It was three years ago, since we first spotted the planet of Fiddlers Green through the Mauna Kee telescope. It caught our interest fast due to the spectrum of light, we received from it indicating a perfect balance of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Actually the composition of the atmosphere on Fiddlers Green was equal to the atmosphere of Earth 200 years ago before the New Equilibrium took place.
We immediately dispatched a rocket probe to Fiddlers Green – or LMC-1999 as it was named at the time. After three years, the probe got close enough for us to see regular patterns on the surface of Fiddlers Green, which could indicate cities and cultivated fields. After two month, the probe got close enough to confirm, that that was indeed the case. By that time, a decision had been made to land the probe on Fiddlers Green. The probe was well equipped with rock solid cameras and sound recorders – even small screens and loudspeakers, that would make it possible for us to communicate with the inhabitants of Fiddlers Green if need be.
We put the probe down roughly 10 miles outside one of their major cities in what seemed to be a field and waited for the citizens to come running to the probe. We were quite excited and there were many speculations concerning the response of the citizens of Fiddlers Green. Would they bomb the probe? Abandon the nearby city in fear? Fight for the right of the probe?
We hadn’t anticipated the actual response:
They completely ignored it.
Three days passed by after the touchdown and nothing happened. We then started sending out
loud noises from the loud speakers. No response. One of the citizens passed by in a distance of 50 m and it didn’t seem to notice, that the probe was even there at all. We didn’t get it: The probe send out noise of more than 100 dB(A) and was 50 m high made out of highly reflective material. How could anyone ignore that??!
We waited for 4 months, while we discussed what to do: Send out a bigger probe? Bomb the area? Send an armed pilot? Then we got our answer…
One day, an alien walked straight toward the probe. When it got close, we could distinguish the features, which were quite human like: Two legs, two arms, nose, mouth, etc. The alien walked towards the probe until he covered the whole spectrum of the camera and the picture turned black for an instant. Then the camera showed the landscape of Fiddlers Green, that we had been looking at for 4 boring months. Where the hell did he go?
We switched to the camera on the other side of the probe and the back of the alien suddenly appeared. We watched him walk away from the probe, but we wondered how he had made it around or over the probe – the cameras on the other side and the top had showed nothing.
Then it dawned on us: The alien had walked right through the probe without sensing or touching it. The probe was invisible to it and could neither be felt nor touched. It simply didn’t exist to them
Everyone on Ground Control started quarreling about what to do next. Most couldn’t believe it and finally a compromise was agreed upon: Drop the probe in the nearby city and see, what would happen. We launched it again and steered it over the city. It was a huge city, that spread for miles. All the buildings had a piece of land attached to it, which apparently was used for farming. There only seemed to be agriculture – no livestock.
The probe circled over the city looking for a suitable place to touch down. We had turned on the
sound again but nobody looked up at this 50 m long metal object hovering above them, which again confirmed, that it was invisible and inaudible to the aliens. Then the probe started malfunctioning. It started off as a little spinning around, which grew in speed until it was impossible to distinguish the pictures, it sent. It came closer and closer to the ground and soon it would hit the houses. Or was supposed to. Instead it swooshed right through the houses as if they weren’t there – they didn’t take any damage. Finally it crashed landed on the ground and rolled for a few hundred meters through the intangible houses. Neither did anyone seem to notice or care.
The cameras were still functioning on the probe and they showed quite a sight: The back end of the probe had landed on a kind of market square and the aliens flooded around it – to shop. They walked right through the thruster section to get from one market stand to the other. When switching to the internal cameras we could even see a market stand inside our probe selling what looked like donuts! The external cameras in the mid section showed the inside of some kind of public bath and the top section cameras showed a what appeared to be a temple. The top section had landed in the middle of the damn thing without taking any attention from the app. 2,000 aliens praying in there.
