Morning sunlight on the golf course leaves the woman’s orchid-scattered lanai in shade. It’ll be in the 90’s today. High in the blue sky, an eagle already rides the updrafts. I sit quietly, listening to the repertoire of Mockingbirds and watching pine squirrels scamper on the grass two stories below. Before it heats up, there is time to write about the great Eugenics Fallacy of today. (Google Eugenics if you don’t know what I mean. It was the “scientifically-proven” horror of the 20th Century.)
Bob vs the Aliens
To read the story from the beginning, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf
Stop Continental Drift!
If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
– Anatole France
(1844-1924, born François-Anatole Thibault, French poet, journalist, novelist)
They watched the three-foot-tall Alien walk until he was half a block away. “He looks so forlorn.” Piper sounded empathetically sad. “We have to help him,” she squeezed Bob’s arm.
“Yeh,” Bob chuckled. “I never knew a spherical person could walk hunched over like that.”
“Bob!” The squeeze of his arm sharpened.
“OKAY. Hey,” he yelled. “Spice!! You can’t walk to Denver! It’s two thousand miles away.”
Piper was now tugging on his arm. “We can’t let him go alone.”
“Don’t worry, he’s doing the math. See – he’s stopped.” Bob was reluctant to be dragged into walking two thousand miles. Not that he had any engagements, work or otherwise. When he’d last called in for work, the lecture circuit for funeral speakers hadn’t anything for him but wailing gigs. “Check the local obits,” was their advice. He was single, too, no attachments there. Life was just the way he liked it.
“1,632 miles,” Old Spice announced. “That’s 544 hours if we don’t stop.” He read the street signs at Central Avenue and Oak Street. “The way is well marked.”
Piper’s insistent grip pulling him towards the Alien had fully extended his arm. Decision time. Go with her or fall on his face. “OKAY.” He stumbled forward, muttering. “But I ain’t walking. We hitchhike.”
“What’s hitch hiking?” Spice asked.
“You stand by the road and hook your thumb out like this,” Bob showed Spice, who stepped into the intersection holding up his thumb just as a blue bus covered in colorful lettering careened from around the corner into him. The spherical Alien concaved like a collapsing basketball then rebounded ahead of the bus now screeching to a halt. The bus and Spice rolled to a stop in front of Bob and Piper. She rushed to him. “Spice! Are you alright?” People piled out of the bus. “OMG!” and “It’s an alien,” some said while others checked the front of the bus. Bob helped Spice to his feet.
“My suit saved me.” The Alien brushed himself off.
Piper fingered his suit. “It looks like regular spandex.”
“I backed it with duct tape,” Spice explained, turning thoughtful. “Say, if you people are ever allowed to export, I’d start with duct tape. It would sell just about anywhere in the galaxy.”
“Are you injured?” A bearded young white man broke from the group of diverse young people around the bus. He stopped to look twice at Old Spice. “You’re an alien! Not that that’s bad.” He added hastily. “Aliens are welcome.”
“You’ll take us to Denver?”
“Uh. Well, we are headed west.” He extended his hand. “My name is Jackson, Jackson Pfizer.”
“Pleased to meet you, Jackson Jackson. May I call you Jackson?”
“Please do.” Jackson’s smile broke through the confused look on his face. “I just received my Doctorate in Social Media.” The confused look returned. “Well,” he backed away. “If you are OKAY….”
“I am, Doctor Jackson. Let’s go.” Spice boarded the bus.
Bob studied the bus. It was hand painted in the style of wall graffiti, a blue base covered with orange volcanoes erupting over yellow buildings toppling in earthquakes. Scrawled below the windows in big fluorescent lime green letters was, “Stop Continental Drift!” and “Pin The Plates!!” He grinned and followed Piper aboard. They headed west.
It didn’t take long to meet the other Doctorates on the bus, it being a short bus. Each had recently completed their PhD in a socially acceptable field and were doing their Residency on a government funded tour. Sitting with the group gathered around Spice, Bob studied their eager faces while Piper told him what he was seeing, one of her professional talents as a journalist. “Each represents a different culture.”
They were served tea by a girl with an angry look on her Oriental face who tried to smile but failing, supplicated, “We have to save the planet.” She offered Spice her hand, “Wang Fang. The name means aromatous in my language.”
Spice took her hand and licked it. “Your servant.”
“Spice!” Piper said sharply, shaking her head. “No!”
