It was a cool evening at the Hervey Foundation for Cats and Gary and Morris were playing a game of hide and seek in the backyard. The moist, spring air was almost so thick you could taste it, and the dew on the plants was starting to form.
“My fur is getting soaked!” said Morris.
“That’s just how it goes,” said Gary. “It’s springtime, it’s nighttime, and the fresh air is the best part! I guess it does get a little dewy.”
“It’s so nice out. I don’t want to go inside quite yet. Want to go for a walk through the woods while our fur dries, and the sun goes down?” said Morris.
Gary thought that was a great idea and off they went!
“The sunset sure is nice today, isn’t it?” said Morris. “I love the colours you get out here!”
“It really is impressive,” said Gary. “I wonder what makes it do that?”
Both cats were darting in and out of the trees, under fallen logs, and over big rocks. They knew the forest like the back of their paws and all the trees and plants were like a natural playground!
Eventually, they got to the riverbank where their friend Terrance the beaver was swimming some final laps before he went inside to bed.
“Evening fellas!” said Terrance. “How are you two doing today?”
“Hey Terrance!” said Gary.
“We are doing great!” said Morris.
“I was just getting in a bit of exercise before calling it a night. I spent most of the day lying in the sun,” said Terrance, with a big smile.
“We are doing a bit of that ourselves,” said Gary. “We got all wet playing in the yard back at the foundation, so we decided to go for a walk, dry off, and take in the sunset.”
“Not a bad idea. It’s a beautiful night,” said Terrance. “And even though the sun will have gone down completely in a few minutes, the temperature is still sublime!”
The cats agreed with Terrance and sat with him on the riverbank as the sun finally dipped below the horizon.
“…so then I told the water buffalo, ‘You might be bigger than me, but I can swim faster than you can go to the bathroom,” said Terrance, as he finished off a story. Everyone giggled. He and the cats had lost track of time and were now gazing up at the stars.
“Are you familiar with any of those star shapes the humans keep track of?” asked Terrance.
“I am,” said Morris. “That one is Orion… and that’s his belt!”
“What is an Orion?” said Terrance.
“I think it’s a man,” said Morris. “And that one is the big dipper, which I think is a dipper.”
“What’s a-“ Terrance was cut off mid-sentence.
“A dipper?” said Gary. “That’s like the scoop they use to dish out my kibble!”
“Ahh yes. A tool. If there is one thing I admire about humans, it’s the tools they’ve invented,” said Terrance. As a professional builder, he knew what he was talking about.
Everyone was relaxing to the max. Both cats plus the beaver were lying on their backs with their front paws hanging limp, and their feet lazily spread out to either side.
Suddenly there was a big streak of blue and green light through the night sky. At first, it seemed far away, like a comet, then it seemed to get brighter and brighter, then suddenly it was almost right on top of them, and eventually it fell behind the top of the trees!
Gary, Morris, and Terrance all instantly jumped to their feet and exchanged glances. They all knew what each other were thinking. They had to investigate.
It took them about five minutes of running to get near the crash site. Gary and Morris had to stop a few times to let Terrance catch up, but eventually they got to a part of the forest where they noticed a bright blue and green glow.
“What is that?” said Gary.
“Yeah, what is that?” asked Morris.
“It’s so bright I can hardly tell,” Terrance replied.
Being cats, Gary and Morris were not willing to leave it alone, and they just had to go in for a closer look.
As they crept further and further towards the bright light, it seemed to not get darker, but almost as if they had entered inside it. The light was some kind of energy field that surrounded an object. The cats moved in even further and noticed that the object had crashed deep into the ground.
It was fascinating! The thing looked like it was made of metal that was constantly evaporating into the air without losing its core shape. The evaporations looked like they were comprised of small square shapes.
Gary and Morris were lost for words. There was no way to even describe what they were thinking, though they didn’t feel as if they were in danger.
Terrance, who was not as brave as the two cats, was calling to them from outside the bubble of light. He could see them, but he wasn’t able to see what they were looking down at.
“Gary! Morris! What’s going on? What can you see? What’s there?”
The two cats could faintly hear Terrance, but the bubble of light was dampening the sounds outside of it.
While they were laser-focused on the metal object, a flurry of those same tiny evaporating metal squares moved almost like cloth drapes and made an opening on the side of it. Out from the opening, a VERY tall, skinny, grey, almost manlike person appeared. He was wearing a black uniform and his head was a funny shape!
Gary and Morris began backing up and eventually backed all the way out of the bubble of light. Terrance was standing right behind them, and they eventually ran into him.
“Guys, I’ve been calling your names! What’s going on?” he said.
“There’s a thing in the ground!” said Gary.
“And there is a guy!” said Morris.
Suddenly the tall, grey manlike person walked outside of the bubble of light and stood in front of the cats. Their uniform, now more clearly visible, was doing the same evaporating thing that the metal object was.
“What on Earth…” said Morris.
“I don’t think this guy is from Earth,” said Terrance.
“It’s an alien!” said Gary.
“■♍●🙵… Excuse me. I had to calibrate my language module.” said the alien. “Can you hear and understand me now?”
“Yes, we can,” said Gary, with a bit of nervousness in his voice.
“Excellent,” said the Alien. “My name is Galaria. I come from very far away.”
“My name is Terrance, and I come from 5 minutes away!”
“Hello, Terrance. It would take your most developed species roughly 450,000 years to reach my home.”
“Well, that’s pretty far,” said Terrance.
“What are you doing here, Galaria?” said Gary.
“I am an intergalactic cartographer. My job is to explore and map all the galaxies in the system.”
“Well, we know this forest like the back of our paws!” said Morris.
“Is that a map?” said Galaria.
“No that’s like a hand,” said Morris.
