There was a flash of light in the air. It illuminated the surrounding forest for only a few seconds, yet this felt like a lifetime to Joseph. He sat in his living room, alone, reading a book that would soon take him on a journey to a faraway land where dragons and witches plague a wealthy kingdom, when the night sky of his very real world was suddenly as bright as day. Remembering that he was the only human for nearly a hundred square miles of dense forest, Joseph grabbed his rifle from the rack above his rustic mantel and hurried out of his cabin, a flashlight gripped tightly in one hand.
The sky was dark once more, leaving no trace of the odd occurrence that had happened just moments before, but Joseph would never forget that sight. He was a mere huntsman, living off the land, never being fond of people or how they treated him. At a young age, Joseph’s parents left him in the care of an overpopulated orphanage, quoting monetary issues and overall disgust with being parents as the source of their relinquishment. He was never an attractive boy, had no one to look up to, and so flunked out of school when he refused to attend classes for fear of being beaten up by the other children. As a teenager, Joseph would spend his days in the nearby mountains, teaching himself to hunt and build shelters. Though he always came back to the orphanage at night, never wanting to stay in the wilderness past dark. However, this quickly changed when a member of the church, who would visit the orphanage regularly, took advantage of the then thirteen year old Joseph. Appalled and disgusted for being sexually abused, and even more mortified that the other adults at the facility did not care that he was molested, Joseph fled the building, fled the city, and fled all human contact to live on his own until he would be released by death.
This is why it was odd that he would see something so bright and unnatural in the sky. After living in that cabin for fifteen years, the only traces of the civilized world being a few books and some battery operated devices intended for emergencies, Joseph could not remember the last time he had been reminded that there were other people in the world. And so, with much anxiety yet no apprehension, Joseph hurried out of his front door and into the clearing he had created around his house.
The air was quiet, and the night was dark, yet the huntsman sensed that something was very wrong. The hair on his neck was standing tall, his knuckles shone white as he threw a death grip on his rifle, and his knees pleaded for retreat, desperately trying to buckle beneath him. But before he had the chance to turn around and seek sanctuary in his cabin, the huntsman soon began to notice a faint glow coming from somewhere on his left. It was not close, perhaps half a mile away, yet Joseph could discern that something was shining from the ground, up into the threes, and creating an ominous glow against the black background. Quickly, albeit carefully, he headed towards the unwavering light, never knowing what he would find and thinking all the while that it may be wise to turn back. Joseph could handle the attack of a bear, or the vicious pounce of a wild cat, or even the stalking of a coyote in the dead of night. He was not afraid of these beings. They were natural, and honestly each animal wanted the exact same thing the he wanted; to survive. If this meant killing a fellow creature, then that was what needed to be done. However, the touch of man was something that Joseph feared down to his core. The last thing he wanted was to be saddled with another human who would destroy his forest along with everything that called it home. This is what people do. This is the plague of humans.The huntsman wanted nothing to do with them.
It is for this reason that Joseph’s common sense continued to warn him of impending danger, begging him to turn around and forget the entire scenario. Yet Joseph could not stop now. Curiosity would eat him alive. The truth needed to be revealed before his own eyes, whatever grim truth that may be.
As he grew closer to the lighted area, Joseph began to hear a soft humming sound. It was certainly electronic in nature, though was nothing that he recognized from his past. The sound was low, so low that he could feel vibrations within his body, and it refused to cease. Still moving toward the light, Joseph started to notice the thickness of the air, as if there was a cloud hanging low in the trees. The air became hot, with a faint burnt smell to it, and Joseph quickly realized that he was standing in smoke. It became thicker and thicker as he walked forward, the white smoke surrounding the trees about him. And that sound, it continued to hum, growing louder and louder. He could now see rays of yellow light breaking through the smoke, hitting the trunks of trees and illuminating the ground. Something had gone wrong here. He knew it. Something was not right.
After passing a large tree that obscured his view, Joseph came face to face with a massive metallic object. It was the size of a two story building, quite angular in shape yet sleek and seemingly aerodynamic. It had small wings on either side of a triangular body, but was tall and thick. The body of the ship was propped up against a large tree, with great branches splintered and scattered beneath the main of the object. The metal smoked and shimmered as yellow light was emitted from beneath the wings and from two points on the top of the ship. Joseph had never seen anything like this before. He recognized it as something that could fly (or at least was designed to fly) yet the object was strange, foreign.
