Richard J Tilley:

Writer, Researcher, Poet

The League of Feminist Space Voters


The League of Feminist Space Voters

By 

Richard J Tilley

© Richard J Tilley

The Day They Declared Us Dead

My dearest friend, Ahed, 

I know life is unbearable in Gaza, but at least you still have your mother and family to comfort you. I know your mother will look after as you face greater militarization in your land. I know you will be strong and resilient in these dark times as you were always a beacon of light to me and all the others we knew in simpler times. I have secured a job scrubbing the platforms of an offshore drilling rig along the Charleston, South Carolina harbor that has been operational for just five months. Today is the day I ignite a fire that will send a message – my message – across the Atlantic coast. I know what you would say and how you would tell me this is not the right way and believe me this weighs heavy on my mind. I know you would choose differently. You would say, “Oliver, don’t let the darkness test your light.” I wish I had your deeply spiritual conviction. I know you shunned the idea that you were exceedingly spiritual, but as I told you many times, that was your aura. 

Since my parents were both arrested when the ACLU was declared a terrorist organization, life under the Kushner presidency has only become darker. My mother was a civil rights attorney and my father was a researcher and court watcher. Life shouldn’t be like this. Now in the third year of the Kushner years, Ivanka Trump is rumored to be considering running against her husband again in her effort to carry on the work that was started in her father’s two terms. At least that is the platform, as if Kushner isn’t doing the same thing. We live under the platforms of putative gestures of greatness indeed. No amount of sarcasm can ease the tension of our oppression. 

So much has changed since we were students at UCLA before it was closed as campus after campus was shuttered by the military police. As an engineering student, I learned enough to do what I must do now. There is hardly a black market in the traditional sense after the Trump years as almost anyone can get what they want and prices are easily managed by healthy demand for military-grade hardware. My mind is seared with grief. I have internalized every single step the country has taken into despotism. I have rationalized what I am about to do and feel more guilt about the pollution and deaths of wildlife the oil will cause than anything else. Please remember me as the person who was so sure about himself and the future. I have always remembered your compassion and your adroit applicability of softness in the face of despair. There are no victories here or epochal changes, only hope of pushing an opportunity for a revolt in the face of so much sadness and weight of oppressive factions and mourning symbols. My sadness soars. My heart is a broken wing. 

With deep regret,

Oliver Wells

Oliver folded the letter and adhered three Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President Pence memorial government stamps to the envelope. The Hartlett, the apartment building owned by Exxon Mobile, consisted of small living spaces as though they were intended to be quarantined. It had a large, open and intrinsically inviting visitor’s lounge for meetings and guests. Oliver assumed this meant guests weren’t supposed to come up to the rooms. He made little effort to conceal the wrecked electronic outputs and inputs, the endless snakes of coils and cords, or the partially covered canisters of C-4 in his small, but welcoming den. Truly a device of his own making, but was close, in theory, to a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

This was the first time Oliver had tried to construct a bomb. He had entered the engineering program at UCLA specifically for their robotics studies program. His interest and proposed thesis, before the program was shuttered, was life-saving robotics constructs utilized in building and apartment fires. He stood before the array of cables and fuses surrounded by pink and purple flower-patch wallpaper. His nerves began to collapse with sweat in his shirt collar. The sleeves of his shirt shrank around his wrists and his waist seemed to expand against the teal Trump-Stafford fabric. 

He exited the room with his keys, the letter, and bag containing all his lost ambitions – the bomb – forgetting to lock the door behind him. As he passed though the visitor’s lounge the setting sun briskly made him wince as it pierced the half-closed blinds. The orange petals in the framework on the Italian furniture could not be seen in this light. There was just the ever-settling dust in the empty pitch of the open space. Oliver felt small and immobile here in the openness and walked faster towards the door to escape it. The troubled echo of his footsteps seemed to pervade every room in the building. 

