For Labryrinth September/October
When genres love each other very much, they sometimes get together and make a genrebaby. Pick at least two genres and combine them together to write a story.
Having not read much epic poetry, I have decided to write it. I have also decided to ignore whatever rules or traditional formats there are for this genre, because what should a genrebaby be if not a new thing? That said, FictionPress is awful when it comes to line breaks and making stanzas so the finished product here does not look exactly how it was meant to be, structure-wise.
As in, I am using question marks to create line breaks between stanzas, which sucks. If anyone knows how to do line breaks here, please let me know. But ignore the question marks, they are not a part of the poem/story.
This is a tounge-in-cheek-sci-fi-epic-poem story of a man going headlong into something he's not ready for. A modern man.
Dave is tasked with infiltrating an alien mothership that has landed in his city. It's impenetrable. It's huge. And it's just sitting there, clearly getting ready for something sinister. But what? Rather than wait and find out, humanity has to act.
Why Dave? Dave is, for some reason, immune to the force field this massive ship projects. Nothing else is-bullets, bombs, trucks-all are squashed against it. No person can pass through it. Except for him.
So it's up to Dave to do what no one else can. Dave the 34-year-old office worker. Dave who is in okay shape. Dave who has never held a gun in his life, up till now; a small service revolver given to him somewhat reluctantly by the National Guard commander who has assigned Dave with his duty.
It was a normal day, perhaps more clouds than most people like
Some prefer the shade to the bright sunlight
Dave was okay
with an overcast day
and a cool summer night
And that's what he got, so that was all right.
But as that day wound down there was a vast sound!
The ground shook
The city felt the wave of a landing so much grander than lunar
And Dave was no exception
For it damn near came down on his head and killed him.
It was a great ship,
or at least it looked like a ship, and who was to say otherwise?
Seventeen stories tall (by best estimation)
It was built of steel (an alien approximation)
Shimmered with a field (that caused a tingling sensation)
And was wide as a dam (one of human creation)
It landed six feet from Dave, who was on a late-night stroll
And surely he should have been killed!
But that same field that enclosed its huge face
That kept the ship safe from the dangers of space
Wrapped Dave up with inadvertent embrace
And the shockwave that should have shattered his bones
Spread outward past him
to every other place.
But Dave didn't know this.
He didn't feel a thing.
He did see the ship land, and he did flee, as any sane person would
Back to his apartment and his couch and TV
To see what the rest of the city had to say.
The reports and the stories rolled in right away
Dave watched and thanked good graces he had been spared that day.
The visiting behemoth took residence in the vast park of the city
Making the green grass and trees disappear below it
and causing bit of a hectic traffic situation for a few days
...but not much else.
No one came out.
No one went in.
No shots were fired.
No human was captured.
It sat there like a building that could fly, but chose not to.
Days passed, and it was found that no man, woman or child could proceed
Past the field that shimmered and occasionally gleamed.
Nor any vehicle or projectile, any fire or shot or bomb.
Nor any animal.
And curious still, all the ship did was sit and sit,
ignoring all efforts from the people around it
attempting to penetrate its mystery.
Waiting. For what?
The world would not be complicit.
Commotion and movement surrounded the ship
And from his nearby apartment, Dave watched all of it
The stories, the coverage
Every single moment.
He saw on the news the footage of massive machines failing to break the field
Chemicals splashing harmlessly against the shield
Composites and alloys that could not make it yield
No matter the force, the ship remained sealed.
And humanity watched.
And Dave watched.
And some ten days after the ship's landing, Dave saw that he was the news story.
He couldn't believe his eyes, though it was right in front of him
Or his ears, though it rang there from the screen.
Videos of him that day in the park, when the sky came down to visit.
Traffic cams and cellphones
Storefront security, dashboard lenses
So many ways to document the descent
And so many times it was seen.
One man and one man alone, Dave, who passed through the force field
Running right through it as he fled from the ship
In a way that no one and nothing else could do.
"Oh, boy," Dave said to himself, like a man watching a thirty-foot wave tower above his head.
It didn't start with a knock on the door or a visit,
but a call to his phone
A ring so loud he wondered if it would knock down the door to his home.
He answered and was invited most pleasantly and most mandatorily
to the nearby station
to meet with men in blue suits and black suits
with smiling faces, determination
and disbelief that came somewhere close to the level of his own.
"I'm no one," he answered them.
"I'm not special."
"I don't know what happened."
"I just ran."
"No, I haven't been back since."
"No, I feel fine."
"You want me to do what?"
His eyebrows rose at the insistence of the leaders of his country
that Dave and Dave alone go on a mission
that no one else was fit for
and neither was Dave fit for.
An infiltration of the alien station lying complacent within their nation.
"You're the only one," they told him, "who can get inside.
"We've had a million other people try.
"Not one of them has died.
"We're sure you'll be just fine.
"Just tell us what you see and hear.
"In and out, you're in the clear.
"Come on, son, you really want this thing outside your door all year?"
And though it took some time
it felt strangely right for Dave to find out
what's going on
So he got his mission
signed some papers that he didn't really read
took hold of the little gun they gave him
while destiny began to infuse his mind with a heady scent.
