A Date on Earth By Russ Bickerstaff

"I know this place," she says. "It's amazing. Come on!" She grabs me excitedly by the upper forelimb and pulls me into the bar. She chooses a table near the back of the tiny bar. A few other humans get up and move as we move in. They leave behind a tiny skyline of half-finished beers. I like to think of myself as a nice being. That's why I'm refraining from reading her thoughts or controlling her mind. I wasn't always so nice. It took me WAY too long to realize that the one was impolite and the other was just plain evil. And then there was that plan to take over the world because I loved it so much. (I'm a big fan. I got a little carried away. I've apologized before, but again: I'm sorry.) So I've made mistakes. It's taken me a while to get used to life on Earth, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

She orders a couple of beers. The drinks menus of most places are kind of a minefield for me what with all the allergies I've picked up from various environments all over the galaxy. She knows exactly what to order me. I shift a bit uneasily in my seat. What I can drink at a place like this isn't exactly common. Very few bars even serve it.

"Nice, huh?" she asks with an enthusiastic wink. I nod dizzily. She's smiling at me. Staring at me with the opposite of disgust. I can feel my complexion get just a bit more green. My eyes pop out of my head just a bit more. I try to relax. It's nice to be on a date with a pretty girl. It makes me feel normal. It makes me feel human. I know I'm not. I know that it's obvious to everyone that I'm not, but I like to feel human. Being human means never having to say youre sorry for that one time you tried to take over the world. People don't remember. I apologize anyway because I try to be nice.

"So you know me," I say.

"Yes," she says with wide, bright blue eyes beaming a singularity into the center of my soul. "Everybody knows about you." There's a casual breathlessness in her voice.

"Right," I say, "but I know nothing of you. What is it you do?" She shrugs off the question as drinks arrive. Then she's on to talking about our drinks. The girl's very educated about fermentation. She doesn't seem to want to talk about herself, though.

Another drink into the night and she starts to talk a little. "I really want to be an artist and a filmmaker," she says, "but why talk about that now? I'm out with you right now. I want to talk about you." Okay. Fine. But I don't want to talk about me because. . .I meet other people to try to get away from me. I'm trying to integrate into the world. More drinks. Time passes. So do topics of conversation.

"Michael Bay?" I say, "please! As a filmmaker he's a really good . . . businessman. Give me someone like George Pal any day. .." We can't talk about each other, so we just talk about movies. I love movies. It's one of the first things I really fell in love with about the planet. So much passion and adventure and excitement all in two dimensions without the benefit of smell. There are those among my people who find it amazingly primitive but I absolutely love it.

Talk of George Pal leads to Hitchcock and ultimately. . .Meg Ryan movies for some reason. Then there's Man Ray and Warhol and The Cremaster Cycle. We're talking romantic comedies and experimental art films and I'm kind of enjoying the challenge. The conversation seems so effortless on her part, which is such a relief. So often I'm out with a girl or hanging out with some guy and the nature of who I am gets in the way. People have all kinds of questions about what my people are like and what it's like and space. . .y'know. ...can I really read people's minds and make them do things? After I've gotten through the usual apologies for past behavior which no one ever seems to remember, I try to move the subject on to other matters, but no one else is ever interested.

"You think that bartender used to be a prison guard? I bet he totally used to be a prison guard." Her voice is playful. I like that about her. I like that ahe's not asking me what the guy at the bar is thinking or asking if I can use my, "powers" to get us a free pitcher of beer or whatever. We're just having a casual conversation. And the way she's looking at me makes me feel like she may really be interested in getting to know me. She wouldn't be looking at me like that because of a physical attraction. By the standards of those on this planet, I look relatively grotesque. She's a vegetarian. She might love brussels sprouts, but she's not going to find them attractive on the head of her lover. They like cat's eyes . . . on cats. They don't want them leering out at her the way I am. She can't be attracted to me and yet there's something there.

Of course, the upper left core lobe of my brain is going to be throwing-out all kind of red flags with this woman, but I'm trying not to be distracted by them because I really do want to be a nice being. I want to be able to focus the entirety of my attention on the girl who is sitting in front of me with such pleasant energy as we both finish our dinners and she suggests some more alcohol. Things are going well, why should I be concerned?

The crowd in the tiny bar is thinning out. Things start getting a little blurry from there. She's saying things that I probably would be cautious about, but they're blurring together with thoughts that I don't completely understand under the influence and it's going to take me a little while to adjust to the level of alcohol in my system. I'm enjoying the company of the girl. I'm enjoying the music, which now appears to be at a dance club that we have arrived at having come here from . . . the dance club that we went to right after dinner. Or maybe that was another one. It's difficult to keep it all straight in my mind as we slip into the night and back towards her place.

There's a flurry of activity. There's real passion in the way she's touching me. And I've never been kissed so much. (Even when I'd been in the habit of controlling minds I'd never forced someone to kiss me this much.) The intoxication of the alcohol gives way to an entirely different kind of intoxication as we fumble around in the dark of her apartment. I feel a bit blind in the dark. It's not just a vision thing. There are other things I have that don't work in the dark and it's rather unpleasant to have to exist like this, so I try to ask her if she could turn on at least some small light. She tries to smother my voice. There's something about the passion that pulls me out of the intoxication for just long enough to forcefully pull myself away from her.

She's on the floor quite alarmed as I march over to a switch by the door to turn on the lights. Naturally what's going on becomes quite clear once the lights are on . My heart sinks. Movie posters. The Day the Earth Stood Still. Earth vs. The Flying Saucers. And then there's the one I hate. Invasion of the Saucer-Men. (Probably just coincidence, but my race looks exactly like those saucer men. I hate that movie.) She looks up apologetically. I try to excuse me as best as possible while still being nice. I issue a parting apology to the groupie. I explain to her that I understand she has a fetish, but I'm looking for something deeper. Don't want to be used like some piece of tissue sample. (Fun though it might be.) She seems to understand. With a heavy heart, I leave her apartment.

CONTENTS


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Russ Bickerstaff
is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. Last year his short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Beyond Imagination.

His Internarrational Where Port can be found at: http://ru3935.wix.com/russ-bickerstaff.