From Dystopia To Utopia
When all else fails, just be yourself
My purse that contains everything I own is snatched out of my hands as I dig for change for the bus. I run after the person, but they are fast, too fast for a human. I don't know what I'm going to do. Life is supposed to get better, not worse.
Just as it seemed civilization was going to collapse, it was all saved thanks to these aliens. We had no warning of their existence, they appeared out of thin air. Since they arrived, they have done nothing but help us get back on track.
They came when I was 21. I have some adult memories of what it was like before them. Unfortunately, those few years were not good for me. I never had a stable place to stay, forced to work temp jobs that subjected me to pervy old bosses, making me quit. After they came, my life got a little better, but I was one of the humans passed over to receive help to make my life great.
Not knowing what to do, I freeze on the sidewalk. Noone reacted when my purse was stolen. They all avoid me, refusing to help, ignoring me. This strong sense of entitlement was one bad thing about the alien’s help. People who were still struggling just weren't worth helping anymore.
I snapped back when my phone started vibrating, surprised that it wasn't in my purse. It showed the police station so I answered quickly as they don’t randomly call people.
"Ms. Jones, your purse was turned into us. Come pick it up."
Without anything except the slight breeze to keep me cool, I started walking. I’m glad the station isn’t too far away.
As I walk up to the desk where a young woman was sitting at the computer, I admire the brand new look. I could only imagine the place was cleaned top to bottom everyday to keep that shine.
"Hi, I'm here to pick up my purse."
"Ah! Ms. Jones. Thank you for arriving promptly. We don't want to be babysitting purses that people can't keep ahold of all day."
"It was stolen from me. Trust me, I wouldn't choose to have it out of my sight."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Can you describe the person that stole it from you?"
I pause, knowing where this is going. "No, I can't."
"Well, hard to help you if we don't know who we are looking for. Here you go, have a nice day."
Not wanting to hold up others, I sat in a waiting room chair to investigate if any of my small amount of items disappeared. I instantly notice a bundle that was not there before and snap my bag shut. After a pause, I walk back up to the woman that helped me.
"Umm, is it possible to talk to the officer that had my purse?"
"Our officers are very busy. Is something missing?"
"No...I just really need to talk to him."
"Very well, I will see if he is available. If I get yelled at for bothering him, I will find a way to put it on you."
"I understand. Please try."
She dials the phone. The conversation is quickly over before she looks back up at me.
"You're in luck, he is clocking out now. Go sit in the waiting room and he will be out in a moment."
"Thank you for your help."
"Mhm." And she goes back to her computer. Feeling dismissed, I go sit down in the same chair and wait. It doesn't take long for an officer to come stand in front of me.
"So what's the problem? I was told nothing was missing. You should have left by now."
"Well, something is different. There is a large bundle of cash that isn't mine." I open my purse and tilt it towards him so he can see. He looks down for only a split second, shrugs, then looks back at me.
"You're telling me that someone snatched your purse, and either they put the money in there, and left it for us to find, or someone here put the money in after finding it?"
"The way you say it, it does sound crazy. But I swear the money isn't mine!"
"Ma'am, are you on drugs?"
"Are you trying to bribe me?"
"Why would I need to bribe you?!"
"Maybe there is someone you don't like and you want to see them put in jail, so you orchestrated this purse snatching and are trying to pay me to charge them with the crime."
I can only stare at him as he looks down at me. Not wanting to be thrown into jail for trying to do the right thing, I decide to just say thank you and leave.
Next to the station is a quiet park that I sit in a secluded area of. I open my purse to get a better look at the money and wonder how it got there. I almost consider using it. Horrified, I knew I would feel guilty if I did when the actual owner truly needed it.
Coming back to reality, I spot a white sheet of paper in the middle of the bundle. I carefully wiggle it out, trying to avoid taking the money out, and see an address written on it. Not knowing its meaning, I only assume it is the owner’s or someone that could at least help. Why else would it have been placed there? I decide that I have to return this money, keeping it is not an option.
Grabbing change from the bottom of my purse, I head to the closest bus stop.
