Flash Friday 28/11/2014: Provoke with Coke
Jeremy wasn’t sure if aliens were suited for sitting on the rough floor of a business conference center. By the looks of their angry faces, they definitely preferred chairs.
First encounters were usually depicted in the movies with wobbly saucers moving across modelled sets, coming to rest in a field, a crowd of humans gathering around as a door opens with smoke and a loud hiss. This one was not so extravagant. This one was a squad of armed aliens beaming into the room as Jeremy tidied up after a successful presentation, waving guns and demanding information.
The aliens themselves weren’t pretty. Green scaled skin, clothed (thankfully), and what looked like hands for mouths. They glared at him with red eyes as they sat in a line, Jeremy all alone on the human side. They were frank; donate something as a peace treaty, or be labelled as enemies and invaded. Jeremy had sent his friend out to get something for them to drink. He hoped Henry would get a nice port, or perhaps an expensive champagne. Maybe that’s why he was taking his time. Maybe.
Jeremy caught sight of Henry through the door’s window. The door opened.
“Here you go,” said Henry, tossing something to Jeremy. “Good luck.”
The door closed as soon as Henry finished, Henry’s face peering through the window like a child watching sharks being fed. Jeremy looked down at the item that was thrown to him. He wish he hadn’t bothered.
“Interesting,” the alien in the middle garbled, larger and better dressed than his comrades. “What does your race call this item of offering to us?”
“We, uh…” Jeremy rubbed the back of his head. “We call it a ‘Coke’, sir.”
“A Coke. Such a small offering in a tiny shell. Interesting.”
Jeremy made eye-contact with Henry through the door window, and pointed at the can while wearing a skeptical face.
Jeremy pointed at the can again; this time, with a jabbing finger and face of disdain, the universal sign for ‘are you actually joking with me right now?’.
Henry shrugged, then mouthed the words ‘stores are closed’.
Jeremy pointed yet again; this time, with a confused look.
Henry mouthed ‘vending machine’.
Jeremy huffed, looking down at the can. “Yes, uh. Well, you see, this can represents us humans very well. It’s one of the best-selling and popular drinks on the market right now. What better way to represent our race’s progress with a can of…Coke…” Jeremy wound down as he found himself unable to believe his own speech.
“…very well,” the alien said, holding out a three-fingered hand. “We accept this offering. A prize hamper would not have gone amiss, I hope you are aware.”
Jeremy had nothing else to say. Handing over the drink, the alien got to work examining the exotic treat. He turned it over in his hand, inspecting every element on the can. Then, with a look of insult at Jeremy, he point at the part where it said ‘Diet’.
“Oh, uh,” Jeremy staggered. “That’s–that’s because we don’t want you to gain extra additional calories.” He laughed nervously, wringing his hands and shooting Henry the occasional stabbing glare. Henry shrank behind the window. “I’m sure you understand.”
“Perhaps. There is one thing I don’t understand, though.”
“How do you get this open? Usually, we serve such beverages with a button, or a feeding tendril, or a download port.”
“Well, see the little metal thing on the top? If you pull it, it will open the can.”
The alien nodded, placing a finger on the ring pull. Then, without a word, he froze. “You do realise that, in the sector of Alphraezi-IV, the Gukko race have invented a type of hand grenade that triggers by lifting a ring pull very much like this one?”
“Oh, have they?” Jeremy said, laughing nervously. “Well, the more you know, and all that.”
“So you want me to pull this ring pull.”
“And it will dispense, for me, a tasty beverage that you would share with others of your ilk.”
“And it would not, in any way, explode, detonate, or cause grievous harm to myself or my brethren.”
“Well…I mean, that stuff can cause diabetes if you drink enough of it.”
The alien regarded Jeremy with a critical eye for a few seconds before saying, “Warm up the plasma rifles”.
Several high-pitched whines coursed through the room as the alien’s encouraged aimed black rifles at Jeremy.
Jeremy slowly put his hands in the air. “I, uh, recommend drinking it before it gets warm.”
“Very well. Fire when I say. Or when I explode.”
Delicately, the alien put a finger under the ring pull. It took a few tugs before he got the hand of it, each tug more dramatic than the last. When it finally opened the can, a great deal of fizz and liquid shot out of the drop and into the air, bubbling over the lip of the can.
“Chemical grenade!” the alien bellowed, throwing the can back at Jeremy. “I knew you were up to no good!”
“Now, hold on a moment,” Jeremy said. “Before we all start firing, I’d just like to say–”
A perfect silhouette of Jeremy’s head was imprinted on the wall behind him, as a volley of lasers all narrowly missed his head.
“I’ll…” Jeremy slowly stood, his hands still in the air. “I’ll be right back.”
Jeremy managed to run to the door to open it, using it as a shield for the second volley of shots. He grabbed Henry by the arm and ran down the corridor with him.
“So,” Henry said, with a smile. “I take it they liked it?”
“Shut up and give me your mobile phone. I need to make a phone call.”
“Oh?” Henry drew it, handing it over to Jeremy. “What number are you calling?”
“I’m not sure. Do you know the phone number that reaches the army, perchance?”
Henry’s face went white.