Didn't Know Where Else to Put This Stuff


Thought You Was a Frog
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[This is just a short story I've had in mind for a little while. Thought I'd put it somewhere, so why not here?]

I still remember.

I still remember the first time we made contact with your kind. It was terrifying.

Now, you have to understand, compared to your species, we were primitive. We could hardly understand the circumstances, and I was no exception. But I was so young too, only a few years had passed since my hatching. Perhaps I understood less than the others at first. The world was already mysterious to me before you came. Your arrival created so much more mystery in my life.

The evening our village saw you arrive is still etched into my memory like a picture chiseled into stone. I myself did not see the first of your "vessels" appear in our sky, but I did see the fourth, the fifth, and then the hundreds that came after. I did hear the first, however. We all did.

I was in my home when you came. There was a loud thundering boom, much too loud to be one of the sudden storms our region was known for. First a few ventured outside and their surprise brought the rest of us spilling out of our dens. We all saw it, a single tiny shape in the sky, one end glowing like a star. We did not know what it could be. Then a flash and another boom and a second vessel appeared next to the first. Then another, and another, and soon dozens more were appearing by the minute. I remember turning to my mother and holding onto her. I wept, I was so terrified. More so by the flashes and thundering than anything else. I was still so young.

The next morning you were all still there. Of course, we didn't know it was you. All we could see were hundreds of little shapes scattered about in the sky. The village elders were at a loss. Some of us thought they were a symbol or a warning from the gods, others still thought they were the gods themselves. Yet, for several more days, nothing else changed. None of the vessels moved and no more arrived. You all just stayed up there, watching us fret. Now that I think about it, I wonder if you were up there worrying like we were.

Still more days passed until the first of you would come down in one of those things you all flew around in. A small one, I soon learned, but to us it seemed huge. You must remember, we were nothing like you were. It landed and lay still afterwards. There was no more activity. Your strange, alien artifact just sat there, in the village square. The whole village gathered around it, despite the warnings of the elders. Curiosity always got us in the end. Sometimes, I wonder if you were all curious like us at one point.

I remember when your vessel opened and I saw a human for the first time. Your creations were so large, but you yourselves were so small. So pale. You only had four limbs, and only two eyes. You were a little smaller than us. Your bodies weren't hard like ours, you were all so... different. You were afraid, too. We could tell. But we were also afraid at first.

When you first came, you sent warriors down to us. Were you expecting a fight? Were you thinking about starting a fight? I still don't know. I am however, thankful that we did not fight. Your warriors (although we did not know they were your warriors at first) looked at us, pointed things at us, spoke to us in their language; yet we understood none of this. Soon they were walking around our village with all of us following them, keeping out distance, whispering among ourselves. I kept asking my father what you were, expecting him to know like all young ones do with their parents. He kept telling me to hush; he picked me up and put me on his shoulders so I could see you better. I believed it to be the most exciting moment of my life. When you got back on your vessel and left, some of us thought you'd leave for good. We were surprised when more of you began to land.

The next several months were all so exciting. Some of your people, scholars or shamans, I didn't know; but they seemed to be the knowledgeable ones among you; they came, tried to communicate. They went around the village, trying to speak with us, trying to learn about us. They were much friendlier than your warriors. I liked them. They wanted to help us. Teach us. I still do not know why, but I like to imagine it was out of kindness. They tried teaching us their language after they'd started to learn ours. I tried my best to learn, so that I could speak to your kind. I was taught that you were from another world outside of ours. I thought perhaps you truly were spirits, but no, this was wrong. Your kind could travel to different worlds, but you weren't spirits.

At one time I asked one of your teachers where you had all come from. She told me you had come from the earth. I still have not been able to figure this riddle out. You had come from the sky, not the earth. Perhaps in the eyes of the gods, we are all made of earth. I still do not know.

