Friday, December 14, 2012

Airplane Story

Leaning back in my seat, I pushed my finished comic book away and closed my eyes. It was so almost impossible to sleep in the middle seat. I could sleep like a baby if I could just lean against the window. And the girl in the window seat wasn't even taking advantage of the comfy freezing cold wall right next to her! She was reading some book about science. It's hard flying to LA because all the girls on the plane are all the prettiest girl in the universe, and then they all know how to read. Like, that's supposed to be my one thing, right? Ugh, if I can't rely on my witty personality then I'm gonna have to make friends by selling my armpit juices in a sweatshop. (That's what sweatshops are for, right?)

The flight isn't long but I have three coffees and a bottle of water. I'm writhing in bladder constriction pain. I don't want to get up to use the restroom because I hate the idea of disturbing the girl in the aisle seat. She is working on something for work with grown up work papers. It seems serious.

At the end of the flight, I still haven't urinated yet, and I'm getting ridiculously anxious, which is actually my natural state so I'm kinda comfortable in it. I'm in the back of the plane so when everyone stands up and is gathering their overhead baggage, it seems like it'll take 500 years for the line to move and me to get a chance to get off the plane. I hope up and down in my double hoodie comfy flying uniform and make a executive decision.

With a couple of excuse me's on my part and corresponding dirty looks, I weave through the one row behind me to get to the back of the plane. I let myself into the restroom and hover over the seat, careful not to touch what is probably just as clean as my home bathroom toilet. I pee for about ten gallons and it almost hurts it feels so good. The liquid and toxins and coffee dump out of me like a vibrant dark yellow-orange waterfall of Amazonian glory. As I finish, I wipe, you don't need to know the details. And then I stand up, and promptly and naturally hit my forehead on the sink, and slump to the ground unconsciously.

When I wake up, maybe minutes or days later, I forget where I am. Waking up from being knocked out is not the same as waking up from a good night's sleep, it's even more anxiety inducing. I shake off the tendrils of nightmares and wipe try to wipe away my the images of bloody men who have been skinned and wear their muscles on the outside. I look around and see the white, tiny room, a little bit bigger than a coffin, and I scream.

Outside the bathroom door I look out over the empty plane. I guess no one had noticed me, which is not a novel realization. I see my backpack and ukulele sitting in my empty row, and dizzily I become aware that we are moving.

The windows are white with clouds and I can see mountains miles and miles below us. I look around for a flight attendant or a passenger or anyone, but I don't see one. I'm a bit relieved; I'm not sure what I would say anyway. That kind of "I fucked up and I'm sorry and help I'm the worst" conversation is not a comfortable one. I sit back down in my seat in the back of the plane, resigned to just get off at the next stop, explain what happened, and hopefully get a flight back home from there. Yeah, it sucks, but what else can I do? Then I decide to move to the window seat.

After an undetermined period of time sleeping against the window, my growling stomach woke me up. I hadn't eaten yet that day, which wouldn't have been a problem because I was supposed to land before ten, but now I didn't even know what time it was. I put my hand over my abdomen and cringe. I wasn't enough of a grown up to pack snacks in my backpack. I looked out over the aisle and decided there must be some crew somewhere. I walked past row and row of empty seat, that seemed to go on for hundreds of meters. At the front of the plane, a woman was sitting in a little chair wearing a flight attendant uniform. She was playing a videogame on her DS but she jumped, startled when she saw me.

"Who are  you? How did you get on this plane?" She asked. She looked up and her face was white and thin with deep cavernous eyes.
"I'm so so sorry," I said. "I was on this plane earlier from LA to Portland and then I guess I passed out in the bathroom, not like in a gross way, well maybe in a gross way, but I woke up and the plane was moving..."
"That's impossible," she said.
"Well, it's improbable and weird," I corrected. Why did I need to correct her? She wouldn't give me a peanut bag if I was a snarky know it all. Keep that crap hidden!
"No, we haven't touched down in  years."