A completely mess – and to make things worse, my boss demanded that we fired a missile from the probe. “In that way no danger will be apparent anymore and all options exhausted”. So we did. The missile was launched from the mid section of the probe and since it didn’t hit anything tangible it just soared through the buildings and landed 5 mile outsides the city, where it caused a giant explosion permanently damaging the probe microphones and an EMP pulse, that blasted all our cameras but one, that lasted for 24 hours more. With that camera, we could see that nobody cared – not even by the sight of a 5 km tall mushroom cloud just outside their city.
Only one thing left to do now..
And off we went. Quality air and no radiation? Check! Acceptable temperature? Check! Good soil? Check – the probe has tested the underground and it was prime! Tractable alien population? Check! Whats not to like! And so, three years later the first settler rockets carrying 2,000 humans – yours truly included – touched down on Fiddlers Green just outside another of their cities. The first city, where the probe landed – we jokingly called it Hiroshima 2 – would be too contaminated for us to use in many years to come.
We sent out a scout team into the other city, which we called Prime City. The scout team experienced the same thing as the probe: The aliens couldn’t see, hear or for – that matter smell – them, couldn’t touch them and walked right through them. The scout team fired a few rounds into the alien and the bullets went right through them.
We started to set up the inflatable house and started sowing the ground. The crops went up just fine and we had wondered, if the aliens would actually see the crops, that was grown from their own soil. They couldn’t, which suited us just fine.
We decided not to put up any houses in Prime City. A couple tried to put up their house in there, but they joined the rest of the settlement a few weeks later. They didn’t feel threatened, but it was simply too weird with the aliens walking through their house all the time. Prime City was mainly used for scientific purpose and for family trips, where our kids could see and study the aliens and their primitive way of living. We would use the uninteresting parts of Prime City as a waste deposit site.
And so life went on for years with the aliens and us living our separate lives “peacefully coexisting” as the politicians liked to call it . The people back would wait for 5 years before sending up the major settlement ships to be sure, that everything was cool up here. We would leave enough for the other nations on Earth to survive and perhaps turn the Earth into a more liveable area in a few
hundred years. If they succeeded, we would come back and reclaim Earth. Otherwise, we would just stay here – a win-win scenario for us.
But after 4 years and 6 months on Fiddlers Green, thing turned out…..weird.
We had just received news from one of the settler ships, that was set to arrive first in six month, when we heard a scream coming from one of the houses in the slum areas. First we thought, it was one of the dope head mothers seeing some visions when getting high. But no – it was much different: When we got inside the house, there was an alien. Nothing suspicious about that – they came by from time to time and did their normal see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-routine. But this alien saw us! It reacted both to the screaming dope head mother and to us coming into the house! Actually, it looked totally scared of the whole house, like the house had just appeared there! It tried to run away – and bumped into one of the walls instead of the normal walking-right-through-it routine. Then it set off for the door, but one of my men shot at its legs and hit! The alien screamed in high pinch voice, which really grated in our ears. It lumped outside and looked confused at the people gathering around the house – like they had just appeared out of nowhere. We set our guns to stun and knocked it senseless. After that, we dragged the alien to the lab guys, who did all sorts of experiments on it. The screaming was really annoying and everyone in the lab had to wear earplugs. And still the lab guys couldn’t tell, why the alien had “turned solid”, as they called it.
After a few days, we found the answer: The dope head mothers son was apparently some kind of wonder kid and he had disassembled his personal pad as an experiment. He had among other things taken off the screen and tried to turn it into a filter using different kinds of voltages, chemicals compounds etc. He was actually quite bright and had managed to manufacture some kind of ethnographic camera, where he could see heat radiation. The screen was so brilliantly constructed, that it worked in both directions: You could also see him and his heat radiation, when
standing on the other side of the screen. One day, the kid was working with different kind of plasma configurations and frequencies of the screen, when an alien walked into the house in the same way as usual – through the wall. It randomly looked at the screen from the other side – and saw the kid!! Not only that: It could suddenly also see the walls, the roof, the dope head mother chilling in the sofa – everything! Here is the thing: When seeing all these things, the dope head mother and son suddenly existed in the eyes of the alien. And when stepping into existence, they also turned solid and tangible to the alien. And the alien turned solid to us as well.
