When I woke, a strange man looked down at me. I saw his lips move, but couldn’t quite make out what he was saying. The whole world was a blur.
“Are you all right?” the man asked, his words muffled as if my head was made of sponge cake.
“Where am I?” was the only response I could muster.
“You’re in Five Points Park,” the man said. “You passed out. Are you okay?”
“Where did they go?” I asked.
“Where did who go?” replied the man.
“The aliens.” I wasn’t fully in control of the words that came out of my mouth, and wasn’t even fully aware that I was talking out loud. The words sort of crept past my lips as thoughts that saw nothing in the crevices of my mind and were peeking outward for some tangible sign of knowledge.
“Aliens?” the man said. “You must have bumped your head. I’m going to call 911.”
I sat up with the help of the bench and looked around. The rest of the park was as I left it. People walked to and fro. Some looked at me with vague interest. Most passed by with their attention focused on their cell phones or future footfalls.
“What’s your name?” the man asked.
“Steve. Steve McAllister.”
“Steve, my name is David,” the man said. “Perhaps you should lie down until help arrives.”
I pulled myself up onto the bench and looked around. There was no sight of the aliens anywhere. Had I imagined them? Was I having some sort of psychotic break?
I noticed David dial a number on his cell phone and asked him to stop.
“I’m all right, really. I’ve just got low blood sugar or something.”
David put his cell phone in his pocket. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
“Well then let me get you something to eat. I don’t want you walking away from here and collapsing again.”
“No, really, I’ll be fine.”
“Sorry, I don’t take no for an answer. As soon as you’re ready to walk…”
Still without enough energy to say “no” I rose to my feet and accompanied David out of the park. He walked with the help of a gnarled wooden cane, though with his spry gait it seemed more of a stylish accoutrement than ambulatory aid. I couldn’t recall ever having met him before, but there was something familiar about David. The thick shock of gray hair belied the youth in his deeply tanned face. Though I placed him in his early fifties, the silver crest added another ten years.
I scanned the area as we walked, looking for some sign of the aliens. Had I imagined the whole thing? And if so, how did I wind up unconscious in the grass?
“You sure you’re doing okay?” David asked. “I could call an ambulance or something.”
“No. I’m alright. Thanks.” I wasn’t looking forward to explaining that I had been abducted by aliens and subjected to an Estralarian mind meld to anyone in a uniform for fear of being Baker Acted and having to spend three days experimenting with antipsychotics.
“What kind of work do you do, Steve?”
“Apparently, I’m a writer,” I muttered.
“What are you writing?” he asked.
“Well, I’ve recently been thinking about writing a book about marketing.”
“I don’t know. Just something that’s been suggested to me lately. What do you do?”
“I’m a business consultant.”
“Really? What does that involve?” I asked.
“Basically, businesses call me in to take inventory of their operation and help them to perform more efficiently.”
“And that allows you to hang out in the park in the middle of the day?”
“Well, you’ve got to find a balance. I make sure to take some time every day to relax and clear my head.”
“Balance, huh?” I looked around again, half expecting the aliens to be peeking around a corner and laughing at me. “Do you mind if I pick your brain a little?”
“Not at all. You sure you can handle it?”
“I’ll try to warn you if I feel like I’m about to fall out again.”
This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Come back weekly for the next part or order your copy in ebook or paperback today!