by Sophie Anderson
I wasn’t anything special, just the middle child of a middle-class family in the middle of America. That’s why it was beyond my wildest dreams that one hot afternoon in August I’d find something that would make me special.
Now, as I sit here bundled in my jacket on top of my apartment complex’s roof, staring at the night sky and waiting for them to come, I look to my side where my constant companion of the last ten years is sleeping. He knows they won’t be here until the small hours of the morning, but I am impatient and insisted on waiting outside the whole night. As with so many silly things I’ve done in the past, he just smiled and said, “Do as you will.”
We met for the first time one day when I was walking home from high school at age fifteen. The cicadas were clacking and rustling around me and I saw a glimmer ahead of me near the ground just off to the side of the road. At first I thought it was a heat shimmer from the pavement, but as I got closer, it became more distinct, not less, as heat shimmers usual do. I stepped off the road and crouched down next to the shimmer. It was mesmerizing in a way. I looked around for a stick, growing up in the desert, I knew better than to touch anything with my bare hand first. Who knew if it would bite you, burn you or skewer you. Finding a suitable stick, I poked at the shimmer. It wobbled around and the end of my stick disappeared a bit, but when I pulled it back out, it reappeared.
Shocked, I stood back up for a moment. This was way too weird, like something out of a science fiction novel. Nothing made things disappear like this. After a few moments, I gave an internal shrug, threw caution to the wind and reached for the shimmering. I saw my hand disappear a few inches before it stuck something. Feeling around what my eyes said wasn’t there, I could tell it was some sort of metal shaped like a wedge. I got a grip on it and lifted. It wasn’t unbearably heavy, but I had to steady it with my other hand as I hefted it. I stood there staring at my hands lost in a shimmering light and wondered how this could be happening.
Suddenly, the shimmering light disappeared and I could see what was in my hands. It was a metal construct, it looked like a giant metal slice of cheese. It had a bit towards the wider end of the wedge that expanded out for a couple inches and on the opposite end from the point had there was a weird glowing to the metal. I turned it over a couple times in my hands. There were no seams or lines that I could see. No place where the metal pieces were welded together and it was too light to be carved from solid metal.
Deciding it warranted further study, but somewhere out of the heat, I carried it home with me. The second weird thing I noticed, and almost missed the first time was that when I set the thing down on my desk in my room, it was actually floating a few inches above the desk. I had even started to walk away before a glint of light made me look back and I saw it hovering. Of course, I had to test the theory, so I ran a ruler under it; nothing was holding it up. That justified my immediate attention. I sat down at my desk and started running my fingers along the metal, trying to find a clasp or anything. Nothing. It was entirely sealed throughout the entire length, top and bottom. I kept at it for an hour before finally getting frustrated, so I put it aside on the floor beside the desk while I got down to homework for the night. At eleven-thirty, I turned off the lights and went to bed.
At three AM, I was awakened by a humming noise and blinding white light. Turning over, I saw it was coming from beside my desk. The object! I ran to it and discovered a seam had opened in the top, where it bulged out larger, and it was slowly coming open like a clam-shell. I crouched down beside it and held my breath as my eyes adjusted to the light streaming out from inside it. When it was open enough that I could see inside, I saw a tiny creature about six inches tall, staring up at me from what I thought must be some sort of a pilot’s console.
We stared at each other for a few long moments and then I heard it speak, directly into my mind in a flutey voice. “Hello Kristy.” My jaw dropped.
“You know my name?”
The alien nodded. “I know about you now. I have been listening to your thoughts as you sleep. I have chosen you.”
Again the flutey, musical voice in my head. “My name is Jiskira.” The alien said and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the impression that he was a male. “I am from a planet far from here.” He said gesturing at the sky.
“You’re an alien?” I asked, just to clarify.
He nodded. “Indeed.” The voice seemed amused. “I came here in advanced of our diplomatic envoys to study humanity; its customs and beliefs, its language. To know what humanity is really about.”
I thought about that for a second. “Are you saying you chose me to be first contact?” I asked in a small voice.
“I did not choose. I was guided here by…” Jiskira paused. “It is hard to translate.” He apologized. “It is the power that we believe guides the universe.” He started to explain. “We call it Shy’ther, but loosely translated it would the ‘The Oneness’.” He gave a whispery laugh. “But that is a lesson for another day.”
“How long are you going to be staying?” I asked sitting down next to his ship.
“I am here ten years. That is when the others arrive from my planet.”
“Ten years?!” I exclaimed.
“How else am I to know your species well enough to be a guide for my people when they make contact with your world leaders?”
“And I’m the human you’re going to learn from?” I asked nervously.
“Among other ways, but you will be my primary source of observation.”
I sat a moment to think about that.
“But why me? I’m nobody, just a high school kid from a boring family in a boring town.”
“Exactly.” was the response. “You are a normal, average human, and that is who we wish to know.”
I thought about that. “I guess I can see the reasoning in that. But what will I have to do? Keep a journal? Or, like, report to you every day or something?”
I got another musical laugh in my mind. “Oh no. I will be with you.”
“Um…” I hesitated. “I don’t mean to burst your bubble but, people are gonna notice if I start walking around with an alien, even one as small as you, and I assume you want keep this on the down low, right?”
Jiskira looked at me in confusion for a minute. “The translator processed all your words, but I think some of them must be colloquialisms, because they did not make sense.”
I rummaged in my memory for the meaning of colloquialisms; it came to me in a minute and I laughed nervously. “Oh. Yes. Sorry. Um…” I thought about what I said and rephrased. “I don’t mean to tell you you can’t live with me, but if anyone sees you then we won’t be able to keep it a secret that there is an alien living with me.”
“Aah. Yes. I have a way to fix this problem.” Jiskira said and rummaged in a little compartment, pulling out what appeared to be a watch-like device and strapped it to his wrist. He pushed a button and disappeared from sight in a shimmer of light similar to what the ship was doing when I found it, except after a moment the shimmering stopped and he was simply invisible.
“Amazing!” I exclaimed. He reappeared moments later, having climbed out of his ship to stand on top of it..
“This is how I won’t be seen.”
To be continued…
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