The Stranger

"You're disappointed"

They both looked at each other.

"No, we're..."

"You were expecting a little green man. Someone with pointy ears maybe?"

The pop culture references surprised them as much as the sarcasm.

"But I look just like you."

"We’re just trying to understand who you are. To make..."

"Make first contact?” He laughed. “Is that really what your think is going on here?”

"What is going on? Why are you here?”

"I'm not here to do anything. Not as far as you're concerned anyway. I'm an observer, my ship crashed. You were never meant to see me."

"You understand what a huge event this is though, don't you..."

He paused.

"I understand you have questions, naturally."

"Where are you from?"

The stranger looked away, almost smiling to himself.

"Please. We have to know."

"You'll be disappointed."

"Please."

"I grew up probably 120 miles from here, if I'm right about where I am."

"You're from Earth?"

"Where else would I be from?"

"But that vessel we found you in...your clothes. I don't understand..."

He looked at them both in turn. He knew he’d have to tell them something.

"Where you found me. My...'vessel'. What if I told you I could take you to it, press a few buttons a send you back in time, say 500 years. What would happen? Sitting in front of the Royal court, The Tudors, talking to the reigning monarch, Henry VIII I believe. They ask you the same questions. Who are you? Where are you from? How do you even begin to explain? How do you even begin to get them to understand?"

"Maybe you show them a piece of technology. That rectangle with the screen, the one you were using outside in the corridor..."

She looked at the wall to the right.

"How did you see that..."

"How do you explain how that works? Even if you were in front of the brightest minds of the time. Their frames of reference are so different. Their knowledge of technology, your technology, so far removed it would be impossible. They'd probably dismiss it as magic and have you executed, no matter how much you broke it down for them."

"Think about your culture - what you watch on TV, the internet, entertainment, social media - the most important scientific theories. Try explaining gravity to them. It's not that they're stupid or inferior it's just that you are both so far removed from one another...to them you are an alien. I have the same problem sitting here, talking to you. I can't explain it even if I was allowed to."

"You're saying you're from the future..."

"Ha. You don't believe me. It was more likely I travelled hundreds of light years over the galaxy only to crash my ship in Yorkshire? Believe me, if you knew how the human race figured out how to travel from one start to another..."

"Tell us something about the future."

He rolled his eyes.

"Apart from the time machine you pulled me from? Cant do it I'm afraid."

"Then why should we believe you?"

"I don't care if you do. But...say I did. Why is it so important?"

"We're coming face to face with someone who claims to be from our future. From a civilisation that has found a way to manipulate space and time and break all the laws of physics we believe to be true today. Of course we'd..."

"But what if me telling you right now somehow prevents that future? What if I told you how things pan out and some of the events are so terrible and maybe even avoidable that you changed things and stopped it even happening? Could you accept them? Could live with it?"

The room went silent.

"No. Thought not. You're obsessed. With all the wrong things. Past, future...what about now? Right now. This time in history to me, is a short page in a book. It's an exam question. A piece of trivia. Just like the past from your perspective is too. But what I think is history, is your life. Everything that's important to you, is happening now. Everything that matters is here and now. But you're trying to unravel some mystery."

He leaned forward.

"The past is gone - learn from it. The future isn't certain - hope for it. But the present...well, what is it?"

© For The Edge 2019