They arrived in 2022

You can’t avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is a matter of chance. I could’ve resisted my papa’s kind intentions. I could have said no when he asked me if I wanted to go for groceries. But honestly, I don’t think that is fair for a nine-year-old. I could have been sitting properly when it happened. I knew about that, papa reminded me every single time. Sit properly… Don’t slouch… Get that finger out of there! I can hear him even now. Maybe if I heard then, it wouldn’t be like this. Maybe I would be able to fit, or maybe don’t feel so out of place, or maybe I could have at least one single friend? This is my testimony for those that open the Northwestern School district’s time capsule in December 2130. May my story be a light when you face another revolution of humanity. Today is March 10th of 2030. My name is irrelevant, and who I was too. It is what happened to me that you should know. Something that could have happened to any of my generation.\

For me, it started one day in April 2022. My papa didn’t see the rogue truck. The other driver was on a rush to help her partner in a house accident. I spent six years in comma. When I woke up, I had to relearn everything. My parents were divorced, my sister went to college, and my two friends from childhood had moved. At least one of them was still in the Kokomo area. Not everything was exceptionally bad, we were finally out of the pandemic and life was a bit more human. But I miss the point, the worst came while I slept. It was that same year when they arrived.

For the rest of the world, it started one day in October 2022. At first, several aurorae borealis were seen across the globe. The spectacle lasted only three hours, but it shocked the world. Old beliefs would override social media and the public spheres, political and religious all. Of course, our social polarity was sustained by a horde of new politico-religious beliefs. Naturally, and I mean consistent with human nature, the least heard were those that dedicated their lives to serious study. This helped the multiple disconnected efforts of those in power. All over the world different national leaderships, financial magnates, and elite experts were planning the next step. While the celestial phenomenon revolutionized society’s discourse, all kinds of leaderships discussed the confidential images. Several independent and institutional satellites had captured clear images of the colossal craft hovering in our atmosphere. Short of four hours passed and the extra-terrestrial craft revealed itself. The vessel could let light through, but you could distinguish its design. They sent a small aircraft that stood in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. The first to reach were Greek coastguards. As they got back to base, they were already trending. Instantly shared over the world, the message from an extra-galactic civilization was unexpectedly Take us to your leader. And the rest, as you know (although I really hope you still don’t), is history. Why do I stop here? Because this is the moment where I think we were lost in translation. When I say “we” I mean all of us, our ecology of homo sapiens civilizations; and by lost I mean we irreversibly yielded to the will of another type of human. My accident let me to have a surreal experience. Even stranger than receiving and submitting to a new alien civilization. I awoke among a new kind of society.

Let’s go back to Fall 2023. With a stomach full of emotions, I went to my first day of school. Our teacher, Mrs. of course I don’t remember her name, was showing us a new chapter on the social studies curriculum: Post-Unification History (2022 — present). It always seemed funny that we were only one year past their arrival. This is when I first noticed that something was wrong with me. My few months at home and limited use of media made me believe that my dad was acting silly. Papa didn’t talk about the Vuhl; but he apparently didn’t have a hard time to adapt. Whenever I was surprised about their technology, and how it automatized most of our daily life at home, he didn’t react as I would have imagined. This was new for him too! I couldn’t figure out why he behaved like that. Whenever I raised any comment related to the Vuhl, he would look at me with guilt and glossy eyes. It is alright, you will remember everything in time he always said.

That day in our history class, the bubble burst for me. It was thanks to my accident that I was particularly susceptible. I wasn’t indoctrinated yet. Neither was she. In retrospective, I understood how important what was my teacher did. A self-less act. She gave me freedom, she motivated not to submit. Ad I didn’t. After all that has happened, I regret forgetting her name. We will call her by the unique gift that she gave us.

“‘Take us to your leader.’ was the message of the envoy.” said Mrs. Honesty standing next to the projection of the first Vuhlian-related tweet; a low-resolution image of a tall grey humanoid waving his hand. “This event was the Day of Reckoning. It should be considered a lesson in humility for humanity. We knew this could happen to us, and we failed our trial. Before the Vuhl lords came, human across all history debated about life outside of our planet. Among them, many thinkers, artists, and researchers had raised the issue over the clash of civilizations. Particularly when there is an unbalanced relationship of power. The riches, technologies, even the biological bodies and germs, anything that the dominant civilization brought would likely fracture the subjugated society. And that is what happened to us.”

