Life, Apathy, and Extraterrestrials
By Justin Zipprich
No shit, there I was. I’m sitting at work, gazing out the window, when I first saw the spaceships. There were three of them up in the sky and to be honest, they were a little boring. No bells or whistles, no fancy lights, just plain-Jane, run-of-the-mill metallic, flying saucers. They simply sat there, high in the air for at least three hours. I know for sure it was that long because that’s the amount of time that I spent at my workstation just staring out the window. I find work to be overrated.
I have a pretty boring job, so I never really feel like doing any actual work. It’s a rather mundane position. I specialize in life insurance, but no, I’m not an insurance salesman. I don’t go door-to-door and bug you while you’re eating dinner or anything like that. I work in an office, supporting those that bug you during dinner. I complete checklists, verify licenses, scan documents, and blah, blah, blah. I don’t get paid very much, and the management doesn’t appreciate me, so I basically walk in every day with the intention of slacking off.
At the age of thirty-one, I thought for sure that I’d be making more than thirty thousand dollars per year. They say that we’re still feeling the effects of the recession, and that some people have to decide between buying food for their families and paying rent some months. I’ve heard all the stories, but I don’t always believe them; most people I hear about are making plenty of money. That’s how they afford all of those fancy cars.
Take my friend Pat, for instance. He works at a retail store and makes almost one hundred thousand dollars a year. I see annual incomes for our clients on their life insurance applications, and I’ve rarely seen any of them making less than fifty grand per year. All I’m trying to say is that there is money to be made. Finding a way to get it is the hard part. But I digress.
After clocking out five minutes early, I walked to my car and noticed that the spaceships had multiplied by the hundreds, and soon the sky was filled with these flying, silvery orbs. The sky was so saturated with polished silver that soon the setting sun had been completely blotted out, leaving nothing but near darkness.
By the time I arrived home and flicked on the television set, they had descended. A fun-loving MTV news personality with too many tattoos and a hipster hairstyle described the scene. A cluster of ships had landed in every city across the globe. The footage was pretty rad: Aliens descending from their ships to introduce themselves to the people of planet Earth. Walking down the metallic ramps of their ships, they resembled the beings from those invasion flicks of the 1950s: small, gray bodies, large, oblong heads, and black, oval eyes. They utilized a small slit of a mouth to speak, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, they did not speak English.
As they spoke their gibberish to the world, the rest of us sat at home, glued to our television sets as we watched the live feed. Apparently, the aliens had a lot on their minds because they spoke for hours.
I’m sure they opened with the classic request of, “Take me to you leader.” How cliché would that be? I mean, whom are they even referring to when they say that? Did they mean the president? The prime minister? It there such a thing as a leader of the world? If so, who is he? What does he do? How can anyone possibly deal with all of that power? But of course, I digress.
Sitting back on the couch, bored to tears, while trying to rationalize the very idea of a world leader, I found myself falling asleep.
I woke up a few hours later to the sound of static. The television seemed to be on the fritz again. It did that from time to time. I must have lost the signal. Suddenly, I remembered the whole alien ordeal, and I began wondering what new developments had occurred while I’d been asleep. I tried to flip through the channels, but every button I pressed just presented me with more snowy static. No big deal, I’d just call my friend Big Mike later on to get the details. Big Mike was usually up on these things. He was the best small appliance repair guy on the West Coast. He was the self-appointed expert of black market information regarding the threats of technology.
Back in 1999, Big Mike was the first person to tell me about that Y2K bug and all the panic and chaos that would come along with it. When the year 2000 rolled around, I asked him what happened with all that bad Y2K stuff that was supposed to happen, but he just shrugged his shoulders and told me that is just wasn’t their time.
He also told me that all that stuff that happened in the Terminator movies could really happen! He says that he takes care of small appliances because when the machine revolution happens, he wants to find himself on the right side. I’ll have to think about that next time I decide to pick a fight with my refrigerator. I figured I’d call him in the morning. For now, I decided that it was time to make myself some dinner.
As soon as I walked into my small kitchen, I almost had a large heart attack. There in front of me, holding a box of generic breakfast cereal, stood one of the alien beings. Up close, I could more clearly see the details of the interstellar traveler. His gray skin was greasy and oilier than it had appeared on the television. It also had two short antennae atop its head and what appeared to be a deep pouch on its belly which housed God knew what. It cocked its head to the side as it looked at me.
While the alien and I engaged in a staring contest, I couldn’t help but think about the ways that people on our planet were divided when it came to space aliens. They could be split up into two groups, and it all depended on what type of alien movies they enjoyed more. Group one were fans of the “mean alien” movies like Independence Day, War of the Worlds, and Signs. In them, the aliens came down to cause hell and murder everyone and everything in sight. These movies made this group absolutely terrified at the prospect of extraterrestrial life. They knew that there were monsters in space whose only intention was to exterminate all life on Earth. They were here to slurp out our brains and rip us from limb to limb while they used their advanced tools to suck away all of Earth’s natural resources like the innards of a milkshake. After which, they would go back to their planet while leaving ours in ruin. That is unless actor Will Smith defeated them. Then we would all be saved.
