Chapter 1 — Part I: The Bug Man In Blue Jeans

When you think you have had the worst day of your life,
There is always Tomorrow.
Celebration Image with Creepy Robot Clown in Top Hat
Robot Dressed as Circus Clown with Puppet

When we were young, we speculated about intelligent life in the universe and stared into the cold abyss, not realizing the serenity of our innocence. Then one day, we woke up and found hordes of advanced civilizations busy establishing embassies and consulates all over our world. Most of our petty disputes were put aside, at least temporarily, as we staggered to regain our balance.

I began a new career as a Visitor Cultural Specialist, as did many of my generation. No one on the planet could tell who among our new guests were dangerous, who were benign, or who might be trustworthy. Our job was elementary, we needed to gather data and we needed it immediately. No one asked it, but we all were thinking, “Do we even have a say in anything any more?”

Efforts to confine them to remote areas of the globe proved impossible as they had independent transport vehicles and thus had no trouble relocating pretty much wherever they wanted. In addition, attempts to limit jurisdictions also failed as they could always entice local authorities with things like precious metals, other worldly jewels, exotic pets, and various gadgets, i.e. Colonialism 101. In that fashion, they were also buying up all the antiquities, art, aircraft, ships, trains, and automobiles they could find. They loved internal combustion vehicles and seemed to delight in enhancing global warming. Oddly, there was no effort to buy buildings, structures, or real estate, but they were happy to lease significant amounts of it. Did I mention sports? Yes, the visitors loved all manner of sports and gambling.

Some things were obvious, our visitors had known about us for a long time. They all had translators of varying quality and could more of less speak to anyone on the planet in their own language. When they offered videos of our history with all the great battles and all the great religious and intellectual people, we had really no choice but to assume they were authentic, even if there were nagging doubts about whether we were being bamboozled or not. For the truly devout there were no doubts. They immediately condemned this evidence as blasphemy and became intensely xenophobic.

Other things were less obvious, but took only a little while to figure out. The representatives of the races we were seeing were opportunists and tourists, not true diplomats. Imagine college students on Spring break. Some even speculated that they were criminals and we were a part of their penal system. This theory gained significant credibility when some of them were killed and there was no formal retaliation. Not to say that we did not panic in such situations and quickly incarcerate obvious suspects if they survived.

Whether xenophiles or xenophobes, everyone (both them and us) showed much curiosity about how the other side reproduces and whether or not they have cross species desires. Depending on the individual, this was viewed as a good thing or a very bad thing. Some races were open and others not so much, which generally fell into the “Thank goodness!” category. Remarkably, we did not experience any plague of visitor viruses, germs, or parasites and our visitors seemed to have absolute immunity to our microbiome buddies.

Some things remained a mystery. Many were constructs with lots of metallic components, while others were definitely biological. These mostly wore garments of sorts, sometimes even dressing in local apparel, but none of them had any obvious life support equipment and it was not uncommon for them to enter exceptionally hot or cold environments. Nor was it uncommon for them to submerge in water for great periods of time.

To perform our jobs we had to intermingle, so we became tour guides and procurement specialists for their various interests. Some of them were merely collectors, but others were obsessed with physically touching and tasting everything on the planet. As you can imagine, this produced endless sessions of nausea for many of our number. The more experienced of us soon found it easier to attend the great lectures that were given by various individuals for our education. These included incomprehensible physics and math, bizarre religious rituals, and all manner of visitor philosophy. Overnight the planet went from a few major religions to many thousands of religions. We learned all we could and wrote endless reports for the Cultural Assessment Authority.

After a while we discovered that the races often disliked each other and were more than happy to gossip about everyone else. By constructing a detailed database, it became easy to sort the facts that were repeated from multiple sources from the facts that were singular and contradictory to all the others. With that tool it became easier to categorize certain groups as more reliable or less reliable. Although, much like us, just about everyone fudged the truth from time to time.

I worked to develop mutual relationships with as many individuals as possible, and in time, my supervisors gave me a special task. Not generally known to the rest of the population, there were some individuals that did not socialize with us and had limited contact with the other visitors. One such being we called the Bug. My assignment was to make contact and evaluate the individual’s position in the over all picture. So began my journey.

