I never expected an alien to be so otherworldly. It was like four giant worms held together by a half deflated beach ball… but not really worms, more like toilet brushes or rotini with hydras on it—it was very difficult to focus in on. Where were the eyes? It could obviously navigate along the sidewalks of Fredericksburg with alacrity.
He or she or it landed it’s lumpy, tennis-shoe shaped flying machine in my yard in Fredericksburg. The first thing it said to me—or rather the thing with bulging bags, bizarre screens, and spindly rods it had attached to one of the worms said to me—was “I am ambassador —crackle—burp—. I choose you guide.” The voice modulated all over the place and sounded a lot like Julia Childs might if she were talking through a fan.
Now I’m originally from western Nebraska, and we’re a hospitable type, but I was a tad leery of taking this one on. “Ambassador for whom?” I asked.
I took the flatulent crackles to indicate limitations of his little translating device rather than his home world, so I just went with it. After all, I’d been out of work for three months. “At your service.”
“Control man,” it said, as if it were perfectly clear what he meant.
The translator whined and bleated for a while. “Man controller.”
“Oh, I’m not married,” I said. One of the worms curled all up, then straightened like a cane.
“Human controller of human collective.” Nodules on the deflated beach ball body waggled and stretched while I thought about that for a minute.
“Do you mean our ruler?”
Flashes, burps, and whines. “True meaning.”
I took that to mean ‘yes.’ “Okay, pal. But the traditional phrase is: Take me to your leader.”
I coaxed him into my car, though it took a while, and on the way to the White House I was able to ascertain that their species—or at least the closest translatable thing to their species—was the Wibbleeriaks from about a third of the way around our galaxy, slightly closer to the center than us. I started calling him a Wibble for short, which always made two or three worms contract, but he didn’t correct me. After several tries trying to get his name, the closest approximation I could come to with my human equipment was ‘Slippy.’ He seemed okay with it.
I called ahead for the White House—I’m not an idiot—but I couldn’t get anyone to take me seriously, so I got ahold of the Springfield police and did my best to give the the impression I was some whack-job headed for the White House. Once they saw the thing in my back seat and heard it say, “Human elimination,” they sprang into action. Turns out Slippy heard me mumble “I’ve gotta take a dump,” and he was pleading my case to the officers. But we didn’t figure that out until half their police force and a platoon of marines from Quantico got him ‘isolated.’
But eventually we understood, and the right authorities to set up the meet got us an audience with the man—the current empty suit who sits in the oval office. I didn’t even know who he was, I don’t vote. But he seemed nice enough, even when Slippy excreted something gummy on his shoes. The Wibble regarded the president with some patience, but eventually turned to me and said, “Human controller.” He clearly didn’t think the president was it. “Control president.”
They all consulted with me—begrudgingly, I think, because Slippy would only talk to me once he snubbed the man. First they took us to the United Nations, but Slippy blew gas onto the Secretary-General from one of it’s nodules and said, “Lackey.”
Next they took us to a voting machine, which made the Wibble rock, twirl, and flatten to the ground repeatedly. I tried to explain how people chose the man with the machine, but it left a big pile of excrement on the floor in front of it and departed repeating the phrase: “Human controller.”
I tried as best I could, taking him to news outlets, campaign managers, and Donald Trump’s hair stylist, but he rejected them all.
We spent a number of months with each other, investigating ‘controller’ possibilities, exploring what makes humans tick, and eating pancakes at iHop. (Turns out he had several mouths, most of which extended from under the beach ball body.) The U.S. administration involved their people as much as possible, but eventually got bored and left a few Secret Service agents and one poor liaison to follow us around. Once in a while one would come by insisting on seeing the Wibble’s ship and speaking to his authorities, but the Wibble—now a little more skilled with the translator—only ever answered: “Not cool.”
I was sorting and polishing my tiddly-winks one morning when Slippy skittered into my room, twirling, squeaking, and bleating. He hooked me with a worm—we were familiar enough for that by then—and pulled me to the television. Ryan Seacrest bantered with the judges of American Idol in a YouTube video. He extended a worm toward the screen.
“Take me to your leader.”