Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: Malcolm Saves The World!
A novel, a satire.
Malcolm Saves The World!
Malcolm is not from here. He is from far, far away. He has just 30 days to save Earth from imminent global warming disaster, or as he calls it: ‘global roasting’.
He has superior alien tech, of course, but he has a handicap on this mission: he can’t kill anybody. He must do it systemically. So he takes the form of a human and . . .
To be released in 3 parts, the first in a couple weeks. An excerpt:
Malcolm Saves The World!
By Moss Menlo
0.1 | Intro Beat
In the “Pale Blue Dot,” Carl Sagan asserts no one is coming to save us.
Carl was a genius, global science elucidator, groovy marijuana enthusiast and an overall beautiful man way ahead of his time — but he was wrong about that.
Part 1 | Introducing Malcolm: Just Another Wacky Alien Visits Earth/Fish Out Of Water Story
Day 1 | Hello, Human
1.1 | Talking Lights In Space
Far, Far Away — In Space | Soonish
We are looking at an old-fashioned representation of outer space circa 1940s Hollywood: various stars, constellations, nebula and other assorted massive intergalactic space furniture and Big Bang junk are viewable through a grainy, black and white screen.
Well, hold on, what’s this? Two of the constellations appear to be talking. A light behind each constellation lights up in sync with their voice. Let’s listen:
Constellation 1: “But you can’t go! It’s forbidden! We’re not supposed to interfere. It’s against the rules!”
Constellation 2: “Fuck the rules, Ma! You know it ain’t right! And I’m gonna go down there and do something about it!”
Constellation 1: “You always were impetuous.”
Constellation 2: “I can’t sit by and let them destroy that place, Ma! It’s too beautiful! It’s too precious! I won’t let them!”
Constellation 1: “And romantic. Just like your father. Still, you can’t. Where is your father, anyway—”
Sound of rocket jets blasting.
“Goodbye, Mom. I love you!”
Constellation 3 AKA Sleepy Space Mass Dad (snorts awake): “What’d I miss?”
1.2 | Meet The McNybbens
Humble Falls, New Jersey, USA, Earth | Also Soonish | Summer | Night
Boom. We land in Jersey.
“Everybody Hurts” by REM is sadly thrumming in the audio background with great minimalist and piquant melancholy as we:
Meet the McNybbens.
(As if being in Jersey ain’t hurt enough?)
A diminutive white EV beater is driving slowly down a wide, tree-lined street populated almost unanimously with oversized, column-fronting bricked boxes. Until they reach a weathered handmade wooden sign announcing EARTHSHIP PEGGY in go-go rainbow font.
The EV pulls in here, two tufts of white hair barely visible through the car’s back windows, rear bumper fronted with a fading graphic admixture of snark and love.
The car maneuvers around a cobbled, circular driveway before coming to a stop in front of a charming, domed eco cottage flanked on all sides by dense and diverse flora, creative lighting and folk art.
And for a while, the car just sits.
After what seems like a long time, so that a casual onlooker might take it for a self-driving car — first one door opens, and then the other.
First out the driver’s side exits Bill McNybben: tall, lean, older, white, male. With a face that looks like he spent all his life husking corn on a Midwestern farm while earnestly whistling. Pushing seventy but doesn’t seem aware. Still has his hair: scrappy and white, sometimes flopping over onto his forehead boy band-style when he forgets to see his barber (often). He wears a green Sub Pop t-shirt under a light blue jacket and jeans, comfy shoes, stylish black glasses. Bruises and unconcealed recent contusions cover his face and neck.
He makes his way, somewhat gingerly, to the other side of the car and opens the passenger door for his wife, extending his hand down to her.
Now emerges Peggy McNybben: petite, plump, Jewish, female, only a little younger than Bill. With crazy Einstein hair topping a soft, bulbous exterior garbed entirely in solid NYC black (excepting the bejeweled green frog pendant pinned to her chest). While not as visibly injured as Bill, Peggy is sporting a rather large and onerous cut just under her left eye.
She takes her husband’s arm and together they make their way into their quaint, off grid abode as old people are wont to do — slowly.