I get off in the middle of an industrial area full of warehouses. I look down at the paper and start walking. I'm on the street I need to be, now to find which building to go to.
When I finally get to the correct one, the sun is almost about to set. The colors make for a pretty backdrop to the drab, grey building. I want to stand here and watch, but I need to return the money and catch the next bus before they stop running. I knock on the door, expecting to see anyone other than the alien that answers. I have no idea what to say and just stare.
How did he know my name? At this point all I want to do is throw the money at him and run. But what if it's not his, I need to make sure it goes to the right person. All I do is nod.
"Great! Come in!"
Despite the red flags in my head, I find myself compelled to follow and do. The place is not a horror scene but instead is well lit, with humans and aliens walking about in a corporate office space feel. I am guided to one of the desks while the alien sits across from me.
"I'm sorry to bother you. I just want to return something that isn't mine and this is the only lead I have to finding the owner."
"You are not a bother at all." He reaches into the desk and pulls out a little black book. When he opens it, the page is empty. As I stare, words start to magically appear.
"Not to worry Ms. Jones. This is simple technology from my world that allows me to see into one's life."
My past consists of some messed up things I did in order to survive and I hope he can’t see them. As he flips the pages, a smile is always on his face, but his brow creases, showing confusion at times. Ultimately he ends up nodding and moves on.
"I don't mean to rush you, but I really need to leave soon so I can catch the bus." I pull the bundle of money out and lay it on the desk. "If this is yours, you can have it back. Or can you get it to the owner somehow? Everything is there. I don't know how much it is, but I didn't take any."
"Twenty thousand. That is how much is there."
"Oh. Wow." I have never seen that much money before, definitely haven't held that much. The thought that I could have kept it quickly enters then leaves my mind. It's not mine, someone is probably missing it. "Thank you for your time, I need to be going now."
"Wait. Stay for a little longer. If you still want to leave, I will have someone drive you to your dwelling. You do not need to be taking public transportation this late in the day."
"I really need to get some sleep. This hasn't been the best day for me."
"Yes, the police station. I apologize for that, it was necessary for you to go through, unfortunately."
"They were horrible! I was accused of bribing them! I just want to return the money and get on with my life, please!"
"What if I told you that by returning the money, you would be given the opportunity to live a better life than before?"
"I would say you're crazy. Twenty thousand is a lot, but it doesn't last long. Temporary happiness for a lifetime of guilt for using money that isn't mine."
"The money is mine. Well, my race's. We use it as a way to learn more about you humans. More times than I would like to admit, we never see the money again. Then, there are the special people, just as yourself, who do bring it back.
"Those people are told about the chance to live in a secret community where humans and aliens coexist peacefully. Everyone has a skill they bring and that is how they earn what they need to survive. No money needed, only help your fellow neighbors.
"We saw that you do well with children and have worked with them for many years. Some in our community have fallen in love and we are in need of someone to teach and take care of the little ones while they work. Would you accept our offer and join us? Once you enter, you may never leave, that is the only way to keep our people safe. If you choose not to accept our offer, your memory of this whole experience will be wiped."
My mouth has been hanging open for the past few minutes. I cannot believe what I have just been told. I have nothing to go back to. I have no one that will miss me. No job to resign from. I could continue my passion of working with children. There is no reason for me to decline.
"Yes." I whisper so softly I think he might not have heard me. The smile that spreads across his face says otherwise. He stands up and reaches his hand towards me. I take it and he walks me to the back of the building.
Everything stops, everyone is smiling and has their eyes on us. All because I am joining them? We reach large airplane hanger like doors and the alien looks down at me with a question in his eyes. I nervously squeeze his hand, smile and nod. As he looks forward again, the doors start to open.
I bring my other hand up to cover my eyes as a bright light appears. It takes a while for them to adjust but when they do, I gasp loudly. Instead of warehouses, I am looking at the cutest village. People are walking around living their lives, talking, happily trying to avoid stepping on elated children running around. I see there aren't the technologies that I am accustomed to but I am willing to give up my past to be able to say something I haven't in a long time...I am home.