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Interstellar Cleaners

Have mop will travel

By Ward NorcuttPublished 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago 5 min read
Runner-Up in Extraterrestrial Challenge
Interstellar Cleaners
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

A rocketship came down from Space and landed in my yard.

Two aliens stepped out of it and handed me their card.

“Intergalactic Cleaners” was written plainly on one side.

On the other, “Have mop will travel - to wherever worlds collide!”

They pulled it from a pocket-thing found just beneath their eyes,

nine of them which ogled me all googly and cross-wise.

I slapped myself and pinched my cheek to make sure, just to check

that I hadn’t fallen asleep while watching reruns of Star Trek.

And I had not, we were both there, just standing on the lawn.

Inside my mind I wondered where reality had gone.

To which they said, as a reply, to my unvoiced concern,

We understand. We read your thoughts. We’re only here to learn.

They spoke to me straight to my brain, they never said a word.

As clear as day, it seemed like it was English that I heard.

I mentioned there were two of them, but really only one

(Two heads, five legs, that neck-like thing where arms should have begun).

“Oh," I said. "You’re here to learn? Why on earth did you pick me?

I’m not so smart, don’t know too much. I got no p.h.d.”

“Everywhere we travel and in every circumstance,

we find The One by lottery, we always pick by chance.

Out of 8 billion souls on earth, we randomly chose you,

and now we will tell you what it is that you must do.

Show us one thing about your world to save you all from cleaning,

a saving grace to spare you from our interstellar gleaning.

You all have made a mess out of what once was paradise.

A global exterminating bath is the going price.”

“You mean I finally win the lottery and this is what I get?

A snowball’s chance to save the world?” They thought, “You seem upset.

“You bet I am! I’m not any kind of world-saving guy!”

“Pull yourself together pal, or else the End is nigh.”

I could hardly breathe for fear I was the one to save us all.

I couldn’t think of anything - except I had to stall.

“A mess, you say?” I said to them. “You need to be specific

before you come a’cleaning with your gleaning so horrific!”

I stood my ground. I thrust my chin. I even puffed my chest.

To my surprise, they immediately accepted my request.

They produced a mechanism from another hidden slit

from, I suppose, what was its nose – at least it looked like it.

It projected the history of every human interaction:

pollution, wars and genocide - every possible infraction

that we committed singularly or together as a nation,

but only just the visuals, it came with no narration.

I nodded as we watched the show, faking my attention,

while working up a plan for our apocalypse prevention.

What one thing can I show them both to save us from this fate?

What possibly could be the key just lying there in wait?

I thought of Art and Poetry and then the Taj Mahal,

a mother’s love, a newborn fawn, a hidden waterfall.

A single rose? A Redwood tree? I didn’t have a clue.

No brilliant thought out of the blue would come to my rescue.

“Think!” I thought, almost out loud. Just then, I cracked a smile

‘cause I heard a certain giggle I hadn’t heard in quite a while.

It was my most favorite sound; it came from my two boys.

To an alien it might sound like a discordant kind of noise,

but not to me, because I knew, that right then, they were happy

and I guess that makes me the kind of dad who gets all sappy.

See, off and on, I've heard them laugh for nearly thirty years.

It bolstered me. It gave me strength. It took away my fears.

“Stop the show. I’ve seen enough,” I said. “You made your point.

And if you had a nose, I’m sure it would be out of joint

to know how poorly we have treated the planet and our own.

There’s nothing I can show you to save us, to atone

for all the harm we’ve caused, I just can’t think of anything

to change your minds and stop this final ending that you bring.

But behind me in the house right now, my two boys and my wife,

to save them all and everyone, I offer you my life.

Or if that’s not good enough, you’ll have to go through me!

Put up your dukes, all six of them!” I yelled ferociously.

We accept!” they thought at me. They did not hesitate.

Immediately, the three of us began to levitate.

The projector smooshed back inside its little hidden slit

as their ship opened up its mouth and sucked us into it.

My family finally came outside and thought I was abducted,

not realizing that, in fact, I was being inducted.

You showed us one true thing,” they thought. “You showed your human spirit

We’ve travelled several galaxies and found nothing quite near it.

You’ll come with us and so help judge the worlds from star to star.

And so I did and so I have, this is the start of my memoir.

I didn’t really mean to, but I saved the planet earth,

and for twenty-seven other worlds, I helped to find their worth.

I helped to save them, too, because I offered some perspective.

It helped to stop the world-shattering boom - their prime directive.

And others, well, what can I say, I know I did my best.

If you really want to know it all, you’ll have to read the rest.


About the Creator

Ward Norcutt

Playwright and poet.

My goal as a writer is to write thoughtful pieces of prose, poetry and stage plays. Hopefully, the end results are entertaining and engaging, with layers of meaning that make sense to the whole or a theme therein.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (16)

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  • PK Colleranabout a month ago

    You got me really hooked... I could hardly wait to see what happened. Super fun and creative. Loved the part about the laughter of your boys. Nothing anywhere else in this universe like the laughter of kids. Congratulations on the win. 🍀💚

  • Sonia Heidi Unruhabout a month ago

    Fantabulous -- the story, the message, told with great rhymes, humor and heart. Congratulations!!

  • Michèle Nardelliabout a month ago

    Ahh nothing like a reluctant hero story - well done

  • Alison McBainabout a month ago

    Great read!

  • Ryan Smith2 months ago

    Your rhythm is sublime, it's a joy to dance along. Out of this world ;)

  • Mackenzie Davis2 months ago

    Your rhythm and rhyme are off the charts. I'm in awe. Reading this was a complete joy, and I would love to read the rest of his memoir, lol. Seems like the Alien Cleaners are very black and white! I love how you decided to add nuance to the conversation of a doom and gloom topic (us destroying the environment). Fantastic. If this doesn't place in the challenge, I will eat my shoe.

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    That was great. Funny, uplifting, and just downright wacky. Well done.

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    An excellent story and very unique, not to mention a skillfully written poem! Well done, Ward!

  • Incredibly creative.I never would have thought of Alien Cleaners in a million years. This kept me trying to guess what you’d show them. Fantastic ending

  • This was really good Ward. I like how it went from humorous to serious. The rhyme are outta sight. Great job!!!

  • Setting the bar out of reach. It’s your specialty. Great poem Warm!!

  • Tina D'Angelo3 months ago

    Love this! That's really the best humans have to offer is their love, whether it's to a child, a partner, a cat, dog, or goldfish. We're messy creatures who love.

  • Joe Patterson3 months ago

    Excellent. By far one of the best entries to the challenge that I’ve read.

  • Lol, this was a very creative and fun take on the challenge! I loved it!

  • Donna Renee3 months ago

    This was great, definitely one of the most creative entries I’ve seen!!

  • Babs Iverson3 months ago

    Awesome!!! Love it!!!❤️❤️💕

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