Ileana Vicente Armenteros
Originally published in the magazine Technical Youth in May 1988.
(Translation: Daniel W. Koon)
The ball bounced several times in the patio of the house until finally it rolled up the slope of the drainpipe and sat motionless in front of the half-opened door. Simultaneously, in thousands of homes across Havana, other brightly colored balls appeared at other half-opened doors. It was midday on a July Sunday.
("We have landed on an elastic surface which has reflected our momentum but we finally have come to a complete stop. Some damage, all of it repairable, and no injuries. We climbed a slight slope before arriving at a crevice in an immense wall that disappears into the sky. We will begin the study of this cave. Roger.”)
“Raulito, come here!”
The boy approached cautiously, aware, from three years of experience, that her authoritarian tone and those abrupt gestures meant that she was about to deliver a scolding.
“How many times have I told you not to leave your toys lying around?!”
In the patio a ball gleamed, it was not his own, of that he was sure: he had never had one with such shiny colors. He gathered it in his two tiny hands wanting to touch all of it at once and, pressing it tightly against his chest, he ran into the room he shared with his older brother.
("A biped monster has caught us and is taking us into its cave, we do not know if it intends to devour us. Its movements are abrupt and have disrupted our controls. I feel faint, I remain secured to the wall of the ship. We can only hope that it transfers us to its nest and allows us to undertake our repairs in peace. Roger.”)
The brother, hardly two years older, was gluing the last decals onto a toy airplane when he saw Raulito arrive with the colored ball.
“Let me see that ball.”
Not listening to him, Raulito threw the ball against the floor in the direction of the wall: it was a new gift and he did not want to share it... he had still not played with it. The toy came to a stop and did not bounce, the boy kicked it against the wall and again the ball refused to budge; but already the brother gathered it off the floor and, not having any success at getting it to bounce they decided to toss it around in the air.
("Indeed they took me to the nest and flung me about in all different directions to try to pull me from the vessel. The damages are now irreparable, but they will not catch us alive. Roger. Over and out.”)
The woman heard the dull thud in the balcony of her house and left to investigate.
("We have landed without incident. We shall begin our observations. Roger.”)
On the ground, a beach ball rolled towards the door. The woman tore at her hair.
"Punk kids, vandals. I warned them that if another ball of theirs fell on my balcony I was not going to throw it back. My shrubs! My windows ... no, no damages; and they must have hid themselves because there is nobody on the street. They’ll see. They’ll see. I warned them."
The woman, furious, took the ball from the ground and looked for her pruning scissors.
("They have captured us! We will try to flee. Roger.”)
The sphere jumped out of her hands and rolled towards the interior of the apartment.
"Just let me get a hold of you, I am going to rip you to shreds. Finally, there are my scissors... no, the knitting needle is better. Those brats, they are never going to throw anything near my house ever again."
("We entered the cave of the being that attacked us, they have a very crude civilization, just as we surmised from the exterior... They have perforated the ship! The air is escaping! We’re decompressing... I...")
The party was in full swing, deafening music filled the house and, on the porch, a group of young people were relaxing and chatting when a ball rolled between their feet and stopped abruptly.
("We are located in front of a group of them, they are extraordinarily large and they possess what appears to be a mixed language of gestures and phonemes. Their vision appears to be very limited as they have not yet observed the ship. Roger.”)
“Hey?! What’s that?! Grab it, Juanchi.”
Juanchi barely had time to raise his hand and catch the ball as it sailed right towards his head.
("It has caught us! We remain secured to the walls of the ship. The movement of the ship does not allow me to work the controls. Roger.”)
“Grab it, Chino!”
Soon the game escalated into a form of dodge ball. One errant throw hit a flowerpot that crashed to the floor scattering a cactus and dirt.
“What happened to my plant?”
The owner of the house left hastily to repair the damage, while the last player discretely dropped the ball off the porch and it rolled smoothly into the street.
“You kids are always breaking something; go inside and let me clean this up. There are drinks on the table.”
The crowd of thirsty boys entered the house, the last one stopped for a moment and watched as a steamroller flattened the pretty, colorful ball.
“Attention all ships, return to base. Attention all ships, return to base. Our cover is blown, do not take any risks. Return to base.”
Only a few startled old women of the kind who spend all their days peeking out from their windowshades noticed the unusual spectacle of hundreds of multicolored spheres ascending to the sky.
But they told no one.
No one would have ever believed them.
Return to Cuban SF site
Return to Koon's webpage