The Encounter, Ch. 6 - by Genna East and Mike Friedman
The Final Chapter
Welcome to the final chapter of the continuing story in response to "The Encounter, a Writing Challenge."
Mike (Mckbirdbks) and I teamed together to write a six-part story in answer to that challenge. Installments were published weekly, every weekend. The music videos accompanying each chapter convey elements of the story.
Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed the journey.
The link to Chapter 1 appears below...
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."
--- Carl Sagan
Nearly four months had passed since the disappearance of the alien vessel. Ezra's landing capsule was shuttled in secret to an isolated detachment of the Edwards Air Force base in Southern Nevada. In the weeks that followed, its impenetrable casing resisted the dogged inquests of man. Scientists could only speculate as to why the Jatites would leave such a calling card behind.
Hank Kelly's home on the Kittatinny had been confiscated, with all of its contents removed. Security tape and thick sheets of plastic still clung to the outer walls of the dwelling -- boarded shut and lifeless -- wrapped in a desolate silence.
News organizations and the social media had moved on from the mysteries surrounding the alien craft. Advertisers filled the margins of everyday life with offers of needless merchandise. Television producers continued their reality shows, and tales of super heroes, zombies and clever policemen.
Of those who vanished on that mid-summer day, the official explanation conveyed little beyond their abduction by a hostile alien force. All four were presumed dead...until, the evening of November 14th.
On that night, a bright autumn moon cast deep shadows on the Astrophysical Sciences building at Princeton University. Several of Dr. Penelope Teller's colleagues were working late into the night in the first-floor lab, researching what the James Webb Telescope had recorded as an anomaly -- a ripple that appeared as a soundless, shuddering breath through the fabric of space and time near Jate 22c. The tiny displacement lasted one-tenth of a second.
From the terrace outside the lab, a bright sliver of light streamed through one of the windows, drawing the researchers to its source. On the concrete surface rested an oblong capsule -- a small replica of the famous pod found in the woods on the Kittatinny. The capsule opened for them to reveal a strange object. They examined it with caution, unaware of the gift that had been entrusted to their care: Ezra's hologram. Included in the capsule were instructions written in Penny's own hand explaining how to operate the strange device. The scientists soon realized their discovery was meant to be shared with the world. They watched with astonishment as it relayed one of the most important odysseys in human history; undeniable...inescapable.
Ezra's hologram, with its three-dimensional images of sight and sound, chronicled his arrival on the Kittatinny, his meeting with Dr. Hannaford Kelly and his beloved spaniel, Noah, and the fateful moments that followed throughout his visit. The stunning diffractions of light captured Ezra's departure from earth as he and his human companions boarded the Jatite vessel before it vanished from orbit. Carrying travelers from two different worlds, the ship traversed through a wormhole, a glistening sphere reflecting surreal images of the galaxies and nebulae that stretched beyond. The extraordinary voyage culminated in their arrival at Jate, one hundred years into the near-Eden of its past to warn of the future desolation from which their descendants had fled.
As Ezra predicted, the evidence was overwhelming. The appearance of the few Jatites who had voluntarily relinquished the laser emersion to remove their scale-like skin was startling. So, too, was the holographic history of their future. The testimony given by the kind aliens from earth was equally persuasive. From that moment forward, an alteration of the Jatite consciousness began to the point of understanding that the living creatures of their planet were linked in a cycle. They were as the air, as the soil, as the water, given the proper respect of the very essence in which life could thrive.
Not long after their arrival, the Jatite leader and the human companions he had grown to love gathered in front of the spaceship. In full view of the hologram, they stood side by side to convey a message to humanity.
"What you are about to see," explained Ezra in his gentle monotone voice, "are our efforts to change the course of history for our planet, and reverse the decisions that led us down the wrong path. For us, it is the beginning of another journey that will last a millennium. Climate change and the depletion of natural resources have also threatened earth with a similar, environmental cataclysm. Yet humanity still has time to alter that path."
"Our goal is not to blame or moralize, but to appeal to you all with a passion from the heart," remarked Hank. "Our world, our earth as we know it, is slipping away. We have become separate from nature -- disconnected from the intimacy with life on which our very survival depends. Everything we are, everything around us, is the residual of stardust that has made its way into the plants and nutrients we need for everything that we do. So much of what exists is alive within us."
Hank gazed down at Penny and grasped her hand. The love he had found again through her was unmistakable. "Carl Sagan once said that science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality," she said. "I now know this to be true. Science and technology were never the problem; it was our misuse of them."
"One of the wonders of creation is the knowledge that man is not alone," added Marty. "The freedom we seek rests not in the saying...it is in the doing. We know you have the courage to become part of the beauty of the universe we are destined to be."
Kate looked up at him, nodded and smiled: "We are capable of more than we know. There is such courage in each of us...for all of us."
In a stunning continuum, the images of the hologram shifted into a moving and meaningful narrative of what took place in the decades that followed.
The Jatites taught their honored guests the soft trilling sounds of their language, while learning the verbal communication of human speech. Teachers as well as students, the alien visitors soon became cherished members of the Jatite world. Children were taught the importance of their environment from an early age with a holistic understanding. When not at their studies, they were carried by drones to playgrounds of their own design in the natural world. Kate and Marty were delighted when their own son was able to join them.
Through better use of their science and technology, the Jatites were able to stem the tide of global devastation. They re-designed their dwellings to capture the heat of their sun, maintaining the perfect temperature throughout the day, regardless of season. The vast, crimson waters erupting with the noxious gases of a dying planet disappeared from the horizons of time. The proteus fruits were restored, more plentiful than before. Growing fields swelled with food bearing plants that grew nearly twenty feet tall. Life had returned -- from the luminescent sea algae and fireflies, to the land herbivores that fed in their plains and rainforests.
The gifts of longevity on Jate were profound. Hank Kelly and his close friend, Ezra, lived another happy and rewarding sixty years; Penny and her brother, Marty, seventy-five. Kate followed her husband, Marty, a decade later.
Moments before the hologram images began to fade, a man appeared who was born on Jate ninety-three years earlier. The boy who joined the Jatite children in their studies and at play had grown into adulthood. A joyous human being, he looked middle-aged. His features mirrored Kate's African American heritage and Marty's strong Irish chin and blue eyes -- docile, gelatinous orbs that held a deep intelligence and the purity of a child's internal life before the woundedness of humanity had touched his soul.
"My name is Hannaford Ezra Teller," he began. "Today heralds the one hundredth year anniversary of the day my family left earth. Not a moment passes when we do not feel the spirit of their presence. They will never leave us. I am honored to be part of their living testimony, in this, our tribute to their home and the world they so loved."
In his hands was the book his father had pulled from Penny's bookcase in the Whitney building only minutes before his departure: F. Scott Fitzgerald's, This Side of Paradise. Hannaford turned a page to quote from a passage: "'It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.' Dreams can become reality if given the chance. The being is in the understanding, the knowing of how beautiful it is that we all exist. Perhaps this is the true test of love. I hope that someday we meet," he added, smiling. Blessings to you all." Closing the book, he glanced over his shoulder at a large structure standing in the shadows.
The flickering hologram followed his gaze to a rotunda sheltering the massive Jatite ship that had carried both Jatite and Human voyagers. Its large, elongated form and textured surface had been well tended and preserved over the decades. A decorative plaque was mounted on the hull. Two words were inscribed in dedication to one who had sacrificed his life to protect those he loved...one whose instincts and courage made it possible for countless, future generations to survive: Noah's Ark.
Saturn (Sleeping at Last)
The lyrics to this lovely and haunting song begin at 2:25 --------------
Written by Genna Eastman and Mike Friedman. All rights reserved.