Full Contact

Full Contact

A Story by Joℏn / Jack / Turtle / Kurmasana
"

12/28/2012 - short story, science fiction, about a masseuse recruited to help communicate with alien that communicate through body language. For an SDMB contest.

"

note: this was written by me for a SDMB short story contest, with the following parameters to ensure spontaneity:
1) be under 2000 words (I’ve included the slightly longer version here)
2) be completed in 60 hours
3) include the terms Spiral, Assuring, Ungainly
4) incorporate the following image: http://kavpolit.livejournal.com/196110.html


Full Contact I was halfway through my bodywork session with Sasha when the knock came. "I'm sorry, my friend, I'm afraid I may have lured you here under false pretenses," Sasha said, as always, eye-rollingly fond of speaking in old movie clichés. I opened the door to find myself staring back at a small group of sharply dressed men in black suits with sunglasses, earpieces, and deadly serious expressions. Sasha had always been somewhat of a b�"

But lest you get the impression that I was half naked getting an intimate massage from some voluptuous Russian model, in truth I had been giving the massage, and Sasha was half naked. Russian yes, but no model, Sasha Radinsky was a bald, crinkly old man with no body tone and an assortment of questionable tattoos.

Despite being a mature mid 30s man myself, I had never been able to completely subdue my inner teenager from giggling over what I thought of as a woman's name, but which was a fairly common name for Russian men, being applied to this cantankerous old fart.

It didn't help that a few years back I had invited him to a party at my brother's house, where Sasha proceeded to get under my brother's skin so much that he had made a comment to him, something along the lines of his personality closely resembling that my brother's ill-behaved mangy adopted stray dog.

My brother had been rewarded with a sucker punch and a chipped eye socket for his efforts. But the dog had gotten renamed after Sasha, and every time I heard his name I had to compose myself to not crack a grin thinking about the accuracy of my brother's comments. Yes, Sasha had always been somewhat of a b*****d. And sometimes, like his namesake, he could be a real b***h.

So, no more party invites. But I still saw him for private sessions. I had several personal projects I was trying to finance and the money was too damn good to give up. A few years before I met Sasha, I had done some consulting work for an experimental military project intended to research whether alternative forms of physical and mental training such as meditation and yoga would be of any benefit to troops or Special Forces. Although the project had good results, it was still rejected as being outside the entrenched mindset of those in command.

Still, it had afforded me the bonus of a security clearance that now allowed me to make top dollar as a masseuse and bodywork instructor for various higher ups in the Capitol, including Sasha, though exactly what position he held or what department he actually worked for had remained a mystery to me. And business had recently started to take a sharp upswing due to all the stress the policy makers were encountering after the poofs invaded DC.

Again, not to give the wrong impression, there was no sudden influx of strapping young men with a predilection for one another cramming the busses to Washington for some rally, march, or fabulous party. Indeed, that might have afforded me to opportunity to reverse the tide of my currently dusty social calendar. No, these poofs were extraterrestrials.

Poofs, so called because the top of their heads resembled a sort of round, white, wrinkled puff ball. Poofs, poof balls, puff heads, and the like were not the end to the wide assortment of colloquial terms they had collected among our population after their arrival was announced and the slow snippets of information about their appearance and mission were revealed to the public. Squids, squid heads, Wilsons, volleyballs, squints, squibs, coat hangers, coat racks, squealers, clickers, were other colorful names they had picked up. I won't even get into the origin behind "goukan" and the like. There was a brief "Ood" trend too, before all the threatened litigation took the sails out of that notion.

First contact is a funny thing. What should feel like some grand majestic event ends up in reality being Junior High school all over again.

Of course the name they had for themselves wasn't pronounceable, because they didn't communicate through spoken language for the most part. They superficially resembled in part large squids or octopods, and lived predominantly in tidal pools, seldom straying too far into or out of the water. Under water they interacted through electrical signals, signing, and touch. Out of water, they also used a series of slurps, squeals, and clicks.

So we had no usable proper noun, and I'm sure simply translating would have resulted in something equally fruitless like "us" or "people". Their original welcome message and first series of back and forth transmissions had been through a series of makeshift pictographs, so someone on the first contact team had deemed to call them the Kanji, after the series of Japanese logographic characters which their pictograms vaguely resembled.

Sasha sat up, told the men to wait outside, and put on his shirt while I closed the door. "Michael, I have a proposal for you. It's the real reason I called you here, but since you may be going away for a while, I just couldn't resist getting in one last massage. You are, after all, the only one who could ever loosen up that shoulder knot. His usual mischievous grin had transformed itself into what I assume was his honest attempt at a genuine disarming smile, and which I had no doubt he was completely unaware that it had been remarkably unsuccessful in settling my nerves.

"I'll keep it short. The poof, er, Kanji negotiations have come to a crucial point, and we are in need of a special sort of... diplomatic team, and I want you to be part of it."

"Me?" My mind raced. "I'm not exactly qualified for that sort of thing."

"Nonsense. I don't know how much you've been following what information has leaked to the public so far, but our friends have various complicated ways of communicating to each other, prime of which involves forms of bodily motions and also touch. Both sides are frustrated with the slow progress involved in the ad hoc symbolic back and forth, and are on board for full contact. And they also have expressed a strong desire for a more formal, and excuse the expression, hands on partnership."

"So you want me to play "miracle worker" to a group of Helen Keller ETs?"