On his way to work, Oliver stopped at the newly privately owned USPS. There is an underground market within the mailing establishment designed to evade government search and censorship. Oliver paid the clerk behind the counter $125 and was assured the letter would be delivered without detection. He trusted that it would as he had been communicating this way for some time. At the dock where the workers board the ferry towards the oil rig, Oliver paid another $275 to pass without having his bag checked. 

“What do you have that you don’t want anyone to see?” the teenage government worker asked.

“Do you really want to know? Okay, listen. I have a Bible printed before 2021. It’s hostile work on the rig and reading the old Bible soothes me. Alight?” Oliver paused waiting for the young man’s response. The etched lines of gloss-perspired seriousness in his face transformed to grinning laughter,

“Why, even my mother has one of those. That’s no big deal.”

Boarding the ferry, Oliver was incredibly calm. His legs felt smooth like tires. Though he hadn’t eaten in two days his stomach felt satiated. He sat towards the front of the ferry watching the oil platform grow closer and closer. He remembered his mother’s hugs when he was young in Indianapolis. He recalled his father returning home after being on the West coast for work. Those nights he would be permitted to stay up late and listen to his father and mother talk about work after dinner. His father would lean into his mother with a random kiss mid-sentence as though there was no interruption of thought. His mother would get lost in his eyes and only awake out of the grip of his father’s stern, confident voice to ask Oliver if he were ready for bed yet. Oliver was never eager to go to sleep those nights.  

Oliver looked at the ragged brown bag between his feet and thought about what passes for the rule of law now. Who has the fortune of warm family moments filled with a sense of justice? Who is he to determine what is just? Won’t this act just be used a propaganda by the government to implement further restrictions, coming closer to realizing complete oppression? He thought not because the government still needs some semblance of a functioning society no matter how limited movement is. A hostile government still needs people to create a society to dominate. 

He thought about Ahed, who had lived through oppression and had not become bitter or vengeful. Why had he? Part of his heart melted as he became lost in the thought that he was nothing more than a reactionary pulse and, perhaps, was lacking the very type of soul he thought he was acting in defense of. Oliver rubbed his hands through his hair and reached into his bag. He carried water with lemon juice everywhere he went. He swallowed forcefully and looked back up at the oil platform. He hadn’t realized just how close they were. It is almost time, he thought. Here is my moment, he whispered. His mind searched: How will my body move? Will my arms and legs be able to perform this act? He captured a glimpse of self-awareness and quickly worked to erase the look of concern from his face so that no one would suspect he was not a typical person living a typical day.  

Oliver climbed the ladder to the top platform. No, he thought. I should wait. He placed the bag quite without worry in his locker and spent the first half of the day working his normal shift. Oliver repeatedly looked to the sky, waiting for a sign. In his chest he wanted some excuse not to carry this out. Just a few seconds and it will be over, he told himself. He knew there would be no sign. No rescue. No angel to seal the nation’s troubles in such a dramatic way as to warrant a retreat from his mission. Then his heart rested and he began to perceive this mission as an irenic act. He had made it this far. Therefore, he was permitted to carry it through to the end. He made peace with it.

Oliver took his lunch break with a self-disposed will and tired flex of emotions. He took a journal from his bag and searched his heart to find his final words. He wrote,

I do not think this journal will survive the crater in the ocean that will stir today. However, should I fail or give way to my aching conscience I must offer deliberation of my actions for those who will be distant witnesses to a mad act. I am sorry for the oil spill. I know the waters are already suffering from a failed EPA that only seeks to promote profits for corporations over the longevity of our natural resources. 

I think about the lives in the sea that will quake and be spoiled. They are helpless victims in my tempered, aggressive act. I mourn their loss from this priceless eastern capsule of remaining integrity. I love the ocean, but it is not my place. My place is with my family. We all belong with our families to hold and love with enduring promise. My act is not impatient or at rest with a moment of joy. I fear what I have become. I know there is no escape from this mental pain. I regret every thought in my perplexing system of emotions and logical responses to those emotions encouraging me to stand down. I know I must not wait for those thoughts to subdue me. 

