An Alien in the White House
After an alien researcher crash lands on earth, he discovers his missing pilot has taken the place of the president of one of the most powerful nations on the planet. The pilot’s reasons for doing this, however, are as unexpected as they are unorthodox.
This is the story of that Pilot.
Check out the companion novel about researcher Grzq here:
Any similarity between your own perceptions of reality and the ideas expressed in this work of fiction is not only purely coincidental, but worrying. Any similarity between the characters in this work and any persons, living or dead (or even undead) is to be taken as an act of plagiarism on the part of the persons, rather than that of the characters, or their author. No one specific nation or one specific president was used as a basis for this novel.
Do not copy or distribute any part of this publication. Just tell your friends to get their acts together and buy their own copies. It will improve their lives. In no big way. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, without written consent of the author, except in the case of brief and brilliant quotations attributed clearly to the author.
“I just don’t know anymore.” The businessman watched the last chip of ice melt away in his fifty-year-old scotch. He sighed and looked over at the stacks of campaign posters, streamers, and flyers. “Believe me,” he said, “I don’t even remember why we started this whole thing.”
“Look,” said his trusted advisor, “nothing is lost yet. We can still turn this thing around. We will turn this thing around.”
The businessman shrugged. He seemed to have lost his fight. His eyes were dull and unfocused, his shoulders bore the weight of the world, and even his hair, normally rebellious and fiery, now looked lackluster. More fake than usual.
“You know,” he said, “I never actually wanted to be president. I just thought it would be good PR to run. I’d go on the trail for a few weeks, drum up some extra business, get some new contacts, then announce I’d no longer fund my own campaign and that would be it. No one in their right mind was going to help me fund this thing, right? And if someone did, I’d just say something offensive or racist and the deal would be off. If there’s one thing this nation can’t stand, it’s racism. Or at least public racism. So getting out should’ve been easy.”
“Your plan did appear to be foolproof,” said the advisor.
“Are you kidding? It was an amazing plan. A terrific plan. A great plan!”
“Still, somehow, it failed.”
The businessman nodded. He’d never admitted defeat before, in fact, he was a master at reframing any kind of defeat as a victory, but today, with no other witnesses than his trusted advisor, he simply sighed.
“I’ve said the stupidest, most racist things that my think-tank could come up with,” he complained. “And still I’m gaining in the polls. How’s that even possible?”
“It is quite a conundrum, sir. I mean, it’s not as if you’re particularly hot or anything.”
The businessman raised an annoyed eyebrow.
“Sorry, sir,” the advisor said. “But you know what I mean.”
“I do not, but I will ignore that remark. I will ignore it because I have much more to say and I don’t have time to fire you and hire someone else to listen.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The businessman waved it away. He emptied his tumbler and signaled for a refill. The advisor hurried to comply. He was tap dancing on thin ice, his boss’s annoyed glances told him as much.
“Where was I?” The businessman sampled the scotch, nodded approvingly, then continued. “Oh yes,” he said, “I’ve attacked every minority in the world. I’ve threatened the people with the harshest policies. I even promised to take away basic human rights like health insurance and that other thing…” he trailed off. Policies, especially his own, weren’t his strong suit. He was a man of finance. Of business. He liked simple buzz words like Deal, and Profit, and ROI.
“You threatened to squander what little prosperity the current president coaxed back to life out of a failing economy on an impossibly large construction along the southern border,” the advisor chimed in. “And, if I may say so, that was a brilliant move.”
“You may indeed say so.” The businessman finally straightened his shoulders. “I was very proud of that one. It was another great idea. An amazing idea. It was actually a reference to the pyramids and the slavery that was used to build them.”
“It was?” The advisor looked baffled. “Well, sir, that was very subtle. Perhaps even a little too subtle.”
“Maybe it was. The voters only saw a plan for a spectacular structure. They never even looked at the calculations, the ones I commissioned and then leaked to the press. No one cared about the cost, or the fact that it’d wipe out half our economy and still leave our borders virtually unprotected. No, they just wanted something cool and big at the border.”
“You’d think that after celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall they’d know better.”
The businessman nodded. “Building walls for ethnic reasons should’ve horrified them. But, for some reason, it didn’t.”
“So I had no other choice but to reverse-robin-hood them.”
The advisor raised another eyebrow. “That’s a pretty big word, sir.”
“Yes, it is.”
“What does it mean?”
