The Man on the Road
by Peter J. Rosado
forum: The Man on the Road
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Man on the Road


        The sky had been bombarded with millions of stars that night. It was as if God himself had opened his eyes and let out a sigh that cleared all of the cloud covers, letting man drop his ever ready and useful telescopes and use his own eye to gaze at the sky. The moon accompanied the millions of stars as a dame of night, casting its dim light all over the mountainous landscape and guiding the lonely and lost sailors far out at sea. But there was one particular star in the firmament whose inquietude left more to say. It moved. It moved from left to right in angled lines and jumped from white dot to white dot, moving forward in space towards one particular location. Then, the star grew big. It grew big in size, in brightness and in speed until it finally positioned itself over one lone and dark mountain. It hovered for several minutes over it, brightening as it went, until its inhabitant decided to reveal itself. Slowly, but steadily, the ship lowered in brightness until it was but a dark mass atop a hill. And it slowly, but steadily hovered above ground level, silently amidst the night. It finally settled on a small clearing atop the hill, several tripods protruding from it and digging themselves deep in the mud. The ship itself looked like an egg. Out of the lower side three tripods stuck out. And right in the middle, a small door-like compartment was opening, releasing light as it went. A sight as this would have amazed any troubled mind of that era, even if it meant their imaginations had created it all… or even if it meant that they suffered from deeper problems.

        When all the mystery was over, the man stepped out of the structure. To any human being he would have looked like any ordinary well groomed man. He wore a tuxedo, a business suit, very well ironed, black and rightly adjusted to his strong looking features and carried a silver briefcase, which he guarded with his life, for it contained his life. His head was bald. His arms were long and strong and ended with normal looking smooth hands. The eyes of this man were yellow and deep. They were a flaring yellow that captivated and entranced you, and this was the only tattling of abnormality upon him. He walked down the small ramp that protruded out of his ship, slowly, his gaze forward and his mind never deviating from the mission at hand. This place was unlike they had told him back at his mission headquarters. It was more hostile. Strange green-looking plants grew from the ground, scarcely, but they were there. Some grew taller than he was and had small thorns protruding from them. There were others that seemed to consist of a hard organic material growing in a bent fashion, out of this material grew branches and out of these branches grew smallish strange—

        "Leaves," said the man lowly, as he saw them, "but very strange leaves." He realized that he was in some sort of desert.

        And then was when he heard a distant sound. Like an animal call, it felt animalistic in nature, but utterly mechanical. A small light was seen moving towards him and he stared in curiosity, gripping hard his briefcase, his arms limp to his sides as he saw the vehicle that was coming, if he was right about what this was…his mission would start right there. And the light shone upon him.

* * *

        Carla had been driving down the road when she saw the stranger. At first she had thought him to be a stray drunkard, or a hitchhiker, but when she saw how he was dressed her curiosity and fear grew big. She stopped the car, but left the lights on. The keys rattled nervously as she shoved them out of the keyhole and gripped them. The man still covered his face, frozen. This was a very strange man; he reminded her of a scared child. She hadn't gotten out of the car when she saw the strange diffused building behind him, too difficult to discern in mid darkness.

        "A plane?" she asked herself. But the building was as strange as the man. It seemed alien to her, to a 1943-divorced-Earth-woman who worked at the local diner as a waitress and had two children of her own to support.

        She squinted and saw the frozen man's yellow eyes. So she reached for the small baton beneath her seat and hid it in her other free hand. She opened the driver's door carefully and slid out of her car, and she stood silently next to the door.

        "Can I help you sir?" she asked loudly amidst the reigning silence of the night, gripping her baton. The man didn't say anything to the woman's questioning. She walked towards him. She was curious to see who this was, this man in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere, and this strange plane behind him. Was he a pilot? She kept asking herself. There was a war… was he a downed pilot? Her fear grew bigger. She had heard on the news that Germany was secretly planning an attack on the United States. Were those rumors? Or had she seen the truth? Either way she knew she had to discover this man's intentions.

        The man still kept his silence, covering his face with his two big arms.

        The woman crept closer to him, always gripping her baton.

        "It's alright. Just tell me who you are."

        The man did not respond and kept his position. Carla was now standing next to him, examining him curiously, her headlights still on and shining on the man's black tuxedo. She then found out that the man was breathing hard, as if afraid.

