A Friendly Visit
Dr Zog and Lieutenant Krig’s ship left hyperspace and approached the small blue planet.
“Status”, yelled Zog, eagerly awaiting their pending arrival.
“We are approaching Earth, sir.", Krig responded. “All systems are nominal. Communications beacons are functioning.”
“Excellent. After all this time we have finally received approval for First Contact. We shall earn respect in the council and many bonuses shall be ours. Plus my teenage daughter might speak to me again after I bring home a souvenir. Do we have any contact from Earth yet?”
“No sir. I’m pinging them but I keep getting an automated message.”
“What does it say?”
“Earth is closed for maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
“What!”, Zog jumped out of his seat and raised three tentacles in the air. “That’s ridiculous. Call them back. Tell them I demand to see the Earth president.”
Dr Zog paced furiously behind the cockpit, his purple eyes blinking rapidly. He stroked the side of his scaly face with a tentacle. He had spent months drumming up support for this mission, raising funds, and persuading reluctant politicians. First contact with Earth would be the capstone to his career.
“Okay, Sir. Earth finally answered. They say they will get someone. Then they put me on hold.”
“Dr Zog is not put on hold! I did not travel 50 light years to be put on hold.”
“There’s not much we can do Sir.. oh wait. Here they are. I’ll put it on screen.
The large front window of the cockpit switched to show a pixelated view of a frazzled world leader broadcasting from his living room. His voice cut in and out. Dr Zog squinted at the view screen, trying to make out the human on the other end of their choppy connection.
“Earth President. We seem to be having communication difficulties. Your picture is reduced quality. “
“Yeah, I’m afraid we had to degrade the quality of all video world wide during the viral crisis. Let me see if I can boost the bandwidth.” The human fiddled with something offscreen. “Is that better?” The picture did not improve.
Dr Zog started into his prepared statements. “Greetings from the Grek Alliance. We are pleased to meet you, Earth President.“
“I am the chairman of the United Nations, actually, but you can call me Dave.”
“So you are not the Earth President.”
“Um. We don’t exactly have a world government, but I’m probably the closest thing we have to the Earth President. In any case, greetings! We hope you have come in peace.”
“Indeed we have. Please give us coordinates for a landing. We have many important and exciting things to discuss and share”.
Chairman Dave shook his head. “Oh dear. No. No. No. I’m afraid that’s not possible at all. We can't do that. I really appreciate that you came to visit us, but a landing is simply out of the question.”
Dr Zog’s tentacles stiffened. “You do not wish to meet with us?”
“Oh no. It’s not that. We'd love to. It’s just that we are having a viral outbreak at the moment and the entire planet is on lockdown. I’m afraid a visit from your.. um.. your highness, would violate our social distancing protocols.”
“You may call me Dr Zog. We have not had a monarchy for generations. What are these social distancing protocols? Perhaps we can help you. Are there any supplies we could offer you?“
“Well, we are starting--"
A small human head appeared at the edge of the view screen, peering into the camera.
“Daddy? Who are you talking to?"
“Not now Billy. Daddy is in a very important meeting. Go finish your lunch. I’ll come play with you later.”
Chairman Dave shooed the child offscreen. “I’m very sorry about that. It’s hard to get work done when school is canceled. Um.. so where were we?”
“I asked if we could help in some way. “
“Oh yeah. Well, we are starting to ramp up the testing and are able to limit the spread of the virus thanks to the lock down. Really we just need time for everything to settle down. If you could come back in a year or two that would be great. I’m sure we’ll be fine by then.”
“Our government will be very disappointed. Also my daughter really wanted an Earth souvenir.“
“I’m afraid we can’t do a landing on Earth, but you could check on the moon. We haven’t been there in a while but we might have left something that would interest your daughter. There’s probably a few flags or golf balls.”
“Very well. We will survey your moon then return in two cycles. May your viral infection clear up soon.”