“What does what mean?”
The advisor sighed. Such a short attention span. It was a miracle the man ever finished a thought. “Reverse-robin-hood, sir,” he said. “Is it one of those things you’ve overheard and started using without knowing the meaning? Or is it one of the things you make up just to confuse people?”
“Actually, this time it’s neither. Reverse-robin-hooding is an actual thing that I am actually using appropriately in an actual sentence.”
“Really? In that case, well done, sir. Well done. That’s an entirely new tactic for you, isn’t it?”
“I would still like to know what it means, though.”
The businessman finished his second tumbler and got out of his seventy-thousand dollar chair. He paced the room as he explained. “Reverse-robin-hooding is when you steal from the poor,” he paused for effect, then continued, “and give to the rich.”
“Ah, reverse– Yes, I got it. Pretty smart.”
“ Of course it’s smart. It’s like the smartest, greatest plan ever. Anytime you tell people you’re going to take something from 99% of them and give it to the remaining 1%, you’ll get 99% of the votes against you.”
“That would seem to be the obvious result, yes.”
“But again, for some strange reason, it didn’t work.”
“That was very odd, yes. That was just before you decided to go after the environment, wasn’t it? The thing that all the millennials are so crazy about. The one thing that actually unites all the peoples of the world.”
“Yes, I really thought the planet was finally enlightened enough to work at the environment on all levels. Even industry seemed to be jumping in. So I announce my plan to revert back to coal, and what do I get?”
“More. Freaking. Votes.”
The businessman shook his head, topping up his own tumbler. “I mean, what more do I have to do to get out of this thing?”
His advisor tried to pat him on the back, then thought better of it. “It’s still five more weeks till the election, sir,” he said, keeping a safe distance. “You can still tank this thing. It’s just a matter of hitting the right note. Why don’t you try another tweet? You know how vicious the internet is against stupid tweets.”
The businessman sighed. “I guess I could give that another try.”
He took out his cell and typed a tweet, read it back, changed a few words to make it even more ignorant and more offensive, then sent it off.
He took another sip of scotch to congratulate himself on reaching previously unknown levels of offensiveness within a mere hundred and forty characters. He should be getting a medal for this kind of content, he mused. Or an entry in that Guinness book of beers or something. This was prime stuff.
He looked back at his advisor, “This better work,” he said. “The campaign is killing me. It’s taking up So. Much. Time. And I’m starting to miss the thrill of the Deal. The Hunt, the Chase, the Kill. All this president stuff, it’s just meetings and hand-shaking and ass-kissing. If there’s no Deal at the end of all the ass-kissing, then it’s just foreplay without release; tremendously painful.”
“I hear you, sir.”
“And what if I really do become president? Did you ever think about that?”
“I try not to, sir.”
“Do you know how much actual work I’d have to do? And can you imagine the kind of president I’d be? No country deserves that.”
“They certainly don’t, sir. But, fear not, it will never happen.”
The businessman snorted. “How can you be so sure?”
The advisor took a file from a drawer of the desk. “We can always leak one of our recordings, sir. You know, those tapes we bought back from that blackmailer? Or we could spread a rumor of sexual deviancy. That always works. Always.”
The businessman shook his head, still looking lost and tired. “I don’t know,” he said. “With the way things are going, it might actually get me more votes.”
“Even if it does,” said the advisor, “which it won’t, which it simply cannot, I still have one more ace up my sleeve.”
The businessman looked cautiously hopeful. “An ace? Really? What is it?”
The advisor handed over the file. “If all else fails, if we really have no other option, then we’ll spread a rumor that you’ve being compromised by the Russians. No presidential candidate could ever survive that. It’s absolutely foolproof.”
“I hope you’re right,” the businessman said, leafing through the proposal. “I really do. Because, call me crazy, but sometimes I get the feeling there’s a dark force at work here. Some invisible power making all this happen.”
After a modest countdown the emergency return capsule detached itself from the spacecraft and shot up into the thin, earth atmosphere.
Within seconds the giant sand dune that the spacecraft had crashed into turned into a tiny bump among millions of tiny bumps stretching out to a sandy horizon in all directions.
That dumb-ass desert was big, Gryx mused. Really, really big. He hadn’t had time to really appreciate the scale of it on his way down – mostly because he’d been too busy trying to keep the failing spacecraft under control. Luckily the return capsule had survived the crash. At least he didn’t have to escape that boiling, inhospitable place on foot.
