I looked out at the sunset, relishing the days of peace that embraced our planet. The golden buildings were silhouetted against the sky, creating a sort of otherworldly golden glow that seemed to encompass the entire world in that moment. The sun was just setting, for more than the hundredth time this year. It was summer sunset, a peaceful day, and, after 14 hours, the sun was finally setting. It had been a long day. Not only literally, but metaphorically. Summer had started at 11:32 AM and almost everyone rejoiced at the season made for soaking in the sun. Except my family. My step brother was mourning because the soccer season was over. Dad was mourning because he didn’t like the weather that came with the hot season, and my stepmom was mourning because of all the ants that would soon be coming in, chasing after the little crumbs left in our small house. She didn’t understand why they “fiendishly raided our residence” instead of raiding the large mansions that surrounded 1313 Birchbark Lane on the north, east, south, and west. It was probably, I reasoned, because we had holes in the walls and small nooks and crannies everywhere; our neighbors’ homes were huge yet spotless- neat and orderly as you’ve ever seen.
I liked the summer. Not for the normal reasons, but it was when, for some reason, the things I built worked best. Summer was a season of heat, but as hot as it might have been, it was just as much a season of power. Where everything, every small thread that made up the universe multiplied, where good became better and evil became worse. Something metallic walked with mechanical footsteps up to me.
“Hello.” it said. It had been hard to program. I looked up to see RARO looking at me curiously. Or what I programmed it to look like when it would be curious. “What occupation are you currently enduring?”
“Next time,” I said smiling, “You should replace “enduring” with “taking part in”- I’m not doing it because I don’t want to.”
“Noted.” said RARO, raising up one of its tentacles.
I had made RARO when I was nine, modeling it after the ancient sea creature that I had read about in books, the octopus. Apparently, it had gone extinct in the year 3862, which was more than a thousand years ago. It was almost the year 5000 on earth. It was one of my first projects, and one of my favorites. It had puppy eyes, a small body, and eight huge tentacles that could extend and grab things.
Oh, how I wished Octopi hadn’t gone extinct so many years ago. I wish that back then humans were vegetarian as they are now.
RARO stood for Really Amazing Robot Octopus. It was a fitting title for a little buddy that would stick with you until it eventually died. Unlike some people in life. My mom had gone to prison for tampering with ancient diseases. She wouldn’t be released.
Suddenly the sun moved. Or at least I thought it had. Was it just my imagination? I wasn’t sure.
It moved again. This time it was definitely moving. Suddenly it got pushed to the side and a great blackness enveloped the sky. All I could see was RARO’s eyes, which glowed in the darkness. I got a little panicked. This wasn’t normal for a sunset.
A great thud came about and I got even more panicked. Collapsed on the ground near our house was a huge flaming creature that looked like a robot. It stood up, and fire blasted out from its back. It flew up, and struck a pose. Something came out of it’s mouth. Words. Words made out of fire.
“CITIZENS OF EARTH.” the booming voice said. “THERE IS COMPLETELY NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. IN FACT, YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY. YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AS OUR NEXT HOST!”
This didn’t sound good at all. It sounded straight out of a book. A book that didn’t end well.
“RIGHT NOW, CREATURES LIKE ME WILL BE APPEARING ALL OVER YOUR PLANET. THEY WILL ALL BE SAYING THE SAME THINGS AS I.”
This sounded worse. The shock sank in. Was our planet being invaded by flaming otherworldly creatures? This was bad.
A pyramid suddenly appeared, flickered, and glowed brightly. It kept expanding.
“SCANNING… SCANNING… YOUR PLANET HAS APPROXIMATELY 11 BILLION OF THE LEAD SPECIES. IF YOU ARE SEEING ME, THAT MEANS YOU ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE RIGHT BY OUR HEADQUARTERS! LET’S START.”
A zapping sound ensued, and my stepmom was lifted through the window, frozen, and she floated to the pyramid. She grew smaller and smaller, and then with a gentle bell note, she disappeared into the pyramid. Were the aliens abducting my family? I couldn’t let this happen! I needed to rescue them. Sneaking through the undergrowth so that the alien wouldn’t see me, I made my way towards the glowing pyramid. This had to be a nightmare. I pinched myself a little too hard.