Figuring that a lot had changed in the fifteen years of solitude, the huntsman hurried up to the stranded ship and began to search for some sort of pilot’s cabin or some way to enter the vessel and aid whoever was inside. While he was afraid of human contact and wanted nothing more than to remain on his own until the day he died, Joseph was not about to allow a stranded being to go unaided. He knew what the right thing to do was, and the right thing to do was to find the captain or crew of this ship and rescue them from such a predicament.
As he continued to circle the vessel, searching for an opening and being careful not to touch the metal siding, there was a piercing hissing sound that emitted from behind him. The man turned around just in time to see a panel of the ship open up just above the right wing. With the ship at an angle, the panel rose sharply into the air, like some sort of escape hatch designed for such a situation. Joseph continued to stand there, awestruck, as the panel hissed open and then came to a stop, leaving a large opening in the hull. The huntsman could see faint, flashing lights from within the interior of the ship, but no other movement could be noticed. That was, until a single grey hand came darting out from the panel, gripping the opening tightly with four long fingers.
Joseph jumped into the air with fright. He could feel his heart pounding and his palms sweating. The flashlight in his hand was focused on the opening of the ship, his own beam of light quivering with the fear exploding from his being. He did not blink. Nor did he move his feet. Joseph was petrified.
The grey, hairless hand began to move once more. It gripped the edge of the opening even tighter than before and with great strain, heaved the body of a strange, four limbed creature out of the ship and onto the wing. This being, seemingly unaware to Joseph’s presence, let out strange grunts and sounds as it slid itself down the wing and onto the hard ground. The creature then looked back at its ship, made some sort of feverish gesture at the object, and then turned around and looked directly at the huntsman.
Illuminated by his flashlight, Joseph could see the creature well. It had pale grey skin, the color of concrete, was a little more than five feet tall with a slender body and long appendages. It wore no form of clothing, revealing a limp piece of flesh that dangled between its legs like human genitalia. In fact, the creature was very human-like in its body and shape, yet the face was strange. It’s eyes were large and incredibly vibrant, with a whole spectrum of colors fading in and out with one another. It was like looking into a galaxy of rainbows within each eye, and Joseph was fixated by them. This creature had no nose, and no ears that he could see, but the mouth was large and circular, covering nearly have of its face.
Joseph stood there, silent, waiting, not knowing what to do with himself or even whether these would be his last moments alive. It was now that the huntsman understood what he was looking at. This was an alien. It was an extraterrestrial being whose spaceship must have crashed in the forest. Visions of destruction and chaos darted in and out of the man’s brain, but he was unable to hold on to a single thought for more than a second. His mind could not adequately process what was going on before him and he soon began to notice that his mind was in pain. It physically hurt to be thinking so quickly and so erratically. Yet his poor mind did not know what to do with the information that it had been given at this instant. He was a lone human, someone who lived with the animals of Earth, who had denounced technology and people and the evolution of culture all together, and here he was standing in front of a downed spaceship and the alien captain who had been inside the vessel when it crashed. This was incredible. This was miraculous. This was terrifying.
“Is English your native language?” Stated the alien suddenly.
Joseph nearly dropped the flashlight and rifle in surprise. He was not sure what the strange being had just said, but it sounded like English. It sounded like this thing had just communicated to him in English.
“This area falls within an English speaking country.” Stated the alien again. “Do you understand what I am saying?”
Joseph understood the creature now, but he could not believe what he was hearing. This creature had a strange, squeaky voice, yet had no discernible accent when speaking his language. And it seemed to understand the location in which it landed. What strange happenings had befallen him?
“Um, uh- yes. I u-understand.” Joseph stammered.
“Good. I am afraid I am in need of your assistance.” The creature said, slowly walking towards the huntsman. “I apologize for any alarm I may have caused you.”
The creature’s gaze then fixed on the gun in Joseph’s hand. The alien saw Joseph grip it tighter, watched the man place his index finger on the trigger, yet the being did not show any sign of fear.
“There is no need to be frightened. I do not wish to harm you.” The alien stated calmly and politely. “You see, my ship malfunctioned and I was able to guide it down to your planet safely. I was circling the Earth for my studies, when my ship began to-”
“How- how can you speak to me?” Joseph interrupted the alien. There were a thousand questions rushing through the man’s mind, yet this was the first one that erupted from his mouth.
