So, Let Me Get This Straight

by Richard H. Kirshen

Picture two individuals that have never been exposed to the belief systems of Americans, when it comes to religion, the environment, or our education system. How would they perceive our incredibly ridiculous and unfounded thought processes? Instead of using individuals that grew up on a deserted island or a cave, having had no contact with humanity, the story unfolds following two humanoid aliens who arrived for a visit. They are witty, politically incorrect, and possess certain powers that are intermittently released throughout the narrative. Add to this a backdrop of visiting and critiquing various cities throughout the USA, and a modicum of sexual contact between the visitors and their escorts. The book makes for a fun and fact filled journey into the minds of Americans and how many of our thought processes have nothing to do with fact, reality or the betterment of our society.


Chapter One!

A misty fog wafted throughout the ship. A dull hum permeated the cabin as the transparent glass shields hissed and retracted slowly from their sealed positions. Robotic arms unerringly detached needle ended tubes from the inhabitant's forearms, immediately terminating the flow of nutrients and life-sustaining compounds from entering their bodies. It had been a lengthy and uneventful journey for Quin and Vera. Having left Ethirius over a year ago, they were now regaining consciousness, their open trans-pods allowing them to experience awareness once again...exactly on schedule.

“Hey, Quin, you awake?”

“Aahhhhhh...c'mon mom, ten more minutes, I don't want to go to school today.”

“Mom? School? Quin, it's me, remember...your co-pilot, not your mother!”

Wiping the fog from their eyes, they slowly sat upright and could see their destination through the transparent expanse in the front of their ship, The Ravon. The ship was thirty meters in length, shaped vaguely like a manta ray, with small, blunted delta wings, a transparent covering over the center section of the fuselage. There was no vertical tail assembly. The body consisted of a smooth matte silver metal, while the comfortable, high-tech interior was finished in colors that resembled the inside of a conch shell. Ravon was fast, sturdy, and fuel efficient.

“Ugh, I can't move yet. It's like I've been stuck in this one position for a Stin or more.”

“Quin, you have been stuck in that position for almost a Stin. Get it together, get your brain functioning. We have work to do. And, for the sake of the continuity of our trip and ease of communication with the natives, start using terms more relating to Ableon. I’m sure even your brain can convert our Stin to a somewhat equal local expanse of time.”

“Sure, Vera. Even I can remember and compute that a Stin is about one and half Earth years.”

“But can you do the math in your head? Never mind.”

From their vantage point, directly behind the ship’s utilitarian control panel, the scene before them was picturesque and serene—a vividly lit indication of existence in an otherwise black infinity, cordlessly suspended in the vastness of space. It precisely resembled the videos and still shots of Ableon, or as the locals referred to it, Earth, that they had encountered in school, and throughout their specialized training.

The orb was comprised of large blue aquatic expanses, interrupted by randomly shaped land masses, in a myriad of colors and elevations. Some were connected. Some isolated and lost in the immense cerulean sea, on this inhabited world. The top of the sphere was white and marginally flattened. The bottom was not visible, but studies had shown that it, too, was white and slightly flattened. There was intermittent cloud cover, giving the entire scene an appearance of softness, creating a slightly blurred, dreamy vision as the multihued globe rotated slowly on its twenty-three-degree axial tilt.

“Okay, starting to focus now, feeling better. I know there's no school today. Wow, look at that view. It's kind of like home, except for the colors. The clouds here are whiter than our usual pale pink hue.”

“Yeah, Quin,” said Vera, “and I expect there will be lots of other differences, too.”

They sat upright in their pods for a short time, allowing their human-like bodies and minds to adjust to consciousness and movement, as well as preparing them to acclimate to the soon-to-be experienced atmosphere of their destination. As it was programmed to do, the interior of the Ravon had switched slowly to Ableons's atmospheric pressure and breathable chemical environment in conjunction with the opening of the pods.

Quin tilted his head from side to side and stretched his arms out in front of him, opening and closing his fists repeatedly. He moved his feet back and forth and completed a series of exercises. Vera repeated Quin's regimen, but kept at it longer, shaking her hands, shrugging her shoulders up and down, tilting her head from left to right, and arching her back, until she felt the stiffness in her long dormant body begin to ebb.

“So, Vera, you ready for this?” queried Quin, once again without uttering a sound.

“Well, I better be, or we just wasted an awfully long journey, not to mention all the classes and orientation we had to endure. I'm not only ready, but I'm eager to get this thing started.”

“Yeah, right, me too, but we do have some time before we land, so, ah, wanna come share my pod for a while before the mission starts for real? You know, just to loosen things up a little. Depending on the reception we get, it may be our last opportunity for a little fun and recreation.”

