The voice inside your head might not be your own. -Intellectual Shaman
I am not a natural risk taker, and maybe that’s because I have a big imagination; I can picture everything going horribly wrong, but, like the frog heating up in boiling water, I am often slow-cooked. My best friend was the best thing that ever happened to me. He was fond of saying things like, “it’s just a bit farther,” or “mopeds are safer than motorcycles; you don’t need to wear a helmet,” or “you swim well enough, I think we could do underwater diving in the Mediterranean.” All of his encouragement and lust for life caused me to take one step farther.
Now we were hiking into a volcanic caldera on one of the Japanese islands. “Isn’t this illegal?” I asked.
“Sure, but they make everything illegal in these Eastern countries,” my friend said.
“You’re not worried about getting arrested?”
“No; everybody here is so worried about playing by the rules that nobody wants to even think about the rule-breakers.”
“What about the fishermen who brought us here?”
“They were afraid to even come near this island.”
“But one of those guys kept making exploding sounds; I think this might be an active volcano.”
“Listen Andy, just because there’s hot water and gas coming out of the fissures, doesn’t mean it’s an active volcano. Trust me, I’m a doctor.”
“You’re a doctor of mathematics; that doesn’t make you an expert on everything.”
“How do you know?”
“Common sense is not that common.”
“Okay, Benjamin Franklin, why don’t you shut up.”
And before I knew it, we were half-way into the crater. “It’s getting difficult to breath,” I said.
“Let’s hope the outgassing is steam and not sulfur-dioxide.”
“Remind me again, why we came here?”
“This land is uncharted. Haven’t you always wanted to walk where no man has gone before?”
“Maybe there’s a reason for that.”
We reached the bottom where an ice cave opened its mouth, tempting us to walk inside.
“I’m just curious if there’s an ecosystem in there,” my friend said.
The cave was dead and dark, until a light shone through the ice.
“I’m not sure this is still a glacier.”
At the bottom of the tunnel was a tiny room, with a silver saucer at the center.
“Is that what I think it is?” I asked.
“It can’t be.”
The bay doors were down and we walked inside.
Then the hatch snapped shut and the disk began rotating like a merry-go-round.
“I think I’m going to throw up,” I said.
“Don’t you dare.”
I hurled when we shot out of the volcano into outer space.
“What’s our destination?”
“It looks like a blue planet.”
“Do you think you can pick up the alien dialect?” I asked.
“I learned French fluently in six months, so it should be a piece of cake.”
Then out of the corner of my brain I heard a voice.
“Visitors?” I glanced over my friend’s shoulder and there was an alien. It didn’t have a mouth and it looked anorexic. Maybe it couldn’t eat anything. That was encouraging because I didn’t want to get eaten.
“We come in peace,” I said without speaking.
“Peace?” It said. “We haven’t had a live specimen to examine in some time, so there’s no sense killing you.”
“What did you get me into?” I asked my friend.
He turned around and pulled a six-shooter from his holster that I didn’t know was there. BANG. BANG. BANG. The alien died before I could telegraph my surprise.
“You’re pretty good with that thing?” I said.
“Yeah, I’ve been practicing; I’m like the Doc Holiday of Outer Space.”
“So, what’s your plan?”
“Plan?… Just follow my lead,” my friend said. “We’ll take it one step at a time.”