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"The Call" {WPC #3}

Fourteen thousand year I have awaited alone for my rescue, le sauvetage. In the thick forests and hills I have made my temporary home; waiting the last twenty years with her. “I wish to go with you,” she said. Millenia after millenia flew past my eyes, the incredible speed of this blue planet miniscule, making it’s révolutions around this soleil décolorant. I hid my eyes from the sickness of this blanched sun by digging into the earth. C'est incroyable, this yellow sun so foreign to me. This land they call France is so sauvage et dangereux. I have no doubt the woman wants to leave this place. Where were the bright orange and white suns of my homeland? Where the blonde waves of the Northern and Southern Seas? Mais plus important, où sont mes frères? Where are my brethren? We six survived the accident when our scout ship crashed. Our navigateur assured us the rescue beacon was activated. Still there was doubt. He was killed soon after simply for asking for shelter and food for us from the natives. We decided to scatter lest les homme sauvage find us and tear us apart. We did not try to find each other because in our experience, single things can stay hidden longer. We are but innocent voyageurs, unused to fighting because we are different. Unwilling to take a life in self defense because our skin is not like theirs. That is not our way, non. Our bleu et vert skins work as theirs do. Our blue is like their skies, our green is like their flora. They have adapted to their planet as we adapted to ours. Why should they kill us? And why should we kill them, though it would be a simple matter of wishing pour leur mort? My mind could simply wish them to stop living, and their mind would obey. Never would we do that. That is not our way. I must leave the woman with all I have made here. She had nothing when we met. She will need it all to survive. She stumbled into my cave, lost, tired, bleeding and hungry. A savage beast. I was afraid she was like the others I’d seen of her kind. I hid. She did not see me standing in the shadows, my coloring camouflaging me. She saw the food I had cooked and fell to it like a starving animal. I felt she was one as I watched her. She collapsed in sleep after eating by the fire. I treated her wounds with a simple topical medicinal spray I had. I cooked another meal for her, watching in amazement as her cuts and scrapes healed with incredible speed. She woke the next night wondering at her health. She ate again and sat, waiting. She no longer looked sauvage. She had a look of intelligence and patience. Still I did not move. She ate, and slept long and hard, again. I prepared another meal for her, curious if she would drink from a cup or the whole pichet d'eau. I was pleased to see that she poured water into two cups, setting one aside for me. She knew she was being watched and cared for, though she could not see me. Very intelligent, I realized. We played this game for two weeks, her sleeping late into the day after a meal, me staying hidden and cooking, before she spoke. “Merci beaucoup pour votre hospitalité.” Her voice was deep, throaty, with obvious learned diction. Educated? It was hard to imagine that any of them spoke, let alone understand hospitality. I had only fed her meager meals, and she slept on the hard ground. I made no bed for her. I felt I had been inhospitable to her. It only took me a few days to cobble together her language from her few sentences. I was the historian on this mission, after all. After a month, I became hungered. I cooked more food and took some for myself, sitting closer so that the firelight could warm my form. I froze, a spoonful of food inches from my mouth, when she stirred early from her slumber. I must have made too much noise in my haste to eat. She stretched and yawned content. Then she saw the firelight reflected on my skin. She did not cower or scream and charge me, as I had expected her to do. She smiled and gave a small nod. “S'il vous plaît, ne me laissez pas vous arrêter.” Stop me? How did she think she could stop me? Or was I misunderstanding her? I must have looked confused. She made an eating motion with her hands. Now I understood. She didn’t want me to stop eating. “Merci,” I said, continuing to eat. “Je suis Isabelle,” she said when I put my plate down. “Isabelle,” I repeated. What an odd name for a species. “Are there more Isabelle in this area?” Her laughter trickled in the cool air of the cave. “Non, non, monsieur. I am Isabelle. Only moi.” “What do your people call themselves?” “French,” she said, a shy smile tickled the corner of her mouth. Aha, now we were getting somewhere. I asked more questions. “And you French control the entire planet?” “O, la la! They think they do, the arrogant bâtards,” she said, still a smile in her eyes. “Unfortunately for the French, there are thousands of other peoples on this world, quelle dommage, non? There are different countries, nations with different peoples, different languages, different beliefs, and different colours… but none like you, monsieur.” I shifted, uncomfortable on my seat. I was unaware of the vast numbers she had alluding to. Still, valuable information. I hoped she would not become violent. Or alert others to my presence. It would be a shame to leave such a well provisioning forest as this one had