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March 5, 2011
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The day the aliens landed, Sam stayed inside. Everyone else was out on the streets. The aliens had promised a handshake for every human who wanted one and, sure enough, that’s just what they were doing. Millions of little red humanoids (not green as so commonly assumed, Sam chuckled slightly) were roaming the streets of Chicago, Paris, London, Cairo, Sydney, every city and town and suburb and remote farm on the planet, offering handshakes. Most people accepted, and, once they had been officially touched by the little red men of some planet that Sam knew was definitely not Mars, they donned their pre-bought “An Alien Shook My Hand” t-shirts and brought out the alcohol. Most of them started with champagne, sensing the historic gravity of the occasion, but within minutes they had switched to shots and beer.

The transmission was received exactly a year ago. Sam remembered it clearly. He was at work, in his little 6 by 8 foot cubicle, watching some video on Youtube with a cat and some species of cactus instead of designing new billboard advertisements for “Stacy’s Ultimate Workout Experience”, when his screen went black. A moment later, on his screen and, he later discovered, on every other screen on the entire planet, it began. At first there was just a face. A practical joke, Sam assumed, a man with a rather elliptical head, some red face paint, and a basic knowledge of computer hacking feeling tired of being so, well, elliptical, and deciding to gain some notoriety from it. And when he began speaking, some jibberish that sounded like nothing Sam had ever heard, Sam thought oh, how cute, he’s even made up his own language. But, after a few times of the red elliptical man reaching out and hitting something Sam could only assume was the camera from which he was broadcasting, the language suddenly became comprehensible.

“Can you understand me now?” the red elliptical man said. He paused for a moment. “Oh good, my linguoformo processor is working, I thought it was broken for good.” He smiled, his ashen white lips stretching almost past the edges of his face. “So, let’s get down to business. My name is Bob. Well, that’s not actually my name. My full name is, well, let’s just say its long. I tried to recite it once and it took me five of your years, so I shall not waste time trying to teach it to you now. But I digress. As I was saying, you can call me Bob. And I am from, well, I won’t bother trying to teach that name to you either. I tried to recite it once and that took me seven years. So let’s just say that I am from a planet, another planet, a planet that you consider alien. To you, I am an alien from an alien planet and, in a year’s time, my brethren and I will be what I believe to the first so-called alien visitors on your planet. I know that you may not believe me now, that many of you consider this to be a hoax, but, when we land on the surface of your watery world in exactly one of your years, you will no longer think us to be one of your internet pranks. You will know us to be real, and we will come bearing gifts. A handshake, for each of you that wants one. A handshake signifying our friendship, our future alliance, and satisfying your… your curiosity. A dangerous trait, one which, I understand, has killed many of your cats, so I cannot fathom why you would encourage it, but I digress again. This is the last time you shall hear from me or my people until the day of our arrival, so make yourselves ready, homo sapiens. We are coming.” Then the screen abruptly blackened like the night sky when a cloud covers the moon.

During the next year, the little red elliptical man was the focus of everything. Half of the planet was desperate to prove it was a hoax, half was desperate to prove it wasn’t, but they all fixated. Wars continued, of course, wars and genocides and the ups and downs of daily life, but all the media covered, all people cared about, was him (if it even was a him… Sam wasn’t too convinced of that). Since nobody could prove it was a hoax, not even the might of all the world’s governments working together for the first time in ever by day and still bombing each other by night, over time people simply began to assume it was real. The t-shirts went on sale, the alcohol was bought in bulk, and people began to prepare for what they assumed, probably correctly, would be the biggest party of their lives. The entire world, out on the streets for just one night, with an unlimited supply of beer. Sam couldn’t even contemplate the number of resulting hangovers.

Tomorrow, the people of the world will wake up groggily, face down in the streets, and who knows if the aliens will still be here. Either way, there’ll be a lot of cleaning up to do, not just from tonight but from the past year. Earth’s been at one hell of a party, and the headache’s not going to go away with just a few Advil. Sam knew he didn’t want to be around when the whining started. So, as the shouting and laughing and vocal drunken slurring continued outside his apartment window, Sam closed the curtains, shut off the lamp, and got into bed. In an effort to block out the incessant screaming, he pulled a pillow over his ears.

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