        "Don't be afraid now, I won't hurt you," she said. The man seemed to have understood her, as he slowly but cautiously lowered his arms until his face was free to be seen. He had a very pale face; his skin was paler than the moon that shone upon it. The man was strange indeed. Then he looked at her straight in the eyes, his yellow eyes flaring, and she felt a spark. She backed off from him and he reached out.

        "I come in peace," he said in his low calculated voice, raising one hand in the air. Carla cocked her head sideways and cast a curious glance at him.

        "I, too, come in peace," she said back. The man cocked his head curiously, too.

        "You are from…out there…too?" he asked, pointing at the sky. Carla nodded.

        "Aren't we all?" she asked, smiling, and the man replied with a smile, too, but a very strange smile, almost as if imitating or mocking her. But she found herself stalling and decided to become the interrogator once more.

        "Is that your plane? Did you crash?" she asked, pointing at the parked ship. The man nodded.

        "No, I landed here," he said.

        "Are you German?"


        "Yes, Kraut. We are at war, you know. How can I trust you?"

        The man turned around in a full circle, almost as if inspecting himself for a answer, or calculating one on the fly. His movements seemed frozen in time and space, almost as if he had just woken up from a long trip and was…stretching.

        "I've had… a… long trip, from out there," he said in a slow steady tone and stopped, "from where… I come… from."

        "I see," came the reply. Carla shifted in her place. "Well, there are resorts in town. Maybe I can take you to one?"

        The man's eyes widened.

        "Resort?" he asked in a slow steady tone.

        "Yes, a place to stay for the night, until you have your plane repaired. Or we can call the National Guard; they may be able to help you. Call your family?"

        She explained with certain confusion. This man was certainly not from around here, she had thought. He may be an immigrant from Mexico, or Canada, or maybe out at sea.

        "That… would be… perfect," he said and the woman nodded. She walked towards her car's passenger door and opened it for him.

        "Get in. I will take you, but don't try anything, for I am armed," she warned. The man turned towards his ship and then towards her. He gripped his briefcase hard.

        "Thank… you," he said and walked towards the car, getting inside and sitting on the passenger seat like if he was born to do it.

        "Fine," Carla said, got in and started the engine, driving in reverse and pulling into the road all in one minute, millions of thoughts going through her mind.

* * *

        The man who came from the heavens was no ordinary man. He had a plan set out, a plan of discovery. He was an explorer, after all… His job was none other than unearthing living worlds, or so he thought. They were worlds that would join the Confederation of Planets or worlds that he would have to destroy because of their danger to the allied nations and to the corporation. The encounter with the earthling was more than just pure luck towards his part; it was a foot inside their society. But he was worried; he had never visited a planet with such an advanced culture, not as advanced as his culture, but near as in terms of thinking. The alien knew that if they were reluctant—as his society was in the ancient times—to contact with beings from outer space, they would destroy themselves trying to destroy them. He knew that wars would ensue, and that his race would have to eliminate the planet, to eliminate… conflict. Yes, his race was a peaceful one, yet also a very egocentric one. They had labeled almost every creature that joined the galactic confederacy as inferiors. Their whole agenda revolved around a corporation, one which he knew had gone bankrupt a long time ago.

        He stared out the window and saw his ship taking flight, now a small bright dot moving in the sky. It would lay there in wait for his command to come yet again. He was now alone in an alien world.

        "I… am thankful," he managed to say to the woman behind the wheel.

        "It is nothing. I am a Christian, and it is my duty to help people in need," she said and stopped in mid sentence. She looked at him with saddened eyes. "My name is Carla. Nice to meet you." She shook his hand. She was a fairly middle aged woman with brown hair and brown eyes, thin but strong looking.

        The man shook her hand back, weakly.

        "I am—" he formulated an Earth name, "Carl."

        "Carl what?"

        "Carl. Just… Carl."

        "Well, Carl and Carla, such a coincidence," she said and smiled. Carl smiled back, but his mind seemed out there… behind the moon and the stars that composed the sky and the small moving simple bright dot that was his ship.

        Carla drove the car, following the straight line that was the dark road. Her headlights were the only lights available, and Carl wondered, he wondered his location and his destination.

        "Where are we?"

