You don’t know what you don’t know, Gavin realized with cold shock as he stood on the seashore and watched an enormous object hovering just above the horizon.
Dressed in a short tunic his mother had woven for him just this spring, he began humming to calm the anxiety spreading like a virulent sickness through his large, muscular body. He tore his eyes away and glanced around. Anyone else know? He answered his own question. No one. He stared at the thing hanging in the air and tried to make sense of the incongruities before him.
Larger than any living creature but not as big as Shlot, the largest volcano on the island, it seemed to be alive yet was not a living creature. Bulky and circular, its blue-green luminance reminded him of a bird of prey or perhaps the largest flying insect ever. He shook his head. No creature of such a size ever existed on this planet. He had traveled extensively and knew the furthest reaches. A grunt escaped his lips; his hum had evaporated into the morning sunrise.
Without wings, the object shifted and then lowered a little more, finally touching the water, resting on the surface the way a water bug stands in the middle of the pond.
A soft breeze hit Gavin in the face, the expulsion of air from where the object settled. Ripples scuttled across the water but soon relaxed and peace reasserted itself in the woodlands around him. Even the birds stopped their excited cawing, and a couple of nervous deerlings stepped to the water’s edge to drink.
He clutched his bow in one hand and rubbed the handle of his knife tucked into his belt with the base of his hand. No hunting now. Not that he needed to hunt. No one did, really. Tomorrow’s competition was meant to prove his skills rather than provide a sustaining meal. A successful hunt measured the width and breadth of a man’s true intelligence.
Surviving childhood, gaining the affection of a strong woman, building a sturdy home, planting a garden of variety and plenty, and keeping the ancient arts alive displayed a man’s worth. Neither blood or death should cause him dismay. They must be embraced as necessities of the life cycle he and his people negotiated in order to become complete beings created by the Origen.
A woman’s call turned his attention. He glanced over his shoulder and a short, squat figure plodded toward him. It never ceased to amaze him that he had come from such a mother. While he was the tallest man in the village, thick with well-defined muscles, his parents resembled the husk dolls children played with and tossed into the fire when they became ragged.
“Gavin? What are you about? Your father told you to wait for him, and now he’s in the garden, sulky as a child. You must think about—” Her steps halted as did her words, her wide-eyed gaze alighting on the strange object resting on the sea. “What is that?”
Gavin shook his head. “I do not know.”
“Is it alive? Did it fall from the sky?”
As was so often the case, words were not helpful, so Galvin remained silent.
She began to hum, amazingly the same tune he had started. A natural reaction, he knew, but unusual still considering the innumerable tunes they both knew. She swallowed the hum and fell silent. There was no comfort to be found while that thing sat before them.
Suddenly the object began to slide across the water with amazing speed, heading in their direction.
Galvin grabbed his mother’s arm and started to run, but she, solid as a rock, refused to budge.
“Wait! We must know.”
Surprised but pleased in some part of himself that he could not name, Gavin halted and faced the object as it rolled up, onto the sandy shore.
A slit formed down the middle and then appeared to crack the object. An opening appeared, a doorway. A figure stepped forth. Tall and solid but not flesh and blood.
Except for the face.
A pair of dark eyes stared out from a man’s face, like the flesh of the coconut white and smooth, staring grim yet satisfied. “Hello. No harm to you or yours! We Ingots are travelers and glad to meet you.”
Gavin understood the words though he could not imagine how it could be so.
His mother nudged him. “Speak back to him.”
Keeping his gaze fixed on the stranger, Gavin obeyed his mother’s request. “Why have you come?”
The man’s figure was layered in a strange substance, like no clothing he’d ever seen before. The stranger leaped from the doorway onto the shore and strode up to Gavin. Shorter and thinner, he was clearly not naturally strong. Gavin doubted the man inside the shiny material. Perhaps he’s a worm.
Two new figures appeared in the doorway, different faces but clad in the same hard material. They, too, leaped from the ship.
Clearly, it was a ship and carried people the way Gavin’s vessel took him and his father from island to island. He repeated his question. It was an important one and must be answered before he could decide what to do next.
The first foreigner slapped his hand against his chest. “Cobalt.” He swept his arms wide. “And my assistants. We are surveyors and would like to see your home.”
His mother trembled, but as was her fashion, she did not listen to her body but spoke in a high shrill voice. “Why?”
Cobalt smiled, his eyes glinting like the shiny material covering his body. “Because, simple people, your world has come to an end and our universe awaits.”
Gavin nodded. It was true then. Stories of old that warned of awesome danger coming from the stars. He had not known what he did not know. There was no arguing the point now.
He took his mother’s hand and led the way inland. From this point forward, he must learn.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
A prelude to the Newearth series, Last of Her Kind opens with a powerful premise: humans are becoming more and more infertile, a trend that might as well spell extinction. Cerulean, an alien watcher from the planet Lux, is fascinated by Anne. He is determined to save the human race…but with conflict deepening in his own world, what are the options for the guardian-alien?