| "Good suggestion, everyone, into the pod, NOW! That's
an order!" barked the Captain.
"I can hazard a guess. It's that one or more of
you may have been thinking something that somehow offended them." I ventured,
once we were safely back inside.
"Just as they communicate by 'thinking,' as we know
it, perhaps they are able to divine our thoughts, intentions. I don't know
this for certain, it's just a guess as I said."
"Well, that's certainly possible, anything is.
This is the first time I have ever encountered anything like it.
Can any of you remember thinking something that could have frightened them
off?" The Captain eyed each one of us, intently.
"Perhaps it could have been my thoughts," Solon offered,
"I was thinking that when we return Home, we could bring one of them with
us, to show the people of Earth what an Alien species looks like...
That was immediately before they disappeared like that!" His eyes
were wide open, as if he was aware of being responsible.
"Thank you for being so honest, Solon. If, indeed,
they can read our thoughts, that certainly could have done it!" I
felt so disappointed that the new contact had been severed so suddenly.
Especially when things were going so very well. What if we were never
to see them again? I couldn't bear the thought.
On an impulse, I went back outside the space pod looked
around and could see only the plants sitting in the sunlight of their Home
I concentrated as hard as I could... 'PLEASE, PLEASE
RETURN TO OUR VISION. WE NEVER MEANT TO HARM YOU OR FRIGHTEN YOU.
WHATEVER YOU MAY HAVE HEARD, DOES NOT REPRESENT OUR TOTAL FEELINGS TOWARD
YOU. WE ARE INDIVIDUALS, AND EACH ONE OF US HAS OUR OWN THOUGHTS.'
I waited anxiously. I am not sure how long it
was, it felt like a LONG time, I kept repeating my message. I was
standing there with my palms open and my arms extended in supplication
to what I was not sure. After a while, as suddenly as they had vanished,
the four Elders, stood before me.
'WE HAVE COME AS A GESTURE OF FAITH TO YOU ALONE, DARLA.
YOU MUST PROMISE US THAT NONE OF OUR PEOPLE WILL BE HARMED IN ANY WAY.'
'YOU HAVE MY SOLEMN VOW, ELDERS. I WILL ALLOW
YOU TO KEEP ME, IF MY WORD IS BROKEN.'
'WE TRUST YOU, BUT THE OTHERS WE DO NOT. WHY IS
IT THAT THEY WISH TO CAPTURE ONE OF US? THAT WOULD BE LIKE DEATH
TO ONE OF US, AND A LOSS TO ALL THE REST. CAN YOU TELL US THIS?
'OH, SLAN! PLEASE BELIEVE ME, WE WILL NOT HARM
ANYONE. I THINK THAT IT IS BECAUSE MY PEOPLE FEEL THAT THEY MIGHT
NOT BE BELIEVED, WHEN WE RETURN HOME AND TELL OF OUR EXPERIENCES HERE.
'I AM SURE THAT SOLON DID NOT INTEND TO FRIGHTEN YOU.
HAVE YOU BEEN HARMED BY OTHERS LIKE US? WHY DID YOU LEAVE SO SUDDENLY?'
'IT IS AS YOU HAVE SAID. OTHERS HAVE COME A LONG
TIME AGO IN A CONVEYANCE SIMILAR TO YOURS, BUT DID NOT RESPECT US.
IT TOOK A LONG TIME FOR US TO DECIDE TO TRUST YOU, AFTER WE HAD INVESTIGATED
'AH, I UNDERSTAND,' I thought, 'MAY WE VIDEOTAPE YOU?'
WE WOULD NOT DO THIS WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION, OF COURSE.'
'WHAT IS THIS 'VIDEOTAPE'?
'IT IS A FORM OF BEING ABLE TO TAKE AN IMAGE OF YOU
BACK TO EARTH WITH US, BUT IT WOULD NOT AFFECT YOU IN ANY WAY AT ALL.'
'ARE YOU QUITE CERTAIN THAT IT WILL NOT?'
I allowed them to read my thoughts, as I pondered the
possibility. It would, of course, require a great deal of trust on
their part. I could not in all honesty say for absolutely sure that
they couldn't be harmed by it. They did appear to be extremely sensitive.
'ONE OF US WILL ACT AS A TEST ANIMAL, IF THAT IS WHAT
I thanked them in my mind, and reassured them that if
for any reason, they felt threatened, I would cease immediately. I knocked
on the opening panel of the dink.
"Yes? How ever did you get them to come back?"
Tara wanted to know.
"Could you please hand me the videorecorder? I
have promised them that we will take their recorded image to prove to the
inhabitants of Earth, that all of this did in fact take place."
"Of course, Darla. We will add that image to the
films we have taken already of their planet." The Captain smiled
at me approvingly, as she handed me the machine. "Good idea!"
"I turned to find that the Elders were still standing
expectantly. 'MAY I TAKE THE IMAGES NOW?'
'FIRST, TAKE AN IMAGE OF YOUR 'SPACE POD' AS YOU CALL
IT, WITH YOUR CAPTAIN AND CREW MATES.'
I did as they commanded. Of course, nothing happened
to the crew or dink.
'VERY WELL, YOU MAY VIDEOTAPE US ALL, WE BELIEVE YOU.'
I gratefully took the camera and filmed the Elders standing next to our
little ship and crew.
'MAY WE OBSERVE THE IMAGES YOU HAVE TAKEN?'
'OF COURSE.' I showed them how the image was displayed
on the machine as it recorded.
'THAT IS AMAZING! WE ARE FEELING FINE, NO REACTION
OF ANY KIND. WE ARE, OF COURSE, VERY RELIEVED.'
'TELL ME OF THE OTHERS, WHO HAVE VISITED YOU?'
'WE HAVE NOT SEEN THEM OURSELVES, BUT THE ELDERS BEFORE
US HAVE MADE THE STORIES THAT WE SHARE. IT IS A CAUTIONARY TALE,
TO BE VERY CAREFUL IN APPROACHING ANY BEING THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM
WHAT WE KNOW.'
'YES, OF COURSE. THAT IS VERY WISE OF YOU.
WE WILL RETURN TO OUR MOTHER SHIP WHICH IS RIDING IN THE SEA ABOVE US.'
I pointed up at their sky.
'FAREWELL, UNTIL WE RETURN, WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR
COOPERATION. IT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES
OF MY LIFE, MEETING YOU.' I extended my hands to each one in turn.
"And that, people of the Earth, is exactly how the First
Contact with the Slan transpired, thank you."
C., 11/6/1999, Bonnie Gardner.