Claimed

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
527,
Page:
556
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/527556a
Published online

First contact.

Illustration by Jacey

Hey, there. How you doin'? Yeah, me too. My wife likes the heat, but it's too much for me. It's why I come here, the best thing about this place is the air con. No one would say it's the coffee. No offence. It's good enough for me, I'm happy as long as I don't have to drink any of that fancy frou-frou stuff. I'll have mine black. My wife made me give up cream, she won't stop going on about my cholesterol.

Yeah, I seen the news. Come on now, you don't believe that garbage, do you? Them Claimers is as crazy as my mom, and she thinks the CIA is spying on her through her sprinkler. You don't think someone would have noticed if the president was being controlled by aliens? They've got to have about a dozen doctors and secret-service agents watching him the whole time. Don't tell me you believe they can see the future, too. That's what they say. Kooks and slackers with nothing better to do with their lives, sitting in their basements working themselves into a frenzy over nothing. Look here now, if I was an alien and I could see the future, I'd just buy me a lottery ticket and retire to Hawaii.

No, you're just plain wrong. I got more right to an opinion than you, 'cos I know what I'm talking about. You think just 'cos I don't wear a thousand-dollar suit I've never met the great and the good? I met the president only two weeks ago. Yeah. Yeah, I guess it was exciting. Well, the company I work for, they make the toilets for the shuttle. The one the president used to go up to the alien ship, yeah. Well, just on the way back, after he'd met the aliens and taken all those photos you seen in the papers, the toilet got blocked up. They didn't know how soon they'd need to go back, so I drove up right away. Blew through a few stop signs too, I kind of hoped a cop would stop me so I could tell them I was on the way to fix the president's toilet. Didn't happen, though.

So I got to the spaceport just as the shuttle was getting in, and the president got off. I'd sort of wormed my way forward so I could get on as fast as possible, 'cos they'd been pretty mad about the toilet and I wanted to show that even though we're just a tiny company, we still give a great service. The president looked real tired, and as I was trying to get to the door he looked up and saw me, and took a few steps towards me, and shook my hand. This hand right here touched the president. Huh. No, I dunno what that is. Little scratch or something. Well, it looks a bit weird, but it doesn't feel infected. It's been there a couple of weeks. Nothing to worry about.

Anyway, I think the president thought I was a foreign dignitary or something, he started talking about the future of our world and strategic realignments and trade agreements, and what a great deal the aliens were offering us and how wonderful the future was gonna be. I just sort of stood there, didn't really know what to say. One of the spooks got to him pretty quick and whispered something to him, and he snapped out of it OK. He thought it was pretty funny when he realized I was there to fix the toilet. We had a laugh. Well, no, I didn't. But I didn't want to tell him. Would be kind of awkward, wouldn't it, meeting the president and the first thing you say is you didn't vote for him?

So I went in and fixed the toilet. Wouldn't you know it, one of the spooks had managed to drop one so big and dense it blocked the system. No, I don't think it was the president. He just doesn't look like that sort of guy. Anyways, there you have it. I've met him, and so I think I have more right to an opinion than some woman on the TV with more hair than brain cells. Switch it over, won't you? Let's see the game.

You a Yankees fan? Nah, me neither. Didn't think so, not down here, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Not like I'd cheer the Red Sox either, but you gotta feel sorry for their fans. Mind you, they'll be happy this time. Well, I know it looks like that, but they ain't gonna lose. That guy coming up to the plate, he'll hit a home run. Don't ask me how I know, I just know. Same way you wake up in the morning sometimes and you know it's gonna be the sort of day when a bird craps on you. Only, like, stronger. There he goes. See, didn't I tell you? You should have put money on it.

Well, I got to be going. Look here, no hard feelings, eh? Sorry I was a bit touchy, I just get so mad when I hear the nonsense people are spouting. Shake on it? Oh, I'm sorry. Must have scratched you with my ring or something. Don't worry, it'll heal right up. Well thanks, I'm glad to hear you say that. It sure makes me feel good, knowing someone like me can change the way someone else thinks. You have a good day too.

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  1. S. J. Rosenstein is a research scientist with a secret identity as a writer, although both incarnations wear glasses and neither are particularly mild mannered. She complains about life at alackoftheologyandgeometry.wordpress.com.

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