There is nobody inside to greet the seemingly battered and drained McNybbens — but the house is not empty. A young East Indian man is avidly blasting space aliens on an oversized screen in the game room just off the main hallway. Bill waves to him as they pass but Neju does not respond. Externally. (Neju sees all.)
In the kitchen an old-fashioned answering machine sits on the counter (connected to an old-fashioned phone affixed vertically to the wall), red light blinking.
Peggy pushes play as Bill empties the fridge of the vegan Indian food Neju has made and left for them. He sticks it into the oven.
The aged, recently injured couple listen shoulder to shoulder to their messages as their dinner warms. Their kids are well and wish them them well, too. Saw you on TV at the big protest in Philly today, be careful, OK?!
Bill looks over at Peggy with sudden concern and rubs the small of her back in that comforting, circular pattern she likes.
She lowers her face, overcome with emotion. Barrels her head into his chest and wraps her shaky arms around his oak-like torso. Proceeds with the anaconda squeeze. My dear. My Poppa. My big Daddy bear. My lifelong love. Those were all the things her forever girly heart panged back as she listened to his heartbeat but would never, ever say.
1.3 | Hello, Human | Malcolm Meets Bill
McNybbens’ Backyard | Later That Night | Like 2 a.m.(ish)
Under the stars.
Bill sits on a bench with his back to his house, overlooking the one and a half acre that slopes downhill away from him, unlit joint hanging from his lips.
Originally all forest, they had remorsefully cleared about half of their backyard over the years to put in gardens, a food forest, and two tiny homes for those in need. Only one of those were currently occupied. Her light was not on. Bill vaguely recalls a note on the fridge about some rainbow festival.
Perhaps due to the auspiciousness of this night, the skies over Northern Jersey are temporarily clear of thick, toxic clouds. The stars and moon are out and fornicating quietly and mysteriously in the sky. Also without moving. Perhaps that was the mysterious part. Bill often longed to live in a place with less light pollution, maybe when he and Peggy truly retired.
He plucks the joint from his mouth and ogles it.
A squirrel passing by would think the man wanted to eat the white oblong object.
A teenage boy passing by might think he wanted to fuck it.
They both would be right.
Instead, Bill reaches into his pocket for a lighter, curses himself when he realizes he forgot it.
Reluctantly stands up to go back into the house and get it, when he is mesmerized by a shooting star. Not for the first time in his life, he is awestruck with the magic of life. So grateful to be alive, for this short time here. So grateful for Peggy.
He shakes off the schmalz and resumes his mission, turning toward his house.
And is somewhat surprised to see a strange man standing there.
Well, strange figure, we should say. No sex discernible — for the figure is almost completely shrouded in dark, standing on two humanoid legs in the moonlit shadow of an apple tree. Conspicuously not moving. Not twenty feet away, just standing there silently and looking back at him.
Just standing there.
For how long?
To do what?
His first thought: the oil companies have finally sent a hit man to kill me.
Which really would have surprised him.
(Because he secretly believed he had already lost long ago.)
Bill opens his mouth to say something when the figure takes a step.
And one more.
And finally, again.
Into the moon light.
Bill finds himself facing a middle-aged man impeccably dressed in a gray, slightly-shimmering business suit. Looking vaguely European. Standing in his backyard suddenly unannounced and uninvited, lo past two in the morning. Like he just stepped off some EU TV talk show, as the host. Smart. Swarthy. Dapper. Sophisticated. This man reads.
Bill opens his mouth but the stranger beats him to it, emits: “Hello, human.”
After the briefest of pauses, Bill recovers, says: “Hi! Welcome to my backyard, stranger! What can I do you for?”
The stranger takes a couple steps forward, moving choppily. Motions to the bench. “May we take seat?”
“Sure, buddy. Nice night out, eh?”
Bill gamely joins his new guest on the bench. Oh you mischievious universe, he thinks, winking up at the moon. What will you bring me next.
Naturally optimistic, Bill imagines the well-coiffed stranger as possibly a new, uh, benefactor? Activism was certainly pricey these days. It wasn’t too late for him to become Cinderella man. Not too late at all. He would point his newfound boon to the Earth, and shower goodness over all.
Bill extends his palm. “I’m Bill.”
The stranger shakes Bill’s hand somewhat awkwardly, giving Bill the odd sensation of crunching a bag of soggy marbles made to look like a human hand. He chases the unkind thought out of his head (for later disturbance).
“My name is Malcolm.”
“Nice to meet you, Malcolm.”
“Nice to meet you, Bill.”
A silence descends. Bill: “Say, uh, you wouldn’t happen to have a light?”
A stricken look crosses Malcolm’s face and he leans over, as if to be sick.
“Hey, you OK there, buddy?” Bill asks.
Malcolm sits back up, nods. Turns toward Bill: “I am happy to assist you, Bill. What kind of light do you require?”
Bill pulls the joint from its resting place over his ear and waves it at him. “The old-fashioned incendiary kind? To light this bad boy?”
“Uh, yes. Say, where are from, anyway?”
“I am from far, far away.”
“What, like, Prague?” Bill takes a stab at it.
“Where is Prague?”
“Uh, Europe?” Bill wonders if he is suddenly playing the straight man here.
“On this planet?” Malcolm says. “No, much farther than that.”
Bill’s forehead becomes befuddled in wrinkles.
“I have your fire.” Malcom announces.
When Malcolm is not immediately forthcoming with a lighter, Bill — ever the optimist — puts the joint in his mouth and leans forward.
A small flame appears in his peripheral vision as he guides his modest fatty in.
As he is leaning back, now pleasantly filled with smoke, the air around them filling with a scent both spicy and sweet, Bill notices Malcolm replace his hand on his lap, conspicuously absent a lighter.
Malcolm: “Bill, I have reason to be here. I come here to you with a big task and lots of hope in my hearts. Heart.”
Bill, increasingly confused, offers the joint to Malcolm. Who moves forward to take the strange offering. Tries to grab by the butt and immediately shoots his hand away.
[Curses unintelligibly, but Bill thinks he picks up last part in English: “Stupid human skin!”]
“Uh, wrong side,” Bill says, trying to help.
Bill demonstrates. Here. Put the unlit end between your lips and inhale. You seriously have never done this before?
Bill re-extends the joint, obsequiously pointing out the side not on fire.
Malcolm tries again. Inserts it delicately into his mouth, making an exaggerated kissing pose. Expands lungs. Also inhales.
Stranger does it right this time.
Explodes into prolonged coughing fit.
Bill rescues the joint from Malcolm before he nearly collapses onto the grass. Bill notices Malcolm’s eyes limned with tears, but overall looking way more relaxed, sinking back into the bench as if draped over it.
“What . . . Is that?”
“Uh, mari-joo-wanna?” Bill says. “How can you be this old and not know this, come on?” But he says it with a smile as he passes the joint back. Quaker, wot? His well-heeled new patron was obviously from far away and apparently hideously sheltered. Shame. No matter. Takes all kinds. Bill never hosted anything but a big tent.
For a while, they smoke and relax in silence, with Mother Moon looking on.
“This thing we just smoked,” Malcolm says.
“Makes this mortal coil feel so much better.”
“I am Malcolm because of Malcolm X, and Malcolm in the Middle.”
“Huh. That’s . . . hi-concept. Your parents told you that?”
“Welp,” Bill says, slapping his palms to his thighs. “It’s been nice meeting you, Malcolm, but I think I need to be hitting the sack.”
“But wait,” Malcolm says. “I have participated in your social convention. What else must I do to win your ear swallowing of my entreaty?”
Bill sits back. “OK, there, I didn’t know you had any entreaties. I was just playing host. But hey, if you have business, maybe we can talk about it during the waking hours?”
“But if your hours can be waking — this means that they can sleep?”
“During the day, I meant. Let’s talk during the day.” Bill laughs. “Hey, no offense but your English tutor owes you a refund.” Adds a good-natured clap to Malcolm’s back, rises to go.
Malcolm grabs Bill’s arm. “Wait. Please.”
Bill inwardly sighs, retakes his position on the bench, still warm.
“I apologize for not being completely up on your . . . Human conventions.”
“OK . . . ?”
