Appetizer Menu: a little taste of….ARC

Now arc

A Sci-Fi Romantic Comedy about love and aliens living among us.

They’re already here. They look like us. They work beside us. They guide events that influence our world. So what do they want and can we really be friends? Companions? Lovers? Arc and Iris answer the biggest question of all: if we are not alone in the universe, then who is it really, that is out there?

Excerpt from…ARC

Chapter 1

“Six billion people on this planet and you picked me. Why?” I held my coffee in one hand and pressed my fist into my left hip Wonder Woman style.

“Your lights were on.” he said.

“What the hell are you talking about? I was standing there and you just started talking to me. No lights involved.” I shot back.

“Not those kinds of lights.” Arc waved at nothing.

“OK, Captain Vague. Explain” I waited.

“I’m talking about the lights in your head, the synaptic activity. You show patterns of advanced cognitive function. I was drawn to the possibility of having someone in my life that might be able to handle who I am and why I’m here.” He held my gaze as he spoke.

“See? Right there. That’s the kind of vagueundery that just puts my thong in a knot. “ My finger popped at his chest and I turned away.

“That’s not a word.” His voice was soft.

“What?” I asked as I turned back towards him.

“Vagueundery. It’s not a real word.”

I swirled the semi-warm coffee with my pointer finger and then with deliberate slow motion, sucked the liquid off my digit while leveling a stare at him. “Right now, I’m picturing you in a carbonite press and seal.”

“Thong. I like that picture.” He wore a half-a-mouth smirk.

“Are you 11? Cut the crap and explain the ‘who I am and why I’m here’, mystery. You have five minutes and this time I want the whole story, no detours around the truth.” I barked a laugh and then got serious.

“I’m an alien and I’m here to observe and assist.” he delivered in a flat tone.

“An alien, as in. ‘I just arrived from Barcelona on a work visa’ alien or a ‘Greetings Earthlings; I come in peace’, alien?” My brows touched.

“The latter.” he said.

I tossed my empty coffee in a nearby bin and pinched the bridge of my nose before I said, “OK. Maybe I wasn’t clear, because it sounded a lot like you said…”

“Space. Off planet. Not of Earth. The final frontier. Yep. That’s what I said.” He  looked sincere.

“Hilarious. You’re a real clown, Arc. Can you just be serious for one minute and tell me what’s going on. You’re really starting to freak me out right now. I’m thinking you’re on some most wanted list and this Mister Nice Guy act is going to fade and I’ll find out you’re really…” I never finished the thought.

“An axe murderer from Costa Rica?” Arc cut in.

Both hands up, I said, “Whoa. What did you say? How are you doing that? That’s too damn specific to have been a wild guess.”  Backing up a step back from Arc I weighed the options of making a run for the car or finding anything to use for protection the only thing within reach is a…

“A Slurpee cup and a plastic straw.” His head tilt and the way he ended the sentence like a question didn’t ease my growing tension.

“OK. Like that, the reading my mind thing! How?” I waved my hands wildly.

“Thoughts have form Iris. Allow me to be “Professor” Vague for a moment. I can focus on what you’re thinking when I bring my attention to you. Right now your thoughts are all over the place; laser attacks, little green men and you haven’t had lunch so you’re thinking about a grilled cheese sandwich and potato chips. You might want to take a breath before you keel over. You know, this would be much easier if I could just show you something instead. It’s completely safe, I promise. I will never lie to you. I just want to change your view of the Universe. Can you trust me?”

I knew I could trust him. Not sure why, but my gut said so and it’s never been wrong. I gave him a nod of permission and settled on the edge of the fountain after he waved me there. With his long slender hands he reached for either side of my face. Oh, that feels nice. And he’s probably listening to my head. Of course he is. He’s smiling that smirky smile again. Tilting my face to his, he looked directly into my eyes then moved the hair back from my brow; sending little sparks of electricity across my skin like he always does when we brush by each other. Invading my personal space with this almost intimate touch was one thing, but his eyes, this close, unglued me. Looking right into that crazy, blue storm-at-sea color sends me into a tailspin. Damn. I’m blushing. That’s something that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

He rested his fingertips, light as feathers on my temples and told me to just let my eyes shut and relax. An explosion of color and light streaked across my closed eyelids and then, just as suddenly, a scene unfolded of a city, modern in design with skyscrapers shimmering like amethyst towers and emerald green stone walkways shot through with copper, gold and bronze.

