His head was ready to explode. Marcus kept glancing down at his pocket over and over, trying not to look suspicious. After all these years of hard work, he had finally been sitting where he wanted to. But even he could only take so much. After a few more minutes, the glowing screen he was hiding finally struck 5:00pm and he was free. Well, at least from his Criminal Law class. It was an exhausting first week at The George Washington University and he just wanted to unravel his brain this weekend. Once in the hallway he shoved in his earbuds, stretched his arms, then headed straight for the parking lot. The August air made him sweat and he started fantasizing about blasting the A.C. on his ride home. He spotted his car sunbathing where he left her. But just as he was about to hit the unlock button on his keys, he heard a muffled yell over his music.
He took one earbud out and turned around. “Yo, Marc!” He had almost made it. Tyler was tall and pale with blond hair. He had been trying to get closer to Marcus these last few years, whilst Marcus was determined to do the opposite. Although they had been friends since elementary, Tyler had started annoying him around their high school years with some of the topics he stood up for when they were on the debate team. He was blessed with a very comfy upbringing and Marcus wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to wake Tyler up from the privilege-induced coma that was his life.
He sighed internally and acted happy to see Tyler. “What’s up, man? Was just about to head home.” “I got some great news, bro!” he grinned. “Oh yeah? What happened?” Marcus asked. “My dad just told me he’s gonna cover all my tuition and housing for this year as long as I keep my GPA above a 3.5!” he said while breaking out in dance and laughter. Marcus laughed too, but mostly at his moves. “What?! That’s great man. But uh… what are you gonna tell him when you flunk all these classes?” Tyler stopped dancing. “Oh you think you’re funny, huh?” he pursed his lips. “Well, I’m not the one who rushed out of class.” Marcus shrugged, “You not wrong. On an unrelated note, did you see that scientific study about how bigger brains experience exhaustion at a faster rate? Crazy, right?” Both of them started dying from laughter again. “Alright well I’m gonna head out before I melt out here, see you next week bro.” Marcus said. They fist bumped and parted ways. Marcus got into his car, turned his key in the ignition, and let the A.C. cool him down a while before shifting out of park. His phone vibrated on his leg and he took it out to see who was texting him. But it was just a notification from his bank reminding him to make his monthly credit card payment. Being a responsible young man, he would have transferred the funds immediately to avoid paying more interest if he had the means to. But he didn’t. Marcus tossed his phone into the passenger seat. He barely had enough gas in his tank to make it back home. So instead of just letting his engine run, he got onto the road. After the long blur of a drive, he turned onto Atlantic Street. He was approaching the same old apartment complex he had moved into since he left high school. He couldn’t wait to be pulling into the driveway of his own house, free of loud ass neighbors. But for now, this was all he could afford. Marcus took the last available parking spot and headed up the staircase for the third floor. At least the thought of moving any heavy furniture up all these steps kept him frugal. It’s easy to save every penny when the place you live at isn’t even worth decorating. He finally reached door 317 and was gonna dig his keys out of his pocket, but decided to be lazy instead. He knocked a couple times and then waited a bit. Movement could be heard on the other side and eventually, a voice. “Who is it?” He responded “It’s me.” The lock clicked open and the door swung outwards. In the doorway stood a very tall, tan woman with her wavy hair in a bun. She gave a big smile then kissed Marcus. “How was class?” Alicia asked as they locked the door behind them. “Good. This week has just been long. Can’t wait to catch up on some sleep cause I have not been getting enough rest” he said before allowing himself to faceplant onto one of their large bean bag chairs. Alicia giggled. "Well I just finished making dinner if you want some." Without lifting his head he said a muffled, "Brnn mm uh plett." She replied, "I slaved over this stove for the past two hours and you want me to bring you a plate?" He replied, "Pliz?" She rolled her eyes and grabbed a bowl out of their cabinet. After filling it with fried rice, cube steak, and plantains, she set it on the carpet near Marcus' head.
The aroma gave him a second wind and he sat up quickly to dig in. Alicia collapsed on the other bean bag with her own bowl and they ate together while watching some cartoon re-runs on their tiny TV. After they were full and a couple episodes had finished, Marcus switched to the news channel while Alicia scrolled through social media. A weird noise came from the television speakers. "And what you just heard there was a recording of the signal discovered just yesterday. But I want to know what's your take on these new findings from SETI?" asked the first news anchor. "I don't want to jump to conclusions, Connor, but I think the American people need to start preparing for an alien invasion" the second anchor replied with a serious face before they both started laughing. "Well Stephanie, the strange phenomenon was estimated to be thousands of light years away so I think we got some time to prepare our troops."
