Monday, May 18, 2009

On the Second Floor: Chapter I

I sat on the couch to finish my snack, and soon I was feeling drowsy. Underneath my seat I heard my neighbors, just barely, perhaps discussing their weekend plans. I myself had none; my drowsiness would not allow me to form any. My phone had no missed calls. What this afternoon demanded was a nap. To drown out the noise of my neighbors I switched on my stereo. It was stocked by classical music, and I was greeted by Tchaikovsky. As the orchestra swelled, I turned a pillow sideways to rest my head. I was far too tired to retrieve a blanket, so my jacket would suffice for a quick nap. I closed my eyes, and felt my body disintegrate into the summer heat.

When I awoke, the music was still Tchaikovsky's. I could not have been asleep more than about a half an hour.

But as I opened my eyes, I knew instantly that something had happened. The room was far too dark for mid-afternoon. Twisting on my side, I blinked and surveyed the room.

Out my window, I saw stars; bright, blazing stars, tracking across a dark sky at a slow, but impossibly speedy pace. For several minutes I stared. I might have been too sleepy, or perhaps it was more than I could comprehend at the time. As far as I could tell, the sun had simply vanished, and the distant stars were plummeting.

I was afraid, but even more so confused. A glance at the clock told me that, indeed, I had only been unconscious for thirty minutes. It was only five o'clock, far too early for stars or the night sky. Grasping for an explanation, I thought it might be an eclipse, but I knew it couldn't be true. The motion of the stars was unnatural. At last my curiosity would tolerate my ignorance no longer; I jumped up from the couch and made for the door.

Although the handle was unlocked, the door would not budge, and over the music I could discern an electric buzz from outside. My panic growing, I dashed to the window, desperate to know what was causing it all.

The familiar scenery; the building next to mine, the evergreen tree, all of these were gone. Up, down, left and right, I saw what could only be the depths of outer space. All those stars, unobscured by the hazy atmosphere of Earth, burned more fiercely than I could have imagined. For a brief moment, I heard the music waver, and saw my desk lamp dim. But it was only a moment, and they continued to function as they had. I stood transfixed.

The otherworldly hum grew much louder, just as the music grew quiet. It was time for the Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairy. The stars were moving faster across my field of vision, and I soon realized that my apartment must have been rotating. The sudden appearance of the Earth, and then the moon, both receding slowly into starry oblivion, showed my hypothesis to be true. I watched my planet transit along my window plane. Truth be told, I had forgotten my fear. Perhaps I thought I was dreaming.

And then a blinding light, stronger than all the ferocious stars, pierced the glass and sent me reeling. I screamed, thoroughly frightened once more, I staggered around the corner, and hid in the hallway closet. Breathless and sweating, I I squeezed myself into a corner and shrank. I prayed for forgiveness as earnestly as I could, feeling like a sinner who'd seen the face of God.

For several minutes I cowered, until my senses recovered. I had seen the Earth and the Moon pass by; clearly, the face I'd seen must have been the suns. I stood up, shaking, and stepped out once more. Satisfied that I was no longer facing the sun, I rushed to the window and shut the blinds.

I could have fainted then, I was so overwhelmed. Slumped on the couch, I stared at my television. Though I knew I still had power, I assumed that I could not receive broadcasts from out in space. But how could I be sure? I was floating in infinity, but I still had electrical power. I still had gravity. My apartment had yet to experience explosive decompression. There was no reason for any of this to be true, just as there was no reason for me to be in space at all.

I switched on the TV. Met wit only static, I smiled at the first thing to make any sense. But once again I was scared. For more than ten minutes I'd floated impossibly. My cell phone had no reception (of course, I thought). I couldn't stop it, I didn't know where I was bound. For all I could tell, I'd magically been plucked from my home world and tossed into nothingness.

I didn't want to despair, but soon I was pacing back and forth, rubbing my face. I felt like I was burning up, but I found to my display that, along with my cable and my phone, my water was gone too. When I thought that I could survive only a few days, how could I help but despair?

The Nutcracker Suite had ended, and I shut off the machine. I didn't want to hear any more music.

When I was calm enough, I opened the window blinds once more. The stars moved more slowly now. I thought that I might have come to a rest, but I could hardly hope for a rescue. In less than an hour I'd been sent further from Earth than any man in history. I still had no idea how.

But in fact, my little spaceship was still turning. As improbable as it seemed, I saw an enormous vessel come in view, and at last it seemed to make sense. Somehow, I'd been abducted by aliens. Yes, that made sense. As I drew closer, there was nothing to do but laugh hysterically.

The vessel was like an elliptical saucer. At what I took to be its rear were two pods; engines, perhaps? The saucer tapered into a rounded point at the opposite end. Its exterior was a dusty grey, only barely reflective. Apart from that, it had no other features than a multitude of tiny windows.

Inside, I knew I'd been taken by aliens, and that I was at their mercy. As I drew closer and closer, I speculated as to their motives. I still could not understand. Guessing did no good, and I could not stop the inevitable, so once again I closed the blinds. I realized that I would likely have to represent the human race in some fashion, so I had better compose myself so as to play the role with some level of dignity.

Shortly, I became aware of a pale light shining through the blinds. Cautiously I peeked out of the window again. To my shock, I beheld a grassy field, sparsely dotted with trees, under a sunny blue sky. The balcony which led to my old stairs was now effectively a front porch. And perhaps fifty feet ahead of me, stood a gleaming silver pillar.

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