“Do you mean how do I speak? How do I emit noise? Or how do I understand your language?”
The huntsman nodded, desperately needing to know the answer to all of these questions.
“Well,” the alien began, “I am from a distant planet, in another solar system, and on my planet, like yours, we have a similar form of the education system. We must learn about our own planet, our own sciences, our own history and cultures, as well as the cultures of other planets. I have always had a fascination with the Earth and so have been studying your planet during my education.”
“What? Studying the Earth? For what? To one day destroy us?” Joseph exclaimed.
“Oh no. Certainly not.” The alien contorted his face into a sort of smile, something that did not look like a natural action to Joseph, but was possibly the alien attempting to express comfort in a way that the huntsman could understand.
“I would never wish to harm anyone or anything on this planet. Nor would the rest of my people. We are learners. We observe others and learn from them. I have studied every culture on Earth for centuries and have gained fluency in every spoken and written language. I guess you could say that humans are my passion.”
Joseph was at a total loss of words. All the questions that had been previously circling through his mind had suddenly vanished into the depths of his conscious. He did not know what else to say or what to do. He felt very sick.
“Please, I can see that you are not comfortable and so allow me to formally introduce myself. It was not my intention to meet someone on Earth today, or ever, but seeing as this is my chance to really learn your ways, I best take advantage of the situation.”
The alien walked closer to Joseph, keeping one eye trained on the rifle, moving with great confidence and assurance. Once the creature was within arms reach of Joseph, it stuck out its hand with the long, skinny fingers, and awaited the human to engage in a handshake.
“I am lead to believe that this is called a handshake, a way of politely greeting someone.” It said warmly. “And my name is something that you would not be able to produce with your vocal cords, thusly, you may call me Larry.”
Joseph hesitantly accepted the handshake, placing his weapon on the ground, reaching out a quivering hand and grasping the cold fingers of the alien. He could not believe that he was touching a being from another planet. He assumed that this may be the first time a human had ever touched an extraterrestrial life form, though a lot could have changed in fifteen years. He gently shook the grey hand and then released it, unsure what to do with his now empty hand. It hung by his side uselessly, like a sagging tree branch, ready to break loose from the body of the tree and fall upon the ground.
The creature once again flashed its odd, eerie smile, and then began to speak once more, “I would show you the way that we greet each other on my planet, but I must warn you, that it is considered inappropriate in your culture.”
“Um, well, what is it?” Joseph asked, not sure what to expect but wanting so badly to run for his cabin and never leave the confines of those four walls ever again.
“First, you must understand a little bit about my anatomy. In my species, we consider the mouth to be a sacred part of the being. It is where we ingest food that gives us life, it is where we communicate with others and expel the words that are our own and no one else’s, and it is where we fornicate and reproduce. The mouth is a beautiful thing. It is a part of every individual piece of a creature that makes them who they are. It keeps us alive, allows us to share our thoughts, and allows us to spread our seed. For this reason, we do not physically touch our mouths in public or anyone else’s. That would be rude. When we greet, we grasp what you call the groin area of an individual.”
The man’s eyes grew wide as the alien pointed toward Joseph’s groin. He could not understand why that would be an acceptable action in any culture, no matter how different or outer worldly, yet he had no reason not to believe what the creature was telling him.
“And so, I invite you to take part in the way that I greet others. But first, what is your name?”
Joseph looked at the being, studied its eyes, looked at its skinny body, and determined that he may as well trust the creature. If it wanted to harm him, it would have done so long ago. This may truly be an alien that wants to learn about his culture through observation and interaction, and so he, as a human, owed it to the creature to learn a little bit about its own customs.
“My name, is Joseph.” He said with as much confidence as he could muster.
“Wonderful. It is very nice to meet you Joseph.” The alien then slowly placed its hand upon the man’s crotch and gripped his genitalia. Joseph did not feel any pain, it was not menacing or foreboding, merely strange and slightly uncomfortable.
“And now you would greet me in the same way.” The creature said to him.
The huntsman obeyed the being and slowly cupped his hand under the alien’s groin, closing his hands around the dangling appendage just as the creature gripped his own groin.