Marcus turned to his girlfriend. "Did you hear about this? I had a couple of classmates mention this earlier too." She rolled her eyes again. "Funny how THOSE aliens are so interesting, but my family crossing the border was too much for them to handle. Besides, I don't believe in that nonsense anyways." Marcus became quiet and squinted his eyes in suspicion. "That's exactly what an alien would say to trick us into thinking they're not real. The perfect ambush. You're one of them, aren't you?" She looked offended. "Oh you think I look like an alien?" Marcus chose his next few words carefully. "Maybe not. But I do know your eyes are out of this world." he said with a grin. "You think that cheesy shit is gonna work on me?" she scoffed. Marcus shrugged. Not long after, they were making out on the floor. Then they both decided to get up and head to their bedroom for the night.
The next thing he heard was a loud ringing. Marcus had planned to sleep in today but it looked like the world had other plans for him. He unplugged his phone from its charger and answered the call. “Hello? Oh hey cuz, you know it’s 6, right? Like 6AM. Hold up, what? Bro stop fucking with me, I’m bout to go back to sleep. You serious right now? Alright alright, I’ll turn on the news.” Alicia shifted under the blanket. Marcus carefully crawled out of bed without waking her and headed to the living room in his boxers. He grabbed the TV remote off the kitchen counter and hit the power button.
The same reporters from last night appeared on the screen, but their faces appeared much more serious this time. “-on a collision course straight for Earth. According to astronomers, we have mere minutes before it reaches our planet based on its current speed. Experts are unsure if it will burn up in the atmosphere, so the governor has declared a state of emergency. We ask that everyone please take shelter indoors and stay tuned with us for live updates.” Marcus dropped the remote and sprinted back to the bedroom. Marcus gently shook his girlfriend. “Alicia, you need to get up now!” She was startled awake and wiped her eyes. “What’s going on? What’s happening?” Before he could respond, they both heard a thunderous boom from outside and the room shook. He grabbed her hand and they both rushed over to huddle in front of their TV. “-has just entered our atmosphere! The object’s trajectory looks like it will be landing in the D.C. area. There is no time to evacuate. Please just get indoors and find a safe place,” the anchorman said while trying to keep his cool. “Let’s prepare for the worst and pray for the best, Connor.” Stephanie muttered. Marcus and Alicia held each other tight as they watched the countdown timer on the screen. Impact was expected in 45 seconds. “I love you Marcus” Alicia said with tears in her eyes. He held her face in his hands. “I love you too babe,” he replied. He was trying to stay tough for both of them, but began to feel his eyes dampen as well. 33 seconds. Marcus took charge. “We need to be somewhere safer. Let’s get away from the windows. Help me bring the blankets and pillows to the bathroom. They hastily threw all of their bedding into their bathtub and Marcus took one last glance at the TV before joining Alicia. 16 seconds. He shut the bathroom door and climbed in the tub with her. They squeezed each other harder than they ever had before and counted silently in their heads and breathed heavily. 3… 2… 1… But nothing happened. They stayed put for a few more minutes just to be safe. Still nothing. Talking could be heard coming from the news channel. They cautiously climbed out of the tub and left the bathroom. There was a look of confusion on the faces of the news anchors. “-and it would seem the object has suddenly stopped in its tracks. It appears to be an aircraft of some sort. We just got confirmation that it is hovering only a few miles above the White House. Federal agents have not ruled out the possibility of this being some advanced aircraft controlled by Russia or China. A radio transmission is currently being sent from the FAA to the pilot ordering them to vacate the airspace immediately.” The news channel cut to a reporter standing in front of the White House. The camera was angled upward and a black oval could be seen in the distance.
It had ignored all warning messages and was slowly descending now. The broadcast cut to another camera capturing the commotion in front of the White House as the secret service and some military occupied the perimeter. They were armed and ready to face whatever this intruder had in store for them. It cut again back to the object, and as it got closer, it became obvious what it was. It was every conspiracy theorist's dream come true. A real UFO. A stereotypical flying saucer like you'd seen in the movies. Either a foreign superpower was trying to scare us or the human race was really about to make contact with extraterrestrial life for the first time.
The defensive forces surrounding the White House lawn kept their weapons trained on the object as it halted just before touching the ground. It just kept hovering in mid air without any obvious propulsion system. After a couple more minutes, the strange ship opened up from the bottom. Those nearest to it took a few steps back. A rounded platform carrying three figures lowered down onto the grass. A sound came from one of the figures. It was a sound they all recognized. "Lower your weapons, brothers and sisters."
