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by Heather Constantinescu
“We need someone who knows how to cook,” the alien said.
I stopped and looked at him. (I think it was a he.) He wore no clothes - no pants - but there was nothing um, there to indicate male or female. My manner was cold; I'd heard about aliens and cookbooks before. But the being – who introduced himself as 'Pirro,' after cornering me on a city street, waited patiently for my decision. I'd just left work. The November day was overcast, dark by 4pm. I wore all black, blending perfectly with the environment.
When I looked up at the building after leaving work, something shone against the sky...and it was not the moon. Up past the 68th floor, a silver disk hovered, seeming to follow me. I started to run, down to where the statue of a governor stood. Roses lined the sidewalk. They seemed washed of color. The governor’s face stood out in sharp relief, his iron profile casting a shadow as I searched for somewhere to hide. “But we come in peace!” the alien protested.
“I don't want to live on an alien world,' I blurted out. “Why bother me, anyway? Don’t you want to 'speak to my leader'?”
“We already met him,” Pirro said in his mechanical tone.
“You have?” I said, astonished. “What did he say?”
“He treated us to Italian food,” he said.
“You ate spaghetti with him?!” I said.
“Pizza,” Pirro corrected me.
I tried to picture him eating a pepperoni special with the President.
“What's the real reason you want me to go?” I said, suspicious.
“Okay,” Pirro said. “We need more people on Grapathia, our planet...We have lots of scientists and the military, but we need civilians to create a friendly presence.” He paused. “Also,” Pirro continued, “Grapathians have discovered a love for Italian food...we especially crave calzones....Could you help?”
I gazed at him, and then had an idea. Giancarlo Gugliano, the owner of my favorite restaurant, was going out of business tomorrow. Maybe he would help placate the palate of the Grapathians. I told Pirro my idea...and the next day he joined me for lunch, in disguise. He wore a faux human skin, a dark suit and sunglasses.
“Not very realistic,” I told him - if I looked closely, the skin was rubbery and fake, but in the dim light of Giancarlo’s, it might be ok. Soon I introduced them. The owner needed some convincing, but after we peeled back Pirro's costume and showed him the UFO parked in the alley, he was on board. Giancarlo agreed to open the first Grapathian Italian restaurant.
“My restaurant will rise from the ashes!” he exclaimed. He used wide sweeping arm gestures to convey his passion. Pirro had the satisfied air of a businessman who has closed the deal of the century.
I promised to be one of the restaurant’s first guests. The idea of visiting a restaurant on an alien planet even started to seem commonplace. I never would've thought this could happen to me.
This story was based on these randomly generated images.