Three Finger Alien

My first memory of Darienne was the shrill tone of her voice quickly approaching me from behind. A second later the cold plastic floor was below me and she sat on my chest. Her three-fingered hands were hovering right above my face. I was terrified; she had a grin on her lips.

“Now you have to join me on my home planet.”

I was five and a half back then and Darienne was nearly six. And from that day on we were best friends. She invited many others to her home planet, but for some reason scaring the others wasn’t as fun as scaring me. Even when I saw and felt them every day, her three-fingered hands still terrified me. Darienne enjoyed her scariness on a daily basis; her cold fingers wandered under my shirt or suddenly appeared at the edge of tables or grabbed my arm or leg or neck.

But while her fingers brought her fun with me they brought her pain with everyone else. Nobody wanted to befriend the “alien.” In kindergarten that was the name she proudly gave herself, in school it became an insult and curse.

I wouldn’t say that I was popular, but I was never the last one chosen for team games or group exercises. I was invited to birthday parties and trips to the water park.

The only one that invited Darienne to birthdays and trips was me. Every year she gave me a small gift together with a hand-painted picture of the two of us – the smiling blonde with five fingers on each hand and the smiling dark-haired girl with three. But even during my parties she somehow always ended up at the edge of the group or the corner of the room.

At my tenth birthday party, we played hide and seek. After three rounds Bri was the seeker and the rest of us hid all around the garden and house. Darienne found a place in one of my mom’s kitchen cupboards and waited to be found. First she was proud of her excellent hiding spot, then she felt bored and, after about thirty minutes, she realized that no one was looking for her anymore.

Bri had noticed Darienne’s dark hair wedged in the cupboard door and decided that she would rather leave Darienne undiscovered.

While childhood was hard on Darienne being a teenager was worse. Like a magic spell the eleventh and twelfth birthdays brought out colorful and – in retrospect I can say that – far too revealing dresses. Everybody wanted to be pretty. Nobody wanted to be a freak. Nobody wanted to be like Darienne.

She was a pretty girl, inside and out, with a cute face and a genuine smile and laugh. Her body was not unshapely, her fashion sense maybe slightly outdated but not any worse than mine. But no matter what she did, no matter how perfect her makeup was or how sparkling her earrings were – nobody saw Darienne, everybody saw the alien with just three long and thin fingers on each hand.

With 14 I wasn’t a good friend. With 14 I was too concerned with myself to see that an old friendship should have been more important than to be part of the popular crowd. I didn’t want pillow fights and game nights with Darienne anymore, I wanted to go to parties with Sabrina and shopping with Yana and to the movies with Eliza.

I didn’t invite Darienne to my fifteenth birthday party. Still she sent me a gift – a small toy UFO – and another painting of us.

Shortly before her 16th birthday the guilt found me. I don’t remember what my grandma said, but it was about friendship and character and it made me cry.

I called her up and we went for ice cream and gossip to the park. But she was somebody else by then: without smile and without the sparkle in her eyes. She still listened to my stories while we slurped fast-melting ice cream, but she didn’t tell any of her own. I took that as a sign that there simply were no stories to tell, that her life had become so secluded and lonely that she had nothing to tell me about.

She must have known back then; she must have made the decision long before.

On the morning of her 16th birthday, when Darienne’s mom entered Darienne’s room with a cake with burning candles in her hands and a song on her lips the bed was empty.

One week later Eliza disappeared from the mall. The last recording showed her enter the bathroom.

Another week later Yana disappeared while on her way home from school. She walked along a busy street but nobody had noticed a thing.

The third week, when all parents made sure to drive their children to school, Sabrina disappeared from volleyball practice. She had been at one end of the hall, practicing with a friend, when the ball bounced off. The friend ran after the ball and when she turned around Sabrina was gone.

The fourth week, when the town hall was debating whether to close the schools, Bri disappeared during dinner. She had just left the table to get a glass of water – but when her parents checked on her the kitchen was empty.

For two months I slept between my parents. I didn’t even use the bathroom on my own.

Time made everybody feel safer. Two months without disappearances and the school was finally reopened. And just on that day, while we were sitting in a half-filled class room, they found four freshly severed fingers in the handicapped stall of the mall bathroom.

School was cancelled again.

One week later a dog walker found four fingers on the sidewalk of the busy street that Yana used to take home from school.

The third week a janitor found four fingers in a corner of the gymnasium.

They police waited for two weeks in Bri’s kitchen; then they gave up.

School resumed another month later. There were only five of us in the class room.

Another month later my birthday came around. My mom wasn’t surprised that I refused the party, but she was hurt that I also refused the cake. She didn’t understand that I just wanted to stay home alone.

I spent most of my sweet sixteen crying.

Then, about 2:30pm, the doorbell rang. I didn’t answer the door until the bell rang a second and then a third time.

By the time I opened the door the mailman had already turned around, but he came back to give me the parcel.

It was a small cube, in all directions about the size of my hand, with my name carefully written on the top in black letters. I was surprised by the weight.

The cardboard opened easily and I recognized the smoothly polished metal right away as another model of an UFO. I quickly made sure that all the doors were locked.

For about an hour the box sat on our dining table until I finally dared to approach it again. I lifted the solid metal sphere out of the box and sat it on the table. It looked well made, nearly real – except for the size.

The house felt cold, as if a draft was going through the room.

No switch, no opening. I looked at the object from all sides, ran my hand along the and finally knocked on the top. I immediately regretted the knock.

For a solid minute I was frozen in space and just stared at the UFO. I was expecting its lights to turn on or for it to disappear into another dimension. But the model simply stayed in place, calm and without any reaction.

I pushed the UFO into the middle of the table and got up to throw the box away.

When I grabbed it off the table I saw a paper at the bottom of the box; a paper with a hand-painted picture.

There were two girls on the picture, one with blonde hair and one with black hair. They were holding their hands high in the sky.

And for the first time each of their hands had five fingers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.