Sorry Earthling, We Won’t Serve You
“The wormholes can be a bit tricky.”
“How so?” asked Samantha.
“Traveling through time and space at high speed, even with biological upgrades it can be nauseating.”
“We ask that you don’t ‘open the floodgates’ as your people say, right away. All the galactic worlds are close to reaching their population limits, and an influx of newcomers may cause some issues.”
“Will the population be made aware of humanity’s entrance into the galactic alliance?”
“Oh yes. Most will have downloaded Earth’s history by now.”
Sam tried to take this conversation seriously, but the fact that she was sitting across from a giant purple alien with scales and tails and many eyes made it hard. The alien, named Iglach, had placed a small chip on the table in front of them, the galactic encyclopedia. She wondered if Iglach’s species were the ugliest she would see in the chip.
“The standard recommendation is to have an entrance group visit each planet before the greater population explores. They will be the ambassadors of humanity. They can meet with the leaders of each world, which I can arrange.”
“Thank you. I will brief our world government immediately.”
“I must be going now. It’s lovely what you humans have done with the red planet. The Martians will be pleased. Or so I hope.”
“That they do. Joined us billions of years ago after their planet’s water dried out. Good day, Earthling.”
The alien stood and his body jiggled with the movement. He smiled, three blue tongues jabbing out in unison. He pulled a small device from a flab in his belly, gleaming silver in the light, and pressed a button. Sam had seen the disappearing act multiple times now, but never ceased to be amazed. And disgusted. Every time the alien vanished into the void, it left behind some purple slime.
As Jack packed his few important belongings into a knapsack, he mumbled obscenities at the world government.
“Six months my ass.”
He knew what leadership wanted. The wealth. The connections. The power. No way was he going to sit behind and wait on his haunches. There were freaking wormholes ready for the taking, and he was not going to sit around when adventure was in the air. The small silver device sat on the desk, ominous but enchanting. Working for the government was never something he wanted to do, he hated bureaucracy, but everything was worth it since now he was able to swipe one of the metallic wormhole devices from Sam’s desk. He was sure the official ambassadors were now having a blast on some alien planet, drinking with the Wookiees.
Jack wasn’t going to wait months before he could go. In a recent meeting, Samantha said that the first humans to arrive on the planets were welcomed with open arms. It was peaceful civilization, she said. That was swell, he thought, but down the line he did hope to encounter some danger. Indiana Jones meets Hans Solo. That’s what he wanted.
“Alright. Space, here I come.”
With the bag hooked over one shoulder, Jack pressed the button. Nothing happened at first. After a moment, he felt a twinge in his heart, and his pulse accelerated. He felt like his organs were dancing around his inside. It was a ballet of movement that knocked him to the floor. Darkness descended and it felt like his limbs were being ripped off at once. The pain was intolerable, he’d have preferred an eternity in hell. The smell was pleasant though. The ringing in his ears was not.
Jack opened his eyes. A burning orange forced tears, and as his vision cleared he could make out two burning suns in the sky. He stood, the pain a distant but resonant memory like first love. The suns made mirrors of the magnificent glass city around him. An abundance of exotic aliens dabbled here and there, acting as if he didn’t just pop into existence out of nowhere. He had downloaded the galactic encyclopedia, so he recognized many of the alien forms instantly. Here was the dog-looking robot, over there the ten foot tall monster-thing. Jack was slightly afraid of it, but the immensity of the individual was countered by his knowledge that it was one of the nicest species in the galaxy. He wanted to say hello, but some primitive part of his nature repulsed at the thought.
A sign caught his attention, and Jack walked toward it, waving here and there at different aliens as he went by. Despite his friendliness, he felt like the only man with sight in a sea of blindness. No one acknowledged him as he went. Jack sighed with relief when he got to the sign. It was a small representation of Mars. When humanity downloaded the galactic encyclopedia, one of the first things everyone latched onto was the fact Martians were real. Of the millions of species in the galaxy, they were probably the ones who would most relate to humanity. We do share a sun, he thought. Coincidentally, he now found himself at the Big Red Brewery. A human walks into a bar.
If Clint Eastwood followed him inside guns blazing, Jack wouldn’t have batted an eye. The vibe was lifted straight out of an old western, dust glittering on the wood plank floors. The other patrons were seated at tables along the wall, huddled in conversation. He made his way to the front bar and sat down on a rickety stool, the smell of nuts and beer a perfect nostalgic drug to his senses. The bartender resembled a human, but had dark skin with a red glint, an extra nostril, wide mouth, and wider eyes. She looked at him and then walked down to the end of the bar to serve another customer. Jack thought, okay. I just sat down. I’m sure the other guy ordered first. After serving the drink, she stayed down there, their conversation light but drifting in his direction. Must be an old friend. If I want to make friends here I can’t make a scene. No scenes Jack.
Ten minutes later, he did his best impersonation of politeness.
“Excuse me. May I order a beer?”
She looked at him from down the bar, then turned away. Mumbled something to the guy she was speaking with, who resembled her but was a darker shade of red. When she came over, her stare was direct and penetrating.
“Hi there. I’m new in town. Are you a Martian?”