We got the information from the kid under interrogation. He seemed scared of being punished, so we played on that fear and made him show us how the screen was constructed. The screen had fallen to the floor, when the alien freaked out, but we managed to reconstruct the screen and find approx. the same plasma and frequency configuration as previously. Then it was a matter of taking the screen and the kid into the field for finding the right configurations. We went out to a remote alien house with just one resident to do the testing – didn’t want to go Prime City, as we didn’t want to cause too much disturbance among the aliens.
We placed ourselves in front of the alien, which seemed to working with furniture construction of some kind. It often had its eyes pointing in the same direction, which made it ideal for our little experiment. We placed the screen in its eyesight and the kid started to adjust the frequencies, plasma configuration and whatnot. And after a few hours, it happened: The alien suddenly stopped working – and looked at us. He screamed, dropped everything he had and started to run towards Prime City. He couldn’t be allowed to alert the other aliens, so I draw my gun, fired at him and hoped for the best.
Sweet Christmas, did that work!! The alien exploded in all directions. The smell was actually quite terrible.
After that, it was just a matter of producing more screens and place them on the tips of our rifles. We even put a screen on our tank. Then we rolled into Prime City and started eliminating the aliens. They looked at the screens, saw us, we turned solid, they turned solid – and got blasted away. Don’t forget: 500,000 settlers were on their way in the first rockets trusting us completely – no need to take any chances. After turning solid, some of the aliens closed their eyes and hid the head in the palms as to shut us out or hoping to reverse or eliminate the incident. No use. The information about us was in their head and couldn’t be undone. The cat was out of the sack – nothing to do it about it.
It took few days to clear the city. They tried to fight us, but we had only a few casualties – nothing worse than scratches. They didn’t seem to know how to fight. In spite of them having no phones or any kind of advanced communication system, rumour seemed to spread fast in Prime City about our presence and the aliens started to gather together in a big building in the middle of the town. We had them surrounded, so no point in trying to leave the city, anyway. As we made our way to the big building, we made a curious discovery: After observing and taking out roughly 1,000 of the aliens, the buildings suddenly turned solid and could be destroyed too. One of them actually turned solid just when the tank drove through it, which made it stuck. It seemed that when enough aliens saw us and believed in us, it would influence their creations too.
We reached the big building, a temple/town hall/culture centre/whatever, where app. 5,000 of the aliens had taken refugee. I ordered the troops to stop and stepped inside the building. The building could make do as a new headquarter, so no need to blow it up. Their leader – some sort of priest/mayor/entertainer/whatever approached me and tried to talk to me. It had a staff in his hand and I couldn’t get if he was using it to lean on or it was some kind of scepter or badge of office. I didn’t understand a thing of the squabbling, it came up with. Suddenly it turned silent, clenched its hands or claws around the staff and started humming. The crowd started to hum too. I told it to stop. No use. Then the staff started to glow, which I really didn’t like, so I took out my laser Glock
and blasted the leaders head off. The crowd started to scream and I shot a few times into the air to make them silent. That worked. After that, something peculiar happened: I reached down for the staff – and grasped nothing. The crowd wooed and I shot again few rounds into the air to keep them quite. Took out a few aliens in the front too to let them understand, that I was being serious. Then I tried to take the staff again – and this time I succeeded. I must have misjudged the distance the first time – that can happen, when you are in combat and the whole body is squeezed to the max.
The aliens were directed out of the temple and installed in make-shift prison camps, that we put up outside the city. They didn’t put any resistance. The lab guy took a few of them to toy around without anyone putting up a fight. It made me hate them for the first time – at least they could have fought for their right. What a bunch of sad beings – they didn’t deserve this land!
