The Myth of Anthony:
A Tale of Alien Abduction
Part 1: Chatting Over Thai
Tony and Leo were enjoying their usual lunch at their favorite Thai restaurant. As is their custom, they ate over a controversial topic of discussion. They have always enjoyed playing intellectual cat-and-mouse — it often sharpened their wits and clarified their thoughts.
“I’m a physicist, Leo. You actually believe there is a chance in hell I’d think lying to children about Santa is a good thing?”
“But you’re also a Batman fanatic. Think of Santa as having a secret identity.”
“Yes, but. . . .” Tony paused to eat another spoonful of green curry. “But Bruce Wayne doesn’t tell everyone that Batman is magical.”
“He doesn’t have to. People probably assume it. Besides, what is magic anyway?”
“Magic is a supernatural power used by people to control nature.”
“But it’s like Thor says, to superior beings magic and science are one and the same.”
“Except that magic is based on superstition and science is based on fact.”
“No, on presumed fact. By your logic, today’s scientists will also eventually be grouped with superstitious magicians.”
“Oh, really? They teach that in your literature classes, do they? Ok, humor me: why would people in the future consider our scientists magicians?”
“Old magicians thought they were dealing with facts too. They were only considered superstitious by people with more facts. Future people will have more facts than us, so they will eventually consider us backward and ignorant.” Leo reached past his plate for a greasy eggroll. “If not superstitious magicians. . . .”
“So you are convinced that telling kids that Santa exists is not a lie?”
“It’s not a lie. Not really. He exists in the only way that matters.”
“In what way?”
“In the same way that Batman exists. Would the people of Gotham City call Bruce Wayne a liar if he told them that he was Batman?”
“No, because it’s true. He is Batman.”
“And would they call him a liar if he told them that Batman exists?”
“No, because Batman exists in their world. If he didn’t, then who was saving the day?”
“And if Santa didn’t exist, who was giving kids presents?”
With a mouth full of rice, Tony raised his eyebrows and asked, with a muffled voice, “What?”
“You said that Santa doesn’t give kids presents because he is really their parents. I’m using your own argument against you. Batman doesn’t save the day because he is really Bruce Wayne. By your logic Batman doesn’t exist because someone else is bringing him to life, like a hand for a puppet.”
“As usual, another stimulating discussion. You never disappoint.” Tony wiped a corner of his mouth with his napkin.
“So you see my point?”
“I see that I might have to consider Batman a fictional character.”
“He is a fictional character.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, well. I’ve been thinking about stuff like that recently. I’ve been reconsidering my black-and-white view of reality.”
“That there could be unbelievable things in the world that are true. Paranormal phenomena and stuff.”
“Hah!” Tony smiled mischievously at his friend. “Those are just things I haven’t explained yet. Take my word for it: leprechauns don’t exist.”
Leo smiled back. “Oh, the humility of physicists. . . . Seriously though. These ancient scholars I’m studying were wiser than I gave them credit for. It’s puzzling that intelligent guys like that are so religious and believe in the supernatural stuff. They don’t strike me as gullible.”
“Why not? Their science was laughable.”
“Well, for one thing, their understanding of goodness and beauty is baffling. They’re more advanced than we give them credit for. They inspire me to be more open-minded about life.”
“Give me something I can take back to the lab, and I’ll be more open-minded too.”
“I’ve gotta get back. I have an essay due this week.”
“And I need to get back to my research.”
After leaving a few dollars on the table, Tony and Leo paid their bills and parted outside of the red, Buddha- and dragon-adorned restaurant.
Part 2: The Rendezvous
Later in the evening Leo was sitting at his desk in his dorm room finishing up his paper. It was due the following morning, so he had planned to stay up until it was done. Taking his hands off of the keyboard for a moment, he tried rubbing the fatigue out of his eyes. As he did so, something happened that caused him to jump in his seat: his phone blasted a tune so loudly that it was almost sacrilegious in the surrounding silence.
“Hello? . . . Tony? . . . Dude, it’s 3 a.m. . . . I’m serious. What time did you think it was? . . . Now? . . . Are you ok? You sound terrified. . . . Ok, ok. I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
Having arrived at their favorite all-night diner, Leo found Tony sitting in a red booth staring down at a steaming mug of coffee. He sat very still with both hands wrapped around his drink.
“Hey, what’s up?” Leo slid into the seat across from Tony.
Keeping his eyes on his mug, Tony replied, with a shaky voice, “have you ever had a moment of clarity that turned everything upside-down?”
“Yeah, I suppose so. At my grandma’s funeral. First accepting that I wouldn’t live forever was pretty traumatic. It was something I didn’t really think about before her death. Did something like that happen to you?”
“No. . . . More.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think I’m going crazy.”
“At the lab.” Tony looked up and fixed his eyes on Leo. “I was visited.”
“No. You don’t understand. I was visited.”
“You mean like aliens? Are you messing with me?”
Tony continued to look at Leo without a word.
“You’re kidding, right? I thought you don’t believe in that stuff.”
“I’m not talking about ghosts or leprechauns here. You know how I feel about fairy tales and lies. I’m not kidding.”
“You have your phone?”
“You’ve got to record what I tell you.”
Part 3: The Abduction and the Domed Room
“It’s strange, but I still see it clearly in my mind. I feel like I’m still up there. . . . Up where? I don’t know. At first I was in the lab. I was by myself. It must have been about 6 o’clock because it got dark outside. I didn’t have many lights on, so it was pretty dark inside too. And then it was suddenly bright as daylight. . . . What? . . . Yes, outside and inside. Everywhere.
“And I felt that someone was there with me. I couldn’t see who because my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the light. And I was afraid. It was a strange fear. Somehow I knew I wouldn’t get hurt. Still, I wanted to get away. It was really creepy.
“And then I started floating. And the light got brighter. I think I was outside somehow. It felt like I was going up for hours. And then I was in something. It took a while for me to adjust to the light.
“I was in a round room, like a planetarium. It was so bright. Strange colors were swimming along the walls. I had the impression that I was in a natural place. The smells, the colors, the soft floor — it was all organic. Damp. But the structures I saw didn’t look organic. The room was too perfectly round.
“At first I thought that the colors on the wall were moving randomly, but after staring at them for a while, I saw patterns. They were simple at first but started getting complex. If they started out complex when I first saw them, I wouldn’t have thought to look for a pattern. It would have looked random. And I swear, the colors on the walls were reacting to my thoughts. Every time I found a new pattern, they would get more complex. But now that I think of it, those complexities were there the whole time. Every new shape I found always led to another one. I thought the patterns would go on forever. But at the same time they were simple . . . and beautiful.
“And then I saw someone else. A few people, actually. Maybe they were there the whole time. I don’t know. I tried to speak to them but couldn’t. . . . . What? . . . No, it was quiet, I think. For some reason sound wouldn’t come out of my mouth. . . . No, wait. There was a sound. I think the sounds were related to the colors. Yes: I could hear the colors. The sounds . . . the music was so in sync with everything there, I didn’t really notice.
“Anyways, the other people kind of looked crazy. (I probably looked the same to them.) They were staring at everything, like I was. I could tell that they were freaked out. And then a few of them looked at something behind me. I turned. It was THEM. They were in the room with us.”
[Continued in “Dialogue With an Alien”]
© 2016, Daniel R. Asperheim
 Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh (Paramount Pictures, 2011).