Act I: The Coming of the Corntopicans On the Day of Robert Van Rooftop’s Death From Cancer
Both fortunate and unfortunate were the aliens that landed in the city of Brotherly Love. They wore computer monitors on their lightbulb-shaped heads—as exposed by their three-dimensional transmissions down the earth’s surface. They thought it was high fashion; at least, they’d been watching the world through the guise of televisions and listening to our radio.
“What the hell is a Corntopican?” Robert Van Rooftop asked of his radiation technician, Sara, as she strapped his head down to the cold stainless steel metal table, below the hungry mouth of the radiation linear accelerator that slammed his body with x-rays that killed his cancer fast and his body slow. Was he hallucinating? She wore a white lab coat and braided her hair like a young hippie chick.
“I can’t feel the lymphoma, but they tell me it is everywhere,” Robert said, naked before this young flowery girl.
“Christ is coming,” Sara said. “The aliens are bringing him to earth, with Elvis.”
“Hunka hunka burning love.”
“You’re one of the chosen,” Sara whispered and kissed the old man on the lips, which he imagined must have felt very much like old dry fish skin. “Here’s some happy juice for you,” Sara said. She pulled out a hypodermic covered in pink and blue flower stickers. “My personal fun-bus for the chosen.” She injected Robert in the arm, and the juice burned up into his shoulder. He didn’t fight it.
The euphoria moved up through his head, blowing bubbles in his consciousness. He felt his thoughts falling into raindrops that pooled in purple fields below.
Hunka hunka burning love. He named it. Where had that sexy tech been all of his life now that it was ending? She had a body that stormed, and he received her like the wanting dry soil, wanted to feel her wetness. Sara set the linear accelerator’s white gamma shield and lined up the red lasers to the black dots tattooed on his body. The little dots opened and revealed tiny blue eyes. She set the machine on automatic, left the room, brought in an MP3 player, and turned on The Doors. She stripped out of her white lab coat, pulled off her shirt, and stepped out of her skirt to reveal psychedelic tattoos decorating her full thighs and stomach, streaking underneath her thong. She oozed and waved to the music like a bubbling lava lamp, and his thoughts matched her rhythms and dance. For the first time in ten years, his cock hardened, and he didn’t try to cover it.
When the MP3s ceased playing, Sara turned on the radio and danced to the news.
What can only be described as giant boots are landing on major cities and landmarks. What has been determined to be marijuana is falling from the ships, and they’re spraying vodka streams onto population centers from space. Citizens of various countries—China, Pakistan, India, the United States, United Kingdom—are dancing in the streets and opening their mouths to the sweet vodka rain. Already the human population is giving up freedom for the promise and vow of free booze and pot. The Corntopican Ambassador will address Facebook this afternoon. Apparently, the species has had a Facebook page for the last two years, where they warned the human race that enslavement approached. After receiving over seven million Likes, they believed it to be international fiat. The human race welcomed them and cheered enslavement and vodka. They considered Facebook to be the international platform of human communications, not the United Nations. When heads of state complained, people commented their shock on Facebook, surprised that the United Nations still existed.
Sara danced as the world ended.
“My wife’s name was Sara like yours.” His only love snuck into the back of a Good Humor truck and froze to death. His wife had left a note—a single word cut out from a Good Housekeeping Magazine:
He never understood what it meant until now. She had seen the Corntopicans coming. Sara, his dead wife, had always proclaimed herself psychic. She studied and watched the winds of time. He just kissed her, and read her poetry with his eyes running over the lines, never seeking to comprehend the meaning, comprehend her. How could he say I love you? He just went to work at the plant, paid the bills, and came home to drink gin. One day, Sara said she was going out for some ice cream.
It took her death for Robert to realize that he had killed her years before when he said I do. He woke up in the morning, and she made him eggs and sausage. She did the dishes, and he always kissed her on the left cheek, always ignoring her icy skin. Then he’d come home, and sit in front of the tube while she served him dinner. She was frigid in bed and dispensed her marital obligations like a good Catholic—a wife machine until he ejaculated. Then she went to the bathroom to clean up, never making a sound. They never had the son he’d always wanted. Robert always felt that his wife punished him with a barren house, empty of children. No one should have been punished. They had been made that way by a busy god. He should have been punished. He could have changed; she longed for the back of a Good Humor truck.
* * *
Act II: What the Linear Accelerator Said
Sara the technician danced, and Robert didn’t think it all bizarre when the white gamma screen—the emitter of the radiation that burned him each day like an X-ray, the mouth, the linear accelerator—opened its jaws and spoke to him.
Robert answered him with poetry: “With mirthful songs before the dawn. His shouting days with mirth were crowned; And still I dream he treads the lawn.”
“Stop quoting poetry, asshole,” the hole said.
“It’s W.B. Yeats,” Robert said. “It’s religion.”
