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by Marlon Bradley about a year ago in science fiction

Their Arrival Changed Everything

They had arrived earlier that day. I had just dropped my daughter off at school and was on my way to work when I hit an unexpected patch of traffic. I thought nothing of it until I finally realized that the cars in front of me were empty. I quickly turned off the engine and hopped out to see what was going on. A crowd had begun to form in the intersection. They were all staring straight up into what I thought was clear blue Tuesday morning sky. I tapped one guy on his shoulder and asked what he was looking at. He didn’t respond, he just pointed upwards. I turned my gaze in the direction his hand indicated and that’s when I saw it. Waves of fear and confusion crashed onto the shores of my consciousness as I tried to wrap my mind around what my eyes were taking in. I quickly rushed back to my car. I didn’t really have a plan, I just knew I had to get to family.

By the time I arrived back home, my house was full of scared family members. I did my best to calm everyone down and turned on the television. Who were they? As we all sat around my living room watching the news, that’s the only question we could think to ask. The anchorwoman stated that the president was going to give a national address in a few moments. We sat in breathless anticipation as our imaginations ran rampant on what he would say. That’s when the President of the United States appeared on the television, broadcasting live from the Oval Office. While he tried to give the perception of his usually stoic demeanor, you could tell that he was scared shitless just the rest of us. After giving the standard propaganda about us not being alone in the universe, he recited a message that had been received from their leader earlier in the day. It simply said: “Please do not panic, we are not your enemy. We are here to help.”

 

“Ain’t that what they always say, right before they attack,” my little brother retorted to the 50 inch screen hanging on the wall, “Nobody just shows up and says they want the smoke.” As much as I hated to admit it, he had a point. If Hollywood hadn’t done anything over the course of our lives, it had taught us all to be untrusting of aliens. Especially when they tell us up front that they come in peace. The pop culture lexicon is littered with movies of aliens coming to earth with the worst of intentions. Everyone began to work themselves into a frenzy, going on and on about how we needed to protect ourselves. I looked around the room at my friends and was a little caught off guard by the nonsense that had began to pour out of their mouths.

 

“You guys have watched way too many sci-fi movies, man,” I said with a heavy sigh, I prayed the conceit in my tone was enough to offend them all. “Think about it. If a race of advanced extraterrestrials really wanted to invade earth, you really think they’d take the time to shoot off a text message first?” I could see that my words landed with the subtlety of a Mike Tyson uppercut. “Seriously, stop thinking Hollywood blockbuster and start thinking history book. We’ve seen what happens when a group with better technology and weaponry wants something possessed by a lesser group.” Slowly, they all started to regain their senses as heads nodded at my premise.

 

We turned our attention back to the talking heads on the television as they urged people not to make any gesture towards the ship that could be misconstrued as a threat. “Obviously, they’ve watched all the same movies as you guys.” The room erupted into nervous laughter. I stepped out onto the porch and raised my gaze towards the sky. My eyes locked on the spacecraft hovering high above us. It looked less like the flying saucers we’d been force fed by movies and television and more like something that was shot into space by NASA. But what if Hollywood did get it right about their intentions? I furrowed my brow as I beat back the irrationality that was climbing up inside me.

Days passed and nothing changed. Their ship remained on its perch, high in the sky. We all did our best to try to get back to the business of living a normal life. But, at least for me, there was always that gnawing thought in the dark recesses of my subconscious: What did they want? I had no idea how soon all of my questions would get answered.

As I sat in my office pouring through reports, weeks after their arrival, the strangest thing happened. The power went out. Normally this wouldn’t be sufficient enough to put a building full of federal agents on high alert. But given the current circumstances, we were all a little on edge. I pulled my Glock from the holster, checked to see if there was a round in the chamber, then made my way out of the building. Not only were we in the dark, but so was the rest of the city. I fished my phone out my pocket and tried to call my wife, but I had no service. I went back to my office and tried the landline on my desk, but got the same result. I grabbed my body armor and AR-15. But before I could get back out the door, a voice came through the speakers of my computer. It asked that we remained calm and listen to his message. Nervously, I placed the assault rifle on my desk and took a seat. My computer monitor flickered then the image of a figure standing in the shadows appeared. The figure took a step forward and revealed itself. To the collective shock and dismay of us all, it appeared to be human! But for me, there was something else. He looked oddly familiar, like a distant relative of some sorts. Then he spoke again.

“Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Captain Vincent Jacobs of the USS Endeavor. I guarantee you this is not a joke, nor is it an invasion.” The power came back on and every phone in the building was ringing within seconds. “Please take a moment to check in with your loved ones.” I quickly snatched the receiver from my desk phone and was relieved at the sound of my wife’s voice on the other end. The entire building let out a small, collective sigh of relief. After what was an entirely too brief conversation, the phones died. Then, Captain Jacobs reappeared on the computer screen. He re-iterated that he and his people weren’t here to invade, but simply to help. He stated his intentions to meet with the world’s leaders in at the United Nations in 2 days to discuss his ideas. And just as quickly as he had appeared on my computer, he disappeared and the power came back on.

I grabbed my jacket once again and stepped out my office. The world around me was moving in a state subdued panic. I fished my phone out of my pocket and called my wife. After a few rings, she answered. “Did that Captain Jacobs look familiar to you?” I prayed she would tell me that I was being paranoid. My prayers weren’t answered. “Oh my God! He looked like he could be your brother or something!” I let out an exasperated sigh as I climbed into my car. We talked for a few more minutes, both doing our best to dance around the proverbial elephant in the room as I drove to pick up our daughter. As I drove home from her school, I hoped for a peaceful evening with my family. But that was thrown out the window the moment I walked through my front door.

When I walked through into my home, I was shocked to find Captain Jacobs and 2 members of his crew standing in my living room! Without thinking, I quickly drew my weapon and shielded my daughter. Instinctively, Captain Jacobs and his men raised their hands above their heads. “Special Agent Williams, we mean you no harm. Please lower your weapon.” My daughter peeked around from behind me. “Daddy, don’t hurt them please.” I took a deep breath and holstered my firearm. “What are you doing in my home?!” Captain Jacobs took a step forward but my hand quickly shot back to the gun on my hip and he froze in his tracks. “It might be best if we spoke in private.” I agreed and told my daughter to go up to her room and lock the door. Once I heard the door slam close, I motioned for Jacobs and his men to go out to the back yard. As we walked through the house, my wife walked in. Before she could react, I told her that he said he wanted to talk. Trembling, she nodded and joined us.

Once we were on the back patio, Jacobs explained why he was here. He wasn’t from another planet, but from an alternate future. One in which the earth had become inhabitable. He and his crew invented a way to travel back in time in the hopes of saving the planet and the billions of humans that perished during what he called “The Reckoning.” As he explained it to us, humans had begun to consume the earth’s resources at an exponential rate. Those that were willing and able or desperate, enlisted in something called The Space Corps. Those that had the financial means to do so, moved to colonies on the moon and Mars. The rest of the population was left to fend for themselves. They resorted to any means to survive. “Mankind not only destroyed the planet, but itself.” Hearing his words, my wife wrapped her arms around me and buried her face in my chest. Her tears began to soak through the front of my shirt. “But that doesn’t explain why you’re in my house.”

He took a seat at the patio table and gestured for us to do the same. My wife and I looked at each other then sat down. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a photograph. After a few moments, he handed it to me. The moment I saw it, my jaw dropped. My wife stared at me, as if she was trying to figure out what was wrong. I said nothing, I just passed her the picture. Her reaction was the exact same. “I wanted a chance to meet my grandparents,” he said.

science fiction

Marlon Bradley

I'm just trying to tell the stories I want to hear. I consider myself to be a true lover of the English language, and I'm here to put that love on full display for the world.

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Marlon Bradley
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