That day, the saucers landed.
Hundreds of them, glittering, like stars broken free
Where we met them.
It was Girl Scout cookie day. The girls taught them sustainable agriculture,
then sent them home with a box of Thin Mints.
But you didn’t see this because
On the same day the saucers landed, the graves opened up.
The dead came forth, shuffling, unsteady, those still having eyes blinking.
I finally learned Grandmother’s secret recipe for dark chocolate pie,
and thousands with PhDs in archaic languages earned their keep.
Heloise and Abelard wept quiet sobs, arms tight around their son,
but Antony’s exultant shout at his sight of Cleopatra echoed off the skyscrapers.
Cerberus came last, his tail wagging, a bone in each mouth.
But you didn’t meet them because
On the saucer day when the graves opened,
the gates to Fairyland flew wide.
Barrows split open to gift enchantment and wishes.
The Entwives creaked forth, gravel in their voices, to show off their gardens,
and our Jamie’s first word, spoken with power,
caused Schrodinger’s cat to both live and die.
Pat donned seven league boots and strode through Elfland and back,
clutching lucky charms for us all, in sticky hands.
The kindergarten class grew butterfly wings
and Mrs. Byrne’s quilting class turned purple and smelled of lavender.
But you couldn’t join us, because
On the saucer day and the undead day and the magic day
the invaders burst in. All of them. From the stories. From nightmares.
Whirling blades and stomping boots and clashing swords on shields.
Mongol hordes and Roman legions and raiders gone a ’Viking,
coming for plunder. For us.
Suicide terrorists from that other religion. Serial killers who look just like us.
Attacking our homes. Our castles.
Juanita the pharmacist mixed poisons for arrow tips,
Sheriff Barbara shared round her supply of silver bullets,
and Mrs. Patel from the AI startup grabbed her ray gun.
The Rabbi and the Imam and the Bishop joined in prayer.
All the traps had long been set. All the plans long laid.
We’re still here.
You didn’t notice any of this because
You’d gone over the rainbow, to find yourself.
You’d gone to slay that dragon.
You’d gone out to get milk.
But that was OK, really. It was OK, because
You said you’d call.
—For Neil Gaiman, with apologies. But not many.
Spread the word!