I shrugged, knowing she was wrong. "Do you have any snacks aboard?" I asked.
"Er, yes." She rifled in a cabinet and pulled out a tiny packet of green pebbles that looked like dried wasabi pees and tasted like nothing. They filled me up though. Airplane food keeps getting weirder, am I right?

"Thank you," I sat next to her and felt instantly nutirtionalized and full from my snack. "Do you know when we touch down again?" I asked.
"We stop in an hour in Glocomm."
"Huh... Is that a big airport? What state is that in? I'm just asking to see if I can get a flight back to Portland."
"Yeah. Are we still on the west coast?"
"I don't know or remember the states of ancient America," she said apologetically. "I know we learned them in school but I guess I forgot some of that trivial knowledge."

I turned on the little tv on one of the seats in front of me. I scrolled through channels. It was all two and a half men, reality tv, reality tv, two and a half men, reality tv, weird creepy alien fake news show, reality tv. I flipped back to the alien fake news show and watched for a few minutes. It was just a green humanish extra terrestrial reporting fake news stories. It wasn't even funny. I frowned, sighed, and turned off the tv.

"So  where did you say you were coming from?" the flight attendant asked.
"I don't know it."
"Los Angeles? City of Angels? The city that people mistakenly think is the capitol of California? The place where Buffy spinoff Angel is set?"
"No, sorry."

I turned the television back on. Something felt weird, like I was in a play but I had accidentally gotten the wrong script, so I was dressed as a pumpkin when everyone else was dressed as a mouse. I looked at the flight attendant abruptly. "What's the date?"

"December 14th," she said.
"Oh my god. I was passed out for a whole day? I was sure it was only an hour. I can't believe I missed a day!" I yelled.
"Year 2195," she added with a shrug.

I felt light headed and I asked her to repeat herself. Then I threw up. "I was passed out for 183 years." She thinks I am insane at this point. Sitting there with vomit all over me, starting to cry, and babbling, I do nothing to correct her. "Everyone I know and loved is dead."

The flight attendant brings me some Kleenex, some future Kleenex, and some sort of warm drink. I sit quietly in my seat and she watches me fearfully, like I might attack her, perhaps rightfully so. I buckle up when the sign tells me to and we begin our descent.

Out the window, the city of Gloccum is brown and war torn, smoking and overrun with screaming people in tattered rags. There are people everywhere, running through the streets and fighting, hitting each other with mallets. I don't know what I was expecting, white and silver buildings, floating cars, ipads for boyfriends. We lower into a violent burning decrepit town.

"Is it like this everywhere?" I ask.
"No, some places have more acid rain," the flight attendant offers.

The fasten seat belt sign blinks off. I get out of my seat and go to exit the plane. The attendant directs me to the emergency exit, where I go down stairs onto the runway. There is no fancy airport with a hundred starbuckses and bookstores. There are just planes, lined up on flat ground, and rats running around the feet of the angry mob of pedestrians. Cockroaches squirm and look up at me expectantly.

I hop down from the last step and a tiny golf cart pulls up to us. The flight attendant nods at me and two men hop out of the golf cart and place handcuffs on my wrists. They usher me into the cart with gentle soothing voices. I look out, crying and weak, wishing I had been brave enough to pee when I had had a chance.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I sat in the living room in my pajamas, late well into the afternoon. The couch conformed under my flannelled buttocks. My laptap grew hot against my thighs and I flicked through the television. Behind me, a light glowed outside the rain splattered window, and a spaceship landed in my backyard.

At first it was an unidentified flying object, but then I identified it, using contextual clues, and thus it became a flying object identified as a spaceship.

I muted the television; I didn't need to see a rerun of How I Met Your Mother more than this. I sat up on my knees on the couch, leaning over the back and looking outside. My messy unbrushed hair clumped in a thick scarf-like hood, getting in my mouth, smelling of old shampoos and coffee.

The spaceship was larger than my mom's car, but smaller than a sad mom's car (ie: suv.) It was white but it wasn't that clean. There were no discernible windows or doors. Four metal poles propped it up on our lawn, which would probably have to be refertilized after this. A circular hole opened in the spaceship, widening until it was about four feet in radius. A pair of black shoes attached to thin long legs swung out and a person fell to the ground.

