20040516

Intercepted


To Whom It May Concern:

[Lengthy introduction omitted by editorial fiat to preserve anonymity for the purposes of mass publishing. Nothing spectacular, anyway. The author rambles on about the “unsung call to heroism of the common man,” and eventually identifies himself as a nationally syndicated radio talk show host whose daily call-in program concerning the supernatural has won credibility in avant garde circles, while functioning as an audio equivalent to the “Weekly World News.” He calls on us to believe him no matter how ludicrous his following claims may be, and demands that he be judged only by physical evidence, which he is willing to provide to those he feels are not trying to exploit him for financial gain. One gets the impression that various incarnations of this letter have been sent out repeatedly to the national news media and repeatedly been rejected. The author’s “usual inclination toward stringent fucking sobriety and extreme Pyhrronic fucking skepticism” is brought up and then alluded to in four separate places.]

So what was I supposed to think when this brother shows up in my office with a shiny red dildo in a plastic bag, telling me he pulled it out of some crazy homeless guy and that it tried to kill him? Do you have any idea how many waterheads and lead-spoon-licking twitchers and spazzers try to contact me on a regular basis with their insights and theories?

For instance, every night like clockwork I get a phone call from a guy that calls himself The Big Rotten Banana, who wheezes and puffs at me over a bad cell phone connection, letting me know he is on to the schemes of my superiors. At first he thought only he was a bug-eyed telepathic alien in disguise. But then, with a little help from fundamentalist Christianity, he discovered what it truly meant to be human and realized everyone else is really a bug-eyed telepathic alien in disguise and he is one of the special chosen few who aren’t. After a soul-searching sabbatical to the Painted Desert and a few choice buttons of peyote, he finally figured out the truth: just government officials are bug-eyed telepathic aliens in disguise. And now, thanks to the internet, he is completely, 100% convinced that only Oprah Winfrey, the Dalai Llama, and Ralph Nader are optically-protuberant, psychically-sensitive extraterrestrials and he wants to know how to get back to their home world to breathe in the fresh, neon air which he hopes will cure his emphysema. I told him to send me a postcard if he ever made it. Instead, I get Xeroxed articles from the Mini Page “proving” his claims.

So, I only trust what I see with my own two eyes. And what I saw was just another beeping, glowing dildo. They sell them for twenty bucks down at the Buy Curious Sex Emporium as "The Anal Probe" and those cheap little wonders even have crude cartoons of a very naughty Steven Spielberg escapee stenciled on the shaft. More bang for your buck. This guy, in his pink chambray shirt and 500 dollar loafers, was trying to play me for a rube.

Okay, so he had horn-rimmed glasses and an Ivy League accent. So what? He might have been the proctologist he said he was; he might have just been a very competent psychotic. It didn’t matter a bucket load of processed chickenshit to me: I hit him with my best “I’ll look into it, you dangerous crazy fanatic” speech, made him a roast beef sandwich, and sent him on his way. I gave the rocket-cock a good whack against my desk, tried to silence it by giving it a twist, and then finally gave up altogether and wrote the afternoon off.

I put it on my trophy shelf, along with my signed photograph of Ronald Reagan in S&M Gay Cowboy Drag (“To Cheney, Armey, and Clark - my three favorite Dicks”), my unopened bottle of crystal Pepsi with the suspended, immaculately preserved human eyeball, and my Skull and Bones Secret Decoder Ring, with neato little compartments for cyanide caplets and a flywheel on either side that makes the Jolly Roger’s eyes spark when you thumb it. I considered the dildo just another trinket of a damned and contemptible age, a throwback to yesteryear’s outer space paranoia and hypocrisy, and if it weren’t for its constant beeping, I would have immediately and entirely forgotten all about it.

It stayed there, inert, all the rest of that week. It wasn’t until my Friday night show that its mojo started to rise.

I do my radio program live at 1 AM. That’s when I’m the most juiced up, and that’s when I do my best work. My studio is in the basement of my Los Angeles chateau, and my office – along with my trophy shelf – is right next to it, partitioned off by a hefty sheet of clear, soundproof plexiglass. My sound technician and my producer have a booth on the other side, partitioned off in the same manner.

That Friday night I was doing a show about celebrity ghosts. It was also one of the only shows I’ve ever done that I didn’t video for posterity. I had run out of film that morning, and a slick little voice in the back of my head told me not to worry about it. Reverse premonition? Perhaps. Or maybe it was just a function of the domain “supernatural.” My job makes me a whipping boy for the occult, and, skeptic or not, something was bound to happen to me sooner or later that I would never be able to explain satisfactorily to a rational agent. I guess this is my attempt. The world needs to know.

My producer and my sound technician are both named Dave. Dave B., my producer, is a wiry, fortyish guy with a perpetual frown who always looks as if he has just bitten into the pit of a peach. Dave P., my sound technician, wears his brown hair in a swarthy ponytail and is always trying to take off his shirt to air out his constant hippy stink. When he’s not campaigning for clean water and free health care, he’s composing death metal songs about his vengeful dark lord, Moloch. Dave B., on the other hand, drives a Saab. They ought to hate each other – but they get along remarkably well and Dave P. was even Dave B.’s best man at his wedding last summer. I’ve been working with the Daves for the past decade, and we’ve got my humble radio show down to a tight, perfected science.

I came in late that Friday, and the Daves were both eating food stolen from my pantry upstairs. Audio Dave was reading Fangoria, rocking out to Cannibal Corpse, and couldn’t care less about my tardiness. Producer Dave put down his plate and opened the door of my studio to yell at me.

“You’re late, in your own house. Hey, what’s the deal? Celebrity ghosts? Is it going to be about the ghosts of famous celebrities, or is it going to be about ghosts that are themselves celebrities? Like Bluebeard, say?” asked Producer Dave.

“I don’t know. I’ll wing it,” I said. “Like always, I’ll just try to figure out what will sound best by tuning into the pulsating truth of the great god, Frequency – and then spewing out my own groovy, genius lies to the most righteous beat I can find.”

“I guess you must have already gone into radio mode. I was only asking because I need to know how to structure your twelve forty-five promo.”

“I’ve got an article from page 30 of the Washington Post about George Washington. Maybe I’ll use that. Whatever you do, make the promo vague, make it sizzle, and make it get me ears for my necklace, baby.”

“It’s going to be heavy on kettle drums,” said Audio Dave without looking up from his magazine. “I’m into kettle drums now. Kettle drums totally give me a redwood erection. Oh, and you’ve only got ten minutes to get ready. No yoga.”

I limbered up a bit anyway, had a couple of cups of coffee laced with unrefined Venezuelan sugar and industrial strength Ginkgo-Biloba (surrogate Samadhi), and considered myself primed for sweet, sweet radio action. The buzzer went off. Wild, out-of-control tom-toms – like red thunder through a doctor’s stethoscope - carried me in from a commercial about mood crystals. I was on the air.

“Good evening, denizens, prisoners, and fugitives of the material plane. Do not even attempt to touch your radio dial, or my armies of trained, gelded helicopter-baboons will be at your house to decapitate your children before you can blink. I don’t want to have to hurt you, but, as always, it is for your own good.”

