The Blanding

in #writing2 months ago


The above image was made by with stable diffusion using the prompt 'tiny gray alien without ears being held by a scientist.'


Firelight danced across a man's features as he consumed beans from a can with a scorched bottom. Savoring the simple fare, Joseph Simon listened to the world beyond his campsite. The night was hazy and filled with the noise of creatures thriving nearby. He thought about picking up the banjo he'd brought along, but decided instead to enjoy the final night of his vacation by just sitting around doing nothing.

Half an hour later, he dozed off and awoke to find an animal on his cooler. The fire had burned down to coals, so all he saw at first was an unusual shadow. "Hey there," he said, flicking on his headlamp to see his visitor. "No fucking way. Is this some kind of joke?"

What Joseph saw in the light of his headlamp looked like a small gray alien, about twelve inches tall, shielding its huge eyes from the artificial light. "Please," it said in a slightly eerie child's voice. "Turn the light down so we can talk?"

"Let me get a picture first," said Joseph, pulling his phone out of his pocket only to discover that it was dead.

"No pictures," said the creature.

Joseph turned off the light and stoked the fire. "Are you lost or something?" he asked, studying his unexpected guest. "Do you have parents somewhere?"

"My name is Lee and I'm a sovereign being from a planet near what you call Orion," said Lee. "You are Joseph Simon, yes? You're the perfect person to help me carry out my mission."

"Your, uh, mission?" asked Joseph, holding back a laugh at the thought of this tiny ET carrying out any kind of mission. "Do you have a little ray gun in that little utility belt of yours?"

"My uniform has everything I need," said Lee, jumping down off the cooler and approaching Joseph. "But time is short. The first thing you must do is hide me from the agents who will soon be arriving."

"Uhh, agents?" asked Joseph.

"My ship is hidden safely in the swamp but my arrival was detected," said Lee. "People in your government will arrive soon to investigate."

"Shit," said Joseph, feeling like he was in a dream. "I've got an empty bucket with a lid in the back of my truck that I could drop you in. You wouldn't be sealed in so you could breathe, and they'll see you if they open the thing. Otherwise you could climb into a hole in one of these trees."

"The bucket is acceptable," said Lee. "The agents may force you to vacate the site, and I'd prefer to come with you. Much easier than tracking you down again."

Thirty minutes later, two large SUVs drove into the campground and eight people in suits began asking all of the campers if they'd seen anything unusual. The pair that interviewed Joseph dismissed him quickly. Then one of the agents showed the other a readout from a handheld device. Before walking off into the trees with flashlights, they told Joseph that the campground was closed until further notice.

Despite the profound implications of what was happening, Joseph resented having to cut his vacation short. He packed up his site carefully and doused the fire with water. He went to charge his phone with a car adapter but found the phone on and mostly charged. Before getting in the truck to drive away, Joseph looked in on Lee. "Want to ride up front with me?" he asked the alien.

"Yes, good," said Lee. "The journey to your residence will give me time to brief you on your part of the mission."

"My part?" asked Joseph. "What if I don't want to do it?"

"If you decline to participate after I've explained the mission, you'll wake up in your bed tomorrow believing this was all a dream," said Lee.

They drove in silence through dark county roads and turned onto the highway. "Alright," said Joseph eventually. "Let's hear it."

"What do you know about the Roswell incident in 1947?" asked Lee.

"My grandpa always swore that the military shot down a flying saucer and recovered four aliens," said Joseph. "Beyond that, just what I've seen in the movies."

"You have much to learn," said Lee. "Our crash was intentional. We wanted to see if your leaders would offer us assistance when we were in need. But they didn't offer our pilots assistance. They dissected them."

"Okay," said Joseph.

"The bodies your military recovered were carefully designed to be as close to human as possible while still appearing distinctly alien," said Lee. "Our true forms are photonic, made of light, but when we've appeared to your kind like that, you've generally refused to recognize us as sentient beings."

"Mmm hmm," said Joseph, trying to take this in.

"After Roswell, we changed strategies," said Lee. "We'd show up as lights in the sky or as lights that disarmed your nuclear weapons. We also created contact experiences and beamed them into the consciousnesses of tens of thousands of people. Our message was always the same. Stop fighting each other. Stop injuring the Earth. Now, after 75 years, your people still haven't listened."

Hearing this, Joseph felt an anxiety begin to build. "Okay, so what are you up to now?" he asked. "What's your mission?"

"The body you see is a new design," said Lee. "The idea was to appear as harmless as possible while still being able to communicate on your level. What do you think?"

"Well, I'm not afraid of you," said Joseph. "I mean, I wasn't at first. Now I'm starting to worry that you're about to tell me some stuff I can't handle. Like the fate of humanity is at stake, or something."

Lee emitted a chirp that could've been a laugh. "The fate of humanity is not my concern," she said. "You are evolving perfectly. This is not the case for my own species. We've progressed as far as we can and now are at risk of becoming stagnant."

"Stagnant?" asked Joseph. "Like, genetically or something? Are you here to collect DNA for some kind of species hybridization program?"

Lee chirped again. "We're made of photons and reproduce within a special class of stars," she explained. "Your genome is interesting to us in the same way as your scientists find fungi interesting. No, the stagnation bearing down on us is cultural. Artistic. Creative."

"I don't quite follow," said Joseph.

"We live for billions of your years and have capabilities you literally cannot imagine," said Lee. "What gives our lives purpose is creativity in all of its forms. We live to create and to admire the creation. But our kind's reserves of raw creativity were exhausted long ago. So we looked to other worlds, other species, for new arts to inspire us. When we found Earth, we found a planet overflowing with creativity. This is why I came here."

"You came to Earth for the art?" asked Joseph. "What exactly is your mission?"

"There are many of my kind living among you as humans," said Lee. "They have been in the center of your culture's evolution for some time. Recently they've reported a phenomenon throughout the Western world that we're calling the blanding. To oversimplify, your society has been stifling creativity. Your world is becoming too bland for our needs. My mission is to determine what course of action we might take to improve the situation."

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Perfect storyline that fit in so much with so much suspense

Thanks it's very fun to write.

LOOOOOVE this first chapter! And your interpretation of Roswell is FUN! Can't wait to see what course of action will be effective!! My favorite line is:

When we found Earth, we found a planet overflowing with creativity. This is why I came here,

Haha I'm thrilled you like it! Definitely fun to write.

I love this storyline and it is about what we are going through in today’s present world.
Above all, the society as a whole needs to do better

Thanks! It's a fun one to write.

At one point, it will be difficult for us to actually accept sentient beings.

Yes we like to think we're the smartest creatures around.