There's three things that I keep an eye out for at all times. First, bigfoot. Not because I want to see bigfoot, but because bigfoot has a peculiar propensity to make photographs blurry and out-of-focus. So, as a woodlands photographer, I need to be bigfoot-wary. Two: The Pearl River Monster. It totally exists. I don't care if you are some biologist with perfectly reasonable claims, I am going to shout "giant catfish in the reservoir," point suggestively to things that don't really have anything to do with my cause, and call it a day.
Third: Aliens. Aliens are actually top of the list. It's an inverted list. Take that, Cracked.com. But sure. Aliens. I always figure aliens would be bright enough to not be spotted, because they're bright enough not to visit. They surely already picked up all the interesting life on earth (the bacteria) that they needed, and left before we got thumbs and developed the murder-cortex and virtual reality murder.
So when someone mentioned how distracted we were, I paid attention. I went out and investigated while the entire state was locked behind closed doors to observe a sportsball ritual.
Why? This is why...
It would be perfect. TOO perfect. I knew that things that are too perfect are rarely going to happen, so aliens would therefore not be visiting some ideally remote location, like New Mexico or the suburbs, but rather, something less ideal.
The fairgrounds. Blending in with the fairgoers would be easy enough, and the lights and sounds could cover the screams of the probed and the brilliant exhaust of their anti-gravity photon-rocketry.
So I emerged from the swamp like some slightly shaved bigfoot, and began my distant reconnaissance of the situation.
Giant mechanical cranes, no doubt for plucking victims from the midway, towered over the scene, dominated the view of the illuminated control tower. The inside of the state capitol building was already aglow in an alien green. A massive blue wheel hypnotized the crowd as the floating orange spheroid vessels sent down orange beams of light, vaporizing some nascent rebellion.
Blinking red lights indicated the dominance of the alien machines. The age of humanity, I saw, was already over, cars screeching to a halt on the interstate in apocalyptic gridlock. In the middle of this extraterrestrial expanse stood a glowing yellow model of the infamous alien "probe," here taunting the species that they had so long studied.
I trudged towards the scene of our new overlords, in some dread hope of understanding. The chaotic lights and sounds of the midway masked odd odoriferous excretions, foreign and heavy, grease-laden with hints of massed biological functions crowded into some human-processing mockery of a livestock chute built by alien hands.
The lights flashed on and off, the cars were empty and still, rolling metal indicated rides left vacant but running. Were all the fairgoers indoors watching football, as oil-smeared wrappers blew across the asphalt? Or had alien beings breached the laws of physics in order to travel here, to conquer our world and our species?
Only one of these things could be true. And if the Discovery and History channels have taught me anything, it is that no matter how likely the other option may be - go for the alien one.
Finally, carousing down the midway as though he worked there, came an alien. Sure, he was dressed in the skin-suit of a human, a man, supposedly, in charge of "running a ride," but the outfit - the disguise - was all wrong. The skin did not fit right, the mouth was not what I would expect, the skin was too oily. Corpulent nodules of gelid fat seemed to move under the rough skin, their errands unimaginable to the sane mind, as no one questions the intentions of corpuscles, even when they should.
Corn turned lazily over charcoal nearby, untended, green husks splitting black as oil sizzled onto the coals.
"Where is everyone? Nice day for the fair? Be cool! Don't be a whistlin' gopher, put some ice in the kitty." He said, jumbling human linguistic notions into a tortured pile of pickled punks.
"Football." I said. I moved to take a picture, but the once-full battery had drained. I replaced it, and everything was out of focus, indiscriminate blurs.
"Football? That some six cat with high odds?" The man looked at me with eyes that seemed as though they might fall out at any point.
"Yeah, but they kick it for billions of dollars." I said. I took a deep breath. What I was about to do would be the most difficult thing I had ever done, and my life is full of difficulties and triumphs so absurd and seemingly impossible that few people would even imagine such things, let alone attempt them.
"If I explain football to you, alien showman, will you tell me why my camera isn't working?"
He nodded, vertebra extending through neck-hair that was not there a moment ago. Speed-freak eyes followed my move, and the two of us were sweating so much that you would not have known it to be a cool and pleasant evening.
"In football, people pay billionaires billions of dollars so that they can pay people millions of dollars, or just thousands of dollars, to injure each other for the amusement of fans. That's just the distraction, though. The real game is for the billionaires to see how much money they can get out of colleges, tax payers, and municipalities. The team that takes the most money is the Super Bowl, and then all the people who aren't millionaires get ripped off, the millionaires get brain damage, and the billionaires get billions."
"So it's a three card monty." The showman said, face shifting like a corndog in the deep fat frier.
"Yeah, but with more lawyers for the carnies. Now, why doesn't my goddamn camera work?"
He pointed to a tent. "LIVE BIGFOOT FAMILY!" It said. The canvas rippled, an interior roar that reminded me my time here should be growing shorter by the second.
I headed east, to the river, leaping fence and passing under the clotted interstate highway. Back to the swamp, back to the dark.
When my camera began to work again, I was able to get one last picture, as the aliens engaged their giant Death-Eye....