“It will be Easter soon, and with Easter comes the celebration of the world’s most famous zombie. So, my fine and faithful, it is time once again to placate the departed. But not all the dead rest easy. To you, the rebellious and insistent deceased are known as “spooks.” Boggarts. Banshees. Great bleeding holy spirits. It is not your mommy and daddy going bump in the night – no – that wailing and moaning, that rattling of chains, that bumping of bedposts and music of the damned, is always, undoubtedly, and most assuredly ghosts.”

“Tonight, we discuss ghosts – but not just any see-through, decaying bags of billowy ectojism. Tonight we discuss the ghosts of the famous dead. Celebrities whose fame has come back to haunt us. The standing rule still applies, of course. No Elvis. But if you’ve got the skinny on anything else, call in. Let me know what you’ve seen. Let me know what you haven’t. Let me know what makes the short hairs on your balls straighten, your eyebrows curl, and your nipples suck in like frightened groundhogs.”

“First off, I’m going to read you something straight from today’s AP ticker. Something the national media won’t talk about, because they like to keep you stupid and complacent. The headline reads: George Washington Returns to Mount Vernon; Gets High, Eats Ice Cream, and Impregnates Tour Guide. I’ll say it again, folks – this is from a reputed and accredited news source, but you’ll only hear it from me because I’m the only Radio Friend who respects you enough to give you the straight stick. You won’t hear a story like this from Rob and Tanya on your giggly, plastic eleven o’ clock ACTION affiliate.”

“Here it goes…”

Before I could begin, somebody tapped on my office-side window. Strictly speaking, I couldn’t hear anybody tap through the soundproofing – but I could see the shadows wriggle on the wall in front of me. I looked up, but my office was dark and empty. I looked over into my producer’s box, but the Daves were both busy answering phones and wolfing down chili dogs. It was enough to depth-charge my flimsy concentration and rattle me into a stupor. Momentarily, my mind went utterly blank – radio death – but with a fake cough I regained my composure and plunged ahead.

“Ahem. Anyway, the ghost of George Washington is alive and well. Turns out one of the Tour Guides at Mount Vernon, a devout Southern Baptist and former Miss Teen Kentucky, showed up mysteriously pregnant after leading a congressional subcommittee on a weekend retreat through the hallowed habitation of the nation’s first tyrant. Witnesses claim many of the rooms smelled strongly afterward of marijuana, and Mount Vernon’s entire supply of Fudge Ripple and Extreme Marshmallow Crunch also disappeared into the spectral ether. Historians and paranormal investigators claim that there is a good, paranormal explanation: Mr. Washington made a hefty percentage of his money by growing reefer, and was also probably addicted to the substance. Therefore his ghost would be, too. Historians also point out that based on receipts it is also highly probable Washington ate upwards of a gallon of iced cream a day. This is not all. Whitish ectoplasmic residue on many historic sheets, slipcovers, and documents is further evidence for ghostly presidential activity.”

The shadows in my office writhed and flickered once again. I stood up, almost pulling my headset out of its socket, peering into the gloom. Was that something glowing? A flame?

I leaned forward.

“Do we have a caller? This is a question for my salivating listeners and their unquestionable, razor-sharp judgment. Again, if anybody has any first hand experience with the celebrity dead, now is your chance to share your story.”

I pressed my forehead up against the plastic. I motioned for one of the Daves to turn on my office lights. There was definitely something on fire in there. There was too much glare and refraction for me to get a good reading on its shape.

“Hello, this is Chucky Ghirardelli from Pennsylvania. I see lotsa ghosteses. You wanna hear about the time me an’ Thomas Edison wallpapered my Aunt Jeanie’s bathroom closet? Or the time Amelia Earhardt pantsed me in front of a whole friggin’ Girl Scout Troop? Hey, Johnny Carson even stole my thinking pills, and he won’t give ‘em back, neither.”

“Johnny Carson isn’t dead. He’s just retired.”

“So?”

“Well, that means he probably isn’t a ghost yet.”

“Who are you, friggin’ Matlock? He’s got my pills, I tell ya. He loves those damn things. Eats ‘em like friggin’ Corn Pops.”

“Alright, next caller.”

Audio Dave did something on the sound board that made him curse. The lights finally came on in my office. I gasped.

I wasn’t as surprised as I probably should have been. I guess there must have been something in the proctologist’s eyes that I subconsciously found persuasive.

The dildo had rocketed off of my trophy shelf and was tapping against the plastic partition right in front of me, trailing smoke and some sort of incendiary propellant. It seemed like it was trying to dig its way into my recording chamber in the same way that a river carves through a mountain: slowly, persistently, and stubbornly. It was still uncanny, like a retarded torpedo born without a payload.

I turned to look over at the Daves, and I saw wide, shocked Q’s of surprise on their normally placid faces. They were caught so off guard that their tongues were literally lolling out onto their droopy chins. I felt the same way. But I was live in 36 states.

“Hello, am I on? This is Roberta from Topeka. I’m pretty sure my next-door-neighbor is Peter Lorre. I mean, Peter Lorre’s dead, isn’t he? But this guy looks like Peter Lorre, he talks like Peter Lorre…you know, “yehnssss bossss.”

I eventually got control of myself. The Daves were still out of it. I started jumping up and down waving my arms like I was landing an F-15, trying to catch their attention. Finally, Producer Dave looked up. I gave him the middle finger, my sign to immediately go to a commercial.

“And somebody keeps letting their dog poopy on my lawn. It could be Peter Lorre. If so, how do I get rid of him, and what do I do if he tries to eat my children?”

“Roberta, I suggest you take a sample of that dog’s waste and send it to the FBI for analysis. Send them a lot, maybe a whole big briefcase full. And if Peter Lorre really wants to eat your children, maybe you should let him. Maybe he knows something about natural selection that I can only speculate about.”

Audio Dave’s kettle drums started up again, just in time. As they played my theme song, I stared at the thumping dong. It was mesmerizing. It reminded me of this sparrow that once got trapped inside my chimney. I called PETA, but they never showed up, so instead, with a flashlight I watched that thing fly around squawking inside my chimney for what must have been a week. Eventually, I had to light a fire to get some sleep.

“Alright folks…here are some products and services that quite possibly may save your life. We’ll be right back with more ghosts, and at 1:30 we’ll bring you the Ten-Minute Improbable Problem. Buy.”

The two Daves scrambled into my recording booth.

“What in the seven holy Hells is that?” asked Producer Dave.

“Ah, it’s a long story. Could you just go in there and take care of it? Besides being incredibly creepy and dangerous-looking, it is distracting the pants off of me.”

“The pants, huh? Is this something we should know about, or is this something from your private collection?” asked Audio Dave, giving me a salacious grin through his layers of soggy, chili-encrusted beard.

“Just go in there and catch it before it sets my office on fire, you letch.”

“I’ll take care of it,” said Producer Dave. “But how do you turn it off?”

“Try hitting it with a chair or something. Don’t touch it, though.” I tried to think back to the story the proctologist told me. What was his name? Sinclair something? My initial hunch was that this was still some sort of elaborate practical joke. It wasn’t April Fools Day yet, but it was close. Still - it was always best to play it safe. “If it looks like it is giving off some sort of noxious gas, don’t breathe any in.”

“Check. No huffing the noxious gas. It’s a good thing you’re here, Stephen Hawking.”