The scene became three dimensional and suddenly Arc was standing right next to me. He took my hand and walked us towards a large and important looking building where many other people were gathering and waiting to enter.

“This building is the Federation Concourse where all ambassadors and representatives of each planet meet and exchange data regularly. We have conferences if something comes up that requires our immediate attention. Otherwise, we check in here each week and bring our information up to date. Just watch or if you’d like, you can ask questions.” Arc spoke like a school teacher leading a third grader. I was glad for that.

Not sure if I could speak in this dream or hallucination or whatever it was, I looked over the scene like a child on their first visit to Disney World. The astounding clarity put any hologram or virtual world simulator to shame. Everything around was perfectly formed. No shimmer of distortion. No hum of electronics or tiny fans keeping motherboards from frying. It looked like a real city; a real city that didn’t look like any real cities on Earth given the color of the buildings, the two moons on the horizon and the smell that was cinnamon in nature. That’s surprising. I can smell scents and I can feel our hands pressed together so my senses are fully intact. Arc didn’t interrupt my flow of thoughts which I appreciated since it was taking all my energy to keep from losing my shit. Just be cool. Take it all in like you’re here to do a story for the magazine.

“If they’re from different places how would they be able to breathe when no one seems to be wearing any kind of space suits?” I asked.

“Yeah. The space suit thing is only for direct corporeal transfer and we don’t do that kind of traveling as often. Any physical body we inhabit is already a type of “spacesuit” that protects the seed atoms that you actually are. You would call it a soul. Everyone you see here is projecting their own body, or more accurately, container. “ Arc checked my face for a sign of understanding before continuing so I nodded.

“A full-matter physical body wouldn’t be able to survive the range of extremes on every planet we encounter so this is our preferred method of travel. We can manifest these temporary bodies for short stints- just a few hours or even decades at a time. Earth is the only planet almost any life form can adapt to and survive the diverse geography. That’s why it’s so important that we all keep an equal and fair guiding hand over Earth so it won’t be destroyed through an act of violence or ignorance.”

I was confused. “But how can they all look so … human, if they’re from other planets?”

“What you’re seeing is the version your brain needs to see. It’s protecting itself from shock the first time you encounter other life forms in their natural state. Would you like to see their natural form and how they are seeing you?” he said.

“Ah, OK. What do I do?” I asked.

“Pick someone you’d like to act as a bridge for you. Who would you like to ask?” he said.

I looked across the plaza in front of the Federation Concourse and found a man who appeared to be in his late 40’s, dressed in a jacket of grey fabric that wrapped asymmetrically across his chest and fastened on his left side. Arc made eye contact and must have had a silent conversation with the man as he then gave a very slight nod and began walking towards us.

Arriving just in front of us, he briefly turned the palms of his hands up as if to gesture that it was alright to continue. Arc told me to place my fingertips on the man’s temples just like he was doing with me, back where ever the hell my real body was still at. I let out a little nervous giggle as my fingertips made contact. My vision shifted and I could see that he was a small gray man with extremely large and very black eyes; Zeta Reticuli. The words were clear in my head and I knew this was his place of origin. Keeping the fingertip contact, I decided to look around and see the other “people” in the concourse. It was like a scene in wardrobe fitting at the SyFy studios.

Beings of all shapes and sizes were sliding, rolling, gliding and walking all around while they neatly avoided stepping on each other’s various body parts; some that moved like Halloween costumes. A short woman now appeared more canine, than the Midwestern farmer’s wife from a moment ago. Her barrel shaped body was covered in coarse yellow fur with red tips. Like an English Bull dog, the large folds of flesh at her forehead extended down to her jawline and they bounced a bit as she walked.

Almost an afterthought, I turned my head to look at Arc. I was used to looking up at him, being taller than me by several inches, and I’m taller than average. Where I’d normally see his face, I now saw shoulders and tilted my head farther upward. Damn! He’s got to be over seven feet. And his skin… it’s so…beautiful. The pearlescent shimmering pale blue only made his darker blue eyes more vivid. His hair held the same sun bleached color I recognized from his other self. He gave me one of those smiles that melts me down into a puddle of stupid and pointed towards the glass window of a nearby building. It took a moment to realize that the very tall golden woman I was seeing was me.

