Contact 2

Continued from Contact

Britt (not his real name) had never planned to be Human. Nor had he expected to be on Earth. On his eighth life, he’d been cruising toward his ninth. Omnipotence would be his, was almost within reach of his yearning fingers but then –

Well, then.

Then.

He’d secured every thought and emotion – and there was a huge spectrum of these – around ‘then’ under a mountain, sealed it in a mental tunnel, blocked its access. Because –

Well. Then.

Once he’d learned of his fate, he researched what he could about the planet and human civilizations. He learned: his people hadn’t visited in over two thousand Terran years, thirty-five hundreds of their own years. Still, some items were left behind. He acquired maps and entry codes, found and fixed the vehicle pushing through the processes of activating and testing the systems and flying the thing. Three years, he’d taken, manufacturing new parts, testing everything, adjusting to his body and their limited senses, cursing the optimists who’d informed him that, although they’d never been Human, being Human on Earth was apparently much like it was enduring in your seventh life.

Ha. They were wrong.

Being Human was worse.

© 2022 Michael Seidel

The First Day

First day of school. She’d had to buy her son a new Backhand. He wore it proudly, turning to see it again and again. Fiddling with its controls. Mastering it.

A Backhand. On her son. Her five year old. She’d not gotten a Backhand until she was twenty-three years old. But they hadn’t been affordable to her until she was twenty-two. By then they’d been around for five years, replacing phones, watches, laptops, and everything else. Just a device on the back of your hand, doing all those things, feeding off your body’s energy. She still discovered it as amazing and creepy.

She wasn’t ready to surrender her little boy to the pearly halls of education. He seemed so small and fragile. This was the pain of being a mother. Her mom told her she would experience it. She knew she would, too. She’d been a virtual mother for two years, training for the vocation.

“Are you nervous, Jayed?”

Jayed turned his liquid brown orbs at her with a bright smile. “I’m not nervous. Why would I be?”

Not surprising. He’d gone to in-person daycare and online classes since he was three. They grow up so fast.

Jayed said “They’re going to start teaching us emoticons today. I already know most of them.”

Kary’s mother came in as Jayed said that. She, of course, couldn’t stop a head shake. Habit and personality compelled it. “Emoticons. I remember when we learned cursive writing. I was older than him. It was phased out two years after my class. Oh, how things change.”

She squatted down before Jayed. “Look at my little scholar.”

Jayed was dressed in his best red shirt with black shorts and purple rubber sandals. Corporate sponsors on his front and back. The usual suspects. Energy companies. Baseball and football teams. Restaurants and banks. They all had part of her baby already. But this was good. Without corporate sponsors, they wouldn’t be able to afford public school. The city’s NFL team, the Mexico City Aztecs, had stepped forward in a big way. Paid for all his vaccination, his share of the teacher, and his meals.

The teleporter chimed. “Time to go,” Jayed said, spinning and striding toward the teleporter like a miniature man. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be okay.”

She rushed to him, along with her mother. Both bent, forcing him to turn back to them, lavishing the youth with hugs and slobbering, noisy kisses as they said, “You be good. Treat others with respect.” He endured and accepted, then smiled. “You shouldn’t be so emotional. I’m just going off to school. I’ll be back tonight.”

Then he stepped back into the teleporter. Raised the Backhand to the keypad. Synced. And was gone.

Floofto

Floofto (floofinition) – Small, artificial planet that animals use as an intermediary visiting location while coming and going from Earth. Floofologists theorize that Floofto is cloaked and maintains an orbit around the Earth and Moon, completing one revolution every twenty hours.

In use: “With an equatorial circumference of almost seven thousand miles, Floofto would normally exert some influence on other bodies, were it not for the Institute of Floofnology and their inventions. One invention keeps Floofto’s mass and gravity from affecting anything, floofnology that humans would love to acquire.”

FTF (Faster Than Floof)

FTF (Faster Than Floof) (floofinition) – The hypothesis that only non-humans can travel at speeds faster than the speed of light. The special theory of floofactivity implies that only quantum animals (such as housepets like cats and dogs) can reach such speeds, doing so almost instantaneously, allowing them to apparently simultaneously occupy more than one place.

In use: “Anyone with pets know that many are capable of FTF; just open a can and watch them arrive.”

Amber’s Gift

After exiting the Camaro, silence governed the quartet as they stretched, sniffed, and glanced. Laurel’s father had given the car to her as a high school graduation gift. Camaros had only been out for like, two years, and the little car looked sporty and fresh against the grayish morning.

The town had just completed a face lift of the old plaza. Clean and white cement walks outlined fresh carpets of new, cut grass. Busy, the plaza remained quiet with the stalwart momentum of citizens engaging daily routines. As far as air and sky went, powdery grays above snickered about a chance of drizzle while a streak of sunshine under a blue patch insisted that a sunny day could be possible.

Chatter about what to do ensued. Where should they start? Should they eat first? Toast and bacon smells surfing the fall breeze said, “Come, eat. Follow me.”

Gavin, looking right and stamping his feet against the feeling that they were going numb, saw a small sign on a stack beside a rhodie drooping with night’s damp. Aloud, he read, “Amber’s gift.” Such words created a mental puzzle. Gazing up the steps toward the dank chilliness where they went, his appetite grew.

Back to his friends, he said, “I want to eat first, but pre-first, I’m going to go see what Amber’s Gift is. It’s just take a minute.”

“Pre-first?” Shallie laughed.

“Amber’s gift.” Keri’s face beetled into a frown. “Okay, but don’t be long. I’m hungry. I want to go eat, and I need coffee.” She groaned. “God, do I need coffee. Do I smell coffee?” She lifted her nose into the air. “I do. That’s coffee. Where is that? Does anyone else smell coffee?”