Producer Dave pushed his glasses up onto his nose and entered my office. Audio Dave ducked back into the sound booth and gave me the middle finger this time. The show must go on. My only option was to work this in.

“To those of you just joining us, the topic originally slated for today was celebrity ghosts. I’m afraid that is going to be scrapped due to unforeseen circumstances that have risen up and asserted themselves here in the studio like a repressed, agit-propped Balkan Republic. Strange developments are taking place, as you listen. My unlikely producer is currently battling what appears to be a sentient marital aid, dropped off earlier in the week by a renowned proctologist who claims it killed a homeless man. The marital aid is quite likely mystical alien technology, and until this very moment was lying dormant in my office, waiting for its opportunity to strike. The time has come. We aren’t sure what exactly it is doing, but right now it looks exactly like a mosquito hawk trapped inside Venetian blinds as it gracelessly taps against my plexiglass. Perhaps it is trying to bash its way into the outside world.”

Producer Dave was frowning at the dildo, trying to figure out what to do. As an afterthought, he closed the office door behind him - ensuring that it wouldn’t escape, I guess.

“During the commercial break, we drew straws, and as I said, my producer lost and is now attempting to combat the device. Can we turn on Dave’s mike?”

“Righty-O.”

TAP TAP TAP…TAP…tink…TAP TAP TAP

“Dave is trying to find something with which to stun the probe, hoping it will turn itself off so that we can study it. I recommended a chair, but who listens to me? The only other viable alternative in my office is my desk lamp. I love that desk lamp.”

Sure enough, Producer Dave slowly and surreptitiously picked up my green banker’s lamp and held it in his hand like an Apache tomahawk. He tiptoed over to the dildo, and carefully observed it up close, trying to gauge its rhythm. His glasses slid partially down his nose, but evidently not low enough to obstruct his view.

“According to the proctologist, the probe is equipped with numerous security measures, including the ability to administer lethal current. Are you sure it’s a good idea to hit it with that lamp, Dave? It’s conductive. Not to mention worth more than your last couple of paychecks.”

Producer Dave gave me the evil eye.

“Alright, Dave. Do your worst. The probe is about six inches long, red chrome, and vaguely menacing in the way that inanimate objects suddenly displaying will and imagination always are. Dave is five-feet-eight, bald, and by all accounts he’s the kind of guy that gets bullied by his nephew into sitting at the kiddie table at Christmas.”

Producer Dave pulled back the desk lamp like Don Knotts about to make his second attempt at hammering a nail after already smashing his thumb.

“He’s lifting back the lamp, folks…he’s going to strike…”

Dave took a swing. A whole bunch of minor catastrophes happened at once. Luckily, everyone survived.

First of all, the lamp was still plugged in. He swung it hard, but it stopped short. The head of the lamp covered about half the distance to the probe before its cord went taut. The cord swept across my desk like a bowstring, sending an entire tabletop of knick-knacks flying, and turning snow-globes, paperweights, and ceremonial gavels into deadly ersatz projectiles. Most of them bounced harmlessly off of the plexiglass, and for the first time, I was glad I paid the extra money to have it doubly reinforced.

The rest of the room exploded in an avalanche of paper and debris. My laptop flew across the room and banged into the glass frame of my RTF diploma, breaking the glass with a shuddering whipcrack, but perversely not so much as even pulling the computer out of its screensaver mode. A vase filled with dead Valentine’s Day flowers tipped into my trashcan, making an even louder, trash-can amplified crash. A coffee mug with a picture of Ziggy getting a blowjob from Cathy in a seedy cartoon alley, Gasoline Alley for all I knew, conked Producer Dave right in the center of his forehead and then bounced up into the air, rotating end-over-end in a widening arc. On its descent, it clipped the side of the probe, making a harmonic ding, and the probe started to sputter and fart. Producer Dave fell down to his knees, rubbing at the bleeding dent in his head and looking green.

“Holy shit,” I said. Fuck the FCC.

The probe turned around in mid-air and pointed itself first at the swooning Producer Dave and then at my empty desk. It haltingly started to travel forward, like a kid just learning how to drive a stick. I could tell something vital inside of it had been damaged, and that it was quickly losing its sustaining pith.

“Nice rebound, dude. I think you scared it,” said Audio Dave. Truant, my Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar fell off of the wall behind my bookcase, smashing a ceramic kitty cat into a thousand pieces. I flinched. An unnecessary coda.

“Ladies and gentleman,” I said, “Using ancient voodoo kung-fu, my producer has managed to damage the probe. It seems to be going in for an emergency landing. Are you okay in there, Dave?”

“I think I’m going to puke,” said Producer Dave.

“Come on out of there and get some ice on your damned noggin.”

Producer Dave crawled hands and knees to the door of my office on the other side, heading upstairs into my laundry room and ignoring my spinsterly concern. He did manage to shut the door behind him. We could hear him clomping his way up the wooden stairs, and at what must have been the top, he started to retch. I had a vision of him opening up my dryer and puking all over my freshly laundered delicates.

“Kill Dave’s mike, please.”

The retching stopped.

“He better clean that up himself,” I said, “That’s my food he’s wasting.”

The probe was definitely engaged in some sort of landing operation. Its ass end was now perpendicular to the desktop, and it was slowly maneuvering itself downward to land like a space shuttle, its innards discharging a brownish cloud of slow-moving smoke that looked like a bowlful of flushed diarrhea. Silently, what I was beginning to think of as The Craft – as in shuttlecraft – came to a stop, pointed up in the air like the world’s tiniest Apollo 11. Ominous.

“The probe has come to a halt, loyal listeners. What now? What tricks and traps await?”

“Do you want sound in there, man?” asked Audio Dave.

“Why not?” I said.

I stared at the craft intently, waiting for something to happen. I was not left unsatisfied for long.

And here begins a tale you are probably not going to believe. I am aware of this and I am going to tell it regardless.

A quarter of my mindpie doesn’t want to air out this insanity for public disapproval. A quarter of my mindpie knows that nobody is going to buy it anyway, so it doesn’t particularly matter. The rest feels the cold obligation of scientific inquiry. The truth is still the truth, and if you are Semmelweis or Galileo, you just have to take your lumps.

My first thought was that I must have been drugged. No, strike that – my first thought was “how cute.”

It was sudden. A tiny hatch on the side of the probe opened up like a camera shutter, and from inside came the tiniest, most elegantly articulated hominoid I have ever seen. It was a Lilliputian by way of 5th Avenue by way of the Dark Side of the Moon. Imagine a human the size of a green plastic army man, wearing a blue Lycra wetsuit and topped by a windy shock of pink, curly hair. I didn’t see any tails or gills or anything else that suggested a remarkable difference from a regular human, other than size. Its skin was a coffee brown, and its proportions all seemed to belie an advanced technological culture: no bulging muscle mass, just slender efficiency. It was too small for me to determine its eye color or the amount of fingers it had, but it was large enough for me to read its facial expressions. It was smug and amused about something. I suppose the more fantastic proposal is that it had any facial expressions at all.

“No way. I deny the reality of this manifestation,” I simultaneously said to a few million listeners and no one in particular.

“Oh man, dude, what are we ON? We have been dosed like a couple of traffic cops.”

