From TALES They Fired Your Nannybot For Telling You

by A. R. Gregory


Last Try

Washington in August! Ellie thought. Could it get any stickier? She blew through her pursed lips, even tried swishing her arms around some, anything to beat the heat. Damn! she was tempted to think, but she stopped short of pronouncing that word in her mind. Naturally the bureau chief would assign her, the station’s one-and-only evangelical Christian, to cover the Blessing of America Rally.
     “Dear Lord, just a breeze,” she whispered as she felt a trickle of perspiration inch down her side. She fingered the little gold cross clinging to the moist skin below her throat, thanked God for giving her the sense to wear her lightest, loosest, sleeveless blouse today.
     Scanning the crowd of dripping, sunburned evangelicals, Ellie wondered who she would interview next. According to the Park Police estimate, the throng was over a million strong, everyone of them raptly listening to one preacher after another bellowing from the steps of the Capitol.
     Then a gasp rolled across the huge crowd. Ellie swung, saw everyone staring and pointing in the direction of the Washington Monument. Then she spotted it too, something falling from the sky. No, wait, now it slowed, then hovered in midair for several seconds before it gently settled down on the Mall near the Monument. It looked like a huge gleaming ball resting on a glowing, pulsing donut.
     Ellie caught her breath, then shouted into her mic, “Nick, are you seeing this? Suck in the antennas. We gotta get to it, now!“
     Nick’s voice boomed back from her earphone. “Get to what, Ellie? We don’t even know what that thing is.”
     Ellie started fighting her way through the crowd. “I think it’s a UFO, Nick. It just landed at the Washington Monument!”
“I see it, Ellie, but... We don’t... Who knows what that thing might do.”
     “Nick, this is why we’re here today. It’s God’s will. I know it.”
     “I don’t care who or what pops out of that thing, Nick. We gotta get to it first.”
     Nick exhaled hard. “Okay, Ellie. You’re right — of course. We are the news. If it’s up to no good, it’ll probably roast the whole city anyway. Let’s do this thing.”
     “Attaboy, Nick!”
     As Ellie sprinted barefoot across the Mall, her high-heeled sandals bobbing in one hand, her wireless mic in the other, she spotted the Planet Central News truck’s antenna boom lowing, then the satellite dish tucking in. When she got closer, she heard the truck’s engine rev, saw gusts of blue exhaust burping from its tailpipe. She stopped behind it, choking on the stinky diesel fumes as she waved her cameraman on. Larry was panting and sweating, trotting as fast as he could as he lugged his equipment twenty yards behind her. Ellie was tempted to yell, Get the lard out, Larry. But she settled on, “C’mon, Larry, move it.” Wasn’t Larry always on some new diet? When she finally pushed Larry into the truck, then scrambled in herself, Nick gunned it.
     They barreled west on Constitution Avenue, Nick riding the horn as Ellie leaned out the passenger side window. “Outta the way. Move it,” she screamed at every startled, jay-walking pedestrian they nearly hit. At the Washington Monument Nick jumped the curb, sped across the lawn, jerked the truck to a stop about thirty yards from whatever it was. “Close as I’m getting,” Nick said, sounding nervous.
     “Close enough,” Ellie answered confidently as she gaped up at the great shiny ball looming over them. It’s as big as a house! she thought, then realized it was way bigger than the two-story house she grew up in in Iowa.
     “What’s it made of?” Nick wondered out loud. “Look how it glows or gleams or whatever. Is it metal, plastic, glass, what?”
     Ellie glanced at him.“Who cares what it’s made of, Nick? What is it? What do I call it?”
     Nick threw up his hands. “Jeezus, how the hell do I know?”
     “No need to swear, Nick, not even now.”
     Nick rolled his eyes. “I dunno, a goddamned... Sorry, I mean, like some kinda spaceship? It was flying, right, but no wings. What else could it be?”
     “Spaceship. Perfect! Get us ready to broadcast, Nick.” Then Ellie paused, closed her eyes, bowed her head. “In thy name, Lord Jesus,” she finally whispered just before flinging open the door. “Don’t worry, Nick, I’ll find out what this is all about....”


Copyright 2020 A. R. Gregory