Their conversation continued, but not verbally. Ethirians have the psionic ability to communicate with each other on a one-to-one basis, through thought transference. When more than one other being was present, they had the option of speaking out loud, or using non-verbal conveyance with one preferred being to the exclusion of all others. There were limitations to their non-verbal transmission modes. It was effective up to about two-hundred-yards before the discourse became incomprehensible. Walls or other physical impediments did not affect the ability to transfer dialogue. They also had the capacity to have private thoughts without anyone being able to pick up on those reflections. They could switch modes at will.

“You know what, Quin? I'm almost flattered by your offer, but I'll take a rain check on that for now…and probably forever. We need to fully focus on our upcoming meeting with the Ablonites and I don't want our initial encounter with them to be clouded with any possible effects from “afterglow” if you catch my drift. Besides, there are more important things to do during the minute and a half it would last.”

“Real funny. Okay, it was worth a shot. Wait, did I tell you this one? So, two Ablonites and a Zeebock walk into a bar…”

“Hey, get serious, Quin. This is what we have been training for. Don't take it so lightly.”

Quin's playful and humorous attitude about most things were well known to Vera, as well as his reputation with females. She was also conscious of the fact he was the premier pilot in the entire unit, as well as a more than capable mechanic, and could be trusted to complete any task or mission assigned to him in an exemplary manner, his sometimes-adolescent and libidinous behavior notwithstanding.

“Okay, okay, gotcha, let’s go over the mission details. I know how expensive this trip was and how much effort was put into it. I don’t want anything to go wrong on our watch. If this goes as planned, it will be easier if, and when, there is a next crew. I see a promotion in this for both of us, as well,” said Quin.

As they communicated, they vacated their pods and took up station in their pilot and co-pilot seats. They checked all gauges, compasses, and pressures. Neither could take their eyes off their intended destination as it hung out there in front of them.

“That would be nice. I could use the extra pay. First of all, we have to land and make contact without causing any damage to property or life, so we have to be careful that we don’t land on anyone.”

“Vera, in all my time as a pilot, I’ve hardly ever landed on anyone.”

“Well, anyway Quin, I don’t doubt that the Ablonites, and the people of the United States, in particular, are going to freak out over our visit. Remember, they aren’t really that smart. We have to make everything as smooth and seamless as possible. It will enhance their trust of us.”

They began their check-list. Position, altitude, fuel generation, coordinates…all the usual things they had practiced and done hundreds of times prior to leaving Ethirius.

“Next, we have to meet with the people in charge and convince them beyond any doubt that we are sincere in our goal. We have to let them know that we want, basically, to merely confirm the observations we have made, and to impart knowledge that will improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of their world. From what we have recently learned that knowledge will probably be imparted to other parts of this world.”

“Right, Vera, so that our next crew that lands in another country here can communicate some of that knowledge to the people of that country. Let’s not forget to keep our eyes open to any things that our previous explorations may have missed.”

All outside and inside temperatures were reported as normal by the numerous sensors placed around the Ravon. They sent a message home that they were now awake, everything was going according to plans, and they would keep the home-front apprised of all happenings.

“I mean, seriously, they need help. You’ve studied the condition of this planet, it looks like a bunch of Zeeboks have been running it. It’s a mess. They still have war, famine, prejudice, poverty, and unbelievably, they continue to believe that men are the dominant gender.”

“Aren’t we, Vera?”

Concentrating on the ship’s control panel, and making minor adjustments, Vera completely ignored Quin’s question about the fallacy of male dominance. “Look, we’ve been studying these beings for a long time. They’re our brethren in space. They are almost us…almost. They look like us, and they do lots of things right, but there are basic features to maintaining a flourishing society that they have overlooked, either intentionally, or because they just missed the point.”

Quin and Vera had studied Ableon intensely for the greater part of their adult lives. They learned all they could about this distant mirror world and its occupants that so closely resembled their own—physically, yes, but the Earthling’s belief systems were beyond comprehension. After learning what some on Ableon believed, Quin surmised they would undoubtedly believe almost anything. Quin and Vera had both specialized in the United States: its history, its leadership, its place and status in this world.

“At least we got a more civilized part of the planet. It could have been worse, you know,” said Vera.

“Yeah, I know, there are still some thoroughly primitive areas of this world,” responded Quin.

They had learned that, although not the oldest society on Ableon, the USA had grown to prominence in a relatively short time, mainly because its idea of diplomacy was showing up with a gun in one hand and a basket of wheat or soybeans in the other and asking which you’d prefer. It appeared to them that the USA would either feed or conquer anyone who had anything to offer them. Quin and Vera thought of some of the other things they had learned about The United States, and wondered what kind of place can this be?