proven to be, and find another cave. “Do not be alarmed, monsieur. I cannot hurt you, mon Dieu. I couldn’t if I tried. I am but a small woman, and you look to be a very strong… male?” It was true. Our sexes were similar to this planet’s, having only the two, though hardly compatible. I merely nodded in agreement. She looked around the cave, the small fire illuminating the room we occupied. She looked at me. “How long have you been here, if I may ask?” She looked genuinely interested. I didn’t want to shock her, nor give away too much about myself. “I have been in this cave since before you were born.” Her eyes shot wide open and her mouth mimicked their size. I imagined that she was shocked at my long lifespan. I was wrong. “How can that be, monsieur? There is no bed, no kitchen, no furniture? You poor thing, how can you live like this?!” “Quite well,” I told her. “All I must do here is wait. I do not need a bed. I sleep standing up. I eat a small meal once a month, if I need it. The rocks and crags are all that are needed for furniture, and the fire is my kitchen. What else need I to live?” “But, but, I saw no boucherie, no poulailler, no jardin! How can you live?” I shook my head. I could not blame her for not knowing any different. She lived here, on this sauvage planet. I had witnessed her kind eating animal flesh of all kinds, even aquatic animals. Plant life was on their diets too, but rarely. Carnivores were unpredictable. “I do not eat flesh,” I explained. “I do not need to butcher anything, nor eat the eggs of any fowl. My garden, which you have eaten well from, is the entire forest. This planet is replete with edible, healthy, even medicinal foods that are not the flesh of any animal. I am surprised that you don’t avail yourself of them.” Her face held confusion. A vegetarian diet was something she hadn’t considered about me, though she had survived on nothing less these last few days. I did see that she needed more than what I needed for survival. “Where is your home, Isabelle, if I may ask? And why are you not there?” It was her turn to look uncomfortable. “I do not have a home,” she whispered. I waited. “My family died in the war and my home was destroyed three years ago. There was nothing left. I have been wandering since.” I had avoided several wars as a matter of course. I had seen their destruction. It was not my way. I spoke before I thought. “You can stay here, Isabelle.” Her face lit up and she dropped to her knees, her forehead to the ground, hands clasped. “Merci, monsieur, mille bénédictions! I will be your servant as long as you wish. This is beyond wonderful. Merci, merci, merci.” I let her stay, not knowing if she was a danger to me if anyone saw her leave. Before long I formed for her a sleeping nook in one rock wall of the cave. Isabelle padded it with moss she collected not far from the cave. She did not ask how I formed the nook and I didn’t tell her of the tools I carried. She herself used dead wood to form a square table, tying it with vines and pressing the top with clay. It dried too slowly and she was disappointed, saying it was how others had made them, only they dried theirs in the sun. When she went in search of other ideas I dried it cleanly with another tool. She was very thankful, still not questioning my methods. I was grateful for that. The less she knew of my technology, the better. We lived comfortably and quietly for many years. She was very accommodating and often expressed her gratitude for living in the cave with me for company. I had to admit she was good company for me, as well. I grew to trust her, and after many years, allowed myself to sleep the month away with her as my guardian. It was a comfort no longer having to hide myself in strange, secluded caves just to sleep undisturbed. Knowing she would be there when I woke was a pleasant feeling. I grew accustomed to her presence and we became friends. It came, en fin. That subliminal pull on my soul, a sear across my eyes, that driving need to seek out my brethren. But where? I must leave ma cachette, my hiding place, my home, and answer the call to Gather, recueillir. I will wear the garb fashioned on this world so as not to be stopped, to avoid soupçons, the suspicions. I must also take the clothes and tools I came with. What would this primitive world do with clothing that would outlast them all? Or tools that would kill them before they learned comment ça fonctionne, how they work, let alone how to use them de bon usage, productively? I closed myself off to the external and waited for the next pulse. Et si, bien. I was not disappointed. In mere seconds another subliminal pulse gave direction to my steps; East, retour au début. Back to the beginning. “Mari, I wish to go with you,” Isabelle pleaded. “Why do you call me husband? We have never married.” I looked at her worried face. “That may be, but I know no better name for you. You have never told me yours.” “J'ai expliqué, there is no name that you can use for me. My people have a different way. I leave this planète, your planet and I do not return. You cannot come with me. You will die.” “Oui, je comprends ça. I know, but… I have no one here but you. I will die alone. If I come with you, au moins I can die with someone I love, and… who loves me,” she whispered. We travelled by night, for safety.


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