Today’s the day!
As I mentioned last week, I’m going to be serializing Earthian (much like I did with Biotech Legacy: Long Fall), which means you’ll be able to find 2-3 new chapters right here at the Oktopod Blog each week. But that’s not all… I’ll also be releasing chapters on Medium and Wattpad, in hopes of reaching a slightly larger audience.
But what is Earthian? It’s my new Young Adult adventure novel, about a group of teens tasked with righting wrongs… IN SPACE!
Now, being the wonderful, generous, and kind-hearted soul you are, you’re probably wondering what the heck you can do to help. It’s easy! If you like what I’m doing here, just tell someone about it… tweet it, share it on Facebook, post a link on Google+… The three seconds it takes you to click a button could change my life. That power is in your hands.
Alright, enough of that stuff. Let’s get on with the story, already.
Blue sky. Early summer. Every now and then, a breeze brushes the leaves, sending cream-colored blossoms tumbling through the air. The world smells like freshly cut turf and a nearby picnic, with just a bit of diesel exhaust from a passing bus.
I’m lying here in the grass, heart thumping, chest heaving, with a soccer ball next to my head. We just lost and there’s no reason to get up. Not for a few more seconds, at least.
Then someone comes running across the grass, shouting like a maniac and waving her phone around. It’s streaming video, and a mangled voice is coming out of the tinny speakers. I can’t understand a word of it.
Phones jump out of pockets everywhere, but mine is thirty yards away in my duffel bag and I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself to care. Whatever it is, it can’t be that important.
Then there’s this horrible noise, far away but loud enough to hurt my ears. I’m exhausted and it takes me a few seconds to recognize the squawk of an air-raid siren. Everybody else is up on their feet and moving, shouting.
“Maybe it is that important,” I mumble to myself.
But before my common sense fully kicks in, I see something incredible. Blue sky without a cloud in sight, and a strange point of light moving across it. Bluer than anything I’ve ever seen–so blue it makes the sky look watered down in comparison–leaving a trail behind it like a slowly drawn scalpel.
I’m transfixed. I watch it carve the heavens, and I honestly don’t know if I’m about to die.
Then it’s gone.
I guess I got up and ran away at some point, but the next thing I recall is my phone’s screen and the infamous emergency alert flashing on it. It just said, “SEEK SHELTER!!!”
There may’ve been more exclamation points.
And yet, for some reason I’ll never fully understand about that day, I walked. Kinda slowly. Maybe I thought that hiding under a table wouldn’t help, or I was just too stunned to think straight. Maybe I instinctually knew it couldn’t be bad.
Whatever the reason, it took me ten minutes to get home, while I flipped through feeds and blogs in search of real info. But everyone seemed to be just as shocked and confused as me. Was it a missile? An asteroid? Mass hysteria?
Why hadn’t it hit yet?
Nothing. A ton of questions, and no answers from anyone but the conspiracy theorists, whose ideas ranged from hallucinogenic weapons to sasquatch riding on the back of a lost Nazi rocket.
I got home at some point… I guess… because I remember being there. Everyone was quietly drinking tea and staring at one kind of screen or another, and my sister June was the first one to say anything. “Do you think it could be aliens?” she asked.
And no one laughed. That’s the thing that really sticks with me now, more than a year later. Not a single one of us laughed.
The truth came out within the hour, and for the first time in her short life, June had hit a bullseye. A ship the size of an aircraft carrier gently set down in a field in Switzerland, then started broadcasting.
I’m sure all the governments across the world would’ve preferred to control the message, but they had no choice. Everybody tuned in, and what they saw was… ridiculous.
“Um, hi!” a small blue creature said. He had big eyes, and a mouth surrounded by chubby tentacles. “I’m Owijer Tot-Alain, and we’re the Seelio. We come from the furthest reaches of space, and we are just terribly excited to meet you. Sorry for the scare, and take all the time you need to reply. We’ll be here.”
It just ended. Dead air, and then a sudden wave of gossip rushed in to fill the silence.
And that’s how this big crazy thing all started. It was the day the Earth changed, and at least for me, nothing would ever be the same again.
I’m not even really sure why I’m writing this down. I’ve got some hard decisions to make right now, and a friend suggested putting my thoughts down to help me sort it all out, but color me skeptical.
Who knows? Maybe it’ll help, or maybe I can hire a ghostwriter to turn it into something people would actually want to read someday.
I’m getting way ahead of myself…
The next few weeks were tense and weird. Everyone everywhere tried to go about their business, but they stumbled around on autopilot like zombies. There was only one topic of conversation no matter where you were… at school, the store, the DMV… the entire world was a big chatroom devoted to a single topic.
And in every conversation, there was only one serious question: Should we nuke it?
After all, it was the only way to be sure.
On a Sunday afternoon, Owijer sent out another video. He said, “I’d consider it a kind personal favor if you didn’t attempt to annihilate us. We’re friendly! We come bearing gifts! Call me!”
I’ve always imagined that across the globe, men dressed in expensive suits with deeply stained armpits shrugged all at once, then a bunch of shaky, coffee-addled fingers shrank away from big scary buttons.
It nevertheless took our goofy little planet a few days to get its act together. We voted online and chose former UN President Chang to represent us. He was a general once, one of those really respected elder statesman types, with grey hair and deep hollow cheeks. An obvious choice.
Chang went out on the lawn, waving his guards back despite their passionate objections. At the same time, Owijer came hopping down a ramp, and… I’m sure everyone said something historic and all that stuff. Then they shook hands, and an audience of around eight billion went wild.
I guess. I think I was eating popcorn, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was trapped in an offbeat sitcom. That particular feeling never really went away.
Over the next few days, Owijer showed up in press conferences and news shows. He took tours of major cities and showed up on late night talk. Then he was just everywhere.
He was cute and charming like a child actor, with those giant puppy-squid eyes of his. The world went Owijer-crazy, selling plush dolls and t-shirts and phone cases with his picture on them, and you literally couldn’t get away from the guy. I know. I tried.
Not that I wasn’t excited about the whole thing. Alien life was here on Earth. That’s huge. It’s just that, at some point, you can have too much of even an amazing thing.
Seems I wasn’t alone in thinking that. Maybe a month later, life went on and the Seelio faded into the background, mentioned every now and then whenever they gave us a new technology. Medical scanners, water purifiers, better wifi antennas… boring stuff.
“Where are the warp drives?” June blurted out one afternoon. “Matter/anti-matter reactors? Zero-point devices?”
“Change the channel,” I groaned. June was one of the last few people still soaking up every bit of news about the tiny blue visitors, much to my endless annoyance.
“Aliens!” she said. “Jason! There are freaking aliens on TV! Talking to Susan Villalobos! The! News! Lady!”
With that, she turned and stormed out of the room, while I soothed my immense grief with a soccer game on TV… oh, and by not really caring that much.
It may sound cruel, but what can I say? June’s twelve. She storms out of rooms a lot, and mostly about aliens. That was true even before there was living proof of them.
Then we all just kind of forgot there were funny little spacemen flopping around our planet. The whole event might as well have been a failed show from last season.
Life went on.
Oh… hey… did you share this with anyone yet? Just sayin’.