There was a momentary shudder as the capsule reoriented itself, looking for the perfect angle out through the firmament and back into space.
Gryx settled back in his seat. He couldn’t wait to get off this crappy, overheating, overcrowded, prehistoric planet. In fact, getting off the planet yesterday would still be too late. Way too late. But he struggled to get comfortable. The return capsule was a one-seater and it lived up to its name in every possible way. Not only was there just one seat available, the whole capsule was little more than an egg-shaped hull surrounding that one seat. And whatever space was still left between the inner hull and the seat was crammed to the gills with tech.
And this was the bad news.
Although the available space had been used to a degree of efficiency never before seen in the universe, the capsule still couldn’t accommodate anything near the size of a dimensional drive. This baby was conventional propulsion all the way. Which meant the capsule would make its journey home through normal, physical space, taking just over four hundred years to reach its destination – roughly half of Gyrx projected remaining life span.
He was about to spend half of what was left of his life in this very seat.
Then again, that was still better than spending another minute on the surface below.
Gryx peered out the viewport to see if he could still make out the broken remains of his spacecraft. It proved impossible. Already the desert was shrinking, looking more and more like a child’s sandpit.
Somewhere in there had to be a tiny spec denoting his passenger, Grzq. A little dot that was the researcher who had contracted Gryx to take him to earth so he could study the humans.
Well, Gryx thought, I did get him there. Whether the poor bastard had actually survived the ‘landing’ was still somewhat of a mystery, but, either way, Gryx would send for help as soon as he got home. Using dimensional drives the rescue team would be here in approximately four hundred years and an hour.
True, he hadn’t actually discussed this plan with his client. He hadn’t even looked for the fool to make sure he was alright, but what good would it have done? If Grzq was hurt in any way, Gryx wouldn’t be able to help him. Not only did he have no medical training, the sight of blood, even a tiny drop of it, made him hurl violently. How much fun would that be for his client? Gryx assumed any client, no matter how crazy, would prefer his wounds hurl-free. That was just common sense.
Telling the client about his plan was also a waste of time. Obviously as soon as Grzq noticed the missing capsule, the plan would become self-evident. No explanation was needed. Moreover, not confronting the client precluded any lengthy discussion about who should be the one to use the capsule to get help. Gryx had already decided he should go, and as the pilot he had the final say. In a way, the matter was already settled. Hanging around to find a client, hurling on any wounds he might have, and then vetoing his decision after an unnecessarily long discussion, that would just burn valuable time. Better he left right away. That really was best for all concerned.
Gryx congratulated himself, imagining how much stress his decision had already saved his client.
If the researcher was still alive, which was debatable given the state of the spacecraft, arguing with him and then leaving him behind – most likely with hurled-on wounds – would’ve sent the man’s cortisol levels through the roof.
No, this was definitely better.
Much more humane.
As the view of the planet below became obscured by cloud cover, Gryx switched on the in-flight entertainment system. It was time to plan out his next four hundred years.
He could finally learn some alien languages.
Get that ever elusive engineering degree.
And figure out a way to stop drinking.
Then again, was that really the best way to start an extended vacation? Perhaps not, he mused. After all, there would be plenty of time for all that later.
For now, maybe he should just watch some instructional videos about making babies. He’d always felt it was in his species best interest if he kept abreast of the latest techniques. You never knew when they might be needed.
But Gryx felt an unexpected twinge of guilt as he browsed the system’s rather extensive video library. (Over five kabillion entries on MILLFs alone (Moderately Interesting Looking Life Forms)). And it wasn’t just guilt over wasting yet another chance to improve his language skills. Not exactly. For some reason his mind kept going back to his crazy client. To Grzq. Which made no sense.
In no way was this client special. All his fairs were either tourists or scientists, and they all invariably treated him with the same amount of disdain. They were all like, ‘Fly me to this remote science-forsaken planet, Gryx. And do it fast, do it cheap, and do it right now. I have a paper to finish before dinner (or a selfie to post), so get a move on!’
None of them appreciated the work involved. The calculations, the triangulations, the finesse, the skill.
There was in fact a huge amount of work to be done even before the actual flight could commence. The amount of prep work for an interdimensional jump was simply staggering.