Nope, not a dream.
Finally, my step brother flew out, paused while he was in the middle of walking somewhere. Hundreds of other people flew towards the pyramid; our neighbor Señor González, the chef who owned the old fashioned pizza truck, and my brother’s soccer coach- Ricardo- were among some of the people who were sucked into the pyramid.
All these innocent people were getting captured by the aliens… there was no doubt about that…
As I got closer to the flaming giant, I saw a manilla folder laying on the ground, labeled “Missions”.
It opened to a page with a picture of someone with dark brown skin, black hair pulled into a ponytail, and chocolate eyes. She wore glasses and headphones in the picture. A snowy city- New Tryn- stood behind her.
I recognized this picture.
It rested in my backpack. It was the only picture of my mom I had ever seen. How was its twin in the manilla folder owned by the flaming aliens? It seemed impossible. All of a sudden, my motives changed. I had to get to that folder. I had to learn why there was a picture of my mom- I was sure it was her- on the manilla folder.
I creeped over through the tall grass. The manilla folder layed tantalizingly close- but the monstrous creature that was abducting the human race.
I lunged forward and grabbed it. However, I made too much of a noise and the robot whipped around.
“WHO IS IT!?” the giant alien’s voice boomed. I took off running, my feet carrying me as fast as possible. I ducked as a blast of fire flew over my head and started burning up the branches that the tree cutters had just felled earlier this morning and hadn’t cleaned up yet.
Looks like they would have an easier job of that.
Or not. The men whizzed by in the middle of chopping trees. So much for that thought.
Another blast of fire flew a couple inches away from me, but I was safely at the back of the house. Only there did I pause to read.
Mission 1 was unsuccessful, but we learned. To learn more about this planet, we created an experiment. It would also hopefully help us knock out the human race before settling on this planet. We were able to conduct experiments on diseases that humans have already wiped out. These experiments were very successful. We managed to recreate a few deadly diseases, like Smallpox and the Black Plague. These will hopefully help us knock out the human race. We created these diseases and framed an innocent scientist, Rica Drynn. We made sure, if she was caught, she would be put in human jail. Sadly, she didn’t get to transmit Smallpox and/or the Black Plague at all. It was very disappointing, but it caused us to know more about the human economy.
I looked at this paper, shocked, until I realized fully what it was saying. My mom was just an unlucky person these aliens had thrown in jail for absolutely no reason. I was going to tell the judges or whoever supervised this kinda thing all about my discovery. But then I realized, as a proud man in a suit banging a gavel whizzed towards the pyramid, that no one would be left to complain to. My mom was probably in a pyramid already.
It was a terrible realization. But then I wondered why only I had stayed instead of getting put in the pyramid with the rest of my family. Why had it only been me who had stayed? It was a curious mystery, but not one I had time to solve right now. I flipped through the manilla folder and watched all the innocent people whiz before my eyes. These were people who followed after my mom and got framed by the evil aliens. Some of them I had heard of, some not. Ada Cyebuck. KJ Green. Thaddeus Quince. Ben Douglas.
These people had been framed too… I planned to release them when I released my mom… if I ever did that. How, though, would I manage to vanquish these terrible beasts. The answer came to my head immediately.
These things were made out of fire. If I poured water on them, maybe they would be defeated. RARO snuggled up to me. I had forgotten about it while in the middle of the alien attack. Had it been with me the entire time? There was a blast of fire around the other end of the house.
The blast rocketed around and the beast followed behind. Without thinking, I ran to the garage. I hid behind it and thought up a plan. A fireball flew over the garage. The plan finished formulating in my mind.
I ran through the door in the back of the garage. I left it open in case of the alien coming into the garage by the main route. I walked slowly and carefully into the most dusty and dangerous part of the garage.
Ducking so I didn’t hit my head on the bikes that hung from the ceiling, I grabbed my dad’s chainsaw. This was going to be good. I hopped over a wagon filled with soccer supplies and got my stepmom’s megaphone that she used for reciting speeches sometimes at rallies. She organized A LOT of rallies. She was an environmental activist. She had won many lawsuits. I wasn’t too educated in the matter, but I knew she was famous. My dad always said I should follow in her footsteps. Not exactly, but it would be good to know how to speak up and know more about environmentalism.
