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by Doug Hawley

The odd creature came to my door at ten PM last night.  He was a little over five feet tall, colored a light blue with a bald dome.  I say he, but I wasn’t really sure at first because “he” had no obvious male muscular development, but didn’t have any hips to speak of either.  Somehow he reminded me of someone but I couldn’t think of whom.
I think that I mouthed a soundless WTF when I first saw him.

Before I could think of anything to say, he said “I’m Zan from the planet Xanthos” in a robotic voice.  I immediately thought of “He’s Jake from State Farm”, but Zan wasn’t wearing khakis.  As a result I burst out laughing, then out of curiosity, I asked him how to spell Xanthos.  After he cleared that up, I finally came up with something else to say.

“Come on, somebody from Burger Biggie put you up to this.  Those guys on the last shift are always trying to prank me while I’m trying to take orders.”

“No, I am what I said, but if you don’t believe me, try any of your electronic devices.  They have been turned off from our spaceship.”

Now I was concerned, but I foolishly did not take him up on his offer.

“OK, Zan from Xanthos, what do you want?”

“Rather than try to convince you of our purpose, I have recorded a speech from the Secretary of the United Nations.”

He clicked on something that looked like a tape player.

“People of earth, a powerful liaison from the planet Xanthos has landed on the earth to research our planet.  They have temporarily stopped the earth from spinning until they have finished their research.  If we cooperate, they will leave us by tomorrow morning and restart the earth.  If we do not cooperate, they will not restart the earth, and the planet will be destroyed within a year.  I beseech all of those that are subjects of the Xanthos project to cooperate in order to save the earth.”

“Wait a minute Zan, shouldn’t I be able to tell that the earth isn’t spinning?”

“Are you educated in the physical sciences?”


“Then don’t question superior beings.”

“OK, another thing.  How do you know English?”

“We have monitored your airwaves.”

Crap, I should have known that.  “OK, I guess that you are legitimate.  What do you want to study?”

“My task is to investigate the earth people intimately.”

“Do you mind answering a question that has troubled me for a long time?  I always knew that we weren’t alone, but why do you look sort of human, but not exactly?”

“Simple.  Earth was populated by beings from our planet like all of the inhabited planets.  All the people of the universe resemble Xanthosians, but have mutated as they adapt to their resident worlds.”

“OK, that makes sense.  Do you mind if I to go to bed?”

I took him into my bedroom and pointed out a chair he could sit in while I slept.

“No, I must be in the bed with you.”

That night Zan investigated my brains out.  I’d never been investigated that thoroughly and well, and I was very happy to do my part to save earth.  Zan was gone the next morning much to my regret.  I was surprised to find my skin colored light blue by some powder. When nobody anywhere had any idea about the Xanthos research, I had to conclude that I had been subjected to a complex prank.  This wouldn’t have happened to a high school graduate.

I discovered that my phone and TV worked.  Had I been bluffed last night or had ‘Zan’ figured out a way to turn them off temporarily? I guess I’ll never know.

I thought that I was done with the ‘Zan’ prank, until a few days later when I was buying gas.  Pat, who always pumped my gas, only had stubble where long, beautiful hair had been.  I may be mistaken, but I think Pat winked at me as I drove away.  I may be seeing Pat for more than gasoline now.

Appeared in Story Shack