Uzuri had never heard anything like it before, if what she was ‘hearing’ could even be described as a sound. It was like a slow, wailing siren but it existed only in her own mind. As the sound became louder and louder, she could feel her panic gradually increasing. She jumped out of her bed and made her way to her bedroom window overlooking her apartment building’s parking lot. Uzuri felt that the ‘sound’ must be coming from the parking lot, why, she did not know. Driven by a capricious determination to satisfy her newfound curiosity, she hastily took off her pyjama top and put on some jeans, a black sweater and her black, autumn jacket, left her apartment and made her way to the parking lot.
As she neared the parking lot, the noise became louder and louder. She checked to see if anyone else was in sight but she was alone, as far as she could tell. There was something in this strange music that was mournful but how could she know this, she had never experienced anything comparable. As the noise steadily increased, she knew she was getting closer and closer until she could see shining, white light emerge from behind a nearby car. Briefly, she considered running back to her apartment but she had already come this far. Bracing herself, she walked over to the ’08 black chevrolet to see once and for all whether or not she really should be institutionalized.
Before her was the strangest animal she could have ever possibly conceived. It was as large as a horse, paper white complexion, with four ‘legs’ and eight stubs that would have to pass for arms. It lacked a neck but there was a distinguishable head, on top of which lay several white antenna with tiny, black eyes on each, or what must be eyes. More or less, it resembled a large, four legged, white centipede. Uzuri couldn’t help but to feel immediately repulsed but upon seeing the creature’s agonizing effort to reassert itself, she was immediately remorseful over her own thoughtlessness. Not knowing what else to do, she took off her coat and placed it over the large gash in the creature’s right side.
Thank you it said and Uzuri was so taken aback that she fell down as she stepped back in surprise. It isn’t that the creature said ‘thank you’, it thought it, not in English or any other language that Uzuri had ever heard of but in feeling , there was a definitely articulated expression of gratitude. You’re wondering what I am , it thought-spoke. Uzuri remained quiet. My kind are not from this planet…we were on a mission, I was away from my ship when I was attacked by others who are like you, I managed to escape, but I’ve spent several days hiding, moving out at night. I don’t know how much longer I can survive without medical attention.
“What was your mission”, Uzuri asked softly in her East African accent. She could feel the alien’s hesitation, she sensed regret, maybe even shame. “Who’s back there?”, Uzuri heard a cautious but threatening voice. She turned her head to see a middle aged White man pointing a flash light towards their direction. She hasn’t hurt me, the creature said. “I didn’t know if I’d ever find you”, the man said, seemingly relieved.
He looks human but he’s one of us, what you’re seeing is only a holographic projection, the alien explained to her. “We don’t have enough time… we have to take you with us”, the man said, drawing towards her. Don’t be afraid, the alien assured her as Uzuri stepped back cautiously. For a second, there was anticipatory silence as Uzuri considered what to do. Slowly turning around, she ran towards the direction of her apartment building as quickly as she could. She didn’t get very far before she felt a paralysing but painless shock, and everything went black.
Uzuri awoke from her vague, fuzzy dreams involving strangely beautiful music and injured, giant centipedes to find herself lying on a table in a pitch white room, staring up into the antennas of a creature identical to the one she had dreamt about. You’re awake, the creature said, seemingly concerned. It wasn’t a dream. “Where am I” she croaked, her voice feeling as though she hadn’t used it in ages. You’re aboard our ship.. you’re safe, I promise. We couldn’t take the risk of your alerting your society’s authorities or engendering widespread panic, we mean you no harm… we will eventually return you, the alien said with almost maternalistic warmth.
Uzuri felt calm, she didn’t think she was in any danger with these people but she couldn’t stop her mind from wondering how long ‘eventually’ was. “What happened to the other one.. the other one that was like you?” she asked. While the two looked identical from her perspective, she could feel something different about this one, he, she or it felt like a separate personality. Otom will be fine, this new alien sighed, as though almost disappointed with the other alien for having been injured. “Otom”, Uzuri said thoughtfully, “what’s your name” she asked what must have been a nurse or some kind of medical expert. The creature seemed to ‘smile’, pleasantly distracted from the business of Otom and it’s injuries, my name is Amdta, I have been interested in your species for a long time.