I wanted more background information than what was contained in our records, so I started in the nearby Circus adjacent to the capitol. Each major city had a forum, which we called a Circus, where the visitors grouped together and mixed with the general population of the planet. Adding to the circus theme, it was not uncommon for everyone to dress in elaborate costumes. Typically the atmosphere resembled a major sporting event.

My normal contacts (both reliable and not) told me that they were ignorant of who the Bug was. So in frustration, I sat down on a bench in the middle of the Circus. About that time one of the more unhelpful types came along. They were tall and thin and blue and somewhat humanoid and they always had a sermon at the ready.

“Good day!” he began through his translator. “Why do we sit here, when there is much work to do?”

“Good day.” I responded. “I am seeking information on an off world individual.”

“Do we seek information for good or for bad?”

“I seek information on the individual’s intentions here on this planet.”

“We should avoid paranoia.”

Realizing that the conversation was drifting into uncharted water, I switched the inquiry. “I want to know if I can assist this individual in any way.”

“We are pleased you offer assistance. How may we assist you then?”

I brought up my tablet and displayed a grainy photo. “We know this individual as the Bug.”

He studied the photo for a while. “This brings us great amusement… and sadness.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Why so?”

“We have classified one of our great intellects as an insect. We should avoid disdain.”

“Yes, I am ignorant and that is why I seek true information of the nature of this individual!”

“True information does not exist.”

“Then I need better information.”

“That is true. We do.” He then gave me an impossible name. I recorded it and scanned the sound spectrum. As I suspected many of the syllables were well outside human hearing.

“How did you come to know of this individual?”

“Our respected friend was the ambassador to our civilization in a past time.”

“Is he planning to be an ambassador to Earth?”

“We can not say. We should speak with our friend ourself.”

“Where can I find him and what preparations do I need to make?”

“We can prepare ourselves by consulting The Oracle.” He gestured with an arm in the direction of the central pavilion where a large visitor and human audience was listening to a giant dressed in a simple robe of a prophet. In vivid contrast, the group was composed of all manner of religious factions in their showy attire.

“How would I get an audience with this Oracle?”

“Our articles of speech are very confusing. There is no ‘This’ Oracle. There is ‘The’ Oracle.”

“You imply there is only one?”

“We imply nothing. We state a fact! What is our problem?”

“I am sorry, let me try again. How would I get an audience with The Oracle?”

“We must listen. Then knowledge will follow.”

“I will go then and listen to the Oracle.”

“Before we part, we must correct an error that we believe. We are feminine.”

Astonished I asked, “May I ask how you came to this conclusion?” I knew full well that I had not said anything aloud about gender.

“We may ask, but an answer may not be available.”

“How then?”

“We should avoid the pretense of being all knowing when we are not.”

She then gave me their standard goodbye, “Remember always, we should avoid decisions that we will regret.” Given the circumstances, I took it as a warning.

Then in my mind I received a version of a text message. “Since your ignorance is sincere, I will provide knowledge in this case to protect you in the future. Good translation devices are much more sophisticated than you presently can imagine.”

My thoughts were racing. “I need to contact the Authority about this.”

After a moment of silence, I turned to walk to the pavilion to find The Oracle. Then I received a second mind text. “There is no need to visit me. I know what you are seeking. Two brothers are approaching who can help you, but be cautions of them.”

Before I had time to think about it, two unsavory individuals blocked my path. “Excuse me. I am looking for an off world individual.” I held up my tablet and displayed my grainy photo again.

They made a horrible noise. Their translator gave an alert, “…Individuals are demonstrating their version of a snicker…”

After a few seconds they admitted they knew The Bug, so I questioned them about where I could find him. They “snickered” again, but eventually gave me a set of coordinates. I then asked if I would need a special universal translator. They sold me an expensive model and warned me, “Do cause not that one anger. Do left to generous space with silence is best strategy. Emphatically do speak not of us while using your words, please.”

These guys were clearly out of place even in this environment. Out of curiosity, I asked another question. “Why are you here on this planet?”

They made a louder horrible noise and spewed saliva everywhere. Their translator once again gave an alert, “…Individuals are demonstrating their version of a laugh…”

Finally, they recovered and the larger one thumped his chest and said, “Exterminators.”

This story is part of the series called The Bug Man In Blue Jeans. If you view my About data, a list of all the other stories can be seen. This particular story line is in a three parts. The next part is Part II: The Alien Invasion (The Introduction).



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