I will say this: I do not love this any longer. How can we wait to be rescued? Who shall we wait for? Must we not take a stand in any manner that pushes back against oppression? Here I am, a tattered stolen body enveloped in a cause that ignites more suffering for a suffering nation. I must not let my regrets displace my intentions. I must not let my heart hold me back. My body has been thrown in a curve of emotions. Trapped in my last moments on this rig I smell the family dinners from my childhood where I am innocent once more and where safety is not an issue that is neglected. We must have safety again. We must rise to the aching occasion and be sisters and brothers to a far-reaching cause. 

He gingerly brought the bomb, still in the bag, to a plateau at the end of an extension that rested underneath the primary platform. He placed the bomb at his feet, powered on the detonator, and threw his bag into the ocean. As he inhaled deeply, he heard voices coming from around the ridge. The foreman and two others were walking in his direction, but had yet to see him. He felt the depth and immediacy of whom he was murdering. Without the bag he could not conceal the bomb. He had to activate it now. They were close enough to notice him and put together what he was doing. One ran for help and the two others charged towards Oliver. Oliver watched them get closer. Their panic was his panic. He jostled in his steps not moving forward or backward, but with the motion and energy to run upon himself. 

“No,” he murmured, “no.” He recalled learning as a child that some believe the spinal column to be the tree of life. Neural networks being the branches that bring us into this space of motion and with fortified tears, unable to breathe in order to scream, he pulled the trigger.   

Clouds laid low as the life despondent erupted in fury in the water camp of the oil rig. The chain of explosions erupted in slow revolving mushrooms igniting a fire that could be seen from the shore off East Bay Street in downtown Charleston. Crowds of tourists motioned as witless witnesses, unable to prevent the terror that was forcefully built beneath them. Like a cave of primitive tidings, error and foulness, Oliver’s twisted fate was a testimony of the confusion of the State. Waterfront Park saw the smoke and pillowing fire climbing into the sky. The romance of couples stalled with the interlude of Oliver’s political and emotional unrest. There were no survivors. Only women and men who perhaps had not welcomed the era of the State, but were nevertheless Oliver’s victims.  

Had Oliver known what had occurred just 45 minutes earlier he would not have carried though with his terrible act. Word was still spreading throughout the country. Slowly nation after nation stood in the awe of the arrival of the ultimate stranger, the guests of the nations, the hosts of a new era. Less than an hour before Oliver pulled the trigger NASA, the European Space Agency, the China National Space Administration, and military networks throughout the globe watched powerless as a terrifyingly large transport shuttle from a distant world landed in the grasslands of Alberta. The fate of the planet’s future had arrived. 

The shuttle had departed from a ship that rested in orbit around Mars. The visitors would not let humanity completely see the extent of their technology. They could bend time for the purpose of transport. They could move forward or backwards along the scale of what humanity called its personal history. This was the era in which they chose to arrive. This was the fateful moment of first contact, but it would not be a proper introduction. Not yet. Hours passed while the world waited. Some nations experienced the rage of protests unleashed on the civic courts, but in most corners of the world the public waited with anticipation and a patient, peaceful weariness – knowing that the time had come. 

U.S. and Canadian helicopters spiraled around the shuttle. With cameras focused on the transport shuttle, they discovered that they could not get more than half a mile away from it without finding themselves encountering a force that prevented them from getting any closer. Chatter lit up military radio channels debating the hostility of this phenomenon. A cross-North American military panel discussed ways to penetrate to the expanse with great vigor and growing desperation. In the U.S., there was no scientific committee or advisors who were not immediately tied to the military to offer input. Just as tensions grew out of fear and a growing militaristic hysteria become more and more apparent, all motion stopped as video feeds went black and the public access channels were discovered to be the only channels with visuals of the shuttle.

