In the early stages of childhood development, well-adjusted children will come to the conclusion that they come from their mother. Maladjusted children will look into the darkness of the sky. Maladjusted children, as soon as they can walk, will cover their bodies in tin foil and run through the house.
There was a boy we called Alien Boy who lived quite differently from the rest of us. He came to class in a special suit. He claimed to speak a different language, which was silence. Whenever we’d tell him to speak it he’d focus for a long time, staring at his desk. He’d go completely silent, stare at his desk, and try not to blink until he was crying, until we got bored and turned back to class. Once I was the last to turn back, I watched him until his eyes were so open his nose began to run.
When my mother and I first pulled into the driveway where Alien Boy lived, his mother was out front taping black garbage bags over the windows which looked out to the street. My mother called her over to the van. She had not yet unlocked the child lock to the back door. Alien Boy appeared in his Earthsuit wearing goggles. He put his hands on my window, as if I were in some orbiting pod.
“I see you’re blacking out your windows,” my mother said. “Is it because creeps run around this neighborhood?” I distinctly remember it – creeps.
“Creeps?” said his mother.
“Yeah, are people looking in your windows?”
His mother looked at the garbage bags and duct tape in her hands as if she was suddenly surprised. “Oh no,” she said. “It’s because of the light. My son is light sensitive.”
It was an overcast day.
“Mom,” I said. “Unlock the door.”
She waited. She had his mother on one side, and Alien Boy on the other.
She unlocked the door and I slipped out into the small space between their parked minivan and our idle one. Alien Boy placed my hand in his.. They were slippery.
At school, we learned something new everyday about Alien Boy. We learned that he would die if he dried out, so his mother had made him the ‘Earthsuit’ to keep him moist. It’s because he was often caught crying speaking his language, and was eventually given green goggles that obscured his eyes. He kept ‘eggs’ in his desk, which he took out periodically to rub with Vaseline.
Brian, whose father was a dead airplane mechanic, took one of the eggs and pushed Alien Boy away. “Did this come out of your butt?” Brian said. He held the egg, which was not hard like a chicken egg, but malleable, like a sandwich bag full of water. It contained an ooze. Brian popped it in his hands and it exploded in class.
Then, Alien Boy spoke his secret language more clearly than ever. “I am the inevitable destruction of the cosmos,” he said.
Brian’s hands covered in ooze, he rubbed his hands off on Alien Boy’s Earthsuit. Alien Boy, also covered in ooze, had barely touched Brian’s shirt when he was pushed onto the floor. Alien Boy felt his teeth and there was blood in his mouth. He let his hand fill with blood.
When he stood up, Brian had already turned his back. He came up behind Brian and rubbed his hand full of blood around his mouth.
Brian, inconsolable, was taken home.
Alien Boy was suspended a week.
He slept with his windows completely covered over with trash bags and duct tape, because the Dark Star told Alien Boy that he was bad. It was a black circle, a star covering one of the stars in Sagittarius. It spoke to him through his windows.
You’re bad, Alien Boy. You’re bad. You’re bad.
So his mother covered the windows up. On the inside, his windows had both blinds and drapes, and now the outside was taped.
“Ten bags each window,” he said. “It’s as thick as a sweater. No light can come in. Certainly not the Dark Star. Is that a relief or is that a relief?”
I remember his house was full of eggs.
They were in the closets, they were under the beds. He took me everywhere to show me where he’d hid them.
Sometimes we could reach them. He’d put them, green and slimy with Vaseline, into my hands. Sometimes they were too far back, and even with a magazine, we couldn’t get them out.
“The Dark Star told me,” he said. “That the eggs were going to start the invasion. That he wouldn’t let me stop the invasion and that I had to keep making him eggs. But now that my windows are dark, I can’t hear him. I don’t have to make any more eggs.”
We stared at two eggs he held in his hands. He leaned towards his hands like he was going to kiss them. He didn’t kiss them. He didn’t smell them. He held them in his hands, and then rolled them back under his mother’s bed.
At school, the edges of cartons of strawberry milk became sticky like Alien Boy. The buttons to water fountains, the undersides of clocks, and the backs of dry-erase board erasers became sticky like him. It is impossible to say whether the things were really sticky, but this is how I experienced them. And I believe it was the same way for the others.
He told us that he would go up to meet the Dark Star. He knew that it would have to happen soon. The blacked out windows only lasted a couple of days. “I will have to go up and face the Dark Star,” he said. Brian turned around and looked at Alien Boy over the back of his chair. He began to communicate with Brian silently as he turned back around and never looked at him again.
“I am not a regular form of life,” he told me. He had been pulled out of the classroom to vomit into a black plastic bag, not unlike the garbage bags his mother had taped over his windows. Alien Boy took two eggs from his pocket. “I want you to have these,” he said. I did not want to take them, but he put them into my hands. They were dry, almost dry. “I have to go. I have to face the Dark Star,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
E.T. Starmann is a pulp fanatic. Although he may not be a professional bookseller or librarian, he is a long-time Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, All-Story collector. A Portland native, E.T. has spent countless hours in the Gold Room nook at Powell’s, pouring through the latest pulp rack covers. E.T.’s work is heavily inspired by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Robert E Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.