Aliens Among Us
A Carlson Septuplets Story
"Your parents have neglected your education," Cassandra told Mary as they were walking home from school to the Carlsons' house one cold March day. "So I have taken it upon myself to provide learning opportunities for you."
"I brought my X-Files videos over! We can watch them after we finish our homework!"
"X-Files?" Mary replied. "That sounds like a really strange show."
"Oh, it is," Cassandra assured her. "Strange is a good thing, you know."
Cassandra Johnson, one of Mary's two best friends, was obsessed with everything having to do with aliens. Many people weren't quite sure whether Cassandra was from Earth or, as she claimed to be, from the distant planet Xorthia. Kassie, as she likes to be called, was truly an alien: she had a "green card," but it said she was from Sweden, not Xorthia. A couple months ago, Kassie had discovered a television show that had quickly become her favorite show of all time: the X-Files. Because it was all about aliens, UFO's, and related things, it was the perfect show for Kassie. Mary had never seen it, and she wasn't sure that she wanted to, but Cassandra didn't seem to be giving her a choice, so she consented to watch the first episode.
Strangely enough, the Carlsons' house was almost deserted when they got there. The Septs' parents wouldn't be home from work until much later, and all the other Septs had something better to do than come home after school, except for Molly. Molly arrived later than Mary and Cassandra; she got home right after they had finished their math homework, as Kassie was putting one of her three-pack of X-Files tapes into the VCR.
"What're you watching?" Molly asked them.
"The X-Files!" Cassandra replied cheerfully. "Want to watch them with us?"
"Ha ha," Molly replied. "That show's so extremely silly and unrealistic that I don't see how it lasted more than one season."
"Have you ever seen it?" Cassandra demanded.
"She hasn't," Mary replied for her sister. "Go away, Molly, if you can't say anything nice about Cassandra's obsession. So, Kassie, what exactly is this about?"
"We're watching the pilot episode," Cassandra explained, "so you can see how everything started."
Cassandra started the video, and she and Mary watched the first episode. Molly tried to come in and say something to them, but Kassie yelled at anyone who dared to speak while the show was on, so Molly decided to go away and do something else.
"So, did you like it?" Cassandra asked after it was over.
Mary hadn't expected to like it, but after watching it she decided it was pretty cool. "Yeah," she said. "I still think it's strange, but it's interesting too. I have a question though. What exactly was the significance of that thing with the watch suddenly jumping forward nine minutes?"
"It didn't just jump forward," Cassandra explained. "It's that those nine minutes disappeared from their memories. The aliens erased Mulder's and Scully's memories from that nine minute period so they wouldn't remember seeing anything strange."
"The loss of nine mintues isn't strange?" Mary observed.
"Well, you know," Cassandra replied, "It's not as strange as meeing an alien."
"How dumb," Molly said, coming in to the living room. "That couldn't happen. Aliens aren't magic, if there is such a thing as an alien."
"Sufficently advanced technology can look like magic," Mary pointed out. "You should know that, Molly."
About a week later, Mary was in her fifth hour French class. She looked up at the clock to see what time it was: it was exactly five minutes to one. While she was looking up at the clock, her pencil rolled off her desk. When she bent over to pick it up off the floor, the windowless room suddenly became pitch black except for a green light coming from the chalkboard area. The strange darkness only lasted a second, and then the normal lights came back on and the green light disappeared. "Oh, sorry," someone said, "I must have bumped the switch and accidentally turned off the lights."
Even though she had just looked at the clock, Mary looked again for some reason. The clock now read 1:04! Wait a minute, that can't be right, Mary thought, that clock just said five minutes to one a second ago, and now it says four minutes after one! The computer-generated tone signalling the end of class rang a minute later, so she packed up her stuff and headed to biology class. In the hallway she passed Cassandra, who reminded her of the X-Files episode she had just seen. I just lost nine minutes! That's really strange. I'll have to tell Kassie about it after school. Maybe an alien came in our classroom! Of course, Mary didn't really believe an alien had entered the classroom; she just saw the similarity between the TV show and what had just happened and thought it was kind of funny. But it was still very strange that nine minutes—the same amount of time that had been on the show—had just disappeared.
Mary saw Molly first by their lockers after school. Since Molly seemed to think the time loss idea was stupid, she wondered what Molly would think of her experience in fifth hour.
"Guess what just happened to me?" Mary said to her, "An alien visited my French class!"
"Um...yeah, sure, Mary," Molly replied, not looking up from her locker. "Maybe you're hanging around with Kassie too much."
"Well, I just lost nine minutes!" Mary told her.
"What?" Cassandra came running down the crowded hallway to the Septs' lockers. "What happened? You lost nine minutes?"
"Yep," Mary said. "I'll tell you about it while we're walking home."
"I think I'll join you, if you don't mind," Molly said. "I have to hear this."
Once they were outside and away from the crowds of kids catching their buses, Cassandra said, "So? Tell us about this!"
