The president adjusted his cornflower pale blue tie. It felt all wrong. His wife had assured him that it was a good choice, but he hadn’t been sure. Now, as he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the plexi-glass screening that surrounded three sides of the platform he was sitting on, he knew it was a mistake, a big mistake!
“Damn” he thought. “The biggest moment in the history of mankind since... well... since... damn it since the big bang, and here he was wearing the sort of tie that would make a late night game show host blush. Damn, damn, damn!”
Still he wasn’t the sort of man to let a setback like this knock him out of his stride. He thrust his chin further forward in that way that made him look tough, determined and resolute (or at least that’s what Time Magazine had said!). Then just to top things off he put on his best politician smile. The smile that showed all his teeth, top and bottom all the way back to his highly polished, brilliantly bleached shining incisors.
“Mr President..Sir” whispered an aide beside him. “Mr President, do you need a glass of water?”
The president frowned, slightly thrown by the question. “Err no thank you”
“I thought you might like one Sir”
“You looked like you were ....in pain Sir”
The president shot the aide a quick reproachful glance and made a mental note to have him sacked as soon as the ceremony was over.
“Ahh yes the ceremony” thought the President as he glanced up into the sky anticipating the first glimpse of the Alien spaceships that were due to arrive in just a few minutes time. He shook his head still not quite able to believe what was happening. Only a month ago he would have bet his pension that mankind would never find any hard and fast evidence of life beyond planet earth during his lifetime, let alone the period of his presidency. Yet here he was waiting to meet and greet the first ever visitors from a different plant, from outer space. Here he stood waiting to shake hands, tentacles, claws or whatever the hell it was that the Aliens shook in greeting, his chest swelled with pride.
This was the sort of thing he’d got into politics for in the first place. He was going to be the most photographed, filmed, recorded and remembered person ever! Yeah, yeah, yeah as a politician you can do worthy things, make just laws and generally do good stuff, but how long did you live in people’s memories for that? For about as long as it took for any feel good factor to wear off, which in his experience wasn’t very long at all. No the people who get remembered are the history makers, Lincoln, Ghandi, Napoleon and ... and ...ohh that bloke, what was his name, the guy who invented the Hoover! All that potential fame and impending immortality was now within his grasp, and here he was about to be remembered for... remembered for, one of the biggest fashion faux pas of all time. “Damn it, for god’s sake” he thought “Forget about the damn tie”.
“Mr President” whispered the aide again.
“No I don’t need a damn drink” he snapped.
“No sir” said the aide pointing into the bright blue clear sky. “It’s the Aliens, Sir”
The president looked up into the sky. To be honest he couldn’t see anything further than twenty feet away without his glasses but he never wore them in public. According to his publicity team it was bad for the image; showed too much weakness. He had never fancied the idea of wearing contact lenses; he’d never been able to get over the fear of deliberately pushing something into his eye. So he peered up into the sky in the rough direction the aide had pointed doing his best not to squint.
“Nope can’t see a damn thing” he thought but he smiled just the same. He tried to make his gaze as thoughtful, deep, diplomatic but also as welcoming as possible. “Oh yes”, he thought. “That would make a great picture”. He could even imagine the headlines he’d get in the papers the next day “The President Looks to the Future”. If only it wasn’t for that damn tie!
What the president couldn’t see (but many other people who had gathered in the desert could) were ten huge spaceships. They weren’t gleaming saucers, they weren’t sleek and pointed. They looked a bit like giant container ships, dark, ugly functional and covered in hundreds of antenna, sensors and odd looking tubes. There were things that looked like engines all along the side of each ship that were pointing down towards the earth. Each of these engines were glowing from somewhere deep inside with a pale blue light. Oddly enough the light was almost exactly the same colour as the president’s tie, but this and many other details were lost to the president as he tried to make sense out of the blurred fuzzy shapes he could barely see.
As the ships got closer their sheer size became more and more obvious. Each one was bigger than a football stadium. Not a little local stadium either. We are talking the big places, ones the size of Wembley, the Orange Bowl or the Nou Camp – one of the really big ones. Two other things became apparent as the ships got closer. First there was a gradual, growing tingling pressure in the atmosphere. It was like how the air seems heavy and charged just before an enormous thunderstorm, only about ten times worse. The pressure grew on everyone’s eardrums to the point where some people started to open and shut their mouths a bit like people do when they are sitting on an aeroplane as it’s coming in to land.
The other thing that happened was that a wind suddenly roared through the assembled crowd. It was the first noise the ships had made. Even then it wasn’t really the ships making the noise, it was the things that were being buffeted around by this oddly silent wind. As it grew in strength it snatched and fluttered the notes of the waiting news reporters. It wrecked the carefully arranged hairstyles of the assembled dignitaries. It flicked the odd skirt up into the air exposing a variety of knickers, tights and pants, causing a fair number of squeals and no little embarrassment. It even flipped the Presidents tie over his head. “Damn that damn tie”.
And it was in that moment of mild confusion and embarrassed giggles that the world as we know it came to an end. All the mysterious tubes on all ten ships simultaneously made a high pitched squeal and from the open ends shot rapid bursts of pure energy. They were almost beautiful in the way they streaked across the sky in flashes of livid pulsating colour, but then they reached the ground. Everything they hit exploded, burst into flames or just vaporised. People barely had time to feel scared because within seconds of it starting they were far too dead to feel anything. Trucks exploded, cameras shattered, and the presidents plexi-glass surrounded stage buckled, twisted and melted.
The last thing to pass through the Presidents mind was his tie, only this time it was literally.