An SOS to Outer Space

“Pass the joint, yo,” said Facundo.

Andrés took a long drag and passed it along. He sat back on the grass and stared at the darkening sky over Buenos Aires. It had been a good day. The friends were relaxing next to the pond across the Planetario after a protest march. They weren’t exactly sure what they were protesting against. Something to do with government policies. They simply followed the leaders of their political party and showed up and threw rocks and sticks at the police. Being a political activist can be so much fun.

Mariano, the third friend, started coughing again and spewing phlegm.

“Dude, you gotta do something about that. It’s driving me nuts,” Andrés said.

“Do you think there’s life on other planets?” Facundo pondered. “Like countries and cities and spaceships and shit.”

“Bro, are you stoned already?” Mariano handed out beers to his friends and took a long pull on his. His throat was still sore. Beer cures everything.

“No, hear me out. What if there is life on, I dunno, Mars and we could make contact?”

“What for?” Andrés snatched the butt of the joint and tried to suck the last of the good stuff. He threw what was left on the water and was entranced by the ripples.

“I say we try to contact aliens. Ask them to come here and abduct the president.”

“Facundo, are you insane?” More beer for Andrés.

Facundo didn’t reply. He cocked his head, deep in weed-induced thought. The group fell silent. The only sounds were the distant traffic, the pulling of ring pulls and the fizz of the beer, and whistling and trilling of birds. He opened his mouth a couple of times as if to speak, but nothing came out. His friends got bored and lay on the soft grass.

“Look, I remember going on a field trip to the Planetarium with my fifth-grade teacher,” Facundo sat up. He looked animated. “It was all about planets and shit. They had this dome thing where you could see the Universe, you know what I mean? The fucking Universe!” Now he had his friends’ full, if hazy, attention. “There’s gotta be something in there,” he said pointing at the Planetarium at the other side of the pond, “that we can use to send a message to Outer Space.”

Mariano was about to say something, but a coughing fit stopped him.

“Jeez, Mariano, do something about that cough!”

Mariano took a sip of lukewarm beer from a random can and cleared his throat. “If what you say is true, we can cut a deal with aliens. They kill the president; our party leader takes his place and we take all the credit.” He envisioned himself riding in an official car towards the presidential palace, waving to a throng of adoring well-wishers.

“Yeah! We need to find a way to get to the dome thing,” Andrés agreed.

“I got this. It’s already dark, and the Planetarium should be closed to visitors. I say we go and break in,” Facundo said.

“How are we going to do that?” Andrés wanted to know.

Facundo rifled his satchel and with a triumphant flourish produced a set of lock picks.

“Follow me.” They walked around the pond in silence towards the Planetarium, a round starship lookalike about to take off. They made sure no one was about and Facundo set out to pick the lock of the exterior fence. It took him longer than usual, what with the booze and the weed. Andrés used the flashlight setting on his phone to light Facundo’s handiwork.

Mariano stifled a cough. His friends were frozen to the ground. Had a security guard heard it? It was all quiet. He put his hand in his pockets for something to do. He found a blister pack of lozenges. What an idiot! He took one. He decided to take another lozenge for good measure.

They crossed the lawn to the main entrance. So far, it had been almost easy to break in. Facundo had the lockpicks at the ready but let Andrés go first to look out for security guards. Andrés signaled the all clear. Facundo started on the main door’s lock. All three were tense, sweat trickling down their faces even though it was a mild spring evening.

A light came on inside. A siren wailed in the distance.

“Fucking run!” Facundo yelled as he scrambled towards the open gate. Andrés followed closely.

“Wait! Where’s Mariano?” they looked towards the main entrance. There he was, kneeling on the floor, coughing and fighting to breathe at the same time. He had choked on the throat lozenges. A security guard was smacking him on the back, trying to help.

They stood there, dazzled by the strobing blue and white lights. Arms raised, they knew resisting was not an option.

Written for the Yeah Write Superchallenge #8

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