Everyone knows that when aliens come to our planet, they always land in some desolate place like Roswell, New Mexico or Yucca Flat in Nevada. When I lived in Utah, the vast wilderness called the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was in my very backyard and, one day, while wandering out there with a daypack and a hiking pole, I heard a sudden noise behind me, like air being sucked out of one of those liter-sized plastic soda bottles, and then I got the fright of my life. It was a spacecraft just like those in the early Fifties scary movies. It was even black and white like in those movies and it came to rest about forty yards from where I stood frozen in my tracks.
The alien that hopped out when the door opened sure wasn’t in black and white though. He was a little guy that looked as if he’d spent the summer lying out on some Gulf beach. His skin (if that’s what it was) had the color of well-tanned leather. His eyes were mere slits in his ovoid head and his mouth was really tiny. He pulled out this gizmo and plugged it into his mouth as he moved toward me. It must have been some sort of transliterator because when he spoke, it came out in kind of a wheezy, mechanical English.
“I won’t hurt you Earthling,” he said. “I just want to talk with you.”
We ended up sitting in the only shade around, under a red rock canopy that jutted out from a sheer wall.
“Do you have any questions for me?” he asked. And thus began our brief interview. I won’t include it all here, only the most interesting parts.
“Why have you come to Earth?” I wondered.
“We come to your planet about once every 50 to75 of your years just to check and see if you are still warring against each other. Unfortunately, you always are. Sometimes there are a number of wars going on at one time.”
“How come you always seem to land out here in the desolate west?”
“It’s the safest place for us to come down. We can’t go anywhere near a war zone, of course. We can’t land in the highly populated areas for fear some street gang or crazed bunch of Trump-inspired rightwing nutjobs will attack us. Besides, the people that live out west are used to seeing our space ships, as they call them.”
“Why are you interested in us?”
“We have a pool going on our planet Xerpes as to when human life on Earth will become extinct. I’ve got the year 2106. Plus, I’m writing an article for the Xerpian Tribune about your global warming. Our instruments detected it long ago.”
“Does your planet have political leaders like we have?”
“Oh no! How do you think we’ve survived for so many quatrares? Our system evolved away from that many quasars ago. Now we have only our BBD. He has led Xerpes for as long as anyone can remember.”
“BBD?” I asked him.
“Oh, sorry. Our Beloved Benevolent Dictator.”
“What other things about Earth interest you?”
“Your planet provides Xerpians with an unending supply of entertainment. Aside from the constant warring, there are the non-lethal wars. I believe that you people refer to it as sports. Then there are the various religions and the different versions of what Earthlings call God. Your terrified insistence on there being some sort of afterlife is a primary source of humor to Xerpians. Why can’t Earthlings just accept that death is the end of it? You’d think that, with all the wars and killings that go on here, you’d at least come to realize that there’s no such thing as an afterlife. The idea of heaven and hell is one of the most amusing Earth concepts I’ve ever heard.” He laughed heartily, then stood up and started back toward his spacecraft.
“Sorry I can’t stay and chat longer,” he said, looking back over his little, rounded shoulder. “If I’m late getting home, one of my wives will eat all of my licorice.”
In a flash he disappeared into his machine and there was a loud spray of dust and, when it cleared, he was gone. I have to admit that I couldn’t help wondering if I hadn’t hallucinated the whole episode, like some kind of bizarre LSD trip or heatstroke phenomenon. I poured the remainder of my water over my head, stepped over a strange piece of metal that looked as if it had fallen off an odd mechanical device, and headed home.