Winding its way through dark stretches of rural highway, enroute from the West Des Moines Convention Center to the Sioux Meadows Casino Theatre, the tour bus for Dame Glitterbomb’s Fantabulous Revue was swept up by a displacement vortex and transported to the cargo hold of a spacecraft parked at Lagrange Point 4. Its momentum arrested, its occupants’ four-part diatonic harmonies still echoing, the bus’s tires settled gently onto the mirror-smooth deck in the artificial gravity. Soon, the door folded open and fourteen impeccably coiffed and gowned matronly figures stepped out.
“Where are we?” asked Philomena, squinting through her cat-eye glasses into the vast space.
As if in reply, from the mid-distance of the endless alabaster horizon, fourteen classic Roswell Greys emerged and bowed their bulbous heads in greeting.
“We are travelers and explorers,” came soundless words from motionless mouth-slits. “We have made contact with you to better understand the people of your world.”
Lady Racine, who knew every X-Files episode by heart, stepped forward and lowered her six-foot-five-in-heels frame in a deep, royal curtsy.
“We are merely a troupe of entertainers, but will serve as ambassadors for our planet to the best of our humble abilities.”
The two groups merged into clusters of curious orbits. Several Greys took a particular interest in Madame Aster’s sequined cropped blazer and feather boa. enTrancé and one of the alien host held hands palm-to-palm and remarked how, even with sapphire nail extensions, the other’s slender, elaborately jointed fingers overmatched her own. Mistress Zela, who had spent some post-graduate engineering years at the JPL Institute in Pasadena before changing vocations, labored to understand the navigator’s explanation of the craft’s thrustless electromagnetic vector drive and Einstein-Rosen induction capabilities. Lucy Sweetcups demonstrated the tightrope catwalk with Cambell-Moss hip rotation and Jovovich double-pivot.
Many conversations were had and much was shared—from descriptions of the natural wonders of their respective homeworlds, to the sad and shockingly similar episodes of savagery that plagued their respective histories. The Greys had endured, had skirted the edges of self-destruction, only by embracing collective unity. Thoughts and emotions, sufferings and ambitions were shared telepathically until a singularity of mindset had been achieved. But there was a price. Individuality was blended away. All were understood, but none were ever surprised. The jolt of novelty with power to disrupt the status quo had ebbed from their society and left them longing to quest for what they had lost.
As the time for the encounter’s end approached, all sensed that even if full fellowship and understanding may forever elude their respective cultures, a fine, fine start had been made. One by one, each Grey lined up and bowed to receive the ceremonial token of a lipstick-kiss on their cue-ball crania from Madonna Griselda.
When the luminous swirl of teleportation subsided, the bus was once more trundling along at fifty-eight miles per hour on the Ernest O. Lawrence Highway (a.k.a. Route 384), its headlights framing the Exit 17 sign, just as they had only fractions of a moment before in terrestrial chronology.
“What just happened?” asked CeCe. She looked around. “You all saw that, right?”
Flawlessly lined and lashed eyes stared. Slow nods of recognition, small gasps of wonder, transited the troupe.
“Was that real?” asked Peri mon Chéri, “or did we imagine it? Une folie partagée par beaucoup. A madness shared by many.”
Lady Racine stood in the aisle. “Whatever it was,” she pondered philosophically, “all we can do is the best we can at any moment. And if we’re called on to represent our world, we must rise to the challenge.”
Celestina looked up. “But, you have to admit, we’re kind of a bevy of odd birds. What if we just confused them?”
“If I reach the end of my days,” replied Lady Racine, “and all I’ve ever done is made some people stop and rethink their preconceptions of humanity, that will have been a good life.”
Dame Glitterbomb stood, conductor’s baton in hand.
“While this is a fascinating topic, we need to focus,” she said. “We’ve got a show in less than two hours and I will not step on that stage with sloppy arpeggios. So, if you will, ladies, from the chorus. A-one and a-two…”
She’s only a bird in a gilded cage
A beautiful sight to see
About the author:
Matt McHugh was born in suburban Pennsylvania, attended LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and after a few years as a Manhattanite, currently calls New Jersey home. Website: mattmchugh.com