Baffled, the entire world watched as three humans stepped out from under the saucer's shadow. Humans had a hunch that we weren't alone in the universe, but no one expected this. "We have traveled from Suramis, the nearest exoplanet to this galaxy. We would like to speak with your leaders." Everyone lowered their weapons and a commotion broke out between all present. A few minutes passed and the president emerged from the building. He walked forward to greet our otherworldly visitors. After a short exchange of words, they all headed inside. Reporters and other members of the press attempted to follow them but officers barred them from entry. One of the Suramians responded to this by gesturing for them to come along too. The president gave the word and the news channel camera crew and many others quicklyrushed inside to get the scoop.
They stopped at the oval office, where chairs had been arranged at the center for the four of them to sit. The room was stuffed well past capacity and a low chatter could be heard. After all of them had settled in, the middle Suramian lifted his hand and the room became dead silent. The cameras zoomed in. "Knowing you may all be in shock right now, let me start with an icebreaker. My name is Falkis. To my left is Ramut and on my right is Talijar. We are space divers, which means we travel to different galaxies seeking other humans. Our home Suramis is much like your planet here. Not just beautiful, but suitable for life as well. The difference being our planet is at least 9 times larger." President Feldman spoke up. “How did you know where to find us?” Talijar responded, “We have known about Earth for centuries now. We have even saved it a few times from asteroids and other threats that would have eradicated life here. And to answer your most obvious question, yes, we have visited you before. Those among you that have witnessed our ships in the past had not gone mad. It was just not an ideal time to reveal ourselves yet. We have observed from a distance until we made the technological leaps necessary to transport thousands, perhaps millions of you while traveling lightspeed to Suramis. As we understand it, your planet is dying. Your people are dying. On Suramis, we do not experience the food shortages or plagues found here. We have estimated Earth will soon become a very hostile environment in the decades to come due to greenhouse gases and tectonic activity, among other things. We cannot bring everyone in one trip and we know many may choose to stay, which is fine. But the Suramian people would like to invite you to consider a brighter future.” Feldman pondered for a moment, then leaned forward. “How long would the trip take? And would those that volunteer be able to return? Also... just curious if English is your first language?” he said with a chuckle. The crowd eased up with some laughter too. Falkis smiled. “No, actually. As a part of our job, we are required to study the most popular languages of the planets we visit, and use this special device to translate the rest. It scans vocal wavelengths for patterns.” He tapped on a small rectangular box on his chest. “This device is able to decipher what is being spoken in realtime and replay it to the user in their native language with a very high accuracy rate. As for the trip, a few hours maybe? There is a network of unseen wormholes in each star system that allows for quantum teleportation between our galaxy and many others. And yes, anyone that decides to leave may come back to Earth if they find they prefer life here. But of the hundreds of thousands we have already ferried from other exoplanets, none have returned yet. Trust me, our home is a sight to see.” Feldman responded, “Well, this is all a lot to take in. Our people will have to discuss how we want to go about doing all of this. Is there a deadline for when we need to choose who goes and who stays?” Ramut replied, “There is no rush. We understand this is an enormous event for all of you. We will return to our ship and travel to the other countries here to speak with all the leaders of this world. We want to find the best solution to transport all who are interested. Also, our ship has an identity storage system that can catalog and keep track of everyone that chooses to go.” Ramut handed the president a small round object about the size of an kiwi. “This is our version of a cell phone. Feel free to contact us once you are ready.” The three Suramians rose and returned to their vessel. The large crowd was escorted out of the oval office and there were many questions yet to be answered. That night, neither Marcus nor Alicia were able to get any sleep. In the following two weeks, nearly a million Earthlings packed their bags and said their farewells. Suramis had sent impossibly massive ships to carry the bravest and most curious to this new world. Marcus and Alicia had decided to be among those that remained on Earth. They agreed to stay since Marcus’ father lived nearby and was not in the best of health. As exciting as it sounded, they figured it was smarter to keep an eye on him here. Suramis was far too distant for the people of Earth to watch a broadcast like with the moon landing, but they were hoping that some would return with pictures and videos of this utopia. They longed for a better world, but there was some anxiety lifted off of their shoulders. One day, they would be able to relocate to this new world. Perhaps the laws of this new land would be more just. Maybe rent, bills, and debt would become a thing of the past. No more sickness. No more hunger. And it didn’t seem like they had any special requirements for who was or wasn’t allowed to go. Only a recommendation from the WHO that those traveling be in good health. No more class warfare. No more discrimination. No more racism. No more pain. Maybe the Suramians are what we would have become if we weren’t so busy killing each other over our differences all these years. This realization made Marcus wonder if it would be pointless for him to follow through with finishing this semester. Classes were starting up again soon after an understandable break. But then he thought about how he was still governed by a broken system. Despite this life-changing event, for some, it didn’t make a difference. Wrongly imprisoned people weren’t suddenly freed and allowed to get on the spaceships. The past two weeks hadn’t seen a significant drop in police brutality and hate crimes. There was still injustice to be fought. And as long as he was on this planet, he would have to play by its rules. Marcus processed all of these things while lying on his back on one of their bean bags, staring blankly at the wall. He was waiting for Alicia to get home from her shift at the hospital so he bounce his thoughts off of someone. The tranquility of their apartment was interrupted by a loud ringing. He grabbed his phone out of his pocket and looked at the caller ID. It was Tyler.
