It isn’t until you see something so much like the earth—but not—that you understand the phrase, “there’s no place like home.” Where Daisy and I were, was certainly not home. The sky was purple, the clouds were muted, cotton-candy blue; the grass was bright, sugary, orange, and the people looked like humans—except for a green twinge to their skin and eyes like cats.
As Daisy and I looked out from the spaceship, we forgot about each other—for an instant. Our mouths dropped open. The not-quite-human humans gazed back at us with equal surprise. Then, one of them, a black-haired man, charged to the front. A pink-haired woman and three little brown-haired girls trailed behind him. He charged out of the neatly lined-up crowd right up to the ship. He knocked on the glass and uttered what sounded like, “Dere induheck imysun.” It was muffled through the glass of the dome.
“Uh-oh, Kyle. This isn’t good.” Daisy whispered to me, though her eyes remained glued on the man.
“Yah, think, Daze?” Did I mention my talent for sarcasm?
I looked over to the control panel. I tried the button combo Daisy had pressed prior to our initial takeoff from earth. The spaceship sputtered and tried to take off. I started to relax. But, the pink-haired woman and the three brown-haired girls caught up with the black-haired man. One of the girls had a remote control. She pointed it at the ship. The sputtering stopped, and we jolted back down onto the landing pad.
“Okay, Daze, now is a good time to cry.”
To my surprise, Daisy began to blubber. I wasn’t sure how much of it was genuine, but I was convinced. So was the pink-haired woman. Up close she had bright blue cat eyes. They filled with tears right along with Daisy’s.
“So that’s what girls can cry for.” I said to myself more than to Daze.
The little girl with the remote control hit another button. Something clicked on the spaceship and instead of the trap door opening below, the entire dome of glass popped open and flipped back on one tiny hinge. Daisy began to wail. The man looked at me for an explanation as to why Daze was crying. I shrugged. Then, his pink-haired wife came right up to the ship and reached her arms out to Daisy. To my surprise, Daisy fell into her arms. I was shocked. I felt like she was betraying me—her fellow earthling. Now everyone was staring at me.
“Dere induheck imysun?” The black-haired man said with a lilt on the end, so I knew it was a question.
I didn’t know what to say. “Um, what?” I asked.
The man’s yellowy, cat-eyes opened wide. “U speek Eenglish?”
“Yes, I, speakuh dee Eenglish.” I replied. It took all I had to hold back a laugh. Was this guy seriously speaking my language?
“Den, dere induh heck imysun?”
The translation finally downloaded. Where in the heck is my son?
All the crowd’s crazy cat eyes were on me. Even Daisy gawked up at me like I was suddenly responsible for everything. How could I tell these people Glug was dead?
“Tell them, Kyle. Tell them.” Daisy said.
Was she still crying? “Quiet, Daze. I know what I’m doing.”
“Don’t, you speek do her dat way.” The pink-haired woman said, patting Daisy’s back.
I started to get mad. I pointed to Daisy. “She hit the buttons or we wouldn’t even be here.”
All the people looked at Daisy. She pointed back at me. “He wouldn’t let me get help for Glug. He made me bury him after he died.”
“He’s dud?” the black-haired man asked me. His cat eyes didn’t even blink and I knew they wouldn’t until I answered him.
I nodded. “His spaceship crashed in our backyard. He was in this green slimy suit. He fell out the bottom but we didn’t know who or what he was. He died right away. I’m sorry.”
“He was in the Glugenal suit?” One of the brown-haired girls asked.
I looked to her and then to her dad. “It was torn or something. He fell out of it. There was purple stuff right here.” I pointed to my chest where my heart was.
Suddenly, the black-haired man dove toward me. He was so fast—a cat-like pounce—that I couldn’t react. He ripped me from the spaceship, dragged me across the landing platform, through the crowd, and into a dark grey building surrounded by bright yellow trees. Two other men, one with grey hair and another with brown hair, joined us. They put me in handcuffs—yes, handcuffs!
“Tell us what you know.” The grey-haired man commanded. When I looked closer at him, I could see he was wearing what looked like a police uniform. Only, it was not black or navy-blue like I expected. It was deep burgundy with a dark red disk. The red disk had an insignia of some sort. It looked almost, but not quite, Japanese.
“Know about what?” I asked.
“The Glugenal suit.”
“Nothing. We threw it on the ground near where we buried Glug.”
“My son’s name is Hugh.” The black-haired man said. He looked sad and a bit distraught, in my opinion.
“Fine. I put the Glugenal suit on the ground near Hugh after we buried him. Why? Was it special or something?”
All three men leaned back away from me and put a hand to their chins. Then, they started talking in what I was sure was Japanese. Multi-lingual, eh? No fair. Then, after a lot of gibberish they hovered back over me.
“The Glugenal suit is…important. Hugh was on a secret journey to bring it back to us.” The brown-haired man said. He spoke excellent English. Better than anyone I’d heard so far.
“Then, he must have gotten lost and came to our planet. It looks almost exactly like yours, except with the rings. It’s called earth.” I said.
“Earth?” the grey-haired man asked.
“But our planet is called Earth.” The brown-haired man answered.
“It’s not the earth…but it’s definitely like it.” I said.
“Un-handcuff him.” The brown-haired man said. “We will send him back for the Glugenal suit. He must get it to us before the Kelps find it…and earth.”
“Send me back?” I asked. “Wait, who are the Kelps?”
The brown-haired man pointed to himself. I was finally able to tell the color of his cat-eyes. They were Orange. “I am George.” He said. “I will help you. You must return the Glugenal suit. If we do not have it soon, it could mean the end of your earth and ours.”