Cu-tah Than Shakira


As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be abducted.


Maybe I should specify that I mean by aliens. This planet’s not for me and from what I have seen of it from my vantage point in Price, Utah, the great beyond doesn’t seem all that great from Google Earth. I have a friend who was on his way to Salt Lake City but got to Provo and turned back, I think that tells you enough about our dumb bowl to launch a call out to the stratosphere, donthch’all think?


At school I knew I was done for something beyond this planet. I tried to get on with the other kids, but it was like they was speaking another language, I still remember a nerdy guy telling to not split infinitives, I never did find out what he was on about. All I know is that he now lives in a trailer-park and I make seven-fifty an hour after tax at Walmart. I’d say I split him good.


The noises came at night. When I was 12 it was hell in school. I couldn’t concentrate, and the others laughed at me. I recognise now telling them that when my alien friends finally made it to Earth they would zap them with the old ray gun was not pretty dumb even by my standards. It was only when the noises came to me, exclusively to me, well then, I knew that it would be worth my while to ride out the time on this lowly planet. They would see the real me.


Now I am back and can write this story. The first part I couldn’t do because before they took me, I could barely write me name. The second part I couldn’t do because they hadn’t taken me yet and I didn’t have a story. Oh jeez, I sure am come a long way since that hick went up in the spacecraft!


My psychologist (who has now offered to be my editor and publisher) told me to structure the story. I’m better now at words, what does she call it? Letterate? But I still have troubles. You gotta see that I was just some dumb kid that the system failed to look after, the Utah school board couldn’t see my potential, but the guys from the sky did.


They came for me on the day of my eighteenth birthday. Mom threw a party, but nobody came. Not even my sister came, jeez I hoped she would be first against the wall when the ray guns were primed. As I ate my cake alone in the kitchen (I am not allowed to eat in the living room, anyway that is where Mom and Pop’s friends were celebrating my birthday), the lights came. I had always hoped for something like that scene in Close Encounters, even the screws undoing out of the grate, but there was just a light, the living room door opened I could see the others, frozen, like a photo, then a hand came out and asked me “D’ya wanna go to space?”.


My shrink gave me a word that I am gonna throw in here: underwhelming. Not bad, huh? That’s how I felt as I boarded the craft, but it was because I spoke to the interpreter, they had created someone who could communicate on my level as they, even in English, were too darn clever for me to know what the heck they were on about, even now, more so then.


I had done pictures of the insides of spacecraft since I was a kid, tons of buttons, flashing lights and knobs to twiddle with but there was nothing inside. There was no bridge, no teleportation chamber or anything you would expect to see on the best tv shows, I began to wonder who designed this stuff.


I asked the interpreter where all the controls were, and he told me that they were an advanced society and did not need the physical means to control the ship. I smiled, and he explained it more simply. “They imagine them in their heads and use the power of the mind to steer or control the craft”. I thought that was pretty neat. He asked me “By the way, do you like my appearance? According to your profile we assumed you would like this look.” He said. I realised that he looked like the teacher in the Breakfast Club. When I told him I didn’t he changed and suddenly took on the appearance of the singer out of Blink 182. “I’m sold!” I thought to myself as six figures stepped forward to explain stroke confound more.


“Overall, can I be specific about many items? Withstanding the feeling that two meals in the same row may not go down the same thinking pattern. Overall you should have said that before that maybe. One and half wink down there. I can give you more incident, well, let’s go back further than that, my memory has been detoned not set forth whatsoever. I was in there out of time, they took three of them from me, a type of alcho-head pop replacement.” One of the figures remarked and the interpreter looked at me, half-smiling.


“You get any of that?” He asked.


I shook my head and he gestured to the others that they tell him, and he would tell me.


“The reason you are here is because we have mastered every art of existence, except love. We cannot love. We do not know how to court, initiate or maintain relationships. Our scientific viewpoint or physical presence means that there is no emotion in our beings. We are envious of that and wish to learn from you how to love. That clearer?” He remarked.


The others seemed to hang on every word. Yes, he was clearer, but it still made no sense. They wanted to learn about love from me?


