Author: Byrd Stryke

There is a rural Luxembourgish hamlet called Schwebach where I am hated by all residents. That is not what makes it unique among human settlements. I’m subject to near universal disdain on Earth.

No, this township stakes its dubious claim to fame as home to the largest stationary shopping trolley sculpture in the northern hemisphere – at least according to the printed embarrassment that labels itself the local visitors’ brochure. Little wonder no-one ever used to come here. But, understandably, Schwebach would gladly opt for obscurity rather than advertise itself as the birthplace of the person to blame for our nomenclative predicament.

The alien visitation washed over me out of the blue. Quite literally, as it happened during my customary mid-morning bout of depression. Every evening I claim reward for making it alive through another dreadful, lonely day by knocking back a few shots of aqua vita before fondling myself to sleep. Consequently, mid-morning is the furthest point from both the previous and the next time I won’t feel like crap.

Of course, that’s precisely when they had to come knocking. No, actually, knocking implies a measure of politeness and respect for personal space. Their shapeless neon blobs just barged flashing into my consciousness, hurriedly stated their terms and put a question to me, an arbitrarily selected native sentient.

They were evidently pressed for time. Something about dilation. One of my minutes was a month of their life, and they still had a xillion lumps of rock to get through for their “new, fully updated and expanded edition” of what sounded like a guide to very lonely planets indeed. A sort of promotional giveaway with no budget for detailed research.

They gave me all of 60 seconds to pick something, anything, that is good and wholesome about our world. I was desperate and nauseous, and almost by accident conjured up a flurry of childhood memories about the sickeningly sweet scent that used to fill the village bakery, opposite where that oversized aluminium grocery cart had been erected.

That was it. Never mind the Pyramids and the Great Wall and the ten-thousand-year journey for us to grasp why we shouldn’t have built them in the first place.

On the Cosmic Tourism Board’s giddily illustrated stellar chart, we’re forever to be known as Sol-3. “Home of the Cupcake and the Wireframe Trolley”.

Of course, I could never live it down. Tried to explain myself to derisive journalists. Begged for the forgiveness of the social media mob. Finally, I went into hiding.

I hate myself for it every stupid day. It’s too late to make amends. Galactic distances and the speed of light impede our ability to reach out, and we don’t know where their editorial office is based. They failed to leave a free copy of the previous edition. Will they ever contact us again, and if so, which random member of our species? Who knows, maybe we’ll be renamed Planet Dildo then. Anything but this.

The worst thing? I’m diabetic.

Allergic to friggin’ muffins.