by Emmanuel M Arriaga, May 2014
It was my second year living in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong when the ships came. At first it was a type of surreal moment where you think you’re in a dream, but then reality catches up to you and you realize that everyone around you is running.
My Chinese was still pretty terrible, but screams sound the same regardless of the language. People exploded into motion, terrified residents and tourists alike. One thing you learn in Hong Kong is to not fight against the crowd, you’ll waste a lot of energy and not get anywhere. A mass of people filed out of Yuen Wo Road onto Tak Hau Street, a wall of human bodies pushing you along whether you wanted to go or not.
The massive silver white ship landed in the Sha Tin Sports Ground, the crunch of metal as it came to rest sending my pulse racing. The streets themselves were packed with people, cars trying desperately to get through with no hope. People started to abandon their cars, getting nowhere. I saw the nice old lady who greeted me every day on my way to work get trampled in a stampede of panicked people. I tried to get to her, to help her, to do something! But the crowd pushed me forward, if I tried to go low I risked being trampled myself. I remember passing the walkway above Tak Hau Street as the mass of people surged forward, the Jusco Supermarket to my right catching my eye as people tried to pack into the store.
Crowds were filing into all of the buildings of the shopping center, some breaking off and heading towards the parking garages hoping to get out of the street and to safety. Panic took hold of me and I couldn’t think straight, I just felt my body pumping forward as the crowd broke out onto Fung Shun Street. I could see my building then, my apartment just a staircase away. The home I had known for the past two years, a small place but all mine. I urged my legs forward, attempting to break away from the crowd instead of being carried down Fung Shun Street. I was feet away from the staircase when the high pitched screeching started. The sound started incredibly high, right outside of my range of hearing, slowly adjusting until I could hear it clearly. My head started to throb as I watched hundreds of people fall to the ground paralyzed by the noise.
I laid there for what seemed like an eternity as I felt warm blood stream out of my ears. Tears started to form in my eyes as I stared at safety, so close yet so far. There was a surreal calm as not a body moved, every face highlighted with the same terrified sadness. Over the high pitched sound, I could hear movement. I struggled to see but my body refused to listen as the creatures, the aliens… walked through the swathes of human bodies lying paralyzed on the ground.
Then I saw them, the creatures from the massive silver white ship that rested just a few blocks away. Slowly, they walked through the crowds, seeking… searching. Terror gripped hold of me, sending my stomach into a tight knot as they bent down and examined different people with their glittering devices. That’s when they saw me. They walked over and scanned me with that silverish orb, a sound ringing out as if some kind of warning. The terror inside of me magnified a thousand fold as more came and surrounded me. My body was snatched up in some type of invisible force that sent me high into the air.
I watched as the creatures nodded to one another, looking up at me with what I thought were smiles. They flung me through the air back down Tak Hau Street as the world passed by me impossibly fast. I thought that was it, that my life was over, I thought that as soon as I hit the ground I would be killed on impact. Killed in an alien invasion like I’d seen in science fiction movies growing up, but I didn’t die. A powerful light caught hold of me when I exited out onto Yuen Wo Road, the light sucking me into the massive ship that rested on top of the crumbling Sha Tin Sports Ground.
As I rapidly approached the alien vessel a shining corridor opened, permitting my fast moving body entry. I came to an abrupt stop as the dizzying motions caused nausea to take a hold of me and spill the contents of my stomach out onto the dark ground below. I hovered in the air, surrounded by a bright orange light as machinery I didn’t understand encased me in a spherical chamber. The high pitched screeching was gone, but I still couldn’t move, my body still refused to listen to me.
The orange light became brighter in intensity as I felt my whole body begin to burn. The feeling became overwhelming, as if I was on fire. I cried in what I believed to be torment as the light… cleansed me. I see now why I had to suffer through that transformation. Why I had to be cleansed of the impurities of the planet I had lived 29 years of my life on. The pain became excruciating as I was locked in that chamber for what seemed like an eternity. I blacked out from the pain, weariness overtaking my body as I gave up the struggle.
I woke up next to a massive window that overlooked… Earth. At first it didn’t register, why was I staring at Earth? Then, as I began to look around, I realized that I was in space! Stark terror consumed me as I accepted that I was no longer on the planet of my birth, let alone the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong. I put my hands up on the window as I stared at my home. I could see the continent of Asia where I had spent the past two years of my life, it all seemed so small from up there.
