Once again, I was surprised to hear a voice coming out of the walls. “Please state your name, rank, and purpose.” It said in the same sort of voice a tour guide would use when saying ‘please keep legs and arms inside the vehicle at all times’.
I was nervous, dazed, and desperate. I could hear security pounding up the second flight of stairs. I couldn’t waste time thinking up a false name and purpose, so I told the truth. “Name, Richard Lee Jackson! Rank, none! Purpose, to escape from a security detail that’s planning to make me listen to sappy love songs! Get me out of here!”
Suddenly, the tone of the voice changed. “Oh… them again? When will they learn? We’ve told them time and time again, sappy love songs don’t make anyone feel smarter, and they should get some classical records, like the Beatles, but they never listen…”
“Whatever! Help me, will you!” I shouted, feeling a mental breakdown coming if I didn’t get somewhere safe. The voice didn’t reply. Instead, the heavy mattress-doors in front of me began to open. As soon as the crack was big enough, I slipped inside, as the voice called out “Have fun!”
When I saw the room I had just entered, my jaw dropped and I nearly passed out from amazement. I had gained access to an ENORMOUS game room! Ping-pong tables, pool tables,, air hockey tables, pinball machines, Galaga, Pac-man, PC gaming stations, even a Kinect. You name it, I saw it in that room. Strangest of all, there was absolutely no-one in the entire room! Well, almost no-one. After a minute of blank staring, I spotted my alien companion Darthus Depp, running around the room as if he were crossing hot coals, and laughing hysterically.
After a moment, he spotted me and called out “Hey, kid! Care for a game of something? This is great! I never knew about this before! This is crazy!”
Coming back to my senses, I called out “wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to be ESCAPING? Security’s gonna be in here after us before I fin-“
But the alien cut me off. “No they won’t! The first thing I did in here was to lock the doors and turn on the automated verification voice! Don’t ask! Every place has them! I could have kept you locked up if I wanted to! You know what’s even crazier? All the games are in suspended animation, waiting for the players to come back!”
I hadn’t noticed this before, but I did now. The cue sticks from half the pool tables were hovering over the table, frozen in time. The ball and paddles still hovered over one of the ping-pong tables. And then, Darthus depp called out “You know what I think?! I think this is conference room 100!”
“You mean to say you don’t actually know where the conference rooms are after all?” I asked, stunned.
“Yep! I’ve only been on the job for 75 years! First performance review ever and I quit! Hahahaha!” With that, Depp ran off to a far corner of the room. This time, I followed him. When I caught up, he said “Ok, you’re right. It’s time we got out of here. But we’ve got problems. Look.” He pointed to the wall.
Looking in the direction he was pointing, I saw that he was indicating what looked like the front half of a standard four-door sedan. Next to it, there was a sign that read “Teleporter out of order. Teleport at your own risk.”
“Uh-oh,” I said. “This is not good.”
“No, it’s not,” Depp replied “But it’s our only way out of here unless we want to get caught by security.”
“Well then, I’m game if you are.” I said, glancing over at my alien friend.
Depp, who was beginning to turn black, just nodded, obviously too nervous to speak. He got into the driver’s seat and I sat down next to him in the other seat. It took him a moment to remember that cars were started by turning a key and stepping on the gas, so a moment later, he did both at once. And then, suddenly, we weren’t, either of us, anywhere anymore. I felt like I had been squeezed into a crate and attached to the world’s fastest projectile. I could tell I was going faster than light, because I couldn’t see anything. Overcome by the pressure, I reached out to where Depp presumably still was, and elbowed him, hard enough to make him take his foot off the accelerator.
A minute later, when we had gotten our bearings, we saw that we were in the middle of the dance floor in the solar system’s busiest nightclub. Both of us immediately turned, pushing through the crowd, hurrying to find another teleporter. We eventually ended up outside in a blind alley. Then, a moment later, we noticed that an empty dumpster bore a sign which read ‘teleporter. Close lid.”
Without a word, we climbed inside and closed the lid, instantly feeling that squeezed- projectile sensation again. This time I tried to keep track of the minutes. When I had reached five, I nudged Depp and we pushed the lid open.
Believe it or not, we found ourselves in an elevator.
When I realized where we were, all I could think was “Alright… I’m in a flying elevator… again… Only this time it’s worse because I’ll feel the whole trip, and I’m stuck with an alien whose life’s ambition is to work at McDonalds. I’m doomed.”
Of his own accord, my alien companion opened the doors of the elevator, just far enough to put his head out and see that we were indeed right where we wanted to be, inside an abduction pod which was being flown to Earth to replace an innocent elevator. Whether we would land where we wanted to remained to be seen, though.
