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"Open your eyes, Annie."
Annie Wei did just that, waking up with a jump. She was sitting at a bench in Central Park, during a rather unusually warm fall afternoon. Next to her was her worn paperback copy of Alas, Babylon. Wrapped around her shoulders was a pure white sweater, which she had bought a few days ago at the GAP.
"Who..?" she asked herself looking around. "Who said that?"
"Who did?" She pushed back her glasses.
"Look down, Annie."
She did just that and saw a pug wrapped in a blanket. Its eyes were dull and listless, much like a normal pug. Yet its focus on Annie made the young woman feel uncomfortable. It seemed like a contradiction; so realistic and artificial at the same time.
"Hello, Annie," it greeted her, its lips not moving.
"Hi...?" she responded, confused by the sight before her.
"How are you?"
"I'm ... good." She looked around, hoping that other people were seeing the pug as well.
"Do not bother," it said. "Only you can see me."
"Who are you?" she asked. "Better yet, what are you?"
"My name is not important, Annie," it said. "Neither is who I am. What's important is what I have to tell you."
"Um... go on?" Annie said, looking around one last time.
"First, I will answer one of your questions," it stated. "I believe that it will be helpful in making my case clear to you. You see, I am not a normal dog. In fact, I am not a dog at all. I am an alien representative for the Titchen government of Titus VII, with an important message to a single member of the human race."
Annie stood silent.
"Your planet is nearing destruction," it began. "By year's end, your planet will die. And with it, the human race."
"So why me?" Annie asked. "Why are you telling me this? Out of the billions of humans on Earth, why pick me?"
"That is an interesting question," it replied. "I guess you seemed rather trustworthy, open to what I have to say!"
Annie let out a heavy sigh.
"I got to be fucking dreaming."
"This. This is no dream," it replied, still staring at her blankly. "What I am telling you is the truth."
"So what am I supposed to do? I mean, what can I do at this point?"
"Well, the reason why I have to tell a single person is so that we can take that human back with me to Titchen."
"So I would essentially be the last human in existence," she said with a nod. "You know, if what you are saying is true."
"I speak the truth on both accounts," it said. "Your world is coming to an end soon, Annie. What's it gonna be?"
Annie sank back into the bench. Perhaps this was all a dream and she would wake up once she said no. But it did not feel like a dream. Everything felt oddly surreal, yes, but nothing felt truly dreamlike.
Annie let out a sigh and then opened her mouth as though she was about to speak.
"The choice is yours, Annie."
"This is... so unreal..." she said to herself with a chuckle, shaking her head with her hands buried in her face. "Is this real? I don't think this real."
"Oh, no. This is quite real, Annie. Do not make this choice lightly. This could mean the difference between life and death. Literally."
Annie let out another sigh.
"I think I need to take a walk."
She picked up her copy of Alas, Babylon and begin to walk off. The pug followed suit, the blanket draping behind him.
"Please, Annie! Come with us! We have intergalactic healthcare!"
She wasn't sure why but the statement made her laugh. "Intergalactic healthcare?"
"Anyone can come to our planet and get full coverage in their doctors' visits and more."
"Ha. That's amazing."
And then there was a sort of awkward silence between it and Annie. All sort of dream-like vibes died as she got some fresh air while walking. She even pinched herself.
"Ow!" She grunted as she pinched her arm.
"You know that doesn't really work, right?"
"What doesn't work?"
"Pinching yourself to wake up from a dream."
"Huh..." She groaned.
"Look, Annie. I really believe that you should come with me to Titchen. You will be a welcome addition to our society!"
"I am not really suited for space," she retorted. "I am a human and humans need oxygen."
"Titchen has an atmosphere similar to Earth's. We even have seasons much similar to Earth's as well. Our calendar has a few similarities to the Gregorian calendar-"
"My God, I cannot take this anymore!"
She picked up the alien pug and looked it straight in the eyes. It was then that she realized that this truly was no dream. This... alien was speaking the truth.
"Annie, please put me down. I understand that my cute exterior is quite tempting but-"
"The world is gonna end!" she said, collapsing on the floor. Annie started to sob hysterically, tears streaming down her face. A jogger whizzed by, thinking that Annie had just lost her God damn mind.
"I don't wanna go... I don't want it to end."
"I don't want the world to end! I wanna stay here!"
She laid there, crying.
It stood there, speechless.
"You have made your choice," it said. "I hope the next few months are kind to you, Annie Wei. Live them with purpose and pride."
She looked up and saw that it was gone.
She was still on the ground as was her sweater, which was now muddy and stained.
A man cautiously walked up to her and asked, "Um, miss... are you okay?"
She looked down and saw that her copy of Alas, Babylon was on the ground. She picked it up and said, "For now, yes."