Saturday, May 27, 2023

“No One Noticed” • by Avery Elizabeth Hurt

They landed on a hill just north of the city one morning during rush hour.
The ships were tall and narrow, some 150-meters high, and glowed with that deep, intense white of floodlights in sports stadiums. They stood there like sentinels, humming softly.

And no one noticed.

Cars keep alternately zooming and creeping toward the offices scattered on the hillside just below the ships. The people in the cars were thinking about the rudeness of the people in the other cars, how late they were or were not going to be, the arguments they’d had with spouses or children that morning or the night before, how lousy the coffee was getting to be at their local coffee shop, what sort of car they’d get next time they traded, how rude were the people in the other cars, and on and on ‘round the loop, circling back and circling back, going not much of anywhere in their minds just like they were going not much of anywhere in their cars.

The ships stood there glowing and humming for several weeks, then the aliens got off the ships and began to take over the city. At this point a few people noticed, but not many. It wasn’t that the aliens were being crafty or subtle. In the same bold way they landed their ships at the spot they were most easily seen from the city, they marched openly into city hall, and the major banks and corporations, and began reprogramming computers and destroying files, and changing coffee vendors and cubicle layouts.

But for most people life went on pretty much as it always had. A guy would pass a ten-foot-tall semi-transparent creature with slits for eyes, mutter “Good morning,” and go into his cubicle and start doing whatever it was he had done before they took over. After a few weeks, the few people who had noticed decided that something had to be done. They formed a committee.

It was several more weeks before the committee actually met. First they had to reserve a conference room, and that was tricky now that the aliens had changed the scheduling software. It took three IT guys the better part of a week to reconfigure the calendar app so that they could reserve the room they wanted (a small one, on the quieter side of the building—they wanted to keep this on the DL, of course). Then there was a problem with getting the agenda sent ‘round to everyone and signed-off on. Kirby from finance kept adding items, and Sommers from marketing kept suggesting they have the meeting catered and spent a couple of weeks soliciting opinions about which delis were best for these smaller meetings.

Eventually, however, they managed to gather (Harder’s deli, great wraps that they cut into bite-size pieces so they were easier to eat at meetings, and inexpensive, too, which appealed to Kirby) late one Thursday afternoon and put their heads together about the problem of the alien takeover.

Suggestions were floated and noted. And there was a bit of a kerfuffle over whether to confront the aliens openly or to use some kind of subterfuge. There was also a big discussion about which humans could be trusted. But after a great deal of back and forth, the committee came up with a plan. It was agreed that the plan would be drawn up, submitted for review, and then presented to the proper authorities as soon as the committee in charge of deciding who were the proper authorities had made its recommendations.

A few months later, an alien passed a human in the hallway. The human, Patterson from human resources, was one of the founding members of the resistance. He glanced away quickly, avoiding the alien’s eye, and clutched close to his chest the folder containing the fourth draft of the seven-point statement of resistance. The alien didn’t notice.



Avery Elizabeth Hurt is a science journalist and author. Her science writing has appeared in many national publications, including Discover, National Geographic, and Medscape. Her fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, SciPhi Journal, and Double Helix magazine.