Sasha lapsed back into his mischievous grin. "Nicely put. I see I've had a good influence on you. But I'll need your answer pretty much right now. Either way, of course, you'll be sworn to secrecy. I know I can trust you, so I've taken the liberty of not making you sign the non-disclosure form in advance. What do you say?"

I suppose I should have felt put on the spot, to say the least. And I should be asking all sorts of questions and getting various assurances before agreeing to something so crazy. But the truth was I didn't exactly have any important personal obligations to attend to, and compared to the various projects I had been saving up to finance, well, they just didn't compare to this opportunity. Not even close. Still, something inside niggled.

"What's the catch?"

"No catch. Secrecy, time commitment. The pay is ridiculous. In the good way. Anything you need taken care of, done. You'll get one phone call each to anyone you wish to inform of your impending absence. We'll arrange to take care of your house and your possessions, birthday and holiday gifts for your family, lavish accommodations for any pets you may have, anything you need."

I still didn't trust him. Sasha was never fully forthcoming, and with Sasha, there was always a catch. But, still.

"I'm in."

...

Like I said, first contact is a funny thing. It only dawned on me after meeting the Kanji that I had never actually seen any photos or videos of them. The only images that had been released were artist’s impressions, as though the aliens had been witnesses in a trial and the judge had ordered no photography allowed inside the proceedings.

So the impression I had of them in my head was the same sort of airbrushed idealized notion gets of something when reading a novel and having only a tiny bit of cover art to fuel one’s imagination. Anything potentially unsightly or awkward gets smoothed over in the mind.

Reality, on the other hand, was one damn uncanny valley after another. First of all was the discrepancy between the illustrations and their actual appearance. Not that the drawings were wrong, they were just comparatively stylized. Seeing the Kanji for the first time was sort of like viewing amateur’s attempts at creating photorealistic CGI versions of cartoon characters.

Secondly were the things illustrations can’t even hope to portray. The smells, for one. They weren’t necessarily bad, just new, unusual, strong, and not something conveyed in a picture. But mostly it was their sadly hilarious attempt at mimicking human formality.

They had somehow gotten it into their puffy heads to make some sort of attempt at looking like our higher ranking military personnel. Which I guess to them meant a vaguely humanoid shape, and a stiff frame, neither of which they naturally had.

They had rigged up what essentially was a rolling clothes rack over which was draped a rigid approximation of a one piece uniform, which a hole at the top for their heads to fit through. The wheels were of the sort you get on supermarket carts, and they were only able to move by pushing against the floor inside the uniform with one of their longer dangling tentacles, so their motions were a ridiculous ungainly lurching mess.

Rather than the stately intent, they came across simultaneously starchy, rigid, and oozy, like a salty sailor.

Their attempt at a “national anthem” reminded me eerily of dubstep.

And as I suspected, there were catches. The first was the fiercely competitive nature of the mission. Though we had been brought to the facility as a “team” the aliens were looking for primary diplomatic representative, and all of our training was for the purpose of them deciding who would be the best match.

And there were whispers and rumors of something, but I could never quite get a handle on what it was. Whenever one of the team members started acting like they were catching on to something, they mysteriously dropped out of the program soon after, before I could try and talk to them in what little private moments we were able to steal.

I found myself ignoring those thoughts, however, and concentrating on the mission. The training truly was fascinating, and I found myself wanting to be chosen. I had spent months in one of their makeshift tidal pools mimicking their fluid motions, learning to communicate with them, and doing my best to perform with my comparatively awkward limbs the nuances of their beautiful spiraling tentacle dances.

Finally, I was chosen. Tentatively, as were still looking for a final test of compatibility, both in spirit, and also in form. The test was twofold �" and each component was equally important. The first was the ritualized ceremony, which would indoctrinate me into their ranks, provided I could respectfully and genuinely complete it to their satisfaction.

The second was that, as I mentioned, they had a more deeply involved variety of communications that just their motions. They had allowed that I wouldn’t be able to replicate their squeals and clicks but those were minor anyway. Their most direct, personal, meaningful, and intimate way of interacting were through slight electrical signals transmitted through the skin. With practice (and I had had just enough practice, sometimes with the aid of certain pharmaceuticals, to be confident I could go through with the ceremony), one could enter a shared imaginative mind space.

I won’t bother with the details of the ceremony, which would be cheapened by a mere verbal description, or of the incredible mindscape I entered, the nature of which couldn’t be portrayed in all its wonder and beauty. I’ll get right to the final catch.

I should have known. With Sasha, there was always a catch.

After the ceremony was completed to their satisfaction, during the human part of the celebrations, Sasha took me aside and revealed to me the true nature of the ceremony. It wasn’t enough for the Kanji to have simply a diplomat. For them to feel truly comfortable and trust me completely, I had to be one of their own. And that meant far more than just learning their language and being named an honorary member of their people. I had to be married to one of their own. I had, unknowingly, been hitched to an alien.

Sasha had always been a bit of a b*****d.

But as it turned out, this arranged marriage of convenience would end up being an adventure that was more rewarding than any marriage I might have imagined for myself.  🐢

© 2017 Joℏn / Jack / Turtle / Kurmasana


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Added on August 25, 2017
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Tags: story, fiction, scifi, science fiction, short story, lgbt, first contact

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Joℏn / Jack / Turtle / Kurmasana
Joℏn / Jack / Turtle / Kurmasana

Port Jefferson Station, NY



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