Alien Opportunities Ch.1 : New Opportunities Part 1
Ch. 1: New Opportunities
He had done the minimum time stated in his contract for today. Further work today would mean he could take extra time off in the future. Chris hated the way he skulked about feeling guilty, even about things that were his right. He felt guilty insofar as he thought his superiors and some of his equals and inferiors would not approve. Most of them preferred to work longer when there were important jobs on. It was sensible because it looked good on your Work Reports. These could be shown to superiors when you were called for appraisal interviews – which was every quarter in this company, and in all companies which followed Modern Standards. A willingness to work hard and long hours, when there was work to do, pleased the managers and helped a person’s career prospects immensely. Extra hours were credited automatically to a person’s payroll if they did not take Non Standard Time off to compensate by the end of the month. If an individual applied for another job a willingness to work long hours had been almost essential in those days, not long past, of competitive job hunting, and you needed proof. The extra credits had been, and still were, a major incentive. Most people had things they wanted to purchase badly. They never seemed to possess enough. They were prepared to sacrifice time to get what they wanted. Possession was status and it was normal.
Chris had often worked longer hours in the past for both of these reasons. The Work Reports had possibly helped him to gain some basic promotion earlier than he would otherwise, but he was sure that as his experience grew his company would have wanted to use his talents anyway. The youngsters, low level trainees, were still learning and they did not understand all of what he did. The credits had helped him to buy his small flat. It was theoretically better than to rent so he had done it. He now had a slightly bigger room and more privacy because he did not have to share the kitchen with any obnoxious people. He had calculated that he now earned sufficient to keep up the payments on the flat and to buy the things he needed. Why did he need any more credits? Indeed, he wished deeply that it were possible to enter a contract with his company, which would allow him to work shorter hours and to receive fewer credits. He knew that was not possible. It was unheard of in his line of work. Other people in some other jobs were part time, but they were considered poor unfortunates and were paid lower rates. Instead he earned too much money and lived a life of dull but complicated freedom. There was no way out of the daily cycle.
Chris was on the pavement outside the office block. Freedom at last. It was daylight outside. He should not have been surprised. The summer season was approaching.
Chris had become used to his life of dull routine. The parts of the routine which he enjoyed were the best he could hope for in life. He enjoyed them to the fullest and gave little thought to any real alternative. The days of wishing for something better were long gone. His expectations of something better were an even dimmer memory of his youth, when he had lived with his parents and believed that the things he saw on television could be his. His parents had not taken the trouble to warn him that his life could never be like that. They had probably assumed that he knew he would be like his parents one day. In fact, he had hoped for something better. It had not even turned out as his parents had expected. He knew he was not even as successful as they had been, and although he was still young he had already reached the plateau of his career and, it seemed, his life. He was fairly alone in the world, without enough friends, except for the occasional contact with the ones he did have. He had his parents to fall back on, and he got on tolerably well with some of the people at work. He had been told, led to believe, not in so many words, but by his parents and the television, that each child could look forward to various stages in his or her life. Along with work, responsibility and training in adult life should come partnership with a female, perhaps not a permanent marriage with the first one or two he met, but at some stage marriage would occur, and soon after a child or two would follow, with added responsibilities, a new stage of maturity. It was well understood that marriage might not come in his twenties, but it would come sooner or later, that was for sure. Chris was twenty-five and therefore should have every expectation of achieving the state of marriage over his long career to come. This should have reassured him, but he had observed over his years of work and study that few of his own age, and indeed those older than him, were married or even involved in a relationship. The work precluded that, and after work was largely a very private time for him and for many. He had tried to talk to new people, males and females, but they never seemed to have much to say beyond work-related matters, and Chris likewise had little to tell them. The question of relationships with females, sometimes observed in others from a distance, never came up as far as his own life was concerned. In this he was not alone. Chris had for some years now been able to see the truth. His life would probably go on as it was now until the age of retirement. The expectations, pressures and options of career progress lay before him if he could create sufficient motivation, but there would be no opportunities for change in his personal life. He made do with his life as it was. There was no sense in making himself miserable.
From the void we had long hoped would not be empty came the strange people of Starmanena. When the aliens first came, some years before, Earth governments were in great fear of them because of their obvious relative technological superiority. Afraid to start a war they agreed to the aliens’ trading treaty terms. Certain planetary materials and technologies were exchanged on both sides. It seemed the aliens, who were very humanoid in appearance, were keen traders, and wanted to find out what of value earth had. As time developed it became evident that the trade which most interests the aliens was in cultural matters. They liked the variety which earth could offer. They said they valued humans as artists and musicians. They claimed to love Earth music – classical, jazz, soul, rock and so on, which was different from their own, although rumour had it that they made some good music themselves. They apparently appreciated our dance, and literature, our photography, and were fascinated by our history. There were many who distrusted their motives and some who fought to resist their all pervasive growing influence on Earth, their virtual bypassing of Earth authorities by unnatural treaties, and by their appeal over the heads of governments direct to the people, and the brain drain they had created, as many of the young turned their backs on the old ways and the rigorous learning, opting in droves for service to the aliens. Some even left for the alien planets, worked for aliens, or entered alien households on this one. Not only the young left, but all ages took that leap of faith to a new world, including some of the aged who suspected they might be treated by the aliens to extend life. This was an unproven rumour, which was spreading amongst many older people in those days.