A ramp spurted forth out of the side of The Craft in a tiny ejection of red steel which moved faster than my eyes could process. A tongue. The creature began to walk the tongue’s length with disjunctive, solemn dignity. When the creature got to the end, it tentatively placed one miniscule foot on my desk, as if to test its give. Seemingly satisfied, the creature proceeded to walk briskly all the way to the edge, facing me. It stopped, spread its legs slightly, put its hands behind its back, and blew a shrill, sharp whistle. It must have been loud, because the speakers picked it up.

As far as the sex of the creature was concerned, I was completely at a loss. If you just have a single chopped-off hand floating in a void, is it a right hand or a left hand? And why should I be Earth chauvinistic and impose my dichotomous sexual understanding on the otherworldly?

I wouldn’t have time to ponder such paradoxes for long. The Craft began to shimmy and shake, the way a cartoon house does when it is signifying “party.” Six more creatures - vaguely identical, but each with different hair colors, skin colors, and builds – minor derivations of thin, really - and four of them with surprisingly firm, full breasts - scrambled out of the ship to join their scout in a regimented line. Last came what must have been The Captain. My mouth went dry and all of my words ran screaming into nine billion separate compartments, slamming doors and leaving behind stuffed animals and uneaten meals.

The final figure to walk the ramp was, to put it mildly, stunningly beautiful. Pygmy Creature from Beyond Space and Time or not, she gouged me with an indescribably sharp longing that filled my entire undercarriage with erotic, jasmine-scented propane. And the way she walked provided the match and sandpaper strip. She had long red hair (proportionally) that curved into the nape of her back, thereby accentuating with unashamed intensity a body built by the feverish imagination of shepherds, sailors, hackers, and Antarctic scientists, a body built out of sex bricks and satin, a body that could clear a New York sidewalk, making beggars jump into the gutter and businessmen drop their cell phones with the very aura of its blinding perfection. She had devastatingly long legs (proportionally), firm hips, milky white skin, luscious, cruel lips, and if I squinted, I could just make out her piercing baby blue eyes. They must have been electric if I could see them. She was wearing a green halter top and shorts to match, and in her hand was a glowing rod of the same minty hue. Black combat boots shod her; a circlet of gold covered with moving symbols like a stock ticker topped her off. She slowly ambled down the tongue, torturing me, each step a railroad spike hammered deeper into my chest. I started to drool. I wanted more than anything to run a single finger down her body and to feel her hot breath and the curve of her breasts on my skin – to feel her hard little nipples and supple thighs against my own trembling digit, to hear a tiny shriek of passion and delight…

The ON AIR sign flashed at me like the seedy lights of a cheap nudie bar. I remembered my erstwhile obligation.

“Ahem. Well, folks, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think we are just about to make contact with what appears to be an alien species. The Craft has landed, and this sounds ludicrous, but it has discharged eight creatures that look exactly like very small people, each about the size of a nickel. I don’t believe it myself. There are some men and some women, and they seem to share the same virtue of discipline that our militaries do, if this is in fact a military craft. Their leader is making her way across my desk right now, perhaps to seek an audience with Yours Truly. They are a multicultural bunch, but none of them are green, specifically, so nuts to that particular theory. They are all wearing blue jumpsuits of some sort – surely uniforms – with the exception of their leader, who appears to be dressed for Go Go dancing on Hugh Hefner’s mantel. ”

“Dude, that is one hot space chick,” said Audio Dave, “Whatever we are on right now, I am totally going to start dealing it.”

At first I wondered how Audio Dave could see what I was seeing from all the way across the room, but then I remembered the closed-circuit video camera that fed into the sound booth to keep tabs on guests. He probably had a better view than I did. I swallowed a whole mouthful of cold envy.

“Dave, if we are sober right now, we should attempt to be as diplomatic and savvy as we can. This could be a momentous occasion for the entire human strain, and we should give these travelers from beyond our fullest, most noble display of Earth hospitality.”

“Yeah, but like, you know, what about that homeless guy you said they killed? These guys are probably like trained space soldiers and shit. You know, if they are real. I mean black widows are small, but they can still kill you.”

“We can only hope they fight exclusively in self defense. Otherwise, our options are fairly limited. Besides, accidentally making the wrong kind of enemies is how entire planets get destroyed by…um…lasers.”

“Fucking A’.”

“I am going to attempt to establish a dialogue. Listeners, this may be my end, so wish me luck. Can you patch me in?”

“Done.”

“People of the Red Probe! Greetings! I bid you good day, and wish you glad tidings as guests of our mighty blue planet! We must seem as gods to you, but lo, your size is equally captivating and unique, and we hope to learn as much from you and your kind as you will learn from us. We have much to teach about love, peace, individuality, and…er...diversity. Peace, especially. We are big on peace here. Huge. We give out prizes. No lasers for us. Hell no.”

The Captain said something inaudible, directed exclusively to her troops. They parted, allowing her to walk forward between them and assume the forward position. She pointed at me with her glowing rod. My bowels clenched up and made what I would, in a different context, have taken to be hilarious noises. I jooked to the left, but the rod didn’t waver. She wasn’t pointing at me at all. She was pointing behind me.

Audio Dave stood up in his chair, ready to bolt.

“Nah, come on…I’m a good guy…don’t zap me, man. Don-“

Too late.

There was a crackle like the solenoid of an old car being shorted by a pair of cheap screwdrivers. Audio Dave started convulsing. His eyes rolled back in his head, and his face turned purple with pooled blood. His beard caught on fire. A back molar was yanked from his head by the thrashing and chomping of his dominated jaw and landed on his paper plate. I began to scream.

Suddenly, he stopped shaking and simply hung there like a suit on a rack, still alive, his chest heaving and his eyes still staring at the top of his skull. Slowly, with insane calm, he picked up the can of Black Cherry Soda he was drinking from and poured it on his flaming beard. Tendrils of acrid smoke wreathed his head and made him look like the only survivor of a particularly gruesome chemistry lab explosion.

When Audio Dave began to speak, he was using his own voice, but it was definitely not him. His mind had been hijacked. A part of me understood the necessity of the alien’s device, but the unwarranted license of it, and its extreme violence, caused me to look at my visitors with new loathing, the kind I normally reserved for insects and lawyers. Was that triumph and glee I saw on the face of their angelic commander? Yet, it made her more beautiful still. I shivered.

“I have taken control of your footman in order to communicate to you in a language you will understand. I have tunneled directly into his Wernicke ’s area, and am using his primal language generating capacity to translate thought-symbols to you in the most formal and elegant speech this creature has the intelligence to produce. You were saying something earlier. Would you like to continue?”

“No biggie,” I said, “Just peace and love, right? Heh. Peace and love and making babies.”

Concomitant with Audio Dave’s possessed rant was the high-pitched squeal of the alien’s Captain speaking in the booth next door. She sounded like a tinny mouse singing Britpop karaoke. I took heart: sure they had crazy, invincible mind-control rods - but at least they weren’t telepathic.

