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by Nick Pollotta, Phil Foglio
Category: Science Fiction/Humor
Description: Prof. Rajavur and his 'First Contact Team' had been patiently waiting years for aliens to land on Earth. Leader Idow and the crew of the starship, All That Glitters, were just looking for an unknown planet where they could land and have a little fun teasing the primitive natives. So it was pure bad luck that the first humans the alien tricksters encounter is a ruthless New York City street gang, the Bloody Deckers. With more starships landing and the world in chaos, Rajavur and his First Contact Team have to move fast in a desperate plan to rescue the innocent aliens from the evil street gang! Then again, maybe they should join forces with the street gang to protect the Earth from the furious aliens?
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press, 2002 USA
eBookwise Release Date: September 2002
99 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [500 KB]
Reading time: 287-402 min.
"Just for laughs!"--Analog
"A brilliant satire!"--Starlog
CRACK! The rocketing softball dwindled into the blue New York sky as the grinning batter dropped his stick on home plate and took off for first base like a man with his pants on fire.
"I . . . I got it!" Hector Ramariez gamely cried, his skinny legs backpedaling him furiously into the weedy grass of center field.
His teammates relaxing over by the trees that edged the Central Park ballfield, stridently voiced their differing opinions on this matter. Hector was the pariah of their team, a well meaning, but ineffective weenie.
Like a leather radar dish, the cost accountant's never-before-used softball mitt tracked the white ball until it became lost in the glare of the August sun. Filled with remorse, Ramariez swallowed what little hope he had of emerging from this game with his precious dignity intact. This was the last game in the summer play-offs between the different departments of the Gunderson Corporation; and to everyone's unmitigated surprise, the Accounting Department (Hector's team) was in the lead, with the score at 2 to 0, the bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth. The Accounting team captain, Francis 'Scrooge' McDougherty, had been so sure of a victory that the old skinflint had already phoned in an order for their victory pizzas using his own quarter.
Then disaster struck in the form of a pop fly ball to Hector.
With a feeling of impending doom, Ramariez licked salty sweat from his lips and scanned the empty sky above him. Somehow, he could feel McDougherty's piggy eyes burning into him like twin lasers beams. It made the poor accountant's stomach churn with nervous acid. If Hector made this catch, his team won. If he didn't, they lost. It was that simple, and Ramariez knew just how badly his boss wanted that company trophy. With his own arthritic hands, McDougherty had retrieved a wooden display case from the dungeon-like basement of their office building, and painstakingly scrubbed, painted and polished the box back into its original pristine condition. Gleaming like an oiled jewel, the wooden case now sat in front of McDougherty's office, eagerly awaiting the company's silver loving cup to be placed into its velvet innards.
Oh, my goodness gracious, Ramariez thought in genuine panic. Mr. McDougherty will blame me personally for this disaster and there is no telling what he might do. Why, he might even send me back to . . . Payroll! The accountant felt himself grow faint. The Payroll Department, a fate worse then death.
Dancing frantically about in the dry weeds, Hector hopelessly tried to align himself under a falling ball that he couldn't even see. Where was the gosh darn thing anyway? With painful clarity, he could hear the raucous laughter of his rude co-workers at his blatant incompetence, but what was there to do? The ball had vanished. It was nowhere in sight.
A monumentally shy man, Ramariez had never been under such unrelenting pressure to perform before in his life. Not since his mother had given him 24 hours in which to learn to dress himself before he left for college.
In his vivid imagination, Hector could feel the tension in the air as if it was a static electric charge. He half expected sparks to start crackling off him. Blood pounded in his temples and an agonizing knot formed in his chest. Then he ruefully smiled. Weren't those the symptoms of a heart attack? Perfect! Death before dishonor! Anything, rather than incur the wrath of Mr. McDougherty, and be the fool in front of Ms. Bolivar.
Delores Bolivar, the beautiful receptionist for the Gunderson Corporation, had actually agreed to have a drink with the timid accountant after the game. But would the sultry Ms. Bolivar still wish to share a soda with the bumbling fool who dropped the game winning catch and brought shame and disgrace upon the Accounting Department? Hector seriously thought not.
The annoying catcalls from his fellow employees got noticeably louder. Heroically trying to ignore them, Hector prayed for salvation . . . and there was the ball, plummeting towards him from the sun! Hastily scrambling, the accountant got into position, his stiff leather glove raised for the game winning catch. Watch this world! A hero at last! Hector Ramariez saves the day. Ticker tape parades, lunch with the mayor, a date with Delores, nothing was too good for--
But suddenly, the impolite noises from his co-workers changed into raw-throated screams of terror, and hurriedly both teams began fleeing the park like roaches from bug spray. Quite puzzled, Hector squinted skyward at the source of their dismay. There in the air above him, ever expanding in size, was the missing softball. He blinked, and the ball swelled to the size of a stove . . . a truck . . . a house! A harsh buzzing sound filled the air. The pale hair on his skinny arms stiffly rose. Then darkness enveloped the man as the impossible sphere eclipsed the sun.