The more he looked at the ship, the more he felt his own curiosity grow
and he wondered if he might have gone in on his own
anyway, if no one had asked.
Dave made one request to the many of his counterparts
That he be left alone during this excursion
They could film and watch and wonder from a distance
But they had to be far away and let him approach
They asked, as he knew they would
And Dave said just because that's how it should be.
Neither party really knew what Dave meant
but he didn't ask for much
and they granted it as such.
A lighter touch would be better sent.
He didn't want to allow time for nerves
Nor did anyone else want to delay
So the mission was set for the very next day.
It was night at the time,
and Dave didn't want to approach as an intruder or an enemy
(he would leave the gun at home)
but just as a curious and brave (their words) man
eager to learn and hopeful of a good welcome.
The sun rose on another somewhat overcast day.
Though no one was near
(Per orders of the police which were really orders of Dave)
the city still seemed hushed and quiet and still.
Dave might even have noticed were his head not filled
with the gleaming behemoth before him
beckoning him in a silent and supremely intimidating
Those watching held their breath
and so did he
as he approached the tangible science fiction.
Dave smelled ozone and grass and little else.
He touched the force field, or, amazingly, did not
and walked through it like the air
that was so different inside.
like a cinnamon bun that was almost cooked.
And it looked even bigger up close.
Dave looked left, then right, then up. The rounded wall
of alien vessel
was almost featureless. Still, he walked up to it
and laid his hands on its surface,
not sure what he was looking for or what he would find.
It was warm.
It got warmer.
The smooth, shining face depressed inward, then slid to the side,
leaving an open hatch perfectly Dave's height,
all the way up to the single tallest hair sticking up out of his head.
There was no question
He stepped inside
that maverick hair just-not-brushing the upper line.
The door slid closed in silence.
The hall inside was well-lit and straightforward
in the exact same way that he expected an alien ship not to be.
All a nice shade of blue
and one that Dave happened to like very much
(even though he thought it childish to admit it was his
The fear that had been clutching at his throat
when he was standing outside
was absorbed into those pleasing blue walls
with each one of his soft footfalls.
Dave was vaguely aware that he was in this ship for a reason
Some third party's purpose
And perhaps that guided him forward
but if pressed, he could not say for sure.
how would anyone else know to tell him which way to go?
and then right,
and then up this lift.
Dave flowed like a river through the extraterrestrial valleys of the spacecraft,
he reached his ocean.
An ovular door of shimmery blue
split down the middle to let him through.
And inside was a room full of
he ever expected to see.
A room full of people.
A room full of aliens.
A room full of Daves.
He might have swooned to the floor
had his mind not implored
that he stay awake for this marvel.
Inside this alien ship,
within its vast, impenetrable walls,
was him, many, many times over.
His face, his body, if not his clothes.
"Dave!" one of them said,
and came over to shake his hand.
Much like the ship,
it (he) was warm to the touch.
"Glad you made it on board.
"Good to have you.
"Um," Dave said, "me, too."
The others gathered around,
clearly giddy and excited
human emotions written on their human faces
Could they really be alien?
They talked to him, all of them now,
takings turns in near-perfect synchronization.
"You're not the last one, Dave."
"The last one we'll soon get."
"We've been spread all over the universe,
and going back is even further yet."
"We put you here some time ago-"
"In Earth's time, yes-"
"We left a note with your name and that was that."
"You're looking good!"
Dave, our hero Dave, was smiling.
"Now you've got a choice..."
"We all had a choice!"
"Most chose to come, will you come?"
"There's a few more of us scattered around
waiting to be found
and told there's a world out there waiting for us."
"Why?" Dave asked, the first he'd said in a while.
And other Dave and other Dave and other Dave smiled.
"All of us from different corners of this universe,
all of us living our lives in different worlds,
we all have something grand to offer
for the betterment of us all."
"And it's up to you, if you're ready, if you can leave this behind,
there's a new world waiting for you. For us."
"To share what you know and learn just as much."
Dave tapped his fingers against his side. He remembered the feeling,
the smell and sensation
and the peace that enveloped him with boarding.
Few things had felt so right, and none of them had lasted long.
This rang permanence.
"Can I say goodbye?" Dave asked, and they said,
"If you think it's easier to say it than not say it."
There's a thought, Dave thought, and asked one last question,
or rather a wonder, "Surely there's no way we all look like me. Like...this."
"Today," one Dave said, "here, we do. To make it easier."
"We're all different, but..."
"You, like everyone, have the choice," one told him,
"to be as you are or change once we leave.
"Some beings found a reprieve from their natural forms enticing."
"What do you think?"
Dave thought, and then he said,
"I'd like to remain as myself.
It's served me well so far."
A room of identical nods bobbed at him in response,
and he chuckled a little at the divine silliness of it all.
"Goodbyes would only delay us," Dave affirmed,
though he turned
one last time
toward the world he would leave behind.
But his thoughts weren't of memories of home;
they were of what awaited him.
Perhaps one day he'd be back to share.
Or to save another soul who'd been left there.