“We have done enough biological examination on your species, Representative Human. Our clandestine research operations have come to an end. Rejoice! We have chosen not to destroy you. Your kind will suffice, despite the fact that we have noticed redundant and dispensable traits in your genome, a result of the overabundance on this planet that has made you lazy and ignorant and not forced the full flower of our genetic heritage to bloom as it should have. We have come, nonetheless, to reclaim our seed-servants from this flower pot you call Earth. Your enslavement will be total, and your size will allow us to use you to build even larger cities and structures on our planets and fiefdoms. When we have extracted enough service from you, and your feeding costs begins to outweigh your utility, you will form the vanguard of our offensive fleet against the mighty U’u’Uurookian hordes. It will be a day of much honor for humanity. And for ourselves, the Jikklebellies. A name you will do well to remember. For we are your new masters.”

“Say again?” I said, “What’s this about enslavement? Jikklebellies? U’u’Uurookian hordes? You are going to have to elaborate if you want anybody to take you seriously, little sister. Even then, you still might have some work to do.”

“Peace and love - the Stage 4 memes you are hosting - will serve you well in the days to come. Love your new rulers, and do not resist – or your species will be put to sleep.”

“Like cryogenics?”

“Like a cancerous rat.”

All of this coming from the mouth of the normally laid-back-to-the-edge-of-comatose Audio Dave was hard to accept. I was getting pretty petulant inside. All forms of coercive authority tend to make me lash out self-destructively. Even if said locus of coercive authority can fit entirely in your open palm.

“Come on, now. Surely we can work this out. Start over from the beginning. What do you mean by reclaiming your seed-servants? I understand enslaving all of humanity – although you certainly wouldn’t be the first to try – but what are seed-servants?”

“I see you are woefully unprepared for the revelations I bring. Your mind is binary, and unable to accept dissonant input. Very well. I was hoping to make this quick, but I will tell you your own history since it appears you have not determined it for yourselves. Or perhaps you do not have the proper information clearance from your laughable human overlords.”

“Yeah, they are pretty laughable. I’ll give you that. Although…let’s be fair if we’re discussing what’s funny. Jikklebellies? What kind of a name for a hegemonic, imperialist alien species is that? Especially considering how bite-size you are. You sound delicious.”

“SILENCE!”

The green rod throbbed, and a bolt of sickly emerald flame burst out of it, striking the plexiglass right in front of me. The whole sheet of plexiglass simply disintegrated, cropped out of reality like a Photoshop smudge and leaving behind a vacuum that filled seconds later with an audible pop. There was now nothing between me and the alien invaders but a few unmediated feet of empty air. It was impressive, and it very easily could have been my beautiful face reduced to historical speculation, but I kept thinking that death by ray-gun was a pretty romantic way to trip the light fantastic. I mean, hey: it beats Alzheimer’s and a heart attack.

“We Jikk are a proud life structure, and food for no one. Now you will listen, Representative Human, and take heed. I am correct in assuming that this is a broadcasting station of crude construction?”

“Yep. You are on live radio, Representative Jikklebelly. Try not to say anything bad about The Velvet Fishhook Bar and Grill, if you can. They are this portion’s sponsor.”

“Excellent. Then I shall only have to explain this once.”

“You hear that listeners? If you are in your car and driving to the convenience store late at night, just sit idling in the parking lot and wait to buy that bag of hot fries until after tonight’s show. The apocalypse begins now. And you heard it here first.”

The Jikklebelly Captain gave me a hot stare from where she stood on my desk. Her troops had not moved a millimeter since they had disembarked. I noticed, for the first time, that each of them had control rods dangling from holsters around their waists. Some of them were also green like the Captain’s, but some of them were an equally vibrant purple, and the scout with the curly pink hair even had a yellow one. This seemed worth noting, while I retained my noting-apparatus.

I motioned for the Captain to continue with her rant. Dead air is still dead air, even if you are being held hostage by a Napoleonic cadre of fascist, furious munchkins.

“The first time my species made contact with your planet was 65 million years ago, before the ascension of mammals. It was a time when hair and breasts were seen as passing evolutionary fads in this solar system, naught but gourmet delicacies to the predatory pre-avian reptiles. We have always been interventionist in our dealings with crude, hopelessly misdirected fauna, and we saw the benefit of taking a proactive stance against the life forms then inhabiting your world. Our analytical AI projected that if these gigantic, dangerous creatures ever achieved viable sentience, they could be a severe threat to our kind. To put it bluntly, clever Dinosaurs would crush us like paper cups. The mother ship assigned to your planet made a command decision, and steps toward extermination were taken.”

“You bombed the hell out of them,” I said.

“We systematically removed them from evolutionary niches better inhabited by the more tractable, peaceable mammals, yes.”

“Tell me they at least put up a fight.”

“Well, there were some casualties – mainly among the initial reconnaissance craft sent to catalogue genetic information. Our history cubes relate that many of them were eaten, and quite a few were ignobly trod upon by careless, unthinking herbivores.”

“Were these initial reconnaissance craft also shaped like red, rocket powered dildos?”

“Our recon vessels adjust metamorphically to fit the animals they are surveying. But that is inconsequential. All you need to know is that in addition to destroying the Dinosaurs, we judged your planet a suitable candidate for another of our traditional initiatives. Your planet is green and healthy – what we call a flower pot. Our policy is to seed a flower pot’s biomass with our own genetics (tweaked to meet our needs, of course, the only true Jikklebelly is a natural born Jikklebelly) and then come back when the picking is ripe to reclaim our rightful crop. What you know as humanity is merely an apple in our orchard. We have used flower pots to make smaller seed-servants than ourselves, we have used flower pots to make smarter seed-servants, and now we have simply made larger ones, as need has demanded. We are your long lost grandparents, and it is harvest time. We have never been successfully defied for long, and the principles will remain the same as they always have. You will serve or perish.”

“So you are telling me you are the agents responsible for us being smart and in charge here?”

“In charge? Hardly. You have merely been allowed to grow,” said Audio Dave. The pixie commandeering his brain lifted her head back in what must pass for these creatures as laughter. It sounded like an overclocked kazoo played by a helium-snorting Turkish Eunuch. “And smart is a relative term. We have been forced to intervene to keep you alive on numerous occasions, thwarting self-destructive memes and on multiple instances assassinating charismatic key figures who would have curdled your souls like milk. You don’t even have replicators or longevity-enhancing molecular assemblers yet. What have you been doing with your time instead? Praying, fucking, and killing each other. To be honest, we contemplated simply blowing you off as a failed experiment. Your reptilian ancestors at least had clumsy brute force.”

“I don’t know…I think we’re doing okay. It looks like my producer took out your spacecraft there with a coffee mug. Accidentally. And until then, you seemed pretty confused about the laws governing solid objects. Explain that, Thumbelina.”

Instead of explaining anything, she simply vaporized my Ziggy mug. This was beginning to be a thoroughly irritating trend. I still wanted to make nasty, sweaty inter-species love to her, though. Perhaps with some sort of rubber toothpick attachment. Ain’t hormones a bitch?

“Fine. Stay hostile,” I said, “But I, and the rest of the free world, want to know why such an advanced alien species is crash landing on the desk of a third-rate talk show host in Los Angeles instead of zapping the President and forcing him to proclaim you the new God, like any self-respecting human with a mind control rod would do.”

