Will You Be Staying for Supper?
It’s a balmy summer evening; the cicadas are singing and the sun is still bright yet low in the sky. Paul and Marianne are at the kitchen counter busily preparing supper which they plan to enjoy out on the deck using the new patio table that Paul bought that afternoon. Paul, an amateur chef, is happily chopping broccoli, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes to make salads and Marianne, his sous chef, is scrubbing potatoes fresh from their little kitchen garden in the yard out back; they will grill them in foil on the natural gas barbeque on the deck. Suddenly a loud “thud” like a car crash, alerts their attention to the patio.
“What the hell was that?” Paul yells.
They both look out the kitchen window and see a squatty pyramid type structure about a meter square and 50 centimeters tall with rounded corners and peak. The object is teetering precariously on the edge of Paul’s new patio table. It’s making sputtering noises and emits steam from underneath, flashing an occasional flicker of dull blue light at the top peek.
With butcher knife still in hand, Paul turns away from his cutting board to make his way to the door intending to investigate the strange thing that no doubt has damaged his new acquisition. But before he can get to the door, his path is blocked by something peculiar, particles of light scatter in increasing density immediately in front of him, swirling in patterns that a few seconds later materialize into two extra-terrestrial forms.
Tightly gripping her scrub brush in a defensive mode, Marianne looks quizzically at Paul and then to the two strange creatures in front of them, unsure of what she is seeing.
The aliens stand about five feet tall with peanut shaped heads, the lower bump being smaller than the top. Their skin is transparent blue with circuitry showing faintly through the clear membrane covering their bodies. Their eyes are like tiny computer monitors glowing faintly with unrecognizable symbols jumping erratically about the screen. The orifice that’s positioned where a mouth ought to be is covered in a porous type of organic black mesh. Their arms are tentacles with suction pods located at the end of the strands resembling fingers. They don’t appear to wearing garments.
“So nice of you to drop in,” Marianne says. “Will you be staying for supper?”
Aliens or not, they were guests, albeit unexpected and quite weird. Not wanting to be rude – what else could you say to visitors calling so close to meal time?
“Did a fellow named Scotty just beam you here?” Paul joked, wanting to ease the tension that had filled the kitchen. He chuckled lightly and looked at Marianne.
Marianne cast him a critical eye, raising her index finger to her lips indicating that Paul’s question wasn’t funny and that he should take care not to offend or aggravate their unusual guests, at least not until they were sure about their disposition and manners.
The aliens turned their peanut heads toward each other bobbing it back and forth. They raised their tentacles gesturing a shrug and started to make squeaks and static noises as if trying to tune into a radio station in a low frequency area. When finished they turned to Paul and Marianne.
“Freak – crash – food – fuel – Orcat name.” the first alien said. Its voice reminded them of their Magellan GPS system, clear and even without emotion but male instead of female in tone.
Paul and Marianne looked each other, foreheads wrinkled and eyes squinted, cocking their heads slightly at an angle, and then looked directly at their guests with a similar expression.
“I didn’t quite catch your meaning,” Marianne said apologetically. “Could you repeat that please?”
The aliens resumed their language calibration routine, this time with louder squeaks, static, and the odd beep or two, but they seemed content that they got it right this time and turned back to their hosts to continue communication.
“Our transport runs on energy from our bodies and we seem to have run out of space pod fuel and wonder if we might bother you for a refill,” alien number two asked. “My name is Trocar and my co-pilot is Orcat.”
“Pleased to meet you Trocar – Orcat. Well … we fuel our bodies with food,” Paul offers. “Food gives us lots of energy to perform our daily activities. But our transports are fueled with a different kind of gas than our bodies make.” Paul is smirking and pleased with his subtle humour. “But, you’re more than welcome to join us for supper – you know – refuelling and such.” Paul chuckles again at the joke about flatulence that the aliens don’t catch. Marianne gives Paul that “warning look” again.
Strange symbols flash across their computer screen eyes and visible waves of soundless electrical streaks like miniature lightning jumps between their heads.
“Please explain food,” Orcat asks.
