A uStory by Gregga J. Johnn
They were all playing outside in the early summer sunshine, the three brothers; Shiloh, Andy, and Luke; and the neighbor girl, Sandy. It was a typical game of Shiloh-Monster. Shiloh chased his younger brothers and Sandy around, roaring loudly. The others deftly kept their distance which frustrated the monster to no end. Each game-player had their own strengths and applied it to their strategy.
Andy preferred his speed. He taunted his brother by getting closest, but skipping just out of reach at a moment’s notice. As Shiloh stood by the tree on the front side of the house, Andy crept down the slight hill and giggled as his brother swerved around to try and tag him, but he was off up the hill again, speeding between the neighboring houses intent on the sharp corner behind the garage. He must have taken the corner too sharp, though, as he felt something slap him on the forehead and everything went black for a moment.
It was cold and stars swirled before his eyes, but they weren’t swirling figuratively. No, indeed, there was no more blue sky, and the sun was bigger than Andy had ever seen. Jupiter whipped by and Andy felt the tug of his mighty gravity, but, there was no slowing down. Pluto saluted his cold, demoted ice when Andy realized he was still breathing and that it felt as if there was something wet against his face.
Lifting his hand to feel his cheek, Andy saw the thin film of goo clinging to his fingers, but had no time as what he believed to be Sirius, the Dog Star, came at him in direct, encapsulating bigness, and look to swallow him whole.
In front of the great star was a planet, not unlike Earth. There were pin-points of light on the surface, just like a cityscape and Andy fell toward the largest cluster. In the center there was a tower, tallest of all, and open like a massive chimney. Andy found himself inside faster than he cared; then SLAM, he waas standing, blinking in the spot light listening to the roar of a crowd.
“And from Earth we have . . .?” A short, fat man dressed in what looked like a dowdy bankers suit shoved an apparent microphone up to Andy’s mouth and whispered at him,
“What’s your name?”
“Andy,” said Andy in automatic reply.
“An Dee!” The Announcer repeated and the crowd again roared loudly.
Andy’s eyes were adjusting quickly and he took in as much as he could.
He stood on a podium in the center of a great coliseum that was entirely populated by what looked like human men and women in dull business suits.
A dog-like creature slopped next to him, dripping the same goo that was now sliding to Andy’s feet and howled in fright. The Announcer continued,
“From Brinkah we have . . . ?” Then whispering in the doggish ears,
“What’s your name?”
It howled in terror.
“Owuul!” The Announcer repeated and the crowd roared again.
Andy now saw two other bewildered creatures standing next to him, one of them was more like a green alien that Andy had seen in movies, and the other was not unlike a human girl, a very beautiful human girl, about his age. Andy smiled weakly at them both and they shrugged their shoulders in confusion at him.
The Announcer then addressed them all,
“Each of you has been brought here today to compete for the next Prefect in Training of this great planet Sirius Minor #3.” There was a polite smattering of applause. “It has been our tradition these 5000 years to find one Greejan, one Anterian, one Human, and one Brinkan to compete for leadership.”
“Seriously?” His voice echoed across the coliseum.
The Announcer replied,
“Sirisians, human, and yes, we take everything very seriously.”
The girl, or Greejan, scorned,
“I was dragged out of my sleep for some lame competition to kill three alien creatures and set up rule on a boring, underdeveloped planet?”
There was silence and the Announcer shuddered, whispering to himself,
“Greejan’s are so violent.” He then spoke aloud,
“We would never ask for anyone’s death. That would be far, too serious.”
The green alien then spoke,
“So, then, what do you want us to do?”
The lights flipped off the four and onto a long running track in front of them.
The Announcer announced,
“A race of course.”
Andy looked back to the doggish creature that was still shivering in fear and then at the crowd. He re-noticed that all the banker-like Sirisians were short and rotund. He doubted any of them could waddle faster than a toddler on Earth.
“To run fast is to be divine.” The Announcer led the four to the starting blocks.
It was all unfolding so quickly that Andy had no time to think, only set himself at the starting line and just do what he did well: run fast.
The start was chimed in with bells and banged by a big drum. Andy took off.
The doggish Brinkan saw the running and lapped his tongue happily for the first time chasing Andy and pouncing around his feet like a Labrador puppy. The green alien jogged down the track rather bored at the effort. The Greejan girl, however, matched Andy’s speed to his limits. She pushed forward and Andy grasped at the air willing himself to pass her but was quite hindered by the puppy-creature joyously bounding at his feet. Then, even the puppy got distracted.
The Greejan-girl, obviously exhausting her effort, began to glimmer as if sweating light, even the tips of her hair that flapped in the wind, began flashing like a thousand lightning bugs. The Brinkan barked and scrunched up into one big ball of overly excited energy and pounced on her hair, snapping at the flashing like a puppy in laser-light heaven. The girl’s legs tangled with the puppy legs and they both tumbled and rolled across the field to the delighted smattering of polite applause from the crowd.
Andy dashed over the finish line and the green alien jogged in carelessly after him. When the Greejan saw her defeat, she screamed in anger and chased the Brinkan backwards across the track. The Brinkan, still at the enthusiastic height of his game, ran back and forth at her, just out of reach, begging she continue the game, much to her building distress.
The Announcer grabbed Andy’s hand and lifted it as a Champion,
“The new Prefect in Training of Sirius Minor #3 is the Human, An Dee!” The crowd stood solemnly and cheered in sincere, obligatory enthusiasm.
It was at this point that Andy truly analyzed his circumstances. He asked the Announcer,
“What does that mean, exactly?”
Slapping his hand on the young boys back, the Announcer announced with great pride,
“Why, it means you get to leave your little home and spend the next two years learning about our culture then when you graduate, you get to be our next Prefect and rule our great people.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“You get to leave your little home and . . .”
“Yeah, no.” Andy shook his head.
The Announcer shook his head,
“You humans and your clingy attachment to home, look at all we can give you.”
The lights across the roof lit up and Andy saw images of fantastic lush landscapes, exotic islands, flashy cities and adventurous space travel. He felt the whole crowd staring at him so he asked,
“So I get to rule all that, if I leave my family behind?”
“Yes.” The crowd applauded loudly.
“Ok . . . No.”
“I’ll do it!” The Greejan jumped at the chance.
“I’m sorry dear, you still haven’t even crossed the finish line, yet.” The Announcer pointed out, “Our Champion is Minkah, the Anterian!”
Minkah shrugged his shoulders in cool acceptance and said,
“Ok.” The crowd applauded and the Announcer shook his hand.
“Can I go home now?” Andy asked.
The Announcer waved his hand and Andy was out the chimney tower again speeding past the stars, Pluto, Jupiter and falling back toward the garage behind his home again. Sitting on the concrete Andy heard the Shiloh-monster roar and exclaim,
“I don’t want to play anymore!”
Andy jogged over to him, slapped him heartily on the back, and said,
Why don’t we get the chalk and draw on the footpath together?”
Shiloh smiled and Andy waved to Luke and Sandy,
“Come on you two. Let’s see who can draw the best space ship.”
When dad came out to call everyone in for lunch, the four were quietly giggling over each other’s space alien drawings.
“Who are they, Andy?” Dad asked, pointing to the short, round men in bowler hats.
“There are the Sirisians of Sirius Minor #3 and they are very serious.
“You guys are goofs. Come on in for lunch.”