It took some time before the public determined that it must be the visitors themselves who were broadcasting over public access TV. As though having waited for enough viewers and word to spread where to find images of the spacecraft, without warning, a panel opened at the side of the shuttle that rose above the object and a device resembling a platform rolled out into the marshy yellow grass. The image being broadcast shifted to this opening. The shuttle was comparable to silver and black, but no colors could quite match the hue. Seeing closer now, it was clear there was a translucent glowing pink and blue aura that imbued throughout the panels of the shuttle. The U.S. military was ordered by Kushner to intercede and discontinue the broadcast, but all efforts to disrupt the feed were unsuccessful. Many stations rebroadcast the feed while on others reruns of Sanford and Son and Friends filtered through the airwaves simultaneously. 

Ahed weaved into the crowd towards a television in the market that so many soccer matches caused public elation and reticence from enduring hostage conditions in life under the occupation. Now she watched, as the shuttle lay still and expectant. The U.S. government had released footage from the Charleston offshore drilling rig explosion and put forward that this was just one of many resulting attacks from the visitors using human collaboration. Dreamlike, Ahed watched her old friend doing the unthinkable. 

First, security footage from the drilling rig showed Oliver arriving that day for work, climbing up the ladder to the top platform, and standing still in the center. In the stop motion clips he stood grasping his backpack with the backdrop of state television commentators. Her stomach sunk with her heart. She had so adored Oliver. She did not believe he was acting along with the aliens to stir confusion, which was what was being argued. The report continued and showed Oliver stepping out towards a platform. The footage attempted a grainy close-up to reveal Oliver taking something out of his bag. Ahed became angry with both the state media’s propaganda as well as with Oliver, who had clearly done something unspeakable. 

Just two days had passed since the explosion that coincided with the visitor’s arrival. Certainly there must be an explanation for all this! Ahed sobbed profusely as the television replayed over and over the moment Oliver detonated the bomb and the footage went black. Over and over Oliver stood at a crossroad of human betrayal and repeatedly he had chosen a course of no return. Ahed was frustrated by reality and by the ocean that separated them that prevented her from reaching out to him to intercede. How could he not know he was loved, she thought. How could he stray from a brighter vision of the future? 

U.S. state media announced that President Kushner was preparing to address the nation. He did so from the Oval Office with his wife, Ivanka Trump, by his side. Each of their campaign managers stood behind them. 

“As you all know, the aliens have landed in our back yard just to the north in Canada. As a representative of this part of the area I address not only my nation, but the world.” Kushner paused ever so deliberately to take a drink of water. It dribbled down his chin as he nervously shuffled the papers before him. 

“By now you have seen the reports and footage of the attack at Charleston. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those killed. However, I am here to announce there have been no less than ten other explosions using similar tactics and materials to cause panic at the moment of the aliens’s arrival. I have ordered the national media not to broadcast or report on these other incidents. I do not want to play into the alien confederates’s hands by imposing the fear on the nation that they seek to cause. I speak before you to declare all the Americans in the vicinities of the explosions are dead. There are no survivors in these areas,” he stated. “I must declare them all dead.”

At that moment Ivanka Trump collapsed in tears. She was of course, not truly crying because every word Kushner stated was not true and had not occurred. Still, the visitors allowed the message to be broadcast. They did not interfere with the endeavor of the nation-state. At this moment the United States sunk in stature even further than the power grip the nation he imposed had caused the isolation of the country among the world. In truth, the visitors had no intention of allowing U.S. leadership a role in the first meeting before Earth and the visitors. They had let the U.S. expose itself as enemies of the people. 

Part Two

The Terebinth

I

I am a terebinth. I have always wished I were born an olive tree. Then I would have more immediate value for my neighbors. That is, if it weren’t for the blockade. I suppose my shade does offer rest.  Of course, if I were an olive tree, Ahed would have never come into my life. About thirteen years ago, when Ahed was no more than four or five, her mother, Razan, would bring her near me. They would have picnics and laugh and play. I will not say there were more simple times. Not much has changed. Though there were firsts for Ahed. That was the first time Ahed passed through me. She just walked right through me. First her little hand grazed my tasseled trunk, then she began to rest herself against my bark until she passed through to the other side. Once she realized what she could do she did it over and over again. It felt warm. She was having fun. 