“Oh – food,” Marianne ponders her answer. “Food is fibrous biological plant organisms like broccoli and tomatoes.” She points with her scrub brush to the vegetables on the counter. “We keep them in the refrigerator until we need to cut them up for salad or cook them to mush for supper. Then we eat them…for fuel…to keep us energized.”
“What is refrigerator?” Trocar asks.
This was Paul’s turn for explanation. He turns to the aliens and authoritatively describes the mechanics of the appliance.
“A refrigerator is a metal temperature controlled compartment where we keep…hmm… the organisms cold to keep them fresh longer so they’ll be crisp when we cut them up with a knife. “ Paul smiles and waves his Henkel blade proudly overhead showing off his most prized cooking utensil.
“But how does food refuel you?” Orcat wants to know.
“Well it’s kind of complicated,” Marianne says. “Food has vitamins and minerals and protein, and carbohydrates and all kinds of stuff that our bodies break down to keep us moving. The fiber in food keeps us regular so we can eliminate the waste by-products.
“How do you eliminate waste by-products?” Trocar and Orcat ask in unison, curious about the inefficient combustion of valuable organic fuel.
“Oh, that’s a bit personal. Humans don’t like to talk about it much,” Marianne says delicately trying to evade the answer and hoping that they’ll stop asking questions.
“It moves through our digestive system and through our intestines and bowels and then we poop it out through an orifice in our bottom,” Paul clarifies. “Unless you’re constipated, then it’s a pain in the ass.”
“Paul!” Marianne shouts at Paul’s crude language. “I’m sure that wasn’t necessary. Aliens probably don’t do that.” She’s embarrassed and worried that they made a bad impression on their guests.
Paul winks at the aliens and gets up the courage to touch Orcat’s tentacle arm and starts leading him to the table. Trocar follows. Supper is almost ready to be served.
“Please have a seat,” Paul says. “Supper…energy…will be served shortly.”
The aliens have no idea what it means to have a seat. Paul senses their confusion and demonstrates the action of pulling out a chair and then placing ones bottom on the platform above the supporting legs. The aliens follow his cue. Paul nods approvingly at their adaptation and hurries back to the kitchen where Marianne is dishing up four plates with colourfully arranged organic matter of varying textures. He grabs two of the plates and heads back to the dining room and to arrange the plates on the table in front of the aliens before sitting down on his own chair. Marianne follows with the remaining two plates and completes the table setting.
“Well dig right in,” Marianne says cheerfully.
Again the aliens look confused so Marianne raises a fork and slowly demonstrates stabbing a piece of potato and then bringing it to her mouth where she vigorously chews and swallows it.
The alien sensors begin to beep and murmur musical notations. Their entities are desperately low on fuel but the black mesh on their mouth orifices block the ingestion of the food. Their bodies start to vibrate erratically, arms wave wildly until their tentacles accidently land on the plate. They savagely clutch at the food which immediately turns to liquid and is suctioned up into their hands until the plates are empty and clean.
Paul and Marianne are horrified that their guests are eating with their hands but decide not to say anything. After all, who are they to question alien eating habits or dining culture?
The food appears to have abated their agitated movements and as their bodies quieted the circuitry below their skins began to twinkle briskly though intermittently through their transparent skin that now took on a healthier and vibrant fluorescent greenish glow. The intensity of the twinkling and glow increases exponentially until the light emitted from their bodies disperse into sizzling particles of decreasing density as their entire bodies dematerialized in front of them.
Paul and Marianne sit motionless in their chairs trying to figure out what happened.
“I guess they’re gone,” Paul says.
“They didn’t even say thank you,” Marianne complained.
“Or good-bye,” Paul added.
A noise erupts outside on the patio table. Paul and Marianne hurry to the window to see that the pyramid pod is rumbling and starting to hover over the patio table. The craft takes on a sparkling glow that grows in brightness. The rumbling is replaced with a smooth and even hum of ever increasing crescendo. Then with a blinding flash – disappears into the night sky.
“Hmph,” Marianne scoffs. “They could have helped with the dishes.”
“Well I suppose we’ll have to clean up. Hope that Home Depot has another patio table to replace the one the aliens broke. “Paul sighs.