        "What do you mean where are we? Boy, you really are lost. This is the middle of nowhere: Middle of Nowhere, Arizona." Carla smiled at him; he kept a straight look, his yellow eyes glowing dimly in darkness. And she noticed them.

        "Your eyes… are you sick?"

        There was a small moment of silence as she exchanged glances with him and the road ahead.

        "No, no, I am… not… sick. They really… are… that color. It's your… atmosphere. It makes them shine."

        For a moment there, he hesitated, as he saw the woman's eyes widen in surprise.

        "You, you make… them shine, I guess. Your," he kept on, feeling he had won her, "hospitality."

        Carla smiled, feeling flattered.

        "Why thank you. It's my duty as a Christian, as I said."

        "A… a Christian?"

        Her brow instantly went up, and he saw her true eyes. They were a deep blue as the sea he had seen when he had first entered the atmosphere a few days ago and landed on this desert.

        "You really are lost boy," she said and smiled once more. Her smile lit up the whole automobile and it made Carl homesick, her smile reminded him of the constellations that could be seen back home, but it also reminded him of his—

        Suddenly, the car stopped, and he saw that they had parked in front of a big well-lighted building.

        "This is it, the Rattler Hotel," the woman said. Carl kept silent.

        "It was nice meeting you, sir," she said and helped him open the door, handed him his briefcase, but he kept his seat on the passenger's seat and wouldn't move.

        "Sir, it's time for you to go," she said, smiling, but Carl wouldn't move.

        "Carl, I really need to go, have to feed the kids, you know."

        The alien looked at her in confusion, but then he understood. Her hospitality was only meant to be a quick ride to the nearest hotel. He nodded.

        "I… am… sorry. I am sorry. Thank you for… everything," he said and mimicked a smile. She nodded.

        "My pleasure, Carl. Have a nice night." She kept smiling as he got out of the car and stood by the door. Then he looked at her once more and admired her terrestrial beauty, swallowed hard with his dry throat, and managed to wave goodbye, his briefcase firmly gripped in one pale hand. She sped away as fast as she had materialized from nowhere and left him there, standing on the porch of a guesthouse several million light years away from home.

* * *

        Her children greeted her screaming as she walked into the house, two small boys. She cradled them both in her arms and addressed the nanny.

        "How did these little devils behave today?" she asked playfully. The nanny smiled.

        "They did fine, Carla. Everything's okay."

        "Yeah? Well, let's get these spacemen to sleep and break out the—" she had a bottle of vodka in a paper bag; she pointed at it so the children wouldn't notice and the nanny smiled and nodded.

        When the children finally fell asleep, both women headed over to the porch to have a long talk.

        "…So needless to say, I told him to leave us and go with her. Seems that she can keep him happier than me…" the nanny rattled on. Carla sipped her vodka slowly, reminiscing about earlier events and earlier lives. When she remembered the man, she thought of him fiercely, and of his strangeness… of his silent charm. And she interrupted—

        "I met the strangest man today, on the road."

        Her friend looked at her in deep curiosity.

        "What do you mean?"

        "Well, I met this man…who was standing in the middle of the road. He was well dressed, kinda like a business man. He was very tall and bald, and he carried a silver briefcase, which he seemed to guard with his life. He never let his look away from it. But what caught my attention were his eyes. They were a deep glowing yellow. They were really beautiful." She let her sentence fall and enjoyed her drink. Her friend snickered.

        "Then you've got a catch. I mean, well dressed, a businessman, tall, exotic eyes. He must be from another country. Russian, maybe?"

        Carla looked at her with wide open eyes.

        "No, Jenny, he wasn't Russian. He was something else, I'm sure of that. His accent, his accent was monotonous, like in a straight line, and he had difficulty speaking English—"

        "I see a Russian," Jenny interrupted mockingly.

        Carla stopped in mid-sentence, sipped at her drink and said, "I guess so, a Russian. But something else compelled me."


        "I really don't know. He seemed so alone," she gulped, looked down, "and his plane… at first I thought him to be a downed pilot, but so well dressed, inside an airplane?"

        "A pilot, eh? Great catch, Carla," her friend said, chuckling, "and what is his name?"


        Jenny immediately burst out laughing.

        "You're kidding me! Carl? How so?"

        "His name is Carl, Jenny. I don't find anything strange in that."

