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Paril took an unsteady step. The small light from the Elk’s Rack had faded to nothing behind her, leaving only grays and blacks. The rainy mist cut visibility further. She had only an impression of the saddleries and pens and stables she knew lined the cobblestoned street. The cobblestones were slick in the mist. That last tankard had been a mistake.
About halfway to the caravansary, she thought. A sound penetrated her brain through the drip of water off empty roofs. A scuffle, like leather on cobble, from behind her, perhaps a rat. Perhaps not. Opening her pouch at the Rack so all could see her stash of silvers to get the two-ducat instead of the five had been a mistake too.
She felt watched. Another step. Left hand touched the hilt of the dagger tucked into her belt and she felt better. Another sound, this time ahead and to the left, a water rivulet interrupted to strike something solid instead of the puddle on the ground. She fingered her belt pouch. The candle and flint were there. Folly, her rational self intruded. The light would be too feeble in the open street. Phantoms anyway, she chided. Ghosts of an ale-swimming imagination.
The day began like any other
Clocks striking midnight
Waves and sand, wind and land
No different a minute before
No different a minute after
But men would talk of this day
From this day and who was there
On the coast of northern Fance
On this henceforth known as
The Longest Day.
Emotions still run high
For those who now remember
Though those there then will soon
Be gone, their deeds live on
And if we remember
Their reasons and their valor
We shall not suffer nor have cause
To repeat their great endeavor.
Another spring comes and I plant marigolds
I plant marigolds and think of you;
Of the golden prospects never to be realized,
Of the many flowers I plant to remember.
Another summer comes and I celebrate
Vibrancy, and warmth, and the color of love
All those things you brought with you
Wherever you went, no matter the season.
Another autumn full of reds, oranges, and yellows
The colors you used to paint for all of us;
The fallen leaves we piled up and jumped into
Before we became too cool or too old.
Another winter, the trees covered in veils,
Icicles sparkling in the thin sunlight.
I feel you most often in this season,
In the drafts and shadows and winds.
I never pity you; you never wanted pity.
I never ask why or wish it was me instead;
The question has no answer; I, too touch life.
More I miss you a little every day,
Wish you were here too, Sis,
Happy every time that chill passes me
‘Cause I know you are still nearby.
Begin alien contact report.
Zog arrived at Creativity Headquarters at what the aliens call one minute past midnight – the start of their day. Curiously no aliens were observed.
Zog stood as if entering the headquarters from the outside. There was a table to Zog’s right behind which were two devices known as chairs. The aliens, having only two legs, sit on chairs. On the table were two devices, rectangular, which threw a dim light toward the chairs. Above the table were four tubes which cast small circles of light onto the table. Imbedded in the top of the wall, just below the ceiling joint, was a bank of light-emitting devices.
Zog proposes that these aliens may have weak eyesight, requiring significant amounts of light to see well.
To the left was a staircase, a method used by these aliens to move from one level to another. Since they are bipedal this sort of structure allows them to ascend in small bits, making changes in altitude easier, though slow. This staircase was a hazard, however. Zog noted that there was no way to stop anyone coming from outside and ascending the stair; no security. Zog also noted the stair was the same color as the walls and would be difficult to see, especially given the alien’s limited vision, if the sources of light were to fail. Finally, the sides of the stairs were open with only a thin metal pipe at about the midpoint on the average alien’s body. This design would allow small aliens, if they mis-stepped, to fall and potentially injure themselves.
Between the table and the stair, and behind the stair as well, were strange machines made of thick colored wires. These machines were attached to the floor, ceiling, and wall with apparently random twists and turns of the wires. Zog proposes that they may be some sort of energy generator for the many light sources, much like our own hydroponics stimulator.
Zog makes one last observation. The aliens had printed words in their analog language on the wall behind the table. They formed only fragments of sentences, but all were some sort of exhortation to use their thought processes. Zog, in his long period of distant observation, did notice a distinct uniformity in behavior. This seems to be confirmatory that these aliens require significant stimulation and reminders to use their large brains with any kind of efficacy. Perhaps there are a few leaders with a more innate capability.
Zog will return to the Creativity Headquarters after another planetary rotational cycle. He has realized this cycle may be what the aliens term a weekend where they do not travel to Headquarters.
End contact report.
Unpublished, by Greg Schroeder
Prompt: Write a description of this scene that suggests something about the people who work here.