It was time to prepare an attack on the rest of the aliens living in the immediate area of the landing site of the next rocket. We had mapped out those cities long ago, but before the attacks took place, my sergeant came with annoying news: Scout report showed, that the aliens had started abandoning these cities just when we attacked Prime City. They had been quick about and the cities were almost empty by now. That worried me: How did the aliens in the other cities get to know so fast, that Prime City was being attacked? As I told previously, they had no mechanical communication system. There were no birds on Fiddlers Green, so no fancy use of homing pigeons. Neither could anyone of the aliens have run to the other cities so fast. What worried me most was the other news: They had all started to gather in Hiroshima 2 – the one place, where we still couldn’t come due to the radiation….Did they know that?
We could attack the cities even further away – but to what use? First priority was to protect the landing site and the aliens had actually made that task easier by abandoning the cities close by. The rocket would arrive in three months time and the easiest thing was to bomb Hiroshima 2 from orbit. It might not work, since we couldn’t use the screens on them, but why not give it a try? The place was dead to us anyway. We could always set up a perimeter around Hiroshima 2 packed with screens and shoot them as they approached.
I send out a few scouts to find good places for the perimeter and few days later they came back shivering all over. They had identified loads of place but on the third day of their scouting, something completely insane had happened: Hiroshima 2 had disappeared before their eyes!!! One moment it was there – the next it had disappeared into thin air.
I didn’t believe them and them admitted to our mental hospital and later locked up in military prison. I sent out a few of my best men armed to the teeth to finish the scouts work – and they came back with the same news. They had actually approached the site, where Hiroshima 2 was supposed to be and their Halogen counter had shown extremely high levels of radiation. They even brought back pictures of the probe taken as close as they could get to it. But the pictures showed only the probe – no buildings or aliens!!!
I spend the next three days in my home not knowing what the hell to do. In a way, everything was in order for the settler rocket to arrive and I had done my duty. Maybe the aliens had simply used the “scorched earth” strategy – burned the city to the ground and left. But that didn’t explain that the city had disappeared before the eyes of the scouts – furthermore there were no ashes or any remains of the buildings. I sent out the labs guys with the screens just to do something – but nothing showed up.
One night I woke up just before dawn in a state of panic. I decided to squeeze an explanation of the
alien prisoners and grabbed my gun. I walked out to the prison camps and stopped outside the fence. Their attitude had changed recently. After being put in prison, they didn’t want to look us in the eyes. Out of fear? Had they finally figured out, that when they saw us, it was game over? A do-gooder protester from our own camp, who didn’t like the cleansing of the aliens had an answer at the ready: They saw our soul – and didn’t like it. As if.
But when I stood at the fence in the dawning light, things were different. They woke up slowly, rose – and started looking at me. The expression was not fear, neither anger – or obedience. The one word coming back to me again and again when I think of the episode is….acceptance. Not forgiveness. But some some of acceptance of my presence. A prisoner walked to the fence and started touching the fence. Curiously it examined the wire and pulled it a little up and down. It closed its eyes and focused. I could see the chest of the alien moving slowly in and out. I was surprised how they looked like us sometimes.
And then its hand went unsolid and moved through the wire.
I jumped back and the alien opened its eyes. The hand went solid again with the wire stuck in the middle of the palm. The alien screamed and desperately tried to pull its hand back. I draw my gun and pointed at the alien. “What the hell are you doing”!!? The other aliens suddenly touched the stuck alien and it seemed to calm it down. It closed its eyes again – and one more time the hand turned unsolid and it removed the hand from the wire. It began to walk ahead and passed unhindered though the fence approaching me. I fired at it – and the shot went right through the alien hitting another alien behind him. The remaining aliens closed their eyes and starting walking towards me. I fired ahead and my shots went right through all of them without any of them getting hit – the bullets hitting the sand, which sprung up like miniature geysers.
They had reverted to their original state! They walked right me and continued walking from the prison. The guards noticed the same thing as I and sounded the alarm for prison escape. We
sounded the alarm and more help came, but there was nothing to do but follow them.
After following them for almost a day, they began to turn transparent with the setting sun shining through them and slowly they faded into invisibility. Every human stopped and tried to grasp, that nearly 5,000 aliens had escaped a top secured prison and vanished into thin air.
My phone rang – it was the officer on duty in Prime City: The buildings had started to go invisible few minutes ago and had by the time I received the call disappeared completely.
