Yilrah’s cocoon broke through the atmosphere of Earth in a blaze of red flame that lit up the night sky. Inside the vessel, the traveller was awoken by the force of the entry. Minutes later, the whole structure shook violently as it thudded into the ground.
The news crews and scientists were already waiting. Inside, wrapped in the warmth and comfort of her planet’s birthing liquid, Yilrah breathed a deep sigh of trepidation. Here was her destiny, the same each of her species faced. Launched out into the universe asleep, forever immortal until they found planets that showed signs of life.
The cocoon began to crack open, and Yilrah closed her eyes against the bright light of the moon above her and thousands of flashes. She could hear strange animal noises, shrieks and gasps that sounded similar to the noises of her own kind.
They sounded afraid.
But truly, it was she who was afraid. She drew up and stood as the cocoon finished its opening procedure. The flashes continued, bright and incessant. They came from strange boxes gripped in hands similar to Yilrah’s, held by a species that looked similar to her own.
But these people were different. Their heads were small and round. They bodies short and squat. Their skin pale.
Yilrah’s people were purple – a bright luminosity to their skin and eyes. These creatures also wore various kinds of ceremonial garb – whereas she stood naked. Unafraid, but curious, Yilrah stepped out of the cocoon and felt the cold grass of this new world beneath her feet.
On Earth, the day the alien arrived was a fanfare. Our satellites had tracked her for weeks. Our pre-eminent scientists had assembled to greet her, along with the press – and the military. No chances were being taken. This was first contact, but scientists had already started to chatter about what incredible technology the alien would bring.
Yilrah, on the other hand, brought nothing. She stood amongst these people, and even as she was brought into an interrogation room, she said nothing. They poked holes in her skin with tiny needles that looked like the blades of the silver trees that grew on her planet. They looked at screens she couldn’t comprehend. They looked for something that was not there.
Yilrah, for all her travels, had no concept of technology. But she did have a gift. And that gift she hid away until the men were finished their strange probing. Until she was left with one – who she presumed was the most important of them all.
The Prime Minister of England sat opposite the alien. He stared at her, curious, awed – and disappointed too. Humanity was running out of resources, and consequently, time. Here was a creature people had hoped would bring interstellar technology to humankind. Allowing them to escape their doom.
After weeks of study, all they’d found was that she was a biological equivalent of an acorn. Sent into space to drift until she landed somewhere. Her technology was non-existent.
Efforts began on communication – but that too fell flat. The alien was humanoid, but she was either refusing or was unable, to learn a common language. From basic hand signals to binary, the creature could not be reasoned with. So now, the prime minister sat with her. He’d been warned against it, of course, but curiosity had led him to take a look at her. This visitor from the stars – or an accident from the stars, at least.
“Why are you here?” He asked, and was met with a blank, but not unfriendly, purple stare.
On a whim, he brought out his phone and played a song his daughter had been obsessed with.
Immediately, the alien snapped to attention. Her eyes fixed on the phone and she began to hum the tune. The song continued, and the Prime Minister stared in amazement as the alien began to sing. In their language. In English.
Yilrah snapped out of her stupor. These people were insufferably boring – obsessed with technology and advancement instead of the raw emotion of her own people. But now, with the music playing, she could suddenly understand them. And she knew it was time.
The creature broke away from the song. It fixed the Prime Minister with that azure gaze and shook its head.
“What is it?” he asked, feeling his heart pounding with excitement. This was it. This was the moment.
“I have come to tell you something.” She said. Her voice was exactly the same as the vocalist in the song he’d just played.
“That’s what we’d hoped! What is it? How to travel the stars? How your people came about?”
“No.” She said.
The disappointment was like a razor slicing through the air between them.
Yilrah hardened her voice, narrowed her eyes at the man in front of her.
“Your gadgets and technology…you are not the first. Not even close. But it never works. It…it attracts attention.”
“Attention? What do you mean?” The man’s excitement gave way to anger and he shouted: “I thought you had a message!”
“I do.” Yilrah said.