“Hey what’s up?” Tyler sounded ecstatic on the other end. “Yooooo! You got your bags packed for Suramis? I’m getting on the ship tomorrow!” Marcus replied, “Actually, I’m not going. Got some family to take care of here.” Tyler sounded shocked. “Really man? This is a crazy opportunity! I shouldn’t have to ask this but… you sure you don’t want to travel to another galaxy?” Marcus sighed. “Yeah, I’m sure.” Tyler didn’t let Marcus’ situation ruin his mood. “Your loss I guess. But I been dreaming of something like this happening since I was a kid and now it’s finally here! Well if you’re not going, you should at least check out the White House lawn. They opened it up to the public and roped off the spot where that first ship landed. If I wasn’t busy packing, I’d go check it out with you. Well, I still got a lot of packing to do so peace bro! Wish me luck!” Marcus laughed. “Now look who’s running from their classes. Have a safe journey man. Later.” He hung up the call and glanced at his keys on the kitchen counter.
Although he was stuck in this solar system for now, Marcus still had the curiosity of a little boy who wondered what lies beyond it. He was now driving towards Capitol Hill. There was an insane amount of traffic due to people preparing to gather their essentials and loved ones for their new home. After some honking and near collisions, he found a little space on the side of the road and parked there. He noticed the No Parking signs but figured he would just take a quick look. Marcus locked his car and headed over to join the group of people admiring the landing spot. Everyone took turns getting pictures of where the Suramian ship had first arrived. To Marcus, it wasn’t all that impressive. He was hoping to see burn marks. But since the spacecraft didn’t run on fuel, there was only a round patch of flattened grass where the ship had opened up. He quickly got bored and started to head back to his car. On his way out, he saw a small object on the ground. Maybe it hadn’t been noticed since all the others’ attention was focused on the flattened grass. Marcus picked it up and thought it looked familiar. After realizing what it was, he stuffed it in his pocket and quickly walked back to his car.
When he returned to his vehicle, he looked annoyed. “Of course,” he moaned as he put the parking ticket in his pocket as well. He drove back to his apartment in a hurry. Marcus raced up the stairs, opened his door, and headed straight for the bedroom. He took out the object he had stolen and placed it on his bedroom desk. Then he turned on his laptop, opened his internet browser, and searched for the official SETI website. On the site, he found an MP3 of the weird signal from space the news had reported on a while back. He hit play. An odd, repetitive noise filled his speakers. Then he held up the object he found and clicked the only button on the device. It instantly started spewing out English words in a robotic, monotone voice.
“Warning. Warning. Warning. Your planet is in danger. Do not trust the Suramians. Do not board their ships. They will enslave your people. The Suramians are headed for your galaxy. Warning. Warning. Warning. Your planet is in danger. Do not trust the Suramians. Do not board their ships. They will enslave your people. The Suramians are headed for your galaxy. Warni-”
Marcus stopped the recording and noticed he was breathing heavily. “Oh, fuck. Shit. Shit. Shit.” He sat on his bed with his hands on his temples. It took a minute for him to think of what to do with this information. Marcus stood up again and browsed through the SETI website until he found a contact page. There was a form where he could submit a message and he began to type his discovery in the blank box. But right before he clicked send, he paused. If they share this with the public, won’t the Suramians find out too? Hands shaking, he held down the backspace button until it was blank again, then closed the laptop.
Marcus jumped at the unexpected knocking coming from the front door. He looked at his phone and didn’t realize how late it was. He ran into the living room and looked through the peephole to be sure. He let Alicia inside, who was still dressed in scrubs. Marcus wasted no time. “I need to show you something I found today.” Alicia responded, “Hold up, let me hop in the shower first.” He closed the door and looked right in her eyes. “No. Now.” Gripping her wrist, he dragged her to the bedroom. “What’s wrong with you?” Alicia scolded. Marcus opened the laptop and played the SETI recording again, accompanied with the strange object.