“I have come from far, far away to save your planet, your Earth, from imminent global roasting. And I only have one month to do it. So I came first to you to make you my ally, because I need a human ally to do this. At least one. And I thought no better choice for my number one main human ally other than Dr. Science.”
“Uuuhhhh . . .”
“I can only creatively postulate your reaction as being . . . Complex. But I assure you, I will be your greatest ally, Bill C. McNybben. Will you be my ally, Dr. Science? Will you pleasely assist me in saving your world? I have many neat tools to help. Many nifty ideas and hacks and doodads. I have many gifts for you and your kinds. Kind.”
“Why me? Dr. Science was cancelled years ago. I’m not on TV, anymore.”
“But aren’t you still Earth’s leading global roasting agitator?”
Bill is silent for a minute. “I wouldn’t put it like that, and no. I’m not the leading anything of anywhere. If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t exactly been effective.”
“But that is where I come in. I will be your effective.”
“What do you mean?”
Bill: “How, exactly? How would you help stop climate change, er, global roasting? And how would I help you?”
“Well, I have a stricture on this.”
“A what’s that?”
Malcolm: “A stricture. A . . . Handicap? I have one month to stop your planet from global roasting and I can’t kill anyone. So, I guess that’s two strictures. Two handicaps. Handicap deux.”
“Yea, but how? How would you stop global warming, er, roasting?”
“With my superior technology, for starts. We swap all your dirty energy machines for clean energy machines. That’s the biggest thing. But there are other steps, too. That’s where you come in.”
Malcolm: “I am a big fan of human culture. I have imbibed huge amounts of your programming. But you know no amount of pre-loading can actually prepare one to really live and swim in that culture, right? To actually be there? That’s where you come in. You help translate my superior power and willstrong into your humanly prosaics. And we both get what we want. Yes?”
Bill is looking confused.
Malcolm: “I need a human snorkel-guide . . . For human stuff. Will you be my human snorkel guide, Bill C. McNybben?”
“I have been watching from afar. You have been fighting for a long time. You haven’t been the only one to try and warn your people about it, but you are one of the most passionfull about it. You and your wife. Peggy. You are good people. You deserve help in this fight. This fight you think you already lost. Dr. Science, you deserve a break today. Plus you already know this sub map. As my human on the ground, you can tell me which levers to push on your primordial society to turn your planetary self-imposed ball of death around.”
“As your what? Human on the ground? What did you just call me?”
“I got the tools, you got the people skills. Together we tune this world, yes? Right out of the space dumpster and back into healthy orbit slash homeostasis, yes?”
“With superior tech?”
“Yes. And other things. But now you are just delay strong. Because you are ebbing dubious. Perhaps you need a vision proof. Is this the part where I have to show you my spaceship?”
Bill raises an eyebrow, says nothing.
Then asks: “Why not just land your flying saucer in a very public place and wait till someone comes out to greet you?”
“I need to go to bed.”
“Will you be my ally, Bill C. McNybben?”
Bill is thinking.
Malcolm: “Help me to help you.”
Bill wants to see the space ship, but doesn’t want to insist, doesn’t want to seem rude. Wait, what? Is this guy repeating movie lines back to him? And was that other one an advertising tag?
Bill, exasperated: “Oh, come on, now! You look just like a human. From Europe! Who got lost on his way to the convention center!”
Malcolm, looking down at his rig. “Well, yes, that is what I was going for with this. I wanted to look like your ruling class. Aren’t you humans ruled by old, rich white men? Who dress in uniforms like this? They are your masters, no? I thought, from little I know about your culture — granted — I thought if I wanted to come to the human home and really change things, and I had less than a month to do it, I thought it might be better possibly if I could better blend in and encounter least resistance.”
“Your rich suit is a disguise?” Slightly scoffing.
“In a way, yes. And again, as an unruly interspace interloper, I may be clearly mistaken here and correct me if I’m wrong. But if I arrived as a big blackish muscular man in poor person’s clothing, or a black woman, I probably wouldn’t get very far in changing your world, now . . . would I?”
Bill is looking confused. Or screen froze. On his face.
Malcolm: “Did I fuck up?”
Bill opens his mouth to speak and closes it again.
