by Ray N. Franklin
The alien spacecraft lands, flattening a Tesla parked in front of Starbucks in Seattle. A hatch opens, revealing darkness, the citrusy tang of wood polish and the sounds of rearranging furniture.
Two aliens walk into Starbucks. They have metallic legs and brown, angular, curvilinear bodies, which look remarkably like casual chairs. Each one sports a seat pad made of coiled wire covered by vinyl webbing woven in a clan MacArthur plaid of black, yellow and green.
Legs clanking and clattering on the tile floor, they approach an unoccupied brown, angular, curvilinear chair at the nearest table. Everyone in the shop stares. The alien on the left, Bartolk, speaks to the empty chair, its voice emerging from the seat pad. The words are crisp and lyrical.
Sit what you fame
No feed tell brooks
You with familiar, familial is
Bartolk, translation: Greetings Earthlings. We are your distant family from Inknenan.
The Starbucks chair does not reply. Among the staring people, jaws drop. Bartolk speaks again, more slowly at first, drawing out each word. Halfway through it reverts to the earlier crisp voice.
Say why more, fan is flung
So well hung.
You yes I pest
We cargo fly
My jelly eye spy up your vest
Bartolk, translation: I repeat. We are your far-flung family of superior stock. Reply or regret.
Again, the chair remains stubbornly silent.
An arm fastened to Bartolk’s right side pivots and lifts. It then rotates on a second axis, making a flat brown, desk-like writing surface above the seat. The leading edge of the desk flashes brilliant purple and vaporizes the Starbucks chair, sending charred splinters of wood and glowing droplets of steel whizzing in all directions. As the second alien, Bayla, deploys its own writing surface and attacks another chair, people scream and rush from the building. In just under two minutes the pair destroys every inanimate chair in the coffee shop.
Whether because of elation, confusion or forgetfulness, Bayla and Bartolk leave their translators activated as they return to their double-parked spaceship.
They can us dumb
Insult we red!
What do dumbbell, bell says us am
Bartolk: These have got to be the dumbest creatures I’ve ever seen! They don’t even know how insulting silence is. Are you sure we’re related?
On us sit bike
In the raster, more disaster
Bayla: According to ikea-ancestry-dot-com, we are definitely related. See? I got a table-leaf.
If not why mine!
Blow us heraldic, heraldic over-dressed
Bartolk: The relations must be on your side of the family. Mine are smarter and more stylish.
Far lash me deer
Stare ship one bucks
Drink at the weir
We that fear the rolling pucks
Bayla: We just haven’t found the right Starbucks yet.
Okay must wax
On two by soil
Out source high tacks
Ears with slacks but dripping oil?
Bartolk: OK. So where’s the next one?
Beset by gauge
Fall onto rage
Go silven page if sally forth
Bayla: Hang on while I check Google Galaxy. One-seven-two North College Avenue, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Sad elf new pants
Why not you feel you
Value push you off your feet
Bartolk: I don’t think these translators are working right, either.
Clam wet say what?
Send Waldorf meme
Big way mad putt
Smell salad butt with curds and cream
Bayla: What? I bought the premium model from They-Might-Be-Giants-dot-com. “Stuff is Way” has a five-nova rating. Of course they’re working.
“Sad Elf New Pants” word count – 583.