Periodic East, Chapter 24 – Our New Home
Daniel, Miles, and the rest of us were being guided by the alien creature. Its voice reverberated off the walls of buildings. Miles and I couldn’t stop staring at its feet that seemed to match the imprint we had found in the snow a few days before. Miles approached me and spoke softly.
“We need to ask Daniel to ask if flat out if it killed Josh,” Miles said.
“Not yet,” I replied. “I don’t know for sure if Daniel would be able to translate that exactly, besides, do you want to be the first to test how it responds to that kind of accusation?”
Miles remained silent for a moment. We didn’t know what to do. We knew that we had mountains of questions. But we didn’t know how to ask them; a new kind of communication barrier.
Sara continued staring at its feet. Her hesitation and fear was quickly diminishing and was developing into a full fledge curiosity. Within nearly a minute, she broke formation and rushed in front of the creature and stopped causing it to stop in its tracks. Miles quickly ran after her and tried to push her behind him.
The alien creature, again, looked on with an almost child-like curiosity similar to that of Sara’s.
“How tall are you?” Sara suddenly asked from behind Miles. “Daniel, can you ask him how tall he is? Or what his name is?”
It’s name. That would certainly be a start.
“Zein da zure izena?” Daniel asked. I’m guessing that was how to ask for its name.
“Nire izena da…,” it began, its voice echoing the walls of the cave and of the structures within. But no other sound followed as Daniel looked at it quizzically. Daniel repeated the same words and after a moment the alien responded, “Ez dakit.”
“He forget,” Daniel said.
“He forgot his name?” Miles repeated.
Daniel simply said again, “He forget.”
We followed the alien creature to about the center of the cave. Sara was now staring at it with a whimsical wonder; her neck straining as she stood inches away from it and trying to look up at his face. I just can’t believe how resilient and adaptable this kid is.
The alien stopped at what seemed to be the center of the cave. There was a building here that appeared to be the tallest one out of all of them; there had to have been at least forty. The structure seemed to have been made from banana leaves, bamboo, and other types of fauna from the nearby jungle. There was makeshift furniture that was very large; probably for the alien itself. Miles, who stood over six feet, looked like a child sitting in one of the chairs.
Daniel was pointed to a chair that looked like a throne, complete with extra banana leaf padding on the back; clearly the alien immediately saw his importance also. The temperature inside the cave was also amazingly warm. Warmer than anything we had experienced in years. I looked at my thermometer and it read at 18 degrees Celsius (about 64 Fahrenheit.) We all slowly started peeling off layers and the alien stared at us in wonder as we did.
I was still very apprehensive, though I did what I could to not show it. But what did I know about what the alien could sense or not? It seemed that his feet matched nearly exactly like the print I found in the snow next to Joshua’s body. If this alien did kill him, then why? Was it defending itself? Was it for food? I had to know. I couldn’t allow myself or the other survivors to get too comfortable, even though that’s exactly what we were all feeling. I turned to Daniel who was already starting to doze off.
“Daniel,” I began, “wake up, Daniel.”
Daniel looked up at me with exhausted eyes, “Hello, Tiberius,” he said.
“Hello, Daniel,” I said. “I need you to ask the alien something very important, just one more question.”
“What question, Tiberius?” Daniel asked.
“I need you to ask it if it killed Joshua.”
Daniel looked at me strangely. I don’t think it was because he didn’t understand the question, but rather that asking it might offend the alien, and we don’t know what would happen if we were to offend it. It could have dire consequences. But I’d rather know now than for us to be killed in our sleep or worse.
“Please ask it,” I said again.
Daniel sighed and looked at the alien. Daniel began to stand and it immediately got the alien’s attention as it rushed over to help Daniel up. Not the behavior of a cold-blooded (or whatever) killer, I thought.
Daniel immediately went on a ranting spew of his native tongue far more complicated and rapid than I could ever hope to break down. I don’t know if it was supposed to be a precursor before the actual question, or who knows? Finally Daniel finished saying whatever he said. The alien looked at Daniel and then directly at me. It kept its gaze on me and started walking towards me. Miles immediately stepped in front and was about to unsheathe his machete, but I stopped him.
“Wait,” I whispered to Miles stopping him.
The alien’s voice echoed again throughout the cave with a very short statement.
“Ez dut hiltzen.”
I looked over at Daniel who was already gingerly working his way back onto the banana leaf throne. When he was able to arrange himself comfortably again, he looked up at me and said, “He don’t kill Joshua.”
Then suddenly the voice echoed again and it surprised even Daniel. I looked to him for another translation. His eyes widened and was silent.
“What did it say, Daniel?” I asked. But Daniel remained silent and the alien said it again.
“Ez dut hiltzen; gure literrak egiten du.”
“I no kill,” Daniel said, “but… leader kills.”