“Please do not scream; I promise I mean no harm!”
It was too late; Martha let out a high wale. Her hands shook so violently that her tray of deviled eggs slipped from her fingers and fell to the floor with a clatter. She felt her heart pounding in hear ears and tried to breathe deeply and think clearly, for right out of her closet, where there had been nothing but food moments before, a woman in a blue spacesuit materialized in a split second. It was so unexpected and sudden, so silent and unreal, that it took Martha a few moments before she fully realized what had happened. Then slowly fear creeped up her spine and she backed slowly towards the phone on the counter.
The spacesuit woman looked from Martha’s hand to the phone. “No, no, no, no, no, no—“ She pursed her lips and tightened her fists—“Ma’am, you must trust me. I’m part of an extremely important operation, and if you call the police you will reveal location. I will die.”
Martha’s hand had grabbed the telephone. She was shaking so badly she couldn’t see the buttons clearly, so she looked up at the impostor childishly, curiously, her mind blinded by confusion. A woman in a spacesuit stood in her pantry, looking at her and pleading for her not to call the cops. She couldn’t believe this was really happening.
But of course this impostor was not a robber, for a robber would come dressed in all black. She would come at night, and not at four in the afternoon. This woman wore a blue spacesuit, and how did she appear out of thin air? Was Martha dreaming? It was a quarter till six; her dinner party was about to start, and how was she supposed to explain this? What is one to do in this sort of situation? And the woman in the blue spacesuit continued to shush Martha and glare at her with her wide eyebrows.
Martha did not scream again, though her heart was throbbing in her chest and she tried to keep her hands still.
“What’s going on?” Martha stammered. She twisted and turned the phone around in her hands, and pressed herself up against the counter, as far away from this anomaly as possible, the lady in the blue spacesuit only came closer.
“Trust me, I am just as surprised as you are. But I am telling you the truth: I mean you no harm, I will be out of your hair in a moment, but if you call the police, or your mother or anyone—well you may as well shoot me here and now.“
“Who are you?!” Martha cried, her voice cracking shrilly.
“You would believe me if I told you.”
Martha held the phone tightly in her hands as if it was the only thing keeping her safe. As if to prove she was harmless, the lady in the spacesuit backed up a little towards the pantry and held her hands, palms out, near her face. The woman’s face looked honest; she had bright blue eyes and a cheerful face, and Martha was so unsure of what was going on she could easily accept any rational theory that was given to her. “Are you part of NASA or something?” she asked.
The woman in the spacesuit snorted a little at that. “Well—something greater than that I suppose. I would say our technology is far more advanced. But there is no need to go into all of that; you have the right idea. I need you to trust me.”
Martha still held the phone in her hand with her thumb on the 9 button, but she looked at the woman steadily. Her story was probably more likely than anything else. And then Martha realized she had a brisk British accent, and she wondered suddenly if she was not a part of NASA, where she had come from. “Are you a spy?” Martha demanded.
“I’m an informer, not a spy,” the woman said sharply, “and I am insulted by the implication. I would do nothing to hurt you people, ridiculous as they are. I have deliberately told you the truth this entire time; I beg you to believe me and not let me die. Please do not call the police.”
Martha put the phone down and looked at the clock. “I have guests arriving in five minutes. I suggest you get out of my house.”
“I would if I could sweetheart. There’s just one problem. My protection device is broken and I can’t walk about Minneapolis in a spacesuit now can I?”
“Well I can’t keep you here!”
“If I could only get my Estute working properly!” The spacesuit lady took a watch-like object off of her wrist. It was full of white buttons and when she pressed a few of them smoke and sparks rose out of it.
“Don’t be alarmed Martha Walker,” she said when Martha jumped. “This Estute is forty years old and these things don’t break easily. It’s probably due to some miscalculating during the transit, but no matter; its self-repair system will put it to right in a matter of minutes—“
Martha had a hard time keeping up with the fast prattle of the spacesuit lady. She felt a little dazed, as if she was in a dream. And watching her, Martha slowly realized something that made her skin crawl.—“You knew my name,” She said quietly. The woman stood still, wide-eyed, for she realized she had blundered.
“I swear I am not a spy, Martha! I know your name because—well, I suppose what you need to know is—“
“What?” Martha demanded. There was a faint quiver in her voice.
“It has something to do with my operation,” she finished lamely. “That is all I am authorized to tell you.”
“And I am a part of your mission?” Martha demanded. “Is this a prank?” again she reached for the phone.
“Martha Walker, don’t!” she wailed, and Martha realized she was indeed terrified. Perhaps she had a right to be; the cops were scary to some people. At any rate this situation had gotten to fantastic for Martha to handle.
The door opened.
“What on earth is going on in here?” cried Luke Herrington from the door. The woman in the spacesuit looked wildly around at all of them, grabbed her watch device and pressed a few buttons. With a few sparks and puffs of smoke, she was gone. The vanishing startled Martha more than the appearing and she screamed, but in a moment Luke was by her side. They both stared at the black smudge on my linoleum floor.
This was the first time anything so fantastical had happened to Martha in her life. There was no subtly going into it. An hour ago her life made complete sense; now some woman in a spacesuit waltzed out of her closet and vanished on her kitchen floor. And the party was supposed to have started by now, yet Martha felt positively sick.
“Did you see that?” she demanded. “Luke, have I lost my mind? I am pretty sure that there was a woman in a spacesuit on my kitchen floor—tell me I’m not dreaming.”
“I saw it too—what have you gotten yourself into?” Luke caught her by the arm. “Martha, you look as if you’re about to fall over. Is this a prank?”
“No,” she muttered. She was thinking wildly of what to do. “Get me the mop from out of the closet,” she finally replied. “Let’s clean up the floor and I’ll finish setting the table.”
“Tell me the truth, Martha,” Luke said. “What just happened?”
Martha’s hands and lips quivered as she tried to scramble for some logical explanation for this, something that Luke wouldn’t make Luke think she was crazy, but she reverted to instinct and replied mournfully, “She said she was part of something similar to the CIA. Besides that I am as clueless as you are.”
“I thought this was going to be a lovely, simple dinner,” Luke grumbled, and Martha felt much the same.
“Let’s get to cleaning,” she finally said.
Luke looked at her steadily. “So we’re just going to go on like nothing ever happened?”
“What else are we supposed to do?”
“Call the police, go to the hospital maybe?”
“I don’t want our guest to know about this,” Martha said sharply. “People already think I’m going crazy. If we want to do something about it, I’ll explain everything to you after the party.”
Luke got the mop out of the closet and cleaned the black smudge off the linoleum floor and swept up my deviled eggs. Martha finished putting out the food on the table and turned some music on; her skirt and blouse were neat and simple, and her house was meticulously clean. Everything was perfect. Luke and Martha met in the kitchen and looked at each other for a moment, both of them wearing confused, stunned expressions. Martha thought about talking a bit about what had just happened, but before she could form what she wanted to say the doorbell rang.
“Party must go on,” she said with a sigh. In a moment Mark and Sandra entered with cries of hello and tight hugs; and for the next three hours Luke and Martha had to pretend like nothing interesting had happened.