Granted, Gryx didn’t always complete all of that prep work beforehand. In fact, he hardly ever did, and he skipped over the calculations every single time. But, and this was the crucial part, they didn’t know this. His clients had no idea that he did his flying mostly by luck and the seat of his pants, often ending up at not only the wrong planet, but even at a completely different galaxy, but as his clients never seemed to notice, they should definitely be more appreciative of the work that should have been involved.
So it was fair to say Gryx had a giant chip on his shoulder from the get go. And this time it was worse. This time he’d ended up at the right planet!
The actual planet he had actually been hired to actually reach.
How often did that happen?
Well, probably quite often with other pilots, but that didn’t count. They had their fancy academy degrees, they had logged the required flight hours, and followed the additional trainings. There wasn’t much honor in doing a great job if you knew exactly what you were doing.
In fact, to Gryx that had always seemed like cheating.
What he did, traversing dimensions without a clue of what was actually happening, now that took skill.
After all, if you knew exactly what you were doing then you were basically just doing your job. And there was nothing special about doing your job.
Furthermore, this time he hadn’t just hit the right galaxy, the right solar system within that galaxy, and the right planet within that solar system, he had actually jumped in close enough to the planet to do a fly-over! Forget the traditional hours of cruising to get from the jump-in point to the actual planet. Nope, they were right there. Their jump-in point was at the edge of the planet’s ionosphere!
Gryx might not be a hero with any of the six thousand discrete types of math, but even he knew how rare such a jump had to be. It was literally like hitting a bullseye with your first dart when throwing it from five blocks away standing on a balance ball in a hurricane.
The odds were pretty much equal.
Other pilots – real pilots – might not call this jump all that amazing. They’d perhaps categorize it as more of a ‘narrowly avoiding jumping right into a planet’ type of situation. But, well, they were a negative bunch.
Gryx felt pretty good about himself.
This had been the Greatest. Jump-in. Ever!
A hole in one. A worthy reason to open his bottle of five-thousand-year-old whisky. Which he did, just before commencing the fly-over.
But had his client given him an applause? Or a compliment? Or even a smile? Nope. Nothing. Not so much as a quarter of a percent of a smile!
Gryx got zilch.
Actually, that wasn’t entirely true, he did get something. He got a whole lot of complaining.
Why did you switch on the landing lights?
Seriously? Was that all Grzq got from the miracle he’d just witnessed?
We’re not even going to land and you switched on the landing lights! You’re going to scare off the natives! They won’t understand these strange lights in the sky!
To which Gryx should’ve said: ‘I’d like to see you remember to switch on those bloody lights with this much alcohol in your blood!’
And he should have followed it with, ‘I’m a bleeding miracle. I just did a hole in one and I shouldn’t even be sitting upright. If you checked my blood right now, you’d have to declare me legally dead.’
But did his client appreciate any of this? Was he suitably impressed?
Nope. All he did was complain about tipping off the locals.
Why are you flying so erratically?
And why are we getting so close to the ground?
It was always something with his clients. It was either ‘we’re nowhere near close enough’, or it was, ‘we’re too darn close, pull up you cross-eyed moron we’re going to crash!’ It was never, ‘what are you doing? You’re flying too darn fabulously. Too perfectly distanced from the planet’s surface. Stop being so amazing.’
Nope. That never happened.
Granted, Gryx could have started drinking a little later. All things considered, he was ready to admit, but only to himself, that the results of his early partaking of his celebratory whisky had led to somewhat regrettable results. Then again, he had still done a great job. An amazing job. After all, by that time, having downed as much of the whisky as he had, he should’ve been buried already, and he still managed to park a spacecraft.
True, he had parked it a little lower than he would’ve liked in hindsight. The basement level of a sand dune, when he’d been aiming for the roof level. But, well, they got there, didn’t they?
The clients were always so worried about how they got their results. Never the actual results themselves. Who cares how they got here? He managed it, even though he should’ve been getting busy decomposing.
That’s what mattered.
More or less. He wasn’t actually supposed to land. But continuing their journey just wasn’t safe. Not in his state. So touching down had been the only sensible thing to do.
Suddenly, Gryx was awoken from his musings. The onboard entertainment system was beeping – some kind of alarm.
He browsed hurriedly through the menus, trying to locate the problem. He really hoped the capsule wasn’t coming apart. Could there have been some hidden damage after all? Something the self-check systems couldn’t pinpoint?
A sudden pocket of dense air rocked the capsule and Gryx bounced in his seat. The ground below angled away precariously.
