🌘 Eclipse 🌒
In the warm summer night, they were having the usual dinner. Dishes with bread and vegetables, mugs with milk, were all spread on the table, with blackberries for dessert in a large bowl. From the vantage point where the house had been built many years ago, one could see the whole settlement spread along the valley. Father was preparing to ask Mother something about the garden. Right at that moment, a bright flash filled the northern sky, above the Wilderness. A few seconds later, a loud bang made the windows shake.
"Another meteorite?" asked Father.
"The sky is clear, it has to be a meteorite," answered Mother.
Shea remained silent. The world had always had this problem. Meteorites were common. In most situations they were harmless, but once in a while they could destroy, kill or hurt. Fortunately, it was not the case tonight.
They finished the dinner soon. Father began reading the newspaper, mother was browsing through a botany book. Shea went to her room and switched on the radio, hoping to hear something entertaining. However, the three available stations were currently all focused on news about the incoming eclipse.
The Universe is such a big place, Shea thought, but our world is so small. We occupy only a few small islands of civilization and are surrounded by Wilderness. We have lived here since immemorial times, but we don't have a map of the whole world.
A few minutes later, one of the radio stations began broadcasting music. Shea lied down in bed, closed her eyes and began imagining the world, the Moon, the Sun and the planets moving in silence through the cosmic void. And much farther away, shone the stars.
What are the stars? Could they be suns? Could they have planets? And then she saw herself crossing this cosmic void and visiting the stars. They were suns, indeed, and most of them had planets. However, life was missing from most of them. Shea continued to fly, looking for a planet with plants, animals, and people.
Shea opened her eyes. She had fallen asleep. Soft music was still coming from the small radio speaker from her desk. It was quite late, probably her parents were already asleep. The girl turned off the radio and the light then went close to the window. Under stars, the Wilderness seemed like an upside-down sky, with numerous jellyglobes shining high in the air above it.
And idea crossed her mind. The meteorite didn't fall too far away. The crater had to be less than two kilometers from her home. She could sneak out, take Zir for a ride and reach the place in less than twenty minutes. If the fallen object was made of metal, she could bring back a few pieces. Metal could always be used to make a lot of useful tools.
Five minutes later, Zir, her favorite cat, was carrying her across the ridges with long, elastic steps. In the warm air of the night, Shea's heart was beating with anticipation. She kept going towards the approximate direction where she had seen the bright light in the evening. Most of the Wilderness here was covered with short grass, easy to cross. Here and there, some crystal bushes would mark the landscape, but it was easy to go around them. The floating jellyglobes were as bright as a full Moon, so there was no risk of getting lost.
Fifteen minutes after she had left her home, Shea began to see shards of crystal bushes in the grass. The blast must have shattered them. The girl touched lightly her forehead with her index finger and drew the three horizontal lines to protect her from evil. They were getting closer. Zir could feel something unusual in the air and began to produce a low snarl.
"Easy, easy!" said Shea. "We're almost there."
The path became more narrow, surrounded by tall, partly shattered crystal bushes. Girl and cat continued their trip until the path opened into a large glade where the color of the grass had switched to green. No traces of the meteorite could be seen yet.
Suddenly, the cat began sniffing the air, then ran towards the edge of the glade, all the way to the hardened crystalline lava bed. In the dim light of the night jellyglobes floating high above in the air, Shea could see a strange creature lying down on the ground covered by moss and lichens. A human like her, more exactly a man, but dressed in shiny clothes that seemed to be made of metal and with a transparent globe surrounding his head. His hands were covered by thin gloves of the same silvery color.
Shea's eyes opened wide in astonishment. She jumped on the ground and came close to him. The stranger's eyes were closed and his belly was moving slowly up and down, breathing. The man was asleep.
"Who are you?" asked the girl, almost in a whisper.
The man opened his eyes and lifted himself into a sitting position. He stared at Shea for a few moments, then smiled and said something she couldn't understand. How could someone not speak like a human?
"I don't understand," replied Shea, please speak like all men and women do.
The stranger fumbled into his chest pocket, took out a small box and touched one of its sides. Then he repeated the phrase. The girl couldn't understand his words, but something was talking at the same time in her mind, and these words she had no trouble understanding. Pointing to the sky full of stars, the stranger said:
"I have come from up there, to you, our long lost brothers and sisters. My home is in another world that turns around another sun. Soon, my ship will arrive and will orbit your planet. It is what you thought to be a wandering celestial body, a huge world that will generate a long solar eclipse on your sky. We have come to make your life here easier and to bring back home those of you who wish to return."
"This can't be real, I must be dreaming. I will wake up in the morning and everything will be as I remembered," whispered the girl.
"My name is Esitor, what's yours?" continued the stranger, ignoring her words.
"Sh-Shea," said the girl.
"Nice to meet you, Shea. Maybe you don't realize it yet, but from now on, your world is going to get a whole lot bigger."
The man stood up and stretched his right hand towards her. He grabbed Shea's hand and shook it gently three times. Then he continued:
"Let's go to your people."
Zir was waiting only a few meters away and was strong enough to carry them both on his back. Hand in hand they stepped towards the beast, ready to return to the settlement. And at that moment, the sky above and the sky below fused, becoming a single sky.
Text by Marian C. Ghilea
Illustration by Frank Kelly Freas
#scifi #literature #amwriting #shortstory #writing #fantasy #prose #culture #colonisation #imaginaryworld #planet
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