The common misconception about alien species is that they will be predominantly human in someway. That was definitely not the case when the four extra-terrestrials descended. They looked more like walking sticks, hovering an inch above the street. Four canes that might have been discarded in an umbrella bin at the old-folks home by someone’s Grandfather.
One pedestrian, a middle aged woman, fainted on cue when they approached. When she was revived minutes later she admitted she thought they were snakes (apparently she is a die hard Christian and the story of Adam and Eve being tempted by the evil serpent in the Garden of Eden has left a lasting impression). Snakes are another species who are misunderstood.
So these cane-like snake aliens popped over to us. And it was a pop. They were in one spot and then they blinked out and appeared in front of us, bing bing bang. The pop was instantaneous, and there they were hovering over us. They weren’t at all slithery like a snake: their movements were quick and mechanical, vaguely reminiscent of legos. Legos don’t move, but that’s what they were like. These aliens would separate into tiny blocks and then reassemble into a new position, like clipping legos together.
Pop pop pop pop pop, they were pretzels. Clip snap blink blink, they were a castle. It was like watching one of those old Charlie Chaplin black and white flip movies you can find at the penny arcade. Rapid succession of still images. Flip flip flip, now they looked like and apple. The middle aged woman fainted again – she must really have issues with the Garden of Eden.
The transformations became quicker, now a boat, now a skyscraper, look, it’s a plane, no it’s a bird, wait, it’s superman. (Superman?) I wondered how aliens from far far away could possibly know about a classic comic book character. Maybe they’re avid marvel and DC readers in outer space. Unless Krypton really is an actual planet…
For about two minutes and forty-six seconds the aliens flickered into different objects, always returning to the cane-like snake appearance. This occurred in utter silence as we watched, dumbfounded. Finally exhausted, the canes hovered above the sidewalk for a few moments, then in another spurt of energy, they began rapidly tapping the sidewalk with the tips of their canes. Tip tip, tap, tip tip. It sounded like Morse code.
But then, in a flash, I blinked and they were gone. There was no saucer parked in the middle of the intersection on either Lovejoy or Marshall. No cane-like snake alien beings hovered above us. Cars were honking, urging the traffic to get a move on, and there was a middle aged woman fainted on the sidewalk, her husband pinching her arm to make her wake up. A few pedestrians shook their heads as if in a daze and continued on their way.
Looking up into the cloudy Portland sky, I saw a flicker, and for a moment I swear I saw a saucer blip out of sight. It was there, I swear. I glanced down at the edge of the sidewalk near the crosswalk and noticed a tiny blue lego. The plastic was chipped, but I picked up the toy and shoved it in my pocket anyway. And at that moment it started to rain, great sheets of hard rain battering my head, and I slipped under an awning. Ah, Portland.
In high school I read a book about Morse code and how to decipher a message or create your own. Bored and caught in the rain, I worked out the tips and taps of the cane in my head as I shivered on the sidewalk, then I laughed. My Morse code may be rusty, but I think those aliens were only looking for a cheap bookstore somewhere close by. The Superman Comics are popular again I hear.
Or maybe I’ve been watching too many X-file episodes.