I was having dinner with my on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jason. I don't know why I kept going back to him; perhaps it was because I was just too busy with my job as a government official for the Space Agency specializing in communications. I worked so much that I hardly had time to have a life outside of work. I had a lot of pride in my job and knew that I had to work harder than everyone else in the agency to prove myself. But this left me feeling very lonely for romance and the touch of a male. It left me often fantasizing about a man that would dominate me and allow me to just turn off while he took the lead in romance and sex. I craved this.
So when Jason would call me, I would go running: something that I wasn't too proud of. But it was the closest thing I had to male companionship. But Jason was definitely not the dominant and exciting male that I fantasized about.
“Heather, are you going to eat that?” he asked as he sat next to me in the dimly lit restaurant. We were surrounded by couples that were looking at each other with love or lust in their eyes, while Jason and I sat eating, and nothing else.
“No, I suppose not,” I said, but before I finished my sentence, he was eating off of my plate. I looked at him. He was tall, dark, and handsome, and good on paper: an investment banker that worked out a lot. But he wasn't much for personality or kindness. He just wasn't my dream man. I wanted someone adventurous and different from everyone else in the city. But finding him would take time, and I did not have time. I took my job very seriously, and my romantic life, not so seriously.
“I have been thinking about getting away. Don't you think about that sometimes? Just taking a break from it all? I think I am going to go to the Caribbean for a long weekend,” he said with his mouth full of food. It was more than he had said the entire night.
I looked at him with wide eyes. I couldn't believe it. We had never taken a weekend trip together, not even just to the nearby country. It was shocking to hear this from him. I smiled. Perhaps this time around with Jason would be different. Perhaps he was maturing and starting to appreciate me. Maybe I could have a real relationship with him full of adventure and romance. A vacation would give us the space and time to not think about work and to just focus on each other in paradise.
“That sounds lovely. Where do you want to go?” I said, putting my elbow on the table and resting my head in my hand as I stared at him with new admiration.
“I was thinking St. Croix,” he said.
“That would be beautiful. It would be nice to get away,” I said to him.
“Yes, you should think about taking a trip of your own. It would do you some good to get away from work and have some alone time. That is what I am looking forward to on my trip,” he said. “I just need some “me” time you know? Get away from everything I have here and not think about it at all.”
I took my elbow off the table and straightened up. I should have known. He was not inviting me. He was speaking about himself and his own darn trip. It was typical Jason.
“Oh, I see. Yes, you should go. You should go as soon as possible and get out of here,” I said feeling very frustrated and annoyed.
“Do you mind picking up the check this time? I am trying to save up so I can go to the Caribbean within a week or two. You understand, don't you?” He chugged down the last of his wine.
I sighed. “Yeah, sure.” I waved the waiter over. “Can I have the check please, as soon as possible?”
After dinner, I went back to his place; don't ask me why. I should not have paid the check and walked out of that restaurant and never talked to him again. But I was a grown woman, and I had needs, and like I said, I did not have time to find another lover. Even Jason, who wasn't that great in bed, was adequate for what I needed.
Still, the next morning it made me think about what I wanted, what I craved. I wanted a man that saw me as a desirable female, one that he could not take his hands off of. I wanted him to be adventurous and kind and very different. But little did I know that wishing for this would bring me someone that I could have never imagined entering my life before.
Monday came around, and I was glad for the distraction of work. Working at the space agency as a communication specialist was a lot of fun for me. I was a nerd, and I enjoyed my intelligence and putting it to good use. The day was a typical day like any other—until it happened.
“Heather, they're ready for you in the conference room,” my assistant Sarah said to me.
“Great, thank you,” I said as I grabbed my folders and made my way to the boardroom. We were on the 52nd floor of a skyscraper. The entire office was glass, giving us a great view over the city. It was beautiful. I walked into the conference room wearing my usual business attire of a black pencil skirt with a black blazer and my brown hair in a high, sleek ponytail.
“We have a conference call with Japan in 2 minutes. Is everyone ready?” I asked the group that was gathered around the large rectangular table. This was what I did as a communications specialist: I managed communicating with other space agencies and space companies.
“Ready,” the group responded.
“Sarah go ahead and patch us in…” I said.
