Thursday, September 2, 2010

“Slave Labor On UFO’s” by Eric Player

My stomach churned when I entered the room. Here begins the battlefield. Most of the kids occupied themselves by talking or reading, but I knew they were watching me. They wanted to see what it would take to break me. The label on my shirt rubbed uncomfortably against the back of my neck. I stood there feeling awkward for what seemed like a split eternity. Looking around, I could tell the room was different from the previous one. An attempt to throw me off guard. Here, I entered at the front of the class, met by all the faces staring in my direction. Studying me. In Alaska, the door stood in the back. I never wished for anything more than I wished it would do that here, so I could sneak in.

No! Don't think that way. It's what they want. Never give them what they want. All the people looked different. They were alien soul stealers from perdition here to take my trousers and parade them through the new school. They would find that very difficult.

I saw a seat. I sat in it. In the several other situations of this kind I would experience, I chose the desk for how friendly the people nearby looked, or for how much leg room it provided, but now I simply wanted people to stop watching me. I couldn't think. The teacher welcomed us all to our first day as third graders. Wasn't it great to see all of our friends again?

I wanted to see all my friends again. I wanted to go back to Anchorage and build another snow fort with Brian, my best friend. I tried to think of how far away he was, but I couldn't calculate beyond the endless time spent sitting on my butt in the family van. (The fact that we drove the thousands of miles from Alaska to Oklahoma made the rift inconceivable.)

Recess came, and I walked out alone. For the first time, I admitted to myself that I wouldn't be returning from this little trip, but that didn’t mean I had to like it. O.K., I'm in Tulsa. Tulsa is where they put little boys to break their spirits so they can force them into slave labor on UFOs. If I looked around that much was obvious. It was flat, hot, and barren. Obviously scarred by alien activity. One had to be ready to face anything, for each "person" in the area, in reality, developed from the kind of scum that gathered under one's fingernails after a trip to the potty.

The following day I came to school with a general belief in the theory of separation between the classes. There were Nobles and there were Scum. I obviously moved from the realm of Nobles into the realm of Scum. The boy sitting next to me was a classic example. Long black bangs covered his eyes to the point where he constantly flipped them to the side in order to see anything. His innocent grin showed he was obviously a product of social ignorance. Doesn't he realize he lives in a land of Scum Beings regularly seeded and harvested by aliens? I certainly did.

The best thing to do in a situation like this is to ignore the riff-raff, so I simply stared straight ahead.

"I'm Daniel," he said. "What's your name?"

It was apparent he planned to fool me into a relaxed complacency, and thereby rob me of the front that kept me safe.

"Want to go out to recess with me?"

Ha! My chance! The plan was simple: go along with his little game until an opportunity came to beat his head against the monkey bars and force the location of the alien headquarters from his inhuman hide.


We talked while we wandered across the playground, and I gave him a chance to learn I was someone to reckon with. I told him of the land I came from, high above another country, and blasted with tormenting cold. (I stressed this part to show I could endure any torture he had planned.) There were wild areas filled with Ex-ski-moles, and we even captured a couple to take with us as bodyguards. He was impressed.

So impressed that by the time we got to the monkey bars I couldn't bring myself to destroy such a captivated audience. We met again the next day, and this time he brought his friend Scott. Hard to believe fancy words could subdue such hostile creatures, but every day they looked more and more friendly.

Eventually the three of us became inseparable. Scott knew the best places to fly kites, Daniel knew the best places to catch crawdads. I showed them how to climb trees; my wilderness place had plenty. They insisted they weren't really space Scum, so when I trusted them enough, and when the weather permitted, I showed them how to make real snow forts. Real snow forts were twenty feet tall and solid ice. The weather around Oklahoma only permitted scale sizes of two feet or so. Every day I learned something from these new friends I first thought were out to get me.

By fourth grade, I was very happy. Daniel was my best friend and Scott let me be President and Official Girl Chaser for our new club: The Panthers. These titles made me a stud by fifth grade. Every recess, I looked forward to the club meetings behind the school. We always had something to do. New members. Initiations. Abbey Haywood is our new target, men. Because I have a crush on her. Life was good. Life would never change.

Then it hit me. Sudden enlightenment. Daniel and Scott weren't the Alien Scum Beings' rulers, my parents were. Only Scum Beings would take me away again. They couldn't break me here, so they tried a new atmosphere.

Houston is where they put little boys to break their spirits so they can force them into slave labor on UFOs. If I looked around that much was obvious.

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