I personally felt that I was a member of the second group, fans of “friendly alien” movies. We were fans of Spielberg’s E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Earth to Echo, and Super 8. We believed that aliens would come to our planet simply to explore and ultimately, to be our best friends. Sure, the members of group one would misunderstand them, but we few believers would soon create a friendship with the creatures. Hell, they might even give us special powers that we could use to help those in need.
I had always wanted an E.T. of my own, and now I had the golden opportunity. The plan was to slowly approach the being as if approaching a cat. I would outstretch one hand so that it could sniff a few fingers and realize that I meant no harm. Once it was used to me, we would become the greatest of friends. We would hang out all the time, play video games, and create a special language that only we could understand. Then we would tour the country under the stage name: UFO or Ultimate Fun Organization! We would perform magic tricks for all those young at heart.
I quickly realized that I had included myself in the wrong group. I was ripped from my fantasy by a squid-like projectile that had emerged from the alien’s greasy front pouch. The mini beast hurled itself at my head at what must have been one-hundred miles an hour. With no chance to duck, the squid made contact and used its tentacles to latch onto my skull in an uncompromising death grip. A long umbilical type cord connected the squid to its alien host. In a panic, I shook my head as hard as I could in every possible direction. I slammed it against the refrigerator, the cabinets, anything to dislodge the grotesque creature.
Finally, I exhausted myself and sat down cross-legged, letting the creature do its thing. I heard a slurping sound and felt a searing pain as a sharp appendage shoved through my skull. In complete misery, I felt the attachment drill deeper as it forced itself into my brain.
Devoid of all free will, my body and mind were now under the alien’s control. It forced me to stand, turn around, and walk toward the front door. Once outdoors, I realized that I was not alone. As I was escorted down my street, I was joined by hundreds of my fellow human beings. All of us walking around like zombies, each with our own personal alien-squid combination. The creatures spoke through us as they communicated with one another. What came out of our mouths was gibberish, sounds that our vocal cords could never of had the capacity for without the alien’s aid.
In the distance, I could see the skyscrapers that made up the famed city of Los Angeles. I had a feeling that the city was our destination, and I was apathetic about the whole situation. On one hand, L.A. was a fun place to visit when friends came to town. There was a bunch of different bars, museums, and other sights to see that were of some interest. On the other hand, I didn’t like how dirty the city had gotten over the last couple of years. The mayor had made all of these campaign promises about clean streets and pollution laws. Unfortunately, all of that had gone out the window after he was elected into office. These days, the streets were covered in trash, while the homeless ran rampant and violent gangs controlled most of the city. If you didn’t watch your step, a brief, friendly visit could very easily end in death.
Now that I thought about it, perhaps the aliens were here to clean up this crumbling city. These aliens have no doubt been around for centuries. They probably sat by the wayside as all the negative changes occurred to our beloved city. They’ve seen it all. From the glory days when the city was a beacon of hope to the steep decline of the city into the awful place that it had become.
I bet that must be it! I am now very optimistic that the aliens have come to our planet in order to use us humans to whip this city back up into glorious place it was in the glory days! What else could it be? I bet they’re also going to teach that rotten mayor a thing or two about how to treat his citizens. This is why they’ve come, I’m convinced of it, and I am thrilled to be a part of the revolution!
It has been two months since the aliens landed on Earth and life, as we know it, has come to an end. Giant robots were brought in for the sole purpose of reducing our city to a pile of rubble. Any buildings that ever resembled our modern architecture have been destroyed and replaced with thousand-foot statues in the shapes of the alien leader’s heads. On top of that, they’ve made that rotten mayor an honorary member of their alien race. The guy is like a king to them.
Almost every human being has been eradicated from the planet. Only a small group of us has been left alive. We spend most of our time building statues and praying for sweet, merciful death. They whip us constantly, often forcing us to fall asleep in a pool of our own blood. Of course, I don’t construct the statues. I work in the fields, supporting those who construct those statues. I carry heavy stones, slave for sixteen hours a day, and blah, blah, blah. I don’t get paid much, and the alien management doesn’t appreciate me, so I try to slack off. When I do, I’m beaten within an inch of my life.
It’s a hard life, but I guess somebody has to do it. Maybe someday I’ll make my escape from my alien oppressors. If I do, I’ll run off to France, I heard there is a safe house there for escaped humans, a colony of sorts. Speaking of France, whatever happened to those striped shirts they used to wear? Do they still do that? But I digress.
Justin Zipprich is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Los Angeles. He is an admirer of the written word and the amazing worlds that these words create. Although he loves his blogging work, his true passion will always be the world of fiction. He has written a multitude of short stories, numerous full-length screenplays and is currently working on his debut novel. He is proud to have had his previous work published by Necrology Shorts, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Fiction and Verse, and Whisperings Magazine. He was a co-writer of two short story anthologies: Transfusions and Dark Light: Book Three. He has also received several nominations for his screenwriting efforts. You can find him online at his blog or on Twitter.
One thought on “Life, Apathy, and Extraterrestrials”
Thrilled to have my story published here on Strange Fictions. A special thank you to the editors for making it happen. Enjoy!
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