Author : David Henson
I notice the message in the sky as I’m going into Eat-A-Lot mart — COMING SOON. I figure it’s a vapor-trail promo, but when I come out, the words are still there. By the time I get home, not a single letter has frizzed. Looking more closely, I see the words are sparkly. I hurry inside, turn on the news, and learn the message has appeared in local languages around the world.
“I hear we flew a drone into the O in COMING, and it emerged over China,” Pete says. “Two.”
“I heard the letters are destroying the ozone. One,” Miranda says.
“I read they’re emitting signals. The government’s decoded them, but won’t tell us,” Roger says. “Can I get four?”
I deal him three. “Franklin, you playing?”
Franklin stares out the window. “Who is coming soon?”
“God is.” The guy by me in the Drink-A-Lot tavern looks like he could eat beer cans. “It’s a message from God.”
“No, it’s space aliens,” comes from across the room. Soon everyone’s yelling out their opinion. The bickering is peaceful till a squeaky voice says “Anybody who thinks it’s a message from God is an idiot.”
I look around just in time to see a twerpy little man skitter out the door. The beer-can-eating guy turns to me. “Who you calling an idiot, pal?” He swings. I duck, and he clocks the fellow on my other side. Those two start going at it, and quickly there’s a full-scale brawl. I’m lucky to get out of there with only a black eye.
A couple days later, I’m at the Get-A-Lot hardware checkout, and somebody starts talking about space aliens. This time a twerpy guy yells “You’re a fool if you think that,” and one thing leads to another. Duct tape is good for a lot of things, but won’t stop a nosebleed.
“What about these twerps?” Miranda says. “Pass. I think they’re an alien advance party. They can’t have anything to do with God.”
“Don’t be so sure.” Franklin clicks in two chips. “It says in the Book of Jed–”
“Book of Jed?” Miranda rolls her eyes.
“Just round’em up,” Pete says. “See you and call.”
“Hey, they got rights,” Roger says. “Out.”
“My ass,” Pete says.
I fold and go to the kitchen for another beer. By the time I get back, Miranda is pounding Franklin’s head on the floor, and Roger is choking Pete.
I manage to pry everybody apart and spend the rest of the evening playing solitaire.
After calling in sick and keeping to myself a few days, I finally venture out to Gas-A-Lot, but can’t get there because of fighting that’s spilled into the streets. Making my way home through an alley, I pass a group of twerpy guys comparing notes and shaking their heads.
The fighting worsens the next few weeks. Then one day COMING SOON blinks out and NOW! appears. The word emits a mesmerizing tone and strobes in different colors so beautifully I can barely look away. It’s amazing.
I can barely stay away. The Buy-Anything-A-Lot superstores are a global phenomenon and have the best deals and selection ever. Plus their website promises free two-minute delivery anywhere on the planet.
I fill my cart and head for the checkout. The lines are long, but the little twerp at the front makes sure they’re orderly and fast-moving. We still don’t know where he and the others are from. But who cares? This place is amazing.