Wednesday, September 16, 2020


After years of worrying about global warming and meteor strikes
and pandemics and war and terrorism and wildfires and exploding frogs,
humans forgot to worry about what would occur during an alien invasion,
what would happen when they trounced our pitiful attempts at resistance,
what would happen when they killed billions of us
and put the rest of us in zoos across the galaxy.

I was put in the Morgloch Research and Living Habitat Facility,
somewhere many millions of light years away from Earth,
away from everyone I had ever known in my old life,
and in an exhibit with about twenty other humans
and one misidentified Grodothian.
We were fed well,
had a large living space
with several communal homes,
a rough approximation 
of what humans would want for themselves in a shelter,
but the Keepers didn’t really ask us our opinions.
There were no interior walls in our homes,
not even around what I’ll call the bathroom,
but it’s fine,
we made do with what we got.
We had a park with some lovely oaks and maples and green Earth grass,
but also some pink puffy trees that seemed to be covered in fur.
These trees had eyes, and they breathed loudly through their trunks.
It’s nice that they gave us the spot for recreation,
but they weren’t really fooling anyone.

We were supposed to all be friends in our exhibit, I guess.
They wanted for us to pair off and reproduce.
And I think their experiment was largely a success,
except for me.
I looked at my fellow humans and the one Grodothian,
and I saw greedy, grasping beasts,
fighting every day over our daily rations,
even though there was always more than enough,
and we could probably have asked for more, if we really wanted it.
Like you’d find in a seventh grade classroom,
there was a strict social hierarchy.
Or it’s probably more accurate to say that it was a solar system, 
with Chase Goodwin and Miriam Roskell as twin stars
and the rest of us orbiting them at varying distances.
Surprisingly, the Grodothian was closer to them than anyone else,
but I was Pluto,
icy, distant,
not even considered a planet.

Diana Cho and I kind of paired off for a while, as friends.
We laughed at our fellow captives,
their pitiful attempts at maintaining some kind of control in their lives,
their “house rules,”
their “negotiations” with the Keepers.
Then something happened.
I still don’t know what.
Maybe it was something I said,
or something I did,
or something I didn’t do,
but Diana started avoiding me.
She and Miriam were the ones laughing now,
and if I caught her eye,
she’d give me the same look
you might give to a centipede scurrying in the bathtub
or that container of leftovers in the back of your fridge,
the one you don’t even remember putting in there,
its contents now green and grey and white and furry.
And that was the end of that.

The Keepers removed me from the exhibit one day
and used their invasive methods to communicate with me
and asked me why I “wasn’t integrating.”
“I don’t know,” I told them, honestly.
“We just don’t get along.”
The Keepers didn’t understand.
We were all the same species
(they still hadn’t realized their mistake about the Grodothian),
from the same part of our home planet, even.
We spoke the same language,
weren’t that far apart in age,
and were free to mate in whatever combinations we preferred.
What could possibly be the problem?
“Some people are just better off by themselves,” I said.
“I’ve always been like that.
Even before you all…arrived, 
I wasn’t that good at making friends,
and I never dated anyone for very long.”
The Keepers were unsatisfied with this explanation,
and I was informed I was to be immediately transferred 
to the Ferlanian Living Habitat,
located in a different galaxy.
I didn’t even get to say goodbye to Diana Cho,
but I wasn’t that broken up about it.

When I arrived at my new home,
I realized there had been some mistake.
I was in an exhibit full of Grodothians,
but it wound up being okay, actually.
They were accepting and welcoming,
and we all had a lot in common.
So it was better than I thought it would be,
about as good as anyone could expect.

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