What a strange situation he had landed himself in. Joseph could not wrap his mind around what was occurring before his eyes. Here he was, face to face with a being from another world, and they were grabbing each other’s penises. The huntsman began to feel even more uncomfortable and so he released his grasp on the alien, who then did the same for Joseph.
“Thank you very much, Joseph.” The creature said politely. “I understand that such an action must have been very strange and uncomfortable for you, and so I thank you for taking part in my own culture’s customs.”
Joseph nodded, still unable to speak, and so the two beings simply stood there in silence. A coyote howled in the darkness, bringing the huntsman’s attention back to the real world, back to the present, where he realized that he was becoming chilled just standing in the nighttime air.
“Are you, um, cold? Larry?” Joseph asked his companion. “Do you require any, aid?” Impressed that he had gotten out an intelligible sentence, the man relaxed a little bit and was able to think somewhat clearly about what to do with the situation. If the creature needed help repairing its ship, then he would certainly aid however he could. And if it needed food or a place to stay, then he would not hesitate to play host to the alien. Joseph could not ignore that there was a sort of connection he felt with the strange being. It was a quiet observer, a learner, a creature that wanted not to destroy or to control, but to study and appreciate. Joseph had always lived his life in a similar fashion. While the huntsman killed animals and downed trees, this was a necessity in order to survive, just as a bear would kill a salmon or a fox would kill a mouse. If he did not need the meat, then Joseph would merely watch the animals move about him, enjoying their connection with nature and wishing that all humans could merely observe without attempting to control. A worthless wish, because he knew that it would never come true.
“Thank you very much for asking, Joseph.” Larry said happily. “I am not cold, nor will I ever feel cold on your beautiful planet, but I’m afraid that I will be needing aid. My ship is in need of repairs, which I can accomplish on my own, but I will need time.”
“Well, you are lucky that you have landed in a place where, um, there are no humans. There will be no people here to bother you.”
“Yes, that was quite lucky.” The alien agreed. “I will begin my repairs right away, but I must request that you help me find a place to sleep as well as food to eat.”
With that, Joseph offered his own cabin as a place where the alien could sleep, and offered to feed him freshly cooked meals and teach the creature how to fish and hunt. The huntsman knew that it was beyond strange for him to be interacting with an extraterrestrial life form, especially one that had been studying the Earth for centuries in secret, though he also knew that this was the right thing to do. This was a being that needed help, who was probably more scared than Joseph was, even though it did not show it, and the huntsman wanted to be the best representation of humans that he could. Together, they walked off into the night, away from the now dark and dormant ship, and towards a future that was full of uncertainty, oddities, and wonder.
Larry slept in Joseph’s cabin for nearly eight months. The alien spent most of his time repairing the broken ship, yet was able to pass some enjoyable hours hunting with his new friend, telling Joseph about his home planet, or just relaxing in nature next to the only human he had ever met.
Joseph found it strange that he had made such a strong connection with a being from another world. He often wondered if it was his disdain for the human race that drove him to favor this creature. Larry would tell him about the planet he had come from, a place where his species lived in harmony with all of beings. Nature was respected and protected and all organisms lived amongst one another, harming only for the need to survive rather than for sport or out of hostility. It was a dream of Joseph’s to live in an entire world that supported his personal values. He longed to go there, to experience such a place first-hand, but knew that it would never happen. It was out of the question that he leave the Earth to live on another planet. That was science fiction, like one of the many books that he had read, and he would remain there with Larry until the alien’s ship was mended.
While the huntsman very much desired to be a part of Larry’s culture, he found it difficult to adapt to the creature’s strange customs. Joseph could hardly say that he was surprised, given that this was an alien from another solar system, and so he did his best to learn these customs and reciprocate them out of politeness.
For example, it was considered rude to watch an individual eat, given that the mouth was seen as sacred and used for fornication. Larry always turned his back when Joseph would pop a piece of food in his mouth, until the huntsman got used to this odd cultural difference and began to eat in solitude like Larry did. In addition, the alien species always bathed with a companion. This was done to ensure that the parts of the body that were difficult to reach, mainly the back, were adequately washed. Since his species did not wear clothing, Larry explained that personal hygiene was incredibly important and it was expected that individuals would assist each other with bathing. Joseph found this uncomfortable at first when he would travel to the river to clean his clothing and wash himself, though he agreed to rinse the alien’s back for him since it seemed to be important. However, after some time, Joseph began to see the logic in such a process and requested that Larry also wash his back, an action that soon became common practice whenever the two would wander down to the river. The huntsman discovered that it was a pleasant change to have someone scrub him clean, since this was something that he never valued while living on his own. He felt more presentable, more prepared for the day and all around enjoyed himself more.