As the others bantered with her about coffee, Gavin said, “I’ll be right back.” He went up the shallow steps fast, two at a time. Pockmarked by time and rain, the cement flight were probably decades old, but the sign, red hand-painted letters on cardboard on a wooden blonde stake, looked new. With that background set, he didn’t expect much. The walk would probably be a minute venture. He wanted to pack everything that he could into every minute. This would be his last weekend away. His draft number had been drawn and he was reporting to the recruiting station the next Monday. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam after basic. Crossing his fingers, he repeated to himself, “Hopefully.”

Shielded by giant firs, pines, sycamores, and oaks, the steps went up higher than Gavin expected. He went fast because he didn’t want to keep the others waiting. As he thought that he’d taken too much time and energy and his stomach rumbled with a request to be fed, he spotted a glow. It seemed like a faintly illuminated cloud of golden pollen dust. Past the glow, the park’s woods seemed darker and wetter than he’d think possible at nine plus in the morning. Quieter, too. Only sounds of his breathing and heart-beat reached him.

The glow seemed like it was concentrated in a dome. He didn’t see anything like a placard to explain this or confirmation that he’d reached Amber’s Gift. Pivoting to turn and leave, he saw something on the ground in the cloud’s middle. That looked like a bronze disc. It was that, he saw in another step, but also a polished, faceted piece of amber that was as large as his head. Eyes widening, he walked up to it and squatted, dropping his fingers to its surface with a gentle stroke. He expected it to be hard and cold, but soft warmth greeted his fingers. Smiling he stroked it again, counting, two, three, four, five.

That was enough, he thought, then was amused that he’d quantified and counted his strokes. Leaping up, he dashed back down the steps. The girls were waiting for him at the bottom beside Laurel’s Prius. The red car looked almost like a space ship.

“About time,” Laurel said as Keri said, “Here comes Christmas.”

“Where have you been?” Shallie asked, arms crossed. “We were about to give you up as dead.”

As he went to answer, Gavin’s arms caught his attention. His fake leather jacket was changing. After gaping at that, he gawked at his friends. Ridiculously wide bell bottoms accented their blue jean hip-huggers, but all that was changing into tight black and blue bottoms that outlined their thighs, knees, and calves. He was certain that it wasn’t what they’d been wearing before.

“Where were you?” Laurel demanded.

“I was.” Beginning to point, Gavin looked for the Amber’s Gift sign. A mossy look of confused thinking hung on his face. “Where’s the sign?

“What sign?” Shallie asked.

The girls laughed. Laurel said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Gavin.”

Keri gestured him forward. “Come on, dude. You need coffee.”

“Some coffee would be groovy,” Gavin replied, nodding.

“Groovy?” Laurel laughed. “What decade are you in?”

Remembering something for a moment, Gavin chuckled. “I don’t know.” As he and his friends went along the plaza’s old, worn walks, sunshine split the gray clouds and peeled them away from the day.

 

Omnifloofium-gatherum

Omnifloofium-gatherum (floofinition) – A gathering or collective of housepets. On small scales, they are generally organized around pools of sunlight or food being distributed. Organized omnifloofium-gatherums are established for more serious matters regarding quantum energy, shape-shifting, and time-shifting.

In use: “Each year, unbeknownst to humans, an omnifloofium-gatherum was established in which five representatives were sent to another dimension on a fact-finding adventure. Though it was an honor to be selected, the housepets felt bad for their humans, because they never knew what had happened to them.

“Then, along came a boy and a girl who changed everything.”

Roll-On

Showered, Briyen applied his Shaving roll-on and considered the next roll-ons as nanos removed his beard. Moving roll-on sticks like chess pieces, he set Youth and Charm up front but equivocated over his skin color. His natural color was an unflattering Flesh White, according to the consultants. He’d been Black once this week and Ebony twice. None of the Rainbow offerings appealed to him. His eyes roved over Teak, Latina, Hispanic, and Southern Europe, but his mind didn’t latch onto any until he saw SoCal Tan. That would work.

The Shaving done and enough time passed, he immediately put on Youth. A full body roll, that would would take longer to process. Sliding the Charm forward, he pondered Courage, Creativity, Confidence, and Imagination, and then decided, screw it, why not? He’d put them all on. It was dangerous because he was applying…one, two, three…five…eight? 

Eight. Shit. Last two times he’d applied eight roll-ons, he’d suffered the aptly-labeled crash, complete with scaly plaque psoriasis and an all-conquering headache. He’d been forced to apply the First Aid roll-on all friggin’ night. The next day had been endured without roll-ons. His hideous reflection had to be avoided. He’d been ravenous but mostly fasted, fearing side-effects. Naturally, he’d stayed inside and off cameras.

Not wanting to take those paths again, he put Courage and Imagination back. Six roll-ons would be good enough because even seven sometimes made him queasy, especially when it was supposed to be hot, as it was today, which meant, shit…he also needed Sun Protection & Cooling. Grimacing, he pulled the SP&C roll-on out and pushed the SoCal back. No tan today.

The Youth had already completed its work. Sagging and wrinkles were vanquished. His skin was tight, and his hair was fuller, thicker, and darker. Damn, he looked good. Humming, he finished up with the other roll-ons and set his timer for ten minutes. Couldn’t dress until enough time had been permitted – shit, didn’t wan to do that again, chuckling with rueful memory of how he turned out when he put clothes on too soon after the roll-ons. Never again, right? Right.

Finally, he was dressed and ready to roll. He took a few seconds to admire himself in the mirror and agreed with his private assessment that he looked damn fine for one hundred twenty-two years old. Hell, he didn’t look a day over twenty-two.

After favoring himself with a final approving grin, he headed for the door. Time to go write like crazy, at least one more time.

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