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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Michael K on May 26, 2008

The Problem with the Aliens

We all assumed that the problem with the aliens would be the language barrier. Perhaps they would speak by means of mathematical sequencing, or psychic connections, or DNA modifications, or whale-like moans and whistlings that would be utterly beyond our comprehension. We would never be able to tell what they wanted, and they, for their part, would never understand us, either.

Or, if it wasn't the language barrier, we all supposed that the problem with the aliens would be the virulent strains of alien microbes. Martian Flu, Jovian Measles, or Alien Pox - any one of these could have meant the untimely demise of humanity, leaving planet Earth free for the taking.

And if not the language barrier or the microbes, we all suspected that the problem with the aliens would be their insatiable thirst for power and glory, which would not be quenched until the entire human race was tortured, brutalized and destroyed.

It turns out, however, that the problem with the aliens was neither the language barrier, the alien diseases, nor their power-hungry destructive nature. I didn't realize what the problem with the aliens was until I invited my new neighbors Fred and Wilma (they named themselves after characters from Earth literature) to go to the movies with me.

We bought tickets to see a matinée showing of the new Superman movie, and as we sat waiting for the movie to begin, I explained to them who Superman and Lex Luthor were. After a few minutes of dissertation on our comic book heroes and villains, Fred turned to look at Wilma. With a big grin (at least, I suppose it was a grin - it's so hard to tell with alien physiology) he said, "Fifty dollars on Superman."

Wilma just said, "You're on!"

"No, no," I protested, "You can't bet on the movie! Of course Superman is going to win!"

Fred scratched his left shoulder spine with his third right tentacle (a motion which, I have learned, is equivalent to a human scratching his head), and said, "What? You've seen this movie before?"

"Uh, no," I said. "But Superman is the good guy! Of course he's going to win!"

Wilma was distressed. "If you know the good guy is going to win, what's the point of watching?"

"It's not the conclusion," I explained. "It's the journey that matters!"

Wilma sneezed a three-foot gob of saliva out of her left nostril, which was her way of saying "Huh?"

Fred peeled off his upper-left eyebrow and placed it backwards and upside under his lower-central eye, which was his way of saying "You stupid moron! You ruined the entire movie for us, and in the process wasted fifteen of our hard-earned Earth Dollars, besides which, this stale popcorn tastes like Plutonian Earthworm Stew."

With that, the two of them got up and stomped out of the theater, leaving a trail of sticky purple slime in their wake.

No, the problem isn't that we can't communicate. The problem isn't that they make us sick. The problem isn't that they want to rule the earth. The problem with the aliens is simply this: they just don't get American Cinema.

So how in the world are we ever going to coexist in peace with them?

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