Staring at the TV, Gary scratched his belly. Laying down across the couch was all he could do to keep from falling asleep. Life had gotten so dull lately. Everything was generally the same day to day. Work at the office was always boring. Being a pencil pusher made it difficult to get in the right mindset to spice up your life.
“In other news, a local gas station is under investigation for a string of murders-”
Grabbing the remote, he turned off the TV. It clicked silent to leave his mind to wander. Here he was, thirty-two with a steady job, bills are paid, fun money is there. Yet something just doesn't feel right. How could he have all of this opportunity of the world at large in front of him with no desire to explore it. Where did all the drive go?
Is work really that soul sucking? Should we rally to automate everything so people never have to work again? More people would get behind that than you'd think. Although perhaps thinking was the problem. You can spend all day thinking about what you want to do but it never really gets you doing it. Sitting up on the couch, Gary straightened his shirt to cover his slight beer belly. His brown hair was mussed up like he'd just rubbed a balloon to create static.
It may as well have been static with the cloth the old couch was made of. Looking around the room, he realized there was something he hadn't done in a very long time. Pictures of him in hiking gear out at Boulder Hill Trail. It had taken him three hours to find his way back from the vantage point he finally decided on for the picture.
Standing up he walked over to the small bookshelf with pictures of his various escapades. Somewhere something went dull and made these things less interesting. Or did it? Does the rut of work life truly take the joy out of home life? It seems to be a likely explanation. You only have to spend all day entering numbers and printing documents once to realize it becomes a very dull and lifeless kind of job.
Inhaling through his nose, he smelled everything around him. It was a pretty neutral smell considering it was his own living room. Reaching for his phone on the floor by the couch made him realize what day it was. Saturday was really the only day he had to lounge like this. He checked the weather and his calendar. There was nothing going on, and sifting through texts from his friends reminded him they were all gone for the weekend.
Scratching his chin as he pondered what he could do. There was rain due in a few hours, but that left at least three or four hours of sun to enjoy. A list of local parks and some gas in the car was all he needed. Yet something felt... off. Like he wasn't supposed to be leaving the house for some reason. It wasn't every day one had an ominous feeling like this. Could it mean something? Nah. Gary wasn't one for superstition.
Running upstairs he changed into some loose khakis and a thin v-neck shirt. Patting down his pockets to make sure he had his wallet and keys was the last thing before leaving. Yet as he put his hand on the door knob, that ominous feeling grew stronger still.
Every fiber of his being told him this was a bad idea. Come to think of it, he hadn't even looked outside himself. Light shone through the window next to the front door as if it were a bright sunny day. Looking out, the clouds were light and fluffy. Nothing out of the ordinary. There must not be much of a reason for the feeling if everything checks out.
Turning the handle on the door made the feeling go away completely. Beholding what was on the other side however, made different feelings arise within Gary. Confusion mostly. A hint of fear, but mostly confusion. His neighbors were standing in front of their house talking like they were friends. The sky was more akin to the top of a warehouse with beams stretching across to hold flood lights illuminating the area. Large clumps of white fluff hung from the ceiling by small strings.
A large light blue tarp was rolled up on the back side of the warehouse. Looking to his right to inspect the window by his door, a thin television screen was attached to the other side to fit the window perfectly. Looking back into the house, he tried to look out the window again. It looked just like a real sunny day from the other side.
His mind raced with questions. Jim, his neighbor, spotted him from the yard next to him and walked over with a smile on his face and a beer in his hand.
“Hey Gary! Wanna join us for a couple beers?”
Gary looked at Jim with a sigh and a highly confused look on his face. Gary couldn't find the words he needed to express his disbelief. Luckily Jim picked up on it.
“Oh! That's right! You haven't been out of the house on a weekend in a while. So this happened about six months ago actually-”
Jim went on to explain that aliens had arrived at some point and royally messed up the atmosphere somehow. So in order to protect humanity from it's mistake, it built a housing for every major city and urban area that protected them from the radiation emanating from the alien's reactor core. They were here to help supposedly. Gary pointed at the clouds and the tarp, and began to speak but was promptly cut off.
“Oh that? That's just a little something we've been doing. Makes things feel more... normal during the week ya know? Created a lot of jobs at least.”
Gary cocked an eyebrow and began to rub his temple. How could he have missed something this major? He knew the rut cut him off from what's happening in the world but... He watches the news every day to make up for that. It's a shame that just usually turns in to nap time. If it wasn't, he might have seen this happen.
At that moment his phone buzzed with a text from his friends. It was a group picture of them with a strange blue humanoid figure wearing a backwards ball cap and holding a joint in it's pincer. All the text said was With love from Colorado.
Taking a deep breath, Gary looked around trying to find in his mind what to do next. Thoughts and questions swirled in his mind. Not just about how ridiculous life had apparently gotten in his mental absence. How could he have possibly gotten so absent-minded? How could he have missed all of this? Jim looked at him with concern and patted him on the shoulder.
“Hey, I get it. We all had our moments that made it difficult to accept. Aliens? Really? We'd seen so many movies about it and expected something more... grand. A war. Economic and philosophical prosperity. But honestly, what we got was basically some really smart drinking buddies.”
Gary couldn't help but laugh at that. Alien drinking buddies? I mean, sure. It was bound to happen at some point. But there must be more to this than meets the eye. The world had just gotten infinitely more interesting.
“Like, the other week they announced subterranean tunnels to travel from major cities. Give em another year or two they'll have atmospheric levels back to normal to where we can just start living on Earth like normal again.”
Jim's eyes were alight with wonder and passion. This man was wildly ecstatic that aliens were now a part of his life. Gary realized this may not be nearly as bad as he thought if all of it were true. It was easy to think that these promises can be kept by a species so advanced we couldn't possibly understand what kind of reach they have.
“You know, it's enough to make ya not care their reactor core radiation leaks sterilized 95% of the population. They can always make test tube babies, and once we find out who are the last fertile ones we can begin to rebuild from there.”
Gary thought on this for a moment. Every time Jim talks it adds another layer to this extreme new reality Gary had been thrown in to. No doubt there were countless other angles to this alien coexistence thing. Turning into his house, Gary waved goodbye to Jim and shut the door behind him. Lying back down on the couch, he continued to stare at the ceiling. He needed more time to think on this alone.