Saturday, November 15, 2014

champion of the world

by f flynn

illustrated by roy dismas

the alien ship landed in pakistan, in a valley a few hundred miles south of islamabad.

the aliens took their time about emerging from the ship after landing.

but before a decision on whether to attack the ship, and with what, could be reached by such authorities as there were in the world to decide such things, an alien finally came forth and read a statement, simultaneously in the one hundred and twenty-three most widely used languages in the world.

the "alien" looked human, which later gave rise to speculation, which could never be proven or disproven, that they had spent their time in the ship adjusting the messenger's outward appearance to earthling's expectations.

the alien took the form of a human female about thirty years old, with copper colored skin, long blonde hair, and wearing what looked like a salvation army uniform from the 1970's.

the first question asked the alien, by ms nelly chan of the world news bureau, was whether they had come in peace.

the alien responded that they had come in neither peace nor war, but in a spirit of honest sportsmanship.

the alien then explained their agenda.

they would make a list of all the humans on earth.

in response from a question from ms irina dalton of the economist, the alien said that they could do this on their own, and did not need any help, thank you very much.

once the list had been compiled, one name would be chosen randomly and that person would be the earth’s champion.

a battle, or contest, would take place between the earth champion and a champion from the alien ship. it would, of course, be televised world wide.

if the alien won, the human race would be loaded on to the ship - in response to a question from al jaspers of wolf news, the alien laughingly assured the reporters that they had their ways and that space on the ship presented no problem - and the humans would then be taken away as slaves to a distant universe.

but if the human won, the aliens would simply get back in the ship and never return.

and if the humans refused this scenario, earth would, of course, be blown to bits.

although there was some dissatisfaction expressed, especially by wolf news and other patriotic united states media, the alien offer was accepted on behalf of the human race by the secretary general of the united nations.

the humans were counted by the aliens in a matter of minutes.

the lottery was scheduled for noon the next day, tokyo time, and the fight at noon the day after that, to give humans time to make arrangements to be in front of their televisions for the climactic event.

the “winner” of the lottery was dmitri merezhkovski, a young man of mixed russian and lithuanian ancestry living in minsk, and working as a janitor in the headquarters of a financial consulting firm.

dmitri was nineteen years old and had led an uneventful life.

dmitri had secret dreams of living in “the old days” where he would live on a little farm of his own with a faithful “little girl to call his own” and six or seven children who would look after him in his old age.

he never confessed these fantasies to anyone, and lived the life of a young man of his time and place and class, with sufficient quantities of beer, pizza, porno and video games to get through the days and nights.

dmitri expected to be chosen in the lottery and was not surprised when he was. later, a survey would be taken that professed to show that approximately 73% of the human race expected to be the chosen one.

before his status as champion was announced, the aliens came and notified dmitri that he had been selected and escorted him to easter island, where the contest was to take place.

the aliens politely declined to answer any of dmitri’s questions as to the exact nature of the contest, but they did treat him to an excellent meal of macaroni and cheese and coors light beer, with a big piece of chocolate cake for dessert.

the contest took place in a standard size boxing ring. dmitri asked what he should wear and was told he could wear anything he wanted so he wore his usual attire of jeans, a dallas cowboys t-shirt, and nikes.

he was not given boxing gloves or any kind of weapon, but was told to stand in one corner of the ring.

a single television camera overlooked the boxing ring.

suddenly the alien champion appeared in the center of the ring. it did not take human form. it looked like a small blue pumpkin.

dmitri was told to engage with it. he walked to the center of the ring, and after a slight hesitation, stepped on the pumpkin-like object.

it squished.

that was it. the fight was over. dmitri had won.

he was asked if he would like to be taken to hong kong or to san francisco and he chose san francisco.

a helicopter took him to alcatraz and a few minutes later, the alien ship, as promised, went back to wherever it had come from.

dmitri was hailed in the world media as a hero. he had received no payment for his effort from either the aliens or the united nations or any other official human agency, but for several weeks he was housed and well fed by the various media entities interviewing him.

he signed a book deal (which later fell through).

he was approached by women, though not nearly as many, or as wealthy and beautiful, as he had thought he might.

interest in dmitri quickly faded. it was apparent that he did not have star power, or any aptitude for banter or sound bites.

he was kind of boring. one helpful young woman from wolf news also explained to him that he did not have a “cool name”, one that was euphonious or easily remembered, and that this was a serious obstacle to enduring fame.

but worse was to come. after the initial excitement of the match with the alien, a growing skepticism about the whole affair became widespread, especially among young people and the most avid consumers of media products.

later, an industry of books and movies debunking and questioning the fight developed. the "official" account of the fight was at least as widely disbelieved as those of the moon landing or the collapse of the twin towers, though not as much as that of the assassination of jfk.

the whole thing was obviously staged. although how, and by whom, or for what purpose, was never agreed on by the skeptics, these considerations only added to the passion and acrimony of the discussions.

among other things, was it not a coincidence that a fairly strong young man, and a white man at that, not an infant or an octogenarian person in a nursing home, was selected?

the “sheeple” who believed the media account responded that almost anyone, even a child or senile person, could have stepped on the blue pumpkin.

this only underlined another problem - that dmitri’s victory was, after the initial euphoria, perceived as too easy. also, he had no back story of heroic preparation or overcoming of long odds.

with all those things working against him, dmitri’s day in the sun quickly faded.

other more interesting events, particularly the deliberate or accidental appearances of female media personalities in stages of undress, took precedence in the news.

with the money he had left over from the book deal, dmitri took a bus to las vegas.

he lost the rest of his money almost immediately, but found vegas in some ways a friendlier place than most of the united states . it was filled with “regular folks” on vacation , and even when his fame had almost completely faded, many of them were happy to treat him to drinks and cheeseburgers to hear his oft-told tale.

dmitri grew homesick and a bit despondent.

after a small piece about him appeared in a local vegas newspaper, a kindly billionaire bought him a plane ticket back to minsk.

he had been replaced at his old job, but found work as a delivery person at a pizzeria where he had worked part time when still in school.


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