Razan didn’t notice at first. All she heard were the innocent sounds of her daughter’s laughter. Then Razan dropped Ahed’s lunch to the ground for the ants. She had seen what, perhaps, no one had ever seen. Just as instinctually as Ahed walked through me, Razan took Ahed aside and chided her, 

“Don’t you ever do that again!” she warned. Ahed cried. Razan gathered their things and they left. I didn’t see Ahed again for a very long time. I did continue to see Razan, though. She would come and look at me. She would touch me. I think she wanted to know if perhaps the problem was with me and not Ahed. Of course, a mother knows. I could see it in the way Razan walked around me. A mother most certainly knows. 

IV

I understood what this meant immediately. At least I think I did. 

“I am the Messiah,” I said out loud. 

“The Moshiach? Am I supposed to be Jewish?” Yes, I was born in another body. I am human, but that is not all there is to me. Who do I think I am? Have I come to save Earth? Why must I be the Jewish messiah? 

“I know.” To show them. To prove a point. I can prove that point. I can dance on the head of a pin. 

“I can dance on the head of a pin.” I know how many of me there are. I know there are others just like me. We all rest like judges before the altar of God. 

“I must cut my hair” to dance on the head of a pin. 

III

Please don’t be misinformed. It is not that I am a particularly talkative terebinth. I am not like some typical oak, a Palestine Oak. I do not whistle in the wind, but do you hear it? Do you hear the sound of the wicked wind? Ahed was in complete panic. She kept screaming, 

“What does this mean?” She couldn’t believe that she could resemble the fire of angels in holistic ingratitude. She did not welcome this. She wanted her life back. She wanted to be close to those she loved so dear. 

When Ahed began running from her home she did not realize she wasn’t wearing shoes. The soles of her feet quickly blistered and ruptured and she maintained her speed on her course to me. As she ran her skin began to glow. She became purple and orange, faintly, with an effervescent translucent light emanating from her pores. She felt like her body would begin to rise towards the dark sky and she fought to stay on the ground. 

When I saw her getting closer she picked up her speed while tears ran from her eyes that seemed to slow down as she came sharper into focus. Without hesitation she charged toward me and passed through me only stopping as she united with the memory from her childhood and recalled her mother insisting that it be something she not do again. At that moment she understood what her mother had done for her. Quietly, she returned home.

II

Ahed will not stop talking to herself. I have run out of options of how to help my daughter. I have always made sure she was around family as much as possible. I encourage her to be around her friends. She has no time for her friends now. Look at her pacing around outside the house. She is walking in circles and talking in circles as well. She has stopped combing her hair. Could she be talking to God? No. She never does that. That is not who she is. I have accepted that. 

“Ahed, you a losing too much weight. You never finish your meals. When will you finish a complete meal?”

“I am not hungry.”

“I don’t mean this minute, but you must start eating again,” Razan stops and looks up to the hill in the distance where a reflection has caught her eye. 

“Ahed, can you tell who that boy is? On the hill? Get inside! That is no boy, it is an Israeli sniper!” Razan reaches to grab Ahed to rush her into the house when a bullet pierces her head. Razan falls at Ahed’s feet. Ahed doesn’t move. She stands silent looking down at the growing pool of blood. 

V

Ahed returned to me the next day. She had cut her hair. Her face appeared certain and beaconed with the temperance of the sun. This was a young Palestinian girl, who like so many, had seen so much. She smiled when she saw me. She now understood I held secrets to her past. I was her origin story. I cared about her. I still do. I miss her, though we were barely acquainted. She touched me again, though she did not walk through me. Instead, she lifted her hand and pressed firmly into my body until her arm was extended inside me about elbow’s length, but she did not walk through. 

She stole one of my branches and began to fasten a slingshot. She spent an hour working with it, making it perfect. She gently peeled away the excess twigs until she brought to life the center of the work, the lifeforce inside the branch, a defense tool that let me know why she had visited me this day. I could see in her eyes that I would never see her again just as she would never see her mother again. She took a band from her bag and fastened it to the wood. She had made the perfect slingshot. I began to wonder if just as she could pass through me, could others pass through her? 

