Art and words of Josh Burns.

The Emissary

“The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low” ~Stephen Hawking

Eloise Sharpe stared blankly at a fly slowly circling the dull green fluorescent bulbs of the convenience store she was lucky enough to be night shift manager of. The hum of the lights was deafening. Her co-worker, Paresh was dividing his time between mopping up fountain drink syrup and staring at Eloise’s cleavage. The Friday night bar rush had passed and the slow crawl from three AM to seven had begun.

“I’m done with the mopping, I’m going out back for a smoke” Paresh shouted as he kicked the mop and bucket into the store-room and headed for the back door.

“Huh?” Her attention on the fly was broken.

“Oh yeah, Cool” She didn’t mind Paresh, but she was happy for the break from him staring. He was harmless, but she swore he’d have burnt a hole in he shirt by now. Her coffee was dangerously low, so she made her way to the stainless steel island emblazoned with the tagline “New Brews for Yew.” The manager only lets employees have the regular blend, stating that the specialty stuff was for paying customers. Eloise liked the smell of coffee more than the taste, but late shift made drinking it a necessity. Paresh would drink three energy drinks a shift, and each time try to convince Eloise they didn’t taste like lighter fluid mixed with fruit punch. After she had topped up her coffee she wandered over to the magazine rack. Eloise foolishly hoped that something new had arrived since the time she checked it out twenty minutes ago. With Paresh gone she took the opportunity to thumb through one of the Doctor Who comics. It was a guilty pleasure of hers and she didn’t want it ruined like the time she made the mistake of telling Paresh her thoughts on Star Wars. The back door slammed, startling Eloise. She swiftly placed the comic back into the rack. With coffee in hand, she walked back behind the counter.

“Ell… can you come here for a sec?” Paresh called from the back room. His words followed by several quick, short breaths. The tone of his voice raised the hairs on the back of her neck.

“Yeah what is it?” she replied, cautiously walking towards the back. As she approached she saw Paresh in the dim light of the back room. His face was slick with sweat and his expression was one of terror. Next she saw the arm held firmly around his neck, then the gray metallic rectangle pressed against his cheek.

“Open the register now, Bitch!” A gruff voice screamed from behind Paresh. For a moment, she stood in shock. Until the voice boomed again.”NOW!” She ran to the counter and punched in her code on the register. It opened with a ding. She quickly grabbed all the cash and stuffed it in a plastic bag. The figure holding Paresh stayed in the dark of the store-room. With cash in hand, she returned to the store-room threshold. Just as she was about to hand over the cash the sliding door opened. Eloise looked to see who had just come in. As she turned back to Paresh she heard the bang. Then pain. Time seemed to slow as she fell to the floor. White surrounded her view and she heard a second and then a third and fourth shot. The white light grew to fill her view.

When the police finally arrived they found Paresh sitting on the sidewalk in front of the store. He was holding his head, eyes squeezed shut. The store patron who had walked in just before the indecent occurred was the one who dialed 911. He was also waiting out front. Inside the store, just inside the store-room threshold, was the assailant’s body. His eyes burnt out of his otherwise untouched head. On the floor where Eloise had been standing was a fine dust the consistency of sand. The crime lab would later determine the material to be diamond dust. Paresh and the patron both gave similar statements; The assailant shot Eloise four times, but as she fell her body disappeared in a bright light. Both Paresh and the patron looked away from the blinding light. But the assailant just stared into the light, by the time the light subsided the criminal had released Paresh and collapsed onto the floor. The case remained unsolved, even three years later when Eloise returned.

At the moment she was about to die, Eloise was transported from the earth by the Nebo Ljudi. An alien species that had intercepted the Voyager I Space Probe and navigated to earth. the Nebo Ljudi had no vocal chords and did not communicate in any manner humans could interpret. So they chose a human to become an interpreter. On board, their ship Eloise was genetically altered allowing her to develop specialized organs for communicating with the Nebo Ljudi. Unlike humans the lanky, exoskeletal aliens used masses of bioluminescent pheromones that were produced from their octopus-like hands to communicate. Eloise’s alterations allowed her to both interpret and secrete these pheromones. In addition, for a time she was immersed in the “Cloud of Centuries” a sacred place to the Nebo Ljudi. A sort of graveyard, the Cloud was a mass of pheromones that contained the collective knowledge of the ancient alien race. Her own memories were quickly overtaken by the hundreds of thousands of years of Nebo Ljudi knowledge and experience.

When the Nebo Ljudi landed on earth Eloise was the first to emerge from the craft. She explained their intentions on earth. They intended on brokering a deal that would see a Quantum Jump Station built on earth’s moon. With this came the promise of unfathomable technological advancement, as the earth would become a hub of intergalactic travel. The Nebo Ljudi left Eloise on earth to iron out the specifics of the agreement. The deal was close to completion when Eloise, with extended isolation from the Nebo Ljudi, started to remember who she was. Her returned human perspective allowed her to understand the way the Nebo Ljudi had expanded their intergalactic reach on the backs of less advanced lifeforms. Once she had regained her memory fully, she called off the deal. The Nebo Ljudi swiftly returned to earth.

The massive Nebo Ljudi craft landed. Its giant segmented structure shifting and clattering as it absorbed the impact the landing. The arrowhead shaped structure pointed skyward, lights glowed from between the eight smooth segments. Eloise had been waiting at the landing site, now she waited for the craft to open. The base segment split organically like a beetle’s shell revealing a bright light and the silhouette of a Nebo Ljudi ambassador. Eloise approached the alien tentatively. The ambassador was taller than most Nebo Ljudi and bellows of pheromones had already begun to collect in the hands of the alien.

“That mad huh” Eloise said to herself as she placed her hand out to accept the communication. The first bit she interpreted as gibberish, just angry sentiments and Nebo Ljudi curse words. She then placed her hand forward and communicated in defense of the human race, stating that no agreement would be met. The Ambassador angrily waved the glowing mass from his presence and produced another pheromone cloud. She again placed her hand forward to read the mass. This communication was much clearer and direct. Fear and sadness filled her normally confident face. The Nebo Ljudi had every intention of building the Jump Station, and to use earth resources to do it.

“No… you can’t!” She screamed. Her emotional response only garnering a slight tilt of the alien’s large head. She regained her composure and placed her hand forward once again to offer communication. She closed her eyes as the glowing mass flowed from her palm like smoke off the end of a cigarette. The ambassador moved his hands along the lit wisps of light. The cloud continued to amass swirling around both Eloise and the ambassador. She opened her eyes and watched as the tall alien ran his tentacle-like fingers along each point of light until it finally dissipated. The ambassador stood for a moment and reflected on Eloise’s pheromone transmission. A mass of pheromones seeped from his hand. Before Eloise could interpret the mass, the now furious alien waved the pheromones away. The ambassador then turned and entered its craft and the segmented ship rose into the sky. When asked what she had said to the ambassador she replied, “I told him we are a violent race, and showed him our history. Finally reminded him how I came to be the way I am.” She smiled at her own words “Then I asked if he thought it was worthwhile to try and conquer a race that has no problem destroying each other, let alone an invading alien race.” She smiled again.

The Nebo Ljudi never returned to earth. Eloise retained most of the information she had received in the Cloud of Centuries and became instrumental in mankind’s eventual journey into the wilds of outer space.

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