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Science Fiction

“M12  West 14th Street to Columbus Circle”, the bus driver shouted into the bus intercom as he opened the bus door. 

 Marvin Teller climbed into this New York City bus huffing and puffing after a four block sprint.  His gray jogging pants and white T-shirt were heavily and deeply wrinkled, as though he had slept in these clothes the night before. He carried a well-worn leather case beside him as he went to take his seat on this New York City Transit bus. 

He briefly looked out the left-hand side bus windows at the large black disk which stood motionlessly just above the city’s tall and magnificent skyscrapers. At nearly one mile in diameter and about four hundred feet thick, it was hard to miss and conversations have erupted throughout the city and the world since its unexpected arrival two weeks ago on August 10th. 

Marvin took a window seat on the right side front and overheard many of the passenger’s conversations around him.  Due to being absorbed in his own personal troubles and thoughts, he did not get involved in their conversation. However, he heard and listened to what they all were saying from time to time. 

“ The military has got to know something and is not telling us.   .  .  . they have been working with the ‘Greys’ since Roswell at Area 51”, a young black man said, wearing a finely tailored gray and black pinstripe business suit and carrying stock portfolios in his left hand from Merrill Lynch. 

The bus was momentarily shaken by the sound and strong vibrations of two F-15s which buzzed past it at about  Mach 3 and some 1500 feet up.   The two large fighter jets looked like two small fruit flies against the monster black disc sitting motionlessly above them. 

“ Yeah,  the US has imposed a 30 day quarantine against any chance encounter or contact with these aliens  . . . they are calling for a referendum on the proper response to the proposed threat“, another female passenger remarked, as she prepared to get off at the next stop. She was an attractive Spanish woman, maybe 20-25 years old, and wearing a white nurse’s outfit. 

“Where’d you hear that?”, another passenger interjected in disbelief while shaking his head. 

“ It was on CNN  . . . just the other day”, the nurse replied as she headed to the front of the bus to get off at her stop.

“So, we take their word as gospel now do we?”, another male passenger interjected from somewhere behind Marvin. 

Well, I’m just saying, that’s all”, she shot back before applying a second coat of mascara to her already caked face. 

“West 34th and 12th Avenue", the bus driver announced as the bus stopped and the bus door opened. “West 38th Street will be next.” 

“I say we nuke the son of a bitches and be done with it!”, a young white Caucasian white man said, while eating a large tuna hero with plenty of American cheese, lettuce and ripe red tomato. He wore dirty and ripped blue jeans, a white T-Shirt and dirty tan construction boots. His large muscles and biceps yearned for a place to go, for any cause, or any adventure. 

“  What, like in ‘Independence Day?’ “Yeah and have radioactive fallout circling our planet for the next trillion years and killing all of us!” another passenger shouted from the back of the bus who no one up front could see. 

“ I would like to know what they want, why they are here!”, a middle-aged school teacher remarked as she put some of her graded test papers away in her large black leather bag and as she rubbed her sore eyes. 

“I’m telling you  . . . the government is in on this one”, the earlier stockbroker interjected while looking at the dials on his silver Rolex. 

“C’mon, man . . . let it go”,  another passenger chimed in. 

“Listen to me, hear me out, will you…,” the stockbroker continued. “The X-37B is up in space for months at a time and maybe there have been rendezvous with these aliens. We don’t know anything about their missions . . . It's the Space Force. This shit is all classified. “  

Everyone turned around to see a young Spanish man, dressed in red shorts and white Nike top, and white sneakers,  perform a break dance before them for several minutes. His agility was amazing as he performed his moves in such a tight space and without bumping into a single other passenger. He passed a white McDonald’s cup around for any charitable donations to those around him. Several passengers contributed to his cause as he took a seat now toward the back of the crowded bus. 

“I think they’re here to terraform the planet, that’s what I think. “ a matronly black woman, who was seated next to Marvin. She was involved in knitting a sweater and stopped to join in on this conversation for a moment. 

“What do they freaking eat, anyway?”, another shouted from the back.

“They don’t eat . . . . they’re light beings”, another replied who sat several seats away. 

“Yeah, light beings in a freaking mile-wide monster metal ship, how does that make sense?” cried another in complete hysterics and laughter. 

Marvin pulled out a slip of white paper from his pocket and read it to himself several times before putting it back in his right front pocket. 

It read:  "I need the $400.00 by tonight or you know what’s coming.” 