She sat up and looked at me with love in her eyes. She placed the slingshot on the ground leaning against my trunk. She had decided to leave it for someone else though I realized her intentions had not changed. She had experienced too much. Her moment had come. Such rituals are not made of changing winds, but grow in the abiding fragments of history that make their way into our homes and hearts. We are forced into the struggle not by desire to conquer, but to survive. Ahed turned from me and I realized this was the last time I’d see her. I believe she, too, realized she would not live until tomorrow. She walked unarmed towards a short road that ends in a checkpoint guarded with dozens of Israeli soldiers. As she walked she paced her breath, understanding the contours of air one last time. 

Part Three

League of Space Feminist Voters

As the alien visitors made contact rulers in the world attempted to outshine the new era in history. The public, the citizens of the world began to pave the way forward and it was the newly formed League of Space Feminist Voters who became architects of the rules for engagement in the freshly arrived future of exploration, interaction, and the new balance of history in space and on Earth. The League was formed just days after the visitors revealed themselves in the Canadian bright lights of early spring. The incomparably colored vehicle shifted from the ground and two beings walked – just like us – into the sun’s light among the green rolling tides of spring colors. 

They wore protective uniforms that were dark and seemed to reflect the sun. Their hands were exposed and they waved towards the helicopter cameras. Their faces were pale green with hints of turquoise spreading back towards the tip of their skulls. Their eyes stretched large and wide and were multicolored. They seemed to have a precise and elaborate vision and when they looked into the cameras it was as though their sight pieced into every home. They seemed to smile and in unison witnessing humanity wondered what a smile was, for them, and in general. The thoughtfulness of the visitors’s gaze was viral. 

The United States government and half of Europe tried to prevent the broadcast, but discovered they were helpless to intercede. The visitors were able to navigate and control the satellites orbiting earth. It seemed as through they exercised control over the very electrical currents entering each home. There was a magnetic quality to their presence. Not just the highlight of the first known visitors on Earth, but they gave a warm comfort as though they were family that had just returned home from overseas. They were home. They were among family. Earth’s time had come. The two visitors started to slowly return to their vehicle. As they walked back, they motioned warmly for the viewing millions to follow them. 

Suddenly the camera feed from above and at a distance over the ship ceased. Now everyone witnessed on their screens a camera from inside their ship. Every channel broadcasted from inside their vehicle. The world watched as the two happy visitors sat together in front of the screen and began to speak. 

“GOOOOOOODDDDD MORNINGGGGGGG PLANET EARTTHHHHHHH!”

“We are both big fans of Robin Williams! Not the war part of the story, but the fact that you can have humor in time of war says a lot about you.”

“Nanu Nanu,” they both laugh.

“You are hearing us speak in your own language. Each of you. We have reverbal language systems and with the help of our systems on the ship are able to translate our words to your native tongue.”

“We didn’t want to appear to elevate one language over another. In time you may learn our languages. We are individually capable to speaking in several languages simultaneously. There are contests on our planet to see who can speak the most languages at the same time.”

“Yes, the record is 47. That includes some languages from Earth! We have been watching you for a long, long time.”

“Listen. We want to get right to it. We want to meet you!”

“Yes. We do. This of course will be followed by and exchange in culture which no doubt will lead to a introduction of our technologies.”

“Not too different that what you have seen in your science fiction films!,” the visitor stated ecstatically.       

“However,….who will get to meet us first? That is the question!” the other visitor sternly pressed her forefinger into the air. 

“We come to eliminate poverty.”

“Eliminate hunger.”

“No more wars.”

“We will not make you wait to begin ridding humanity of suffering. Though there is the pressing question. Who will meet us first?”

“We have a proposal that we think you will find satisfactory. We love your Olympic games. So let’s have another!” 