Small waves of iridescence wafted around my body like the inside of a fire opal and my normally gray eyes shone like silver with flashes of golden fire and my own dark auburn hair shone with light. Wow. I have to find the salon where I had this done so I can show Connie back at Supercuts. What am I saying?

I pulled my fingers away from the Zeta’s temple and gave a quick thank you to him before hurrying several feet away pressing both my hands to my stomach and taking a deep breath and exhaling to get a grip.

Arc gave me a moment and then he was there at my side.

“I think I’m fine. This is just a lot to take in all at once. I’m balancing somewhere between thrilled beyond belief and freaked out of my freaking mind.” I stood swaying slightly, arms out, fingers splayed as if losing balance on a patch of ice. I folded in the middle and braced my hands on my knees.
“Wooo. Ok. That was interesting.” Arc put his hand on the small of my back and leaned close to my ear.

As he spoke, I could feel his warm breath like an invisible kiss that me give a little shiver. “Yeah, that’s why we only share a little at a time. It’s a lot to absorb, though you already know most of the story. You just don’t know that you know it. “

I straightened up to stand and inhaled deeply of the cinnamon air. “And he’s back! OK Captain. Still a little woozy here. Maybe I need to just sit down for a minute.”

“Ok, back to Town Square it is, Milady.”

Arc took his fingers from my face and the other world slipped away.

Chapter 2

Opening my eyes again, I let the scenery come back into focus. I was sure the people across the way must have wondered why I’d been sitting there for such a long time with some guy doing a Vulcan mind meld thing on my face.

“That took less than ten seconds, Earth time, and as for the mind meld crack, where do you think Roddenberry came up with that stuff? ‘There’s nothing new under the suns’.” Arc said.

“Don’t you mean sun? Under the sun, singular?” I corrected him.

“No, I meant suns. The original quote was from Jlerbazin; a philosopher from the Crab Nebula.” He was dead serious.

“Of course you did; how stupid of me. Woah” I stood up too fast and a sudden dizziness dropped me back down where I’d been sitting.

“You might want to put your head down on your knees for a minute to get some blood back to your brain. You look a little pale.” He patted my shoulder lightly.

I sat for a few minutes with my face in my hands until the dizziness passed. “Ooooo kaaaaaay. I need a drink.” I got up from the fountain edge and made my way across the plaza and into the open doors of the first place with a neon sign, which as it turned out, was a dive I’d been to before. Arc followed behind and found a booth towards the back of the nearly empty bar.

The bartender wandered towards me as I leaned both elbows on the old wood surface and did a visual sweep of the bottles like I was choosing a card from a fanned tarot deck for a reading.

I actually know quite a lot about tarot decks. There was a time when I did readings for myself and other people who asked. I’ve been doing it since I was a teen after a friend’s mother taught me and though my own technique would make “professionals” blow raspberries at me, my readings were often dead on.

“Patron. Anejo. Double. Thanks” Slapping a twenty on the bar, I downed the shot and pointed at the glass for a refill with a weak smile and nod. The second one I carried back to the table where Arc waited.

“You’re gonna need to stop that you know. “ Arc was lounging in the booth as I sat across from him.

“Stop what? Drinking? Yeah, well, this is a special occasion. I just had my alien cherry popped and I’m feeling a bit out of whack.” I tossed my purse on the bench seat and slid in.

He kept his eyes on the menu. “You have such a way with words. Maybe you should be a writer.”

“I am a wri… Oh. Wait. Sarcasm. Funny.” I said as I reached for the other menu stuck behind the paper napkin dispenser.

“Well, yes, the drinking, for one. Your body doesn’t appreciate the harsh chemicals. It cuts off the flow of energy and information and disconnects you from the source. It also affects your work, your communication, your creativity and your relationships.” Arc tilted his head and raised an eyebrow for emphasis.

“What relationships?” I deadpanned as I sipped from my plastic water glass.

“Exactly.” He retorted.

“Maybe I’m allergic to your aftershave and I break out in Technicolor hallucinations when you’re too close to me, but if what I think just happened really did happen, then I am gonna have a lot of questions for you; a lot, a lot. So give me a moment to gather my wits to decide where to start.” I said.