Yet these customs, and others, were still not as strange to Joseph as the way that the extraterrestrials greeted one another. Larry explained that, like hugging someone for a long period of time, cupping the groin of a friend and maintaining the contact was considered a sign of respect and care between friends and family. Often times the two participants would lightly pump their hands while grasping their friend, like gently squeezing a ball repeatedly, and this could be likened to patting someone on the back. Larry explained that he would never do such a thing to Joseph and did not expect the same in return, since this was so different than how humans behaved, though he was grateful that Joseph was polite enough to grasp the alien’s bare crotch every once in awhile when coming or going. The two got along as best friends, most likely because their personal values were so in sync, and only had one moment of tension after Larry had been living in the cabin for no more than a month.
“How come you live so far into the forest, Joseph?” Larry asked as the two of them sat outside the cabin. Larry was holding a piece of the spaceship’s wing and was turning it over in his hands, attempting to figure out a way to connect some wiring that had been damaged in the crash.
“I have been living here for about four weeks and you have never once talked about another human. Do you have a resentment towards people?”
“Well,” Joseph began, pretty certain that he knew where this conversation would end up. “I have never felt a connection with people. And so I moved out here to live off the land. And I have never looked back.”
“Don’t you miss it? The city, the sounds, the food, the laughter and conversation? I love studying the music the humans create, and the artwork, and comedy. It is just wonderful what people can create. Don’t you-”
“No. I don’t.” Joseph interrupted him. He felt like this creature was trying to convince him to return to civilization, something that the huntsman had never wanted to do. “I left that world for a reason. Sure, there may be things that I miss, but I am happy here. I would never have been happy living amongst people.”
“What was the reason that you left?” Larry put down his wing part and looked at Joseph warmly, not wanting to upset the man but curious enough to pry for the information.
“I did not belong there. I never did belong. This is where I can be myself and feel at home.”
“Why didn’t you feel like you belonged? What happened to make you think that?”
“Larry, this is not a part of my life that I like to think about.”
“Ah, come on Joseph. I just want to learn. I do not understand why you would give up all the wonderful things that people-”
“Larry!” Joseph yelled, angered by his persistence. “I do not want to talk about this!”
Larry apologized for being rude and then did not say another word. He sat there in silence, staring at the trees and the sky, watching the birds dart from branch to branch. Joseph merely stared at the ground, fixating his vision on one point. The alien could tell that he had upset him, and felt terrible for doing so, but he did not want to make it worse by speaking and possibly saying the wrong thing. The two sat quietly for some time, until Joseph broke the silence.
“I was mistreated.” He said in a hushed voice, as if he did not want the animals to hear the reason for his self banishment. “I was abused all my life by people. I was never loved, never accepted, and always hurt by others. This is why I left. Because being alone was less painful than being back in that world.”
Larry waited a long while, taking in all that his friend had said, before he spoke up as well. “Thank you for telling me, Joseph. That means a lot. I know it must have been difficult. But for now, you don’t have to be alone. You have got me.”
The two companions smiled at one another, in that moment realizing that their friendship was true. Joseph stood up from his home-made wood chair, followed by Larry, and they firmly grasped each other’s testicles. Joseph, without hesitation, began to pump his hand. The alien returned this action and nodded his head in appreciation, understanding that this was not an easy thing for the huntsman to do. After several seconds of this extraterrestrial embrace, Larry and Joseph released each other and began to walk into the forest.
“Tell me more about your home planet.” Joseph requested. “It sounds like a wonderful place. A place I would love to visit one day.”
And so Larry began to fill the human’s head with stories and descriptions from his faraway solar system. It was a place beyond the huntsman’s wildest dreams. A place where all creatures were respected and cared for, where no one was harmed for malicious reasons and nature could exist as it was intended to exist. It was a place unlike any other, a place that sounded like fantasy to Joseph, but it was as real as the ground beneath his feet.
