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Here Already

By Ryder W. Miller

Stella

She could not let them know that she was here on Earth. She had been here for a generation and she needed to have a low profile. If they figured out what she was up to they would probably help her, but if a lot of people knew about her it would probably not work. She needed to find followers, she needed to win friends and influence colleagues. But there were things that could not be said. There were people who could not know about her presence here on this beautiful blue and green world.

How strange this world was Stella thought. There was famine despite wealth. There was war and starvation despite amazing technology and intellectual developments. Despite this humankind was still a backwards race in many ways. They fell into all different types of divisions; skin color, sex, racial groups, national identity…. People still noticed the differences among them despite that human beings had so much in common. They were not ready yet to join The League of Planets. That was why she was here. She needed to change the way they saw things; the way they saw each other. They were potentially in danger from dark forces.

But if they wanted help they needed to embrace the fact that there was a big universe out there. They needed to acknowledge that they all belonged together, ie. they were of the same kind and from the same place. But they were so contentious. It was amazing that they managed to reproduce. Some would point out that reproduction was too serious of a matter and people should take themselves less seriously.

Stella Morton thought how lucky her kind was. She, female, is what she referred to herself as, but she was actually neither female or male. They were not to notice that she was an extraterrestrial. Her kind only had one sex and they could reproduce asexually if they chose. They could transfer genetic materials with others if they were interested, but it was not always necessary. But when they reproduced the offspring would not be a clone, even if they reproduced asexually, the genetic material would be mixed up and the offspring would be a surprise. Her kind could even hold the genetic materials of others in storage for when they were ready to produce offspring. Her species, the Osis, had individual independence. One could charge out alone and independently. Being able to reproduce without another made this more possible.

Stella Morton decided to assume the female gender on Earth because her message was one of caring, learning and growth. She also needed to bring people together. If they could learn to work together they could solve the world's problems. It could be the beginning of a New Age.

She needed to get the message out and she decided to do so as an artist and gallery owner. Through imagery she would evoke people's sense of connection with each other. But she needed to keep her cloths on or she might be caught. She appeared female with brown hair and brown eyes, but a close examination of her body would reveal torso scales and reproductive organs. Though she had two legs and two arms, a biped, she had a different kind of genitals. But no one would ever know that if she kept her pants on.

Meanwhile she would work on her paintings of the beautiful Earth in the darkness of space. That was her central image; one of connection and beauty. She wanted those who saw her art to realize that the world's problems could be solved through cooperation. There was technology that could rid mankind of the need to work to exhaustion. They could use robots to do much of the necessary work, and instead focus on their love festivals. But humankind was not ready yet for the Utopian age. They needed to be reminded that they all belonged together, but she would need to move them in that direction slowly.

The 1960's almost accomplished some of these goals, but the peaceful message was followed by brutality and assassinations. A lot of great people including the Kennedy's and Martin Luther King went down. The country turned its back on the sixties, in a sense it was judged as unfeasible. But the assassinations stopped in subsequent decades, but so did much of the mass protests. There were other inroads to a more peaceful world. The activists who worked to achieve the goals of the 1960s' needed to find more traditional means to reach their goals.

The journalists seemed to have gotten this message and often one would find in the news a sports section, a peaceful and healthy way to resolve conflict. How better it was than tribal and local conflicts. There was also lots of astronomy news. The astronomy news was a reminder that the planet was filled with Earthlings. That humankind was all from the same place. It was her message as well. Some would argue that all that money should not be spent are astronomy or space exploration while people went hungry, but in a more united world, one which could be achieved by a cosmic perspective, there would be a better chance that all peoples would work together to solve the world's problems.

She was pleased that others adopted the message, especially the news media. But how could she keep sending out the message and not be noticed? She opened her own gallery called Celestial Connections.

She prepared that night for a new reception of her works. Others had followed suit and brought similar work for her to show over the years. She reveled in art as a means to enact change, and others had brought work to her which also sought to inspire progressive ideas. She believed that progressive dreams could be made manifest.

Tonight's show was "A Wonderful Place" by Stella Morton. She would be showing her work for all who came by that evening.

 

 

Trarth

She, now called Stella Morton, was not the only one from elsewhere on Earth. She did not know that there were forces working against her. They also needed to not announce that they were here on Earth. The Yeckle needed to diffuse the situation. They needed to guard against eventualities. They wanted mankind to be at war with each other so that when the the Yeckle were ready to contact Earth, they would appreciate their need to be soldiers in an intergalactic war. War is the way of life and we need you is what the Yeckle would say. If they did not help the Yeckle may destroy the planet. The Osis had beaten the Yeckle in warfare and also through diplomacy in the high intergalactic council, but there were still some rogue Yeckle factions ready to disrupt the work of the Osis.

Trarth after agreeing to volunteer, was chosen to spy on Stella, to interfere with her plans if possible. He was not a rogue agent, but rather someone who was selected and trained to be a nuisance or problem for those who had made it to Earth with the message of the Osis. Trarth appeared like a normal person. He also was a biped, but a close examination of his body would reveal that he was not human. He considered having sex with human beings, but they would not understand his strange genitals. Freaks did arrive in the city and maybe someone on drugs would not notice or could not muster the verisimilitude to make a case that he was an extraterrestrial, but to do so would be a risk. Trarth was also worried that he could catch a disease. He also needed to remain focused. He was on a mission to help advance the future objectives of the Yeckle on this planet. He also needed to do so without being noticed.

Trarth realized that what he needed to do was shut down the Cosmic Connection Gallery. This would be a way to keep people from getting Stella's message. Trarth decided that he would go to the gallery with all his bad attitude to share. He would drink too much and maybe say some awful things as he usually did. The Yeckle would be avenged. They would also win friends and influence people or maybe destroy the place.

 

 

Xavier

Xavier did not know what to do that evening. He could leave work early on Friday, but he had no particular place to go. It would be hard to reach people in the late afternoon so it would be counterproductive to stay late. He decided that he would go for a walk. He had not always liked the city. It was dirty, competitive and dangerous, but he was not often a victim of crime because of his size. He was larger than most men, even if he was not very athletic.

One could see here in the city where American society was busting from its seems. The city could not find housing for all the people who made it to his city. There were also many who were not able to support themselves or function adequately. Once when one fell off the main societal track it was difficult to get back in the game. One could give homeless people money, but they also needed shelter. Some of them had psychiatric problems or relatives that would not or could not assist them. To go from the street to a job required a lot of help. That is why Xavier played things so safely. He knew that if he did not keep working he may suffer the same fate as those he found on the street. He did not know how he would survive if that happened to him. He found it hard to take money out of his pocket when they approached him. There were so many people on the streets and he could not be known as a person who had money to give them every time they asked. It pained him to be asked. It pained him to turn them down, but he felt that he needed to. He needed to keep his cover. Someday maybe he could help them out in someway, but he found it difficult enough to just take care of himself.

Where should he go for a walk tonight? He did not know. He would be able to see the crowds assembling to go home after work. The buses would be full and most people would be rushing down the street. He decided he would go to the part of town which people regularly visit, ie. the touristy part of town. He could join the tourists for diner and maybe stop by a bar for a drink. Or maybe a happy hour before dinner?

There was a restaurant that he liked to eat at. It was called The Maldives after a South Seas location. He did not always trust the fish there, but they had spicy chicken. In this part of town, usually referred to as The Market or The Brown Market, eating was a political act. Eating was one way in which you could connect with the larger world. Eating was a way in which you impacted the whole planet. Each person left their stamp on the planet in terms of their consumption patterns or accomplishments. He was jaded to the whole thing actually. He did not want to think about it. He did not want to pay attention, just like he did not think he needed to worry about what he ate.

So what if he had a belly? So what if he ate too much fatty food? He would worry about it another time. He was not capable or interested in doing great things at this time. He just wanted to get by and save money. Someday when he had taken good care of himself he would be capable of giving again. For now he was a "working stiff" with some time off. He knew how to relax. He would describe his activities as "a walk and maybe a movie" or "a walk and a meal" and occasionally "a walk and a concert". People were jealous of his freedoms. Tonight he did not know what he would find taking a walk through The Market. Tonight "a walk and a meal". He would be able to get a good nights rest this evening. He liked being able to sleep in late, maybe that was due to the fact that he was sometimes depressed. Did he have the blues? Sometimes.

Xavier walked through the crowds waiting for public transportation and then past The Maldives to get a drink first. He sure could use a few after this tough day on the job. Across the street he saw a crowd in a nearby gallery. He decided that he may go take a look after he ate something. Xavier was not in the mood tonight for a Philly Cheese Steak, instead a few drinks and then a rice plate.

 

 

Olivia

Olivia had had a tough time at work this week. She could barely pay her rent on what she earned and this week her boss was a real hole. He needed a she to do "it" for him and he needed to be mad about "it" afterwards. Two birds with on stone Olivia thought and volunteered. It was no longer who you knew, it was also when you knew them. She usually needed to supplement her allowance by the help or kindness of others, but no extra money at work this week despite the extra work. She could still work the field as she said but it did not pay off this week. She could still entice men to buy her things. The playing field was not even. Men with the equal amount of education as women still made much much more. Male dominated professions still weeded out women. There were laws to protect women in those fields, but who could afford a lawyer. There had been some integration in the work world, but things were still not fair or equal. But women still had the fire works in their bags.

She unfortunately was stuck working below her capacity in a low paying job. She had hoped to be elevated, but they had not decided to do so. Meanwhile new people were hired to be her supervisors. She got the occasional raise, but no job advancements. She had decided that she was stuck in a dead end position, and she needed to scrape to get by.

Olivia walked sadly through the streets that evening. She had eaten her one real meal of the day at lunch and could only now afford to nosh. If she gained a lot of weight it would be bad for business, her part time business anyway. Her second "job". Young men no longer turned around to look at her. She once got a lot of glances. There were a lot of "guys". Now she only got the occasional look from older men. She did not see a lot of them in the bars she used to go to. But now she had to start going to the older bars with the crustier people. She was still a little young for some of those bars, and the older guys would definitely look at her there, but they were no young sons of the wealthy at those locations. No children of well oiled executives there. Maybe some of the people at these bars were wealthy, but they were more likely middle or working class. These were people who did not want to dress up for the fancy bars downtown. These were people who came to score a couple of drinks and did not expect a beautiful young thing like herself to walk through the door. But she was no longer a beautiful young thing. She was no longer a hottie. She used to pose naked, actually only a few times, but she had become vain and decided that she did not want to do so very often anymore. She still probably could if she would like to, students were still willing to paint and draw older bodies, but it was not the same if you were no longer desirable.

As she walked down the street she felt sad. A part of her life was coming to an end and things had yet to work out for her. She did not get the guy with the big house. She did not find the woman with the nice house either. Women were so much more sensitive as lovers anyway, but together they always needed money. There were also the occasional guy who studied closely with an older woman or read some books. Older guys tended to be like that, but they were also out of shape and sometimes fat. She was not longer interested in men with unique physiques. They could also not always be with the times. They may have not kept up with all the modern books and music. They may not have followed all the new romance stories.

It was time for her to regroup and cut her losses. It was time again for her to plan her future. What was she going to do next. She looked out at all the worker shuffling their way back home from work. Many were so well dressed. There would also be the crowds at the happy hours. Maybe she would go out for a drink at The Brown Market. Not too many drinks, maybe just a few. It was a safe place in the early evenings and during the nights when there were crowds. Maybe someone would buy her a drink tonight. She decided if she did not meet someone she would go for dim sum. Dim sum was tasty and not too expensive for her. She ate it rather than full meals a number of nights a week. She avoided full meals even if she felt like she was starving. She should speak to a nutritionist she thought. Luckily that was covered by her medical plan. Now drinking was still fun and an adventure. Maybe she would also check out the art scene tonight. She couldn't afford good wine or cheese either. Maybe the art tonight would be intriguing, maybe it would be inspiring.

There was a show tonight that was supposed to be cosmic. She had seen the flyer with the painting of the planet Earth. Maybe she could sneek in. She could not afford to buy, but maybe a man would like to go take a look also at what was also on her wall after the show. She could afford to acquire art this way before. Some men would even ask her if she still modeled nude. She was older now and no longer in prime shape, but she would consider it if the right person asked.

The Reception

There were only twenty paintings on the wall that night. The crowd had built early for "A Wonderful Place". Trarth walked over to the bar to get a drink before he made his rounds. On his way to the bar he walked past Olivia who was there occasionally.

"Olivia, how are you," said Trarth.

Olivia smiled but did not want to talk very much.

"I am okay," she said.

"Can you believe this shit?" said Trarth in an annoyed and annoying tone.

Olivia did not want to talk, but she managed to add, "It is really kind of wonderful don't you think."

"Would you pay for it," said Trarth.

Olivia smirked, but she was sad to hear what Trarth said.

"I wish I could afford it," she said in an annoyed but cute way.

"It makes me want to drink," said Trarth who excused himself and walked over to the bar.

There Stella Morton was standing with a big smile on her face. Trarth new how to be polite with her or else his cover would be blown and he would not succeed at his mission. She wasn't well protected hear and he could easily kill her if necessary. Tonight there was beer and wine. He could drink as much as he would like, but the taste of alcohol never pleased him.

"What would you like," said the man at the bar standing next to Stella.

"Red wine of course," said Trarth pointing to the bottle with a raging river on it.

The bartender knew that he came regularly and liked a lot to drink so he poured him a big glass. Sheila smiled at him even though she thought he was a nuisance. It was not like he bought anything or brought his own art in for consideration. Trarth who went by Truman was a regular, and there were not always as many people at art openings as they would like.

"Thanks," said Trarth who was considered a man that was able to afford cheese. At The Market art scene there were those who could afford cheese and those who could not. If you could afford cheese you should eat less cheese and try to financially support the scene. But Trarth made it be known that he did not usually like the art.

Stella Morton decided to tolerate him, but they socialized in a clunky kind of way. There was something scary about him she thought, but she did not know what.

"How are you tonight?" asked Stella.

"Oh I am okay."

"Thats good."

"Is that one there a statement about pollution?" asked Trarth pointing.

"Sort of. It is also supposed to be revelatory."

Trarth did not want to blow his cover so he decided to be diplomatic, but it would be hard. He was not able to show enthusiasm to a being whose people had beaten them in both warfare and diplomacy. She did not know who he was, but because of her exuberance she did not need to. He felt like he was standing in he sun all day without sunscreen. She was genuinely happy that he had arrived. He was happy that people came to see her art. If they were not affected this evening then probably some time in the future. For the meantime he would have to criticize her work while she was not listening.

"Ah yes," said Trarth as he walked away to the paintings.

The art gathering was going well. People were crowding into the gallery. There were the regulars who were there at a lot of the openings. There were also a number of people they had never seen before.

 

 

Xavier had a drink before he arrived. He saw the crowd assembled and decided to cross the street and go take a look. On the front window there was a picture of the Earth with a slightly green tint in a black background. Buckminister Fuller had called it Space Ship Earth. James Lovelock had called it Gaia and said the Earth had the qualities of a living being. Others had considered that just a metaphor. The life found on Earth could go elsewhere and new planets could be born. Some called that terraforming, but it would be a very big undertaking and the Planetary Protection Officers at NASA were very concerned about back and forth contamination. It had not been ruled out that there could be life on Mars or in the clouds of Venus. There were oceans under the icy surfaces of the moons of Mars and NASA would be going to see if there was life there also.

The solar system had been a disappointment in the 21st Century with no advanced life being discovered. There were no civilizations on Mars or any other planet, unless of course there were intelligent creatures in the moons of Jupiter. But for now there was only advanced life on Earth as far as we knew. SETI had also been a disappointment. SETI had not heard any signals from space. There were no civilizations that wished to contact us yet. An encounter with an extraterrestrial society could help instill a cosmic perspective on mankind which could result in there being less warfare within the human species. Maybe an extraterrestrial would unite mankind with a common enemy. Maybe an extraterrestrial provide humanitarian support or the needed technology to solve some of the problems on the planet.

Xavier thinking that he may find some answers in the art work in the gallery walked over to get a drink. He grabbed a bear and then made his way to make his rounds looking at the work on the wall. The artist was standing by the bar, but he did not know what to say to her so he just took a drink and walked away thinking she was an odd looking woman. Xavier took a circuitous route to look at the painting on the wall, sipping his beer along the way. He walked past Trarth thinking that he was an odd looking sort as well.

Disturbing the buzz and commotion, Stella Morton bang a wine glass with a spoon until the room became quiet.

"Thank you for coming tonight," she started.

"The art you see on the wall was inspired by pictures from outer of space. Space exploration revealed our Earth to be a special place. We are hardly a blue dot in the vast cosmos. We are a wonderful destination seeking tourists from elsewhere. Our gallery welcomes the work of others who share our cosmic vision. Please do contact us if you have work to show. Please enjoy the show and the party," Stella Morton said.

Fun and merriment would drive the darkness away thought Stella Morton.

This is exactly what I am here to stop thought Trarth who walked over to look at the painting Olivia was looking at.

Olivia took a step away towards Xavier who was looking at the painting besides them.

"Do you like these," said Trarth to Olivia.

Olivia smiled and said "Some of them."

"They are derivative," said Trarth.

"But they are inspiring," said Olivia.

"I don't find them inspiring. They are all the same painting," said Trarth.

"I find some of them inspiring," said Olivia.

Xavier was now looking at them talking. It did look like Olivia may need some support to end this conversation, but he was not sure if he should intercede or how to intercede."

"The Earth is really not such an inspiring place. We have altered it all we could, but it is really inhospitable in many places still. And some of the people. My gosh, some of the people," said Trarth.

"It is not all that bad," said Olivia.

"You think so because you are young."

"What do you mean."

"I mean that things are not going to get better for you on this blasted planet."

"How do you know?"

"Our local prosperity is an illusion."

"Oh come on," said Olivia smiling.

"Doom awaits us here, we must be prepared," said Trarth.

Olivia stopped smiling.

Xavier decided to interrupt Trarth who was practically leaning over her.

"Not enjoying the art," he said.

"I am," said Olivia looking into his eyes.

Xavier was stunned by her brown eyes.

Trarth looked at him in anger.

"Your interrupting our conversation," said Trarth annoyed.

"I was just trying to join in," said Xavier, not exactly accurately.

Olivia smiled.

"I would like his to join in the conversation," she said.

Trarth straightened up and looked at his new adversary.

"I was just saying how hopeless things really were," said Trarth.

"In some ways," said Xavier.

"This idea of a intergalactic perspective," continued Trarth, "Why it is ridiculous."

"But it is accurate," said Olivia.

"Yes, it is accurate," repeated Xavier.

Trarth grew annoyed and could not take the scowl off his face. His skin became redder.

"You will not be ready," said Trarth.

"We will beat them with love," said Olivia.

Trarth became more irritated.

"I must go now," Trarth said.

He muttered something under his breath after he left. Others there noticed his anger and got out of his way.

"I am happy I did not hear that," Olivia said after Trarth had left.

"What a fool," Xavier said.

Olivia looked into his eyes, and Xavier who looked annoyed now had a pleasant look on his face again.

"We scared him off with love," said Olivia.

Xavier smiled in return.

They stood there for a minute in the basking glow of a painting of Spaceship Earth in the night sky. They decided to introduce themselves, before they went for another drink. When they walked to the bar Stella Morton was beaming at them.

"Enjoying the show?" Sheila asked.

"Why it is inspiring," said Olivia.

Xavier nodded in agreement.

"I am happy you could make it."

Xavier and Olivia left the show together.

It was the beginning of more than just a beautiful friendship.

Copyright Ryder W. Miller 2011

Ryder W. Miller is the editor of From Narnia to a Space Odyssey, and co-writer of San Francisco: A Natural History. He has published stories at MythCircle and the Lost Souls website.

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