Where two interlinking roads crossed, under the passing highway of Sugarplum Boulevard, and about a stone’s throw away from The Spire, Phoenix Newman, Andy Caulfield and Alexandra Ramiro gathered in a dark alley outside of a group of debilitated apartments. The blue glow from the glass walls of The Spire haloed out into the windy December night in the same way that the sun would plaster airfields with a golden morning gleam. On nights like this, the skyline would brighten the ever-growing city of Violetwall into a magical ring of purple that would extend into the stars.
The whistling wind drove away bits of litter on the street to reveal the clear roads. From amongst the shadows that the blue glow threw across the city, the towering buildings were a smooth silhouette against The Spire.
From behind the brick walls of the Boulevard apartments, Phoenix sat on a dumpster with his two best friends, looking out at the celestial bodies of the night sky.
“There shouldn’t even be a new school in Violet.” Phoenix relaxed with the same passiveness that sometimes came to people on boring days. He had a black Afro that blew against the wind. That night he wore an Adidas tracksuit underneath a silver jacket and a grey scarf that kept his dark skin warm. “Not in this godforsaken hellhole.”
“It’s a sign.” Alex’s green eyes were glistening with blue as her black jacket tightened her body. She had the type of face that a boy would sometimes fall for in seconds – maybe forever – and on those days where that wasn’t the case, she would probably add a few extra layers of makeup. Her lips were red and her dark cheeks were accompanied by an even darker set of freckles. Not too many, but not too little, either. “I’m not sure how long it will take to build . . . but I know something’s changing, and maybe not just here. Maybe the world.”
The sky narrowed in between the gap of the apartment complex. There were windows that probably hadn’t been closed for a couple of months.
"Theeeee heck you guys talkin about?” Andy’s face sharpened, then relaxed. He had ginger hair with a small number of freckles to match.
“You right.” Alex pulled out her phone and browsed through Instagram. She wore black gloves with white tips that could recognise the screen.
All was silent for a moment. All was still. A place of quiet and solitude. Then the wind whistled again, and with it came a continuous thrum of vehicles passing over the highway. Soon, they would realise that something important was going on in the city. Cars don’t often stay out this late, Alex thought.
“You guys think there’s yet another shitshow taking place in that ball?” Andy looked down from the stars and over towards the empty streets. An empty roll of toilet paper flew by like a tumbleweed. He looked down at the puffy coat he was wearing and saw a bug climbing along the creases of his sleeve. Was that a spider? Maybe it was.
He stumbled off the dumpster with a snap and whacked the critter onto the ground, stamping on it, twisting his shoe to make sure it didn’t survive. “Yeah, can we leave this place now? I know my mom’s gonna kill me if I’m not home before twelve.”
“So you can jerk off to that Netflix series that is just absolute garbage?” Alex said.
“Man, that show is so shit.” Phoenix looked away from the stars and laughed. He had been daydreaming for a moment. The memories of that earlier evening grew more vivid. He remembered being on a Discord call with Andy. A notification from Alex popped up at the corner of the screen. Her profile picture had been a closeup of an anime character.
She typed: dude wanna hang out tonight at apt?
It was at that moment that he looked out of his bedroom window and saw the towering sphere in the centre of the city. There was no blue glow then; it was just a spherical pane of glass.
He quickly typed: sure.
Andy laughed. “Okay, Schizophrenic Stephen.”
Phoenix looked at him. “Okay, ADHD Andy. You should know by now that we have good tastes in shows.”
Alex looked distraught, staring at her phone. “What the fuck?” she blurted out. “This can’t be real.”
“Woah, what is it?” Phoenix scooched next to her. He squinted his eyes at the dark screen of her phone. “Turn up the brightness.”
Andy rushed back over to the dumpster and sat on it, too. He could see it. A grey metallic saucer caught by NASA. There were dark circles of some sort at the base - a jagged exterior that flattened like a pancake. It had a large triangular prism at the top. From behind, there was a blue ring emanating from a black hole. “A fucking UFO?”
“When was this?” Phoenix asked coolly.
“Literally forty seconds ago,” Alex read at the bottom. “They posted a caption, too.”
She liked the image and saved it to her collection.
Alex carefully swiped through the images. They each had different filters but were the same.
She read out the caption:
Ladies and gentlemen, the age-old question: Do aliens exist?
Our @NasaHubble Space Telescope spotted a flying saucer with bright patches of blue light, dark rings, and whirling circles of gas just outside our solar system.
Located about 147 billion kilometers from Earth, this celestial entity is the first sign of life other than our own within the universe. This is an amazing sight for us here at NASA and we hope to see more in the near future!
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
“How can they take this so lightly?” Alex said. “A UFO just got spotted!”
“But how could this happen?” Phoenix said. “They’re not real.”
“It happened because someone at the NASA agency or whatever was high and looked up some random image and posted it,” Andy said. “Those things are from science fiction, not space. When somebody makes up a story about little grey men from outer-space then of course they’re gonna want to feed the speculation that they actually do exist. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that this ain’t real, chief. It’s photoshopped without a doubt.”
Alex nodded. “If it is real . . . just watch America try and shoot it down. They’d find anything to test their missiles on.”
Andy laughed and did his best Barack Obama impression. “Yes, uh, I – Barack Obarner – have returned to office. Time to blow shit up.”
And introduce Obarner Care alas, he wanted to add.
"Bruh, what is Obama’s last name?” Phoenix laughed and the others did as well.
"Care. Just Care!” Alex’s voice was caught in laughter. Then she regained her clarity. “Dude, this is mad though. Like actually.”
Phoenix was still stunned by the news, slowly falling out of laughter and pulling out his phone. The time: 10:51 P.M, Saturday, December.
Then . . . a sound. There was a loud metallic screech that erupted from above them. It sounded as if a cat had been hurt and its wail had been recorded and slowed down to 0.10 seconds. They recoiled from the dumpster and looked up at the narrowing apartment complex. There was a large metal object pushing against the busted bars of the balcony. In a few moments, they knew that it would slip and fall right onto their bodies, crushing them into bludgeoned remains and demolishing the dumpster.
“LOOK OUT!” Phoenix pulled them across the alleyway. He had been a couple of inches shorter than Andy, and about the same height as Alex.
The metal object – which was clearly an old fridge – crushed the exterior of the dumpster.
“Holy shit -” Alex yelled.
“Jesus Christ!” Andy said.
There was a moment of silence. All was tranquil.
Phoenix brushed his hair, eyes bulging from his skull. “That was so fucking close!”
He sighed with absolute relief and looked out at the ocean of stars: a twinkle in the distance.
And as the blue light of The Spire spread out over their bodies – at first as dim as a dodgy light bulb – beginning to brighten as the night progressed, the trio had two things on their minds: falling fridges and flying saucers.