Generally, keeping one’s New Year’s resolution is a good idea. But sometimes other factors intervene.
As the New Year was near, Arthur relaxed watching TV, to see the ball dropping in Times Square at midnight. At 11:35 p.m., he fell asleep. At first, it was a very light sleep, for at one point he opened his eyes just long enough to glimpse the Times Square count down and the ball starting to drop. But he fell back asleep before the drop had finished.
Later, “Auld Lang Syne” droning over and over in his mind, he awakened, groggy, naked, on a cold steel exam table — that damn cold steel, he thought — and his ass, his rectum, sore as hell. He knew that they had been trying to find his brains again. Idiots!
Arthur’s restraints were tight so he could not see them. But he heard them plainly: they were conferring about something, probably about him. He heard them in his mind, telepathically. They were “greys” from the Tidabolian Cosmos. They were thin, reptilian, large-headed extra-terrestrials with black, cavernous eyes. But they were speaking in Tidabolian, so Arthur had no idea what they were saying.
One voice was feminine and soothing — it was Vellaveyta. She was the nurse, so to speak. The other’s voice was harder to distinguish, which meant he was mumbling, which meant it was probably Graasba. Years ago, all Tidabolians looked and sounded alike to Arthur, but over the years he had become skilled at telling them apart.
Arthur barked at them, “Hey!”
Vellaveyta and Graasba looked over.
“Yeah, I’m awake. What are you doing? I told you, I don’t want to do this anymore. I know you understand me. Why am I here?” He was furious, really, but trying to contain himself. Suddenly, Arthur felt his restraints loosening, not removed — they never did that — but loosening.
Graasba came closer, Vellaveyta just a step behind him. Arthur saw kindness from them both. Then he had that desire build again as he looked at Vellaveyta. Truthfully, they all looked like four-foot-tall lizards, but the females actually had more curves and their skin was luminous since they were hydrated by a larger percentage than the males.
In particular, Vellaveyta seemed to actually care about his comfort and well-being. And Arthur had always been confused by how she seemed to arouse something in him. “She was a lizard!” he had told himself. “Just because she’s a girl… outrageous.” He thought those things usually afterward, when he had already been returned to earth. But he was recalling them now and so he blushed, for he knew both Vellaveyta and Graasba knew his thoughts with their minds.
Arthur relaxed, defeated and humiliated. He turned his head away and thought to them, “I’m powerless. I asked you to stop examining me. Find someone else. It’s a New Year and I told you I wanted this year to be different. And here we are and my resolution is already broken, thanks to you.”’
Graasba apologized, saying this was the first he had heard of this — meaning that Arthur was to no longer be abducted.
Arthur spoke out loud, “I would tell you ‘It’s okay, don’t worry about it.’ That’s like an automatic thing we humans say. To be polite. But I don’t mean it all. I want you to take me back and stop abducting me.”
Graasba and Vellaveyta conferred again, in Tidabolian. Then, finally, Graasba spoke to Arthur, using words, not thought, for Tidabolians are nothing if not deferential. “I will have to speak to my superior.”
Then Graasba said, “Wait right here.”
Arthur’s eyes widened, uncertain whether Graasba was actually being serious.
Graasba rather enjoyed seeing that expression on Arthur’s face, and he laughed out loud, over and over as he went to the door.
Arthur called to him in words, “You jerk!”
Graasba motioned for Vellaveyta to come.
“I can’t,” she said aloud. “I need to finish my notes on this session."
Graasba looked disappointed, but then left.
Vellaveyta continued looking at the door till it was fully shut. Then she turned to Arthur and stepped near the table. She was about to say something, but stopped herself. She was trembling.
“Vella, what’s wrong?” Arthur asked her with his thoughts. He always called her “Vella,” for short, to tease her, for the Tidabolians think informality to be a rather coarse thing.
She was almost in tears and her voice trembled. Finally, with her voice, she said, “Arthur, I love you. I want to go back with you and stay there, on earth.”
Arthur was speechless. And too many thoughts raced through his mind for Vella to understand them. He only felt that craving for her, which he had always assumed was lust, but now seemed to be so much more. He wanted to hold her, to care for her, to be with her, to come home to her every day, and to kiss her in the mornings before heading to work in the morning. He wanted to love her as fully as one creature could love another.
He looked at her — her reptilian appearance, well, hell, she was a Tidabolian, of course! But then his soul looked at her, his heart quickened and nothing else mattered. He loved her, too.
He thought, “Vella, how would this work? I have always felt something for you. I don’t think I knew it was love… not till now. But I always assumed, you and me, it’s impossible. Tell me I’m--”
“Stop,” she told him with an uncharacteristic firmness in her voice. “Graasba will know our conversation when he comes back. He will know what we are thinking. You have to keep talking with your voice, and I will, too.”
“What difference will that make?” Arthur said with his voice.
“We can’t communicate by thought and speech at the same time. If you talk by voice, he will defer to you. That’s how we’re trained. We must keep this all verbal till you escape.”
“Until ‘we’ escape, you mean.”
“I didn’t want to assume.”
“But you have assumed a lot. It was you who made this ‘mistake’ happen… that they would come to get me again…”
“So I could ask you to your face and know your answer for sure.”
Arthur held out his hand and she put her hand in his. He was surprised, for her hand didn’t feel like the hand of a wet iguana at all. It was love. True love.
Reading his thought, Vella made a face. It was the same face a wife makes when she rolls her eyes at her foolish husband.
She told Arthur that Graasba’s superior, General Teretrnyah, was also her father. He was old and dying and, though he had tried to talk her out of her love for Arthur, he realized he could not alter what her heart was clearly set on. Finally, as a father, unwilling to deny his daughter, he agreed to help her.
As this day neared, Teretrnyah, her dad, mused to her, “Maybe this is the next step in our evolutionary research about our species’ relationships with the humans.” He had always been quite the philosopher.
When Graasba returned, Vellaveyta and Arthur spoke verbally and spoke A LOT, so Graasba couldn’t know their thoughts.
Arthur was finally taken to the transport to be returned to earth. When Vellaveyta ran onto the transport platform, into the light beam that effected the trip back, the Tidabolians were too shocked to stop her, and it was too late since the transport process had begun. Their matter was transformed into molecular packets to be reconstructed on the earth’s surface.
While Arthur’s New Years’ resolution was broken, he wasn’t the one who had broken it. And it was for a good reason, after all. In any case, he would surely never be abducted again.
Vellaveyta, too, had made a New Years’ resolution, for last year, when Arthur had told the Tidabolians that he did not want to be abducted anymore, Vellaveyta realized she did not want to live without him. So she resolved to fix things, and she had.
Arthur and Vellaveyta are now married, expecting a cross-species child, and living in the midst of a loving community of like-minded humans who believe that there is life on other planets.
Sometimes, New Year’s resolutions come about in ways we never expect.