“There’s no need to be unhappy in your work any more,” said Michael, a friend. “Don’t you read the newspapers? Haven’t you heard about the brain drain, and the labour shortages. Employers are desperate for labour and they’re paying more for it, because they don’t want to lose any more staff, but the drain still goes on.”
“Why?” Chris asked.
“Because we can all afford to move around now. No one is going to push us out of a job unless we don’t work, start pinching things or being rude to customers. So we can move from job to job more easily, without fear of being washed up on the dole queues. You should do the same. I can tell its time. You’re thoroughly sick of that job. Let your hair down. Go for something easier. It doesn’t matter what it is. You can always move on if you don’t like it. You know what I did?”
“I was wondering where you’ve been for the last six months,” said Chris, curious.
“Well you know I’ve always loved history, but wasn’t confident enough to be a school teacher, and not tough enough to deal with those silly school kids. And I wasn’t good enough to teach it at university.”
“Well I replied to an ad for a teaching position with one of the alien schools. You know, where they teach their own kids, and also adult aliens who want to learn. They employ many humans to teach them all sorts of things about Earth culture, including particularly history. So I took it. The classes are small, often very small. I found that the aliens really want to learn, even the kids. The kids are even more mature than our adults I would say, thirsting for knowledge, and particularly our culture. I tell you they’re fascinated by us.
“The alien teachers were great too. Aliens are all very strange. I mean they seem so quiet and polite most of the time. They aren’t as demonstrative, or as selfish as many of us, nor are they as hardworking I think. Their silences we seem to regard as intelligence and maturity, but in fact they actually seem to be slower than us, in many of the things they do or think. I’m sure that’s why they like us so much. We entertain them, they think we’re more passionate. We jump in where they pause and think. They wouldn’t do half the things we do. That’s why they find our history and our literature, and other arts so interesting. They think we’re beautiful, I tell you. They find us sexually attractive too. Some of the other human teachers had developed relationships with alien teachers, one or two with adult students, which isn’t allowed at all in our colleges, but the aliens don’t seem to mind at all, as long as they’re adults. All the human teachers were getting offers from aliens quite often.”
“They are not so attractive though are they, the females, not by our standards,” said Chris, who had never considered them attractive, and had never really contemplated them in that way. “You didn’t did you?”
“Well actually I did try one of them. I used to think of them like you do, and still they’re not as attractive as our young models, but they have their compensations.”
“What are those?” Chris was enthralled by his friend’s admission. He had indeed heard rumours of liaisons with aliens, the news media were full of innuendos, and there were even documentaries on TV and Net. His own sexual failures led him to feel excited by the idea of sex with aliens, just as he had long thought that sex with an older woman (not too old), or with any woman, would be worth having if he ever got the chance. Maybe an alien woman would be better than nothing.
“They are great lovers, very patient, and they go for a long time, a very long time if that’s what you want. You get used to their looks. They’re really not unattractive when you put all of our stereotypes out of your mind. The skin of mine – well actually I had two lovers – both of them - was quite smooth, more so than ours, and their bodies are quite defined. I’ve never had such great sex. So what do you say, fancy an alien girlfriend. There are plenty to be had. If you get a job working with them, or for them, you’re bound to come in contact with them. You don’t have to do anything. They’ll ask you out. I know you have difficulty with that. It’s why you’re still single. I used to have difficulty with that too. The alien way is an easy way out of that, I’m telling you. Doesn’t have to be permanent, but as a temporary measure it’s a good experience.”
“Well I’m not sure about the alien women,” said Chris, still unwilling to admit that he might be interested, in breaking the taboo against relationships with aliens. There was a strong feeling in him that he must keep up the appearance of human exclusivity, just as, even in these enlightened times, he could not bring himself to suggest that he might ever fantasise about having sex with men. “But are they good employers?” he knew that resident aliens operated many business operations which employed humans.
“Oh yeah, sure. They’re great employers. Hard work just doesn’t seem to be in their culture, although they are pretty well organised. There are loads of jobs to be had with them. They are the reason for the brain drain. If you go to work for them, like me you will be participating in a kind of brain drain from human enterprises. The other kind of brain drain is the large human migration to their planet, which is more serious for the Earth economy.”