They had read that a famous United States philosopher named George Carlin once said, “When you are born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you are born in The United States, you get a front row seat.” What could he have meant by that? And what did a man named Oscar Wilde mean when he said, “The United States is the only country in the world that went from barbarism to decadence, without civilization in between? Fermi wanted to know ‘where is everybody’? Well, here we are.”

“Check the coordinates again for our landing zone, will you, Vera? his has to be exact.”

“Yeah, sure, Quin, no problem...I just made a small correction, and we are now right on course, and precisely on schedule.”

Scientists on Ethirius had been researching Ableon long before Quin and Vera were born, but this was the first scheduled expedition whose ultimate goal was to make face to face contact with the inhabitants. They were going to learn firsthand how close the Ethirian scientific approximations and conclusions were to reality. Previous excursions had been remote “fly-by’s” for mapping purposes, taking photos of different parts of Ableon, and electronically copying much of Earths printed and digital data. They also ran tests on the make-up of the surrounding atmosphere that showed that the quality was deteriorating at an alarming rate and the planet was slowly warming. Hundreds of information gathering expeditions had taken place in the past, garnering copious quantities of facts and statistics in preparation for this expedition. The USA was chosen as the first contact based on the results of many studies of the inhabited areas of the planet.

“Quin, look at this message we just received.”

“What, our mission’s been canceled? It’s back to sleep for a stin, and a trip home?”

“No, wait, I’ll read it to you. Technologists and scientists on Ethirius have recently determined that the United States, as well as the majority of the rest of Ableon, might be doomed.”

“You mean just because we are going there? Oh, wait…maybe…nah, I never heard of an entire planet being doomed because of stupidity.”

“No, Quin, just listen. Our scientists and researchers recently located and have been following the path of what the Ablonites refer to, but have as of yet not discovered, a Near Earth Object. An object of such epic proportions that the history of Earth could very well be cut short.”

“So, have we been ordered to turn around and abort?”

“No, not yet. It seems there is still time, and the hit is not imminent. They have established that there is a 60/40 chance that it will strike Ableon, but not for another few months, at least.”

“So, how come the Ablonites don’t know about it?”

“Look, their planet, as well as ours, has been hit by objects hundreds, maybe even thousands of times that were undetected and unexpected in the past. The asteroid that hit their Siberian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 was totally unexpected, as were many more throughout Earth’s history. That object traveled at 41,600 mph, had a mass of 13,000 metric tons, was twenty meters in diameter, and possessed kinetic energy equivalent to twenty of their atomic bombs. Fortunately, that one hit a sparsely populated area.”

“Let me see that report, Vera. It says we are instructed to conduct our visit like it had been originally planned and to ignore anything we know about the possible extinction level event.”

“That certainly makes sense, Quin, since there’s no known way to stop or lower the intensity of the upcoming event, and think about it. If it were known to the inhabitants, chaos would surely ensue. And remember, it’s only a 60/40 chance of hitting. It’s not a definite thing.”

“As I recall, Ableon has already had one event in the past that wiped out about three-quarters of all living things here. That meteor hit about forty-million stins ago and left a crater about one hundred and ten Earth miles across. This new one is much larger than that one.”

The two travelers thought for a few minutes about this new development and their orders not to relay any of this information to the inhabitants of Earth. They decided they would merely hope for the best for the citizens of their destination and continue on with the same passion and enthusiasm they had before learning of these new developments.

“I gotta admit, Vera, I’m about as excited as a castaway seeing a wisp of smoke on the horizon. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. This meteor possibility does take away from the whole thing, but there is nothing we can do about it and hopefully, it will miss.”

“Me too, Quin. I’m excited and a bit demoralized at the same time, but let’s just mellow, do our jobs, and wish for the best.”

“Look, we only safely have a month or a bit more here, because our scientists have narrowed down the event to occur sometime between two and four Earth months from the time we arrive.”

“That’s a heck of a secret to try to keep,” said Vera, “but we seriously can’t let on what we know. Who knows? It might veer off on another orbit or just end up as a near miss since it has happened before.”

“So, Vera, what exactly is the difference between a near miss and a near hit?” Vera ignored him.

Prior to the United States being selected as the primary contact point, and before the discovery of the upcoming possible meteor hit had been noted, observations on the physical and cultural make-up of a number of locations on Ableon had given scientists on Ethirius a good idea as to where the seats of power were centered.



"So, Let Me Get This Straight" by Richard H. Kirshen

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