Marvin looked down at the brown leather case he was carrying to make sure that it was still there and that no harm had come to it. With some reassurance, he looked out the bus window again at the scenery now passing him by the window. 

Again, and without any prior warning, the two F-15s buzzed past the bus as it reached West 38th Street and 12th Avenue. The vibration was so forceful that it almost knocked an elderly Asian passenger off his feet as he got up to get out. 

“Damn those guys”, he snapped, as he steadied himself and headed to the front of the bus. 

“It’s terraforming I’m telling you”, the matronly woman insisted, as she just finished knitting another row. 

“Well, if you are right, then we are all dead anyway. You understand that, right?”, the stockbroker replied as he hurried to get to the front as his stop was next. 

“I wonder if Carl Sagan was right . . .I wonder if these beings are made of silicon", a young Asian college student, with thick black rim glasses blurted out from the front row  She wore a Fordham T-Shirt and form-fitting blue jeans. 

“What the F- are you talking about? “ a male medical student, in light blue scrubs injected from the seat next to her. 

“Well, Carl Sagan said that if life was not carbon-based, it most probably be silicon-based instead. If the aliens are going to terraform Earth, then, they are probably not carbon-based. I just wonder if he was right. . .  That's all. “ 

“Who would want to visit Earth anyway, just think about it. . “, the matronly black woman continued, “We got record-high carbon dioxide levels, high carbon emissions, black smoke orbiting the globe from out-of-control Canadian forest fires, and global warming killing or endangering animal species each year. . .if I was them I would pass.” 

“But they have been visiting our planet for centuries if not for several millennia  . . . Christopher Columbus reported seeing them when he crossed the Atlantic and Neil Armstrong reported seeing them sitting on the other side of a crater when he landed on the Moon. “ 

“Maybe we’re some type of interactive history lesson or something, you know, like when you go to Williamsburg and the historic actors play the parts of past historic figures or when you go to Massachusetts to the Plymouth Plantation.  . . . maybe they come here to witness our species' history and development first-hand. “

Everyone looked at the teenage boy who sat on the left side of the bus and toward the front with blond hair and freckles who did not fully understand the gravity of his comments. 

“Come to think of it, there is only one spaceship up there and it hasn’t appeared menacing in the last two weeks.”   , another passenger commented out loud to those nearest to him. 

“It is obvious that they don’t need our food since they have not asked or taken it,” replied another from the back row. 

“Maybe we are being quarantined by them to see if we are a worthy species to inhabit the known galaxy. . . . .maybe we are under some type of test period or something and they’re looking on to see how well we act and what we do.”, the freckled teenage boy continued, as he put another stick of bubble gum in his already packed mouth. 

“Columbus Circle”  the bus driver announced over the intercom system. Marvin and the entire bus filed out of the bus as it sped away to its next stop. 

 Without any hesitation and with purpose, Marvin headed to Columbus Circle and met his friends who waited there for him near the Columbus Monument. Marvin quickly opened his leather case and pulled out his trumpet while his other band members took out their respective instruments. They had been hired by some local philanthropic organization to play several musical tunes, in the park, as a tribute to the strangers in the sky above them. Per their patron’s explicit instructions, they were to commence their rendition before  2 PM or forfeit any payment for services rendered.  With only two minutes to spare,  they started with the theme of“Star Wars” and by the end of their seven-song  gig, they  would have finished with the score from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” 

Anyway, Marvin Teller was just happy that he had made it on time and was able to participate in this gig since he owed his landlord $400.00  back rent, which was due this evening. He was happiest that these celestial visitors did not do anything that jeopardized that, and at least for today anyway,  his day went on as usual before him.  

August 07, 2023 06:33

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4 comments

Mary Bendickson
22:54 Aug 09, 2023

Welcome to Reedsy and retirement. Both are great. Thoughtful story, lots of theories. Worried Marvin might be in trouble with some thugs. Thankfully only a landlord. Oops, that may be a thug,too.

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Arthur McNamee
07:17 Aug 10, 2023

Thanks for the nice comments and welcoming me to this group.

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18:11 Aug 08, 2023

Great stuff! All the theories combined, exactly how it would go down. All the personality types and various reactions, very fun. And Marvin ambivalent to it all as he worries about paying his rent! 😂 Thanks Arthur.

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Arthur McNamee
21:06 Aug 08, 2023

Thanks Derrick. I love these prompts. They are great . Very kind words. I appreciate it.

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