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Maybe Next Time

Hargreaves hails from a small town at the edge of the northern Appalachians and believes that any alien life-forms that might exist are probably smart enough to actively avoid planet Earth. (For the time being, at least.)
It's late at night and the coffee is gone. Rubbing an eye, I peer at the clock and then Mount Hayden, framed by the open window. The frogs are loud, so loud in this damned heat, but the mountain doesn't mind. It snores contently--no wait, that's my husband; the mountain squats quietly over the indigo horizon.
There's violence everywhere--the news is on, but then a ghastly green light splashes over Mount Hayden. Through the window with a craned neck, what I see can't be what I really see.
But it is.
"No civilization here!" I call out from below. "But feel free to try again in about a hundred years!"
Slowly, the green light fades and I turn back to the television. Over the gentle, habitual flick of my lighter, the plastic-faced anchor assures me that this time the cease-fire will last.
But most of us know that it won't.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, September 21st, 2017


"Maybe Next Time" was actually an experimental poem in its first draft; banged out flat in a high-caffeine state at 2 am, when I realized that I'd never attempted poetry with a sci-fi backbone (which, at the time, had seemed like some kind of unforgivable oversight).

After a 12-month vacation in shelf city, the piece was rewritten as a micro story. The setting's based on a local mountain that's well-known for its superstitions and sightings, with the name altered to prevent the story from being mistaken as a real account (although I'd hope the "fiction" label would have given most folks a heads-up on that one).

- E.O. Hargreaves

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