Ramariez glanced down and found that he was standing dead center in an ever-widening pool of black shadow. Quickly, he performed the short algebra equation (v x d x N = Y are you still here?) and then began running for his life, sprinting for that thin line which separated merely contemplating Heaven from finding out about it in person. All thoughts of the game, his job, and even Delores were totally replaced by the primordial urge for self-preservation and the overwhelming desire not to be crushed to death by a giant flying softball in Central Park, New York.
Unaccustomed to physical exertion, Ramariez was soon gasping for breath as he raced for the shadow's boundary, but it eluded him with nightmarish speed. In raw desperation, he cast his glove away and dashed forward in a last frantic burst of speed. But it was too little, too late.
Larger than the fist of God, the titanic white globe slammed directly onto the pitcher's mound, displacing tons of dirt in an earthy tidal wave that swept the screaming accountant off his feet and hurtled him through the air, tumbling debts over assets, to jarringly crash into the top of an old elm tree more than four blocks away.
Bruised, battered, and broken in spirit, Ramariez awoke dangling from a branch. Howling like an animal, the crazed accountant clawed his way through the crushed foliage and fell sprawling to the still trembling ground. Without a moment's hesitation, Hector Ramariez dashed pell-mell down one of the park's numerous bike paths, made it to the traffic filled streets, and disappeared into the concrete canyons of New York City, never to be seen or heard from again by the civilized world. * * *
Resembling a white Ping-Pong ball sitting in the grass, the gargantuan sphere towered over the tall Central Park trees, completely filling the space allocated to the recreational field. The highly polished hull of the ship glistening with pearlesence in the bright afternoon sun. There it sat, this strange white invader, and did absolutely nothing for thirty terrestrial minutes. Ever so slowly, a crowd began to form about the base of the staggeringly immense globe, the brave and the foolish leading the way.
Ironically enough, it was Delores Bolivar who first discovered the invisible force shield encircling the alien craft. She did this empirically, by bouncing her face off of the barrier. Tears flowed unchecked past her bruised nose, and comfort was offered to her by sympathetic members of the crowd. Sympathy that rapidly changed to moral outrage when they realized what she was pointing to on the other side of the transparent barrier; a mangled baseball mitt that lay, pitifully half-buried in the rubble beneath the monstrous ball.
The force shield had the feel of lightly padded steel, and proved to be quite invulnerable to the delicate fists of Delores, the pounding baseball bats of Hector's teammates and the .38 bullet fired from a rookie patrolman's service revolver. Yes, New York's finest had at last arrived, after some unsung genius dialed 911 and reported a very illegally parked vehicle.
Soon the police swarmed in by the dozens, valiantly trying to control a crowd that poured in by the thousands. SWAT team helicopters battled with TV news choppers for air space supremacy above the killer spaceship. Forcibly the multitude was pushed back and a safety perimeter established around the ship, to the great annoyance of the unauthorized onlookers. The crowd started to turn ugly and shouting matches began. But then the street venders arrived and quickly restored a semblance of order to the gathering with their overpriced hot dogs, ice cream and "I SAW THE ALIEN SPACESHIP" T-shirts. * * *
Meanwhile, deep within the bowels of the mountainous craft, weird machines of crystal and silver began to stir. Hot power poured through molecular cables, complex circuit cubes instantly relayed multiple commands, unnamable alien devices did unnamable alien things, and finally a robot sensor awoke to focus its attention on the tumultuous assemblage outside. A translucent energy ray lanced out from the top of the starship, and the alien machine proceeded to scan that emotional human sea much the same way that a lighthouse fans the ocean with its beacon of light.
Unseen and unfelt, the ethereal sensor probed the nearest humans; paying scant attention to the sobbing Delores, the grim police, the aghast pizza delivery boy, the shocked, the frightened, and the astonished. Implacably steady, the beam extended its zone of inquiry, testing hundreds after hundreds of human beings, but all were found wanting. Until at last, the probe came to a group of six individuals who viewed the great ship dispassionately, and apparently without fear. They were a small island of calm in the bubbling emotional soup. Dutifully, the machine paused on them, allowing its beam to seep into their living minds and read their secret innermost thoughts. When it was satisfied, the alien machine withdrew the unfelt probe and sent a priority message to its masters who had been impatiently waiting for a report.
"These?" the robot asked Those-Who-Command.
A conversation was held.
A question asked.
A decision made.
"Yes," came the answer. "Them."
Instantly, the six humans were bombarded with space-twisting forces, compared to which a nuclear explosion would be a candle to the sun, and they vanished in a burst of light that seared ghostly after-images into the retinas of everybody near them.
Most of the distant crowd mistook the flash to be a reporter's camera, but those closer knew better, and Central Park became a madhouse as thousands tried to flee at the exact same time. Clothes were ripped. Women cursed. Strong men fainted. Fistfights broke out left and right. The park degenerated into a madhouse, a riot. Pandemonium ruled!
Serenely indifferent to the screaming hordes just outside its force shield, the starship began to broadcast a message on every frequency of the electromagnetic spectrum. A signal of such tremendous strength that it was received by television and radio sets even if they were not turned on. A message so startling, so fantastic, that most of the listening world began to chuckle, believing this to be a juvenile rehash of an old classic science fiction radio program.
But then the incredible broadcast began to endlessly repeat over and over . . .
Copyright © 1988, 2002 by Nick Pollotta & Phil Foglio