“Otom had mentioned a mission, why are you here, on our planet”, Uzuri asked. Almost immediately, Amdta’s mood seemed to change. Like Otom, she was reluctant to disclose information about this secretive, alien conspiracy. Uzuri wondered if this should upset her. There are others, other humans like you, aboard this ship. You can join them any time you’d like to. Uzuri was fascinated by these strange, alien people and driven by a curiosity to know more about them, to be around them, but she was relieved to know that there would be other humans on the ship.
There didn’t seem to be any floor. It was though, besides the table, the room itself was white fog. You can just jump down, Amdta said, it only appears as though there is no floor or walls. Amdta lead her to what must have been the door, when the very space itself seemed to rip apart and the two walked into a long purple corridor that seemed to stretch on for ages. Our technology was once as primitive as your own, Amdta explained, sensing Uzuri’s awe and amazement, we evolved as primitive gathers millennia before the first apes started to walk bipedally. The two continued to walk until Amdta stopped at a bright light shining through the wall and another hole appeared in the air, revealing a large crowd of humans, scores of them, many tables with food, floating orbs that displayed moving images, and strange devices that Uzuri had never seen before. The chatter and hustle seemed to stop for a moment as the other abductees became aware that they had a new edition to their ranks but resumed quickly in a few seconds.
A pudgy, thirty something year old Middle Eastern man with a gentle disposition walked over to them and offered his hand, Uzuri shook it. Ayaad was one of the first people to join us, Amdta explained, this is Uzuri , Amdta continued. “Pleased to meet you”, Ayaad smiled , “you as well” Uzuri replied. I have work to do so I’ll let Ayaad take care of you Amdta said before turning around and leaving. “What do you think of them” Ayaad asked. “I was scared at first”, Uzuri admitted, “ I still am. I don’t know what they want with us but I trust them”. “ I’ve been with them since I was 12 years old”, Ayaad said, “when my parents were killed during the Lebanese civil war, they took care of me. I chose to stay with them”.
“They’re not like us” he continued, his manner growing serious. “They’re scared of us, of what we can do to one another”. Ayaad seemed eager to change the subject, as though he had trespassed into forbidden territory. “Where were you when they took you?” “Outside of my apartment building in Queens.. New York” she replied. “You’re new here, so I should tell you, I wouldn’t speak too highly about the aliens with some people. A lot of people don’t like me because they view me as being in cahoots with them… some of the abductees are talking about an uprising” Ayaad said.
Uzuri reflected on this. “I can take you to your room if you want, or I can show you some of their games and recreation, they have a library of human or , you know we have no word for their species? I guess they don’t need one, not just because they communicate telepathically but because they’re the only sentient beings where they come from. We just call them ‘the aliens’. Anyways they, have a library of literature, art, music, we even get satellite signals from Earth out here so you can watch tv if you want.”, he laughed. “I’m not used to being abducted so I’m pretty tired”, Uzuri smiled, “take me to my room”. They walked to a far side of the room until a hole simply appeared and they entered another purple corridor. When they reached a bright, green light another hole appeared, “this is it” Ayaad said. Uzuri thanked him and he walked off.
Uzuri walked in to discover a girl sitting on one of two round beds, a large orb in the center of the room, a walk in closet, two desks and an entire see through wall revealing a resplendent view of outer space. The girl got up and looked at Uzuri curiously. “They told me we were getting someone new”, she said, “I’m Nan’yehi”. “Uzuri”, Uzuri replied. “Uzuri, what does that mean” Nan’yehi asked. “It’s Swahili for ‘beautiful’, I’m from Tanzania” Uzuri said.
“ I’ve never been outside of North Carolina, at least not before E.T snatched me up. I lived on a reservation before they abducted me” Nan’yehi replied. She walked over to the see-through wall staring into outer space at the tiny blue planet that seemed to her like it had become another universe. “They had no right to take us”, Nan’yehi said bitterly. “I’m all that my mother has, after what happened to my brothers”, her voice choked. Uzuri walked over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. “They’ll let us go back..eventually” Uzuri said. “So they say”, Nan’yehi replied, “they’re probably planning some kind of invasion”.