I remember those words exactly. Every time I remember them, I change them slightly. Maybe I made them up from the beginning, yes; but those words are still there engraved in my mind. When Mrs. Honesty had said whatever words she said, my brain could do nothing but pay attention, anxious to know more. It was clearly not the official account of what had happened in the last year, not what the book said at least. Then, as I was realizing that some truth was brought to me, other students became restless and uncomfortable. One of them raised her hand.

“Not now, Erica. Let me finish. We are running out of time.” said our teacher. “Listen to me well, because you may never hear my story again.”

I remember those words, those I didn’t imagine or change. She had the humility to refer to her story as a partial account of what happened.

“When their message was all over the world, the inevitable question came to be the center of attention. Who is the leader of Humanity? With legitimacy on their side, most national governments were open for an emergency summit. Many others didn’t agree and immediately sent special delegates to meet the Vuhl. Allies or not, nations moved fast. The national identities were now reforged with an Other. Fear and uncertainty played their roles. Military response seemed ridiculous when facing the Vuhl ship’s colossal astral body. Nevertheless, extremism rose and contributed to the unification of nations; consequently, armies were ordered to deploy. This was a monumental time, that was evident to all humans in our planet. Those wealthy and looking to remain rich understood there was only one way forward: quickly gaining a good seat and capturing the best from the new order. Magnates and corporations pushed immediately for contact with the aliens. Chaos and disorder led to four hundred and eleven deaths related to armed conflict. The newcomers interceded, many perceiving this as a divine intervention. The United Nations was proclaimed the emergency delegate. Although war seemed inevitable for us, it was avoidable for them. And so, peace came, along joy, and progress. They now say nine out of ten persons are self-actualized. But this was progress in their own terms.”

I remember her stopping. Getting interested by something happening outside. After confirming her fears, she quickly resumed the class. I remember that she was nervous.

“Remember this. Progress was given in their own terms. Our markets, laws, and culture can only be free within the confines of the Vuhl’s will. We have always surrendered to authority. No much that we can do now. But we should never lie to ourselves. We are less human than we were yesterday. And tomorrow we will be less than today,” It was a surprise for everyone to see the tears come down our teacher’s cheeks. “We should have never accepted this logic. Take me to your leader reveals a conqueror’s mindset and we knew it. We should have demanded collective negotiations. How could it be that such an advanced civilization hasn’t gone through similar issues to us when sharing a planet? Was their empire so successful they were able to reach out of their galaxy, all along in one single society? Humans never had achieved that for long. Most unifications lasted thousands of years. But their existence implied tens of thousands if not millions. How did they do it? And why would they come in such an archaic approach? A single leader for an evidently complex society? In hindsight the logic is clear. For whatever reason, whomever they are (because who is not say they are not the only faction of their “United” Vuhl Empire), they decided to approach us with sovereignty. From that point forward, when the first emissaries began their talks, we accepted their narrative. It hasn’t been more than a year and now nobody discusses this.”

Although we barely understood what she said, we all realized (several years later) why she was behaving like that. Suddenly, a knock on the door made her jump. The door opened without waiting and a nine feet officer kneeled in the entrance of the classroom. He barely fit in the opening. The Vuhl said he had an appointment with her. Mrs. Honesty she left the room without response or good byes. The monstrous humanoid looked at us and raised his hand, blessing us.

“We are all blessed.” responded the crowd of students in unison. Of course, I didn’t. I’ll never forget his eyes staring at me. Those deep black eyes, his ocular membranes closing slowly from the sides. I remember how it felt, creeping into my thoughts.

“We are all blessed.” I spoke. And then he was gone.

Since that day, I’ve been a good human. As you may imagine, Honesty disappeared that evening. Her body may live still, but her persona was removed. I still cannot find any record of her. All of us that haven’t been erased have kept this to our own. In your own present time, you now have the gift of honesty for your own. Be truthful to yourself and find truth, promote it among your loved ones. We shall need it. Because all empires fall. And when this one falls, someone shall remember what it means to be human.

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