“You shudda brung Tommy Watson from 11thgrade if you wanna know about love, mind you that guy don’t do too much loving, more leaving if you get my drift. How come I can’t understand the others?”


“I have been specially created to perform janitorial and interpretation services. The beings on their planet are too advanced and these six have been specially downgraded to adapt to a human brain. Even so, the minimum operational capacity that we have managed to drop too is the equivalent of 94% usage rate of the standard human brain, therefore, you cannot reach their plane of consciousness. I know this will not make much sense but hang in there. They just want to observe you and take notes, they have chosen you for a reason. Are you comfortable? I can thought manufacture a sitting arrangement for you if you wish.” He asked.


“A chair?” I responded.


“You’re improving! Cool, my first joke in human! Was it funny?” He asked again.


“You got talent.” I said as a comfy armchair appeared from nowhere and, hang on, let me get my notes, engulfed me.


“Excellent, I shall continue.” And continue he did. A chamber appeared in the floor and from there a girl appeared, she must have been twenty-two and sure was pretty. I had never seen her before, but one thing I did guess straight off was she wasn’t too happy about being abducted. Another chair appeared, and she sat next to me. From this moment on, the aliens no longer looked like regular guys, this was to remove the risk of her falling for one of them. I had imagined some ugly aliens in my time, but this lot were hideous. If you could choose, why choose THAT?


The janitor continued. “This is Mandy. She is from a place called San Diego. She has been here for a day now but, as you may have noticed, is having certain settling in difficulties. We would like you both to fall in love. Can you start now please?” He smiled at us both with the suggestion that we should undertake this endeavour forthwith. (Where in jumping Jesus did that last sentence come from?)


“You may notice that as you are in our presence, your brain’s capacity will expand and become closer to their level, still a long way off, but worthy of being deemed improvement. Do you feel love yet?” He was insistent.

I turned to Mandy and introduced myself. “I’m Mick.” she did not seem interested to be in the company of a fellow human. My first thoughts were that she seemed like the sort of girl who would like her own photos on Instagram.


I turned to the janitor to let him know the little I knew. “Man, it doesn’t just happen like that, we don’t both sit down and boom, we’re in love. Look at her. We have a saying on Earth, not even if you were the last guy… And I am, and she is not. You need to work on a lady, charm her, make her laugh, you need environment, and you need her not to wish you were dead. Wow, I didn’t split that infinitive.” I paused and looked at Mandy, this lothario stance was having no effect on her.


“That is a pity. We are rather pushed for time. We were somewhat hoping that you could fall in love before the next moon cycle so that we can upload the data and return home to put it into practice.” Two, I guess you would call them helmets, appeared from the ceiling and I felt a series of electrical impulses. Then they disappeared.


“We have just downloaded your perfect lover environment so that you will both view and experience a situation more propitious to a positive outcome. If you do not fall in love before the next moon cycle, you will both be zapped.” He said.


“All those fancy words and you end with zapped?” I half-joked.


“I just like the sound of it. Are you in love yet, the others are recording your progress.” He said.


“No, I’m not in love, and even if I were, the lady is not for turning. That said, I shall approach this calling with the alacrity befitting of the situation in which I am entwined.” I replied, beginning to prefer my old self.


“I think we might tone that brain of yours down a notch.” He laughed.


With that, they disappeared, and it was just me and Mandy, on a sun-kissed beach that was miles away from Price, Utah, (though all beaches were). I looked over to her and whispered “Could you not just fake it? Rather than get zapped?” but the beach disappeared, and we were in a cell. “NO CHEATING” was scrawled on the wall.


The beach reappeared, and she said, “I’m Mandy.” Her tone was different, her demeanour was different. I mean I didn’t love her, I was sure of that, but she was hot. “Would you like to go for a walk in the forest?” She asked.