"Okay, first I looked up at the clock," Mary explained, "which read exactly 12:55. At least, I thought it did, maybe I just wasn't thinking clearly...but anyway. Then my pencil rolled off my desk and I went to pick it up and the lights went out. There was one light, though: a dim green light shining on the chalkboard. That only lasted a second—or else, it only seemed like a second—and then the lights came back on. Then I looked at the clock again, and it was 1:04!! Someone said 'oh, sorry, I must have bumped the switch,' and so they might have caused the light to go out, but what was the green light then? And accidentally switching off the lights wouldn't have made nine minutes disappear!"
"You were abducted by aliens," Cassandra decided. "They picked you up out of French class and brought you back in nine minutes. That's how long it always takes, you know."
"But why would they—" Mary started. Then Molly interrupted.
"Wait just a second here," Molly said. "You two have really lost it. The clock malfunctions and you think aliens took you out of school? Talk about vivid imaginations!"
"Okay then, Ms. Scientific-Explanation-For-Everything," Cassandra said. "What did happen? How do you explain the clock and the lights?"
"Like I said, it was a clock malfunction," Molly insisted. "You know those are common enough at Westfield High. And don't be stupid. We know what caused the lights to blink out: someone even admitted that they hit the switch!"
"What was the green light, then?" Cassandra demanded.
"If I was there, I'm sure I would be able to tell you," Molly said, "but since I wasn't, I don't know what it was. It was probably one of those key chain lights that people are always shining at other kids in school."
"But those only come in red and white," Mary pointed out.
"No, I've seen blue too," Molly said. "So maybe they have green."
The three girls continued arguing until they got to the Carlsons' house and started working on homework. The next day Molly and Mary went to the French classroom before school started to see if they could figure out what made the green light. They discovered that a transparent green page was on the overhead projector which had been turned on while the lights went out the day before. Molly was satisfied; she had never thought there was the slightest possibility that something strange could have happened. Cassandra, on the other hand, was sure that the green overhead projector had nothing to do with the missing nine minutes.
For a while, no more strange things happened. Then, a few weeks later, Cassandra's watch somehow lost nine minutes in the middle of the night. Although Cassandra was sure she had been abducted by aliens and she and Mary thought it was funny, no one really thought anything else of it. About two weeks after that, however, Kassie's watch lost another nine minutes. This time, Cassandra was absolutely positive something was going on, and she had Mary wondering what caused it. They told the other Septs and Mary's other best friend, Mindy, about it. They all thought it was weird, except for Molly.
"Cassandra, you want something like this to happen to you so much that you convince yourself that the slightest thing related to alien abductions happened," Molly laughed. She was amused and didn't expect that Cassandra was really as serious as she acted.
Cassandra just ignored her. Even Mary didn't really believe anything strange had happened, but she went along with it because it was fun; Cassandra, however, was completely serious.
One day, Mary, Mindy, and Cassandra heard a song called "Angels Among Us." After listening to it a few times, Cassandra took out a piece of paper and a pencil and started writing something down. Mary and Mindy peered over her shoulder to see what she was writing. It was a parody of the song that said, "I believe there are aliens among us, sent down in UFOs from galaxies up above, they abduct you and me in our darkest nightmares...." This parody became Kassie's own "theme song," and whenever she and Mary and Mindy heard the real song, they would start singing Cassandra's lyrics.
Towards the end of April, the strange occurances at Cassandra's house became more and more frequent. Cassandra's watch was always losing minutes. Mr. Johnson, Cassandra's dad, determined that the watch needed a new battery, but due to the fact that she was getting a new X-Files watch in the mail some day soon, no one bothered to change the battery in the old one. Therefore, no one could prove that the watch was stopping because of battery problems. One day, Cassandra's radio went completely insane and began flipping randomly from station to station. No one was there to see it happen except for Cassandra, so everyone just had to trust her. Molly didn't; she didn't come right out and say Kassie was a liar, but she maintained that Cassandra wanted to be contacted by extra-terrestrials so much that she made herself believe things like this happened to her. None of the other Septs cared much, except for Mary because she was Cassandra's friend. And even Mary was only going along with it because she thought it was a funny game.
April 26 was a Saturday, and Cassandra decided to have a sleepover at her house because she was moving in a few days. Cassandra's family moved a lot, and they were selling their house in Westfield and moving to Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the Johnsons wouldn't really be moving for a few more months. They were only moving to an apartment in Westfield, and then in June or July they would move to Pennsylvania.
Mindy and Mary came to Cassandra's house around 5:30 and they went to see a movie. When they got back, they ate dinner and then decided to go outside and play tag. Cassandra's brother and the kid next door played too. It was dark outside by that time, but they liked running around in the dark. They had to be careful because there was a steep hill in Cassandra's back yard that sloped right into a creek. The creek went under a bridge that was part of the street. No one could go under the bridge without getting wet because there was no dry land on the edges. Next to the bridge, however, there was a small peninsula that was completely dark because it was in the bridge's shadow. Mary was hiding there when Melissa and Michelle, who were eating ice cream cones, walked over the bridge.
Melissa saw Cassandra's brother chasing Mindy, Cassandra, and the kid-next-door around the yard. She guessed they were playing tag. "Hey, look!" she called to them. "Mary's hiding over here! Come tag her!"
