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A Sci-Fi Holiday

by John Rodat on November 27, 2013


A dining room at Thanksgiving.

The table is laden with traditional fare: a dirigible-sized turkey glistens golden brown, a snowy Himalayan mound of mashed potatoes steams, gravy rich and black in a ceramic boat so broad it looks a tabletop tar pit, spears of asparagus like a clear-cut forest, candied yams sparkling under a carapace of reflective brown sugar . . . and a constellation of mini marshmallows atop the entire scene.

Around the table a Rockwellian nuclear family grins to crack their cranberry cheeks. At the head, GRANDFATHER, a clean-shaven and side-parted man evincing both gravitas and mirth. To his right, GRANDMOTHER, a gray-haired woman whose plumpness speaks of solidity and health. FATHER looks much like his own sire; he is making great progress in those footsteps. MOTHER, though more slender and modern than grandmotherly at this point, has the inherited wisdom of all women in her fond eyes—eyes that gaze lovingly at DAUGHTER, already quite the striking young lady, and SON, who has not yet shed the devilish spirit and verve that still bubbles beneath the duty-bound and honorable surface of the men at the table.

It is a handsome family, I tell you what.

They pass plates, platters and portions around, smilingly. Conversation is a low, polite murmur, punctuated by affectionate affirmations and paused occasionally for brief communal silences of shared familial gratitude.

There is a flash of white light so intense the entire scene is blotted out.

As it slowly resolves back into focus, there is the sound of crockery breaking underfoot, cutlery falling to the floor. The voices of as-yet unseen people are heard.

VOICE 1: Holy Shit!

VOICE 2: Did it work?

VOICE 1: I don’t know. I can’t see a goddamned thing. But we’re not dead . . .

Focus is sharpened. The scene is as before, save some upset of foodstuffs and the addition of two figures, one male, one female. Both are young adults. Both are in jumpsuits of transparent plastic-like material. Beneath, they wear nothing but the briefest of garments—just enough to maintain a PG rating, say. They each have an antenna-like wire protruding from their skulls above their right ears. Both are very, very tan. The male has a tattoo on his abdomen that reads, “Fuck Bitches, Get Money.” When the female turns we see that she has a tattoo on her back that says, “Don’t Shame the Slut, Shame the Game.” And a butterfly.

FEMALE: We’re not?

MALE (to Handsome Family): Hey, what is this? Is this the Champagne Room? Hello? Hey!

GRANDFATHER: What? Who are . . . what?

Female taps the base of her antenna with a bejeweled talon.

FEMALE: Champagne Room . . . Champagne Room . . . Heaven! Is this Heaven?

SON: This is Thanksgiving.

MALE: What year is this?

FATHER: It’s 2013.

MALE and FEMALE: It worked! It worked!

Female pokes again at her antenna.

FEMALE: Oh. Em. Effing. Gee, Rhiannax, tell Viagra that the motherfucking, like, whatever has motherfucking, you know, whatever! . . . Yuh-huh. No, Tweet this: It’s all, like, Modern Family, or something ancient.

GRANDFATHER (rising from his chair): Young lady, mind your language, please! I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but there are children present!

Male and Female exchange looks.

MALE: Sorry, dude. Honest. This must seem hella weird. But it’s, like, we’re kinda like, you know, uh, victims. Nahmsayin’? They were keeping us down.

GRANDMOTHER: Oh, my. Do you mean refugees?

FEMALE: That’s it! Refugees! We had to escape because of  . . .

MALE (a look of inspiration crosses his face): Religious prostitution!

FEMALE: Prosecution.

MALE: Prosecution.


DAUGHTER (rises from her chair): Gramma, Grampa, Mommy, Daddy, can they join us for Thanksgiving dinner? We have more than enough . . .

GRANDFATHER: Of course, they can.

Female drops immediately into the seat behind Daughter; Male attempts to squeeze onto the same chair as SON.

SON: No, I don’t see anyway this could go wrong.