A Small TownUnder the Stars
Under the stars, a small town prepares for night. It is almost eleven o’clock. Down in the boxy houses, people are settling in for bed. Car headlights crawl through the tiny streets. The bright streetlamps on the town’s main drag illuminate empty parking. The businesses are closed for the day. The hills are dark.
All of this is seen by two teens up on some ledge, on a road called Lovers’ Lane.
They’re parked in a fifties fin car and “necking.” She’s in a tight sweater; he’s in a Varsity jacket. The view over their town, the place they grew up, makes them sentimental, and they grind together over the gearshift. “Gee, Brenda,” says the boy.
All of this is seen by the creature in the bushes.
Stems of some kind of terrestrial growth block his goggle-eyed vision. He sweeps the branches away with a claw. He observes the two hairy snacks writhing in their metal box and wonders what their mashing together could mean. His breath is loud. With an unsteady lunge, he moves forward. Branches snap. He is on the pavement. He is beside the car.
All of this is seen by hundreds of teens, watching in horror.
Boyfriends and girlfriends squeal and lean into each other. Couples grin. They’re parked in fifties fin cars and “necking.” The movie screen above the field of parked cars is reflected in their windshields.
Of course, when the interstellar invasion came, it looked nothing like that. A Small Townat the Foot of the Rendering Sails
There is no full night in our town because the rendering sails of the vuvv stretch high into the air and glow with a dull yellow light. My girlfriend Chloe and I are lying on the grass next to the school gym, watching the sails up in the sky ripple in some invisible electromagnetic tide.
Gazing upward together, we hold hands and I say, “It’s so beautiful.” I think for a minute and then say, “Like your hair. Blowing.”
“Adam,” she says, “that’s a really nice thing to say.”
“Yeah,” I agree, and I tilt my head so it’s leaning on her shoulder. “Gee, Chloe,” I say, and turn to kiss her cheek.
As it happens, Chloe and I hate each other. Still, my head is next to hers, which I would gladly, at this point, twist off with my bare hands.
All of this is seen by hundreds of vuvv, paying per minute. The Landing Site:A Statue of Glass Pillarsin Wrigley Field,Chicago, Illinois
I’ve never been to see the Vuvv First Landing Site. We all saw the landing on television when it happened, though, and for a school project in eighth grade I drew the monument that was built there on Wrigley Field. I used colored pencils and copied the picture off a cheap hologram bookmark. It was one of the first times I tried hard to draw clear glass. When I look at my drawing now, I can see a lot of the mistakes I made in getting the reflections and distortions right. The pillars look bent just because I didn’t know how to do perspective well yet.
We were all surprised when the vuvv landed the first time. They’d been watching us since the 1940s, and we’d seen them occasionally, but we had all imagined them differently. They weren’t slender and delicate, and they weren’t humanoid at all. They looked more like granite coffee tables: squat, wide, and rocky. We were just glad they weren’t invading. We couldn’t believe our luck when they offered us their tech and invited us to be part of their Interspecies Co-Prosperity Alliance. They announced that they could end all work forever and cure all disease, so of course, the leaders of the world all rushed to sign up.
For a year or so after the first landing, one of their ships hovered above Wrigley Field to mark the spot where they first greeted us. Now the ship’s gone, and there are luxury condos floating there instead. Everyone complains, because they block the sun, which was supposed to fall on the glass columns of the Vuvv First Landing Monument.
A few years ago, some guy in cargo pants was caught tipping over one of the monument’s pillars. At first, everyone thought he was doing it as an anti-vuvv protest. Later, it turned out he was just a douche.
Copyright © 2017 by M.T. Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.