Arc reached over and touched my hand. Small electrical shivers pulsed in my skin.

“Iris, I’m not going anywhere and you can ask me anything whenever you’re ready. You are in my life and I want you to know and remember everything. OK?”, he said.

I nodded and set the glass down on the table. It’s a good thing I don’t wear gobs of mascara because I proceeded to press my palms into my eyes like I could press everything back to the way it was an hour earlier when I was just another clueless Earthling.

“You’re not clueless. Especially you,“ he offered. “Look, Iris, there are universal truths all around you every day; shared technology, research advancements, healing modalities, even movies that have gotten some details right-with our help. “

I was listening though my hand palm pillow was feeling too comfortable to abandon just yet. I waggled my palmed head so he’d know I was still listening.

“You humans want to think it’s all you, doing it all alone; the glory, the pain, the TV miniseries. The human ego has a hunger for recognition. If you combine that  drive for recognition with the earning potential from a new product then our shared technologically in the hands of those humans is a marketing gold rush. When a delegate transfers a full schematic into a human’s head, it won’t matter if the laser design they think they created “all alone” is actually considered a duct tape repair job on another planet, people will yell ‘Eureka’ and run to the patent office like their pants are on fire. Creative geniuses, like DaVinci, Archimedes, Tesla and Edison all openly acknowledged that inspiration comes from somewhere outside themselves. The word inspiration comes from the Greek for ‘breathed upon’. You know that already.”

I tilted my palm pillow with my head and nodded again so he continuued.

“There have been visitors, delegates and monitors here all along. There isn’t a sentient life form on this planet that wasn’t seeded here from somewhere else. All Earth inhabitants were, originally, extraterrestrials. Some of you are aware of that and others aren’t.” Arc said.

That got my attention. I lifted my head off my comfy eye pillow and showed my palms to him. “Arc. Slow down. We’re getting a little ahead of my question list that’s just now starting to take some shape in my head. Can I start with some basics like, how long you have been… here? Where are you from? And how many others like you are here, on Earth, now?

“Sure. Put the tequila down and let’s get some food and we’ll talk.” He let go of my hand. Bummer.

Arc looked over towards the waitress who pretended to read at the end of the bar and she made immediate eye contact with him. In almost a run, more like a canter, she made her way swiftly to our table and in a breathy baby voice asked, “What can I get for you, handsome?”

I eased back into the cracked red leather booth, arms crossed at my chest to watch the show. Like a lot of women, I’d been the invisible woman before when men I was on a date with were approached by interested parties and I was curious how Arc would handle this moment.

Since we met, I’ve imagined him in all different ways. I was mostly wondering how anyone could be that interesting and nice and smart and funny and confident and angelically good looking and not be gay. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that Mr. Perfect turned out to be a shopping partner rather than an orgasmic whiplash inducing bed partner. My train wreck of thought caused a small weird chuckle to rise in my throat just as the waitress asked for our order.

He looked at her name tag and back to her face. “Laura. Tell us about the Whiplash Veggie Burgers, please,” Arc said in a serious tone.

“The what?” baby voice said with her pink pen poised mid-air. “Oh. Do you mean the White Wash Veggie Burger with the mozzarella and Swiss cheese?”

“Yeah. That’s the one. Iris, how does that sound? Think you could handle that?” Eyebrows raised, chin lowered, he challenged.

Damn. He’s funny. For an alien. I couldn’t help laughing. Grabbing my purse I shot him an equally challenging look. “Only if you get one too. I’m going to go throw cold water on my…face and I’ll be right back”

The ladies room was a tiny haven of old black and white tiles that would have been almost cute if some drunken fool hadn’t decided to announce in a permanent marker declaration, that Ben Rodriguez had the smallest dick in the Universe. In the Universe? Doubtful. I shook my head and looked at my reflection with a groan.

Digging into my bag for some sort of comb to drag through my hair, I touched the flyer from the art show where we first met. I pulled it out and saw the pencil mark on the booth map at number 37, right where I’d been standing when he stepped to my side to look at the painting of the surreal landscape I was admiring.

**************************

Coming Soon… ARC… a Sci-Fi Romantic Comedy

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