The Aliens Deliver Us From Evil

by Michael Czyzniejewski

Two things about these new aliens were clear from the start: They came in peace and they came naked. Not really naked naked, because they were dressed, but we could see everything. All of their clothes were transparent, but not like Ziploc-baggie transparent; they were exactly like our clothes, seemingly made of the same materials—denims, fleeces, corduroys—only without color or opacity. They were transparent. Invisible. And the fabrics were layered one over the other the same way we layered them: underclothes under their clothes, lengths and layers dictated by weather, function, and comfort. Most of the aliens we met the first day were astronauts, so they wore space-travelling uniforms, thick and protective, complete with pockets and buttons, zippers and insignia. They even wore bubble helmets, just like Neal Armstrong. After that we met the ambassadors, dignitaries dressed like us, only all of it was see-through. Everything they had to offer was on display.

Like their clothes, the aliens’ physiology resembled ours. They stood a little taller, were a little thinner in the head, and their big toes grew opposable, apelike foot thumbs. There were blonds, brunettes, and redheads, their hair affixed in a variety of styles; some of the males were balding, some sported mustaches. They seemed to come from various ethnic backgrounds, too, their skin tones radically varied, even more than ours. Other varieties were apparent, hirsute and smooth, muscular and paunchy, handsome and not so. We spied birthmarks and moles. Some had tattoos. Since we could see everything, we couldn’t help but notice different-sized and shaped genitalia. Nothing about these aliens, physically, was left to our imaginations. And they were clearly okay with that. You could say they owned it.

In the Oval Office, we entertained the first conference of our respective leaders. The aliens chose a panel of six elders, all of them wearing transparent military uniforms, much like the kind our officers wore, shirts and ties and jackets and slacks. Everything, even their medals and pins and buttons, were see-through. Their commander, a six-foot-four female, seemed to have earned every commendation possible, all of them affixed to her jacket, right over her enormous left breast, encased in an enormous, see-through brassiere. The second-in-command was smallish for an alien, though still six feet, a bit on the chubby side, with an almost unnoticeable penis and testicles. The others proved similarly varied, standing at ease in a line, accepting offers for beverages, small-talking with our generals and with the press. They appeared happy to be here, carrying on with rising confidence, oblivious to the fact they were virtually naked and we were as freaked out as could be.

When the president entered the room, the look on his face—upon gazing at all of the aliens’ bodies—said I thought I told you to take care of this. But there he was, the meeting starting, cameras rolling, nowhere for him to go except to offer their leader his hand, her hulking frame approaching. Before security could react, she moved right past his extended digits and embraced him, a hug that thrust his face to the center of her heaving, restricted chest. The remaining five aliens lined up to hug the president, too, pressing against him, squeezing, the president’s eyes pointed in a million inescapable directions. The last alien handed the president a package of Fig Newtons, which they knew he favored (they’d been monitoring us, they admitted). The president, at the end of the naked hug parade, sat on the front of his desk, his cookies tucked into his lap, and forced his biggest, most awkward smile. We thought for sure he would either vomit or faint, and, at the end of this meeting, fire the lot of us on the spot.

The aliens explained they were passing through, that basically, they saw our light on and decided to stop by. The president laughed a bit at this, like a shy hyena, the aliens cracking a few smiles. The president asked where they were headed, and they said a planet fourteen hundred solar systems away, one that grew red, luminous crystals called malummites, each fist-sized gem harnessing enough energy to power their planet for a decade. The aliens told us they’d drop a few off on their way back—they’d heard about our various crises—said they’d return in seven years, if we could hold out that long. The president, employing his best deadpan, said, “It’ll be close.” This did not make the aliens laugh, but instead, caused them to alter their timetable, insisting they could be back in five years instead, but only if they left half their crew on the malummite planet as sacrifices. The president stared and the aliens stared back, and after what seemed like an hour, everyone burst out into heavy chortles, the president declaring, over and over again, “You had me going there! You really had me going!”

In no time, the president moved the meeting over to the sofas, and soon after, had his jacket off and his tie hanging low. Each side exchanged stories about what they liked best about their own planets, the president insisting the aliens try pizza, the aliens countering with a directive to make love in hyperspace, which they described as fucking amazing. The president explained baseball, democracy, and chocolate, while the aliens countered with the intimate workings of something called transmorphrification, where they could change their bodies into different animals—snakes and goats and things—then screw in hyperspace. We offered to make a care package of our best foods and beverages for their long journey, which they kindly accepted. Before long, the president cracked into his cache of hundred-year-old scotch and everyone was doing shots. By the end of the meeting, we had forgotten all about the aliens’ virtual nakedness, had stopped sneaking glances, stopped judging, stopped fantasizing. They were regular joes, these aliens, with one key difference in aesthetic.

As they were about to leave, the aliens posited one more question, the large leader herself posing it to our commander-in-chief: “How does your species mate, given you have no sexual organs?”

