(NOTE: This week's entry in the ongoing "Spohn Challenge" project is written in the form of a newspaper story...)

(From the Eureka Creek (OK) Weekly Pedestrian, April 3, 2014)

The city council campaign, debate over storm sirens and arguments about whether to remove the traffic signal at the intersection of Main and Broadway all took a back seat in the news this past week, as Eureka Creek briefly played host to an emissary from another planet.

Two large spacecraft were spotted hovering over the Bentz County Courthouse just before noon this past Monday, March 31. As a large crowd of onlookers gathered on the south lawn of the courthouse grounds, an alien identifying himself as “Josro Ulkan” of the planet Poloda appeared just after 12:15 p.m. and addressed the group.

It was unclear whether “Josro” was the alien’s first name or some sort of military title.

“Please know that we have not made the voyage to your world to mount an invasion or cause any sort of destruction,” Ulkan announced with the aid of an electronic translator device. “This is strictly a fact-finding tour; we have heard a great many stories about your world and wanted to find out for ourselves how much of that information is true.”

As was reported in last week’s issue, the visit had been heralded in advance when a number of Eureka Creek residents reported receiving a strange broadcast over their weather radios on March 19. 

According to a transcription provided to this newspaper by one of those residents, the broadcast consisted of the following statement:

“To the Leaders and People of the planet Earth: We wish it to be understood that on the 25th day of your month of March, two crafts of great size shall be visible within your skies. They shall appear over a small city in the southern part of the area you call the United States, but only for a period of one of your 60-minute time units. We give to you the name of Eureka Creek.”

The broadcast was initially dismissed as a hoax. In an effort to derive some humor from the situation, however, Mayor Pomeroy Watson contacted the mayor of Eureka Creek, Mississippi, by phone and suggested a friendly wager as to which of their communities the aliens might actually visit.

The bet, Watson said, was similar to those usually made between the governors of Oklahoma and Texas each year during the “Red River Showdown” college football game.

“I told their mayor that if the aliens came to their town, I would arrange to have a crate of burritos and onion rings from Auntie’s Drive-In delivered for him and his staff,” Watson reported. 

“And if the aliens came here, he would in turn send us some of their famous Cantonese Crawdad and Delta Fried Rice with Bacon as prepared by the Chow Family of Clarksville, Miss. I understand it’s quite a popular delicacy up in their neck of the woods.”

The story generated some laughs among townsfolk for a day or two, but had been pretty much forgotten by the morning of March 31. 

But at approximately 11:45 a.m. that day, dispatchers at the Bentz County Sheriff’s Department began receiving numerous phone calls reporting a pair of large, metallic saucer-shaped objects hovering over the courthouse grounds.

“When the first call came in I thought it might have been somebody who just started drinking a little too early in the day,” Sheriff Smoky Adams said. “As more and more calls came in I started to think it was all just a part of the gag, that all these people were somehow working together to keep the hoax going.

“Then I went out to my squad car to go to lunch and looked up. What I saw just about made me swallow my gum.”

Within minutes a crowd had assembled, although some who were present expressed some surprise that more people had not turned out to witness the historic event. In response, one individual pointed out that it was catfish day at the Jiffy Mart and that a number of people were probably there waiting to buy their lunch.

The crowd soon began to grow unruly but were quickly quieted when a great beam of light suddenly appeared, extending from the bottom of one of the spacecrafts to the grassy lawn on the south side of the courthouse. There a body – humanoid but not quite human in appearance – began to materialize within the light and soon formed the personage of Josro Ulkan, who stepped out of the beam to address those gathered before him.

After making the initial announcement regarding the intentions behind his visit, Ulkan informed the crowd that he and his companions had been taking advantage of cloudy weather conditions to make clandestine visits to various areas of the planet for the past several days. 

By keeping their ships hidden behind heavy cloud cover in those locations, he explained, the aliens were able to utilize special video and audio equipment to keep watch over Earthly activities during that period.

“What we have learned has been truly amazing,” Ulkan said, the surprise in his voice evident even through its electronically generated translation. “You people really are a piece of work.”

When asked what he meant by a high school student who happened to be on his way back from lunch when the ships first appeared, Ulkan shared a list of traits he referred to as “uniquely Earth-like.”

“You create horrible weapons of destruction for the distinct purpose of never using them,” Ulkan told the crowd. “The local colloquialism for this, we are told, is ‘deterrence’; back home we call it ‘asking for trouble.’

“And you reward your most heinous lawbreakers by placing them in special homes wherein they are provided with the best medical attention, which is paid for by those who abide by the law - who in turn often cannot afford such attention for themselves or their families. I don’t know... seems like a darned silly way to run a railroad, if you ask me.”

And then there was what Ulkan said his people found to be the most vexing contradiction of all. 

“You let Seinfeld and Two And A Half Men run on television for years and years, but canceled Cavemen after only six episodes,” he said, shaking his head in amazement. “What’s up with that?”

In fact, Ulkan indicated that such behavior on our part had originally prompted the ruling council on his homeworld to consider bulldozing Earth to make room for a new intergalactic superhighway.

“Fortunately, however, calmer heads prevailed,” the alien traveller said. “Somebody pointed out that nobody else in the known universe makes a chocolate milkshake the way you do, and it was decided that such a loss would simply be too devastating.”

At that point Ulkan agreed to take several questions from the audience. The first to address the visitor was Eureka Creek City Council member Elsie Hammerdingle, who inquired why Ulkan and his entourage had chosen Eureka Creek to reveal their existence to our world.

“This was a decision made with great deliberation,” Ulkan replied. “We took a great many things into account: location, traffic, the number of television stations within a 100-mile radius. 

“What finally made us give Eureka Creek serious consideration was your efforts to improve and expand your local tourism industry. Coming as we do from a smaller planet that is somewhat off the beaten path, this is something we could understand and appreciate.”

With that in mind, Ulkan suggested that the community suggested retooling its annual Manowack Festival in hopes of bringing in a larger crowd.

“Why not call it the Martian Festival?” he suggested. “I know that, technically, we aren’t Martians - but I understand it’s become acceptable here to use the name in a generic fashion when referring to visitors from another planet. Sort of like the way some of you ask your spouse to buy you a Coke and when they ask what kind you say, ‘Dr. Pepper.’

“All I’m saying is that there is nothing like an alien visitation to really put a city on the map when it comes to bringing in tourists. Look at what that other ship did for Roswell, New Mexico. And that wasn’t even a planned visit; those fools couldn’t even keep their ship in the air and ended up crashing like Buddy Holly. But every year thousands of people show up to honor them. Just a little something to think about...”

A reporter from one of the local television stations asked Ulkan for his opinion on President Obama and his health care plan.

“No comment,” Ulkan replied. Then he added, “We try to make it a habit not to get involved in such matters, or to interfere with the leaders of your world when we disagree with their actions. Which is probably a good thing for you, given some of the things that happened during the previous idiot’s administration.”

Ulkan also declined to take sides in the ongoing local debate over the need for outdoor storm warning sirens – although he did note that, many times, the older technologies tend to be better and more reliable.

“Would you rather have a freshly made hamburger that’s been grilled over an open flame, or one of those pre-cooked, flash-frozen things that you zap in a microwave?” he asked. “That’s all I’m saying.”

At that point Ulkan announced that it was time for him and his companions to leave.

“Tonight Barsoom University is playing New Krypton in the second round of the Intercollegiate Spaceball Tournament on the Holo-Vid, and I don’t want to miss it,” he explained. “I’ve got five thousands gliptnigs bet in Barsoom U.”

With that Ulkan beamed himself back into his ship and both vessels departed, leaving the crowd to ponder some of his words and consider their own special place in history as witnesses to this event.

As of press time there had been no word as to whether Mayor Watson has yet received his shipment of Cantonese Crawdad and Delta Fried Rice from Mississippi.