When the Aliens (a fragment)

The flashing lights were a sign of intelligence, some kind of signal. Obviously.

Everyone who went to the ship had a different reason for going. Some of them thought the lights were a threat. Others thought they were an invitation.

Whatever it was, no one ever came back. And the lights kept flashing.

There were a few stories about the ship and about the aliens, even though no one had seen either. There were a lot more stories about what the lights might mean. There was a pattern, but no one had it mapped to a known language yet.

Cassandra said “Maybe the ship is a portal and the lights are spelling out destinations. Maybe it’s nothing sinister, the people just can’t get back once they go through.”

You called her an alien sympathizer but you smiled when you said it. You always thought sinister motives were more… interesting.

Cassandra thought about it some more and said “Maybe it’s asking for volunteers—or criminals—to do experiments on. Maybe they’re taking people apart and sewing them back together again.” She always tried so hard for you. She didn’t know any better.

You smiled again (an obligatory smile: it didn’t show in your eyes) and said that was a good idea but she never took these things far enough.

I don’t know if you saw how deep that hit her. I saw it. And then she got really quiet. Thinking, I guess, still trying for you.

Cassandra said “Maybe it’s spelling out a cook book.”

And that’s what convinced you to go.