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There's always a first time Well, it's true. There's ALWAYS a first time. Your first breath. The euphoric (or painful) first step. Etcetera, and all that. There's always a first time for everything. My first time of seeing aliens is actually not all that special. It was certainly terrifying when looking back, but at the time I was overwhelmed by my own curiosity, and all the fears and terrors were pushed to the back of my head (mind you, I could still feel it then, trying to break into my consciousness and whatnot, but it wasn't as important, really). I was waiting at the bus stop. It was seven thirty. The bus was running late (as usual). The breeze messed up my long black hair (as usual, though I can't say it wasn't completely messed up before the breeze touched it). The dew was already gone from the lawns, but the refreshing smell remained (as usual). The birds were chirping and exchanging ridiculous gossip (as usual). The squirrels were running across the streets on dares (as usual)with the fat one I named Vincent losing the race (as usual). The bus stop was deserted except for me (as usual). There were two kids shuffling down the street towards me (not usual). I raised my head. Well, wonder of wonders, there were new kids on the street. Each was about as tall as a professional basketball player, wearing long coats and trousers that didn't suit the weather, and hats that looked like they've been through a blender and a dog's digestive system (not that I have anything against dogs, of course; nice animals, dogs), which I, as antisocial as I am, could see didn't fit the "normal teenager" image. But alas, Silver Cypress was not an easily intimidated person, and nor was she easily scared. I waved. They shuffled on as before, completely ignoring me. I cocked my head to one side and examined them further. Hmm, now that was unusual. Unless my eyes were failing me, the first kid appeared to have green skin. Grass green. Then, of course, there was the ONE jet-black eye that was focused on me, where the two eyes should've been. Not to mention the fact that it had a third leg sticking out between the two, and two extra arms that wiggled as if it was completely boneless. Wow. Someone overdid Halloween (and did it on the wrong day, too). I briefly wondered if the third leg was real or not, but decided (wrongly) that it wasn't. I moved on to the second guy (after all, people have the right to dress weird, and it was and will be none of my business). He looked almost identical to the first kid (the eye, the third leg, the extra arms), except his skin was a bluish violet, and that he was dragging a large cardboard box that looked insanely heavy behind him.

They approached the bus stop. I braced myself for introductions. They stepped up to the stop sign. And moved right past it. Ah well. Maybe they weren't kids after all. Though what adult would go parading around the neighborhood in mutant/alien costumes, I would never know. They stepped behind some bushes. I forced myself to turn away. It's rude to stare. There was a blasting sound. The vibration threw me onto my back. I scrambled back onto my feet and stood up, running (stupidly) towards the force of The Blast, as I liked to call it later in life. Yes, I know it was stupid, idiotic, and so on, but hey, this is Silver Cypress. I wasn't normal even before I discovered everything. Then I was on my back again, because a second blast issued and tossed me like a rag doll into the bushes. Lying face up, I saw a pyramid-shaped thing, painted completely red, with four tiny legs just retracting into the four corners, and a window on each side, through one of which I saw the blue-skinned kid/dude/I don't even know anymore waving and grinning at me (for what I don't know; I expect I probably looked pretty ridiculous then), take off into the sky, exhaust making noises that threatened to deafen me. In seconds, it was only a red dot in the sky. A few more seconds later, it was gone. As I lay in the bushes, thinking it over, another rumbling issued somewhere near me. I sat up immediately. Another alien spacecraft? No, just my bus rounding the corner, screeching out of sight, heading to the school without me. I smacked myself on the forehead. Way to get distracted from schoolwork, Silver.

An eventful trip to the Library Most people encounter at least two aliens in their lifetime. They just simply don't know it. Or they refuse to believe it. Whatever the reason, aliens were dismissed as crazy imaginations and we humans continue to live our self-centered lives. Most people don't realize how many aliens are on Earth. Some came to study us or other animals. Some came for sightseeing or shopping. Some came to escape debt or prison. Some came for the sake of coming. Some settled down, some went back to their home planets and laughed at us. Etcetera. They're all over the Earth. My second encounter occured in school. I was on my way to the library, to check out some