Gryx frantically checked the systems, pushing back horrible images of crashing a second time and spending the rest of his life on the miserable planet below.
He was unable to locate the problem. None of the systems gave any indication of a malfunction. Still, the alarm kept bleating.
Then he had an idea. He browsed a different set of menus and finally found the trigger for the alarm. It wasn’t actually a problem, it as an opportunity. One of the automatic scanning systems had found something interesting. He called up the data and examined it closely. There was a strange signal coming from the planet below. A signal that couldn’t possibly come from down there. Not from a planet of barely upright chipmunks. But there it was, clear as day, emanating from one of the mountain ranges.
Officially return capsules weren’t supposed to land. They were supposed to head home and dock with an orbital jump station. Therefor capsules weren’t equipped with gravitational landing thrusters and there was no way to change their flight plan. So far no one had ever been smart enough, or stupid enough, to successfully reprogram the capsule during a return flight.
That being said, there weren’t many things in the universe that a quart of five-thousand-year-old whisky couldn’t lay to waste. Gryx’ brain and liver could attest to this. As expected, the return capsule’s navigational system wasn’t up to the task, either. It was easily decimated by a few shots of the whisky.
Although Gryx wasn’t one for wasting secretly aged whisky that had lain hidden on backwater planets, he wasn’t one for not executing a crazy plan, either. However, the immediate results of his action were, admittedly, worrying.
Alarm signals filled the capsule, black smoke rose from the entertainment system, and the craft shook violently as the inertial dampers proved unable to handle the erratic flight pattern.
Or the erratic falling pattern, to be more precise.
Gryx watched with horror as the ground suddenly raced up to meet him – this was fast becoming his second crash in as many hours. He jabbed frantically at the menus of the ailing entertainment system, hoping against hope to find some kind of flight controls. Meanwhile another violent shudder pressed him deep into his restraints and he gasped for air.
The smell of burned circuits was overpowering now, and another bank of alarms went off. This time the alarms were proximity related: the capsule was balking at how close the ground was suddenly getting.
Gryx could relate.
He had to figure something out fast or this would be the last stupid thing he ever did. Without having anything specific in mind, he had rather hoped to indulge in many more stupid mistakes in the foreseeable future. That was starting to look increasingly unlikely now.
He swiped past all the entertainment settings, the media libraries, the personal watching recommendations, looking for anything more substantial, more technical.
Another heavy shudder. Differences in air density rocked the capsule as it plummeted toward the ground.
Suddenly Gryx had an idea. If there were any kind of controls to be found, they’d be related to the status screens. At any time during the flight the passenger could call up stats such as ambient temperature, time till destination, fuel usage, and so on. That’s where he needed to look.
He worked frantically, feeling the last few seconds of his life tick away. He dove deep into the status menus, clicking and swiping through a barrage of uninteresting settings. The system offered him a change of backdrop theme, perhaps something optimistically flowery or kitten-ny. It suggested different fonts and color schemes. But Gryx grimaced, brushing past it all until, finally, miraculously, he found something interesting. It wasn’t necessarily something likely to save him, but it was something that give him hope.
For comfort purposes the capsule was equipped with an anti-gravity device. It was used to relieve lower back pressure, something that came in handy during a two hundred year acceleration phase.
That was a start. Anti-gravity was what Gryx needed. Desperately. However, this particular device was very small and it was mounted inside the capsule. It only negated gravity around the lower half of the passenger seat.
Gryx racked his brain as he stared at a particularly nasty mountain range that rushed up towards him. The ground was getting frightfully close now, he could already spot individual trees, streams, boulders.
There was no time left!
Another barrage of proximity alarms went off. Much higher in pitch this time, much louder than anything ever needed to be. These alarms were no longer a warning, they were a message. The sound didn’t mean: watch out! It meant: death is now commencing!
Then he suddenly had it. Somehow the stress of the situation had overloaded his brain and given him the only idea that might possibly work.
He pressed a few menu buttons, overruled some security pop-ups, then turned up the gain past maximum.
If there was any time left, any time at all, then the anti-gravity device would charge up, overload, and come apart violently.
