One day in the summer of the future, Mike was walking down the street, really enjoying himself. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, and for the first time in his life, he had gotten lottery tickets for Fall tour. Still, something was missing.

All his life, Mike had felt a little bit like a ghost. He had friends, but most of the time, Mike enjoyed being alone. And he definitely didn’t enjoy social media the way most of his friends did. That didn’t help, either.  But, Mike didn’t like hearing the people online, and watching them boast. He was quieter than that; and sometimes felt just a little out of place with everyone else. 

Mike was minding his own business and getting some plant-based groceries at the supermarket when… a spaceship came out of nowhere. It was understated, a sophisticated gray color, with windows and wheels just like a Sprinter van. Most people probably wouldn’t have even recognized it as a spaceship, but Mike knew better. He had been studying astrobiology, and astronomy for as long as he could remember. He wasn’t sure what he loved so much about the sun, planets, and stars, but because of all those years of reading, Mike saw something that gave it away. 

The wheels on the bottom of the ship weren’t actually moving; they were gliding just above the surface. Only a spaceship could do that. Mike’s pace quickened; he had to see what it was all about.

“What in the world is going on?” asked Mike. “In this world..or theirs.”

At that very moment the spaceship crashed very quietly into the side of Terry Alfredo’s Osteria. No one even noticed; they probably thought it was just another electric scooter accident. The ship didn’t even look that banged up; just a few scratches that seemed to be repairing themselves in front of his eyes. Mike went to see if the person or whatever it was inside the Spaceship was okay. He went up to what looked like a door, and out stepped an…Alien. 

“Beboo,” said the Alien, who also happened to be dressed in what could only be described as an early 80s acid denim ensemble…on acid. Mike knew it was an alien because of just one detail; a t-shirt that read, 'I’m with Tweekz.'

Mike knew that there was no human on earth that would spell Tweekz that way; the only possible explanation was that this almost completely human thing in front of him was actually not from this planet. At that moment, the alien asked a question.

“Where have we gone?” 

“Hello,” said Mike. “You’ve landed here in Connecticut. It’s the day of the annual Goosemas in July celebration.” 

“Where should we go?” the Alien replied, looking around with uncertainty. It didn’t appear he was all that impressed with whatever this Connecticut place was all about. Mike understood. The Tri-State area was home, but had never really felt like home to him, either. Also, the streets were starting to fill with music fans, Goose-shaped foam fingers, and street carts selling the traditional hot dogs and bananas on sticks. That could definitely freak someone…er something out. 

The Alien got serious, or at least what seemed serious to Mike. “Are we from this planet?” it asked. Mike paused - how should he answer that? Is anyone really from anywhere? And how could Mike know where the Alien was from? He was still amazed at what was standing right there in front of him. 

“I don’t know,” Mike answered honestly. It was at that point that he noticed something about the Alien that changed everything. The Alien was carrying a book called 

“A Western Sun.” 

“How did you get that?” Mike asked, with a sense of urgency. “A Western Sun” was one of the rarest books in all Goose lore. Apparently, Rick had written the story while he was out on Trey’s boat at sunset one evening celebrating Taboose Tour IX. Rumor had it that the only physical copy had drifted to the bottom of Bowery Bay, along with the last of the ever-mysterious El Goose Times first volumes. No one had seen it since; until now. 

The Alien replied, in perfect English, by the way, that his people had been holding onto the book for many years, knowing that one day they would return to give it to its rightful owner. Fortunately, advances in anti-aging and auto-tune techniques had made it possible for Rick and all the members of Goose to retain the same luster as always, and so have kept their legions of fans in the same state of El Thirst as always (respectfully). What kept nagging at Mike, however, was even more important than the book itself.

If the Aliens had been on Earth at some point and knew all of this about his favorite band, then they must have lived here, he thought, also noticing a Bingo Tour sticker on what looked like the back bumper of the spaceship. Mike was completely perplexed, and without thinking, muttered, “are we earthings or aliens?” under his breath. 

“I just don’t know anymore.”

The Alien looked up, and told Mike the time had come to think of a different way to spend his days.

“Checkin’ that email, watchin’ the clock,” he told Mike. “That’s no way to live. We used to be like you; working for bosses who didn’t care about us. They were just always eager to tame the flock.” 

The Alien continued, “But you know what? You think they notice what’s in the air? No way, Mike. We have to take care of ourselves, and each other. There’s no Planet B for the billionaires. Only for us. So, are we earthings or aliens?”

“I don’t know,” Mike replied, again unsure. It was then that he realized. 

That was no spaceship. It was a fully restored 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon, painted in a sleek Chrome. And the Alien was actually his old tour buddy Ethan, who had moved to Salvation Mountain in Slab City, California about 15 years ago. Mike realized that the mushrooms his roommate had left on the counter were not for his famous homemade veggie lasagna. It all made sense now. Kind of.

Ethan had come back into town for Goosemas in July bearing gifts. Most notably, rare finds like the book and the misprinted Tweekz airbrushed shirt. Where had he gotten all of those, Mike didn’t know, and didn’t want to know. They hugged, and Mike tried not to notice Ethan’s extra long arms and fingers. It was surely just the mushroom lasagna talking. 

After a few minutes, Mike found a ticket, and he went to Goosemas in July with Ethan. From that day forward they had a great bond with each other, even if from time to time, Mike noticed Ethan eating Reece’s Pieces while riding his bike in the nighttime sky. To celebrate their friendship they even wrote a song called Earthling or Alien. It was mostly the same question repeated over and over again, because he still didn’t know.


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