‘Proven Strategies in Human Public Relations’, Davian Aw

Illustration © 2017 Carmen Moran

It began with the broadcasts we picked up from deep space,
radiowaves decoded into image and audio just like our own
movies; too much like our own, if we’d had time to think
amidst the global excitement when the first screenings beamed
down from satellites: windows to an ethereal heaven,
a beacon of sentience from light years away shining onto
our screens and right into our hearts, humanity glued to
a tale from another place better than this. We watched
strange-limbed bodies enact myriad dreams, tuned our souls
to the swell of the opening theme, synced our hearts to the beat
of their joys and pain, rooting for a pantheon of heroes
and learning their names. Without knowing it, they were teaching us
their language, their slang weaving into the weft of our own.
Kids hung up their posters. Ads appropriated their faces.
The social feeds filled with their gifs and their memes.
Fan forums ran high with anticipation, hashing out theories
and gushing over ’ships, role-playing as members of that grand
civilisation, that magic utopia from the far-flung stars.

Our fashions adapted: shirts flowing with empty sleeves,
beauty products that made your skin blue, your eyes inky
almonds of black, your hair thickly twined like antennae;
our minds wracked to ruin with inhuman desire, we lived
lurid fantasies on our virtual planes. If only
they would come here to Earth! We hoped they would judge us
all adequate, our worship pleasing, our imitations worthy
offerings to prove our equality. We bore their flags on our bodies,
branded their script on our skin, christened our offspring
with their exquisite names. We wept as they wept
when their Marn slaves revolted and blew up the sun-mines
that powered their home. We despaired as their refugees wearily
traversed the cloud-deep waste of their devastated globe.
Their loved ones fell to ash and we mourned each demise,
locking doors to sob on beds—Kiru’ik was so young, why
did ae have to die, and just before aer first mating circle!
Poor Spokt-e! aer hearts must be broken!

Their radar found a new home. We howled with relief
spread the joy on our airwaves, threw parties to celebrate.
We held them in our hearts as their ships soared through space
meeting trials and tribulations and making it through; hugged
each other for comfort when their first scouts reported
that new home inhabited with no room for them.
But supplies were fast dwindling, fuel cells soon depleted,
and Theanu—their leader, that wise, gentle soul—
made the painful decision (oh, how it hurt aer hearts)
to replace the inhabitants, a primitive race for whom death
would be kindness.

The council was solemn. They did not like taking life,
but their children, their children! they had to survive
for they loved them so much, and they kissed them goodnight
whispering rest now, you little ones. we fight for your future.
NASA broadcast the warnings—a perfunctory measure
before their armed forces blackened our skies.

With understanding smiles, we greeted their guns.
Hands down,
we gladly fell.

 [ Proven Strategies, © 2017 Carmen Moran ]

© 2017 Davian Aw

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