Eight months following the crash, the repairs on Larry’s ship had been completed. Joseph was sitting outside, skinning a squirrel that he was going to cook for dinner, when his alien companion walked up to him with an excited, yet hesitant look on his face. The two exchanged handshakes, and then grasped each other's crotches, something that had become a normal ritual for the two, a mutual respect for each other's very different customs.The huntsman stared into his brilliant eyes, and could see the mixed emotions that were begging to explode from that being. He had something to say, something important, and Joseph placed the dead squirrel upon his workbench and waited for his friend to begin.
“My ship is ready to leave.” Larry said solemnly, bearing a pained smile. “I want to thank you for all that you have done for me. You have been nothing but kind and welcoming, and I thank you for that.”
“You are really done?” Joseph said, not believing that his companion and only friend in the world was going to leave him forever.
“Yes. My ship is now ready to make the trip back to my home planet. I am afraid that if I stay longer, I will never leave the Earth. I have grown attached to life here, as well as to you, and I must leave now before leaving becomes impossible.”
Joseph looked down at his feet, and then glanced up at the trees in front of him, not wanting to look into Larry’s eyes. He did not want to see the sadness in his friend, nor did he want his friend to see the sadness in him. “Will you ever return?”
“Probably not.” The alien said. “It is difficult for me to get the chance to view the Earth for my studies, and I have never had the opportunity to land on this planet until now. It may be another couple hundred years before I can return, and I am afraid that you will be long gone by then.”
“Take me with you.” Joseph suddenly blurted out, standing up and staring straight at the extraterrestrial being. “Take me with you. Please!”
“Joseph. I cannot do such a thing.” Larry said coldly. “You are talking about traveling to a different planet. That is insane.”
“Please, Larry. Please. I hate it here. You have shown me what it is like to have a friend, something that I have never had before. You have shown me care and compassion, and for the first time I feel like I can trust someone.”
“Joseph, I understand that you-”
“No, I’m not sure you do understand. I have been mistreated my whole life. I have been taken advantage of, abused, beaten up, molested, and so I live in solitude for fear of these things happening again. But then you came around and showed me what it is like to not be afraid, and to totally and completely trust someone. You tell me tales of your beautiful world, and I want to be a part of that. I want to leave this hell hole that is Earth, where people are cruel and repressive, and live in your world of respect and compassion.”
Larry did not say a word. He was quiet for a long while, just staring at his dearest friend, thinking. Joseph pleaded to him with his eyes. He begged him will all of the emotion he could muster. There was nothing left to say to the alien, nothing more that could verbally convince him, but he could not be alone anymore. He had to show this being just how much he cared to leave that forest. Joseph could see the colors swirling about within the alien’s irises, turning and writhing like a mighty storm, seemingly giving the outside world a glimpse of the turmoil brewing inside the creature’s mind.
At last, Larry took a deep breath and replied, “Alright. I will take you to my home.”
Joseph leaped into the arms of the alien. He held him tight in a warm embrace, bursting with ecstasy and excitement for the journey that lay ahead of him. He would be traveling to a new world, a better world, where he could at last live the life he had always wanted to live.
“The journey will be long, Joseph. My ship is fast, but we have quite a distance to travel. It will take us a little less than a year to reach our destination, but we will get there. And I am sure that you will find yourself very happy at my home.”
“I know I will.” Joseph said. “Thank you so much, Larry.”
“You will have a tough time speaking my language, for it involves sounds that you have never produced before, but I will do my best to teach you important words and how to create them with your vocal chords. We have a year to do that. Which should be plenty of time.”
With that, Joseph packed up the few things that he could call his possessions. He grabbed his books and some clothes and prepared himself for the long journey ahead. Larry did not have the need to eat or drink as much as a typical human, and so Joseph packed plenty of food that would keep for a long time but would still provide him with the basic nutrients necessary to survive. It would be an extremely difficult journey, but one that he had to make. If he died aboard that ship on the way to a distant planet, at least he would die happy, a pleasure that would have never been available to him on Earth.
Settled into the ship, ready to leave the planet Earth, Joseph and Larry clasped their hands together and prepared to lift off the ground. The alien had warned the huntsman that it was quite an experience leaving a planet at such a fast velocity, but that the specially designed cabin made it possible to live through the intense G forces. Never-the-less, Joseph was nervous. He had never even been on a rollercoaster before and was not sure he would be able to handle the trip. Larry looked over at his flight companion, noticing that the man was gripped with fear as the alien’s hand was inadvertently being crushed by the human.
