I Was a Sixth Grade Alien
Ms. Weintraub Drops a Bombshell
I just wanted to have a friend. The part about almost getting killed and kind of saving the world happened by accident.
It’s not like I didn’t have any friends. I may be kind of nerdy, but I get along with people okay, if you don’t count Jordan Lynch. But I wanted a best friend, someone who was my total bud, someone I could really talk to.
Linnsy Vanderhoff, who lives in the apartment two floors up, used to be my best friend. We’ve been in the same class since kindergarten, but she doesn’t like to be seen with me much these days because, socially speaking, she’s much higher on the food chain than I am.
Actually, Linnsy is just plain higher than me, since she’s sort of the class Amazon, taller and tougher than any of the other girls, and most of the boys, too. That’s one reason I’m glad we grew up together; it makes her more tolerant of me, which means she’s less likely to punch me really hard. Mostly what I get is a sock on the bicep when she thinks I’ve done something stupid. She calls this “a little punchie-wunchie, as a reminder not to be such a dorkie-workie.” She doesn’t hit me all that hard, but sometimes I worry that a few thousand punchie-wunchies—which is what I figure I’ll have had by the time we’re seniors—will turn my bicep into mush.
Which it sort of is anyway.
Anyway, I’m used to Linnsy. The real royal pain in my butt is Jordan Lynch, who’s only been in our class for two years, ever since he got kicked out of the fancy private school where he used to go. Great system, huh? The kid is so bad they can’t pay a school to take him, so we get him. It’s too bad, because if you could pay a school to take him, I’d start a magazine drive or something to cover the costs.
Jordan sits in the back row, three desks behind me. Linnsy sits two desks over. Our teacher, Ms. Weintraub, sits at the front of the room—or would, if she was ever sitting, which she’s mostly not, since she’s almost always up and doing something. I really like her. She makes things interesting.
Also, she’s kind of pretty.
I made the mistake of saying that to Linnsy once. (I still get to talk to her, because our mothers take turns driving us to school in the morning.) She gave me a little punchie-wunchie and said, “Tim, beneath that dorky exterior beats the heart of someone from another world.”
That was me. Tim Tompkins, sixth grade alien, weirdest kid in the class.
School had only been going for a week—just long enough for me to have serious doubts about whether I was going to live through the year—when Ms. Weintraub called us together for “an important announcement.”
I struggled out of the headlock Jordan had me in and started for my desk. I figured the “important announcement” was probably about lunch money or eraser duty or something, but it was a good excuse to get away from Jordan.
Once we had settled down, Ms. Weintraub said, “I’m sure you all followed the big news this summer.”
“You mean about the aliens?” I cried.
Linnsy groaned, and I could tell by the look on her face that if I was sitting closer to her I’d be getting “a little punchie-wunchie” right then. But I couldn’t help myself. Ever since the first time I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind (I’ve watched it about forty times in all) I’ve been waiting for aliens to contact us.
So when the president announced in July that Earth had received a message from the Interplanetary Trading League, I had been one of the happiest kids in the world. I figured it was just about the biggest news in history. So what else could Ms. Weintraub have been thinking of?
I guess the others didn’t feel the same way. At least, Jordan didn’t. “Space Boy strikes again,” he snickered, using one of his three favorite nicknames for me. (The other two are Nerdbutt and Dootbrain.)
“Actually, Tim is right,” said Ms. Weintraub, smiling slightly. “The announcement is about the aliens.”
“They didn’t declare war, did they?” asked Melissa Farkis. She sounded like she was about to cry. But then, Melissa usually sounded like she was about to cry.
Ms. Weintraub laughed. “No, Melissa. The aliens haven’t done anything to disprove their claim that they’re friendly.”
I could scarcely keep myself in my seat. “So what’s the announcement?”
Ms. Weintraub looked serious. “As you know, the aliens are establishing a single embassy for the whole planet, which many countries have been competing to host. The aliens have finally made their decision. They’re going to settle here.”
“Are we going to Washington to see them?” I asked eagerly.
Ms. Weintraub frowned at me. “Tim, please control yourself. And you misunderstand me. The aliens are not settling in Washington. Everyone was afraid the aliens would choose the United States, and there was some jealousy about that. So to keep it a world-wide mission, the aliens have decided to settle in this country—but not in the capital.”
I tried to keep quiet, but I couldn’t. “You don’t mean they’re going to settle here… as in here?”
I was so excited my voice squeaked on the last word.
“That’s exactly what I mean, Tim. Syracuse is going to be host city for the alien embassy. But that’s not all.”
I grabbed the edge of my desk. What could possibly top this news?
“The alien ambassador, Meenom Ventrah, is bringing his son with him.”
I let go of my desk and pushed on my eyeballs to keep them from bugging out of my head.
“Mr. Ventrah—I guess you’d call him `Mr.’ though I don’t know for sure—wants his son, Pleskit, to go to a public school. The government tried to talk him out of it, but he is very insistent. He says it is important for our peoples to get to know each other.”
“So what public school will this alien kid be going to?” asked Melissa nervously.
Ms. Weintraub smiled. “This one. And not just this school. The announcement I wanted to make is that the world’s first alien student is going to be a member of our class.”
“Yesssss!” I cried, leaping out of my seat.
“Tim, sit down! This is not going to be easy.”
“Why not?” asked Linnsy.
“Well, for one thing, it’s going to focus a lot of attention on us. We’ll have reporters hounding us to get in here. They’ll be contacting your homes, too. Mr. Stone is having meetings with your parents today to discuss the situation. Some of you may be removed from the class.”
