Excerpt from [flash fiction]

The day the earthmen came, we were settling into an educational module in the Viewing Room. Twelve of us, one monitor, and an exhausted Instructor who was no doubt underpaid and whom we certainly didn’t appreciate. Instructor was of the tall sort, limbs more twisted than usual, a point Instructor had no doubt been picked on for at our age. But we were not yet so confident as to make fun of an Instructor the way we would one another.

John* was the only one among us who was missing and we didn’t know why yet. We thought we were safe and sound, if bored to tears by the outdated moving image we watched and pretended to learn from. There wasn’t one among us who wasn’t secretly tapping into the Sphere** to check how our pets were doing at home and how our sports teams*** were faring and whether or not we would be able to meet our friends that afternoon at our favorite watering hole.

All of which is to say that everything was incredibly normal. That normalcy is part of the heartbreak of that day in my mind.

The monitor flickered and very suddenly we were being subjected to the live footage**** of the earthmen coming. The government had clearly taken over all monitors and the Sphere was so shocking that several of us cried out in fear and tried to put the images away. But, as our new overlords say, you cannot force the furry mammal with claws back into the bag. We had seen the earthmen, and we were getting live updates on their descent from their crashed ship.

We didn’t know what was to come then. We were students, with little to worry about beyond the exams we were to sit – the first serious ones we were ever to take – and the wrath of our parents if they found out what we’d been hiding around the Sphere for friends to find. We were concerned with our next meal and the pressures of procreation that would soon be upon us. We wanted to go to our moon during the next vacation and learn to pilot our own Bubble.

Instructor started to keen when it became clear what was happening. Instructor said nothing would be the same again. We didn’t believe it then, but we believe it now.

*Names are untranslateable and untranscribeable so characters have been given standard Christian names.

**The English name given to what is, to the best of our understanding, like the Internet crossed with a technologically developed collective unconscious.

***We are as yet uncertain as to what such sports look like or where they are played, for we have found no evidence to show that these beings have any fields or arenas or other dedicated areas to play in. Some theorize that by “sports” the beings mean something more like online chess.

****No actual footage or recording material has been found; the assumption so far is that monitors were played through the Sphere, with a being controlling what was being shown on the monitor – actually a gaseous oval in which images resolve in 3D in varying degrees of detail


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