The atheist sat on his porch and watched one of his neighbors run past in the sunlight dragging one of their small children behind. The child’s legs could barely keep up.
“Margaret?” the atheist called to her, but she kept running. The atheist thought the summer sun was much too hot for such running.
The street was normally quiet except for the gravel trucks that ran through the small town on weekdays. The population of 800 was mostly in surrounding farms and a Kline of about twenty homes that ran from each direction towards the four corners. At the four corners was a convenience store and gas station to the northeast and an over sized church which seemed much too large for the tiny community.
Next he saw Margaret’s husband, carrying their other child. “Nathan? What is going on?”
Nathan stopped and looked over at the atheist. “You don’t know?”
The atheist shook his head and rocked back in his porch swing. His tanned and muscled arms were folded in front of him and he scratched his salt and pepper bearded chin. He watched Nathan and the child over the white railing that fenced in the porch. He finished the final drops from his blue Kokanee Beer can.
Other neighbors sprinted past Nathan and child.
“It is Rapture. They are coming now!” Nathan pointed to the sky with his free hand. “Do you not see them?”
The atheist got up off his swing and walked out from under the porch roof.
Nathan turned and sprinted while yelling over his shoulder, “We must get to the church!”
“Yeah, you do that.” The atheist looked up at the sky which, save one circular ball of fire, was mostly blue. However, there were some clouds that were bubbling towards him from out over the horse pastures in the back. “Interesting,” he mumbled to himself.
Glancing down the street, he watched as more of his neighbors sprinted and stumbled towards the tiny church that dominated the town’s four corners.
The atheist walked back up to his swing and reached down beside it where he had a cooler full of beer cans. He lifted two more Kokanees from the ice. He walked back down from the porch and followed the cement slab path around the old farm house. He popped the top of one of the beers and sipped.
The bubbling clouds lowered slowly into the pasture directly behind the house. The horses in the barn whinnied in fear.
The atheist watched as a black metal flying triangle dropped out of the clouds, slowly. The sky overhead was now dominated by the bubbling black clouds and rain began to fall.
The atheist was happy for this as the humidity was killing him. His sleeveless white tee shirt was quickly see through and his blue jeans became heavy, but he turned his face to the sky and tasted the falling water. “Gorgeous,” he said to the clouds.
The triangle stopped and hovered a few metres above the ground. A light appeared as a door opened and ramp slid down. The light was so bright that he could only see the shadow of a figure exiting the craft. The ramp quickly lifted and door closed before the craft lifted back into the clouds.
The figure approached the atheist as the sky quickly cleared. The rain stopped and humidity gripped the air again.
“Damn it. Need that rain.”
“Hi there,” the figure said.
“Howdy,” said the atheist who then offered his hand.
The figure shook it solidly. “Andrew,” said the figure. “Andrew Meyers.”
“Walter Phillips,” said the atheist. “Welcome to Earth.”
Andrew was tall and bald. His blue eyes sparkled. “Good to be home,” he said. His shirt and pants looked like white medical scrubs with draw strings at the waist. His feet were held by white sandals.
“Beer?” The atheist offered him the other can. He guessed the man was about half his age.
“Absolutely,” Andrew said and accepted the can. “Any shade to drink it in?”
The two men walked around to the front and climbed the porch. Andrew sat on the swing and the atheist on a wicker chair beside him.
In the distance, Andrew caught sight of people coming out of the church and looking skyward. “What’s that all about?”
“They thought you were the Rapture or the second coming or something.”"
Andrew laughed. “Second coming? Would have to have been a first to make me second.” He sipped from his beer. “Oh, that’s lovely.”
The atheist glanced at him. “Being space ship landings aren’t mentioned in their good book, probably a good thing they were squirreled away. You wouldn’t want to hurt their sensitive eyes.” He sipped his own beer for a moment. “Home. You said this is home?”
Andrew nodded. “Yes, been away for years.”
Andrew pointed up. “I have been a diplomat, you might say. Up there since Roswell.”
The atheist blinked, “Really? That’s cool. I was six years old when that happened.”
Andrew almost dropped his drink. “What year is it?”
“2011, July 4, 2011.”
“Wow, the fourth of July. Really?” And where are we? They don’t have windows on those contraptions.”
“A little north of Toronto,” answered the atheist.
“Canada? Ouch, guess they missed. I asked to be dropped home in Texas. Also explains the lack of flags.”
The atheist laughed. “Your eyes may need adjusting.” He pointed at the Canadian flag flapping over his own porch. “You just missed Canada Day. However, your alien buddies may know better. That lot down at the local church is one thing. The Christian right wing tea party types would want to dissect you if they had seen you land.”
“But they didn’t,” Andrew pointed at the church. “Tea party?”
“Bunch of right wing Christian Conservatives trying to hijack US politics and take it back to the good ole’ days when the man was the head of the household and the blacks rode at the back of the bus.”
“You did, though. You saw and didn’t run. Why?”
The atheist looked at Andrew right in the eyes. “I am more curious about the unknown than afraid of it.”
The people from the church started walking back to their homes. The disappointment on their faces was obvious.
The atheist shrugged. “Roswell, that was in ’47. Like I said, I was six. I’m seventy now, but…”
Andrew waved off the rest of his question and sipped his beer. He swallowed and answered, “I left in 1984. Orwell didn’t even call that shot. There is something funny about the aging process when traveling light speed. I was the third diplomat.”
“Walter? Who’s your friend?” Nathan and Margaret were on the sidewalk at the foot of his walkway. Their children skipped back towards their own house next door.
The atheist smiled. “This is my friend, Andrew. He was dropped off while you were…ah…” His fingers flipped in the direction of the church.
“Ah,” Nathan waved. “Nice to meet you, Andrew.” He and his wife continued home.
“You snooze, you lose,” Andrew whispered causing the atheist to laugh.
The atheist smacked Andrew’s knee and then stood. “I have two steaks thawing, care for one?”
“My kingdom for a steak,” Andrew answered.
The atheist picked up the beer cooler. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
They both laughed as the atheist led the figure inside.