I learned that all the figures in the sky were vessels called "ships". But I was taught that a ship was for sailing, not flying. You were so strange, so full of riddles. I also learned that all the tiny little shapes in the sky, the "ships," were actually massive. So large that they couldn't land on the ground, so they had to remain up above us. Then I was told that they weren't actually in the sky, they were higher than that. Higher than the sky in a place called "Orbit". I learned that each "ship" had a purpose. Some were home to hundreds of passengers, people like you, waiting to land. Some had weapons that they used to protect the home ships. These ships were so large that people could live in them, but it wasn't the same as living on the ground. I wanted to try to go inside one of these ships, but we weren't allowed in any of them. I could only imagine what this Orbit place must look like.

Even now that you're gone, I continued to study your language however I could. Perhaps one of you will one day find this and read it. Perhaps, perhaps not. I can only hope.

I remember when one of the larger ships finally landed after almost a year of you helping us, healing us, aiding us. I was finally able to truly see you. Not your warriors or your dignitaries, but who you truly were. So many of you came out of the vessel, there must have been over a hundred of your kind in a single one! I was deeply moved by what I saw.

Under all that mystery, you were so much like us. You had families, just like us. You all huddled together, next to the ones you loved; just like us. You had children! Just like us! They looked just like you, and some of your families had so many of them, I was amazed! Our kind breeds slowly, perhaps a single child to a mated pair, but your kind as so alive! It was warming to see that someone so different and so alien was so much like us.

You all set up places to live, but you built them away from us. It was disheartening at first. We were so similar, but still different enough to keep apart. And you still seemed scared. Not afraid of us, but something else. Your scholars kept coming into our village, teaching us, bettering us. I still liked them. As I grew older, I wanted to be more like them. Knowledgeable, but kind. I wanted to see the vessels high above us. There were still so many more of you up there, but I didn't know why. A few came down, but they came down far away. So far away we didn't see where they went. Perhaps to other villages; who knows?

You were all so secretive, despite what we had already learned. You did things to help us, but there was so much you wouldn't tell us. Some of us stopped caring. They were happy so long as you kept bringing us things like food and medicine. And your medicine was incredible. Suddenly we were curing things we normally had to wait out, and the older folk were surviving illnesses that often ended their lives. But you still kept secrets, and it made me so much more curious.

I would often speak to our elders, to see what more I could learn about you. I knew your kind spoke with our elders often. But they were barely told anything more than us. I did manage to overhear, however, your reason for coming to us. You were running from something. I don't know what, but something was chasing you. Were you here to rest? To hide? To stay forever? Sometimes I look at the night sky and wonder if you're still running.

Our sky was unrecognizable with you. But after a few years, I'd grown used to it. I was even comforted by it. Ever since you'd arrived, hundreds of little shapes dotted it. It was different. I liked it. To think that each shape was an unimaginably huge machine that you'd actually built. It was like our world was covered in a blanket of your ingenuity.

I remember when your commoners began to mingle with us. Tentatively at first, but soon more of you began to try and meet us. You seemed happy to learn we could speak like you, that we'd learned well. I met many interesting people among your kind. I remember the names, how to pronounce them. I remember Loo-is. It was through him that I learned what I did about the ships. He was something called an "en-ji-neer". It was his role to repair them. I was amazed! He would say how it wasn't just him, but entire teams of en-ji-neers were needed to fix the giant ships. I remember he showed me "beer". I must admit, I did not like the taste of it; but many humans seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps its enjoyment required some knowledge I did not have; I do not know.

I also remember Marrg-ret and Rob-urt. And their son, Pee-ter. They gave me books. Books about you. They told me how these were the stories that parents read to their children. I believed they must be like the way we tell our young tales to entertain them. Our tales are of heroes and honest folk that prevail. Through them, I received a few of these printed stories. I still possess the legend of "The Cat in the Hat" and the tale of "Three Blind Mice".

I learned so much, but at the same time I realized how much more there was for me to learn. Your kind had been here nearly all my life, yet I always felt like I knew so little. I only wish I had made more of my time with you. If I had only known you would be gone soon, I would have made more of an effort to learn from you.