Although there was no scientific basis for it, Gryx hoped that an exploding anti-gravity device might, if only for a split second, distort external gravity as well as internal. And if that happened, and if it happened at exactly the right time, then maybe, just maybe –
It only took a minute for the mountain to return to its normal, quiet state. Although a thick trail of smoke still rose above the trees, birds already started chirping again. (Albeit carefully, as if worried about releasing another attack from the sky.) Rain fell innocently on the smoking remains of an alien return capsule, cradled in a nest of trees that had snapped like tooth picks.
On the forest floor, most of Gryx was still intact. The bits that were missing, well, he could regenerate those. It would take a few days, and he’d have to up his calories, but that wasn’t a big deal. Upping his calories was one of Gryx’ favorite past times anyway.
He took a swig of the whisky to get started. That would steady his nerves as well as provide enough calories for a couple of missing nails and a portion of his vestigial tail.
He was already on the right track.
He brushed dirt and pine needles from his ripped flight suit and surveyed his surroundings. He’d been thrown clear from the capsule and had, it seemed, caught at least an edge of an anti-gravity bubble after all. If he hadn’t, he’d probably have been way past anything that self-regeneration could fix.
His last ditch idea had been, it turned out, a spectacular success.
He took another swig to congratulate himself.
Then he took a third swig to reward himself for holding on to the whisky during the crash. That had been doubly amazing.
But now there was work to do. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and hobbled back to the capsule to inspect the damage. Large sections of the hull were cracked and others were missing. A lot of the wiring and tech were shot also. Some of it on fire. As a return device, the capsule would no longer serve a purpose, but the entertainment system was still intact, and this was what Gryx was looking for.
He browsed the menus in search of the data that had prompted him to pour whisky over the main interface.
A few menus in, there it was again, clear as day.
A nuclear signature coming from this little backward planet.
Who would’ve thought?
Apparently at some point these little chipmunks had split the atom. Good for them. They’d figured out how to harness subatomic energy and that meant they could help Gryx build an inter-dimensional homing beacon.
He wouldn’t have to travel the four hundred years back inside the capsule, he could just send an instant distress call and be picked up the following day.
Best of all, he no longer had no excuse for not learning more languages or for not figuring out how to stop drinking. There simply wasn’t time to do these things now. That was a huge weight off his back.
Gryx refreshed the data on the screen and got another surprise: the nuclear signature was still being detected.
He took a moment to process this information.
When the capsule was about to pierce the firmament its field of view had included a large part of the northern hemisphere. That was a gigantic area to capture signals from. Right now, stuck in the ground, the capsule couldn’t see much more than the dirt directly underneath it. So that meant…
The nuclear signal was coming from inside the mountain!
Gryx was shocked. He looked around. Nothing but trees and mountain in all directions. No signs of research labs or generator facilities. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think he was out in the wilderness, roughing it. Instead, he was apparently sitting on a cache of nuclear energy.
Why on earth would humans hide something like that inside a mountain?
He shook his head. It’d take some work to figure these creatures out. And perhaps a little more to concoct a way to get them to build him a beacon.
He stepped back into the broken capsule and started studying up on humans.
Gryx sat in his broken capsule for days, trying to work out the best way to get the humans to build him an inter-dimensional beacon using their nuclear capabilities.
First, he checked the data Grzq had brought along. All the information that the scientist had gathered on humans, Gryx read. Then he ordered the capsule’s entertainment system to hook up with the planet’s internal electronic network (or InterNet, as Gryx dubbed it). This InterNet told him the easiest way to get access to nuclear information was to be the president of a nuclear capable country. As it turned out, being the president of such a country was also the best way to get humans to do things for you.
A lucky coincidence. Gryx marveled at his fortune. Basically the humans had structured their society as if specifically wanting to help him out.
What were the chances of that?
Gryx wasn’t sure as it involved math, but whatever the chances, they had to be slim. Very slim. Unless some alien race had come to earth in the distant past to guide human development in exactly this direction, which was a ludicrous idea. And entirely beside the point. The point was, Gryx had to find a human president and compromise him.
He took a break from his studies to properly congratulate himself on his excellent work. He did this by taking some rations from the capsule and heating them over an improvised fire. Night fell as he nibbled at dried protein and sipped the last of his whisky.
His wounds were starting to heal. Even his pain had begun to subside. He knew this because from time to time he’d switch his pain receptors back on to check on their status. The effect was always a little jarring, and it made Gryx think about how horribly inconvenient life must have been before his species figured out the simple trick of mentally turning off their pain.