“It has been nice to meet you, but I must find help. As you may have seen, my vessel has crash-landed on your planet,” said Galaria.
“What happened?” said Gary.
“One of my fuel cells broke a seal and dumped directly into my primary drive. The extra boost shot me straight into a debris field faster than the speed of light. At that speed, even a small piece of debris can cause serious damage,” said Galaria.
The three animals looked at each other with confused faces. They might not understand the details, but they still wanted to help!
“Is there a way for you to fix your… craft?” asked Terrance.
“There is,” said Galaria. “My species builds vessels using materials not found naturally in your system, though they can be replicated using some of my onboard equipment.”
“What do you need?” said Terrance. “I am somewhat of an engineer myself on this simple planet of ours. My name is Terrance.”
“Hello Terrance, and what are your names?” said Galaria, gesturing to Gary and Morris.
“And I’m Morris.”
“Is there some way we can help you find the materials you need?” said Gary. “Let us know and we might be able to help you find them.”
“If you can find me an aluminum deposit, a place where I can acquire copper, and a small amount of lithium, I will be able to process it onboard into a patch for my vessel,” said Galaria.
The three animals all looked at each other.
“We know just the place,” said Gary.
“Yeah, there is a location where you can get all of that in one trip! It just might be hard to find/separate them,” said Terrance. “It’s the city dump!”
“I have a tool for that!” said Galaria.
The three animals walked through the forest with their new intergalactic friend – all the way to the local dump. It took them about half an hour of walking at a brisk pace.
“What is going on here?” said Galaria.
“This is where the most advanced species on our planet leave their refuse,” said Terrance.
“This place will have all the aluminum you’ll need, copper, and even some lithium from old cell phones!” said Morris.
“What is a cell phone,” said Galaria.
“It’s how the humans talk to each other when they are out in different places,” said Morris.
“A communications device,” said Galaria. “Interesting they’d use lithium for such things…”
The animals were having fun looking at all the different objects at the dump when Galaria pulled out a device that looked a lot like a tablet with a pistol grip. The outside of the device was a swirling material – it almost looked alive!
Galaria tapped the device a few times and it shot out hundreds of strings of light that all seemed to connect to different parts of the garbage pile.
Once all the light strings had settled, Galaria tapped it again and suddenly the device began slowly pulling all the strings back towards it. On the end of each string was a bright ball of light with a piece of garbage inside it.
Terrance watched one of the bright balls of light closely and noticed the garbage inside had essentially evaporated into a bunch of microscopic squares, much like Galaria’s uniform and his craft!
“What does that device do?” asked Terrance.
“It locates elements and then retrieves them, processes them, and stores them digitally.”
Terrance, an intellectual in his own right, wanted so badly to understand this process but also realized his own limits. He marvelled at the technology and wittily replied with, “I’m great at locating, processing, and storing wood logs, physically.”
Galaria chuckled. “Looks like the strings have found everything I need. This location would have incredible value in the solar system.”
“And yet the humans use it to store things they never want to see again,” said Morris.
“Nothing is perfect,” said Galaria. “Perfection is unknowable.”
“That’s deep,” said Gary.
“Shall we head back to my vessel?” said Galaria.
Gary, Morris, and Terrance all said yes immediately, but also expressed that they were getting tired.
“And we are back,” said Galaria.
The animals looked around and they were, in fact, back at Galaria’s crash site. He must have teleported them all back!
“How’d we get back so fast?” said Terrance.
“All our vessels are equipped with homing devices,” said Galaria.
“Incredible,” said Terrance.
Galaria then went back into his spacecraft, and in only five minutes, it started to rise from the crater it had made on planet Earth.
“He did it!” said Morris.
“We did it!” said Gary.
“Absolutely incredible,” said Terrance.
The ship rose slowly until it was no longer below ground and was floating about five feet above it. It then rotated to show the open door. Galaria was standing there waving.
“Thank you so much you three. You may not realize it, but you are the first true ambassadors to a new species on your planet,” said Galaria. “We have watched your planet for a very long time and tried not to interfere with your development. I can tell you with confidence, I am your first intergalactic visitor.”
“We are so happy to have met you, Galaria!” said Morris.
“And I am happy to have met you. Thank you for helping me repair my vessel without breaking our promise to not interfere with your planet’s development. Take care! And take this as a gift, but don’t let any humans find it!”
Galaria tossed a shiny little ball off his vessel down to the animals.
“It’s a ball of infinite energy,” he said. “Use it however you will. I have scanned your personalities and determined you are incapable of misdeeds. Use it safely to light your path or your home, but let it remain our secret.”
With that, the cloth-like, evaporating metal doors on the ship closed like curtains. The seams disappeared into the rest of its body, and it started to rise until it was above the treetops. Once there, it paused, then took off straight up into the night sky.
The three animals headed back to Terrance’s place in total silence. They’d brought the ball of energy Galaria left them and decided to leave it in Terrance’s dam. It was dark in there and no other animals wanted to swim through the murky river water to get into it. Terrance was also the local tinkerer and it just made sense for him to have more light inside his workshop.
“What a night, guys,” said Terrance. “I’ll take good care of this thing, and I’ll try to learn as much as I can about it!”
“Be careful with it!” said Gary. “We don’t know what that thing can do.”
“I doubt Galaria would give us something dangerous,” said Morris. “He gave off such a positive vibe!”
Gary and Morris made their way back home, chatting about what had happened along the way. This was the second time they had encountered the occult, with the witches of Halloween being the first. Could this be the start of a trend? Was it just their luck?
“I’m hungry and tired,” said Gary, as he walked in the cat door.
“Same here,” said Morris.
The cats went and chomped on some kibble, had a drink of water, then curled up near their favourite window, staring outside at the stars, thinking about their new friend and where he might be off to next!