"Don't answer the door!" hissed Winston from behind the sofa.
Vera stood in the middle of the living room, absentmindedly wiping the raw chicken juices from her hands onto her skirt.
"Get out from back there! Get up on your feet," she said. "You're embarrassing me."
"No! It's them!" He pointed towards the gray forms swaying behind the frosted window by the door. "They're here to convert us."
"Oh for crying out loud Winston. Grow up. We can't hide in our house forever. You're paranoid, that's what you are." Vera strode towards the door, her hand slowly extending out towards the doorknob. Winston watched as if she were progressing in slow motion.
"Nooooooo!" he wailed.
"Shush! They'll hear you."
She turned the doorknob as she unlocked the deadbolt with her other hand. Winston jumped up from behind the sofa and ran to the door, hands outstretched to push it closed, but she flung it open wide to spite him.
Winston stopped as soon as he saw them, and tripped on the carpet. He sprawled backwards, his eyes fixed on the visitors.
"Hello," said Vera slowly, trying not to gag at the sight. "How can I help you?"
The visitors stood a foot taller than the average for humans, and wore gray robes with vertical colored stripes. The colors apparently meant something about the level of learning the wearer had achieved but no unconverted human had yet figured out in what order the colors progressed. It was fortunate that they wore the robes because the flesh of the visitors were translucent. Organs and a sort of slow flowing clearish blood could be seen. Worse, the stomach was contained in the head stalk (which did not contain a brain, that was somewhere lower under the shade of the cloak) behind two sets of black beady eyes, and usually showed a recent meal in the process of digestion, with all the hair and bones and gristle that implied. The visitors usually smelled strongly of mint and vinegar, although some had adopted the practice of applying human cologne or perfume in a failed effort to blend in better.
"Shut the door Vera!"
"That's just rude," she said, then smiled at the vistors.
One of the visitors held out an appendage with long fingerlike protrusions that held a small recording device. The visitor pressed a button.
"Thank you for inviting us to your lovely home," said the slightly saccharine voice of a young woman.
"Oh, God, please, just no..." Winston whimpered.
"We would like to share with you the revealed truth. Only through the revealed truth may you be accepted into the galactic realm."
"Thank you, for coming by--" started Vera.
"May we come in?" continued the recording.
"No, I don't think so. We're really not interested," said Vera.
The visitor clicked the button twice.
"That is acceptable to us. May we leave you with some literature and complementary thought lotion?"
"Um..." Vera started to close the door.
"It is completely free. There is no obligation."
The other visitor produced a pamphlet and a small, dark bottle.
"Don't take anything from them!" yelled Winston.
He stood up and leapt towards the door. He pushed against it but Vera pushed back. She reached out and grabbed the bottle and the pamphlet.
"Thank you! Good bye. I hope you've enjoyed your stay on our planet!" said Vera.
The visitors started to wave, but Winston finally pushed the door shut.
"Get rid of that!" he said.
"I'm sure it's harmless," said Vera. "We have to be nice to them. You're never nice to them."
"They don't belong here!"
Vera walked back into the kitchen. Winston hastily deadbolted the door and tried to look through the frosted window at the receding figures. Then he followed Vera into the kitchen. She was busy stuffing a chicken.
"You're not supposed to cook the stuffing in the cavity," said Winston.
"Leave me alone," said Vera. "I've always done it this way. I've never gotten sick. My God, you're always trying to tell me what to do!"
She slammed her hand down on the breast of the chicken. Minuscule droplets of liquid sprayed out over the counter.
"You're getting listeria all over the place!"
"Stop it! Stop it or I'll come over there and wipe my hands on your face!"
"I don't want to get sick!"
"You're paranoid Winston," sighed Vera.
"I'm not paranoid! I'm reasonably cautious."
"You've got to relax. You think everything and everyone is out to get you. From bacteria to our new friends from outer space."
"They're not our friends!" Winston sat down heavily on one of the stools by the kitchen counter. He pressed his hands together, interlocked his fingers, and squeezed nervously. "They are blatantly trying to convert us to whatever religion, or...thing they do."
"They just want us to have a better life. I mean what would you do if you visited another planet and saw the dominant species tearing itself apart? You'd want to help, wouldn't you?"
"I wouldn't go in the first place! It's none of my business."
Vera punched the last scraps of stuffing into the chicken. She covered the roasting pot, then opened the hot oven with a stuffing encrusted hand (Winston cringed but said nothing), then slid the pot in. She closed the door then finally went to the tap and washed her hands.
"You have such a small mind Winston."
He looked at her with contempt. She picked up the little bottle of lotion.
"Don't open that," he cautioned.
She unscrewed the lid.
"Don't smell it," he said.
"Mmmn. Smells like chocolate. That's quite pleasant actually. Here Winston, smell it!"
"No!" he held his hands up in front of him. "Don't touch it!"
She poured a dab out onto her palm. She rubbed it in with her other hand, then she bent down and sniffed it again, then licked it.
"Why would you lick it?" asked Winston in horror.
"I thought it might taste like--" Vera stopped abruptly. Her eyes glazed, then she collapsed to the floor.
"Vera!" Winston leapt from his stool and ran to her. "Vera, are you okay?" He shook her shoulder.
"I'm...fine," she slurred.
"No you're not!"
"It's...utterly...amazing," she said.
"I need to get you to the hospital," said Winston. He stood and ran for the phone.
"No," said Vera.
She sat up clumsily. Winston stopped and looked at her suspiciously.
"It was like the whole universe was...inside me. I was one with all things."
"For a couple of seconds?"
"For...infinity Winston. In-fin-i-ty. You've got to try it."
She held out the bottle.
"You're joking or something," said Winston.
"It will tell you all the answers to everything you've ever asked. It will show you what the love of the entire universe is like."
"There's no such thing. There's no way you could have a psychedelic experience in that short of a time."
"How would you know Winston? Your idea of a wild trip is an extra glass of prune juice in the morning."
Winston sat back down on his stool.
"Yes, nice joke. Haha, you're very witty."
Vera circled around him with the bottle then sat next too him and placed the bottle between them.
"As you can see, I'm perfectly fine, whether I experienced the universe or not. So try it. Give it a lick. You'll be alright either way. What have you got to lose?"
"No," said Winston. "If I try it, then I fall for your ruse."
Vera nudged the bottle closer.
"It's no ruse. It's the real deal. Enlightenment in a bottle."
"Then you're a fool."
"Then I'm a fool."
"You seriously would not accept total enlightenment if it were offered to you for free?"
"Not under these dubious circumstances."
"Fine," said Vera.
She stood and picked up the bottle, then walked it over to the trash can and dropped it in.
"Never mind," she said.
She walked back to the counter and started peeling a potato. Winston looked at his hands, then at the trashcan. He sat for a few minutes contemplating while Vera worked.
"What are you, from the sixties? Why don't you help me?" said Vera.
"Yes, of course," said Winston. He joined her and started cutting up the peeled potatoes into cubes. "I'm sorry for getting bent out of shape," he said.
"I'm used to it," said Vera.
"They just have the temerity to come to our planet," he voice was quickly getting louder and faster, "and try to make us like them. I meant the gall of--"
"Winston, don't start with that again."
"Alright. Okay," he said. "I mean I know you're right. I'm just in the process of coping with all this."
Vera sighed deeply.
"Yes, you're right."
Vera placed a hand atop his. He stopped cutting.
"I understand dear," she said, looking into his eyes.
He nodded, then reached towards her and kissed her on the mouth. He promptly collapsed to the floor. Vera watched placidly as he recovered.
"Wow," he intoned slowly. "That was...wow."
"Converted now?" she asked.
"I think so," he said, smiling back at her.