We waited for my assistant to establish a satellite communication video call with Japan. This was standard; it was our preferred way of communicating.
“I am having technical difficulties. Give me another minute,” Sarah said as she typed at a keyboard. I was annoyed. I did not like things to have a glitch. It made us look unprofessional.
“They are expecting us; please hurry,” I said to her. Sarah looked flustered. She tried and then tried it again.
Finally, a line was established. “Got it,” Sarah said.
“Good,” I said as I stood in front of the monitor to greet the group on the video call. But as the meeting progressed, the video kept jumping up and down. There was a lot of static. It was something we never had to deal with before. It was annoying me. It was something you would expect during a massive storm, but it was bright and sunny outside. I looked at Sarah, who seemed to want to cower in the corner. I would be giving her an earful when the meeting was over. She already knew it.
Then the video call cut off completely.
“What just happened? Sarah! Get them back!” I shouted, frantic at the disconnection.
“Oh, my word…” a colleague said as he stood up from his chair. He was facing the windows of the conference room to the outside. We all turned to see what he was looking at.
“Oh my God,” I whispered as I stepped over to the window. I could not believe what I was seeing. This had to be fake. This had to be a hoax of some kind. This had to be the government doing some sort of special experiments that they did not tell us about. Outside the window in the sky was a large flat disk coming out of the atmosphere very slowly.
“Is that what I think it is?” Sarah said.
“It can't be,” I said to her.
“But it looks like an alien aircraft,” Sarah said.
“But it can't be,” I said.
Suddenly the city was louder than it normally was. There were sirens blaring, cars crashing into each other, and helicopters flying toward the spacecraft. Then our office came alive. Suddenly the phones were ringing off the hook. We all looked at each other. We knew then that this was real. It was unbelievable, and I was still processing. Could this be it? We had been searching for life from other planets forever, and now it had come to us. A chill went down my spine. This was going to be insane.
“Heather, Director Fox is on the line for you!” another assistant rushed into the room. Then he stood motionless as he saw what we were looking at. I ran to the phone and picked it up.
“This is Heather Maven,” I said.
“Heather, do you know?”
“Ye,1 I am looking at it right now from the conference room,” I said.
“We just received a call from the president about it. I need you on a helicopter flight to me and the rest of the agency for an emergency meeting. We will send the chopper to the helipad. Be ready in fifteen,” he said.
“I’ll be ready,” I said. Then he hung up. That was it. That was the phone call that confirmed that aliens had landed on Earth. This was what I had waited for my entire life, since I was a little girl looking up at the stars. It was so unbelievable that I was still trying to process it. But I had work to do. This was my line of work, and I was being called to an emergency meeting. This was what I had trained for. I had to push my shock aside and get to work.
“Sarah! I'm leaving to meet up with the director in 15. Gather all my emergency materials now!”
I looked at Sarah in the conference room. She was frozen, staring out the window. I put my hand on her shoulder, “Sarah! Snap out of it. I need you to focus,” I said to her.
“Yes, Ms. Maven. Sorry,” she said.
“Follow me,” I said as I led her out of the conference room and to my office where we gathered my emergency materials and pushed them into my briefcase. I grabbed my laptop and my tablet and an overnight bag that I had in my closet. I was prepared for this, but I never thought it would actually come.
Within minutes, I was on the roof of my office building. From here, I got a better view of the massive space ship. My mouth was wide open. I did not think that this would ever really happen.
“We are ready for takeoff,” the pilot said as he walked to me. I looked at the helicopter sitting quietly on the helipad. I could see all the other helicopters from news stations to the military hovering in the air near the spaceship.
“I am ready,” I said to him as I followed him and the others into the helicopter. I strapped in. The engine roared to life. Then we were in the air moving toward the ship to get to the other side of the city for the meeting.
“Can you believe it? Look at the size of it,” the pilot said.
I looked at the ship as we flew by it. It was obviously very advanced. It was very shiny and sleek. I could see people below on the streets. It was a mix of panic and people frozen, staring up at the ship. People would need to be addressed soon, but I did not know what they could possibly be told. In all honesty, they should evacuate the city, but I knew that even if this was not my job, I would stay. I was too curious by nature.
