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The Essay
Show #136
Beezer's World
David Gunn
Dr. Robert G. Beezer, scientist-in-charge of the Department of Defense's Alien Incursion Response Team, pulled up to the security checkpoint which fronted Hangar 52. Ernesto, the guard, acknowledged the doctor, peered at the passengers in the back seat of the old Hudson Wingback, then smiled and waved at Bobby, Beezer's 11-year old son. His reaction to Ninkota, Bobby's exchange student friend from Rangoon, was strained, though, because Ninkota had dyed her hair translucent and Ernesto imagined he saw alien life forms hunkered down by the roots. But then Ernesto saw extraterrestrial entities everywhere. When he began working at Hangar 52 in 1957, he really did see them everywhere. From all across the galaxy they came to exchange ideas with and experiment on humans, and Hangar 52 in Roswell, New Mexico was the nerve center from which all unearthly activity radiated. But in the intervening 40 years, most of the aliens had died or teleported back to their home worlds or had been reconfigured as aluminum zirconium. Today, most aliens carried green cards and hailed from Zacatecas or Toronto. Hangar 52, too, bore little resemblance to its GAFS -- or, Golden Age of Flying Saucers -- heyday. In 1995, a café and gift shop opened in what had once been the finest extraterrestrial language lab in the world. Studio Z, the formerly top secret artificial intelligence research facility, was now a daycare center staffed by aides whose only paranoia was radioactive diaper rash.

Beezer escorted Bobby and Ninkota to his office next to New Mexico's MUFON headquarters. He smiled to himself. In the 1980s, the Mutual UFO Network had wangled an outpost at the facility by employing a pluperfect clause in the Freedom of Information Act. After a decade of openly biased scientific scrutiny, however, they had determined that extraterrestrial activity was more prevalent in a Baltimore shopping mall, and so they moved the bulk of their staff to the east coast. Only Friar Fellini remained at the Hangar 52 office. Like Ernesto, Friar had also seen untold numbers of alien life forms, but unlike Ernesto, Friar saw his through the bottom of a sparkling wine bottle.

Dr. Beezer's office walls were lined with ant farms, most of which had gaping holes in their sides and no tenants. The few that remained hermetically sealed bore the offspring of those Paroleans who had mated with Earth ants. They were a disappointing progeny; they had none of the acute telepathic skills of the space travelers nor the social graces of the terrestrial harvesters. Their body components had degenerated, too. With hooded eyes, pink beaks and nose talons, they more closely resembled the creations of a frustrated B movie animatronics designer who had been staring at the world too long through the bottom of a sparkling wine bottle than they did an attempt at alien inseminated evolution.

While Dr. Beezer attended to business, Bobby and Ninkota were free to roam the facility. As they frequently did, they raced to the AIRT spaceship museum where the alien transport pod mock-up, code-named the X252APT, awaited hands-on investigation. Modeled after the craft in which the Paroleans crash landed, the X252APT was too small for grown men and women to comfortably fit in, but was just right for the pre-teen crowd. Bobby and Ninkota strapped themselves into the formica chairs and Ninkota tapped one of the six articulated stalks on the control pad in front of her. The chairs raised and lowered in response, and a bank of lights on an overhead datascreen winked on and off sequentially. From past experience, they knew this meant the transport pod was gassed up and ready to go, however without the launch code, they weren't going anywhere outside of the cafeteria for a snack in a little while. Until then, it was fun to just let their imaginations wander.

Meanwhile, Dr. Beezer, having run the latest memorandum from the Paroleans through the Elsewhere Language Paraphraser, was experiencing an anxiety attack. Originally thought to have been a harmless holiday greeting, the extremely tiny and boustrophedonically written words were no less than an ultimatum from a superior intelligence irked at four decades of, to them, inferior living conditions. It said "Immediately return us 68,000 X252 spacecraft, Parolean queen bug vital fluid, and 200 xenotides (approximately 40 years, he calculated) lifespans, or suffer Earthwide holocaust that reduces mankind to weasel spit equivalent and makes devastation caused by Antarian antsucker in pale comparison. This final is offer." The desire for their own spacecraft Beezer could appreciate; he also understood, though did not agree with, their ire towards the ant farm housing. But the queen bug vital fluid reference made no sense at all. Unless ....

Nervously, Beezer rang the AIRT command center. Five rings. Six. Seven, and still no answer. He hung up and dialed channel 41 on his CB radio. Turning down the squelch control, he was able to make out a mysteriously vocoded voice intoning over and over again the Athabaskan word for flambeau oriange, followed by this, the 136th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this portion of which is gradually being absorbed by mitigating circumstances beyond our control, but fortunately not beyond the radiophonic frequency endurance of Kalvos.