Everything went tits-up at the settlement. 5,000 aliens had escaped, two cities had disappeared – and the other cities had disappeared too according to the drone scouts. Riots broke out and we had to use hard force to calm people down.
I gathered our people together in the main square of the settlement to explain the obvious benefits to them: The aliens had surrendered completely to us and left the planet by means unknown. That was the only reasonable explanation. We had strength in numbers: When all the settlement rockets had arrived, we would be 50,000,000 humans here against their meager 2,000,000, which we had counted, when we arrived. We had strength in weapons: We had 5th generation nukes, tanks, drone fighters, digger bombs – the aliens hadn’t even developed bow and arrow!! The aliens had realized that and had chosen to leave, albeit in a way, that was incomprehensible to us. It didn’t matter. They had left, given up, surrendered.
That calmed everyone down. After all, our nation had proven itself superior to the other nations on Earth the hard way – so why not here? The people started to applause…
…and then everything went tits-up again.
Out of the blue an alien appeared on stage only 5 meters from me and the crowd freaked out. It was wearing the same rags and a staff as the leader in the big building in Prime City. It looked at me with the same accepting look as the prisoners had just before disappearing. The guards aimed at it, but I signaled them to stand down. I spoke to it and asked it to declare its intentions. Not a word. Instead it pointed at me, pointed at the crowd and then finally pointed to the sky. Not just in a random direction, but at the exact location where Earth was. A few in the crowd realized that and that freaked out people more. I walked over to the alien and tried to grasp it, but my hands grasped nothing – just thin air. It was intangible again. Then it grabbed my gun from the holster and hold it up in front of me. I tried to take it, but the gun had gone intangible. The crowd now screamed, panicked and started to run away from the stage. The alien calmly put down my gun on the stage – almost as if to be certain that it didn’t go off by accident and killed anyone. One of the guards shot at the alien, but the laser went right through it and killed another guard placed on the wall around the settlement. The alien disappeared and the crowd lost its last piece of self control and ran down the guards, tables – everything.
It took two days, 52 casualties, 9 deaths and numerous lootings, before we had everything under control in the settlement. No sign of the aliens. At times, I started to feel sick of the humans. A little crisis and they freaked out – some even tried to conquer the rocket to go home!! All the sacrifices, I had done and now they wanted to pussy out!! They didn’t deserve this planet either!! There would be no leaving as I and I alone had the necessary codes to launch the rocket
I went to our central command station to address the situation trough the loudspeakers placed all around the camp for emergency situations like this:
“Fellow Settlers! Martial law is hereby declared – effect immediately. A curfew is imposed – effect immediately – from 9 night to 6 morning. Everyone caught on the street in said time span will be apprehended and brought before a court martial! Be aware, that not complying with the law in
times of war is punishable by death! We must stand together in these testing times and remain calm! Our fellow citizens, who will join us in just one months time are relying on us to secure a safe home! Do not be intimidated by the aliens’ parlour tricks! They are weak and pathetic and their little show two days ago was one last final attempt to scare us off. They cannot touch us and haven’t managed to hurt us in even the smallest way. We shall remain as solid as the wall surrounding the compound. General Emerson out”.
I hung up the phone and turned towards the soldier on duty looking desolate. “We will overcome this, son. Don’t you worry”.
He stared out the of window taking no notice of what I had just said. He was trembling
“Soldier, are you listening?”
He grasped for breath and dropped his weapon.
“The wall has gone”
I looked out and there was a clear view all around the compound. The wall had disappeared and the soldier previously standing on the wall were now crawling around on the ground in a state of chock.
From there on I don’t remember much. I remember running feverishly back to my quarters and locking the doors. Soon people started banging the door screaming and begging for the launch codes. I turned on the screens in my quarters observing the compound and again there was panic everywhere. I stared at those screens for what must have been hours and saw our compound dissolve both mentally and physically. After the wall disappeared, the weapons disappeared next. Then the roads. At some point, the cameras must have disappeared too, because the screens went blank. I crawled down on the floor and prayed to that the building walls didn’t disappear.
