The day the aliens came to Earth they brought with them only one thing: a seemingly communicable inspiration of fear. When the bastards left, they took, well, they took the animals.
All of them.
The megafauna—lions, bears, rhinos (what’s left of them anyway), the fat elephants, the gangly giraffes, they went first. Then the fish and mammals from the oceans, sucked up in a blue flash before spitting back the world’s water and broken coral across the continents. Rivers aren’t where they used to be, and oceans are empty like those aquariums at pet stores overrun with thick green algae and upturned pirate ships.
It turns out Noah’s Arc was real after all, though no one can know now which ocean it had been sunken beneath. The aliens dropped it on a brownstone in Harlem near Langston Hughes’ East 127th Street home.
It started just like it does in the movies: one day suddenly, giant spinny disks blotted out the sun and engulfed the cities in shadow. Then there was that damn hum. It was faint, you could almost feel the vibrations more than hear them, but they were there.
And they were unbearable.
You couldn’t walk down Fordham Road without passing an open window with a TV or radio drowning out the spaceships’ insufferable humming. In Times Square, your eyes would jump at the site of the business crowd hustling across Park Avenue with earmuffs mid-August.
My students seemed unbothered, but when you’re in third grade, mom and dad are still far scarier than any aliens threatening world destruction—or at least global veganism. Like the chalk outline the girls used for hopscotch, or the rusty jungle gym the school district would never replace, the spaceships had become a staple for the kids on the playground.
“Diablo, pero ta hay la vaina esa todavia!” you’d hear them shout some days as they escaped the building for recess.
The aliens hovered demigod-like for so long that it’s almost abnormal now to see the clouds and the sun, the moon and the stars; to see the natural blackness of space. Were some of us… sad they were gone? No. That’s not it. Perhaps we’d just become so desensitized to them—their presence, their vibrating song—that we’ve devolved to cave creatures plunged in their shadow. The recent months had been a strange readjustment to normalcy.
And what am I to do as I stand now before my third graders for science period? My curriculum is made up mostly of animal education. I think the aliens made me a history teacher.
I don’t even know what others in my field are doing. I don’t speak to colleagues anymore. After school, I’ll go home, brew some coffee, and pop in a microwaveable dinner: probably tofu chili tonight. I’m a vegan now, I guess. Once my food is before me I’ll turn on Animal Planet.
It’s all I have left.
Tyler is a journalist from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who holds a Bachelor's of Arts in English from Penn State University, and is trying to rekindle that creative fire news writing is beating out of him.