Skye Carter reached for her coffee as the traffic light ahead turned red. She was running late, as usual, so she only had time to swing into the drive-through at her favorite coffee shop on her way to open her bookstore. Traffic was crawling, as usual, backed up by people who surged ahead then tried to cut back in where the lanes were supposed to merge.
Skye didn’t know what the problem was now, but she had sat through three red lights and only got to move ahead one car length. The next light change allowed her to reach the stop line in front of the crosswalk before it turned red again. She waited as a mom with two little girls crossed the street. Skye watched them wistfully. She would love to have a husband and a couple of kids. The problem was the husband part. She didn’t even have any prospects.
Morning traffic in Washington, D.C. was always hectic. She hated it, but she loved where her bookstore and internet café was located. It was always busy and made a decent profit. She loved being her own boss, and she loved running her store. She just hated the drive from Virginia into D.C. every morning. Just two more blocks and she would be there.
The mother and little girls finished crossing the street just as the light turned green. As she put her paper coffee cup back into the holder and started to lift her foot off the brake, a blinding wall of light blocked out everything in front of her.
Skye held fast on the brake and shielded her eyes with her hand. The brightness penetrated her hand and the dark sunglasses she wore to protect her sensitive blue eyes. With that light, she felt a good forty to fifty seconds of heat. When it stopped, it took several seconds of blinking for Skye to focus on what was in front of her.
First, she screamed. The buildings, the street, the sidewalks---everything that had been in front of her car two minutes before was gone, just gone. All she could see in front of her was a deep black hole that stretched for about a mile ahead of her. It was like cutting a piece of cake out of the middle of the pan. The edge of the chasm was straight and smooth.
After she screamed, she started to cry. Her store had been within the perimeter of the hole that was at least three hundred feet deep, and her car was just ten feet from the edge. She could only go a few feet forward, and she couldn’t go back, but the left lane was empty. All of the oncoming traffic was obliterated in the big dark hole along with her bookstore.
Everything she’d work for the past five years was gone, just gone like the buildings in front of her. Unless she could manage to turn around, she was trapped until people behind her moved out of the way.
Suddenly she wondered if this had anything to do with those aliens from the United Galactic Alliance of Worlds. They had taken over the world communications networks and announced their presence on radio and television as well as the internet. They announced it over and over again just a few weeks ago.
People had been acting kind of crazy since then. Many were in a panic, certain that the Alliance announcement meant that Earth would be invaded and taken over by aliens. Skye suddenly wondered if it were true.
She didn’t know how long she had sat there in shock before she figured out there was almost enough room for her to turn around. She turned the steering wheel as far to the left as possible and inched forward, mindful of the drop off in front of her. Then she backed up and started back the way she had come.
Skye had to stop frequently for others that were turning around as she did. After a while, almost all of the traffic was turning around while others kept going toward the disaster. Skye trembled as she drove, blinking back tears.
What. The. Hell?
Skye would say later that she drove home on autopilot. It was normally a forty-minute drive that took over an hour to get back to her little brick row house. She pulled in the driveway still shaking and wondering just what had happened. Her movements were robotic as she got out of her car and walked to her door and unlocked it.
She went inside the house and dropped her keys, and her purse on the table beside the door then went into the living room and turned on the TV. They were reporting that four UFO’s had cut a swath of destruction in a dozen cities around the world. But they weren’t saying if it was the same people who made the broadcast a few weeks before.
Skye pulled her smartphone from her purse and went on the internet to look up the United Galactic Alliance of Worlds. They were streaming reports that an alien race called the Drayids had attacked Earth. The Alliance already had battleships in the Solar System to seek and destroy the Drayids who attacked Earth.
Where the Alliance was offering to bring Earth into their membership, the Drayids were demanding surrender. Earth’s many governments were still squabbling in the United Nations on whether to join the Alliance or not.
Maybe Earth would be all right and maybe not. Hopefully, they would get rid of the Drayids, but that wouldn’t solve her problem. Her livelihood was gone along with how many people. Was her coffee bar clerk Janie there when it happened?
They were starting to show pictures of the devastation from the air. Anyone inside that perimeter didn’t have a chance.
Skye tried texting her friend and employee then waited. She went back to perusing the internet while waiting for Janie to text back. An unusual ad caught her eye, one that she had heard about since the Alliance had announced their presence.
It was straight out of science fiction. Narovian Interstellar Matchmaking Service guarantees genetic soulmate matches. Apply online and receive a DNA sample collection kit.
Skye started reading the fine print when her phone beeped. It was from Janie!
“Sorry, I’m running late, stuck in traffic. Don’t know what’s going on.” Janie’s message popped up on Skye’s phone.
“Turn around and go home first chance you get. The store is gone. Call me later.” Skye messaged back.
Only Janie didn’t wait to call back. Skye’s cell phone immediately began to ring. She answered it.
“Skye, what do you mean the store is gone?”
“You’re not going to believe this. Aliens cut a big hole out of the middle of D.C.”
“No, Janie, I’m not kidding. It happened right in front of me. One minute I’m waiting for the light to change and the next this blinding light is like a wall in front of me. Then when it stops the road in front of me is gone, and there’s a big black hole in front of me at least a mile wide. I was two blocks from the store, and it’s gone, just gone. All that’s left is that big black hole. Five years work and everything is gone.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I doubt insurance is going to cover an alien attack. I guess I may have to get a job. I’ve still got a mortgage and bills for the store. My savings are not going to get me far.” Skye told her.
“At least I can file for unemployment.”
“Yes, I paid that bill. I’m so glad you’re okay, Janie. We’ll talk soon. Bye, hon.”
Skye let out a long sigh. Aliens, UFO’s, big black holes in the middle of cities, what in the universe was next? After a couple of calming breaths, Skye went back to her phone and took a second look at the match making website.
The Narovian Interstellar Matchmaking Service is pleased to announce that our matchmaking service has been extended to the citizens of Earth, the newest world formally invited into the United Galactic Alliance of Worlds. We provide the best matchmaking services in the Alliance to most humanoid species. We will run your DNA with millions of other applicants to find your best biological match. In many cases, such genetically matched humanoids will also be soul mates.
Your mate could be on any of a thousand planets or right in your own city. If you are interested, contact us at the internet site below for our submission package. Return your DNA sample with the required fee. All sales are final.
Warning: If your mate is a Narovian feline, physical contact of any kind can bind you for life. Certain other species also have similar effects. We recommend that you contact your match electronically before meeting them in person if you do not wish to be bound to mate for life.