Written by murdough :: [Tuesday, 18 April 2006 13:21] Last updated by :: [Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:27]
by Andrew Murdough
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” rang through my head for the thousandth as I entered the terminal at Manchester Airport, my two bags slung over my shoulders. I glanced back at the green mini-van that had dropped me off, my best friend Linda, sitting behind the steering wheel. It was obvious that she did not approve of my decision, the frown on her face quite clear on that. But who could blame here really? I mean, here I was hopping a flight to Las Vegas for a comic book convention. Or at least that’s what I had told Linda.
The thing is, despite the fact that we had been best friends for nearly eight years and that I loved her as much as one could while staying platonic, there were things that I still kept from her, the big thing being my continued fascination regarding the Supremis. Linda had never approved of it, given the constant reports on the news of flying blondes out on the West Coast, as well as rumors of alien invaders called Arions.
It didn’t help matters that Linda didn’t approve of my friendship and brief “tryst” with a Velorian Protector called Rasa who had decided make Manchester her home (that’s another story for much later). Coming from a strong religious background, she believed that the idea of alien goddesses bordered on blasphemy and Paganism. Hell, she had picketed one of the local movie theatres the week Harry Potter opened up, feeling that it promoted sorcery and witchcraft. So, I had not told her that I was attending a convention focused on these aliens. Besides, as cliché as it sounded, what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me.
Approaching the counter, I purchased my round trip ticket, this endeavor dipping heavily into my savings account. Northwest Airlines flight 207. That was my plane until the layover in Detroit in about two hours, where I’d switch over to flight 1199. All in all, my trip would last nearly five hours. Five hours to mentally prepare myself for what would most certainly rate as one of the more interesting experiences in my life.
Not that my life was boring. Well it was up until about seven months ago when I had received irrefutable proof that the aliens I had been reading about on the Internet for over a year were in fact reality. Since then, my life hadn’t been the same. Nor would it ever be again.
I slowly, almost staggeringly, made my way to the convention floor, my light brown hair disheveled and a significant five o’clock shadow adorning my chin and cheeks. Fortunately, those were the least presentable aspects of my appearance, since my hair and my beard weren’t all that important when one thinks about it. Dressed in black khakis, a gray dress shirt, black combat boots and a black leather jacket that came down to my knees, I cut what I hoped to be something of a “roguish” look.
Most of the other attendees (all two hundred of them) were already there, a portion of them at a table where they were giving out name tags. Picking mine up, I looked at the name written on it. murdough2000, probably one of the more ridiculous screen names that I could have come up with .
“What the hell was I thinking?” I thought, that question having more than one meaning, given that I was still recovering from my night of bar hopping that I had engaged in after I had checked into the hotel the previous afternoon. The fake ID I had bought from a co-worker had served me quite well, adding seven months to my twenty years. Needless to say, the allure of Sin City had gotten the best of me, and I had had what would prove to be the first of several mornings where I would wake up in pain, though the other times would not be solely from hangovers.
The opening presentations went on for what seemed like an eternity, though I did pay attention to what Jeff was saying, if only because I had begun to consider him a friend though I had never met the man in person until now. The Professor was a different matter entirely, his droning voice reminding me of one of the various reasons that had compelled me to drop out of college, and despite my better sense of manners, I found myself starting to zone out.
I was well into what could only be described as a “mental inventory”, something I occasionally do when I’m bored out of my skull, when I heard the people around me start to get excited over something. I looked up towards the stage, and my jaw nearly hit the floor. There, several feet above the stage was a beautiful woman doing aerial gymnastics. No matter how many times I saw it, the sight of a Velorian demonstrating her powers of flight still left me with a sense of awe. The grace, combined with the underlying power was something that still thrilled me to no end.
It was obvious that I wasn’t alone in my feelings toward the girl up there, given that everyone around me seemed to have the reaction as I. Jeff then took “command”, as it were and made a statement that was patently obvious and asked us an unneeded question
“Ok, everybody, by now you've all seen that our Velorian hostess here, Kimmy. What do you think?"