“How do you keep a ship like this hidden from Earthlings?” I asked.
“Sophisticated stealth technology.” Depp replied. “We don’t know computers, but we do know stealth flight technology.”
“Then you could invade Earth anytime you wanted to!”
“Yeah, I know. But we prefer to just measure your intelligence. Who knows maybe someday Steve Jobs will step into an abduction pod. Then we’ll be in business.”
I decided not to reply. This was too weird.
A minute later, Depp spoke again. “I’m goin’ in, er, out. Hold the fort… pod.” Before I had a chance to reply, he had pushed the ‘doors open’ button and stepped out into the ship. Alright, I admit it. This was worse. Now, I was fully aware that I was eventually going to crash on Earth, but now my alien companion had left me, possibly to turn me in to the other aliens on the ship, so they could hold me and take me back to Mars.
But my fears, just as all my other suspicions had been, were totally wrong. Five minutes later, Depp was back, alone. But now he was carrying a plastic sack that looked oddly like a tightly folded rain jacket. Noticing my confused look, Depp explained his absence. “I just had to get a couple things. Oh, and I changed the coordinates of this pod’s flight path. It’s now programmed to drop us straight down into your home building.”
“What the-! What do you mean?!” I snapped back at the alien, who was now busy unfolding the raincoat he had brought in.
Without looking up, Depp replied “Autopilot. All the podships are on preprogrammed flight paths. There’s also one for each pod in the ship.”
I didn’t really have an answer to this. All I could say was “What the- what on Earth- This is totally insane! Am I dreaming?” To make fully certain that I wasn’t, I first pinched myself and then stuck out a foot and kicked the alien sitting two feet away from me. We were both solid, and we both felt me. “How can you build spaceships, equipped with autopilots, when you’re still trying to learn how to build computers?!”
“Same way we learned how to build imitation elevators that fly to Mars when you press the ‘up’ button. Extra-Sensory Perception and hypnosis. One thing, though. I’d advise you never to step into an elevator again in your life. You never know when you might find yourself on Mars again.” When Depp had finished speaking, he took the rubbery object he had unwrapped and stretched it as far as it would go a couple times. After it snapped back the second time, he stretched it again and put it over his face. Then he asked me “How do I look?”
I was stunned. Instead of an alien, I was now sitting two feet away from Earth’s typical person, as calculated by National Geographic Magazine* . What’s more, he was dressed like a mechanic. By way of explanation, my companion only said “Standard disguise. We also keep track of what face is least likely to be noticed by the Earthling on the street. We’ll be arriving in five minutes.”
Finding my voice at last, I replied “Ok. There’s a McDonald’s joint that’s hiring two blocks from where I live. Have you got a fake resume?”
“I wouldn’t go to Earth without one.”
“Alright then. Good luck, Mr. Depp.” I said, shaking his hand. “Thanks for getting me off of Mars.”
“You got me off just as much.” He replied. “I never had to interrogate anyone so smart in all my 75 years on the job.”
We fell silent. A couple minutes later, we felt the jolt and the clicks which told us that the abduction pod was attaching itself to the existing elevator cable. A minute later, I stepped out onto my floor, before the pod started going down. Just before I left, Depp reached into his pocket. “These’ll help.” Was all he said as he handed me three barbeque meatball sandwiches, done to perfection. By way of explanation, he added “My lunch, now yours.”
I had one last question. As I maneuvered the sandwiches around so as to be able to open our door, I asked “This pod won’t leave right away, will it?”
“Oh no, of course not, the alien answered. “I checked the log. This one’s scheduled to launch exactly… 36 months, four days, 22 minutes, and 34 seconds from now, with or without a load.” Then the alien reached out and pushed the ‘doors open’ button for me, and I stepped out. I never saw Darthus Depp again, but I had not heard the last of him.
Two years after my adventure on Mars, I noticed that the New York Times #1 bestseller was a book called From Mars To Big Macs; One Alien’s Dream Comes True by D. A. Depp. My onetime acquaintance’s book stayed at number one for the next year and a half, listed as fiction. (Of course, people didn’t believe there actually was a martian working anywhere. His disguise was too good, and he had, presumably, taken voice lessons. Eight years after I spotted Depp’s book and read it, I received a letter from none other than the President of the United States! When I opened it, I found only four lines: Yo, Rich! Would you agree to become ambassador to Mars? You can bring a four foot Reese’s candy to protect yourself if you like. D.A. Depp p.s. please keep the enclosed electric spork on your person at all times. It’s a great way to hold off security!
It was only then that I noticed the electric spork lying on the floor, which had obviously fallen from the envelope. Picking it up, I laughed a little at the memories and then said quietly “I’ll think about it, Mr. President.”