        "Yeah, like Carl and Carla. What are those? Anagrams, they called them back in school?"

        "I don't remember."

        "Well, what happened between both of you then?" Jenny asked.

        "Well… actually, nothing. I mean, I found him and offered him a ride to the Rattler. But he seemed so lost here." Carla spoke worriedly about the man and Jenny caught this.

        "Well, Carla, you meet the perfect man on the middle of nowhere, and he slips away from your grasp. Are you going mad? Weren't you the one that said men were good for nothing potatoes?"

        "Not all of them, Jenny." She sipped her vodka. "Not all of them. At least this one, he seemed peculiar, that's all. I just hope he's alright." She finished and Jenny chuckled and started her interrupted topic once more.

        "As I was saying—"

* * *

        The innkeeper thought the man to be mad, standing at the side of the road this late at night. He had been there for two hours already, and the innkeeper was starting to wonder if this man was actually interested in renting a room or was just another roadside bum. So he put on his slippers and jacket and headed out the front door into the coldness of the night to confront the man.

        "Hail! Sir!" the innkeeper shouted. The man slowly turned around and faced him. The innkeeper saw that this was a well-dressed man; he carried a briefcase in one hand and had a pale composure. The man just stared blankly at him and raised his free hand in a greeting.

        "Hi, um, sir," the innkeeper said, managing a broad smile. The mysterious man, though, kept a straight pale face. It was then that the innkeeper noticed the man's eyes.

        "Your eyes, sir... They are yellowish."

        "Yes, yes they are." The man spoke in a very monotonous tone.

        "Um, sir, can I ask what you are doing here? You've been standing here for two hours straight and we are wondering at the inn if you are going to stay with us or are just passing by… We would be happy to offer a room at a comforting price."

        The man walked in a full circle where he stood looking around.

        "How?" he asked.

        "How what?"

        "How do I get to see her again?"


        "The female from your species, the one that… helped… me?" the man asked, his voice taking a strange melancholic tone.

        The innkeeper scratched his bald head. He was confused, but he thought the man meant the lady that had brought him there in the first place.

        "Who asks?" he asked.

        "Carl," the man replied.

        "Carl what?"

        "Carl. Just Carl, sir, no last names."

        "Well, I'll be damned. I know who you're talking about. The question is if she wants to talk to you. Come on in and we'll call Mrs. Devine."

* * *

        The old phone rang not once, but twice and it was at her bedside so she woke up startled and quickly reached for the transmitter and heard the faint crackling.

        "Yes?" she asked groggily.

        "Mrs. Devine? We are calling from the Rattler. Mrs. we are sorry to be calling this late… but we seem to have run into a man that is looking for you."

        Carla's sleep grogginess went away rapidly and she sat on her bed.

        "Yeah, Carl, yes, yes. Well, yeah, I'll go pick him up." She hung up the transmitter and kept still for a minute.

        Carl… what did the man want? She picked up the transmitter once more and dialed Jenny's phone number. The phone rang once on the other line and was picked up.


        "Jenny, um, I need you to come over. Something has happened. It's the man I met, Carl."

        "Yeah? What about him?"

        "He's looking for me. Maybe he left something in my car. I don't know, but I will go and see what he wants." She whispered so the kids wouldn't hear.

        "Be careful, Carla. I'll be right there."


* * *

        Carl had manifested himself before the innkeeper. The innkeeper wouldn't accept the notion for Carl looked too human. He looked feebleminded, but too human nevertheless.

        "So you are saying you're not from this planet?" the innkeeper said while sipping his cup of coffee nervously. Outside the night had become cool, as all the desert nights were.

        "Yes," Carl replied, his cup of coffee untouched and his face showing no emotion at all, "I am from a small planet that orbits a star such as yours in the Andromeda Quadrant. It is one hundred million light years away and it would take one of your automobiles billions of years to reach it… not to mention the calculations required for the combustible needed in your automobiles to actually get there… It would take several million years to calculate at the rate of your technology—"

        "He's bleeding mad is what he is." The voice that interrupted him was strong and imperative. It had an Irish accent; it belonged to Martha, the innkeeper's wife. The innkeeper wiped the sweat from his brow and raised a hand to shush her.