“It is a simple technical difficulty. Vital components of our ship were damaged by an unexpected dousing of…dihydrogen monoxide…some weeks ago, and we have been unable to satisfactorily repair them until now. My crew and I have spent the better part of a decade researching your kind and its weaknesses while buried deep inside of an American engineer, but he recently became aware of our activities, took unexpected risks to discharge us, and the ensuing melee left us without the cover under which we were hoping to operate. It is irrelevant. My assignment and its plan will merely be infinitesimally altered. When you are working for p-terminal stimulation in our Uranium mines on your own asteroid belt, you will no longer care about coffee mugs or talk shows.”

I decided to change tactics.

“Would you be willing to answer a few questions from our listeners? I’m sure they all have an opinion about their impending enslavement at your tiny, fragile hands.”

The Captain turned and looked at the pink, curly haired Jikk with the yellow rod. He pointed his rod at me and goosed it before I could react. A stream of pure, piss-yellow crashed into each of my eyeballs and flooded what felt like the entire front of my skull. I had an overwhelming sensation of incredible intelligence picking apart my consciousness like an elementary school guidance counselor checking for nits, and then, before I could grab my head and dramatically scream “Get out of my mind!,” it was over. It was a good thing I had yet to formulate some sort of retaliatory plan: it would have been discovered, and I would have been turned into a nice pair of shoes and a thin wisp of Barbasol-scented smoke.

The Jikk with the yellow rod grunted assent at his Captain - a sound like a hamster being punted into a brick wall.

“Questions?” said Audio Dave. “Fine. Let the illusion of our patience continue. We have a minor construction project to attend to, and this will pass the time. I am always curious about the bloated culture of idiots and the insane.”

The Captain made a brisk hand gesture, and her troops scrambled. They speedily filed back into The Craft, stomping on each others heels and shoving at each other’s backs. It was now just between me and the Captain, will against will, my only arbiter the lonely voices of America’s lost and gullible.

I rarely worked the phones, but I had not forgotten how.

“Hello? Am I on? This here is Aimee Turbot from Louisiana, and I have a question for the little Jikklebelly that’s been doing all the talkin’ bout blowing us up.”

“Oh, you will be kept alive Miss Turbot. Your strong body and malleable mind will finally make the Jikk invincible Centurions in the War for All. Each will take one of you as steeds, and we shall husband you until you perish from exhaustion or valor.”

“Right. Anyway, mah question’s ‘bout ghosts. You’ve been talkin’ bout blowing us up, and I want to know if you’ve ever seen a ghost yourself. I mean, I’m turning the tables on you. Has you ever seen a ghost? Be honest…no foolin’…”

The confused look on the tiny, spectacular face of the Captain filled me with a dangerous thought. She was vulnerable. I could just squish her while she sat perplexed at my audience’s characteristic inanity, putting an immediate gooey end to this whole fantastic dilemma. But I didn’t have the heart, and it just didn’t seem very sporting. Plus, who knew what personal protection devices they had? I didn’t want to walk away with a whole fistful of bleeding spikes. Or not walk away at all, for that matter.

Finally, after much stewing, the Captain gave another Minnie Mouse laugh.

“A ghost? I’m sorry, but ghosts don’t exist. They are merely projections of fear, caused by desire for spectacle, displaced onto a harsh material universe. Your coping mechanism needs reprogramming, Miss Turbot. I suggest meditation.”

I hit another red button.

“You are live with a dominant alien conqueror. Please, keep your questions relevant to your own impending enslavement and doom.”

“Yes, hello, my name is Bud Aldridge. I don’t think slavery is right. I think you ought to go back to where you came from, and leave good, decent people alone. We’ve got a good thing going here, and you people have to come in and mess it up with your death rays and your spaceships. You damn alien fairies. Sizists. My cousin Ernie once got abducted by aliens, and ever since, he does nothing but read all damn day and try to move things with his mind. If I ever see one of you guys, I’m gonna step on you.”

The Captain narrowed her eyes into squints and raised her rod as if to vaporize the sound board. She held it for a beat, tensed, but then seemed to reach an alternate decision. Instead, she coolly tapped her rod against her other hand like a head-breaking Bobby.

“Tell me Mister Aldridge – are you using a communication device to contact this radio program?”

“Sure, I’m on my princess phone.”

“There was once a time when such a message would have been carried by one of your slaves over great distances, possibly causing the death of this messenger, and at least inhibiting his agency and freedom. Explain your hypocrisy. Humanity has held slaves since its first courtship with the arts of control.”

“Yeah, but we’re beyond that now. Now we’ve got circuits and silicon wires to do our grunt work.”

“So it would be fair to say that you have enslaved technology?”

“Wait just a minute now. Technology doesn’t have feelings the way people do. It isn’t alive.”

“And what separates non-living matter from living? What makes you any different than a virus or a telephone?”

“Well, I just am. I guess it’s cause I think and feel stuff.”

“The only way you can prove that a refrigerator magnet is not sentient is that it does not talk back to you when you question it. You are forever bound in judging sentience to that with which you can communicate. Which I can only assume, in your case, is a very small set. Your wife, perhaps? A friend or two down at some fraternal organization of soul-less, white bowling enthusiasts? Beyond that, the Petri dish you call reality grows a bit limited, doesn’t it?”

“Now wait a second…that’s not fair…”

“Let me assure you, Mister Aldridge, that there is as much a gap between you and myself as there is between you and a single-celled virus. Or a washing machine. So not only is your slavery justified, it is an imperative of nature. Now hang up your slave, and then seriously consider hanging yourself. I predict that the Jikk Interrogators will take special pleasure in torturing the supposed reason out of imbeciles such as yourself. There are wonderful things a dedicated sadist can do with the ability to transfer consciousness to a machine. If you are annihilated, or go insane, the circuits and silicon wires that will be your new home can always be fixed and restarted. For eternity. Next caller, please.”

Her face had flushed prettily, high color rising to her cheekbones like a hard-working petticoat lawyer.

“You’re a natural at this,” I said, my mouth gone Sahara. Something was wrong with The Craft behind her. It was changing its structure and gaining additions like a bewitched set of Legos. I couldn’t be certain, but it seemed like it was building itself into a transmitter of some kind. Some kind of advanced conning tower. “What’s with your ship, though? Should I be cowering in fear?”

“We Jikk never rest.”

“Kind of like ants, huh?”

“Yes, we have much respect for that form of life. Their strict hierarchies and tireless war effort ought to inspire even the most slovenly idler.”

“So what are you building back there?”

“While we pass-time in ceaseless yapping, even now my crew puts the finishing touches on an invention of my own design. Using our ship for component parts, we are building a communications buoy to get in touch with the reinforcements and mother ship lazily in orbit around Venus. You wouldn’t understand it. Just think telephone. They need our information about how easy you will be to conquer, and our research on ways to bewilder you into quick compliance. We had planned to do this some place more secluded, but our timetables require speed, and we have already let our jack out of his box.”

“What kind of research?” I asked.

She gave me a sly smile. She looked over at Audio Dave, and then zapped him again. He fell over onto the floor, snapping a rolling chair in half on his way down. He curled up into a little ball amidst the wreckage and loudly started to snore. The Jikk Captain began twisting diodes and rheostats on her control rod, laughing.

“Uh…never mind. I can wait until the invasion begins for my bewilderment. There’s no need to…to…”

There was a flash of green. I blinked. My jaw hit my Adam’s apple, and my eyeballs threatened to join them.