Malcolm: “So, are you with me, human? Have I sufficiently soothed all your logic holes? Are you ready to begin? Ready to unsink your sinking planetship?”
Bill finds himself seriously considering this before violently shaking his head as if ridding a tingly, invasive cobweb.
“You know, where are my manners? Can I get you something to drink?” Sets off to the house before receiving an answer. Fast walk turns to a trot, heart galloping like a scared teenager.
Makes it inside, turns and locks sliding glass door. Is milliseconds away from breathing proverbial sigh of relief when Malcolm instantly appears on the other side of the glass.
Like he just teleported here?
“Just tell me what to do!” Malcolm says. “You are your species number one global roasting wide talker: just tell me what to do!”
Bill mimes goodbye and night-night actions.
Malcolm taps lightly on the window. Bill fears for waking Peggy, involving her in this, scrambles for something to say. Unlocks the door and slides it open wide enough to stick his head out.
Whispers: “OK, OK, in our culture, whenever someone comes from far, far away, they say: ‘Take me to your leader.’”
“But you are the leader. The leader of real truth of your kinds.”
Bill shakes his head.
“Official leader.” Bill says. “That would be the President. Of the United States.”
“OK, thanks, Bill. I will go do that now.” Malcolm says. “I enjoy to greet you with my eyeballs again soon, my fond new ally friend.”
And then completely vanishes.
1.4 | Nite?
McNybben Bedroom | Later That Morn
Bill is trying to insert himself into their bed as quietly as possible.
“I heard voices, hon. Is everything OK?”
“Oh yea, everything is fine, hon. Just the usual passionate young grad student making the trek to the prophet of global warming to enlist his eternal service. I gave the usual go-get-em-boy stump speech and sent him on his way. How are you feeling? Did you sleep?”
“No, not really.”
Bill looks over at his wife. Even in the low moon light light he can make out the bruise forming around the bottom of her left eye – sullen, purple and swollen. He feels a great pit of sadness wash over his whole soul and it is all he can do to not give in.
He sidles up next to her, assuming chief spoon position.
“You smell good.” he says.
“I had a bath. And a Xanax.”
“Ah. And you still couldn’t sleep?”
“It’s OK. Still, it has to make you feel good, though.” Peggy says.
“Young people coming to you for advice, direction. Full of passion.”
“Must give you hope, right?”
“That inspires you, right?”
“Yea, I guess.”
“But . . .”
“It’s just not enough.”
He hears the defeat in his voice and hates himself for it. He leans over and kisses her tenderly on the cheek. “I love you, Peggy, and we have each other right now and for the foreseeable future, and that’s all that matters.”
He nestles into her all coo-like.
Contentment. However brief.
Soon, she is asleep.
But the old man doesn’t sleep at all that night, visions of Earth fire dancing petulantly in his head.
Day 2 | Not Assimilating
Days Left: 28
2.1 | Morning Toke
Washington, D.C. | Some Massive Federal Building On Pennsylvania Ave | Sunrise
Malcolm is enjoying the sunrise perched atop an entire city block of French Enlightenment marble, smoking a joint, oddly.
Oddly because he takes many pauses to stop and look at this tiny thing in his hand his new friend Bill introduced him to last night with steadily rising admiration: Hello, what’s this? And you’re doing what now to me, again? Oh thank you, I like that very much. You and me are gonna get along great.
There is a commotion wafting up from below.
Malcolm takes another pull as bits of convo drift up from the street: “What the hell do you think it is?”
“Did a missile drop from the sky?!”
“As if the Washington Monument wasn’t enough dick for the nation’s capitol, this other smaller one has got to show up!”
“This is the cuck cock!”
“Behold, cuckold missile cock!”
There is a clamorous round of assent. Soon there is a terrorism alert issued and the surrounding blocks are blocked from traffic and evacuated. But now, at sunrise while the streets are still relatively empty, the commotion is more invoking: like what kind of new guerrilla art project is this? Maybe it contains special secrets from the sky. Steaming coffee cups are extra-excitedly clutched as curious titillation goes up, up, up.