They heard a clap near the ‘door’. “We sometimes clap outside of someone’s room, to let them know we want to see them”, Nan’yehi explained. “Come in” she yelled. A lanky, South Asian male with long hair walked into the door, a little surprised to see Uzuri in the room. “ Aadarsh, this is Uzuri, Uzuri, this is Aadarsh” Nan’yehi introduced the two, almost blushing. Aadarsh extended his hand, “How do you do”, he asked in a thick, London accent.
“I’ve been better”, Uzuri admitted. “Aadarsh and I had plans tonight, you’re welcome to join us” Nan’yehi said. “That’s all right, I think I need some time to think the last 24 hours over” Uzuri said. “Do you want us to bring you anything back”. “Sure, bring me back some chicken” Uzuri replied. “The aliens aren’t big on meat, milk or any other kind of animal product” Nan’yehi said “ you’d think with all their technology they could replicate some hamburgers like in Star Trek” Nan’yehi rolled her eyes. “Just bring me back some fruit”, said Uzuri. Nan’yehi assured her that she would and left with her friend, leaving Uzuri alone in the strangely circular room on this alien vessel of whose existence she would have found impossible to take seriously only some hours ago.
They make a cute couple Uzuri thought. With nothing else to do, she sat down on one of the two beds situated in the middle of the floor. At 26, Uzuri’s biggest concerns had been juggling nursing school and her job as a receptionist. Now she had no idea whether or not she would ever set foot on solid ground again, not since leaving Dar Es Salaam 8 years ago had she felt any homesickness comparable. Yet, she wasn’t worried as she should be. There was something exciting about this and towards the aliens she felt a mixture of resentment, awe and affection.
She quickly jumped off the bed and made her way to the see through wall so she could appreciate an image that, prior to, she had only seen in textbooks. She wondered what her mother, and her little brothers and everyone else on the planet was doing at that exact moment. She wondered what the alien home world looked like, if they ever felt the way that she did being so far away from it and if life for them was anything like it was for the 6 billion humans beings scattered across the small globe that seemed negligible in comparison to the rest of the galaxy as a whole. Pulling her self away from the Earth, she made her way to the orb in the middle of the room to see if she could find some answers. “Descend, uh, come down, turn on” Uzuri said, hoping that the orb would respond to verbal instruction. It didn’t.
She touched the orb with her left hand and, startling her, it began to glow a radiant, orange color and a thousand different images and words appeared on screen. Among the words were the names of several different languages. ‘English’ she tried. A new list appeared, with several headings and titles ranging from ‘human arts’ to ‘Jakar history’. She remembered that the aliens had no name for their species, Jakar must be the name of their planet she thought.
The first sentient ancestors of the Jakarans appeared approximately 930 million years ago in the oceans of Jakar, as their ancestors moved away from autotrophy to heterotrophy, sentience was most likely an adaptation which enabled them to successfully forage for food, the text read. Uzuri skimmed ahead. The Jakaran people are the only surviving, sentient descendents of these early ancestors and evidence suggests that the earliest members of their genus appeared 4.7 million years ago in the arid deserts of their eastern continent. Throughout most of their history, they have settled in small groups ranging from 30 to 50 people, collectively foraging for food and raising offspring. Jakaran females outnumber males 3 to 1 and only around 40% of the female population are fertile. Like many pre-agricultural human societies, Jakaran society is egalitarian, there are no caste distinctions between members or hierarchies of any kind, decisions are made via direct democracy, goods and services are distributed without expectation of immediate compensation or profit.
During the technological boom that occurred almost 8 000 years ago with the harnessing of solar power and other forms of energy, Jakaran society grew from communities of 30-50 to communities of thousands, millions and eventually tens of millions. Despite the globalization of Jakaran society, they have since returned to smaller, more manageable communities consisting of hundreds. Only a handful of settlements on the planet reach half a million. Uzuri scrolled down. As is the case with human culture, stories are of great important to Jakaran society. It is normal for entire communities to congregate for the purpose of listening to stories from the youth of community elders and the religious myths and legends passed on by Jakaran ancestors before the development of science, these stories include that of Yenti, the firt person born from the womb of the sun-God, Bahtee, and the trickster Apale.