Not ready, yet

I know you like to go by Charlie. My name is Charlie too. Not really, I hate my name. I think that Charlie sounds better. Better yet, call me Charles. That sounds more regal, something with respect. Somebody with respect.

I haven’t felt respect in a long while. Most people look at me with that “Oh, you’re that guy”-look. It doesn’t help that my picture floated around surrounded with phrases that started out fine: “Missing Man, Have You Seen Me?, He is Found!” They later changed to the more absurd and tabloid: “UFO Abductee, Man Probed for Months, What Happens in Space Stays in Space.”

Why would any being with power great enough to travel through space, even time to a degree, stop by this blue ball to take a non-Charles and study him? Of all the pretty things floating around in that black void they chose me. The ultimate lottery, I guess.

A lot like you Charlie. You are such a lucky guy.

Everyone likes to call it a spaceship, UFO, or maybe starship. It seems so demeaning to call them a spaceship. They are more versatile than that. Of course, they can move around in space. They also carve through the air, float on water, sink to the deep, and plow through rock. It would be like only calling an egg breakfast. They are so much more than that.

I see that you are nodding in agreement. That’s good Charlie.

Science fiction likes to make them round, aerodynamic, and shiny. The funny thing is that the ship I was on, indeed was aerodynamic. Apparently, there was a good reason for it. Think icebreaker ship. Even though space is a black void, it is full of all kinds of detritus – dead planets broken into tiny shards zipping around. You want something to deflect all of that. In particularly messy areas, the deflected flotsam sounds like popcorn exploding in a hot-air popper.

You don’t have to cry Charlie. It really wasn’t all that scary up there.

People try to imagine the experience I had. Writers spin tales of alien technology. Until after my personal experience, I had no interest in their yarns. I only recently started reading them. What else could I do? I’m a non-Charles, remember.
Charlie, you are one of those educated types. You probably have read one of those Kurt Vonnegut books.
I don’t think he would mind me calling him KV. Honestly, I don’t know. I never met him. I’m going call him KV anyway. KV wrote something about aliens. He had these aliens that transcended time and space. He even bothered to name them. I don’t see the point to that or the book in fact. Probably, because I’m a non-Charles.

I spent months looking at their flat, expressionless faces. I think that they must have a training camp for that. I imagine it is like our attempts at understanding the expressions of a lion. Don’t smile, it might eat you. Conversations were limited. Sparse words for my ears that mostly were commands: sit, stand, turn, walk. If they had given me a cookie each time I complied, I would have thought that they were looking for a new pet. Instead, I got these tasteless pellets that filled me and made me sleepy. Even with the lackluster cuisine, the view was magnanimous, a recompense for the pellet food. If I were to become a painter, I would only paint on black canvas.

You shouldn’t try to shout with that in your mouth Charlie. It doesn’t look elegant. Hold still.

Each test they performed gauged some aspect of my being. At first I thought of myself as a captive. As time moved on, it became more like my life meaning. A chance to be something other than a non-Charles. I learned to maneuver within the cabin. Each section of the ship held various levels of gravity. Within some sections I had to be hauled out; I wasn’t strong enough to walk in them. As the tests drew to an end a thin hand touched mine. “Not ready, yet.” It would say. After being on the ship and moving through the galaxy, I wasn’t Charles enough for them either, I suppose. It was obvious that I was in the right place at the wrong time.

You might be thinking something like that now, Charlie. You find yourself laying there in that damp hole, with the earth packing on top of you. The thought is bound to be crossing your mind.

“Not ready, yet.”

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