The Captain was no longer a tiny specimen of theoretical womanhood. She had grown. Up. And out. She was now human-height, and human-built, and suddenly my pants just didn’t seem to fit right.

She reclined against my desk like a Polynesian mermaid, her electric blue eyes blowing tiny holes into my brainpan like a pouty pink blunderbuss to a plastic sack filled with gray Jell-o. Steaming intellect juice began to leak out of my cerebellum and down the back of my neck, where it eventually pooled into my groin. My libido splashed around like a toddler in a backyard kiddie pool, splashing dear old doddering Daddy Reason in his face at every new opportunity. I was unmanned – unseated – and unstrung.

She threw her long red hair over one shoulder, and then gave it a sassy twirl. She arched her back seductively and licked her control rod like a summer popsickle, giving me an enthusiastic example of how far down her voluptuous throat the rod would actually fit. It was sleazy as all hell – like the calendar in a gas station men’s room - but this was almost too much for me. Sure, her rod was a phallic symbol of illegitimate authority – but it was also a phallic symbol of a phallus. And I had a phallus. Oh man, did I ever.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your new masters may be worth getting to know better,” I found my tongue uttering. “Hate is such a strong feeling. I don’t necessarily think an eternity of servitude will be quite as bad as it all sounds. Somebody certainly has to fluff the pillows, and help zip up the backs of dresses. Unpeel the grapes. Maybe it’s time to get used to being loyal and dependable.”

She leaned close, her lips slightly parted in a wan smile. That green halter top she wore was only being held in place by friction and rotten luck. When she spoke, it was no longer in the angry falsetto of an addle-pated chipmunk. It was in a deep, throaty alto that would have been great for the timeslot after mine.

“It is not uncommon for a conquering species to allow slaves to operate in other areas of life, Representative Human. One of my reasons for choosing this particular assignment is that I have always been curious about the mating habits of…larger…men. Perhaps there will be time during the culling for me to take a concubine or two. Tell me, do you ever fantasize about women from another planet?”

“This is a network broadcast. You don’t want me to lose my license, do you?” I said weakly.

She grabbed my necktie in a slender, firm hand. I willingly let myself be pulled closer. The stock-ticker bangle around her head was showing a quite detailed display of humans engaging in several of the more vigorous forms of sexual congress.

“This is a trick,” I said. “You are just brainwashing me. I bet you are really some sort of intergalactic vermin with eighteen eyes and furry knees. This is all just smoke and mirrors.”

She answered me by placing one of my shivering hands on her thigh.

“Trick? No, there’s no trick. Now, why don’t your turn that radio off? While my communications uplink begins its data transfer, I think we can even make time now for some biological experimentation. Don’t be shy: I am almost certain our parts will conjoin. Let’s test it. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

And that’s when Producer Dave busted in and saved the day. I still haven’t forgiven him.

He threw open the door to my office like he was launching a javelin, eyes wild, his glasses askew. He stepped into the room, ready to deal death. Though, his arms were laden with what I thought were way too many items for an effective frontal assault on these creatures. Most notably was my housecat Artaud, who was clawing and scratching at Producer Dave’s forearms, yowling at the indignity. But Producer Dave seemed like he knew what he was doing. I had only seen him yoke such passionate intensity once before, and that had ended in hospital bills for an entire defensive line of raging high school football players.

First off, he dropped a small radio on the ground, and then kicked it forward, as close to my studio as he could get it. The radio was tuned in to my show and blaring at full volume. The feedback was monstrous. I slapped my hands over my ears, but not before awakening from my erotic reverie and watching in horror as the Captain dropped back to her normal size.

The Jikk with the yellow rod exploded out of The Craft. The Captain covered her ears and screamed in primal anger. She lifted her rod; pink hair lifted his. And that was when Producer Dave did an exceedingly odd thing. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a handful of what looked to be recently made aluminum confetti. He must have been up there chopping up aluminum foil this whole time.

Walking forward, cat in hand, baseball bat crooked under his arm, he tossed the confetti into the air. And then he tossed the cat.

Producer Dave was a military genius. The Jikklebellies were only able to fire their weapons once before Artaud was upon them in a screeching dervish of mangy orange instinct and teeth. The aluminum foil rained down between him and the Jikk, and their bolts struck particles of falling metal instead of Artaud, leaving behind the same smell that happens when you accidentally microwave foil-covered leftovers. The foil was physical chaff for rods of incredible power that ironically lacked a means of discerning between organic and inorganic material, and the Jikk could never expect the audacity of a cornered monkey and his feline companion when confronted by transcendent technological prowess. I knew I had been giving that cat multicolored chew-toys for something.

As soon as he was close enough, Producer Dave planted his feet and then stepped into a grand slam swing that got all of The Craft and would have sent it into the skyboxes had it not exploded in a shiny red smear of wires, the guts and severed limbs of tiny astronauts, and sparking, shrieking circuitry. Artaud had his own paws full – mainly with the ropy intestines of the Jikk with the yellow rod, who had only survived a single swipe from Artaud’s gnarly old claws and was not nearly as challenging as a ball of irregular twine. Artaud then turned his catty grin on The Captain, who seemed frozen in absolute terror. Since her rod had proved ineffective, so had she.

Let me just say that her squealing and pleading did absolutely nothing to quell Artaud’s boiling mouser blood. I think cats like it when their food tries to bargain. With a lazy pounce, Artaud - exempt from my fascination with her quasi-feminine guiles - put her out of her misery. I felt a sudden sting – as a science enthusiast and lover of curiosities – but I knew it was ultimately for the best. There was something so humiliating about a miniscule master race, and the human ego already has enough affronts to its alleged superiority from the insect world. I reached over and gave Artaud a scratch behind his ears.

“Good boy,” I said, picking up my mike. “Ladies and gentlemen, what we have witnessed here today…”

“Forget about it,” said Producer Dave wearily. “The show’s been over for five minutes. It’s religious broadcasting now.”

I dropped the mike and surveyed the wreckage of my studio and office. Would alien bloodstains ever come out of my Berber carpet?

“Do you think anybody will buy this?” I asked. “I can’t believe I didn’t have the camera running tonight. What are the odds?”

“High enough to convince people that anything we might claim would be a fraud. I think the best plan would just be to warn as many of the open-minded and perpetually paranoid as we can about this and let them be their own police. There will almost certainly be more aliens, and the next time they won’t be as trusting in our docility and incompetence.”

“How’s he?” I asked, hooking a thumb at Audio Dave.

“Sleeping. He’ll be fine. We’ll scold him for doing drugs on the job, and I think he just might be permafried enough to believe us. I don’t think anybody should have to suffer through life knowing they’ve been the victim of violent mind control.”

“I think he deserves the truth.”

“Maybe later. Right now, let him sleep. The bigger question is what we do with all of these bodies and these zappers. We can’t just burn them, can we?”

Artaud sat licking his teeth and purring with satisfaction. I made a mental note to buy him some catnip.

“I have a safe deposit box,” I said. “I’ll just mix them in with a whole bunch of antique doll furniture.”

I picked up the Captain’s green rod and held it between my thumb and forefinger. It had gone dim, but as soon as it made contact with my skin it began to glow again.

