“If you don’t return me to Earth,” I said, “who will clean my cats’ litter boxes?”

The three aliens before me remained silent, electing to lounge on their floating metal disks rather than answer. The first was a wriggling blob of glistening flesh, not unlike a pile of raw chicken. The second resembled a tall, lean human (if humans had mossy green fur and no discernable orifices). The third and last was a glowing beacon of light, too bright to look upon for more than a moment.

None of them spoke any language of Earth (not even Pig Latin), so the blocky linguistics bot between us translated, converting my pleas into clicks and trills. The raw chicken alien answered in its own inscrutable tongue.

“We don’t like cats,” the bot translated. “We prefer dogs.”

So these aliens were dog people. Surprising, though unhelpful. “You don’t want to keep me here overnight,” I warned. “I sleeptalk. You won’t get any rest.”

The bot relayed this excuse to the triumvirate. The mossy alien answered, and the bot said, “We do not care. We do not sleep.”

So much for that. I’d awoken here on their spaceship: No windows, no doors, just a wide cabin with four walls, a ceiling, and a floor, all made of an interwoven mesh that looked synthetic yet recoiled when I tried to tear it. Talking, it seemed, would be my only means of escape.

“I’m a father,” I said, a little panic seeping into my tone. “My daughter needs me.”

“We’ve abducted plenty of parents,” answered the ball of light, via the bot. “According to your Disney films, a missing parent builds character.”

Yikes. That was my Hail Mary pass, and they’d swatted it down. Time for desperation. “Okay. Well. Umm. My Magic cards will rot in my closet.”

“You lie. They shall only appreciate in value.”

“Earth will lose a devoted Yankees fan.”

“As it should.”

“Who will eat the ‘Crumbs Along the Mohawk’ in my freezer?”

“Someone, and soon. Such is the way of the substance you humans call ‘ice cream.’”

Huh. This was all beginning to feel awfully futile. “Why are you abducting people, anyway?”

The bot translated, then answered for each alien in turn.

“For observation,” said the raw chicken alien.

“For dissection,” the mossy alien clarified.

“For vivisection!” the ball of light declared.

I was tempted to tell them all they’d learn from me was stuff I read on Wikipedia, but I suspected they wouldn’t care. So I tried one last trick. “I’m a writer.”

“So?” asked the raw chicken alien.

“I’m a famous writer,” I lied. “Super famous. So famous that if I write about this encounter, you’ll become famous, too. All three of you.”

The first and third aliens exchanged eager glances—or at least I thought they did. The second alien, the mossy one, seemed less convinced.

“If you’re so famous,” it asked, “why haven’t we heard of you?”

“I keep a low profile. Like Pynchon. But once I write about you three, you’ll become a celebrated triple threat. Think Moe, Larry, and Curly, or Bosh, Wade, and LeBron.”

“Really?” asked the ball of light. “Like LeBron?”

“Totally. You’ll be the most famous aliens since Baby Yoda. After they read my account, my fellow humans will practically line up to get abducted by you.”

So the three aliens returned me to Earth, and that’s why I’m writing this story. My advice: If they take you next, tell them you’re a podcast host, or a Netflix executive. Or better yet, tell them you’re an agent. I think they’d like that.

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