“Martha, get your butt in here and look at this shit, would’ya?”
Martha dried her hands on her ripped white apron that was worn over her bright pink halter top. She walked with the swish of blue jeans into the living room. “Bob, I’m not done the dinner dishes.” Her blonde hair fell behind her like an open flame and her blue eyes were ready to drill holes in her husband.
Bob scratched at the speckled gray in his brown beard. Unlike the hair on his head, which had an unnatural black colour, he never thought to dye his beard. “Shut the fuck up and sit down, woman.”
Martha did as instructed and immediately picked up her knitting from the plastic shopping bag beside the musty green fabric couch they sat on.
The walls of the trailer were adorned in oak panels.
“Is that snow? That don’t look like Houston, Bob. I thought you were watchin’ the Texans.”
“I was,” he answered in a whisper. “They cut in for somethin’.”
“For wha? And where is that.”
Bob brushed popcorn crumbs off his bare beer belly. His jeans were faded and ripped. He took a slow drag on his cigarette before answering more. “Canada, they said they had a world-wide press conference in Canada.”
“Did they turn off the oil again?”
His brown eyes rolled. “Shut the fuck up and watch.” He turned the volume to just above reasonable in the hopes Martha would keep quiet.
The man on the screen was Duncan Phillips, one of the most trusted faces in US journalism. His silver hair and concerned glare kept all the viewers in anticipation of what they would show next. Unlike Jerry Springer, no one threw chairs at Duncan. He was currently interviewing a small blonde man named Jack Lamb.
“Mr. Lamb, what do you anticipate the Prime Minister will say.”
Lamb looked confused at the question. “I really can’t say,” his answer was in a deep voice that would have impressed Darth Vader. “Normally we get some leak or inkling as to what is happening, but this time nothing.”
Phillips nodded. “Could Prime Minister Franks threaten to shut off American oil, again? After the latest beef cattle and soft lumber import tariff increases into the United States…”
Lamb shrugged. “Today’s press conference was completely unexpected. I really am afraid to guess.”
Martha looked up from her knitting. “Dunc looks nervous.”
“How can you tell?” Bob asked with a laugh.
“It’s Canada. He’s fuckin’ cold.”
“Nah, it’s more than that. He looks angry, probably ’cause he thinks he should already know what will happen and doesn’t. But he also looks scared. Maybe he does know.”
Duncan cut her off from the television. “Prime Minister Franks is approaching the podium. Quickly, a reminder, you are watching a live press conference from Calgary, Alberta on ATV.”
The camera followed a slim tall gray haired man in a dark trench coat as he walked out of the city hall to where a podium filled with microphones awaited him.
In the picture, the blue sky showed in the reflection from the building’s windows, but the snow continued its resistance on the ground.
“Thank you for coming,” Prime Minister Franks spoke with cold white air escaping his lips.
Bob whispered. “Fuckin’ cold there, all right.”
“At six fourteen AM mountain standard time, a small craft crashed into the foothills just west of here. There were no casualties, luckily, just a few injuries.”
The press galleries fired off a barrage of questions about geography and local population.
“What the fuck,” Bob gasped.
“There’s an elephant in the room, and no one’s askin’.”
“A big pink elephant,” Martha giggled. “Like my wool.”
Bob joined her laugh. “Why is the Prime Minister interrupting my football game for this?”
Finally, the question Bob wanted to ask came from someone in the press gallery. A young woman with a distinctly French accent asked, “Why is the Prime Minister telling us this? Why is Transport Canada not involved.”
The gallery went silent and awaited an answer.
Franks stared at them for a moment. His blue eyes searching his prompters for the right words. A deep breath and the first answer came. “The craft that crashed was not ours.”
Bob laughed. “It was Rusky!”
A howl of questions from the gallery flew asking whether it was a Russian attack, or if the Chinese had infiltrated Canadian air space this far in.
Franks held up his to quiet them. “The craft was neither Russian, nor Chinese, nor Indian nor even American. By ours, I mean the craft was not from Earth.”
That moment was a JFK moment where, from Seattle to Athens, most of the non-sleeping world went silent in contemplation of what Prime Minister Franks had just said.
“The small craft that crashed had seventy-four survivors. Their pilots did an excellent job of bringing it down without causing anyone on board any serious injuries. The survivors, however, are not human.”
No questions, still, from the gallery. Just gasps.
Martha dropped her knitting and took Bob’s hand.
Bob took a long drag on his smoke and then a long sip from the red Budweiser can on the TV tray beside him.
“We do not know much about them, yet. We do know that they have all claimed refugee status.”
Finally a question from the gallery. “We can communicate with them?”
Franks grinned. “Apparently they have been watching our broadcasts for sometime during their approach. A few on board were able to learn English.”
More questions began filtering through.
“Football doesn’t seem so important right now,” Bob said, squeezing her hand.
Little did he know that even the football games had now stopped, and each of the day’s early games were silent and watching the same conference on stadium jumbo-trons.
Prime Minister Franks smiled. “We are not quite ready, but we will introduce our visitors.”
A question from the French reporter. “Why aren’t you ready.”
“I said there were no casualties. There were, however, some injuries we would like to have them heal before throwing them in the spotlight.
“Martha,” Bob whispered. “The aliens have landed.”
“I know.” Her mouth was wide.
“I’m gettin’ my rifle. Think I should get dressed first, though.” Bob stood and walked to the bedroom where he changed into black slacks and blazer with a white button collared shirt. He then went to the garage where he kept his rifle locked up. A quick ammo check and, without further words, they both got into their gold pick-up truck.
They drove in silence, scared of what was to come. What this all meant.
Perhaps more importantly, neither realized, however, that the rifle with them would be the weapon to start the next world war.