I opened the backdoor- my parents called it the kid door because when we were little we were told to go in through that door so we wouldn't get outside dirt in the front hallway, but now we were allowed to go through any door because we were adults sort of and we played in dirt less.

A few neighbor ladies were looking over the edge of their fences into our yard. A couple dogs were barking. They thought it was weird I had a mental breakdown and had to move back in with my parents, the neighbor ladies, not the dogs. The dogs were cool.

Ignoring the nosy neighbors, I walked barefoot into our yard and helped the strange man to his feet. He was wearing black pants and a long sleeved black shirt. Maybe he was an artist. His skin was green, which I thought was kind of artsy. His hair was black and curly. As he leaned against my shoulder to get up, I noticed the curve of his arm muscles and his long, elegant, flat and compact torso. My cheeks grew warmer. The green man vomited violently at my feet.

"I'm so sorry," he said. "The landing still gets me a bit spacesick."

Oh, it's okay, I thought. Then I realized I hadn't said it out loud. I hadn't been talking a lot lately and my social skills were a little worse for the lack of use. "It's okay," I said. "I can imagine the ride must be jarring."

"Do you have any... I think you humans call it sprite?" he asked.
"Yeah... well something. Maybe it's fresca, but yeah."
"Oh, lovely."
"Uh-huh." I was aware of my annoying tiny black mustache hairs that were coming in.
"May I have some?"
"Yeah, sure."

My parents were away at work. I invited the alien in. I had accidentally locked the kid door behind me when I came out to check on him so I had to make him wait while I crawled in through the dining room window and then ran to the living room to let him in. He didn't seem annoyed or awkward with that at all.

He came in and sat on a chair at the table. I poured him a glass of fresca, made myself a coffee, and ten I sliced up a tomato and put it on a plate in between us. The alien politely helped himself to a slice of tomato and chewed thoughtfully.

"Thank you so much for the soft drink and the fruit slices." he said.
"Not a problem. My mom bought them."

I looked around. The television was still emanating silent storylines and bright colors of pretty people doing silly things.

"So, where are you from?" I asked.
"It's called Drozquaid. You probably haven't heard of it. It's just like 30 light years outside of Frehman."
"Oh, uh-huh."
"Yeah, you know Frehman?"
"So what brings you to Earth?" I asked.
"Earth?" He looked up, alarmed.
"Yeah," I said. "Why are you here?"
"This is Earth? Galaxy 12700? The Gestarian county?"
"Um... I think? Maybe?" I said.
"Oh god. What year is this?"
"Human years... ugh... the conversion of human years is so difficult. You'd think you guys would use the same unit as the rest of the galaxy, but no, you gotta be special."
"Not your fault."

The green man pulled a tiny notepad from a pocket I hadn't noticed in his sleek outfit. He began working out a math equation. His color faded to mint and he gasped to himself.

"What's up?" I asked.
"I've already said too much," he said. He was getting up. He threw his dishes in the sink, which really wasn't necessary. "I need to go. Something terrible is going to happen to the lifeforms on this planet and I can't be here..."
"What's going to happen?"
"Nothing major, it will only affect humans and most earth animals and plants."
"I'm a human."
"Yeah. No important species to existence will be affected."
"Can you take me with you?"

He looked at me, startled by the question. "Why?"
"I don't want to die... Can we take my family and go pick up some library books for the trip too?"
"No, I don't want to disrupt the history line of time and space. You better stay here."

I grumbled and rolled my eyes but pretended like I understood. The alien rain his long thin fingers through his black hair and smiled kindly at me. "Thanks so much for the snack."

I smiled back at him. He let himself out the backdoor and climbed back up into his space ship using a little white ladder that extended downwards. I didn't walk him to his ship, but watched from inside, on my sofa. I turned the volume back up on the tv and microwaved my coffee. He gave me one last look from the opening. His smooth skin tightened up into what looked like a frown. Then the space ship was closed again, a smooth white egg. The metal legs retracted back up into it and it floated for a moment in out back yard and then it was gone.