books concerning the topic of aliens. CLUNK. It sounded like someone dropped an coke can behind me. I turned. And there it was. An eight-feet-tall robot with four wheels, two long mechanical arms with no hands, a large camera for a head, and several drawers on his chest with little black knobs and labels on them. I squinted to read the labels. There were long labels and short labels, labels that looked like they were hastily scribbled on and labels that were printed beautifully. There was even one of golden stars and pink hearts decorating it. The words looked like a combination of Chinese and Greek characters, and some Egyptian heiroglyphs. The only letter recognizable was an L. Did those languages come from space? Probably. "Hello, Earthling." The Robot said casually, as if he did it every day (who knows? He probably did). "Pleasure to meet you, I'm sure." He has a very strong accent, but not any accent I can name. His voice was monotone, and there was no mouth where it was supposed to come from. "It's a pleasure to meet you too." I forced out. The Robot nodded and continued lowering himself down the stairs. "Eh, why are you here, exactly?" "Interesting of you to ask." The Robot said. "I was looking for something. A necklace, to be exact. It contains the information I've gathered about Earth on my time here. Very important for the book I was planning to write. I dropped it somewhere. A human found it and took it. Fortunately, I have two things installed in it--a UT, or Universal Tracker, and a complicated color-coded lock." Was the alliteration intended? "It looks somewhat like a red bouncy ball on a golden chain. Have you seen it?" Ah. Of course I've seen it. An eighth grader with the locker three down from mine came to school one day showing it off to anyone that'll listen. He squeezes the thing, and it glows with color. "Yes." I told him about the stupid boy. He nodded and did a sort-of stiff bow. "Thank you, ma'am." He said, them one of his arms opened up and a mechanical hand popped out. He opened the third drawer on his chest and took out a small piece of paper. I realize it was a business card. "You react quite calmly to creatures not from your planet. The Universal Congress could use someone like you." The card is blank except for a large circle with a dot, and an address (it seems) scribbled at the bottom in English (what a relief). "There hadn't been a human for centuries." He starts moving towards the direction of the eighth grade boy's locker. I briefly wondered how he knew where the locker is, then told

myself, Hello, he's a robot, remember? He can probably hack into every single database on Earth. I continued on my way to the library, staring at the card. I've got to figure out how to get myself to Houston, Texas.

An even more eventful Summer It was two weeks after the last encounter. The finals were over. Summer had started. My parents brought me and my sister to the beach. My little sister Violet and I changed into our swimsuits and raced to the beach ("Ow! Hot! Ow!" SPLASH). The ocean was shimmering under the sunlight, and I dove right into it, sending a freezing cold wave in Violet's direction. She squealed as it drenched her. Thirty minutes later, we got tired of trying to spraying water in each other's faces. Violet went to get ice cream. I crawled onto shore and lay on the sand, knowing that I'll be covered in it when I get up. "Hello." Someone said, waving a blue tentacle at me. "Hello." I said absent-mindedly, staring at the blue sky. Wait a second. Blue tentacle? I sat up abruptly, just as beside me, something about my size but completely navy blue flopped into the sand. "Holy crap, not another one!" The blue figure turned to look at me. It had some sort of a blob, with at least two dozen tentacles growing out of right under it. It had a trumpet-shaped mouth (I think its a mouth) and two pure black eyes. "Now that's unusual." It mused. "I'm used to fainting, screaming, hollering, and all that, but nobody had ever said 'not another one' to me." It cocked the blob of a head. "My name's Knooshi." Knooshi. he pronounced the K, and it sounded like something between a sneeze and someone choking on something. His voice wasn't too unpleasant, but all of the words coming out of his mouth sounded like snorts. "I'm Silver Cypress." I said, as he extended a tentacle for me to shake. "Um..." I shook the tentacle carefully. His skin had a balloon-ish texture. "What planet are you from?" Knooshi played with his tentacles. "Venus. We're a tourist attraction." He sighed. "But lately, we've been losing our customers. To you. I seriously don't see how. Your atmosphere is way too strong for us to even get a tan." Blue skin and tan? Hard to imagine.

"Uh, tourist attraction?" I asked. "Yes, indeed. Best sunrays in the solar system. Now, Mercury, they are closer to the sun, but they're way too dry. Besides, they don't have the Ten Nova accomodation like almost all our motels. We even have poisonous gas curtains to keep unwanted satellite cameras and robot probes out." He looked pointedly at me. "Earthlings so love to pry other planets' businesses." "Oh." I said. "I came here to investigate for the motel I work for. Aphrodite's Best. We specialize on romantic honeymoons!" His voice suddenly sounded like a commercial narrator. "From what I see, Earth is absolutely no competition. You should really visit sometime. How often do Earthlings mate, again?" "What?" I sputtered, indignant. "Not too often then." Knooshi sighed. "Well, keep this, just in case." He tossed me a large plastic coin. It was a bluish color and had several symbols on one side and a large sun on the other. "In the Line of Convergence of the Universe, Venus is right next to your entrance." I was about to ask what it was when He straightened up and said, "Well, Silver Cypress, its been a real pleasure meeting you. Good night." Then his tentacles started rotating, like a large fan or helicoptor blades. The blob rose into the air and moved off across the ocean. I think Knooshi waved, but I couldn't be sure. "Look, there's a blue dot is the sky." Violet said, handing me my mint chocolate chip cone and starting to eat her Double Chocolate Deluxe Sunday Special. "What do you think it is? An airplane?" I licked the ice cream. "Yeah." I lied. "Probably."

