We Know Nothing

January 21, 2010
By courtney smotkin SILVER, Manhasset, New York
courtney smotkin SILVER, Manhasset, New York
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

We know how the world began. We know it started with the ‘big bang’, and every speck of dust bunched together by the force of gravity into planets and stars in the endless black vacuum we call space. Gravity is a tireless force. We know it pulls things together, and that’s why we stay on the planet instead of floating around. We know how life started. We know that only under certain conditions life can form. We also know that these certain conditions rarely occur, and so the chance that there are other life forms on other planets that are close enough that we could discover is small. And we know that the chance that any smart, communicative life form similar to human beings would ever be discovered by us on another planet is even smaller. But that’s just what we know. We know nothing. And we call ourselves intelligent, advanced life forms.

Twenty-nine year old Craig J. Ferneda M.D. was one person in particular who called himself an advanced life form. Pushing up his rectangular, twice-broken glasses he worked diligently one bitter-cold November afternoon on his new book, to be titled “The History of Humans”. It was exceptionally exciting, and that’s why every publisher he knew of sent it back without so much as a reason as to why it wasn’t published. He rubbed his straight, blonde hair as he struggled to think of a way to make his book more interesting, and less similar to watching a television that wasn’t on. It was painfully boring, no matter how much he tried to deny it. Craig shoved a bite of cold pasta into his mouth. He forgot to fix the microwave in his small apartment (for the past month), so any leftover food had to be eaten cold. He also forgot to make more tomato-basil sauce, so his pasta was dry. He rubbed his hair. Having gone to Harvard, he thought, he should be better off than this. A job as a waiter in the local diner, constantly trying to get a history book published, nothing was going to change anytime soon. Forgetfulness and lack of care about his health stuck him with cold, dry, tasteless spaghetti for dinner. Advanced life form indeed.

The doorbell rang, interrupting his self-pitying thoughts. “Craig! Craig! I know you’re in there! Craig!” The shouts of his best friend were muffled through the door.

“What do you want, Mars? I’m in the middle of writing a book.”

Mars Dover opened the door and let himself in. He had a round face and plain brown hair, uncombed as usual. His nose was out-of-proportion with the rest of his face, and he wore a t-shirt reading ‘Super-Dude’.

“Guess what just happened?”

Craig looked at him blankly, waiting for a typical story about the videogame store on the corner.

“GUESS what just HAPPENED.” Mars repeated, with emphasis.


“I said, GUESS.”

“I don’t know.”



“Just do it, Craig.”

“Do what?”


Craig rolled his eyes. Mars was his best friend since third grade. While he was usually fun to be around, he also had a very annoying nature about him. “Mars, just tell me.”

“Okay. Well, you’re going to think I’m crazy. But… I just saw a UFO!”

Craig sighed. “Oh, really?” He said as he turned back to the computer.

“Yes really! I saw it! Out there! Clear as day!”

By this time Craig had stopped paying attention. “Mmhmm…” He opened a binder.

“Craig, you gotta believe me! I saw it, I really did.”

“Sure, man,” He said, uncaring. He rubbed his hair. “Listen. You’re an interesting person, how do I make this book more interesting?”

Mars grabbed the paper Craig was holding. “Don’t let the title have ‘History’ in it.”

“Man, I’m serious.”

Mars thought for a second. “You gotta make the people think. Get some cool facts or something. Add some mystery to it. Make them think about the world in a different way. Give them the real experience of being those ancient people.”

Craig paused. While Mars was annoying, his words gave birth to brilliant ideas. He smiled. “That’s it!”

“What?” Mars looked at him as he picked up Craig’s spaghetti. “Mind if I have some?”

“I’m going to have the real experience of being those ancient people, and then I’ll write it down for the world to read!”

Mars put the fork down. “How’re you going to do THAT?”

Craig just grinned.

A week and a half later they sat on a plane, Mars glowering at Craig for another one of his ridiculous plans. He always accompanied Craig on these sorts of trips. The pilot began to speak.

“Our flight to Egypt is arriving on time. The time there now is 3:47 pm, if you would like to reset your watches.”

Mars attempted to reset his watch, as a small child about four years old came in behind his mother. He had black curly hair and seemed very reserved.

“Hi, there.” Mars said in a cooing voice to the child.

The child smiled shyly and went to his seat.

“The flight will be eight and a half hours long, and we will be serving two meals. Please turn your attention to the flight attendants as they will demonstrate emergency precautions. When they have finished, please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the flight.”

“Why are we doing this?” Mars muttered under his breath.

“Because I need inspiration. You’re the one who gave me the idea.”

“Then I really need to stop talking.”

About an hour into the flight they allowed the passengers to order drinks. Mars ordered an orange soda, but about five minutes after he received it he spilled it on a man in front of him.

“Mars! Be careful!” Craig said. He rubbed his hair and fidgeted, embarrassed.

“I am so sorry….” Mars exclaimed to the man, looking around for napkins or paper towels.

The man slowly turned around to stare at the two. He was wearing sunglasses and had paper-pale skin. He held their gaze as he took the jacket that had soda on it off and put it down next to him. He slowly turned around again, not saying a word.

“That was sort of creepy…” Mars whispered.

“No kidding.”

About another three hours had passed before the small curly-haired child yelped at the window.

“Mama! Mama! MAMA!” He screamed.

“Shh!” she scolded.

“I saw something out the window! An alien ship!”

“Shh, it was another plane.”

“No, it wasn’t!”

The mother motioned for the child to keep quiet, and he did so.

“See there,” Mars said to Craig, “I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t the only one to see a UFO.”

The man in front of them stiffened, and began to fidget.

“Mars, the child is four years old. It was another plane or a helicopter or something. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Even four year olds can recognize a helicopter or plane, Craig.”

“Just let it go, there’s a rational explanation, trust me.”

“There ARE aliens out there! I know it.”

Craig sighed. “Sure, man. Sure.”

Half an hour later Craig went to the lavatory. He had been gone almost fifteen minutes when Mars realized something was up. He pushed himself out of the seat and approached the back of the plane. The creepy man that had sat in front of him the whole flight was standing there. He looked at Mars through the sunglasses. The sign on the lavatory door said ‘vacant’ in green. He took a deep breath. “Craig? You in there?” There wasn’t an answer. He opened the door slowly. As it clicked all the way open, the man pushed him inside the lavatory.

Mars wanted to yell out, but he was too shocked. He was in the lavatory, locked in. He almost laughed to himself. Craig probably went to get a drink from the flight attendants, and was back at the seat now, wondering where his friend had gone. And the creepy man couldn’t hold him hostage here for long. As he was about to try and open the door, the floor gave out beneath him. He grabbed at the air around him frantically until he hit something, cold and metal. He screamed and looked down at it. It took him a minute to process that he was sitting on top of the UFO. He screamed louder. A hand reached out and pulled him in.

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