I was going to say, ‘What forest?’ when I realised her vision was probably different to mine. So, we walked, and we talked. I had never had a conversation like that, I had never felt so at ease in the company of another person that within the space of an hour I truly felt like I could tell her everything. We walked the entire length of the beach / forest unaware of the passage of time, unaware that we had been abducted by aliens and were floating in space. We reached a table and there were strawberries, she looked longingly at me as she delicately nibbled on the mango. Beautiful music filled the air, strings and melodies joining forces with the most beautiful aria that I had no idea I adored so much as she asked me if loved Jazz too.


I’d been with girls from school, you know, moments when you shotgun a can and think you can get a free grope, but really you’re almost looking forward to it being over. But this was different. I was fearful of touching her, and on the rare occasions our brushing was close enough for there to be contact, it was like electricity, I was frightened and enticed at the same time, I longed for more, but the desire was not sexual, it was not the consummation of the act, I was overcome with an overwhelming desire that consumed by entire being yet caused fear in every bone. What if she did not feel this way? Being zapped would be a relief if this was not bilateral.


Then it went dark again. A sign appeared that said ‘CRANIUM SWAP’. I was Mandy and rather than looking for a private room and exploring the possession of breasts, I felt a reciprocal attraction to the guy I thought was a loathsome hick just minutes before. How did he seem to know just what to say? How was his imperfection so perfect? He didn’t try because he didn’t need to. He just did it naturally. I knew when the moment came it would be perfect, I knew that there was no need to hurry, we would have all the time in the world, but I wanted a kiss. I wanted those lips to meet mine.


As we kissed. A signed appeared that said ‘CRANIUM RETRIEVAL’. I opened my eyes and saw Mandy looking into mine. We broke off from the embrace and started to giggle like kids. I went to kiss her again and suddenly I was not in Kansas anymore, it was worse. I was in Price, Utah.


The only thing I knew was that I didn’t know where the last lunar period had gone, but I was much more adept at expressing the little I knew. My mom was scared (triphthongs were not a common feature in our residence) and sent me to a shrink. I stopped calling the psychiatrist that as I began to eschew my old manner of describing things with an alarming rate. She wrote things down for me as I tried to recapture that day through hypnosis.


The best piece of advice she gave me was to wear the same clothes that I had on that day and retraced my steps. No matter how hard I tried, I could not remember a single thing, there was nothing. Where had the time gone? Dejected, I flopped on to the couch and flicked on the TV. Maybe if I tried to revert to my life before the incident, that would help. On the sci-fi channel, there was a show called ‘CRANIUM SWAP’. Then I remembered the spacecraft and the guy who spoke to me.


My stint in space taught me that daytime TV could do with a revamp. The show was awful, bad special effects, though that was a common event after returning from the alien craft. But it was tough. I knew I had been on that ship. It changed me, but I could not tell you what happened inside. I just felt that I was missing something. It’s kind of hard to explain, and I think the psychiatrist is beginning to lose faith. It’s like at times that I feel like I fell in love with an alien.


The show continued, and I was sure it was giving me subliminal messages, but they were so damn subliminal that even with my revamped brain, nothing was going in. “Take her to the forest” an actor said time and time again. “She’s on your beach, go to her”. Were the words of another actress. Was all this meant for me?


The next day I wore exactly the same clothes as the day I was abducted. Even down to the socks. As I walked around aimlessly outside my house I noticed something annoying the sole of my left foot. I took off the boot and inside there was a crumpled-up bit of paper. The message was no more clarifying:


32.7157° N, 117.1611° W


Yours, the Janitor.


There was also another set of coordinates which due to the privacy policy in place the ghost writer cannot disclose, but that gave a specific address in San Diego. Without thinking, I started hitching westwards.


It seems like we only have two-hundred words left, so I will forego the Joad like rambling of my traipse towards the California coast. Suffice to say that it took me three days to find the city, or for them to bring me to it. I still had no idea what or who the reason behind my journey was, but there was a feeling that the Janitor was watching over me all the time. As I reached the door that the coordinates wanted me to knock on, I saw a light above, the object streaked across the midday sky, leaving a trail of colours too numerous to count, and then I knew the Janitor had taken me as far as he could. I knocked on the door and saw the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in this life before me. “I’m Mandy.” She said.







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