A Polite Stranger | In This Future Or The Next

A Polite Stranger

I have been travelling the galaxy looking for a new home. Thousands of us volunteered. We scanned the planets, we scanned the stars and when we were done, we moved on to the next.

There are no days or nights here. There is always darkness. A darkness so deep that even myriad stars can’t rid us of it. Sometimes I have trouble knowing if I’m awake. There have been times when I was sure I had found hope for us. I look at my scanner and see another Earth, glowing amidst the black sea, waiting for us to come, and when I reach for the screen to mark it, I wake up. I wake up to find to myself alone, three hundred years and counting, staring out into the universe. Somewhere out there a home awaits, the home that will save all of us.

Yesterday something happened. A light in the distance moved unnaturally swirling towards me, my first thought was of an asteroid, but it was not. I moved closer to it and it moved closer to me. It was another capsule making its way through the void.

I slowed down to look into it and it slowed down to look into mine. It was not a capsule I had ever seen. It seemed simple, a spherical glass-looking object glowing slightly, like a translucent marble. And as we came to be in front of each other we stopped and we stared. Inside it was the strangest of creatures, a long stem that connected eight legs with an almost pink fleshy skin. There it stood hunched over what seemed to be the controls of its small sphere. It stared at me with two bulbous eyes that popped from its head, and I stared at it amazed, thinking I must be asleep.

I can’t tell you how long we stood there floating, unmoving, staring, analyzing. It could have been minutes, it might have been hours. I wanted to ask it so many things. Where are you from? Where is your world? What are you doing out here in the empty desert, so far from any living thing?

The creature from the glass capsule raised its two front legs and began to make a little dance with them. Adrenaline rushed into my bloodstream and my heart pounded. What was it trying to do? Was I about to die at the hands of a strange alien creature? Was it scared of me? Was it trying to say something?

All I could to think to do was to wave back, and when I did it jumped in its place and made the dance once more. He was saying “Hi” to me, and I had just figured it out. I smiled, and it jumped, and I waved and it danced, and there in the middle of the nothingness we floated like fools, smiling, jumping, waving, dancing. I tried to imitate his dance, and then it waved back at me, lifting its body, showing me a mouth lined with teeth, attempting a smile like mine. And so I jumped up and down, imitating its response.

And then it left. It left me there, alone with my questions and my quest, alone in my search for a new home. Maybe it too was searching for a place to live. Maybe it too had spent hundreds of years alone in the vast expanses of our galaxy. Maybe it too was in need of a polite stranger. A stranger that would keep it sane.

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