It was something I worked extra hard on at school.
So, with these two items in hand, I ran out the main entrance of the garage and ducked just in time for a flaming fireball to soar over my head. I could feel the wind and the heat as the alien’s ammunition flew over me.
I turned the chainsaw on, grateful that my stepmom had questionably taught me how to use it when my dad wasn’t looking. I jumped to the side as another fireball almost collided with my leg. I waved it in the air as I ran, hoping that the evil guy would get unnerved by the chainsaw and run.
It worked. Well, it worked at least enough for me to get past him in the driveway, and sprint as fast as I could through the roads that floated above the ground. I took a stairwell down from the road and ended up in a grassy area with a small trapdoor. I unhinged the trapdoor and jumped down onto stone just before the trapdoor incinerated in a raging fire. The robot got to the small hole and jumped. It crashed down and I had to avoid dying by getting squished and torched and blown up all at the same time. I ducked and rolled, not sure if I was on fire, just sure that it was hot, very hot, and made a break for my only chance of survival. I ran towards an elevator and typed in a number. The alien screamed in rage as the door shut on its arm and the arm was pulverised. It shook the arm and it became whole again, and with an angry roar, it charged down the stairs. I would probably make it down first. The elevator went down, down, down, to the very bottom floor. It beeped and I ran out, somersaulting as a blast of fire from the alien on the stairwell nearly hit me and instead caught the brick wall and dissipated among the fire-proof bricks.
I ran faster and faster, channeling all this energy into making my legs move faster. It was the hardest I had ever run. But not fast enough. The neon lights all around me blared and the blackness surrounding me intensified. I could do this.
I jumped as a fireball came for my legs. This was bad.
I got there! I hopped onto the bridge, ran to the middle, and took out my megaphone.
“CALLING ALL EVIL ROBOT ALIENS!!!!” I said, with four exclamation points. Yes, four. Not one. Not two. Not three. But four. “COME HERE AND KILL ME, FOR I AM THE LAST HUMAN NOT IN A PYRAMID!!!!!” I couldn’t believe what I had just done.
I said something with five exclamation points. It has got to be a world record. How is that even possible.
I ducked as a couple fire blasts whizzed over my head. I looked all around me. On the opposite stairwells and elevators, robots clustered. There were at least a hundred of them.
“YOU ARE SURROUNDED. PREPARE TO MEET YOUR DOOM.”
There were robots all around me. It was a terrifying sight. Monsters from another planet who could throw fireballs and kill me in a million different ways cornering me on both sides of a bridge?
Perfect situation. I loved it.
The monsters advanced slowly, wicked grins on their even wickeder faces. They were surely going to kill me. I looked at my chainsaw. It was running out of battery. I had got to make this quick.
“COME FASTER!!!” I yelled.
Surprisingly enough, they listened. The earth quaked with their horrid footsteps. The meanies ran, faster and faster at me. They were all on the bridge now. Exactly where I wanted them to be; my plan was about to go into action. I brought the chainsaw up above my head, ready to strike at the bridge so that it fell down and took the aliens and me into the icy depths.
The chainsaw ran out of battery.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed, ignoring the fact that I had just broken my exclamation point record. This was bad. Really bad. But then I realized something. A chainsaw was still sharp, even when it was out of battery. I brutally hacked at the bridge for what seemed like hours, while the aliens made their way to me. The bridge finally cracked, thrusting me and the aliens into the water.
I managed to get free that day, that day long ago. As the aliens died, the pyramids vanished and everyone was set free again. I freed my mom and all the other people who had been framed by the aliens. A lot of them were immigrants, like my mom. The jailers could have easily found proof that they were not the ones who did it, but it turned out some people were still racist.
I started a foundation to stop racism and eventually vanquish racism from human society. All the people who I had freed had become my friends.
They all sat around me now, chanting an ancient song. That song welcomed the summer solstice. It had been two years since the aliens attacked. It had taken much longer than I had expected to free all the convicts, but I had done it. Finally. My friends toasted me.
Life was good.