        "Well, he is. He's talking about other planets and crap like that. Men will never go to the moon, so I don't follow the notion of them going to another world. Pure antichristian fantasy, I say," the woman said, angered, standing in the frame of the main doorway, watching the conversation while keeping an eye for Carla's car.

        "Please, forgive my wife. She is bleeding mad, I say, has been ever since the day we married. Now tell me, how come you speak so perfect English now?"

        "I am quick learner."

        "Ah," the innkeeper chuckled and looked at Martha, who stuck her tongue out at him, "aren't we all?" he finished sarcastically. It had been many the times when he had regretted marrying the old bat.

        "And I am sorry to say, sir, but I don't believe any of your testimonies, me being a Christian and all." He paused, looked around nervously, sipped a bit of his coffee. "Well, you understand."

        Carl nodded and moved his briefcase from where it sat on his lap, and placed it between his spindly long legs.

        The innkeeper noticed this.

        "So, sir, what's in the briefcase?" He pointed at the silver piece of luggage. It shone brightly under the lone electric lamp of the lobby. Carl formulated a small smile.

        "It's confidential. Details of my mission and such."

        "Which is?"

        Carl maintained silence.

        "I see. I am sorry then." The fat man offered a confused apology. The alien smiled and said, "No problem." Then the innkeeper's wife started beckoning them.

        "She's here."

        They could all see how the headlights shone into the lobby of the small guesthouse.

        Carl stood up and handled his briefcase in one hand.

        "I take my leave now. Farewell," he said, bowing. The innkeeper offered a hand and the alien didn't hesitate to shake it weakly. Then the alien proceeded and nodded at the innkeeper's wife as he went out. Martha's eyes widened in surprise as the alien did this. She had seen his glowing eyes for the first time and now followed them all the way to the door of the car. The door was opened for him, and he stepped into the automobile with great feminine grace.

        When the car was nowhere to be seen, the innkeeper walked over towards Martha, who still stood near the doorway, staring out into nothingness.

        "You think what he said was real?"

        "I don't know, Martha."

        "Why so well-dressed? He must be a stray businessman, I say that." She kept asking, her voice now wandering over the calm darkness of the desert.

        The innkeeper stood silent for a moment and finally said, "I don't know, Martha. I fear I don't know anything more than that I have to wake up early tomorrow to feed the chickens."

        "Those eyes… those flaring yellow eyes." She whispered in amazement.

        "Quite strange, yes," the innkeeper agreed and yawned. "I must go to sleep. Come with me when you're ready, might do a little surprise if you're willing." He winked playfully, but her gaze was out there: with the stars, and the man on the road. With the innkeeper' leaving, Martha closed the front door and locked it with a hidden inner fear of the unknown. Strange things did happen in the desert after all.

* * *

        Carla feared to ask the man what he wanted, and he feared herself even more for taking the wild decision of going after him. But she overwhelmed that fear and stopped the car near the edge of the road, keeping in mind that that would leave her vulnerable to him. Though her consciousness said that she could trust him… she still feared. Even if this was the same well-dressed individual that had allured her a few hours ago.

        "Why did you call to my house?" she asked. The man looked at her from the darkness, flaring with his yellow eyes.

        "I wanted to say thanks," he replied. The woman nodded.

        "Thanks, yes, but… I just did what I had to do. You were supposed to stay there at the Rattler and call your family—"

        "I don't have a family, not here," the man interrupted, his voice as neutral as before, almost soothing.

        "Where are they, then? So we can contact them."

        "They are far away."

        Carla then realized the man was really foreign, and she feared that by offering her help she would get into trouble with the law for taking in a migrant.

        But her religious side took over.

        "I can help. You can stay at my home. I have an extra bedroom you can use. It's not much, but it will help you till tomorrow."

        The man just nodded and gripped his briefcase. Carla saw this. "What is in that briefcase?" she asked. The man kept silent.

        "Ah, I see. I am sorry, but I have to ask. I don't want anything dangerous inside my home. I have children."

        The man suddenly grabbed her hand, first forcefully, then softly and tenderly. Carla tried to back off but then succumbed.

        "Trust me. I am not dangerous."

        He let go of her hand and she put it back on the wheel.

        "I trust you. I don't know, but I do. I will help you. Let's go," she said and started to drive once more, following the road, the dry darkness of the desert at her side.

