Far From Home

Jenna Hanchey

June 1, 2022

We knew it was war. When they arrived, sleek and silver, streaming across the night sky. At least, here in the United States we did. That's what matters.

We figured out what to do from watching films. How to save the world. We shot them down as they approached. We protected our cities. We guarded our infrastructure. We stayed strong.

But we grew uncomfortable with our lack of casualties. It shouldn't be this easy. Shifting our weight back and forth, scratching at imaginary itches, we thought, maybe more are coming. A second wave.

The last ship figured out how to signal surrender. We could read the desperation even through their watery pronunciations. They emerged with appendages raised, mimicking the practice displayed in our news. We searched their ship and found only apparel, food, archives.

No weapons.

Understanding they were refugees obviously changed our attitude. We wanted to help. So we took pains to explain their mistake.

We taught them to be nonthreatening. To lower their multitudinous eyes, bend their purple backs. To approach tentatively, so they wouldn't be killed.

We gave them a place to live, reworking the laws around some land in Oklahoma. Provided jobs their tentacles could perform. Allowed them to assimilate.

Still, we watch them. Keep guard. Because we know those who flee are always hiding something. They must be, if they are willing to live so far from home.

We will be ready—if they force us—to do what we must.

We're always ready for war.

Jenna Hanchey is a critical/cultural communication professor by day and a speculative fiction writer by...um...earlier in the day. Her stories appear (or will) in Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Martian Magazine, Stupefying Stories, and Page & Spine. Follow her adventures on Twitter (@jennahanchey) or at www.jennahanchey.com.