Arianna wasn't quite sure what woke her up, but she came awake like an ex-soldier in a story - completely, silently, and in complete terror. She lay still in the bed, carefully regulating her breathing, not wanting to overdo and betray that she was awake if there did happen to be anyone in her house. Aside from her own feelings of utter panic, the first thing she noticed was the silence. Even the outside sounds of her small beach town - waves on the shore, cars in the street - all were muted, or simply not there. The next awareness that registered was that she hadn't been imagining that she wasn't alone in the room. Someone was standing over by her window, and the realization was enough to make every hair on her body stand erect and salute.

Slitting open her eyes slightly, her hand crept for the hairbrush on her nightstand, but something stopped her. The moonlight was flooding in, even through closed blinds, and clearly silhouetted a tall, broad man standing in front of the window...and shone through large, webbed, translucent ears. Recognition shot her eyebrows up to her hairline, and she sat up abruptly, flipping on the lamp sharing the nightstand with the innocuously resting brush. The blue alien started before throwing up a hand to shade his eyes from the sudden wash of light. "What are you doing in my room?" Arianna demanded, sliding out of bed and brushing past him to close the heavy curtains over the window. "And don't you know better than to stand where you can be seen? Do you want to be dragged out to Nevada and studied?" She turned, arms akimbo, to give him a stern look, as he looked back abashedly.

It was the same one she'd run into on the beach, it had to be. He looked the same and, while it was possible they all looked very similar, he had come to her. Whether he'd followed her scent or developed some sort of creepy SciFi-esque bond, or what have you, she had still run into an alien on the beach that looked suspiciously like the one standing in her bedroom. "You really shouldn't be here, you know," she remonstrated gently. "It could reflect very badly on both of us - what are you doing?" she added, both curious and cautious. He'd picked up a pencil and a notebook lying amidst the clutter beside her laptop, on the table. He was now sketching on a blank page in the middle of the thin composition book. After a moment's silence beside the pencil's scratching, he turned the drawing so she could see - he had depicted the two of them standing out on a beach beneath a moon and a flying saucer, her eyes and mouth little 'o's and his ears quite prominent.

With a faint giggle, Arianna took the implements from him, erasing the hair he'd drawn lying flat to her head and making it stick off before handing it back. For a moment, her uninvited visitor looked puzzled before a faint smirk crossed his lips. Clearly, he'd gotten the idea, but he started drawing again without much acknowledgement. After a few minutes of taut silence, he showed her the picture he'd jotted down: she, following him up into the starship on which he'd apparently arrived. "Uh-uh, no way, you think I'm insane?" she demanded, gesticulating at him. "I might like you well enough, but you're still an extraterrestrial! I am not following you up...there!" She pointed up towards the ceiling.

Looking downcast, he hopefully tapped the clock, then pointed towards the east. Arianna squinted at him, not getting the message. He patiently transcribed a line across the ceiling to the west, then pointed at her, and back at the bed. "You'll bring me back tomorrow night?" she repeated dubiously. "Do you have any idea how unwise it is to be voluntarily abducted by aliens?" He stared at her, clearly not understanding a word she was saying. "Shoo," she ordered, flapping her hands at him. He glanced at her, looking crushed, and headed for the doorway. She pointedly lifted her discarded outfit from the previous day from its repose on a chair, leveling a look at him. His eyes widened in realization and he scurried out, giving her privacy to change into something more befitting space travel.


The saucer was magnificent, reposing silently and darkly on the beach. Inside, it was even more impressive - a tasteful blend of chrome utilitarianism and comfortable, red-upholstered living space, liberally adorned with exotic plants, all of which were familiar, none of which were identical to anything Arianna had ever seen. Her eyes were wide with wonder as her escort gently led her through the halls, introducing her (presumably) to the other aliens, who showed the same propensity to stare at her in amazement as she felt to unabashedly gaze at them. They weren't all the same - they were as different from each other as humans are one from another, and the more of them she saw, the more convinced she became that the man who gently held her elbow was the same one who had steadied her on the beach six months previously.

It was not the kind of starship that one commonly sees in alien movies, Arianna reflected, all corridors and automated doors. It was a vast open space, with the control center (bridge?) set on a platform a good twenty feet above the lower floor. The architecture was simple, strong metal struts of some type supporting the platform, stairs molded into the wall on either side to allow access to the controls. Beneath it was the living space, generous cushy chairs, low wooden tables, plants sitting about, stations serving some type of hot drink with the accompanying additives. Save that everyone was blue-skinned, with or without a purple tint, and all the furnishings and decor were of a foreign style, it could've almost been any mid-class office.

The saucer lifted off with barely a lurch, rising up at incredible speed. Arianna pulled free of the protective hand on her arm and plastered her nose to the window that spanned all the way around the saucer. Laughing, friendly aliens joined her as she gaped out at the burning energy mere inches away, flashy death separated from here by whatever transparent material had been used to make the window. She gasped audibly as they emerged from the atmosphere into the star-strewn heavens. "It's beautiful," she breathed, her eyes almost as large as the disproportionate drawing lying on the table in her room. "Oh...oh, it's beautiful..." She trailed off, too stunned to call upon her more extensive vocabulary.

The man - her friend - unobtrusively parted the crowd gathered around her, smiling down at her. She spared him quick smile before returning her attention to the riveting panorama around her. Though she knew he could understand not a word of what she said, she started talking anyway, voice low and rapt. "We have - had - space travel, not too terribly long ago. I think we no longer have the capability - and it was never advanced, really. It was dangerous, took months, years of preparation. And I don't think any living beings ever went past the moon - we've sent out telescopes and robotic satellites, but while we have people on the ISS, we don't go to the moon anymore..." She trailed off, having exhausted her breath and her regret and losing herself in awe and delight.

He said something then, tugging lightly but insistently on her elbow and leading her to one of the seats. Curious people - crewmembers, passengers? - gathered around her, offering her cups of the drink, small round fruits. She hesitantly accepted, astonished and delighted at the unusual tastes. Oh, how she wished she could invite them back to her town, show them around Earth...

Arianna set down the fruit she had just accepted, stretching out her hands to her new friends. "One day - one day, you will visit Earth by daylight," she promised. "You will be greeted as honored guests, and I - I will show you the beach, the streets, the shops, coffee, apples and oranges and pineapple - my favorite - and just get you away from bureaucrats in general so you can relax and truly see what we have to offer. Not yet, but some day."


Exhaustion had her stumbling, feeling sick to her stomach, as he unlocked the door with the key she had shown him and pushed it open. He led her tenderly up the stairs to her bedroom, her curtains still closed tightly to protect him from prying eyes. He pressed the keyring into her hand, along with a budding leaf from one of the plants in the saucer's lounge. She forced her eyes open enough to give him a warm smile, in the absence of words he could understand. He returned it swiftly, his eyes showing the promise of eternal friendship before he vanished quietly down the stairs. Giving in to the weariness battling for control of her body, without bothering to change, much less wash, Arianna collapsed onto the rumpled bed and fell into a deep sleep.