Unsurprisingly, everyone present applauded, and some even made some catcalls. I’m not ashamed to say that I was among them, and who could really blame me? I mean, on stage was a woman who could only be described as a goddess, and that’s a lot coming from a confirmed agnostic like myself, who believes that the divine is in the eye of the beholder.
Jeff continued his diatribe. "And as you can see, she isn't the typical exotic dancer that you expected. She is what I promised you. A real Velorian."
"Oh, yeah, then where's Xara?" someone a few rows behind me asked.
"And how about Kara?" another said.
"What about Aurora while you're at it?” asked another enthusiastic spectator.
"And where the hell is Sharon anyway?" I found myself calling out, getting into the spirit of things.
The presentation continued with Kimmy landing on the stage next to Jeff. He said something about showing us how this display wasn’t staged. With that, someone whom I would later learn to be Peter pulled out a weapon that could only be described as something from a science fiction movie and pointed it at the young Velorian. Suspecting what was coming, I raised my hand to my eyes to shield them as a bright flash of energy emanated from the muzzle of the weapon, heading straight at Kimmy’s chest. Somehow I knew that the forces being discharged at Kimmy could vaporize steel. Yet she stood up to it. Not only that, she seemed to be enjoying it. After several blasts, Peter finally stopped. Despite the fact that her bra was on fire, Kimmy was laughing, the flames not bothering her in the slightest.
Like a wave of locusts, everyone rushed the stage. Though I would like to think that I was just going along with the crowd, I have to admit that I wanted to meet her almost as much as everyone else there. At that moment I think I realized how lucky I was in comparison to the others. I knew what it was like to know a Velorian on a more personal basis. Hell, I worked with Rasa almost every other day and we counted each other as friends. It was a friendship that I valued, and not just because of her nature as a Supremis. It’s because she is a genuinely kind and gentle person.
These thoughts were still running through my head as I stepped back from the others and made my way to the entrance to the hotel, pulling off my jacket, slinging it over my shoulder and exited the building. I stood out there under the shade, staring out at the strip, the lights that had warranted the city the nickname Neon Hell turned off, not needed until the sun went down over the Nevada desert.
I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, a glowing cigarette clenched between my pursed lips as I simply stared out there, my mind constantly returning to the northeast. Towards home. Towards someone who was the fulfillment of just about every single one of my fantasies. Someone whom I could easily fall in love with. Who was I kidding? I was in love with Rasa. But I knew my feelings weren’t reciprocated. She wanted to remain simply friends, that night notwithstanding. And who could blame her? After all, I was just a “weak Terran”. What the hell could I offer to her that a half dozen better men than I could?
Yep, I was definitely going into what I had begun to call one of my funks.
I took a long drag from my cigarette , exhaling the smoke through my nostrils in a quick burst as I remembered how she'd helped me move into my new place only last month. It was the easiest move ever, but then, not everyone had a Velorian to hold up her end of the couch. Or the water bottle for that matter. The strength of thousands. Her charm. My curse.
I looked down at the slender object resting between my index and middle fingers, a bitter chuckle tickling my diaphragm. Before learning the truth about Velorians six months ago, I always believed that if extraterrestrials paid this rock a visit and observed her inhabitants, they’d leave either disgusted or in tears, if not both. Out of all the different forms of life on Earth, my species was the only one that intentionally destroyed itself. We created weapons of horrendous destructive power, capable of wiping out thousands in a microsecond. We persecuted each other based on seemingly trivial matters such as religious/political beliefs, cultural background, even skin pigmentation. We poisoned the land, oceans, and the atmosphere.
I paused from my mental outburst to look at the cigarette in my hand. We even poison ourselves. We did all this, yet from what I had learned, the Enlightenment still considered this seemingly worthless planet as sacred, it’s agents willing to protect it with their very lives.
I shook my head, deciding that what I needed right now was a drink, and maybe a couple hours worth of sleep. I had time to kill before the next set of activities that were planned. I figured I may as well put them to good use.
With that thought in mind, I flicked the cigarette butt onto the curb and walked back into the hotel.