Getting to know our neighbors It was such a normal day. Having a visit from our neighbors ruined it completely. I was in the backyard, helping my mom with her "Green Thumb" project. So far, it had been a complete disaster. We distributed fertilizer at the wrong time. We gave the small patch of dirt too little or too many water. We had the seed too deep into the ground or too shallow so it drifted away in the wind. Every thing that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. We didn't even dig the garden right. I guess the Cypresses had so such thing as Green Thumbs. How ironic to be share a name with a plant and not be able to grow one. "Pass me that watering can." Mom said, as if she knew exactly what she was doing. From experience, I knew she didn't.

"What watering can?" I asked, looking around. Mom stood up and walked around the patch to where I was squatting. "Weird. I was sure I got it. It's probably in the garage. I'll go get it." She walked away. I fell backwards into the grass and lay there, spread-eagle, staring at the blue sky. A small puffy white cloud drifted across the expanse, followed by a whirring purple balloon. Since when did purple balloons whir? Not that I've ever seen a balloon up close--I hate them-but that balloon... it was whirring pretty loudly, let's just leave it at that. I suddenly realized that it probably wasn't a balloon. Good job, Captain Obvious. I squinted and looked again. The balloon seemed to feel my gaze, and somehow, without having any eyes, it turned and looked at me. It started descending, slowly at first and gathering speed. It halted three feet above me, just before I was about to squeal in an undignified manner and roll away. "Hello." If Knooshi's voice made him sound like he was snorting every word, this balloon/not-aballoon sounded like he/she/it was talking with her mouth full of sticky goo. "Hello." I said hesitantly. "Where are you from?" I've learned, from my experience with Robot Alien and Knooshi, that it wasn't WHAT it was that was important. It was WHERE it came from. "Why, Mars, of course." The balloon/not-a-balloon/Martian said, as suddenly the whole round balloon shape split in half. It fell open, and I saw the Martian. It was a completely round shape, with three eyes on three sides of the shape, two arms from in between those eyes, and a pair of silvery wings fluttering and whirring on the fourth side. The whole sphere was a lavender color. There was a slit just below each of the eyes. "And why are you here?" I asked. That was almost as important as the alien's identity. The Martian opened his/her/its mouth, and shut it abruptly. "I was running an errand." He/ she/it finally said. "And, um, if it doesn't offend you too much, are you a he or a she or an it?" I asked. Believe me, I would've gotten very offended if someone asked me that. "A she." The Martian picked up the split halves of the larger sphere, held together by a thread. It seemed like some sort of waterproof fabric, shiny and liquidy. "Contrary to common belief, there are few planets who actually have its. Yours is one of them, so you should know?" We have its? Right, I think I read somewhere about asexual bacteria. "What's that?" I asked, pointing to the thing.

"Camouflage suit." She said proudly. "One of the best." Camouflage suits that were deep royal purple? "Oh dear." She suddenly said. "Did I forgot to activate it again?" She reached in and did something. The next instant I could barely see it, only a faint outline when it rustles. I looked up again. The Martian was studying me. "You react very well to foreign species." She said. "The Universal Congress could use you--" She reached into the camouflage suit (her arm disappeared) and handed me the same card the Robot alien gave me. "I already have one." I said quickly, holding out my own card. The Martian nodded with great interest. She then looked at me. "Houston, Texas. That's pretty far in Earthling standards, isn't it?" Somehow I knew she made the camouflage suit expand. "You need a ride?" "What, right now?" I said. Mom could get back from the garage any minute. In fact, why wasn't she back already? "I, ah, magically scrambled the cells in your mother's brains a bit, so she completely forgot about you for the time being." The Martian said. "Magically?" "Yes." She smacked her forehead. "Right, you Earthlings don't know. Magic is what we call really modern technology." She pointed to my house. "She's asleep right now. The magic will only last for three days. I hope you don't mind." She did something else to the camouflage suit, and suddenly I could see it. It was about as big as a pick-up truck. The Martian jumped in. "By the way, I'm Roa. It's great finally getting to know our closest neighbors." She turned back to look at me. "You coming?" I pondered my options. Right now my mother had a scrambled brain, so either way she won't really remember me for the next three days. I clambered in, where I found two comfortable seats in the back and a pilot's swivel chair facing a large one-way window. "Remember to activate the camouflage this time." I said. "Right." Roa cackled.

