got heavier.
He stared at me, I think. I could not really see his eyeballs. They were holes in a fence separating me from a dark night.
"Please call me 'Takarian.' May I call you 'John?'"
"Yes, Mister Takarian."
"No. Just 'Takarian.' We don't have Misters.
"OK. Yes. OK. That means 'Yes.' Does it not?"
"Yes. OK means 'Yes' or 'good,'" I said.
"Nice languages you have on your planet."
I shifted to the left on my seat and leaned downward a bit. My mind bubbled but I think I was intending to get a better look under that foolish wide brim of his hat.
I spoke my true thoughts: "We have a lot here that's nice, so far."
He turned his head upward slightly, obligingly, but hit me with a return to what he wanted to talk about.
"We've been watching you. And listening, of course."
"Yes, really. Everything we do is 'really.'"
I maintained silence again, straining against my urge to speak, to be in charge. I should be in charge, I thought. This is my planet. Or is it?
"You show a keen sensitivity to the logic of universal life. You concluded, on your own, that there has to be more trees in the forest. There cannot be only one tree of a kind in a forest. That's what you said in your story about the two Indian friends. Since there cannot be one fruit tree in a forest, there cannot be one Earthum in a universe. We found that to be brilliant, for an Earthum. Your logical thinking glowed."
"Yes, of course. If we find an individual organism, there must be others. All living things live as a species. With the age of the universe being calculated as billions of years, I feel certain that we Earthums are not new. But how did you know I wrote that? Can you read my website like we do?"
"We read everything that you write. Hear everything that you say. Detect everything that you think. Like your divine beings, which are real after all -- that is us, rather than an imaginary form of existence in a separate supernatural place. "
He paused deliberately.
"We are all right here John. Right here in River City, as your Music Man would say."
I thought then had to bring my thoughts to be visible on the palette.
"What you say suggests that we are equals, in a way."
He shivered as in laughter and let out a strange grunt, accompanied by a sound that, if it were speech, would be "Tackboky!" Then he corrected me.
"No, John. We are not equals. We are very different in our internal biological structure."
"As you were told before, we are not male and female. Primitive sexual development is stopped before the internal and external gonads are produced. We use our generative cells to reproduce in manufactured wombs. This advanced process is clean and safe and eliminates the emotional loyalty to parents. We are all attached to all rather than to clan or tribe."
"You used genetics to accomplish a political and social goal. Is that correct?"
"Yes. Also, we are very different internally. We do not have the same internal vital organs that you have. We have smaller tissue types with similar functions, but our internal tissue material is dominated by a dark green mass that is similar to the internal tissue of insects on Earth. This core regulates and processes energy, performs all of the functions performed by your heart, lungs and circulatory system. We are advanced mentally, but our supportive body is not like an Earthum mammal."
"I see," I said, while I felt sure that he heard my thought that it will be difficult for us mammal 'Earthums' to transact with humanoid insects. Science fiction becoming real, just like Captain Nemo and the infamous island of Dr. Moreau.
"John. We want you to be our friend. We believe that we are your friend. We have your best interests in mind. Because of your advanced understanding, we would like you to help us communicate with other Earthums, those who do not understand what you understand."
I told him I felt uncertain that I understood anything more than other humans. I was just an Earthum like all the others, and I did not sense that I possessed any qualities that would enable me to serve as some kind of diplomat or translator or go-between. I said, sincerely, that I was known as something of a loner, not gregarious, not someone who is readily trusted or followed by other people.
I do not have the personal history of a natural leader. I have shied away from power rather than sought it or accepted it. I might be above-average intellectually, but there are millions who are the same, and millions more who are exceptionally intelligent and far more successful in communicating with others.
Basically, I tried to persuade Takarian -- with logical arguments -- that he, or they, had made a mistake. I was not suited for the position he suggested. I did my best to control my terror at being selected -- recruited -- conscripted, compelled, by an offer I could not refuse, to serve as some kind of Earthum organizer. Prepare my fellow Earthums to calmly accept their new galactic status, which looked like a slave who progresses to self-actualization as a side of beef.
"John. You remember what you wrote about time, don't you?"
"Yes. Yes time is a fiction of consciousness."
"This is unique in the galaxy, John. There are few who get it like you have. All of the humanoid species we have discovered are stuck in the narcissism of their own consciousness. They cannot separate themselves from the practical use of time as a measurement of duration, and as the means to perceive cause and effect. They almost always get stuck in their imagined concept of time as an independent thing, as something that exists in and of itself. Your insight into time is unusual, John. Not only unusual among Earthums, but unusual among most humanoid species."
He paused. So did I.
"That is why we want you to support our work, John. Because you will understand the necessity and wisdom of what we do."
"You read my website? Just like some kid looking for lingerie and war games?"
"Yes we read your website, but we do not look for lingerie and war games."
"What do you look for?"
"We look for vitality and diversity. This will be obvious for you, John. We look for genetic diversity in order to continue intelligent life in the universe. Earthums are on a trajectory to self-destruction, simply because you do not know who you are or what you are. We offer the promise that was made to you: the marriage of heaven and earth. What do you think is the responsible thing to do?"
"You are so powerful," I said. "It makes no difference what we think or feel. You can do what you want. --- How many will come?"
"Like the stars," he said. "Earth is a prize, a gem, a pearl of great price."
"That seems so unfair, to just come and take everything away."
"But John, you were warned that if you did not take care of what was entrusted to you it would all be taken away. Don't you remember?"
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