I stared at that bright blue orb littered with green and brown continents, amazed at how serene it looked with the white puffy clouds covering large swathes. A sound down the hall grabbed my attention as I saw other humans waking up from what I could only imagine was an experience similar to my own. We looked at each other with an understanding, whatever happened next, we were going through it together.
The doors behind us opened and our abductors stepped out before us. Back on Earth, terror had clouded my vision and I didn't get a good look at them, but I could see them very clearly now. They wore elaborate clothing, materials that I’d never seen before covering them from head to toe. Their skin played across the different spectrums of blue, with eyes of sparkling silver and gold. There was nothing horrifying or monstrous about them, they looked similar to us with two legs and two arms, but impossibly tall!
They were called the Vah, somehow we just knew that information. They spoke no words to us, but we immediately understood what they wanted us to do. We exited back through the door they entered in, as they led us to a large room filled with amazing things I’ve never seen before. Each one of us knew immediately where to go, the locations familiar to us as if imparted in our minds by our new hosts.
The science fiction movies had it all wrong, aliens didn’t come to kill us or to take our resources. They weren’t interested in secretly living among us or manipulating our governments and towns. No, they came to select the best among us to join them on the galactic stage. Best… it’s hard to imagine that I was the best at anything, let alone talented enough to catch the eyes of an alien species. I wasn’t an athlete or some scientific genius, no… I was just an average computer engineer before my Ascension. Now, I stand on the Fesghramentl, a starship that has become my new home.
Very few people died in that first encounter, each casualty bringing sadness to the Vah. They left the Earth once they had all of us, over one hundred million spread between hundreds of their massive starships. We covered the spectrum of human existence, all of us coming from different walks of life and of different nationalities. I could imagine the news headlines, “Aliens come and abduct millions, disappear without trace.” Will they ever know the truth? The Vah will not return to Earth for a long time, if ever again.
We were taken on a tour of our own solar system, the Vah showing us the amazing landscapes of the worlds that had been nothing but Google image searches a few days ago. We even saw the surface of the sun! Their powerful ships unfazed by the intense heat as we watched from behind powerful thermal shields that allowed us to look at the star itself.
As our imaginations were fed with the unreal landscapes, they grew and took on lives of their own. Oh the things I have seen in my short time traveling across the stars. The galaxy, open before me like a book has done nothing but expand my imagination. Just a few days ago I was a programmer working at a consulting company in the heart of Hong Kong. Now, I am so much more! Coding has evolved into something completely different, the languages I worked with back on earth seeming archaic and childish. There is no comparison. I now think complex algorithms into existence that shape and mold intricate system that I never before knew existed. I am limited only by my imagination, which in truth… is limitless.
That is why we were selected, not because of our skills or abilities… but because of our imaginations! Each of us spent just as much time dreaming as we did living, refusing to accept just the world around us as the extent of our existence. That is the true power of which they were able to see within us and then bring manifest. How silly humanity was back on earth downplaying the importance of creativity and the power of our minds. Imagination is the power with which I shape the world around me now, literally.
I watched a young girl, a Nigerian teenager, bring to life a powerful mechanized creation. Her mastery of mechanical engineering and robotics reaching untold new heights. The robotic masterpiece was something I had never seen before, something that even astonished the Vah. Adding to her creation, I created a complex artificial intelligence that took on life of its own, entering into the universe as a new life form. I… created artificial life, something that our best universities and corporations had been unable to attain. The Vah smiled at us, happy with what we had created. Offering us guidance and improving upon our creations.
Lest not I forget the old East Indian man who broke past the inherent limitations of biochemistry and bioengineering, reversing the aging process in his own body. Before my eyes I watched his skin un-wrinkle, becoming as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Before, he walked with a limp… but that was now gone! He shared his creation with all of us, each one joining in his immortality. The Vah again smiled at what we had accomplished in such a short time. I stared down at my now transformed body as I realized that I would live forever, exploring the universe.
We arrived at the galactic center, entering into the home of the Vah. They taught us things that would be impossible to explain back on earth, a clarity in our minds that forced us to see past the trivial conflicts and disagreements between the different people of our former home.
Oh how I wanted to go back and explain it all to them, to explain my newfound understanding of the Universe to my old friends and family… but they wouldn’t understand. Sadly, they lacked the key. One day, thousands of years from now, we will return to Earth… when they are ready. And we will bring them into the galactic light.