The Visitations 

For years, the journalist hunted the last living witness to a network of government programs allegedly connected to extraterrestrial visitations. One day, he finally tracked her to a sleeping seaside town of dirty white houses with tiled roofs. She made a carafe of coffee and they sat down for a smoke on the terrace. Are they real and have they been to earth? he asked. She nodded absentmindedly, watching the steam rise from her cup. What proof is there? he asked. Intercepted transmissions, she said, and I’ve seen a few of them in person myself. They are humanoid—virtually identical to us. They rarely come now. They would never come for long, anyway. Just a few weeks each visit, to ride the streetcars and buses, visit the cinemas, and swim in the ocean. They would drink a lot, and some even died in unusual places in depressing circumstances. There was a long silence after she had spoken. What did the transmissions say? the journalist asked. Nothing much, she replied. Mostly urgent calls begging to be rescued. They said that this was the saddest planet in the universe and wished they had never set foot here.