“Oh, cool. I’m a human. Or, ah, Earthling.”
“We’re like neighbors.” Jack tried a light laugh but she did not catch it.
When she didn’t respond, Jack spoke up again, doubt in his voice. “Ah, yeah. Well, could I have a beer please?”
“We don’t serve Earthlings here.”
The meaning of the words escaped him at first. She began to walk away but he raised his voice slightly to keep her in the conversation.
“I said we do not serve Earthlings. Good day.”
Pride began bubbling in his chest.
“And why is that?”
“Read the galactic constitution.”
The man at the end of the bar snickered, a high screeching sound that encapsulated the smell of bitter something.
“I have it all downloaded. Which law do you speak of?”
She put her hands on the bar and leaned forward. Her breath also had the smell, something he never encountered before, but it resembled the stench of his family’s farm, when it burned to the ground.
Jack zoomed in on the library of information in his head. He found the law.
“This is nonsensical.”
“My religion holds that being an Earthling is a sin. If I endorse or interact with a sin, I then act sinfully. The galactic government gives me the right to deny you patronage since it would cause me to disobey my religion”
“What the fuck…”
The male Martian came over and sat next to Jack.
“I think it’s time for you to go, Earthling.”
“This is bullshit. What fucking fuckery of a religion do you believe in.”
The male placed his hand on the nape of Jack’s neck.
“Leave. Your sinful ways are not welcome here.”
The man’s hand was firm. If he added any pressure, Jack was sure he could rip him to pieces. He got up, took one more look at the Martians and left. Once outside, he heard a resounding cheer.
So this word is filled with discriminating bigots. Okay. I’ll try somewhere else.
Somewhere else was four more planets. Jack was denied the right to buy a cup of water, a city-tour ticket, a hotel room, and a meal. All the establishment owners claimed a defense of their religious beliefs, that they couldn’t be burdened to break their sacred scripture.
He knew it was insane, and yet a feeling in his gut nagged at him during the whole trip. Traveling through the wormholes had drained all strength from his body, and the thought of making one more trip with the indecipherable device was exhausting. He needed sleep before he made another move. He was in a small town, closed in by massive trees that were exotic but had leaves the colors of autumn. He made his way deeper into the woods and found a nice large tree trunk he could rest on. He laid his head back and closed his eyes. He wanted to read up on this religion, clearly the dominant form of belief in the galaxy, but the dream world beckoned him.
He was standing in the middle of his farm, a warm drizzle dotting his skin. In the distance, a rainbow filled him with awe. The scene lasted a few moments, but then his awareness drifted away as if through a funnel.
The sharp teeth of a wild animal pulled out his heart. Death had claimed one more soul.
“Iglach, are you sure we want to do this?”
“Of course we do, you’ve read their history, Yatlaa.”
“They have been brilliant at times, yes. But also barbaric.”
“It is not only their brutality that disturbs me. It is the length of it. Even as a mature species, immorality was still rampant only a few years ago. Look at their wealthiest nation, the United States. Did you read up on their history with racism?”
“Indeed. Oceans of blood were shed over slavery, because some of their kind were imbeciles and didn’t recognize it is a moral wrong.”
“It is a disgrace for their species. Consider that they could contemplate philosophy, but not realize how evil their kind acted in this regard.”
“Their exploration of the cosmos is wondrous, but their morality is ill-fated at times. We had to send an AI to cure that evil.”
“AI Lincoln. One of the best programs ever created.”
“As it was. But then, let us consider one of their most vile creatures, Adolf Hitler.”
“Here we see a persecution of a people because of their religion.”
“Ironic, since in the beginning of their 21st century, some used religion as a reason to persecute others, such as gay people.”
“Well, what can you expect from a species that can’t grasp the concept of species equality.”
“I expected better from these humans.”
“It’s terrible Yatlaa. Then in that century you had more murder, now in the name of a religion.”
“Of course, let’s not forget they also mutilated female children. That women have been seen as inferior to men for most of their history.”
“Their men want to love them, but don’t respect them. It’s an immoral paradox.”
“It’s truly flabbergasting.”
“This human species, that has accomplished so much from a technological and scientific standpoint, can be so inferior on a moral level. How can we welcome them into our galactic society when they still have bigots on their planet. What will a white man think of our diverse community? Must we welcome them?” asked Yatlaa.
“We must,” replied Iglach. “We have an obligation to the future of life in the universe. Every intelligent species that can contribute to life’s survival must be welcomed.”
“This discussion makes me think they are not intelligent…”
“I see your point. Maybe a little lesson is in order.”
Yatlaa giggled with glee. “What do you propose?”
Iglach stuck a finger in his mouth and twisted it around. When he pulled it out, a glob of muck rested on its tip.
“We will need to send an alert to every life-form in our civilization. For one millennium, we will give our citizens the right to refuse business to Earthlings.”
“What will be their reasoning?”
“The protection of their religious beliefs. In our new galactic religion, being an Earthling is a sin, and one should not be forced to break their religious beliefs by serving to sin.”
“Iglach, you are quite the innovator.”
“Thank you my friend, but it is only copying a law the humans passed some years ago.”
The ship exited Earth’s orbit, and zoomed out into the expanse of space.