The Aliens were abuzz. They were about to reveal themselves to the Humans. The Elders had determined the time and date to announce their presence to Humans. The clicks and squeals of their high pitched speech, most of which was beyond the range of human ears- was frantic. The lower registers, well, Humans haven’t even discovered that part of their speech yet. Ever since first contact, Humans have been trying to decipher those strange sounds, uttered by the Aliens. Never once stopping to think that there might be more that they hear. Humans, the Aliens had learned, defined everything by their narrow band of sensory input.
Humans believed their eyes, ears, tongue, and touch, and the meanings extracted from those things by their puny three pound brains. The Aliens were glad that they had spent the last six decades studying the Humans, while the Humans were trying to figure them out. The Aliens had kept the contact open and friendly, but never revealed their inner workings or thoughts. Humans weren’t even sure they could think.
Oh sure, the Aliens had the big eyes that Humans, had come to consider a hallmark of Alien Beings. Of course, the big giant brains were considered to be an attribute too. The fact that they lived in a liquid atmosphere was a hurdle humans were sure they could figure out. Maybe, the Humans thought, we could put them in big mobile tanks and truck them around to different sites so everyone on Earth could see the Aliens.
The Aliens, although they were more than 12 feet tall and weighed close to a thousand pounds, never seemed to intimidate the Humans. For this, the Aliens were grateful. For they had seen what Humans did to creatures that they feared- including humans themselves. In the Alien’s World, there were no borders, no towns, no territories, no wars. There was a lot of play, a lot of singing, a lot of talk (most of which the Humans could not hear, could not understand, and could not interpret) . The Aliens had poems that were collections of three D sounds (something Humans were just beginning to learn about), color and sound mingling to make notes have colors, and colors have notes.
A very dim and primitive form of this common talent among the Aliens, had recently been discovered in Humans, by Humans. It was called; “Synesthesia.” It was thought to be rare among humans, and akin to the talents of Idiot Savants. A dormant talent or gene, that displaced normal functions in order to give a few superior gifts to an individual. Among the Aliens, a much more developed synesthesia was not a genetic defect, or latent talent, it was a given. The Aliens did see things we couldn’t, hear things we never would, and could transpose color, shape, and sound, into dimensional objects, all while moving at high speed.
The Aliens moved at speeds that Humans could only approach at the Olympic Sprinting Level. Humans couldn’t even reach the average speed of an Alien child, let alone that of an Adult. Nor could they sustain that speed for more than 20 seconds or so, whereas the Aliens, even an Alien newborn, could keep that speed up, effortlessly, indefinitely. It was one of the things that made contact so difficult for the Aliens. They had to slow down, sometimes even stopping, to interact with humans. Sometimes they would circle in tight turns so that they could stay in the visual field of the Humans. For Humans could not exist in their liquid environment without special equipment. If that equipment failed them, they died quickly. To quick for any of the Aliens to render help. The Aliens could breath in the non liquid environment of the Humans, but couldn’t move well in it. So the handicap sort of went both ways, at least as far as getting around went.
It was Christmas Day. The Day the Elders had determined was the right time to tell the Humans; “We are here. We hear you. We need to talk. “
It was all set. First the advanced party would take all of the assorted things left around the liquid environment: hoops, balls, frizbees, strings, nets, poles, buckets, lights, and tools. With these, on an island in the middle of the liquid environment, one that stood as a circle out in the “air” of the Humans, they would build an object. A beautiful piece of Art that would have both impact and meaning to the Humans. The Aliens had worked long tedious hours, and undergone tremendous training (in secret) to build this structure in one night, with only what was available to them by the things left around by Humans.
The team that trained to build the object on the island was led by none other than: “click, click, orange, purple shades, squeal” , an Artist known for his excellent work. They had followed his reasoning and his vision. This object would impress the Humans and overwhelm their senses. He was sure of it. So was the team. They had practiced so much, they could build it in their sleep, but they never really slept- so they would not have understood the metaphor. When midnight came, and the signal was given by “click, click, orange, purple shades, squeal,” well they leaped into action. And I mean leaped. They built that entire object from the slippery floor of the circular island upwards of 20 feet. It took them less than an hour.
