Plan Ten From Outer Space

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He closed his eyes and covered his ears and took a nap, and when he woke the world had changed.

First off, he was on the other side of the room. Secondly, someone was in his chair who wasn’t him, although they could be identical twins.

“I’ve been replaced by a pod person!” he shouted, which made the pod person wake.

It/he/she blinked, looked around and said, “Why did you shout?”

“Why, because — you!”

“What about me?”

“You’re trying to replace me with your evil outer-space weed species.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You can hardly deny it,” he said. “I read the book. Well, I saw the movie, all three versions!”

“Ah, stories,” said the pod person. “It’s all lies, though, isn’t it?”

Now it was his turn to blink. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, you dress it up fancy and call it fiction, as if it’s OK to lie if it’s artsy-fartsy. But it’s all falsehoods, it’s all stuff someone made up that never happened.”

“They’re stories. We’ve been telling stories to teach and entertain each other for a thousand generations.”

“And where has it gotten you? Wars and rumors of wars, people hating on each other and shouting in anger.”

“That’s not so at all, it’s what civilizes us,” he said. “Why, without Ahab and Nemo and Hester Prynne and Ebeneezer Scrooge, why, how would we learn to be human?”

“Bah. Lies and humbugs,” said the person who looked like him who was sitting in his chair.

“So you replaced me in my sleep with someone who hates fiction?”

“We don’t hate fiction. Just don’t need it. Had enough.”

“Without wonderful stories, glorious stories, words piled on one another and making us laugh and cry and learn and all, why, we might as well be dead.”

“Exactly,” said the pod person. “My point exactly.”

“Wait a minute, a minute ago you denied being a pod person.”

“What kind of evil outer-space weed would I be if I gave the plan away?”

“I know the plan,” he said. “I saw the movies! That’s the beauty of reading and entertainment.”

“Oh, no, you don’t know the plan. That was Plan Nine. This is Plan Ten, it’s entirely different.”

This gave him pause.

“OK, wise plant,” he said. “What’s Plan Ten?”

“We replace you in your sleep.”

“It’s the same plan!”

“Not quite.”

“So what’s different?”

“In Plan Ten, I keep you talking until my fellow zombie can sneak up behind you unnoticed.”

Those were the last words he ever heard.

“That’s lame,” the readers said.

The pod person looked up from the page.

“Shut up and go to sleep,” he said.

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