Malcolm sits and appreciates this particularly terrestrial sunrise view, while dually adoring the joint. After he left Bill’s last night, he hit a few pot stops along the way, leaving human cash on their counters and shopping liberally. (So far this purely egalitarian mission had netted the glorious find of cannabis. There was something similar that he enjoyed where he came from but very, very different.)
Malcolm looks mostly the same as the previous night when he invaded the backyard of noted pro-science media personality Bill Mcnybben. Same suit: shimmering, immaculate (and arguably snobby?). The face is more relaxed (and perhaps a shade less European). The movements of the body less choppy.
Probably thanks to this, thinks Malcolm, considering the burning oblong item propped delicately between his two slender hand sticks, in a sudden bout of philosophy. Or mass appreciation. Whoah.
A gentle breeze brushing over his face brings him back to the nitty gritty reality ditty.
He pats his gently floating mind with comfort thoughts: Lucy is within calling range, as always, safe from barbarian sensors. And Lucille, tucked behind his ear like a transcendental, neon blue cyberpunk joint (suddenly joints everywhere), chilling on sleep mode. One final moment of rest before confronting real bad.
When he is done with the j he tosses it to the roof and smashes it with his toe.
Nicely tuned by Blueberry and Vanilla Kush #9, Malcolm steps off to confront the Prez.
Somewhere, a drumroll begins.
2.2 | Malcolm Meets Dear Leader
Washington, D.C. | White House, Pennsylvania Ave | Oval Office | 8:20 a.m.
We are plopped into the world famous Oval Office, currently rococo AF: gold, red, white and blue, bad color, gold, etc. The largest painting in the room is a portait of Ronald Reagan. The second largest painting is a portrait of four steaks playing poker.
A large vidscreen installed into the wall streams The Boast Channel 24/7. The scents of hamburger, cologne and man musk co-permeate the air. A pile of fast food trash sits unmolested in one corner, with strict orders to not be cleaned up by the President himself (no reason given). The morning sun lights up the space via golden drapes.
This historic meeting place and international bad juju center is currently occupied by three men: Dick Boast, the President of the United States of America, and two of his henchman — Whir and Dur.
It is still early yet in the White House.
The President is having some fun with his men, apparently regaling them with an entertaining tale. President Boast stands in the foreground — as he is wont to do — flanked by his two top guards — both burly men. We can’t hear what he is saying but he is making exagerrated rotating motions with his hips, like he is manning a runaway hula hoop. The two men around him, Whir and Dur, are laughing, if a little nervously.
President Dick Boast: 67, male, tall, artificially-colored, with weird golden fringe topping soft bulbous egg body. [Although many brilliant linguists; wordsmiths and novelists have endeavored countless and artful attempts to accurately account in words what went for the ‘hair thing’ that sat atop Dick Boast’s head, still the only real word for it was ‘weird’.]
Seems to have no awareness whatsoever of possessing the rare congenital condition known as ‘Resting Pouty Baby Face’.
A real estate developer and convicted con man from Miami, Florida who inexplicably became president not too long ago and immediately set about becoming the ideological arch enemy to the Pope, Robin Hood, and every childhood dream everywhere.
Currently sporting a golden lamé Presidential outfit made especially for him by Jasper, his personal tailor — some fancy stitch artist who apparently once made glittery garb for Liberace. True story. See how he sparkles, see how he shines. But with a giant bomb emblem on the back to keep it manly (Boast’s not insignificant touch, he might add).
Dick Boast — the least approved President in American history — is making barnyard sounds now, and he is very good at it.
Malcolm flashes into the Oval Office just a few feet away from them and stands there for a second not moving, waiting for them to notice him.
They all jump at once.
But after the initial shock, their eyes take in his white, alabaster, nicely aged masculine skin, and the shimmering, immaculate grey suit and immediately they smell money. They pause.
Malcolm says: “I didn’t mean to alarm you humans. Frankly, I just didn’t give a shit whether I did or not.”
While they process this, still slowly propelling their open jaws shut, Malcolm circles the room and holds his hands up in front of him, palms out, placating-like. “So, hello there. My name is Malcolm and I come from far, far, far away –”
. . . this has been an excerpt from Malcolm Saves The World!, a satire, a novel by Moss Menlo, coming soon . . .