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There are only a few of us old ones left who remember that day. We were just children when the great silver object came down from the sky with a thunderous roar. It balanced on a column of fire and set the grass and woods ablaze. A blaze that threatened the village but did not reach that far. The noise and smoke frightened us inside. It was many hours before anyone ventured out to see what was happening. It was Passo, our bravest warrior, who was the first to leave his lodge and peer at the object. How tall it was. Shining silver it stood gleaming in the blackened field.
When nothing happened to Passo, other warriors approached with great care. Everyone was frightened and ready to flee at the first sign of danger. But there was no danger. The huge object stood there tall and silent for the whole day. After a while the women and children came out to wonder at the strange and marvelous thing. All that day it stood silent. Passo and two others stood guard through the night. We were grateful for their bravery.
The next day we watched it for any sign of life but saw nothing. For six days the object stood silent and eventually Passo walked up to it and touched its silver skin. Then he put his ear to its side. He said he could hear a sound like the wind before a storm. Soon after the other warriors touched the skin and put their ears to it as well. They too said they heard the wind.
The next day even the women and children felt brave enough to touch and listen. Mothers lifted their children so that they too could hear the sound and tell their children about it one day. After a while, the object became a part of our landscape as familiar as the mountains and the forest. It was no longer feared. Children played in its shadow and the women planted corn in the burnt clearing. Village life returned to normal with the exception of the great silver object looming over us.
Many days and nights passed. The corn was knee high and growing well. Then, one day in late Spring, children came running from the field screaming; the the great object’s silver skin was peeling. Our warriors grabbed their spears and bows and went to see. The children were right. The unbroken expanse of skin was splitting open and there was movement inside. Bows were drawn even while the whole village drew back frightened. When the opening was complete, a ladder unveiled itself and descended to the ground as if by magic. The entire village gasped when a being appeared at the top of the ladder. The creature was shaped like a man but taller than any of us. Its face was obscured by a mask of some kind which made it appear even more frightening. It walked down the ladder at a slow pace. For every step it advanced the village retreated. All but Passo who stood his ground.
When the creature reached the ground, it raised its hands in the air and began to speak. It spoke in a tongue which no one understood. It gestured toward itself and toward the sky and toward the village. No one understood what it was trying to say but its gestures did not seem threatening. It was at that moment that something happened, something that has since become “the legend”. Passo let fly an arrow at the creature. Whether from fear or ignorance we never knew. The arrow found its mark piercing the creatures chest. The creature staggered backwards a few steps and fell dead.
A few moments later the silver skin closed and the great tower once again shot fire and lifted into the sky killing the new corn. We buried what remained of the creature where it fell and replanted the corn. For many years thereafter the corn grew exceptionally well—lush and sweet. Our village prospered and the time of the visit passed into myth and ritual.
Now the last witnesses are old and the time of the visit is part of who we are, a story and a dance to tell around the fire. Something to frighten the children. So what if it is real and true? It has become a legend with its own heroes and villains. I still wonder what the creatures wanted and if they will ever come again. And, when I fall asleep at night, I can still hear the sound I heard when I put my ear against the silver skin and I am comforted.
micheledutcher - This reminded me of The Day the Earth Stood Still - only the bow and arrows were released a lot sooner than the gunfire. It's always best to let the space-guy stick around for awhile, the creature might just have a microwave oven in his spacecraft so you could heat up your popcorn.
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