That was exactly the next thing, that happened next. My own office walls disappeared and I could see through the entire level of the building – a big space filled with tables, chairs, sofas, screens – much of it had been toppled and smashed in the panic. The air was filled with screams, crying and anger coming from all directions – but I couldn’t see anyone. I could here from the voices, that
nobody could see anyone but themselves. The voices were moving through the air and I could feel them whirl around me. I screamed out for anyone to hear me, but no one responded. In fact, nobody responded to anybody – it was impossible to start a conversation with anybody. As soon as I addressed a familiar voice by name, they were suddenly unable to hear me, but still called my name.
Meanwhile, the surroundings continued to fade away with people screaming in terror at every change. The outer facade slowly turned transparent and disappeared. Then the cars outside. It kept going on until everywhere I looked was one white landscape – if you could call it that. No sun, no ground, no sky, no horizon. I got up and kept walking on…I don’t know what. The ground didn’t feel solid – and I couldn’t even comprehend where the ground was. Sometimes I felt like I was floating – sometimes I felt like I had been turned upside down. I moved the legs like I was walking, but I couldn’t sense if I was going anywhere.
Suddenly all voices disappeared and there was absolute nothing to hear. No echo, wind – nothing. I tried to clap my hands – nothing. I started screaming – no sound. I couldn’t figure out, if I had lost my voice or I was completely deaf. I put my hands to my throat to try and feel a vibration.
I couldn’t feel my own throat and my throat didn’t register my fingers touching it. Soon after, I couldn’t see my hands and legs – everything had turned white. I closed my eyes. Everything was still white!! I can’t remember, when my sense of smell disappeared.
Time passed – I don’t know how long. My mind started racing and I relieved everything, that we had done on this planet. The period of our stay on Fiddlers Green started over again and again. I couldn’t distract from it. I honestly couldn’t figure out, if it was my mind playing tricks with me or the aliens projecting images in front of me.
Slowly I realized the monstrosity of what we had done and started crying. I devised new ways for
treating the aliens better – ways, that could have made everyone happy. The perfect stay on the planet was now playing through my mind again and again. Sometimes the vision became so clear, that I got lost in for what seems like years. I grew very tired. And I knew, that everything, that had occurred couldn’t be redone.
I knew what words to say and I repeated them again and again. I didn’t know, if I was actually speaking them out loud. The words were:
“I accept. I accept the situation and the nature of what we have done and that it can not be changed. I accept the reality on this planet even though I will never understand it. I will not judge it. I know what I have to do now.”
The rocket, we came in, appeared in front of me. It both seemed very close and far away. A ladder came gliding down. I walked over to it (or was I led to it??), climbed it and entered the rocket. It was filled with the settlers. All of them surviving the first riot seemed to have made it back into the rocket. Their eyes were very distant and no one really took notice of me. I climbed to the cockpit, strapped myself in the pilots seat and entered the launch codes. The rocket blasters ignited (I cant remember, when I regained my hearing and feelings) and in that very moment the white disappeared and the blue sky came back. Quickly the blue sky was replaced by a black sky loaded with stars.
After a few days ,we rendezvoused with the approaching settlement fleet. Our rocket was hauled and I was brought to the command center of the flag ship. The commander in charge demanded an explanation and I explained to him, what had happened. He didn’t believe a single word and threatened to have me court martial-ed. I didn’t care
“Walls, buildings – and a whole settlement simply can’t disappear!!” He screamed. “You have jeopardized the future of the human race”
“We are not the entire human race – just one nation”, I said. “And we are not in jeopardy. We can go back to Earth and clean up the mess, we left behind”
“We are not!!”, the commander screamed. He pointed out the front window at Fiddlers Green, which was just visible now. “We will go to Fiddlers Green and claim what is ours. It is right there! We march on!”
I looked at the front window, at Fiddlers Green, ignoring the commander screaming at me.
I closed my eyes.
I opened them.
And Fiddlers Green was gone.
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