The Ride I am pretty sure most of you hadn't had the experience of having a Martian cab driver. If you haven't, be glad. If you had, I'm sorry. With the Camouflage activated, everything in the suit looked normal, while everything outside looked blurry, and suggested that we were travelling at quite a speed. We ran into three birds, and almost slammed into the side of an airplane. Somehow I knew it would hurt the airplane a lot more than it will hurt the high tech camouflage suit. The large one way window turned out to be a touch-screen control panel, with little windows popping up every five seconds, warning Roa that if she continued at this speed, she'll soon of Cosmos Cops after her. The suit was controlled by a joystick I hadn't noticed before, which Roa kept jerking left and right, letting the whole sphere careen through the sky and making the sensors beep loudly. I clutched my armrest, since, for some reason I cannot fathom, the seats did not have seat belts. All the while, Roa was talking, and I was making commentary noises, trying to keep my last meal down. "You know, Martians live a lot longer than Earthlings. Most planet inhabitants do. Take Venus, for example. The males live for a couple thousand years, while the females mature in a hundred years, but die almost immediately after giving birth." I squeaked my opinion indignantly. "Whereas Martians are the exact opposite. The males mature after two hundred years, but die immediately after mating, but can live only two thousand years even if they don't mate. Females can live for five thousand years, even seven thousand years if you don't mate at all, though it almost never happens, since it gets so boring." She slammed the brakes minutes before knocking a bird out of flight, and I clapped a hand over my mouth as something threatened to come up. "The planet of pi is so far the only planet registered to the Universal Congress that has only its. The zens--that's pi-ians--could live up to millions of years." We nearly ran into a plane and pulled up barely in time. "There are short living aliens, of course. The Plutonians live fast and die fast, like blue giants. There are he, she, and its, and they reproduce quickly, taking only about a couple stellar weeks, which is about five Earthling weeks, if you want to know. They also mate for life, since the lifespans are mostly the same." I hiccuped my approval. "The Line of Convergence of the Universe is an amazing place. I still work there as a cabby. It goes on both ways forever, and you can go anywhere on that, unless the entrance hadn't been

used for too long and had closed up. Pi was like that, and now they had to use spacecrafts. Imagine. The line itself has become a market of infinity, and they sell all kinds of things there." I nodded and my head started bobbing nonstop. "I remember my fourteenth honeymoon--" "Fourteenth honeymoon?!" I risked talking, and almost bit off my tongue. "Why, yes. You Earthlings gave us the idea of honeymoons. That's one of the few contributions Earth did. I went to Aphrodite's Best, and Knooshi and I became pen pals. It was nice." I didn't tell her that I met Knooshi, too, because I didn't want to lose my tongue so young. I simply nodded. "Anyway, I think we're about there." Roa called, suddenly reaching up to touch a button at the top of the one-way window. The whole camouflage suit free fell through the air. I, naturally, shrieked for all I was worth. Through my shrieking, I swore I heard Roa laughing hysterically. I hoped that the suit was soundproof.

The Entrance A second before we hit the surface and get ourselves flattened into an alien pancake, Roa slammed her palm against something on the screen, and we halted so suddenly I rammed back into my seat, with the wind knocked out of me and the shriek ending with a painful hiccup. "Whohoo!" Roa said, maneuvering us through the city that I think was Houston, Texas. "Wanna do it again? That last one was a lot lower than I'm used to, since you're new. We'll go higher this time." "NO!" I practically yelled. Roa raised an eyebrow, but didn't argue, since I probably looked quite green then. We moved through the streets, just above the cars. Twice we almost left dents in the roofs of some expensive-looking vehicles. Three times Roa got extremely confused and disoriented when she didn't stop at a red light, and the traffic changed directions. Once, Roa proposed a break when she saw a large cafe with beautiful cakes in the windows. I managed to talk sense into