“What?” I cried.
“Tim, raise your hand before speaking or I’m going to send you out of the room.”
I clamped my hands over my mouth. Getting sent out now would be horrible. (And getting pulled out permanently would probably kill me.)
“Good idea,” said Ms. Weintraub, when she saw what I was doing. “Now, any removals will be strictly up to your parents. Some of them might not want the media attention. Others might fear that Pleskit will carry dangerous germs.”
“Eeeuw!” cried Melissa. “Could that be true?”
I waited for Ms. Weintraub to throw her out, but she didn’t. She just said, “Well, if it were true, we’d be as likely to infect Pleskit as he would be to infect us. But the aliens and our own government have both certified that there is no chance of its happening.”
Michael Wu raised his hand. “Won’t the aliens think it’s awfully rude if someone leaves the class?”
Ms. Weintraub shrugged. “I suspect they’ve studied us enough to know that not everyone will welcome this situation.”
That’s for sure, I thought, remembering the horrible things I had heard some people saying on the news.
“So when does this kid get here?” asked Jordan—without raising his hand, I might add.
Ms. Weintraub took a deep breath. She looked around the room, making eye contact with each one of us. Then, In a soft voice, she said, “Our new student will be joining us… tomorrow.”
That was when I fell off my chair.
A Letter Home (Translation)
FROM: Pleskit Meenom, newly arrived on Planet Earth TO: Maktel Geebrit, on Planet Hevi-Hevi
How are you doing? Better than me, I hope. I miss Hevi-Hevi already! And I’m scared.
I wouldn’t admit that to anyone but you. But think about it. First day of school is always a little scary. First day in a totally new school is even worse. First day of school on a totally new planet is enough to frighten a flinkel!
It’s not like I’m a newbie at this interplanetary business. After all, Earth is the fourth planet the Fatherly One has dragged me to. Well, fifth, if you count that three-week disaster on Geembol Seven—which I don’t!
Anyway, it’s not like I haven’t been around. But this time is way different, for one simple reason: We are the first off-world embassy to open on this planet! Can you believe it? These people have never met anyone from another world!
Well, that’s probably not entirely true. I’m sure there were explorations and secret landings and so on before we decided to make formal contact. And I’ve found rumors on GalactaNet that some misfits have used the planet as a hiding place in the past. But that has all been in secret. I will be the first kid from another world ever to be here in the open.
I feel like I’m going to the zoo. Except all the animals will be looking at me.
Fortunately, I had training modules to get me ready for this, so I have a pretty good knowledge of the language. Actually, I should say a language, since they have hundreds of them! (Can you believe it? The confusion must be astonishing.)
I am trying to learn enough of their customs so that I will be able to appear in public without embarrassing myself. According to the modules, Earthlings seem to have a strange insistence on pure truth. So that is going to be a little tricky. But as the Fatherly One always says, “When in Gimplikt, do as the Gimpliktians do.”
I wouldn’t worry about all this so much, except for one more terrible thing: the Fatherly One has insisted I go to a public school. On a civilized planet that wouldn’t make so much difference. But according to the Fatherly One’s secretary, Mikta-makta-mookta, being different is a big problem here. From what she tells me, everyone on this planet likes to pretend he or she is unique and different. (How unique and different they can be when they only have two sexes is something I cannot understand. Can you believe it??? Well, as I told you, this is a very weird place.)
Mikta-makta-mookta also says that even though they like to pretend they’re all unique and different, at the same time each of them is desperately trying to be just like everyone else.
I don’t have any idea what they’re going to do when they have to deal with someone who’s really different.
I had a long conversation with the Grandfatherly One about all this last night. He keeps telling me not to worry, everything will be fine.
That’s easy for him to say. He’s dead!
Thank goodness I still have him with me. Also my pet veeblax. He’s almost two years old now, and he’s learned a lot of new shapes since the last time you saw him, Maktel, though he still hasn’t found his name. If the Fatherly One had not allowed me to bring him along, I doubt I would have been able to stand this trip. Sometimes I almost thinkg he understands the things I say to him. I wish I had a talking pet, like you do. But that will have to wait until we’re much wealthier than we are now.
Anyway, I told the veeblax how I felt about being sent to such a primitive place. I can’t complain too much to the Fatherly One, since one of the reasons we got this nasty assignment is because of the problems back on Geembol Seven.
The good side to all this is that if we can manage to find something on Earth that will interest the League of Traders, the Fatherly One will have a lifelong interest in the planet’s commerce. Of course, that means we’re going to have to sample virtually every food that exists here, trying to find something truly special. My stomach aches just thinking about it! But aside from new foods, there’s not much a primitive place like this could offer the rest of the galaxy.
So that’s my father’s goal. I have three goals:
1) Find a friend. (I know you won’t take that personally, since we both agreed long ago that whenever we go to other planets we have to make new friends.)
2) Do not embarrass the Fatherly One by screwing up this mission the way I did the last one.
3) Find some excuse to come home to Hevi-Hevi.
I’m sorry this is such a depressing transmission. But you made me promise to write and tell you about my trip, and a promise is meetumlicht.
So I’ll keep sending these messages.
I hope you enjoy them. I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot easier for you to read about all this than it will be for me to live through it.
Tomorrow morning I leave for my first day at the new school. I should be sleeping, but I can’t. I’m too scared!
I will write and let you know how it goes.
Until then—Fremmix Bleeblom!
<-- Back to the main page for I Was a Sixth Grade Alien