“Joseph. Relax.” Larry said calmly. “It will be okay. Trust me, and trust my ship. I would never do anything to put you in harm's way. Please believe me.”
Joseph relaxed his grip on his friend and returned his stare. “I know you wouldn’t. I do trust you. I just don’t want to get sick.”
“You will be fine. This will be quite a smooth ride. Don’t you worry.”
Larry patted the man on his back and then returned his attention to the controls before him. He flipped a few switches, checked some readings that made no sense to Joseph’s human mind, and then the extraterrestrial gave his companion a smile.
“Here we go.”
There was a low droning sound, similar to the sound that Joseph had heard when he first came across the crashed ship eight months ago, but it was quieter. The seat in which the huntsman sat lightly vibrated, but it was not uncomfortable. The travelers were surrounded by a skinny window that made a half circle around the ship in front of them. It provided views directly ahead of them (which in this case was dense foliage) as well as to either side of them (also dense foliage). The droning did not grow much louder, but suddenly Joseph felt the ship rise off the ground. It was slow, which made the man even more anxious as he watched the trees slowly pass by the windows. Pretty soon, they were above the treetops, with nothing but a dark, open sky in front of them.
“Full throttle.” Larry said.
Joseph was thrust against his seat, but the cushioning of the fabric held him tight and he felt no pain. He briefly felt as if his stomach was flipping, but that feeling quickly subsided and he simply felt himself pushed down into the seat as his pilot directed the ship high into the air. He looked to his left and noticed how incredibly far away the ground was, and within a few seconds he could actually see the curvature of the Earth. This craft was unlike anything he had heard of when he was a child. This ship was fast. Unimaginably fast. He wanted to ask Larry what speed the ship could travel, though he kept his mouth shut, fearing that if he opened it, a scream rather than intelligible words would come out.
The ship was soon surrounded by the blackness of space. There was nothing Joseph could see except brilliant stars and blackness. It was incredible. Beautiful. He couldn’t believe that he had somehow found a way off of that planet. His life of pain and solitude was finally over. He was headed towards a new home. A better life.
The journey took ten months and 28 days. It was tough for Joseph to be cooped up in such a confined space, especially after living his life in the open expanse of a forest. However, the two were able to pass the time by learning about their friend’s culture (more so Joseph learning about Larry’s life). The alien taught the human all about his upbringing (the creature was over 1500 years old), about his language, the food on his planet, the other creatures, the plant life, the buildings and the other planets in the solar system. After almost a year, Joseph felt like he was ready to experience this world first hand. He had grown accustomed to their strange way of greeting people and was used to having to hide his face when he was eating. He was reminded by Larry that individuals did not wear clothing on the planet (they had perfected climate control and preferred to live as the other creatures lived, naturally). Even when he was living on his own, Joseph dressed himself everyday. He did not leave his cabin unless he was at least wearing pants. This was partly for his own protection from the wilderness, but also because it was a habitual action. He was human. He wore clothes. It was a strong habit to break, but he and Larry made their best effort. After adapting to not having any clothes on, Joseph felt comfortable walking around the ship in the nude, understanding that it meant nothing to Larry just as Larry walking around in his natural form meant nothing to Joseph. The alien would often apologize for teaching him some of the strange customs of his home planet, all of which made Joseph uncomfortable in one way or another, but Joseph would remind him that he was moving to a new culture. He had to learn these things and would have no need for his human ways anymore. He would ask the same thing of Larry if the alien was going to live on Earth.
One day, after being aroused from a nap, Joseph was dragged to the control room by a very excited alien.
“Come look! Come look!” The extraterrestrial said, allowing the nude huntsman to sit down in a chair before the window. “Can you see it?”
Joseph could not see anything at first. He strained his eyes staring through the window, leaning forward and squinting in an attempt to increase the reach of his vision, but pretty soon the point of interest became very obvious. There was a quickly approaching object in the distance, which grew bigger and bigger with the passing seconds. Within a minute, the object was a massive planet, brilliant green in color with splashes of blue and purple swirls. It was beautiful, more beautiful than Joseph could have imagined.
“Welcome home my friend.” Larry said happily, sitting down in a chair next to Joseph and pushing buttons on the console in front of him.
The human could not speak. He was beside himself with excitement. For so long he had awaited this day, and for even longer he had awaited the acceptance of another person. That day had finally come. He would at last be living in a world that would not dispose of him like a worthless piece of garbage.