* * *

        Before his arrival, the alien had seen how lives ended. He had seen with his own yellow eyes how marriages came to an end because of monetary problems, and he had seen how children started to hate their fathers when they stop being their heroes and succumb to drugs and alcohol. This, he had all seen. From this, he had run away. And because of this he accepted the mission to Earth.

        Carla smiled at him when they arrived at the front of her house. The alien smiled back, mimicking her emotion and almost feeling it. He knew that if in that home more of her species had gathered, he would receive crooked looks his way. So he prepared.

        "Well, this is my home. I left Jenny with the kids, so maybe you'll get to meet her."

        "Yes," he said, "perfect."

        "Perfect, then."

        They both dismounted from the car and headed for the front door, the alien walking at a steady pace behind her, and Carla instantly rapping on the door. A young woman opened and the first thing she did was stare at Carl.

        "Is that him?" she asked curiously, her eyes widened in surprise.

        "Yes, it is, now let us come in." Carl entered and Carl followed. "Are the kids asleep?"

        "As smallish babies are," the young woman replied, her gaze never deviating from the man.

        "Great, I owe you many thanks, Jenny," Carla said. "Ah, well, this is Carl. Carl, this is Jenny."

        Jenny extended her small hand to shake Carl's. Carl took it and squeezed it gently.

        "He has yellow eyes," Jenny said. Carl nodded.

        "Yes," he said, "I have."

        Carla winked at Jenny.

        "Um, Jenny and I have to talk, Carl. Will you please wait in the living room?"

* * *

        "He seems nice enough," Jenny said. Carla looked into the living room, where he sat, and saw him there… motionless.

        "He is, but I wonder, Jenny. I wonder why he's so… reclusive."

        Both women stood chatting in the kitchen, while the man sat in the only sofa in the small living room… motionless… cradling his briefcase as if it were the only thing left to him in the world.

        "I wonder what he's hiding in that thing," one of the women wondered, referring to the man's briefcase—that he guarded with great security—and the other nodded.

        "I don't know."

        Jenny sighed.

        "I just wonder what a well-dressed business man is doing in the middle of nowhere," Carla wondered. Her friend patted her shoulder.

        "I've heard these stories of men that go bankrupt in the city. Las Vegas, perhaps. They waste all of their money away and wander aimlessly into the desert. Imagine that, with the war and all, the stock market crashes constantly, or so I read in the paper," Jenny whispered to her, keeping a look for the man, but the man was lost in God knows that thinking and it was improbable that he had heard her.

        "Maybe that is what happened to him?"

        "I doubt it; I still cling to the idea of him being a man from outer space—"


        "Well, people have seen them, you know."

        "I guess so. I will ask him."

        Jenny nodded. Carl smiled eagerly.

        "You better go, it's getting late."

* * *

        When Jenny left, Carla showed Carl to his room. It was a very small room, with one bed, a small mirror and one small bed table. It was perfect for a single person and was very far away from hers.

        "This will be your room for the night, Carl," she said. Carl nodded. He gripped his briefcase and set it on the bed, turning towards Carla, as if beckoning her to leave. Carla felt the deep urge to question him, but she also felt fear. That fear was replaced with anger.

        "Who are you exactly, Carl? I don't believe anything you say. Just tell me, please," she found herself asking, very sharply. Carl watched silently, a serious stare. She confronted him. "I don't believe you are a pilot, and I certainly don't believe you are a politician, but I don't believe you are a bum, either. So come clear, or leave my house."

        Carl lowered his head and sighed.

        "Carla, I've come to Earth on a mission," he said, but Carla burst out in laughter.

        "Don't tell me Jenny was right?! You are a loon! Jesus, what the hell am I doing with a maniac in my house?!"

        "Don't, Carla, please. It is the truth; I am not from this planet. I am from a small—"

        "You know what? I don't give a fuck. You sleep here tonight and get the fuck out of here tomorrow. Alien crap and shit—" she said, clearly angered at him. Carl lowered his head and managed to sit on the bed, then flared his yellow eyes at her, two orbs glowing in the dim of the night.

        "I am not from here, Carla. My race wants me to be an ambassador for your species. We will welcome your race into our collective of planets. We are one hundred million light years away from you, from your planet. We are willing to make friends, as you are my friend now." The yellow-golden eyes flared dangerously.