“We have an estimated time of arrival of 6 minutes,” the pilot said.
I took a deep breath. This meeting would be the most important meeting of my life. I pulled out my protocol guide books from my briefcase. There was an official government guide on dealing with extraterrestrial arrivals. But nothing could prepare us for the reality of the situation.
“We are coming in for the landing,” the pilot said to the helipad operators on top of the Space Agency Headquarters.
We landed and were ushered inside. On this far side of the building, we were further from the spaceship than from my office. Although I preferred the view from my own building, I felt a bit of relief being further away.
“What do we think it is?” I asked Director Fox as I entered the conference room.
“We know for a fact that this is not a domestic situation. This is not a ship from any country on Earth; we have already confirmed it. So it is what we think it is, is alien.”
“Well, now that we are on the same page, are we following this protocol?” I said as I pulled out the guide book and put it on the conference table. There were 10 other people in the room, mostly government officials and two scientists.
“No, we are not. If everyone will have a seat, I will tell you what the orders are directly from the president,” Director Fox said.
We all had a seat but were nervous and fidgety. We all had a thousand questions, but had to keep quiet in order to listen to what the president dictated to Director Fox.
“Now, everyone listen. The president has placed a hold on military action. The very first step that he wants to take is establishing communication with the aliens. We have to find out what their intentions are and if they are hostile. That is our job. We are now the first protocol for dealing with this situation; it is up to us,” Director Fox said.
I took a deep breath. This was what I wanted. But now that it was happening, it was overwhelming and daunting. How can you establish communication with an alien race? We did not even know if they understood our language or if they would give us the time needed to communicate. They could open fire on us any second if they wanted to.
“Understood, and what steps will we be taking to do that?” Eric Becker said. He was also in my department, and he and I were somewhat enemies. He was always doubting my capabilities and belittling me in front of our co-workers.
“The president is allowing me to choose a lead for this project. Under the project manager leadership, we will follow an itinerary for establishing communication. Once it is established, this project manager will also be the main point of contact for the alien race,” Director Fox said.
Suddenly, we all held our breath as we waited to hear who he would appoint project manager for this very important and historical moment in the history of Earth. I wanted it to be me, but then I did not. It was a lot to put on one person. If the aliens misunderstood the project manager’s communication, it could cause an all-out war, and many people could die.
“I would like to volunteer to be project manager. I think we all know that I have the best experience for the job,” Eric said as he stood up, confident and cocky.
“Thank you, Eric, but I have already chosen. Please sit down,” Director Fox said.
Then he turned and looked at me. My eyes grew wide. Oh shit.
“Heather, you are project manager. You are the best person for the job. If you accept?” Director Fox said to me.
I looked around the room wide-eyed. I was being looked at with envy and anger. Eric specifically had a look of hatred on his face as his blue eyes narrowed at me. The jerk. There had been so many times where he had embarrassed me in front of our work colleagues. He had stolen many projects from me before and so I had absolutely no empathy for him. I gathered my inner pride and stood up.
“I would be honored and happy to accept. I will not let you, or the president, or the planet down,” I said.
“Excellent. Heather, you have the lead. The rest of you are part of her team. You will be doing whatever she says, along with a few other scientists that are being flown in from around the world as we speak.
“Thank you,” I said as I moved to the head of the table of the conference room as Director Fox moved aside.
“I think the main thing that we need to understand is the fact that this alien aircraft and the aliens aboard it have come to us. This means they have a reason for coming, and it will not be long before they let us know this reason. They will either do so physically or with a line of communication. I want the reports from every single airwave traffic out there, from the small frequencies of walkie talkies to the radio airwaves, satellite, everything; you know the drill. My guess is that they are already sending us a message; we just need to find it. Now go,” I said to the team. They all stood up and moved out of the conference room.
“That is a good start,” Direct Fox said to me.
“Thank you. I only hope that there is time to find the message. I feel like we will be seeing these aliens within the hour. I must come up with an initial greeting when we first see them. Now he will give me some silence in space,” I said as I pulled out my notepad and began to scribble out sentences to say to these aliens. But I did not know then just how much I would be communicating with this alien race that has landed on Earth. It was beyond all of my expectations.