When done, one of the Aliens slithered with some cable (the most dangerous, and by far, scariest part of the entire operation) to place the cable in the socket. All of the Aliens quivered with fear. For if this went wrong, they would all die. The Elders had declared the risk worth the rewards. “The Humans will know us for what we really are. WE must take the risk. We must.” They all agreed. Plus their natural upbeat curious state of mind, wondered what would happen- so excitement replaced fear as the lone Alien slithered in the air of Earth.
“He did it. It worked.”
Aliens raced by each other, stroking their bodies together (at ridiculous speeds and angles) as they were want to do when overcome with emotions. The entire structure was lit, unmistakable to a Human. It was a symbol of one of their strongest traditions. It would do to stop the Humans in their tracks. It would make them turn and look , really look, maybe for the first time, at the Aliens. That is when the Humans would see the message. A message that it had taken the Aliens more than fifty years to figure out, first how to write it, and secondly, what to say. It had to be short. Humans weren’t interested in long conversations it seemed. It had to be dramatic. It had to be friendly. It had to be something they would understand immediately. It was.
The Elders had sent the youngest and most gifted of their species from all over the Alien World, to study how to do this. Oh, there were so many failures. They got so close, only to fail. It wasn’t just the learning of the Human Writing Symbols, but how to make them. In a liquid world, paper is not an option, and ink, well, even with several natural inks available to them, they couldn’t find any that would cling to a surface in air, without smearing, running, or even just disappearing completely. Eventually, the best and brightest, accidentally discovered an ink that worked in air. Then they invented a writing instrument that could mimic a pen. Then they found that the ink they invented stayed permanently on what the Humans called: a chalk board. As long as they only did the “writing” while in the air.
That meant training one Alien to do the job. They usually worked in teams, close teams, but even teams as large as fifty could manage most projects. This was unique to them- using a single individual to accomplish a task. They were natural team players, and not comfortable with no back up. In a way though, the individual did have a team, for everyone had to pitch in so she could remain in the open air of the Humans long enough to finish her task of writing their symbols. That meant a lot of physical work to keep the liquid environment around her, without getting it on either the writing tool, or the chalkboard. It was exhausting- painstaking work. Finally, it was done. The Elders were pleased. “Now we wait.”
It was a small crew of Humans who came into the Contact Zone that day. After all it was Christmas. Only the two Department Heads, one of Research, the other of Marine Biology, and a skeleton crew of trained operatives who knew, loved, and liked working with the Aliens, came in that morning.
When the Humans, all seven of them, entered the Contact Zone, they froze in place. Unable to speak or move. Unable even to think. No, it wasn’t a strange mind control technique used by the Aliens. Nor was it some super technology that acted like a ray gun to hold you immobile, motionless, and without consciousness. No. It was a simple object. So simple as to be unbelievable.
For the seven humans were in shock (Something the Elders were prepared for). In front of them, on the man made circular island, stood a Christmas Tree. It was more than 20 feet tall. It had lights and ornaments made from tools, balls, wire and string. It was lit up by a cable connected to an outlet more than fifty feet away from the liquid environment. It was beautiful.
The first picture of it, sent out just a few minutes later, graced the front page of every newspaper on Earth, the cover of TIME magazine (and every other magazine in print anywhere on Earth for that matter). It was all over FACEBOOK, and brought down Twitter more than 20 times in one day. It was a beautiful Christmas Tree.
When the Humans could move again, they looked at the Aliens in their liquid environment, the Aliens were acting strangely. It was if they were all eagerly gathered, using the beaks protruding from their giant brained heads- to point (almost shyly) they moved gracefully, kind of herding the Humans around the curve of the island where the tree stood.
The Humans got the signals and moved with the Aliens. As they rounded about half the island, there is was. A chalk board. With two words on it. The Humans went into shock. All seven of them dropped to their knees. Two of them crying uncontrollably. All of them contrite for the horrible things they had done to the Aliens without understanding. It was the first time that Humans would realize that they weren’t the smartest, most intelligent, and self aware thinking life forms on Earth.
For the Aliens had written, in painfully correct flowing letters (letters, by the way, that flowed like 18th century Human Cursive, except more flowery and fine):
That video went Viral.
The first things that the Aliens learned when a basic trading speech was worked out by the best and brightest of both species, with the help of some truly spectacular AI’s input- is that the Humans called the Aliens: Dolphins.