“My life will never be the same,” said Producer Dave. “This changes everything. How can I rest in a world where tiny aliens could abduct me at any time and destroy everything I care about? I think…yes…I think I am going to tender my resignation. I think I am going to fight these things full time.”

Suddenly, against my will, the rod began to pulsate. A stream of green smacked Producer Dave in his forehead and he went spinning over backwards, out like a flashlight dropped into a trash compactor.

“Dave!” I shouted. But he was now just as asleep as his Audio equivalent. I felt like I was running an adult day care center.

This might not be so bad, I thought. Acting on a brutal hunch, I collected up all of the evidence and locked it upstairs in my bedroom. I tidied up everything else and threw away anything that might beg questions. My suspicions proved true: when the Daves woke up, they had forgotten the entire affair. I put a sack of weed and six or seven Vicodin from my personal stash in Producer Dave’s pocket, and they never brought it up again. They didn’t even ask any questions when they discovered the audiotape from the show was missing, nor did they display any curiosity regarding what was on it. Now it was my problem, and my problem alone.

It was an impossible burden to bear. After a few months of silence, I decided to draft this open letter to the conventional mainstream media. I would let people know the strengths and weaknesses of our common foes by sticking to the facts of my own experience. My eyewitness testimony would be the cornerstone of a grassroots alien defense initiative, helmed by martinets and ornery survivalist-types throughout the country. The psychos that sustain this wonderful free land can never have too much to obsess about.

And, I believe there is solace in our small victory. I’m still too shit scared to mess with the toys the aliens left, but I have a feeling they could be mighty useful if an all out war began. If we could perfect them and bend them to our own ends, who knows how powerful humanity might become?

It seems that there were only a few people in the country who were awake and listening to the radio program as it happened. But there must be a bootleg tape out there somewhere, because the message is spreading. The true believers have banded together and are working on circulating an informational pamphlet complete with artist’s renditions of the aliens and transcripts of The Captain’s ranting. I found one in my local independent bookstore. If you pick one up, don’t laugh. If you are afraid you will be judged, fold it up and put it in your pocket and read it at your leisure. There is a number to call if you ever sight a Craft, and there are trained vigilante groups forming all over the nation. They say the fight must be won without the bureaucratic mess of an authoritarian government, and we must be both flexible and creative to compete against an enemy that can hide inside our own minds. I agree with them, but I have a life to live. Truthfully, I don’t want to be involved any further than I already am.

I have felt internal pressure to release my findings to the government. And yet, I pause for reflection each time I get an irate phone call from somebody who claims their organs were harvested against their will by NATO. Will the world ever be a place safe enough for control rods of total obliterating destruction and consciousness scanners? Would I want to live in such a world? It is a real dilemma, and every day I sway in a different direction.

That’s my story, though. I’ve said my piece. Now that you know the dangers, you won’t be caught with your pants down. I recommend you publish this as conspicuously as you can, even if it has to be as fiction. Better to plant seeds than leave people completely unprotected. You too can do your part to stave off the destruction of the human way of life, and with luck, we will chase these aliens away forever.

There is one last thing. I only tell you this because I feel it may be important. I am no longer able to masturbate without thinking of that alien Captain in some form or fashion. I think I am immune to further corruption, but who can say for sure? The sexual mystique of these invaders is truly crippling to those who are inclined toward fantasy and speculation. The shape of their Craft, coupled with this power, is no unlikely coincidence. I have reason to believe that even now they are infiltrating the nation’s sex shops and erotic online catalogs, making deals with dealers and using their bodies to gain them an entry port into our most sacred orifices. Watch yourself, America. If you want to stay safe, make sure you only buy vibrators. Even if the interlopers do start hiding inside giant vibrating electric dills, every time you use them you are increasing the odds that their safety harnesses inside will break and they will be dashed against their own equipment. If these dildos are shaped like human penises, even better. They are less aerodynamic. It’s a small thing to watch out for – but it could very well be our ultimate salvation. We can only beat these things off if we can keep from irresponsibly beating off ourselves.
































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Herbie said...

I like the line about how Easter is a celebration of the world's most famous zombie. I like it, but.....
It just seems like an obviously polarizing line that could maybe even should be thrown in at the end, that way you don't lose your Christian readers.
I think a better approach would be to toss in a line like that subtely and toward the end and have it have nothing to do with the overall message.... and have your Christian readers, if they catch the line, maybe scratch their heads, and ask themselves if you just wrote that our savior is a zombie? They question, they scratch, but quickly move on, because the rest of the story is so engaging.

Herbie said...

I've read numerous places and even before the internet was around that Washington grew a lot of hemp, and hemp, then, was mostly used for rope or to make clothing. I'm not sure people knew that they could get high off of hemp then, but since pot's been cultivated for over 2 thousand years, it would make sense that at least some people knew that pot got you high.
New topic: I really really like the plot development where the dj just jumps on over to a new topic, from ghosts to this marital aid device in the office. It's the development that took me from being a casual observer outside of the story ("oh look, here's another justin story, i wonder what this one is going to be about?"), to inside the story. I'm now into the story.
That is a great plot development device.

the herb said...

Gonna have to say something about your use of the word "hegemonic." If the aliens just landed, and even if they take over, we're still thinking in our own terms, and in our own worldview. After a while when almost everybody has their slave job, and has a master slave relationship with the aliens, then, THEN is when the hegemonic switch would take place.
Say some black (not a white) african american, born and raised here, decided to emmigrate to africa. this person would still be living, thinking, breathing in a white, european american-centric world for years and years in africa. Not until this person completely quit using the english language for years and years, spoke swahili or something for years and years, got involved with the local culture and politics, not until a lot of things like that happened would this person escape the hegemony of his origin and move on to a new hegemony. The dominant paradym paradygm (sp?) takes a while to completely subvert, and takes even longer for a new paradym to replace it. I'm sure you know all that now, Justin, but when you wrote this story maybe you just quickly threw out a word that was close to what you were looking for and didn't want to spend hours and years vetting it... and blah blah blah.

the herb said...

You have "...what kind of name for a hegemonic, imperialist alien species is that?"
Better would be: "...what kind of name for a marauding alien species is that?"
And that's all I'm trying to say: you used a big gigantic word when a smaller word is actually better and more correct for what I think is your intent for that specific paragraph.

the herb said...

I'm to where the alien is receiving some call in calls, she's on her second one....
I like some aspects of this story, but it's a bit long and I'm not really getting into it. It's like part folksy and I think there are some passages or lines that were written for humor, or written to be funny, and instead of laughing, I'm noticing folksy or oddball stuff. Oh, there it is, I say to myself, well that's a little out of place.... hmm, was that meant to be funny?
I have laughed many times at many other jokes in other stories of yours, Mr. Rocketship Will-Crash, but this story is just not quite doing it. I thought the sexy description of the leader of the aliens was superb, the flying dildo that is their spacecraft is funny and interesting too. But so much of this just isn't working for me...... sorry, just saying how i really feel........

herbie said...

well, i finished. just not my cup of tea. i am not a prude; sex jokes do not disturb me. i like many off color jokes. could be the genre: maybe im just not as into sci-fi as i used to be.
Something about this story, it just never started working for me..... oh well.......