Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

They were a race that liked to live amongst the other races to better understand them. They were diplomatic yet fearsome, possessing great weaponry but very gentle in one-on-one conversations. They looked like starving centaurs crossed with giant centipedes. Very thin and stable on the ground, surprisingly quick in the water and capable of short bursts of flight. They were stronger than us physically.

When their ships first surrounded Earth, they transmitted a resume of the battles they had won and proved it by setting up a brief example in the space around our planet for the scientists and military to monitor.

It was a terrifyingly graceful display of military supremacy, both in tactics and in weaponry. After it was over, however, they started peaceful and fair negotiations for cultural exchanges. We never felt defeated. It was interesting. One columnist from the New York Times wondered if they did this with everyone or merely recognized that it would work with us specifically. The aliens never answered his question.

The alien diplomats assigned to aspects of our society joined in, spoke our language, and tried to mimic us. It was like as a race, we were given bizarre little brothers. Alarming at first but their earnest need to learn was disarming. Their gentle voices assuaged our fear regardless of their appearance.

It’s been strange to think we’ve been conquered. There’s been no rebellion. They brought their own food and they don’t want our resources or money. They aren’t here to eat us. They just want to learn and explore.

There are two aliens in my office. They’ve been here for a year. They wear clothes just like us except cut to fit their long bodies. I remember footage of one of them that had gotten into the fashion industry. Seeing that six-legged body standing upright on its hind legs and sashaying down the runway in clothes made to fit its unusual body was a strange sight.

The ones in my office are named Doug and Tina. Doug wears suits with extra arms and Tina wears dresses with extra arm-holes. They talk around the water cooler with us about what was on television last night and Doug remarks on sports scores. Their lean, horse-like faces over-enunciating our language no longer seems creepy to me. It’s more like they have an accent from a country I can’t identify. Tina is getting better at wearing makeup.

I find it strange that as a race, we’ve adjusted to it so quickly. I find it fascinating. They’re so dull and friendly.

What’s even more alarming is that I’m thinking of asking Tina out to a movie next week.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows