|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Matter|
7:58: a mere two minutes before tonight’s episode of TerryTeam20 starts.
Jack walks into his bedroom, his shirt dramatically pulled over his nose so he doesn’t smell the smoke wafting down from Sam’s room all the way up in the attic, and sits down at his adult-sized desk. He grabs his laptop, stands back up, and brings it over to his bed, setting himself up to enjoy the next hour and a half of getting all the latest updates on conspiracy theories, extraterrestrials, and anything else that falls into the realm of critical thinking. Every episode of this show is special to Jack – he’s been watching since before he was in high school, since the show’s beginning, in fact – but tonight’s episode is especially especial.
Last night on the regularly scheduled TerryTeam programming, Terry announced that a contest will be held for all the subscribers of the VidTube channel, the winner getting the opportunity to travel to the studio and meet Terry himself! Whoever’s handle is drawn will also get the downlow on everything that Terry knows about the extraterrestrial presence on Earth, AND any/all active conspiracies currently being conspired, plus, they’ll get to record a segment for the show that will be aired on an undisclosed date in the future! You know, maybe! If they get around to it! All that’s really guaranteed in the fine print is a meet and greet, but still! This is literally a once in a lifetime chance, until the contest is held again next year. ‘If there even is a next year.’
7:59. With one minute to go, Jack snoozes the alarms he set on his phone and readies his timer.
Our TerryTeammate has everything set up: he’s wearing his sleeping pants (the ones with the TerryTeam20 logo on it), he’s got his water bottles, a bag of corn chips (zesty jalapeño flavor, just like Terry eats), and of course the laptop, wirelessly hooked into the portable speaker that Sam got him for Christmas last year. Every episode of TerryTeam20 is streamed live, which Jack thinks is just amazing, and in a few seconds the iconic extraterrestrial gray head with the show’s name on a banner beneath it will give way to the one, the only, Terry Telascopesaplenny.
Jack is so excited to see who wins tonight’s contest that I won’t even try to compare his excitement to anything else. He has a few TerryTeammate friends who entered into the contest last night, and he’s been rooting for them ever since he woke up this morning. Unfortunately, Jack didn’t get a chance to enter the contest himself because he fell asleep before Terry announced how his viewers could enter; it would have been cool to win, but oh well, sometimes things just don’t work out. Maybe Dakota will get picked and they can talk about the experience for weeks on end together.
The TerryStudio fades onto the screen. There’s an empty desk, painted with clusters of stars swirling amongst each other to look cosmic; a television mounted on the brick wall in the backdrop, and; nothing else. Then, from behind the desk, an almost but not quite husky man wearing a pristine cream-colored lab coat over less than formal business attire, including a black tie with the TerryTeam20 logo stitched into it, rises up in a chair. Jack loses himself in the show instantly.
“Heeellllllllooo, my distended family! Welcome, once again, to TerryTeamTwenty. I’m your host, Terry Telascopesaplenny, and you are TerryTeam. Twenty is entirely arbitrary, because I haven’t been that old in years!”
Jack giggles, the intro to the show as entertaining as always.
Terry sits up tall at his desk, adjusts his tie, and then flashes that heartwarming smile of his. “I have a lot of great stuff to show you tonight, TerryTeam. In no particular order, I have some footage of a yoU-eFf-Oh, actual footage of a real-life spacecraft flying through space at unimaginable speeds; I have the lucky winner of the contest to announce, which I know you’re all very excited for; I have some documents proving there was, in fact, flagrant Russian collusion in the twenty-twelve presidential election which, as you all know, was the last yoU-eSs-Aye presidential election ever held; I have some footage of a strange silver object following behind a plane, captured by those two pilot guys who I keep in touch with; I have… well, I believe I’m rambling at this point. Why don’t we just get into it?!”
Terry turns around, the squeaking of his chair not audible to the camera, and gestures towards the television. The screen blinks to life and shows a clip of the night sky, a dazzling full moon taking up the majority of the screen space.
“Now, watch closely – you can clearly see the craft fly in front of the moon. This was sent to us by a viewer who recently purchased our TerryTeam Telescoptic Telescope, which is now available on the TerryTailor online marketplace, just like all our apparel, zesty corn chips, and dietary supplements! Now, the craft will enter from the right, skirt across the surface of the moon, and then vanish back into the night sky. Please watch!”
The footage rolls. For a few minutes, nothing happens; the moon just sits there, glistening for millions to see. Then, a miniscule black dot the size of a pinhead flies in front of the moon, traveling in a perfectly straight line until it disappears.
“Did you see that?!” Terry exclaims, the glasses falling off his face as he flails with excitement.
Terry ducks below the desk and reappears with spectacles on his nose, then, “There, right there! THAT was a real YOU-EFF-OH! An unidentified object just flew in front of the moon and we caught a glimpse of it thanks to the moon’s reflected sunlight and, of course, not to mention the superior technology available in the form of the official TerryTeam Telescoptic Telescope. Now, both scientists and skeptics alike have offered many alternate hypotheses for what this anomaly could have been, but rather than humoring them, I will refute them outright: mind you, that was far too small to be a plane, and it traveled in too straight a line to be an insect. If it was a comet it would have had a tail, and if it was an asteroid, well… it wasn’t an asteroid. I’ll run it back, just in case anybody missed it.”
The camera zooms in on the screen. The footage replays, the same tiny black dot flying in the same straight line across the same brilliant white moon. Not a single star is visible in the sky around it. Terry narrates into his microphone as the video continues to loop over and over again.
“Wow, that is just amazing. Undeniably an unidentified flying object, likely piloted by extraterrestrials. I’d like to sincerely, from the bottom of mine and each and every one of the TerryTeammate’s hearts, thank the TerryTeammate who sent in that footage. This is groundbreaking work we’re doing here, TerryTeammates; one day, we will all be immortalized in statues across the Universe as the instrumental players in bringing extraterrestrial contact to Earth.”
Jack, with his mouth and the hairless face surrounding it covered in zesty jalapeño dust, blinks for the first time since the video began. He can see it now – a big ol’ titanium statue of himself and Terry standing side by side with their arms around one another like father and son, their heads facing up towards the cosmos, the cosmos which they explored and illuminated together – why else would they be case in a statue?
“Man…” Jack says to himself between zesty crunches, “if only life was fair. I’d give anything to meet you, Terry. You’re my hero.” Jack then empties the bag of corn chips into his mouth as the UFO video loops a few more times.
Then, Terry speaks again. “All right TerryTeammates, it’s now time for the obligatory block of advertisements. You know the deal – I can’t stop VidTube from showing them, but I can stop you from watching them. Quick, turn off your computer screens for the next two minutes, make sure you time it! See you then!”
After hitting the start button on his phone’s timer, Jack slams his laptop shut. He then lays back and waits for his phone to go off – unfortunately, Jack forgot to take his phone off silent (he always keeps it on silent at school out of respect for the rules, you see) and he falls dead asleep within thirty seconds.
Terry sits patiently at his desk as he counts down the two minutes in his mind, all the while serving the camera that winning, toothy smile of his. When the advertisements finish running, he starts right back in with his live broadcast.
“Welcome back, TerryTeammates! Next up, well, I believe it’s time for me to announce the winner of the contest.”
Dramatic, spacey techno music plays on a wireless speaker in the TerryStudio until the bass blows it out. Terry holds up a single folded piece of paper.
“On this slip of paper is the VidTube handle of the winner of the contest. I don’t even want to build anticipation, I’m so excited to announce it that I’m just going to dive right in!”
He unfolds the paper knowing that somewhere, the winner of the contest is literally drooling right now.
“And the winner is… Alie–”
Terry is cut off by a blaring alarm and a piercing red light that fills the room. His face shrinks as anxiety boils up inside him – he wasn’t expecting any visitors. That means that someone/thing was able to break into the sub-plasti’spa’junk facility, and in that case, well… there’s ample cause for alarm.
“Uhm! Ah! My apologies TerryTeammates, it seems that an alarm is going off! There’s an intruder in the TerryTower! I’ll be right back, don’t go anywhere!”
Terry jumps out of his chair and runs offscreen, the camera capturing the stillness of the empty studio and broadcasting it to all the TerryTeammates except for the ones who fell asleep already. He squirms out the studio door, forgetting to turn off the ON AIR switch, and proceeds to his chamber like a dusty cowboy proceeding to his favorite saloon/brothel after a long day of wrassling lassos and lassoing cattle. Inside his chamber is a large white chair whirring with electronics and nothing else; Terry sits down and immediately slumps over, his lifeforce draining from his body.
Two hundred feet below the TerryStudio, Sigmund’s slumped-over body comes back to life. He stands up from an identical blocky white chair that Terry just sat down upon and gasps in a heavy breath, his body slick with sweat underneath his polyformic plastic lab coat and his now damp blue denim overalls. He checks the fuel level on the BioBot machine – still plenty left. Good.
Sigmund stret– well, does his best attempt at stretching, before cautiously approaching the wall in front of him. A hidden door slides open and Sigmund waddles into his laboratory, freezing at the sight of his intruders.
Standing there in the dim light of the technocave is an eightish-foot-tall, purple-skinned, almost– no, not almost, distinctly human-looking creature with long, silver hair and eyes with rainbow irises. What’s more, the clearly higher being is accompanied by a familiar-looking tall’n’skinny brown-eyed hippie kid. The kid is wearing a pair of menacing gloves, but otherwise he’s dressed like a human; the being, however, is clad in a white jumpsuit gilded with a purple material that’s not quite metal, but not quite fabric, either.
Over on one of the computer stations is a rather large red button, one which Sigmund installed specifically to be pressed in the event that intruders intrude into his lab. Sigmund looks over to this button, then back to the intruders, then back to the button, then back to the intruders.
Then, in a flurry of motion, Sigmund runs towards the button.