There are these black electric cars, opaque, a couple of white LED lights. Silent. One day they are just there, dotted all over earth. The impression is of those Google Street View periscope cars. Except they are not of this planet. They are alien.
They move around in groups of two or three. Cruising along country roads, then parked and unmoving for days. Nobody can get inside them. They are not hostile in any way.
Mostly out in the countryside, gliding across highways, fields. They don’t do anything. People are curious. Mom and dad and I rent a cabin out in the country. Up on the hill above us are three cars. Stationary for days now, a tourist attraction. People park right up close that night, headlights streaming over the motionless black contours.
Next day; people picnicking on blankets along the river bank, glancing over at the cars, expecting something to happen. Everyone's real friendly. Nothing happens. A group gets up to leave, gives us their blanket to sit on.
I'm standing with Anne in the kitchen. The windows are flung wide open. It's a beautiful evening. We're sipping wine and we're staring at the gate buzzer.
Right on cue, the little white speaker crackles.
Anne presses the reply button and returns a tinny “Coolbeans.” She looks at me and says, “It's going to be so classy” and I grin at her. Tongue sticks out the corner of her mouth, she’s digging in her pockets for her gate remote. I beat her to it. A gaggle of students duck under the gate as it’s rolling upwards. One of them turns back and waves. A mom in a white Toyota says Be Good and pulls out of the driveway.
Smell of warm cheese. In the lounge it's me and Carry and her guy friends of friends from Durban and Jill Rhodes and Anne and Darren Waters the housemate and also copious amounts of bubbling cheddar.
I feel like an adult. Usually when we host a gathering it involves beer spills, broken glass, and at least one chunder in the garden. But not…
The doctor slides banks of sensors
over her bare, slicked tummy. The whole room click and hums. We’re packed into a room, a bright cube. I bend around banks of green
machines aimed at Cathy. Surely you don't need all this stuff
for a routine check-up…what on Mars do they all do? The doctor says, “Nothing can grow here.” “Except new life,” I mumble. Cathy glares at me. She likes this doctor; a sweet and wrinkly octogenarian. “What’s that?” the sweet doctor cranes his head
around some contraption. I look at him. He is indeed very old. And wrinkled. What I see is a stick in a
grey robe gripping a blinking green device. But also very wrinkly. A wrinkled
stick. On this point, at least, we
fully agree. To be fair, though, he is almost
exactly how Cathy described him. The kind of man who takes the Book of Standard
Practices as gospel, who can recite it word by word even after shooting an
entire syringe of Red Dust. Except that he’d never touch the stuff because that
would be a deviation from t…