After the message repeated a couple times, Marcus paused it. “So wait, these people are actually bad guys?” she asked. “I think so. SETI wasn’t able to decode the signal but this device did. I think this is one of those language translators they mentioned at The White House. They must have somehow dropped one before leaving D.C.. They already have a ton of our people loaded onto their ships. We have to save them.” he replied. “Marcus, what do you mean we? Like... us two against the people who travel lightspeed to other galaxies to enslave people? I’m not taking that chance.” she said with her arms crossed. “Not just us! We have the others they’re taking with them. Maybe there’s a way we can let them know without alarming the Suramians. I don’t know. Plan some kind of sneak attack.” He pleaded with Alicia but she wouldn’t budge. “Hell no! I’m not risking everything we’ve worked for! If they wanna be stupid and get on a ship with a bunch of strangers, then let them. I’m staying right here!”
Marcus put a look of disgust. “I guess you are. But as for me: I’m not just gonna abandon these people.” That night, Marcus slept on their living room floor with one of the sheets from the hall closet. Alicia stayed in their bedroom for the rest of the night with the door closed. Right before sunrise, Marcus snuck into the room to pack his things. He quietly turned the doorknob, making sure not to wake Alicia. When he was all done, he slipped back into the living room unnoticed. After grabbing a granola bar from the kitchen, Marcus carried his luggage down the flights of stairs and packed it in his trunk. He put the keys in the ignition, wiped the tears from his cheeks, and pulled out of the parking lot. The GPS on his phone gave him directions for the airport, where the spaceships were being loaded.
On the way there, Marcus called his father using the bluetooth system in his car. It rang a few times, then a raspy voice picked up. “Hey Marcus, how you doing son?” He replied, “Good, pops. How you been holding up?” “Wellllll I’m doing fine. Just fine. Surprised you calling this early. Is everything alright?” “Yea, just got hit with a big assignment in one of my classes, so I been busy with that. I actually might not be able to stop by to visit for a while because of it. Is that okay?” “Oh, that’s no problem. I don’t need a nursing home just yet. I think I can wipe my own ass for a few more weeks.” “Okay, good. Cause I don’t feel like helping with that.” They both chuckled.
“I’m real proud of you son. Glad you staying focused on school like I always told ya. You gonna be a big shot one day so I’m hoping you’ll at least hire someone to take care of me when I’m that old.” “I will. And thanks dad. Can’t wait to hang out soon so I can whoop you in UNO again.” “Hush, boy! You got lucky last time. We’ll see who whoops who when you done with that assignment. And they better give you an A plus! I know my boy don’t play when it comes to his grades.” “Alright, well I’ll talk to you later. Love you, dad.” “Love you too, son. Say hi to Alicia for me.” “I will.” The call disconnected. He drove the rest of the way in silence.
Marcus arrived at the parking garage and secured one of the last spots available. At least he wouldn’t have to deal with a parking fee here since airports worldwide were waiving charges for this special occasion. At least, that’s what he had read online. He rolled his suitcase into the airport and put it on a conveyor belt near a sign labeled LUGGAGE. After waiting forever in line to get through security, he followed the large groups of people walking down small staircases that had been placed where the airplanes were usually docked. They walked out onto the airfield and into the shadow of an enormous, obsidian-colored flying saucer.
It was easily over 200 feet tall and ridiculously wide. Everyone gazed up in awe and many took pictures with their smartphones. There was a team of airplane workers loading up passenger’s belongings near the rear. A light shone down and would levitate the suitcases into the ship like some Hollywood alien abduction scene, but with luggage. It was insane. This all would’ve been a lot cooler if he was ignorant to the fact that these shiny spacecraft were really just intergalactic slave ships. An elongated escalator carried everyone into the ship. Marcus smirked at the irony. It looked like a staircase to heaven, but no one had any clue the hell that awaited them.
What would his ancestors think of him purposely walking into a situation like this? What if he wasn’t able to convince anyone that they were in danger? What if he did get them on his side, but they weren’t able to win back their freedom? What if they successfully liberated themselves but didn’t know how to pilot the ships to get back to Earth? What if they never made it back home? What if they never saw any of their family and friends ever again? What if- These racing thoughts were interrupted by someone’s hand grabbing his just before he stepped onto the escalator. Marcus smiled. He didn’t need to turn around and see who it belonged to.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! :D If you liked this or have suggestions on what I could have improved, message me on social media at @lensmakesart or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there is enough demand, I may consider fleshing this idea out in a full book or series. I post a new short story here every other month, so stay tuned! :)