The ship glided through the night sky, closing in on the planet which soon took up the entirety of the ship’s window. Joseph sat there, mesmerized by what he was seeing. Great masses of green land lay before him. Massive mountains with colorful spots on them. He could see what looked like rivers and lakes, but they contained more colors than blue. They had teal in them, purple, bits of yellow, and maroon. It was incredible.
The ship dipped lower towards the planet, coming in steeply but then leveling out above the horizon. Joseph could now see odd trees whizzing below the ship. They were massive, with great flowers blooming on them. The trunks were not brown, but red. Almost all of them different shades of red. And then he saw a waterfall. At first Joseph couldn’t make out what this glimmering object in the distance was. But then he noticed its movement, and pretty soon he could see vast amounts of liquid pouring over the side of the mountain. It moved like a waterfall, but the liquid sparkled in the sunlight like a thousand tiny rainbows. It was brilliant in color, but it too quickly passed under the ship as Larry guided them towards a place to land.
The ship then banked sharply around a steep cliff that lined a gorge, and Joseph saw before him a massive city. It was mostly silver, with pieces of black and gold in it. Great towers extended high into the air, taller than any skyscraper that was on Earth. There were other ships in the air, flying about with ease. They eventually left the natural landscape and replaced it with the awe inspiring architecture of this foreign planet. Most buildings were rectangular like the ones Joseph was used to, but others had curved designs to them and great, sweeping walls that looked like waves. Some even looked like massive sculptures, pieces of art the size of forty, fifty, maybe even sixty story buildings.
“This is just amazing.” Joseph said, not able to get much more than that to emit from his mouth.
“I am glad you like it. Just wait until you meet the great creatures of my planet.”
Larry guided the ship down towards a long stretch of what looked like shiny concrete, though Joseph was pretty sure this substance was not concrete. There were a series of circular platforms on either side of the stretch of silver concrete and the huntsman could see other, similar ships parked on various platforms. Their own vessel slowed down quickly to hover high above one of the platforms, and then it slowly began to lower to the surface.
Joseph was brimming with excitement, unable to control the emotions that were bubbling out of him. He had tears in his eyes and a sweeping smile on his face. He clasped Larry in the crotch with excitement, and Larry (who had both hands occupied with buttons) gave his friend a smile.
They felt the ship lightly touch down, and then the drone of the engines soon subsided. Larry got up first and then helped his friend from his seat, whose knees had grown suddenly weak from excitement. Arm in arm, with Larry supporting Joseph, the two departed the ship into the open air of this new planet. Larry had explained to the human that the makeup of their world was very similar to planet Earth. They were biologically similar beings since they were made of the same material, and so Joseph would luckily thrive under a similar atmosphere as what he was used to.
Joseph closed his eyes, took a deep breath as he stepped onto the silver platform, and then opened his eyes to take his first look at his new home. The initial thing he noticed was the amount of creatures (all of them similar to Larry) that were walking around the city. There were thousands, tens of thousands of these beings going about their day. Joseph figured that this must be a main city in which the two travelers landed, but then the huntsman noticed something even more surprising. All of these creatures were wearing clothes. They had shoes on, some form of pants, a top piece, and sometimes even something on their head. Every creature was dressed differently, but dressed none-the-less. He noticed creatures in a nearby building who were eating at a table, speaking and smiling as they ate in front of one another. He then noticed an individual lovingly feeding someone else as a couple would do on Earth. These aliens were greeting each other with waves, or this odd handshake that looked like something school children would invent, but certainly no one was grabbing crotches.
Joseph stood there naked, petrified, and he turned to look at his companion who was also standing there, naked.
“What the fuck, Larry. What the fuck!”
The alien let out a crazed, maniacal cackle and then ran sprinting into the crowd, sticking out his hands to grope and grab at the private parts of creatures he passed. Individuals screamed in terror and stepped back as this mad being came racing through the hordes of bystanders. Smaller alien creatures were sheltered by their parents, who covered the eyes of the little one’s quickly.
His mentally deranged friend then disappeared from view, but he could still hear the strange, startled screams of these creatures. And all Joseph could do was stand there, naked, lost on a strange alien planet, and call after the twisted companion he had been with for nearly two years.
“What the fuck! Larry! LARRY!”