        She stared at them as if in some sort of trance before snapping out of it and stomping out of the room madly. And Carl the Alien was left alone.

* * *

        It was very rare for his species to dream. But that night he did. He dreamt of his past life. He dreamt of Carl Veladucci, and how he had once been a tycoon. He dreamt of how once Carl Veladucci had won millions of dollars in stocks and how he had a family, a beautiful family. He dreamt of how Carl Veladucci was the hero of his children, the apple of their eyes. He dreamt of his wife, and taking long strolls with her back in Chicago. Then the nightmares started. He dreamt how Carl Veladucci lost everything, how Carl Veladucci divorced the woman of his life, how Carl Veladucci succumbed to drugs and alcohol and how Carl Veladucci's children hated him… how his children hated him, he remembered that in pain. And in between dreams Carl cried, he cried to end his suffering once and for all. He dreamt of how he had wandered into the desert—away from civilization—and had hidden inside an old mill, proclaiming it his spaceship and inventing a special mission, even imagining his arrival—as splendorous as the next king or queen's—He remembered how much he had cried, that his eyes had burned and turned from a light hazel into a crimson glowing gold that scared and captivated the fortunate that dared to look him in the eye. And he dreamt how Carl Veladucci had lost his mind, and had become and alien inside of his own world. Reality struck and he woke up from his unnerving dream, panting and sweating inside his worn out suit. He was no more alien, but a man. He looked around and slowly remembered where he was and where he had been several nights before, and he saw the ropes that lay near the bed—maybe they kept them there to tie things up when they never seemed to stay tied, or maybe they kept them there as an invitation for men like him, with nothing to lose… for everything had been lost—he reached for them and walked towards the edge of the open window, staring out into the blankness of the dark desert. He saw the long spans of desert that he had wandered for days, the points where he had fallen down to cry for his misfortune and what was on his damned briefcase. Making a small noose, he placed it around his neck and tied the other end to the window frame.

        "I am not an alien, I am human. But I suffer. Please, God, help me. Don't let me end my life," he pleaded, tears running down his face and waited, but as always, there was no answer. Deep inside he knew he shouldn't be asking for that. Deep inside he knew this was not the way for an alien from outer space to end things. But either way, he did.

        So he jumped.

* * *

        The next morning Carla went into the room and saw the open window, the long rope tied to the window frame, and the suitcase lying on the bed. Carl was nowhere to be seen. She went inside slowly, in amazement and fear. Curiosity led her towards the suitcase. She grabbed it. Would she find an alien artifact? Would she find thousands of dollars inside? Would she find the remnants of the life of a man who once had it all, and lost it? Would she find nothing?

        She flicked up the two small levers and slowly opened the case and found… papers.

        They were stock reports. This man was a stock tycoon—or had been, as the stock reports were all tainted in red ink. The red ink meant that the stocks had depressed dangerously to the negatives. There were also several papers with tax reports circled in long dried reddish ink and a passport. This was Carl's passport. He was Carl Veladucci, a businessman, with residence in Chicago. And Carla realized he had traveled all the way to Arizona from Chicago, and maybe wandered out of madness into the desert, seeking peace and God knows what.

        "He lost it all," she whispered. Then she saw the pictures. They were pictures of a woman and two children, and himself in the middle of things, a wide smile upon his face. This was Carl, the one who everyone thought to be an alien from outer space was as human as the next man, and suffered from the same problems as the next man.

        "And with it, he lost them." His failure had taken away all he had left, his wife and children. She wondered for several seconds about what had happened to family values those times and suddenly let the briefcase fall to the ground when she saw that the rope was dangling and swaying in the wind, and she walked slowly towards the edge of the window expecting the worse.

        She saw him. He had died peacefully at the end of a well tied noose, the man from outer space. The day was as bright and as sunny, and dry as any other day in the desert, contrasting against the grisly scene. Her mouth was gaping open, and tears started running down her cheeks. She was a Christian, and she had witnessed an abomination, but she felt sorry. She felt—as everyone would—sorry for the man on the road… the man who was not a man, but still a man inside.



copyright 2006 Peter J. Rosado.

Peter J. Rosado has been writing for many years now in both Spanish and English. His favorite genres dwelve between surrealist fiction/fantasy/science fiction and speculative fiction.