Sunday, August 15, 2010



By John Elrod II

"Seems you're in quite a pickle."

You're startled as a grisly voice chimes in over your shoulder. Releasing a torturously tiny laugh, the stranger winces as he envelops the remaining three vacant seats between you and the aisle. He fills the area with the strong smell of oatmeal.

Careful to not fully acknowledge the oddly aromatic passenger, you quickly switch the screen to YouBoob; perhaps the presence of porn will give pause to any further conversation.

"Good move. Trying to make me uncomfortable?" His voice is like a cat caught in a mouse trap. "Unfortunately, I have no feelings toward the human figure."

"Listen, you, I don't know --" you snap at him, but your sharp glance is halted by the gruesome venal landscape covering his melon-shaped head.

"It's okay. You humans are very susceptible to fright. I've gotten used to your stares," his words are remarkably soothing, and that smell continues to thicken the air. "Why don't you get off at the Genesis Convention Center?" his suggestion seems strangely provocative.

"Uh... I wasn't really looking at porn; so, you see, I'm not really looking to get off, anywhere..." you're fumbling your words.

"No, no. You've misunderstood.” He places his hand firmly on your shoulder. "Perhaps you should exit the shuttle, at the Genesis Convention Center."

"That does sound like a good idea," you drone into his chest.

"Good. Here's that stop, now," he guides you to your feet and points you toward the door.

As the shuttle departs, you're left standing in front of what can only be described as Daedalus' wet dream. With your head still cloudy, you can't help but wonder why you're even here.

What exactly is my plan here? I need to get back on a shuttle, you think.

After consulting the nearby media guide and realizing the next shuttle will not arrive for half an hour, you pull on the door and, to your surprise, it opens.

It can't hurt to check it out I guess.

Within the center's atrium, you're bombarded with the whirring and whizzing of preparation. There's hover-machinery all over the place, and it's all centralized around a massive, metallic basketball being lowered onto an equally overwhelming podium.

"That seems like a bit much," you sarcastically motion to a Martian standing nearby. He just stares at you, all seven of his eyes seeming to convey differing emotions; he motions to a sign written in Galflorn.

It reads Beware of Falling Objects -- but of course, you cannot read it.

You look back at him, and he motions to the translucent, steel hard hat he is wearing.

"Gotcha." you give him a thumbs-up, which only serves to confuse him further as he returns to his work.

You begin to aimlessly wander around the immediate area, but there doesn't seem to be anything for you to do here; plus, these Martians seem to be getting irritated with your presence.

"Guess I'll go wait outside."

You begin the daunting trek back to the door out of which you came, but you're once again drenched in that peculiar oatmeal odor.

Suddenly, every Martian worker charges away, in a pattern radiating from your location.

"What? The smell isn't me; it's one of you guys!" you shout, ignorant of the shadow slowly swallowing you.

You finally notice the sudden darkness, but it is too late. You barely have time to recognize the stranger from the train before the massive metallic basketball reduces you to an organic pile of mush. The Martian workers are left staring at the stranger above them, wheezing that familiar, tinny laugh, the veins of his face pulsating more rapidly with every subsequent guffaw.