“Now for every nation in the world to begin a series of games in the spirit of the Olympics would be complicated and perhaps not fair to countries that do not have such tradition of certain sports. So we have selected fifteen countries that will compete in these games.”

“The winner will fly to Mars with technology we will provide to meet us face to face. It will be ceremonial.”

“That is the way is should be!”             

 “Please watch the screen.” The screen turned black as nation by nation came across in television feed in bright pastel colors with small, multicolored light bulbs surrounding each proper name not unlike a furniture closing sale commercial. 

MALI

COLOMBIA

MONGOLIA

DENMARK

CANADA

NEW ZEALAND

SOUTH AFRICA

ALBANIA

IRAQ

TANZANIA

PORTUGAL

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

LOAS

ISRAEL

PALESTINE

“We have taken the liberty of emailing a copy of this list of countries to the sitting members of your Olympics committee along with our list of eligible sports for competition, which we trust you will find interesting!”

“For practical purposes the Olympic committee is prepared to engage with the initiation of the games, but they will need an oversight committee!”

“That we leave in your hands. Good luck. We will be in touch.”

“Expect to hear from us.”

The television screens faded back to regular programming. Many to they local news or national news, but some to comedies and family dramas that suddenly seemed so much more a celebration of life and lives lived that they ever had before. Within days most of the internet had transformed into a type of ceremonial welcoming procession for the visitors, the coming games, and the new age of Earth being welcoming as the newest member of the interactive cosmos. Celebrations were held daily in nations that were selected. Some countries that just happened to do well in the Olympics, but were not selected questioned the meaning of the games as nonsense and none were more vocal than Russia. 

From the internet grew the League of Space Feminist Voters, an internal coalition of women activists, mothers, daughters, sisters, and some brothers and sons who volunteered their services to oversee the Olympic committee. Their petitions were heard and agreed to both in popularity as well as among those in the committee who mostly saw them as impartial and well intentioned. The League of Space Feminist Voters quickly nominated and appointed Lakshmi Sundaram as chairwoman of the League for her organizational experience with Girls Not Brides

Also from the internet grew a new media. It was a type of retro-journalism that had not existed since towards the end of the Trump’s second term. It was broadcast widely that Kushner had lied about all the causalities caused by the visitors. The additional attacks in the United States had never occurred. Only the new oil rig in Charleston was attacked and it came to be understood as a single isolated event with a somewhat mysterious motive as Oliver’s final journal entry was not recovered. President Kushner made no more public declarations over the event of the visitation and he and Ivanka Trump returned to their campaigning against each other. Oliver Wells was not remembered for the suffering soul he was. It was simply another account of violence in a country that did everything it could to steer towards that endeavor. 

In Gaza, members of Ahed’s extended family convinced her to attend tryouts for the aliens’s Olympics. Her speed and agility at running was well known throughout the area. She was referred to as “supernatural” with her ability. Track was one of the nominated sports the aliens had specified would be included in the games. She was still recovering from the murder of her mother. Additionally she was recovering from her glimpse into psychosis where she believed herself to be one or another of the Abrahamic messiahs. She had returned to her rational, intellectual self just before the visitation and did not want too much excitement that might bring along a reoccurring episode. Still, she found the vision of the aliens to be comforting and when tryouts began in Gaza she participated and continuously won competitions. 

The games were held simultaneously in Mali and New Zealand. Triathlon in Mali. Archery in New Zealand. Badminton in Mali. Rowing in New Zealand. Additionally, sailing, swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and figure skating were among the selected games. Figure skating, particularly, was favored among the public as the game that would lead to the single winning electorate of the people to make contact with the visitors on Mars. The competitors wore costumes that reflected this anticipation with designs of the Martian surface, moon rocks, asteroid belts, and space ships, for example, tailored across the skater’s bodies. The whole world slowed down with more attention given to the games than to trade or commerce. 

The League of Space Feminist Voters had organized worldwide with groups in every major city and accompanying groups in most small towns. The organization was most active across Africa and South America. Lakshmi Sundaram proved to be a brilliant organizer and petitioner among countries for reform towards the end goal of joining the celestial community by expanding and amplifying protections for the public and the breakdown and retreat of militaristic projects. This blossomed alongside the mesmerizing spirit of the aliens’s games. 

