March 17 began like any other Saturday in Neodesha, Kansas. It was the third Saturday of the month, so Cherilyn packed her book bag with useful stuff to share with the Prairie Writers group. In honor of St. Patrick, she wore emerald Capris with a shamrock print blouse. Why run the risk of a pinch from Hazel, Steve, Eloise, Joe, or—worst of all—Nona?
On her way to the car, an eerie, thrumming sound caught Cherilyn’s attention. Between the wind-blown clouds, a silver strobe light flashed from a hovering, saucer-shaped craft.
She shielded her eyes.
Within seconds, a ladder made of fluorescent green plastic dropped to the sidewalk, and little green beings descended in rapid succession.
Leprechauns? Martians? Huh?
Cherilyn could scarcely breathe. She glanced up the street. Nobody else was around to share the phenomenon. Green garb notwithstanding, she pinched herself.
But she did not awake from the dream
This was no dream.
Stopping halfway down the ladder, the Tallest Green Creature jabbed a weapon at Cherilyn’s jawbone. It reminded her of a child’s Super Soaker squirt gun, but who knew what noxious substance it might emit?
“Take. Us. To. Your. Leader!” TGC squawked.
Cherilyn frowned. “W-What do you mean? I am the leader,” she said. “I must get to my people at Indy library. They need me.”
The green beings conferred among themselves with a series of blips and bleeps.
TGC spoke again to Cherilyn, prodding her shoulder with every syllable. “Why? Do? They? Need? You?”
“I help writers get published. It’s their dream,” she replied, brandishing her book bag. I’ve got all this useful stuff. They’re expecting my monthly pep talk.”
TGC’s deputy, on the rung above him, snorted. “Glotsky. Nostkam. Poontronger. Fimblydoo—”
“English, you fool,” TGC commanded.
The deputy tapped the screen of his tentacle-held electronic device. He pressed an electrode to his third larynx and started again. “Do not kid yourself, humanoid. No one is indispensible.”
“W-What do you want?” Cherilyn asked, afraid these non-humanoids were about to prove her totally expendable. All weapons pointed at her heart, which by now was thudding wildly.
“We. Come. In. Peace,” TGC insisted. He lowered his gun.
“Really? I’m a peaceful person. Where are you from?”
“Pluto. Yes, we are a real planet,” TGC responded, his English becoming more fluent as the conversation progressed. “No matter what your scientists claim.”
Cherilyn smiled. “Welcome to Earth. You’ve come a long way. You need to rest. May I go to my meeting now?”
“Take us to your meeting,” the deputy said.
“Why? What are your intentions?”
“We shall learn to write!” TGC explained. “To benefit mankind.”
The deputy nodded all three heads. “Write. Good. English.”
“You will fly in our spaceship,” said TGC.
Cherilyn imagined herself whisked off beyond the galaxies, never to see her daughter again. She jingled her keys. “No. I’d better drive myself.”
The deputy’s multiple eyeballs assessed her vehicle. “We ride with you!”
How many of them are there? Cherilyn wondered. Bizarre images swirled in her brain. A carload of aliens poking at all her dashboard controls like a barrel of monkeys, pulled over by highway patrol on 75? How would that look on the front page of the Daily Reporter?
“Might be best if you follow me,” Cherilyn said. “Let’s hope you can find a parking spot! By the way, you can’t bring weapons into a public building.”
That’s when her cell phone rang. She answered it in the car, as the Plutonians clambered back up the plastic ladder into their humming saucer.
“Eloise? Yes, I’m on my way, with a bag of useful stuff. Oh, and we’ll be joined by a few visitors today. But no pinching. They’re all in green.”