Nighttime came with a cold breeze and soon the whisky as unable to warm him. He returned to the capsule and ripped out some upholstery to use as a makeshift blanket. Strictly speaking, he could turn off the receptors that told him he was cold, but he’d still lose valuable calories keeping up his body heat, and he needed these calories for recovery.
Sleep was also optional, but again it conserved calories and thus allowed his body to heal faster. So he found a soft spot on the ground, wrapped himself in the upholstery, and nudged his mind into sleep state, ordering it to wake again after eight or so hours.
The next morning Gryx took in the fresh mountain air, the impossibly clear blue sky, and returned to the capsule to resume his studies.
It turned out that compromising a president would be difficult. Apparently there were only a few of these president creatures on the planet at any given time. In fact, presidents accounted for less than a tenth of a tenth of a percent of the global population, so they were rare, to say the least. And they also looked very, very similar to the non-president versions of humans, so they’d be hard to spot. Gryx wasn’t even sure how the humans could tell them apart. Perhaps this was why most presidents plastered their faces all over their cities and their currency.
Another problem was that the presidents were hard to get at. They were surrounded at all times by a heavily armed entourage and were constantly being recorded. Everything presidents did, everyone they met, it was all committed to digital storage. No matter what shape Gryx took, he doubted he’d manage to compromise an actual president. He’d have to think of something else.
A sudden sound startled him.
He looked up to see movement in the bushes out in front of the capsule.
Something large was moving around in there.
Gryx held his breath and stayed very, very still. His mind raced trying to think of weapons he might have at his disposal.
Obviously the capsule wasn’t armed. It also didn’t hold any personal weaponry. It wasn’t needed, the only time anyone was expected to leave a capsule was upon safe arrival at home. And the capsule itself wasn’t going to protect him, either. Anything with a mouth and teeth could just reach in through the broken hull and get him.
More movement. Closer this time.
Gryx tensed up, ready to run. He wasn’t going to be the alien who survived two crash landings only to be eaten by indigenous fauna.
More movement. The foliage started to part. Gryx tensed up further, a runner waiting for the starting shot. He had to be sure he’d been spotted, though. No point rushing through the underbrush and tipping off all animals in the area if it wasn’t needed.
The rustle of bending branches, then a face suddenly broke through the leaves. It peered at him intently. It had an elongated nose, dark brooding eyes, and weird stabbing weaponry on the top of its skull. It kept a steady gaze at Gryx while it cocked its head to the side, as if listening for something.
Gryx gasped. He understood immediately that this creature had superior muscle power, was more adapted to the terrain, and had sufficient stabbing ability to reduce him to non-repairable pieces.
He was, it appeared, dead already.
Running wasn’t even an option. The only question was how long the creature would play with his carcass before finally eating it.
“Okay,” Gryx called out to the creature. “You got me. Just make this quick!”
But the logic of this request was apparently so startling to the creature that it did the only thing Gryx hadn’t expected it to do: it ran away.
Stunned, Gryx carefully breathed a sigh of relief.
The creature hadn’t stalked off. It wasn’t going back for the rest of its pack. It had bolted. It was scared.
Gryx tried not to think about what horrible things could have happened to this species that it was now actually afraid of something much more frail than itself. Instead, he returned to his studies. He was determined to wrap up his stay in the capsule as quickly as possible.
By noon he had discovered that his situation was actually even more complicated than he’d assumed. Much like the Kardurian fish creatures of Alderna, who could change their gender at will, and not unlike the bee creatures on Flip, who could morph into the queen when the reigning queen perished, the president creatures of earth could morph as well. Not perhaps from male to female, but they could definitely morph from citizens into presidents. In fact, some of these creatures would automatically morph back into citizens after a set number of years. Not all of them, though, Gryx discovered. Some presidents managed to retain their presidential form until their shells perished and they left the physical plane.
And this gave Gryx his second excellent plan in twenty-seven hours.
Although it was impossible to compromise a president in its fully matured state, it might just be possible to compromise a president while it was still in its larval stage.
True, the larval presidents already had an entourage, but they were unarmed. And though they did suffer from a mild form of the ‘always being recorded’ virus, there were still plenty of hours in the day when they were completely unobserved.
Compromising a larval president was definitely the way to go.
Gryx ordered the entertainment system to follow the news on the InterNet and identify the closest electoral area that was about to shed one president and take on another.
Find season 2 here:
Check out the companion grow novel about Grzq’ journey here: