My friend Karl isn’t from around here. He’s from a place where the air is clean and the people walk slowly and the stars are clearly visible at night. He’d decided to come to school here so he could be away from all that. Us being friends and all, I’d volunteered to be his tour guide-slash-confidant during his stay, intending to show him why that was a terrible idea.

Today we were heading into the downtown area for some sightseeing. He was having a good time so far, enjoying the food, the smells, the many glorious sights that visitors always found in the City That Never Sleeps.

Oh, like that alien invasion over there.

They came through a portal this time, high in the air, wide enough for a few thousand of them to fit through and ringed with nebulous energy. They looked humanoid, wore glittering armor, had laser guns, and rode epic, flying scooters. I guessed the ten-foot-tall man-alien with the grey skin and rainboots was their leader. He was probably looking to steal some valuable space mineral or get revenge for his homeworld—typical fare.

Karl put down his camera and gaped in awe. A lot of the folks around us did that; they were obviously tourists and had never witnessed such phenomenon before. But the locals did the more sensible thing. We whipped out our smartphones and pressed “record.”

“…What are you doing?” Karl asked as he noticed me, his accent as thick as his tone was clueless.

“You ever seen an alien invasion before?” I asked him while trying to get the big guy in the frame.

“On the Internet, perhaps.”

“Yes, well, who uploads those videos?”

Karl’s eyes went so blissfully wide. I could hear the thoughts swimming through his precious head. Is this real? Are aliens real? What’s that smell? Is that my pants? Before long, the aliens had descended upon us and started firing their lasers, blowing up chunks of earth and sending cars flying. Karl and other tourists screamed and started running away despite having no idea where to go. The city’s hundreds of avenues quickly swallowed up the unfortunate ones, while I tugged Karl into a nearby store, saving him from a network of lettered-and-numbered streets far worse than anything the aliens could conjure up.

Karl started ranting hysterically. Something about running, calling the police, calling the military—every rational thought a person in his situation would have. The locals smiled and shook their heads. “His first alien invasion?” their looks told me. I nodded apologetically, then placed a hand on Karl’s shoulder.

“Buddy, relax. We’re safe in here. When was the last time you heard​ of an alien attacking a bodega?”

“But how do you stop them? You must have stopped them before, yes?”

I held up a finger as I heard a low rumbling. “Wait for it…” BOOM! Outside the window, a giant green man fell out of the sky, landed in the middle of the street, and leaped back into the air. I caught that shit on Vine.

A flood of people suddenly zoomed past the window—the kind of people you only find in a crazy city like this one. They wore metal armor and red capes, carried indestructible shields and rode invisible jets. They were human-sized turtles with nunchaku and sais. They were Mustangs and Camaros that turned into giant robots.

Karl’s jaw hit the floor and he let out one long, unbroken squeal. Of terror, of joy, I still have no idea.

Over the next two hours, the conflict escalated in the usual fashion. The big grey dude declared Earth to be his domain, and the heroes told him in a very tongue-in-cheek way that he couldn’t have it. Forces clashed. Countless no-name buildings got destroyed, dozens of innocent people became forgotten collateral. Same old, same old. When it was over, aliens and heroes alike went home, leaving the city looking like a finger painting after an enema. Fire and rescue arrived on the scene shaking their heads, as did the media, who I swear had the most impossible footage for their b-roll.

As Karl and I walked walked away from the medics, that motley crew with the grey hairs and wrinkles who almost certainly weren’t being paid enough, Karl looked at me regretfully, gulped, then whispered, “I want to go home.”

Oh, Karl.




(Read the original draft.)


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