“Poetry is a fool’s errand,” the linear accelerator face said. “I will burn you. Burn out your flesh until only your soul remains. I draw my soul from the cosmic forge, from the ancient energy of the universe, of atoms.”
“I believed she loved me,” Robert said. “How could she?”
He groaned and buzzed, and ozone shot up Robert’s nose. Linear accelerator seared his neck, his head, burning Robert’s skin. Linear accelerator devoured it. It flooded his flesh with particles, corrupting it at the cellular level. Robert felt his body slowly breaking into bits. It bit down with its teeth. The doctors said he couldn’t feel it. He did. It burned him.
“You’re killing me,” Robert said. Sara the technician danced like a blowing wind: careless and mighty.
“You killed Sara.”
An electron beam spewed through the ceiling from space, probably from the aliens, perhaps their mother ship, and the yellow and blue ray converted Sara into particles. She transformed into a being of pure light.
“I have sinned,” Robert said.
“I don’t forgive you,” Sara the technician said. She spoke for all women now. “Forgiveness is a lark, a song. Humans sing it with the birds.”
“A thousand ivory masks among a thousand ivory masks,” Robert said. “How can I tell?”
“The lips they purse. They sing. The song of the sparrows. Of the mockingbirds who listened long ago to the ancient gods who grew the trees from their beards and mountains from their asses. The mockingbirds know the song. Have you listened to the mockingbirds?”
“I have heard their song, but I have not listened.”
“Then you have not heard the creators, the ancient gods.”
“I want to hear them.”
The Linear Accelerator burned Robert down the back, and ozone fed up his nose. He choked on the metallic exhaust from the machine.
“Christ is coming back,” Robert said, “and Elvis.”
“Hunka hunka burning love,” the white face of the linear accelerator said.
* * *
The vodka and pot stopped raining down from the sky, and the attitude of the human population sobered. Earth decided, based on some outmoded sense of liberty, they would not care to be a slave class to an advanced alien species that ran out of booze and drugs before the end of the party.
They landed their troops to conquer humans by force, and the alien soldiers marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, yet no one noticed them at first because the Corntopicans had never evolved to be more than a half-an-inch tall. They attacked passing humans, damaging shoes and ripping woman’s toes, and when the various militaries of the world realized they were invaded, the human soldiers were issued magnifying glasses and fly swatters to defend their native planet.
More Vodka and pot?
We’ve run out.
All of this took place while Robert burned on the stainless steel table at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“Aren’t you dead?” he asked Sara, who still danced naked.
“You’re supposed to be dead too.” She stopped dancing. “So cold in here—like the back of an ice cream truck.” She slipped out another pre-made syringe from her purse. “This is The Horny Goodbye. Jesus didn’t come. I’m going to cum and die.” She injected herself in her thigh, and Robert didn’t bother trying to stop her. Sara rubbed her groin, then she wailed like a peacock. She pushed her hips forward, fucking the ozone. Sara fell over and held Robert.
“I am Sara: reincarnated.”
“I killed you, again.”
“‘Tis the nature of man.” She grabbed his hips and slid down his naked body, pulling away the sheet that covered his crotch. Her vacant body collapsed on the floor.
“It’s not my fault,” Robert said. “I am a man born sans a heart like all men.”
“We’re leaving,” spoke the mouth of the linear accelerator.
“Who?” Robert asked.
“We are the mouths of the visitors in the sky. And we’re leaving this ass-end of the universe you call Earth.” Had they been speaking through his head?
“I’m trying to leave too,” Robert said.
“Crawl into my face. We will lift you to Corncop world. Be our messiah.”
Robert released himself from the straps and reached for the white plate of the linear accelerator. The hoary face melted, turned malleable, and leveled to the bedside.
“We return to you Jesus and Elvis, your messiahs. Our planet of Corncop is the closest habitable world, and this is where next they came. The two are troublesome, cause panic in our people, and dance all the time.”
“We do not wish to think. Our slave races do our work, so we do not have to work or think. We need a new messiah, and we have scanned you while we scanned all the minds of this world. No more dancing. You will not thrust your hips.” They generated an energy field through the mouth of the linear accelerator. “This will teleport you to our ship.”
Robert unstrapped himself from the table and climbed into the field. One last time, he thought:
T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia, PA. He is an author and historian. He’s published in nearly 200 international journals and anthologies. His first novel, The Street Martyr, will be published by Out of the Gutter Books this October, followed by Searching for Andy Kaufman from PMMP in 2014. He’s a cancer survivor. His friends call him Fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. Find him on Facebook & Twitter: @TFoxDunham.
Lead image: “Elvis” (via Flickr user Kevin Dooley)
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You write like Kurt Vonnegut when he was at his best. Well done. One of the more memorable short stories I’ve read in the past 2 years or so.
Wow! You have quite a writing style and imagination. Philosophical too. I liked dumping vodka and pot. That would probably make a takeover easy. Great stuff.
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