This caused everyone in the room to pause, especially the president. After glancing our way, finding only shrugs, he said, “Hold on,” then proceeded to remove his shirt and undershirt and toss them on his desk. The aliens studied the president, his pale, paunchy trunk on display, and seemed shocked there’d been something beneath the clothes; that he himself wasn’t the clothes. The alien leader, pointing at the two burgundy nipples, asked, “Is that from where your seed pours forth?” The president, perhaps imbibing one shot too many, again said, “Hold on,” then dropped his pants; after a deep breath and a sigh—as well as all of us mouthing, “No!”—the president peeled off his briefs and stood in front of the aliens, nude save his socks and shoes.

As upset as the president looked when he’d first entered his office, the aliens appeared ten times as startled. They stared at the president, at his penis, and at the pants pooled around his penny loafers. Their eyes traveled around the room. With a nod from our commander, we all began unbuttoning our shirts and blouses. Their commander picked up the shirt from the president’s desk, held it up to the light, then rubbed it across her face. She passed it to each of her five colleagues, who felt it, sniffed it, held it to their ears, and even tasted it. One alien took off his shoe and sock and gripped it with his ape foot, which, we’re pretty sure, started to glow. They then huddled in a circle. When they emerged, they asked us a simple question: “Why?”

By this time, all of us were naked, even the reporters, no one wanting the president’s actions to seem unplanned, extraordinary. The president offered the aliens as much clothing as they wanted, from our discard pile, from anywhere in the States they wanted to shop. He offered them government credit cards, the kind with no limit, and told them not to worry about saving receipts—he had people who could fudge that. If they wanted clothes, we could get them clothes, real ones, clothes that hid their bodies.

This is when the aliens’ demeanor changed. Suddenly, they were Adam and Eve: They had discovered their shame. Once as confident and casual as champion thoroughbreds, the aliens were suddenly concealing themselves, covering their privates with file folders and discarded pantsuits. Their eyes fell to the floor, no longer able to meet ours. When the president offered another round, they inched toward the door, backwards, claiming they’d forgotten they had to be back at their ship for a meeting, that they had to leave right then. Then they left, right then.

The president, still naked—and erect as a man could be—said to everyone, “On the whole, I think that went well.”






Five years later, we stared up at the sky. Two years after that, we were still staring. We stared for years, but the aliens never came back. Nor did they return our calls. The credit cards we gave them? Hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent on chocolate—crates of it—but nothing else. The charges were posted on the morning they left, then nothing. That’s the last contact we had from them.

No alien return meant no malummites, no magic rocks that would solve all our problems. Scientists proposed an expedition to search out the malummite planet and harvest the gems ourselves. Since we didn’t know where the planet was, the fact we lacked the technology to get there and back seemed moot.

The silver lining was the unexpected side effect. That meeting in the Oval Office was live-fed—which we’re sure the president forgot about when he took off his pants—meaning that everyone with a TV, radio, or smart phone saw what went down. From the look on the president’s face when he entered the room (disgust), to the look on his face when the aliens left (Was it something I said?), all of it was caught by the five billion or so people tuning in. They saw the hug parade. They saw the chortling. They saw the imbibing. They saw the erection.

What should have been a disaster for the administration morphed into cultural upheaval. As the president, his staff, and the media exposed themselves, so did millions of viewers at home. The aliens leaving, so awkwardly and immediately, did nothing to slow the wave: citizens began strolling out of their houses, their cars, and their workplaces in the nude. Some police wrote citations, attempted arrests, but for every one so dedicated to order, ten cops patrolled in nothing but their holsters. Laws were amended at record-breaking speeds.

Logistically, we had work to do. For one, it was unsanitary—that was obvious very early in the game. Two, it was impractical—we dressed not only for modesty’s sake, but to keep our bodies warm and safe. Designers fast-tracked entire lines of alien-inspired outerwear, transparent designs that allowed us all to express ourselves, yet kept the world free of bacteria and other undesirable residues. We learned to keep everything in place, too, humans needing at least a modicum of stability while swinging a sledge hammer, hailing a cab, or tossing a salad.

Within a year of the aliens’ departure, more than fifty percent of the population chose PBD—Public Body Display—over traditional clothing. Within two years, it was up to two-thirds. Groups resisted, particularly the religious right, citing the new Sodom and Gomorrah. When the Pope appeared on the balcony of the Vatican, his frock completely transparent, the change had become official: We were a nude and nude-apparent civilization once again.

Adam and Eve’s betrayed God, and just like that, they knew shame. They literally invented original sin, and as punishment, God told them to put on some damn clothes. That alien live-feed from the Oval Office wiped all that clean, no crucifixions necessary. Sure, we could have had nudity and everlasting energy, but that’s our cross to bear. In the end, when we stare up to the sky, we still pray to our old gods, worship as we always have. Only now, we slip in wink to our tall, thin-faced, and mostly naked friends, thanking them for the assist.

Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of three collections of stories, I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2015); Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Fictions (Curbside Splendor, 2012); and Elephants in Our Bedroom: Stories (Dzanc, 2009). He teaches at Missouri State University, where he is Editor of Moon City Press and Moon City Review. In 2009, he was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.