I remember when you caught the scent of your pursuers. There seemed to be a change in all your attitudes. You were afraid again. You began to send down warriors again. Your warriors seemed strange to us. Ours tried their best to distinguish themselves from one another; to be known for something others are not. To be heroic. Yours all dressed the same, all talked the same. The all acted the same and walked in lines. It was almost comedic. You also had more machines with you. I remember this... thing, I don't know how to describe it or what to call it. One of your warriors would go inside it and it would start to move around. Some had wheels, others walked on legs, but they were all so big and loud. And your weapons. Strange devices that spit fire and thunder. Or at the very least some kind of fire. A special kind of fire. Your warriors called it "gunfire". Seeing it was both terrifying and fascinating. Loud bangs and lights, and then your quarry was destroyed by invisible forces. I only got to see it in person twice, but I am quite happy we did not fight you when you first arrived, to be honest.

I remember the day before you left. Even my people could sense the tension. Something was going to happen. Our first contact with your pursuers was the same as our first contact with you. We heard them before we saw them. The thundering booms came again and more ships began to appear in the evening sky. Just like you had. The first signs of battle were far above us. All the ships; vessels that had not moved in years; began to fly around and away. More and more of your pursuers arrived and soon the sky was dotted not just with ships, but with flashes and lights. I do not know how you battled in the place you call Orbit, but I can only imagine the fury of it all. I just know that many of these ships were slain. We could see many of the little silhouettes break apart or burst with light. We'd hear faint booms every time it happened.

That night was the first time I saw one of your giant ships up close. It was breathtaking. I almost feel silly calling it this, but it was beautiful. A massive monument of your ingenuity came close enough to block out the moons and hovered in the sky while smaller vessels ferried your people inside it. It was here where I realized you were all leaving. I was afraid, both for my kind and yours. I did not know what would happen next. I remember the colossal ship rising up back into the Orbit place. It looked so slow to us, but perhaps it was because it was so big. I remember my shock when it flew high enough to become a small silhouette and allow me to see the sky; and I saw that so many other ships had hovered down as well, all of them picking you up and leaving. I remember your pursuer's ships slowly hovering down and attacking them, shooting flame and lightning into each other. Most of all, I remember the deafening crack and blinding flame when the first one split open and began to fall. We watched it burn as it fell somewhere far inside the forest. I watched a titan from another world drift down in two pieces, each one burning as bright as the sun. It wasn't the only ship to fall. So many others fell, far away. Some fell quite close to our village. I remember smaller vessels flying into the forest. I remember hearing that "gunfire" in the forest the entire night. I remember hearing the machines your warriors would ride and more thunder, more fire. I remember the battle lasting hours while we all huddled in our homes, praying for protection from the gods, from you, from anyone. Then, in the morning, you were gone.

The sky no longer held your vessels. It was clear and spotless. The wind smelled like ash and fire. You had fled, disappeared from our lives after so many years. We never heard from you again. The elders decided to gather a group to venture into the forest. By this time, I was old enough to carry a weapon, and my curiosity and concern demanded that I participate. We looked for the ship that fell nearby. Of course, this was several miles away, but at the time its size made it look like it had fallen right outside the village. When we finally found it, we saw it was one of theirs. The foe you feared so much. We could think of nothing but getting inside. It was my first time inside a ship; I was so excited; I was so scared. If these beings could cause you so much fear, what could they do to us?

Imagine my surprise when we found that the enemies you had run away from for so long looked just like you. We did not find monsters in their ships. No evil spirits, no wandering beasts of war. We found more humans. Just like you. None had survived their fall, sadly. But it left me with so many questions.

As I write this, I can see one of the vessels that came down from where I sit. We've set up little hamlets around your fallen ships. Buried and honored your dead. Some of the ships are still being explored to this day, others are simply being cared for, and others still are being memorialized.

I still think about you. Often. I wish I got to know your culture. To see life the way your kind saw it. To be honest, I didn't understand much of anything about you. I didn't know if you meant to stay or not. I didn't know why you stopped at all. There was so much I never learned.

Who were you? Where did you go? Where did you come from? How did you travel to other worlds? Why were you running?

Will you ever come back?