There was a loud whir, then a clank, then a somewhat quieter whir. Seams began to appear in the flawless metal, giving a rectangular shape to a part of the otherwise round underbelly.
The group of teenagers, drinks still in hand, could do nothing but stare, and wait. Their attentions were completely given over to whatever was going to happen next. Some still leaned against the wall of the house, ennui a part them, but they looked with more attention than they had looked at anything for years and years.
A pudgy woman pushing her baby in a light blue stroller also stopped and stared, though once the whir began she eased away from the very large, strange, and oddly colored craft sitting in the intersection before her. The baby continued to be marveled as well, only unlike the others, at her own toes.
It was not busy at this time of the day so only one car had come to the intersection and realized it was closed for the foreseeable future. This one car honked its horn at the blatant arrogance of someone placing an enormous circular object supported by three pillars in the middle of what is clearly a public throughway. It was just one honk, as the driver broke through his own fog of frustration and realized what a blatant act of foolishness it was to think this craft would worry what his thoughts were. When he came to the stop sign, he did as the sign asked, and kept at it.
The rectangular shape in the bottom of the large craft began to lower, with light emerging from the seams, a light which almost instantly shut off when a loud grunting noise was made.
Curiously, the rectangle danced in a myriad of colors, with different shapes,
patterns, and designs mingling and intermingling as it lowered and the sun
struck at different angles. The whole craft was this way, though being stationary
the perplexing decorations limited themselves to only one complex design.
However, different parts of the craft fully engaged in their own distinct
proposal of what the craft should look like, and often their disagreements
were quite contrary.
The colors were not those one would expect from something like this, though as one does not ever expect something like this it seems odd to have expectations on what should follow.
That being the case expectations remain, built in our heads by the selection of writers and filmmakers who make a living dealing with the those things beyond our time and science. These cultural informants of the future tend to always reveal a major investment in drab. Colors are limited to dark shades, if they bother to even try and distance themselves from the expected shades of gray. Shapes are very distinctly, even evangelistically, angular. Music is rare, and the development of art is often austere. Of course those cultural informants are making the future as they would enjoy it, and as artists, musicians, or the spiritually minded tend not to dwell on the scientific possibilities which the future entails, much of the constructs are rather, shall we say, anemic.
But this craft spoke of other things, of alien things, things which revealed not simply a technological force beyond which had ever before been seen and next to which all the powers humanity wields pale in comparison, but also a rather surprising bit of whimsy. It was as if it knew it shouldn’t be here, but since it was it might as well have some fun with the fact. There was something more, however, something deeper which struck even the most irony minded of the teenagers. It spoke of Life in its fullness, and it spoke loudly.
The colors were bright, almost neon, with the patterns of shining greens merging into whirls of radiant yellows, themselves swallowed up by rampaging circles of the boldest of reds. Blues and purples were there too, indeed all the colors of the rainbow (and some colors not part of our rainbow, thus impossible to describe) danced about on the hull of this most peculiar ship.
As the rectangle continued to lower, everyone saw it was supported by six
struts which held onto the corners and the middle of the longest sides. Continuing
to descend, four pairs of legs, shimmering green with splotches of red, were
seen to be standing on the platform.
The mother with the baby finally let out a little gasp, and stopped moving backwards, lost in her reverie.
Two of the teenagers still leaning stood up, staring across the ill-tended lawn, their posture surprisingly straight after years of flagrant slouching.
When the platform was about three quarters of the way down, the people saw four different bodies represented by the eight legs (not something one could necessarily predict with any certitude at a time like this). The shimmering green, with red splotches, which covered their legs became a deep, deep purple as more of their bodies were exposed. Lines of yellow, thin but distinct, created a wild design on the cloth covering their torso, a design which somehow made a great deal of sense.
They were tall; thin, but also muscular. Two large eyes, variously colored,
were located above a large, flat nose. Small triangular ears stuck out at
an odd angle from the sides of their head. They had thin mouths, no lips
to speak of, but wide cheeks. Their skin was a light greenish hue, with a
bit of pink in it, and just a hint of a sheen. As the four of them lowered,
they did not move, though their eyes scanned the area with intense curiosity.
As soon as the rectangular platform reached the bottom of its descent there was another small whir, and a clank. One of the creatures placed his upper appendage on a support strut as it did so, the others stumbled a bit. A small ramp extended from the front of the platform, making up the couple of inches which still remained to the ground.
The creature whose arm was on the support let go its four fingered grip and walked forward. Looking in the direction of the group of teenagers, an almost musical array of whistles, bass tones, and clicks came forth from its now widened mouth, apparently some kind of language, but sounding as if it was a jazz combo seeking to communicate a deeper meaning than groove.
It stopped uttering any noise, stared at the teenagers with its large yellow eyes, and turned around surveying the entire scene. The creature looked back at its group still on the platform and grunted in various ways, upon which the three engaged in what was clearly chortling.
Looking back at the teenagers it made another set of sounds, this time more whistling and squeaking. Then it tried a modulation of hums. Staring next at the woman on the sidewalk behind it the alien emitted some primal grunts and engaged in what appeared to be an accompanying dance. All the people continued to gape, nonplussed. One of the aliens on the platform sat down, was kicked lightly by another one, and stood up again. The man in the car rolled up his windows.
The speaking alien paused for another moment, restored its attention on the teenagers, and said quite clearly, with a tinge of an Indian accent, “Pardon me, we appear to have gotten lost. We saw your convenient landing area, and one of my compatriots suggested we stop and ask one of the locals.”
“Whaaaaa….”, said two, maybe three of the teenagers.
“Ah, this is the one. Very good. Anyway, we appear to have gotten off track and would greatly appreciate any assistance you might be able to render. You see we are looking for the redwoods. Do you know where they are?”
“Uhhhh….,” responded a teenager, the boldest of the bunch, who wasn’t going to let this clear act of the absurd break through his well crafted veneer of indifference. “I think they’re in California. Out west.”
He paused for a moment, as the alien continued to stare at him, the loose
bright red substance on its head blowing in the wind.
“That way,” the boy continued, raising his arm and pointing northwest.
“Many thanks,” the alien responded, and turned around. It walked back to the craft, uttered a strange grunt sound directed at another one of the aliens, which though foreign, clearly was saying, “See, I told you so.”
The alien who this comment was directed at simply looked away and once the leader was on the platform it pushed a lever on one of the struts. The ramp withdrew, and the platform began to rise, the colors once again dancing in their intricate patterns. Once the rectangle had fully reached the top, a whir was heard, then a clank, then a louder whir. The seams of the rectangle disappeared, and the bottom of the craft was smooth again except where the pillars emerged.
These too began to rise after a minute or two, with the craft staying still. When these had disappeared into the body of the ship, a slight whisper grew into a loud whoosh, and the craft rose into the sky, the bold colors and patterns rearranging themselves with abandon as it flew.
Everyone on the ground continued to stare. The car ended its long stop, though began it again as a car that had arrived at another part of the intersection also decided to move forward. Each car eventually made its way away, once this momentary confusion was settled with stares and a wave.
The woman turned around and pushed the stroller towards a more explicable part of the neighborhood. All of the teenagers looked a moment longer than anyone else, then went inside the house. The baby continued to marvel at her toes.