her. I looked at my card again. The pencil writing said, "Houston, Texas, Fourth tallest building, Three floors from the top, Two windows from the left, First door to the right out in the corridor." "No need to check the address." Roa said. "I used the entrance so often I can't count it on all my hands." I didn't really want to know how many hands she's keeping from me. "What IS the fourth tallest building?" I asked. "A bank, I think." Roa said. "Doesn't really matter, though. It wasn't as if we're going through the front door." Naturally. We flew up to a tall skyscraper building, and counted the third floor from the top, second window from the left, and went up close to it. Roa pressed a button, and somehow we just melted through the glass. There were several people in it, but obviously none noticed us, not even when we brought a strong breeze inside with us, or when the suit bumped against a table, knocking everything on it over. We were out the door. After Roa checked that nobody was around, we hopped out. Roa whistled, and the suit shrank until it could've fitted in my fist. Roa grabbed it, and we went through the first door to the right. One marked "Broom Closet". "Where is it?" I asked, staring at the brooms. Roa didn't answer, but fought her way through the cleaning supplies until she was at the far wall. She then touched a small grubby black mark in the high left corner. The mark shone bright blue, and I could see it was a five-pointed star. Then the entrance showed itself. If you had never seen the Entrance to the Line of Convergence of the Universe, I could not see how you would understand what it felt like. If you had, then obviously I wouldn't need to explain. The far wall simply melted, revealing complete blackness on the other side. It wasn't just black. It was emptiness. It was nothingness. It was more than nothingness--words could not describe it--it was...what the universe, outside the safe bubble of our atmosphere, would probably feel like.

"Oh, don't worry." Roa said. "The Line of Convergence of the Universe can accomodate every single specie in the universe. You'll be able to breathe." Then, probably think I was planning on chickening out (I was), she grabbed my arm and simply shoved me into the entrance. I wanted to yelp indignantly, but I couldn't. It was like I was going through a wall made of jello, except there was still nothingness all around me. Roa was behind me--I could feel her propelling me through the mass. Then I popped out of the other side.

The Line of Convergence of the Universe If you had never seen something stretch on to infinity (somehow I doubted that you had), it is impossible to describe it. To describe how at the furthest one there is still one behind it, and one behind that. To describe something never, ever going to end, and knowing that, and being terrified of it. At the Line of Convergence of the Universe (Roa said it was more commonly know as The Line), it was even more terrifying. Not only do the entrances--gigantic white cubes with a black opening in the middle and names of planets written on top--that go on forever on both sides, but if you look up or down, all you can see is black nothingness, just like what I felt through the entrance, except in the entrance it felt more compressed, while here, it went on forever, too. Does that make any sense? No. "Come on, the Universal Congress is this way." Roa said, hailing a taxi (I assumed they were taxis) and dragging me onto one. "Hello, Roa." The taxi driver looked humanoid, except he (I think) had midnight blue skin and was twice my size. Roa introduced us. "Silver, this is Jugejan Volmorandes Kumalan Cozaya the fifth, from Pluto. Juggy, this is Silver Cypress, from Earth." If Jugejan Volmorandes Kumalan Cozaya the fifth had eyebrows, it would've gone straight up. "From Earth, you say? When's the last time we had Earthlings in The Line?" "A good five hundred years ago." Roa said. "The Universal Congress, please."

We zipped off. The surroundings turned into a blur. Mr. Jugejan Volmorandes Kumalan Cozaya the fifth was controlling the open rectangle box of a taxi with--you guessed it--a joystick. Three times we rammed into other taxis (and simply bounced off harmlessly). Twenty times we nearly went into one of the entrances (saved by Roa, who screeched "LEFT, JUGGY, LEFT! I MEAN, RIGHT!"). Once I almost lost my last meal. I was inclined to believe that all inhabitants of other planets had these terrifying driving skills. In the mean time, while I was trying hard not to fall off, I asked the question I've been thinking about for days. "Why do you all speak English?" The Plutonian (I'm quite tired of saying his long name, but I'm not sure if I can use "Juggy") laughed. "The correct term is Haruminkaito, the 'Universal Language', kid. If I remember my history correctly--I'm the first Cozaya to graduate high school, and that's something--an Earthling dictator or monarch took the language, then shut down all contacts with the outside universe." "Oh." I said. "Here we are." The Plutonian's thumb (I think) jammed into the red button on top of the joystick. The taxi halted, almost throwing me up and out. And indeed, on the cube on our right, where the words would've been was a large circle with a dot in the middle. The mark on my card. Roa paid (with some interesting looking gold coins, each the size of my pinky nail) grabbed me by my arm again, and this time I got my chance to yelp indignantly before she tossed me into the entrance. I came out on the other side, and the sight took my breath away (as if I wasn't already breathless).

(to be continued)

Nor Exactly Human  

An advanture you never imagine..... this is the beginning of a story by SilverCypress, it's waiting for you to continue the journey.

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