There were no bronze, silver, or gold medals given to final victors, but ranks according to varied points of overall endurance and spirit to finalists and winners. To the proud and abundant joy of the Palestinian people, Ahed had earned the highest rank in track and field. Not only had she outshined her competition exceedingly, her percentage of valor gripped the nations as a competitor of the visitors’s electorate for the Mars mission. The only other competitor that came close was and Iraqi woman in gymnastics. However, the final competition in figure skating was still the last to conclude. 

In the end it was an Israeli ice dancing team that earned the most points to convince the League of Space Feminist Voters to conclude they had earned the right to make first contact on Mars. It was decided. Israel would be Earth’s ambassador and lead a new generation towards an ever-growing new light into the eclipse of the space frontier. At the closing crowning ceremony some participating nations boycotted the event while others, so jubilant that the moment of first contact had finally come, cheering exuberantly for the coming moment. This was when the vessel in Canada opened its doors once again.

Again, television stations and internet video feeds broadcast the alien ship as the two passengers exited the ship. They stood before the swirling drone cameras with a few moments of stern silence and expectant, familiar expressions. This time only one of the visitors spoke. She wore a device that transmitted her mulit-lingual voice into the feeds. 

“I see we have a winner. We want to just state how well you all did and what is more important, the nature of human support you all received across Earth. We have been watching closely. As we are sure you have noticed we have bigger eyes than you, neighbors. As such, we have seen things that need to come to light. Now, you have all expected the figure skating competition to take precedence over the other sports and with good reason. The effort the skaters put into their competition was, indeed, meticulous if not brilliant, but you were brilliantly deceived. 

“The two winning Israeli ice dancers, though graceful and sublime, submitted to surgery before the competition that gave their spinal columns greater ease of moment, their legs greater strength of thrust, and the undetectable experimental drugs were successful in giving them an unfair advantage over the other teams. As I speak we have already transmitted the evidence to the League of Space Feminist Voters. We will not tell you how you should rule with this new information. Instead, we will let you decide.” With a disappointed disposition, the aliens returned to their ship and the cameras returned to the closing ceremony. A representative from the League of Space Feminist Voters took the immediate initiative to remove the crowns from the Israelis. 

About twenty minutes passed before Olympic stewards address the viewing millions and announce Ahed as the newly decided winner and the new ambassador of Earth. A Palestinian would be visiting Mars and making first contact. By the time Ahed had arrived on Mars the aliens had already erased hunger and war from humanity. Programs had advanced exponentially to completely disassemble any fraction of poverty or inequality. Diseases found new cures and homelessness was a welcomed thing of the past. It was already a new era to be accompanied with first official contact on Mars.  

When Ahed’s feet traced the Martian terrain she looked up and saw the aliens vessel circle above and again that fateful shuttle descended to the surface. There was no fear on Earth of a dissembling moment that would alter all the preparation and new energy of the stock of Earth’s new creations. Ahed watch as the shuttle landed before her and six aliens exited and approached her. First they shock hands and then revealed their own greeting customer by placing their hands on either side of the other’s head and touching foreheads. Ahed cried and thought about her mother. As her top of her helmet, representing her forehead, touched the top of each alien’s helmet she thought about the terebinth and realized it was the same feeling of warmth and fun. 

The aliens took Ahed into their shuttle with their complementary environmental controls. Once they were comfortable and acquainted they showed her holograms of moments from her life stopping on an image of the terebinth from her homeland. She cried and one of the aliens held her. Another alien expressed their commitment to take humanity into the stars to forge new relationship with other being yet unknown and still undreamed of. They had established a pact with Ahed with no strings or expectation of services in return. The aliens only wanted humanity to strive to be their best selves in the spirit, in the home, in their countries, and on the everlasting palace of space where our future would be mapped for as long as our species shall exist.