Wang pulled her hand away, looking at the three of them.
“He’s new here,” Bob pointed out by way of explanation. “Aromas are very important in his culture.”
“Please forgive him,” Piper encouraged, “Go on.”
Recovering quickly, Wang wiped the back of her hand on her cheongsam dress, straightened and archly said, “Continental drift is causing deadly earthquakes.” Recovering even more, she leaned forward and added conspiratorially, “That’s what killed all those people in Tiananmen Square.”
“What?!” Bob sprayed her beautiful silk dress with sipped tea.
“Tian’anmén Guangchang in Standard Mandarin,” Spice said, one eye consulting his inner almanac. “Also known as the Gate of Heavenly Peace.”
Bob stared at the girl in outraged amazement. “That’s about the dumbest thing -”
“Hush!” Piper kicked him. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Bob!”
The group twittered assent.
“Science has proven conclusively,” Jackson intervened, “That continents drift.” Speaking with smooth authority, he calmed his group by announcing what they already knew. “Our computer models predict that at the present rate of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, civilization will be destroyed in 37 years.”
Piper nodded, obviously impressed. “Computers don’t lie.”
“We stopped using computers long ago,” Spice said. “The input always predicts the output.”
“I’ll bet,” Bob smiled around at the group, “That you don’t need donors. With computer models that predict the future, you make your money on the stock market. Am I right?”
“Of course not,” Spice corrected him. “Science cannot predict the future. Empirical science is based on measurement; one cannot measure what does not exist.”
“Unbeliever!” someone hissed.
Obviously disturbed by the drift of the conversation, Jackson coughed for attention. “The majority of scientists believe we are right. As do prominent public figures and most of the taxpayers. All of which is borne out by numerous polls. You have to believe us.”
Spice smiled to show he was friendly. “Empirical science does not require belief,” he said quietly but firmly. “Why do you?”
“Anyone who tells you they know the future wants something from you.” Bob nudged Spice, laughing. “Keep your eye on the money.”
Jackson looked alarmed. “Surely you are not saying that the majority of informed scientific opinion is wrong?”
“Check your Braincrib Notes, Spice. See what our history has to say about other ‘proven scientific facts.’ Look up Eugenics.” Bob repeated for emphasis. “Really. Eugenics. It’s worth looking up. Scientists and politicians and ordinary people believed in that ‘science,’ too. Check out the harm and the murders that insanity caused.”
“Really!” Jackson huffed. “We are not promoting racist theories to Nazis.”
“Or selling Thalidomide to pregnant women,” reflected Wang Fang.
“People willingly give their money to save the planet.” Jackson waved an arm at his group who again twittered assent. “It’s a good thing.”
“They’re giving us a ride, Bob,” Piper said with finality. “Drop it.”
“Well, it’s not my decision to make, of course,” Bob conceded. “I just think all that money and talent could be doing something useful.”
The group’s agreeable twitter changed to an angry buzz. Several texted one another on their satellite phones. When Jackson’s phone chimed, he looked and announced, “We cannot give rides to deniers. To do so risks losing our grant money. Sorry,” he signaled the Haitian bus driver who pulled over and stopped. “You must get off, now.”
“The Alien stays,” Wang Fang held up her hand to Spice as he rose to depart. “I notified my sponsoring agency, DARPA, about you. They are sending a helicopter to take you to Denver.”
Spice pushed past her. “Thank you but no. My handicap is fear of flying. An airliner sounds bad enough but a helicopter is unthinkable. I’ll hitch hike.”
Standing by the road as the bus sped off, Piper had to ask, “Who ever heard of a spaceman afraid to fly?”
“We all have some handicap. It was a mission qualification for relating to humans.”
“Well, I’m glad to be off that bus,” Bob said, heading into a nearby stand of trees. “I have to pee.”
“Me too.” Piper followed him.
Spice followed them both into the trees as a helicopter whooshed overhead and loosed a missile that blew up the bus.
Seeking a second, well maybe third, cup of morning coffee, I pass the TV and see Tea Party demonstrators on the same street as Black Lives Matter, separated by cops in the middle with dogs. Imagining PETA showing up to protect the police dogs sets me to grinning at the thought of feminists, environmentalists and immigration activists joining the melee, all for attention, donations and votes.
… to be continued
(Follow Writing DaysZ to read Bob Vs The Aliens as it is being written. To read Writing DaysZ 1-2, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf)