The lights in the house flickered. Maybe those light bulbs are bad, Jay thought.
The entire house began to shake. It’s probably just a minor earthquake. We get those sometimes.
The pipes in the kitchen sink burst and water started spraying all over the floor. Looks like I’ll need to call a plumber. No big deal.
The whole roof was ripped off the top of the house like a band aid. A giant flying saucer hovered above the house, emitting a brilliant greenish glow onto the exposed interior.
All of Jay’s years of therapy amounted to nothing in that moment. Okay. That’s not normal.
For the first time in as long as he could remember, Jay’s panic button had been pressed. It was not supposed to be pressed ever again. But… oh, my God. This can’t be happening.
As he contemplated what seemed like the last moments of his life, staring up at the UFO, Jay felt his feet leave the ground and his butt raise off the recliner all on its own. It was a slow ascent, as if he spontaneously gained the ability to hover above the ground.
He reached down and held onto the top of his mother’s five foot lamp for dear life. Then Jay felt a pull, as if he were suddenly strapped to the end of a strong bungee cord that was forcing him up. Jay dangled upside down in mid-air, his arms outstretched, as the cord of the lamp unwound and stretched its way upward. The plug in the outlet was the only thing that was stopping him from whatever awaited him up there. His hair piece flew off his head in a single woosh. The T-shirt he wore was sucked so tightly to his chest, he thought it might penetrate his skin. The plug rocked crazily back and forth in the outlet. Jay felt every fiber of his anatomy being forced upward toward the ship like a relentless vortex. It was as though gravity had been reversed and the force was ten times greater.
But how did this all happen? Jay had been sitting there in his recliner watching a documentary with a plate of hot wings as he had done so many nights since his recovery. He had to have dozed off and this was all just a crazy dream. Right?
The insulation of the cord was being stripped away from all the tension. It quickly stretched its way down to a few silver wires. Jay cried out as the head of the cord was snapped off at the same time as the wires breaking free in the middle. Now that nothing was holding him down, his ascent continued as it did initially: very slowly. He let out a sigh that was almost a sob. He felt so much like crying right now but was too scared to do it. Something about his fear, as he had remembered, was that it completely shut down all of his other emotions. He wasn’t able to feel sad when all he could hear was the crazy pounding of his heart in his chest, in his ears, and in his head.
Jay somersaulted so that he was looking up at the saucer. The whole disk spun in place and a series of narrowing circles stopped at a pinpoint in the middle where the light shined down. Its lime green radiance was brilliant like the sun, but not blinding. Only mesmerizing. Just that one narrow opening was enough to shine upon an entire landscape. It was as if that light was calling to him, telling him not to be afraid anymore. He was so close now to the source of the light that he couldn’t see the ship itself. There were voices. Voices inside his head. He was still moving. It felt like time had stopped, then moved in all directions at once. Then he was moving in all directions.
Jay lay flat on his back, barely conscious. He remembered going up to the UFO, but nothing after that. It felt as though that had happened an eternity ago. He managed to open his eyes and see a pale blue sky with a few scattered clouds. The ground beneath him felt soft and poky. “Where… where am I? Am I dead?” Jay said weakly.
“No, Jay,” said a deep, echoing voice. “You just experienced what no human being has ever experienced before, so it stands to reason that you should feel a little disoriented right about now. But the effects of your current state should wear off within the hour.”
Jay lifted his head and saw a field of grass. “Who - who’s there? Who are you?” It was like waking up from the craziest dream he had ever had only to find out that he was still in it. Jay winced as he tried to stand up but just couldn’t quite yet. He was in no pain or discomfort at all but felt completely numb and weightless as if he had never used a single muscle in his life up to that point. “I - I can’t feel anything. What did you do?”
“Do not worry, Jay,” the deep voice boomed. The voice seemed to ring in Jay’s ears from somewhere within himself rather than from somewhere around him. “Everything will be explained in due time.”
“Where am I? Why did you take me from my home?” Jay surprised himself at the anger and conviction in his voice. But then the sudden rush of fear came back to him all at once. This time it was accompanied by feelings of sadness and loathing. He looked around in all directions. All he could see was a flat field of grass everywhere he looked, as far as his eyes could see. No trees. No wind. No other life. Just perfectly trimmed, green grass.
He started walking, the feeling in his body slowly starting to come back. He stumbled a few times but caught himself before he could fall to the ground. He would not let anyone see him fall to the ground. “Hey!” Jay shouted at the sky as loud as he could. “Where the hell am I?” He noticed that the clouds in the sky did not move or change shape at all.
“Ah, you are resilient. Yes. Please, Jay. Do not work yourself up. You may start to feel nauseous if you do.”
Jay touched his ears to make sure he wasn’t wearing headphones or any kind of ear listening device. No. Just the same over sized Dumbo ears that people had made of him for so many times in the past. “I want answers! Right now!”
“It would be better if we worked our way there, Jay,” the voice said in its same calm and reassuring voice.
“I don’t think so!” Without thinking, Jay started sprinting as fast as he could. Feelings of grief, despair, wonder, and loss all played through his mind, coming and going like the individual frames on a film stock reel. He felt his heart about to leap out of his chest and his muscles cramping. His breaths were quick and rapid. It was no use. He seemed to be going nowhere at all. There was absolutely nothing between him and the horizon. He may as well have been running in place on a hamster wheel. Jay stopped and hunched over with his hands on his knees, sucking in air.
Then the emotions took complete control. He doubled over and began to sob. This is exactly what he didn’t want: to give the satisfaction to someone see him lose his cool. Some of the most embarrassing moments of his life came back all at once. This is exactly how it was before. He rolled over and over, writhing like a mad man, his face covered in tears while wailing incoherently. It was as if the ugliest skeleton from his closet flew out and glared him right in the face, unrelenting.
He didn’t want to be a drama queen anymore, always assuming the worst out of every situation. That had been his life’s mission for so many years: to better himself. He had driven away good people in his life and spiraled down a lot of dark roads. He had worked hard managing his anxiety from severe all the way down to below the average level. Sure, there had been a few times he came close to jumping off the deep end since his recovery, but how could he cope with this? The things that had made him anxious before were trivial: walking into a crowded grocery store, submitting the final draft of a paper at work, driving his father’s old Cadillac. Nothing he learned in therapy could be reasonably applied to this situation.
Or could it?
They were universal methods for dealing with stress, after all. Whatever that might look like. Deep breathing and grounding techniques could be achieved as long as there was air and as long as there was earth, which there seemed to be here.
Jay got on his hands and knees and watched the tears and snot dribble from his face onto the grass. Thank God there are no mirrors around.
After a few more deep breaths, he felt his stomach churn as a wave of sickness came over him all at once. He started throwing up just as fast as the sickness came.
Jay had time to think. Hours passed without any word from the voice. After shouting up at the sky in fits of rage, demanding a response, Jay resorted to speaking in a cool, calm and collected voice. Still no answer. It took a serious sit down of good old fashion meditation for Jay to get his old recovered self back. Even then, as he started walking around, he felt scared. There was nowhere he could go, no one he could talk to.
How long would he be stuck here? This place was nothing. He felt neither warm nor cold and could not hear anything or smell anything except for his own sweaty self. It was like a forgotten dimension that he had been cast out to. Everything will be explained to me in due time. That can’t mean anything good considering that I was abducted. Who was that voice? An alien? What was that flying saucer in the sky above my house? Could I be inside it right now? No. That’s impossible. Then again, floating up to that thing should have been impossible. Being here should be impossible. I can’t take this suspense! I want answers.
Jay’s heart rate picked up again and he felt sweat accumulate on his forehead. Calm down, Jay. There’s nothing you can do right now about your situation and you have to accept that. Just stay present. Deep breaths. In and out. Keep walking. Close your eyes. Stay in the moment.
He must have walked three miles away from the puddle of vomit he had produced earlier and yet he was still in the exact same place.
“Jay,” the voice said.
Jay nearly jumped out of his skin. He intuitively looked up at the sky but only saw the same exact clouds as before.
“Let’s talk now that you’ve had some time to adjust.”
“Okay,” Jay said uneasily. He continued to look up at the sky and all around him.
“This is your new home,” the voice said. Only this time, it was not in Jay’s head. This time, it was close. Jay slowly turned around. His eyes widened and jaw dropped as he first set eyes on the creature. It was like a praying mantis that stood at about eight feet tall. Each of its six bug-like arms curled up against its chest ended in three sharp clawed fingers. Its body was a coat of brilliant gold that seemed to radiate, much like the light from the UFO. Jay tilted his head up and saw its face. It was human like. A nose, a chin, two eyes, lips, a mouth, and ears. The human attributes ended at the top of its head which were two long black antennas, one bent and the other straight.
“Oh, my… what are you?” Jay said, taking a step away.
“My name is Gintee,” said the creature. “I am the leader of my clan. We come from the planet Manatee.” Jay only stood in awe. His heart was racing, but not quite as bad as before. “On our way through the milky way, we happened to come across your solar system. We immediately sought to invade the planet in which you inhabit called earth.”
“So,” Jay had to clear a lump in his throat before continuing. “So you’re not… friendly? You don’t come in peace? Will you try to hurt people? Take over? Destroy the earth?”
“Such matters do not concern you anymore, Jay.”
“Of course they do! Earth is my home!”
“No, Jay. This is your home.”
“What are you talking about? I’ll die here! There’s no food, no water, no people… no purpose.”
“But there can be, Jay. All you have to do is create and you can turn this place into whatever place you want it to be.”
“What are you talking about? I want to go home. To my real home. The one you took me from!”
“Think of this sandbox, if you will, as my clan and I’s way of saying thank you and sorry for taking your home. You see, your house is the perfect location for our base.”
The gears in Jay’s head turned and turned. There was a long pause. Then Jay said, “It’s because I live alone and don’t have any visitors, isn’t it? You want your base to be a secret, so what better place than somewhere nobody is going to discover you?”
“You’re missing the big picture, Jay,” Gintee said in that same calm, deep voice. “You are the lucky one. You get to stay here. After all is said and done, you will not want to go back to your planet.”
Jay stumbled backward. They’re going to take over the world! He was at a complete loss for words.
“Here, let me show you how to work your new world.” Gintee said and waved one of his clawed hands. A blue suburban house with chipped paint all over popped into existence. It had two upstairs windows with beat up shutters and a downstairs window with a narrow garden bed hanging on the outside of it. There was a cracked walkway leading up to the door.
“My house,” said Jay, falling to his knees.
“You see? You can have whatever you want.” Gintee waved a hand again and the house disappeared. It was replaced with a giant inflatable bouncy castle. When Gintee waved a hand a third time, the bouncy castle was replaced by a giant commercial airplane. “You try.”
“Okay,” Jay said. Jay waved his hand and a cracked jar of dusty peanut butter appeared next to the airplane.
“It will take time. Concentrate. Visualize what you’re trying to create down to every last detail and let that image leave your imagination the same time that you wave your hand. Close your eyes if you have to. You can change details after it has been produced if need be.”
Jay closed his eyes and imagined his entire living room down to the last detail: the TV, the recliner, his mother’s lamp, the old brown carpet with the coffee stain in the corner of the room. After a few deep breaths he waved his hand. There it all was. Just as he remembered it. “Yahoo!” Jay jumped for joy and flopped down onto the recliner. He got out his remote, which was always kept in a drawer in the side table next to the recliner. He turned on the TV. “I think I want more channels,” said Jay, waving his hand. And just like that, he was flipping through every program known to man: streaming services, channels from other countries, pay per view, it was all there at his fingertips.
Jay was bouncing up and down in his seat with excitement. This is the best thing ever. He waved his hand again and a bowl of steaming, buttery popcorn appeared on his lap. Then a plate of hot wings on the side table. Then a can of diet coke.
“Remember, the possibilities are endless,” Gintee said. But the voice was in Jay’s head again instead of behind him. Jay got up and looked all around. Gintee was gone.
Jay only shrugged his shoulders as he gave himself a full head of real hair. It was beautifully brown and wavy like Fabio’s. Come to think of it, I want to look really good like that guy, too. And Jay made it so. He also produced a mirror and admired his own reflection.
But the fate of the world. What is going to happen to everybody else? Jay shrugged his shoulders again and waved his hand again and again. It was out his control.