"Melissa, you creep!" Mary cried. She ran out of the shadowy peninsula to get away from the people who were now chasing her.
Suddenly, there was a flash of incredibly bright light. It was so quick that most of the kids just got a little confused, thinking they had imagined it. Cassandra, however, was used to strange things like this happening, and she didn't think she had imagined it. She looked around, and saw a blur streak across the sky at tremendous speed. This, too, was so quick that most people thought they were just seeing things that weren't there. Cassandra's theory, as you probably can guess, was that the blur was a UFO.
"Look!" Cassandra exclaimed. She pointed at where the blur had been. Of course, it wasn't there now; it had been going to fast. But then, they heard a huge splash in the creek. They all ran over to where the noise had come from, which was under the bridge. It was too dark to see anything except a large spherical thing that hadn't been there before.
"What is that?" Mindy asked.
"I'm going under there to see," Cassandra said. "Hold on while I go get my camera!!" She ran inside to find something that would let her document the incident with photographic proof, in a huge hurry.
Just then, Monica, Megan, Molly, and Meredith came by. "Hey, guys," Monica said. "What's going on?"
"Cassandra thinks she found a UFO," Mindy said, as if it was a completely normal occurance. "What about you? Why are you here so late?"
"We came to find Michelle and Melissa," Meredith explained. "We went to get ice cream and they said they wanted to go visit Louise for a few minutes. They haven't come back to the ice cream store, so we came to find them." The Johnson's house was only two blocks outside of downtown Westfield, so it wasn't far from the ice cream store.
"Here we are," Michelle said. They hadn't left yet, because they wanted to see what was going on too. Neither one of them believed Cassandra's theories, but they still wondered what it was.
"What time is it, anyway?" Megan asked.
"It's nine thirty," Mary said, looking at her Animaniacs watch.
"No, it's almost nine forty," Monica corrected, looking at her own watch.
"Mine says nine thirty," Michelle agreed with Mary.
"Well, mine says a minute 'till nine forty," Meredith said. "That's strange, we just set our watches a few days ago, all to the same clock, remember?"
They had, and they couldn't figure out why the clocks were now nine minutes apart.
Cassandra returned, and she had heard the end of their conversation about the time difference. "What's going on?" she asked.
Mary and Mindy explained what she had missed. Cassandra insisted on checking everyone's watches. Everyone who was wearing a watch and had been at Cassandra's house, including Michelle and Melissa, when the flash of light occured had 9:31 on their watches. Monica's, Meredith's, and Molly's watches all read 9:40. Megan didn't have a watch.
"You know what this means," Cassandra said.
Mary smiled. "Sounds like something off of the X-Files," she commented.
"Exactly!" Cassandra agreed. "That was a UFO! I have to see it." She waded under the bridge. To everyone's surprise, the large spherical object was no longer there!
"This is too weird," the kid-next-door said. "I'm going home." The kid-next-door left.
"See!" Cassandra said triumphantly, "I told you there were aliens around here! Besides myself, of course."
"Yeah, right," Molly said. "Come on, Cassandra. It's fun to pretend, but you don't really believe that, do you?"
"How do you explain the watches losing nine minutes, then?" Cassandra demanded.
"A freak coincidence," Molly said, "if that. Not everyone's watches would be set exactly the same."
"You just said you Septs all set your watches to the same clock just a few days ago," Cassandra's brother noted.
"Yeah, and even though there might be small differences, how do you explain that everyone who was here has a watch nine minutes slower than everyone who wasn't?" Cassandra asked.
"A coincidence," Molly said again.
"And what happened to that thing under the bridge?" Mindy asked.
"You were probably seeing things the first time you looked under there," Molly explained. "And about that thing with the watches, it's not the same thing that happened to Mary that day in French class. That time, only Mary seemed to have lost nine minutes...the clock jumped ahead. This time, the clock stopped. Does it jump ahead or does it stop when your 'aliens' come visit?"
"Huh?" Melissa said, confused.
"Molly's just talking in a confusing way because she's puzzled herself," Mary explained.
"But she's right about the clocks jumping ahead that time and stopping this time," Monica admitted.
"So what? The aliens don't necessarily use the same methods everytime. They don't always have to have the same effect," Cassandra explained.
"Well, there are flaws in both of your arguements," Meredith said. "We all know that Cassandra and Molly will never agree on anything like this. Come on, guys. It's late. We're going to be in trouble when we get back if we don't hurry."
"Bye!" everyone said to the Septs (except for Mary who was staying, of course) as they ran back to find Mr. and Mrs. Carlson at the ice cream store.
Mindy, Mary, and Cassandra went inside and, by Cassandra's request, watched her X-Files tapes.
No one ever did figure out exactly what had happened that night. Cassandra will always be convinced that they were visited by aliens that night. Molly will always be adamant that there was a scientific explanation, probably a coincidence. Mary and all the others were lost somewhere in between.
"Aliens Among Us" © 1997 by Jessie Mannisto.