by Christopher Walsh
Written January 1989 (freshman year of high school)
It was an absolutely stunning, beautiful spring day in the District of Columbia, yet totally normal for a spring afternoon. It was touristy, with busy museums, busy vendors, a four-person-thick line around the Washington Monument, and a Mall covered with people eating and sunning themselves. The clouds were few, some puffy, with some wispy streaks very high in the sky. Yes, the day was, with the notable exception of the giant spacecraft now rumbling down along the Potomac River, totally normal.
It was huge, looking like a flying version of the robots in those Japanese cartoons whose names ends with “Tech” or “Force.” The lumbering hulk threw an immense, seven-block-long shadow over Georgetown, pummeling the sky with noise. The ship began a slow turn to the east, towards the Mall, smashing off the tops of the Georgetown Incinerator’s smokestack, the Kennedy Center, and the Watergate. The people beneath the behemoth ran around in a panic. People scattered in West Potomac Park, leaving the Lincoln and Vietnam memorials eerily empty of visitors. Of course, the noise was enough to distract you from the emptiness, and you would’ve left with everybody else anyway, so you wouldn’t have noticed how empty the park was.
The spacecraft swung into an east-west trajectory over the Reflecting Pool, setting off real heavy-duty panic on the Mall. The thick lines around the world’s most famous obelisk thinned to nothing very quickly as the giant machine rumbled down the Mall block by block, not even stopping to avoid the Washington Monument. The giant marble structure smashed into two…well, actually thousands of pieces, which rained down on the hill and the cherry blossoms. The top half smashed onto the top of the little tourists’ restaurant at the foot of the hill, causing a brick explosion. The tourists scattered. Some of the tourists madly took photographs, while others thumbed through Washington guidebooks, thinking “Well terrific, the Washington Monument was next in my tour package! I’m gonna go get a refund!”
People were bent over covering their ears and screaming as the spaceship continued its terribly slow, eardrum-pummeling, destructive flight through the city. As it nosed by the Hirschhorn, it began to slow down even more, and one could hearing the engines grinding to a halt, to be replaced by the grinding sound of landing gear lowering. The incredible lifts now protruding from the underbelly of the spacecraft were a sight to behold: they were 25 feet in height so far and still extending. As the gear reached 40 feet in height, it suddenly stopped with an enormous bang, and the entire ship started lowering itself on plumes of exhaust firing out of the landing gear.
The northwest leg razed the plaza in front of the National Museum of American History. The southwest one smashed a government office building near the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The northeast gear crushed part of the stairs up to the National Gallery. The southeast lift demolished most of the road and some of the stars to Air & Space. It was only after this destruction that the horrible noise stopped, to be replaced by far quieter hissings and bangings.
After this all unfolded, the public’s horror turned to wonder. They clambered over the wreckage of cars and buses, towards the huge ship. The tourists stared up at the belly of the thing, with all of its tubing and shielding. All of the people were dwarfed just by the incredible landing gear, which were now creating huge hollows in the ground. For minutes, the bangings from within continued, but besides that, very little was happening.
Curiosity slowly turned to frustration as emergency vehicles started arriving in earnest at the ravaged park. The crowd around the spaceship was beginning to close, yet there was so much clear space around the spacecraft that the military had little trouble getting under the spacecraft. As they started attempting to get the crowds to disperse, and as helicopters buzzed around the multi-story spacecraft like rotor-powered gnats, a new sound rang in peoples’ ears. The noise made the crowd move back considerably, and many people pointed into the air as the belly began to open up. A crack appeared down the center of the “head” of the spaceship, revealing the outline of a stairway. The four-story ramp rumbled downward, until it landed softly on the grass. Crowds backed up even more, very far in fact. The only sound now was of the continued clicking of cameras.
They waited. And waited. And waited…until suddenly the alien craft decided to keep the masses entertained.
There was a new banging, but this time the banging was of flesh on metal, not metal on metal as the bangings had been so far. Two huge feet emerged from the darkness at the top of the stairs, moving in a slow, unsure way. After excruciatingly long seconds, the rest of the body emerged. It was a huge, blue, 25-foot-tall something, obviously alien. The creature had two widely spaced eyes in front of the head, two protruding ears which reminded people unpleasantly of Satan’s horns, and it had huge, three-fingered claws. Its feet were toeless brown pads, which carried the creature though what was apparently a gravity field it wasn’t used to. There was no neck, and no mouth was visible from this distance. It got a good footing on a landing near the top, and turned around, revealing a third eye smack in the back of its hairless head. The alien reached out its hands, as another pair of blue claws lowered out some sort of package. The fully visible alien on the stairs took hold of the large container (large even for the creature), turned around, and continued its horribly slow descent.
After a couple of minutes, during which it had gained considerable confidence in its ability to handle Earth’s gravity, the monster-like thing reached the bottom of the stair. During this time, two other creatures had emerged, each carrying some sort of package. The three regrouped at the bottom, looked around, and then started to walk towards the audience. The people scattered, clearing a path for the lumbering aliens. The creatures who had wreaked so much havoc over the city continued walking, seemingly oblivious to the hanging mouths and wide eyes. They walked faster, until the group moved out from under the shadow of their giant ship. They continued walking towards the Capitol Hill Reflecting Pool, stopping near the side. They put down their boxes, and started fiddling with the box tops.
The plastic-like packages snapped open, and the aliens reached into them. Several smaller, strangely colored packages were pulled out – some black, some a particularly disgusting form of puke green, some wild violety and yellowish, and others that were so unpleasantly colored that I won’t describe them.
After all of this buildup, when people had held their breaths for so long that many began to turn blue and faint, another thing happened.
The creatures whipped out a sheet and spread it out over the ground. The strangely-colored packages were spread out over the blanket, opened, and mysterious concoctions were pulled out.
The aliens stuffed the concoctions into an area close to what humans referred to as the navel area. Loud oinks, grunts, and chewing noises emerged from the apparent mouths of the aliens as they started to talk.
“Ewe4x TOWI$7u5rejf8i9ewruk8 i4iwekHDk,wqw3*&^ah,” said one of the things.
“Hiyhg hxrt4rtedfse2qwesaderfgbgtjhyhmuikmj,” mentioned a second.
The third creature added, “Qtilease0 egrqwwer;f’dl,fwpo3rttou.”
Unbeknownst to the crowds gathered around the creatures, the blue aliens were saying this:
“This planet is a nice-looking world. Such a barbaric beauty to it.”
The second one said, “I agree. So wonderfully primitive.”
The third creature mentioned,” Yes, so much nicer than the florescent tubing forests back home. And smell all of that nitrogen!”
“Not enough argon,” added the first. “The oxygen’s irritating my eyes, too.”
This continued for a long time as the aliens stuffed themselves with foods as slimy three-foot-long slugs, some form of nine-legged giant beetles, and dripping glasses of bubbling orange liquids.
After over an hour of the eating and talking, the creatures got up and started gathering up the trash. They walked back to the stairs, climbing up into the darkness. The ramp began rumbling back into position in the belly. The four landing gear started grinding upward out of the rubble caused by the landing, and began retreating into the spaceship. The engine noises started up again as the spaceship began drifting forward. Vaporizing exhaust shot out of the huge engines as the spacecraft roared off again, smashing into the Capitol Dome. There was a white-marbley explosion as the spacecraft plunged through the huge shining hemisphere. The Freedom Statue on top of the collapsing Dome spun around, tilted, and fell off its perch, tumbling down the hill among the debris. It smashed into the ground, continuing its roll, until it came to a halt—standing up, amongst the debris, looking westward towards the evening sun.
As the rubble that was once the dome of the Capitol Building settled, everyone down on the ground watched as the spaceship, under full noisy power, tilted straight upward into the purpling sky. The huge spaceship, which was now streaming huge trails of green exhaust, dwindled to a dot, then to nothing.
That was when the people started scratching their heads.