Not another one. Hurrying to work, I had few options to make my morning meeting. I don’t know where these “Peep” bastards came from, but they’re getting in the way. Don’t even get me started on the smell. Its horrendous. Like part compost pile, part wet dog. I wrinkled my nose as I got closer.
My life would’ve been different if I hadn’t failed out of cell biology in college. I wanted to be a marine biologist, going out to remote islands and sampling coral reefs in the deep blue sea. The last thing I expected was a boring office job with an equally frustrating commute.
Ocean creatures still fascinated me. Moving like hovering angels, chromatophores winking into new configurations and colors at a whim. It was like watching a digital artist click on the “fill” tool, with each fold and wrinkle saturating instantly to a new hue.
An octopus was more interesting than these damn things.
It had only been a year since they blinked into existence high above the atmosphere, broadcasting on all languages a general non-helpful question, “Be YOUSE? Be YOUSE?”. No one knew what it meant. “Be us?”, “Be ours?”, what kind of civilization travels the vast gulf of space to ask random nonsense?
Drawing closer, I could see the Peep playing with a discarded childrens toy. They loved rooting in the garbage. Who knew what they were looking for. Some draped themselves in plastic bags like mad kings of the landfill. Others tried to set up small shantytowns near garbage dumps.
This one was turning a primary-colored cube over and over, making that annoying cooing sound. Flat grey flesh pressed against the plexiglass partition, stubby legs planted firmly on the concrete sidewalk.
I skirted around the bus stop, holding my nose. I’d better go to the next one up the street.
A large delivery truck rumbled by, open side doors blasting a morning talk show. The topic of course, was the damn Peeps. I couldn’t escape it. Every magazine had a special coverage article, every newspaper and TV program had a dedicated crawl at the bottom with Peep trivia.
“Did you know the Peep ships are larger than Central Park in New York City?”
“Peeps on parade! Watch as a few playful fellows tumble down the New Jersey municipal landfill!”
Oh lord, their ships. Take a bunch of random shapes, glue them together and spray paint it earthen brown. That’s what their ships looked like. No chrome widgets, no large hull sections sprinkled with mysterious antenna and sensor pods. Just a huge lump of misshapen things stuck together.
It was like the universe wanted to play a practical joke on humankind. We wanted to know if we were alone, and the only one that showed up on our galactic doorstep was the slow cousin from the Ozarks.
Most people recoiled at the thought of integrating with the Peeps. The smell, their burbling speech, the way they fixated on weird garbage and sat for hours at at time in public places. One politician tried to pass a “Peep Protection Act” that paradoxically would have rounded them all up and put them into camps, but it failed soundly.
Someone liked them, but it sure wasn’t me.
Rain started to spit down, turning my walk into a hurried run. Dashing across the street, I ducked into the corner bus stop shaking off my coat. I should’ve worn a hat, but it was too late for that now. The rain intensified, droplets splashing into a fine mist that hung near the surface.
I heard a cooing sound.
Damn it all, a Peep.
It poked its snout-like face into the rain, extending a long grey tongue to taste the drops.
Good lord, it made my skin crawl. Nearby, the stoplight turned green, allowing the city bus to pull up to the stop. A wash of diesel fumes, sharp pneumatic hiss as the door folded open. I stepped into the warm confines, glad to be out of the weather.
“You don’t let Peeps ride, do you?”, I gestured with a thumb back at the stubby alien, still licking the air for rain.
“No, they can’t pay anyway. Can’t take trash.”, the driver adjusted his cap and pushed the button for the door to close.
Taking a seat, I looked down at the bus stop. The Peep was still there, poking through the waste bin attached to the bus stop sign.
Poor bastards. At least Peeps don’t have to go to work. The bus shook and rumbled, exhaust belching black fumes.
Maybe next time we could be visited by angels.
Anything but this.