An unexpected visitor
Ángel Arango

(Translation: Daniel W. Koon)

      He fired his beacon once more before bailing out.
      He fell through space, altering his body to be as light as a feather, his mind to be empty of thoughts, his blood to be motionless, his nerves to open within his muscles like the seams of a parachute.
      Wearing neither clothing nor equipment, because the material of these objects did not obey his will the way his flesh did.
      It was easy. He was shielded from the force of gravity and ceased to be a conductor. He could barely feel the weight of his own skin, pressed all around him like a shell to protect him from the cold.
      On reaching the water’s surface, his body automatically assumed a vertical position and oriented itself on the Earth.
      He was saved.
      His only injury, the one that came from quickly exiting his ship, had bloodied him, but it wasn’t dangerous, because his blood had regenerated itself within his veins upon contact with oxygen. He was extraordinarily tall and handsome, and his blue-green eyes glowed with a metallic brilliance, penetrating like the rays of the noonday sun.
      He did not yet have a beard, it being only a few days since he had shaved.
      “My ship must have fallen in the ocean,” he said to himself.
      And he began to walk through that unknown world to which he would never have come of his own free will but which by pure accident had become his destiny.
      He began to walk in the direction of the trees which trembled beneath the breeze that blew in from the nearby sea.
      Soon he could make out a group of natives headed toward the river and he noticed how they were dressed. Hidden, he managed to hear part of their conversations and strained to push his brain to full capacity so that it could provide him with the meaning of the words.
      He followed them. One by one they were placing themselves in the waters and happily bathing.
      “I should get closer.”
      He went to where they were and he too entered the water. The one who seemed to lead the group approached him and bowed strangely. The visitor opened his arms, as was the custom for greeting on his planet.
      “Welcome,” the native said.
      “I can’t understand a word,” the stranger replied in his own language.
      The leader of the group checked how tall he was.
      “You are not like us,” he said, “Where are you from?”
      His brain was working feverishly; the words came and went through his neurons but it was all a helpless muddle. He still did not know how to respond and yet he felt as if the last words were much simpler, as if he almost had them within his grasp. Suddenly, without knowing how, he answered, signaling the point of the firmaments from which he had arrived.
      His brain, obedient, efficient, well fed, had found the precise meaning of the first words. He had begun to form his vocabulary and now had to learn how to use it.
      And he extended his hand once more to point to the sky. The group studied him in silence. Maybe they did not understand his answer. Maybe they couldn’t even imagine it. He asked to borrow some clothes, which they supplied. Then he sat with them and they talked. They spoke and he answered them still in monosyllables. He learned that there were other men there who dressed in iron and who poked the natives with their lances.
      “I need to stay alive until the rescue unit reaches me,” he said to himself, and so he fled into the desert for refuge, where he could survive up to six months without eating or drinking, thanks to the reserve energy stores which he had accumulated.
      The desert was silent and boring, almost like interplanetary space. Looking at the dunes was like watching the random shapes of the constellations. At night, when the sand forms lost themselves in the great darkness and the only scenery was the stars, he felt pained and anxious, because it was frightening to find himself prisoner of a strange land and to be unable to alter the arrangement of those fixed points. It was not like when he could plot a course from inside his ship and change the panorama and move closer or further from the different worlds.
      “I will end up going mad,” he screamed after a month and he departed for the coast, where he found a family of fishermen with whom he struck up a friendship and perfected his command of the language. Then he went with the fishermen to recover his beacon. He dived into the waters and walked along the bottom of the sea on foot. It was useless. He emitted a telepathic signal below the water and attracted enough fish to fill the nets. He returned to the surface, displacing the atmosphere and replacing it in turn with vacuum. No gravity ran through his body: he was like a dead immobile person and he slid this way over the waters, buoyed by his feet which rested on a thin film of air on top the surface of the sea.
      There was a terrible fright on the faces of the fishermen who saw him and he understood that he had gone too far. This world, or whatever corner of the world that he was visiting, was too unsophisticated.
      “They will begin to talk about me and that is not convenient.”
      He said to the fishermen: “It is nothing. Do not tell anyone.”
      The fishermen were honorable. They said absolutely nothing, but they brought along a blind friend so that he could visit the stranger and get him to come to his aid.
      “For pity’s sake.”
      It was a moving voice. The man stood with his eyelids closed and repeated this single phrase with clear conviction.
      “For pity’s sake, for pity’s sake...”
      “I can use my voice,” he thought, “to break the seal that burns his gaze. But my energy is limited and what I receive from this world is meager and cannot recharge me. My power, my power has to last me...”
      However, the blind man remained in front of him, and it was not something he could bear because such evils did not exist in his own world.
      “I will help you... Lie down...”
      The blind man obeyed, and he covered his eyes. He repeated the same words several times. The vibration of his voice destroyed the virus. Then the man woke up and saw light.
      Legends and stories wove themselves around the visitor and the lives of these men wove itself more tightly around his own, to his dismay.
      His height and his strength called attention to him and he now had a long and smooth beard and hair which covered his neck. His presence gave him away immediately and the people gathered round him and circled him.
      “Strange people, who do not know love and who live in a haze... Strange people, who do not know love.”
      They followed him all over and listened to him and observed him. He had begun to become a part of the lives of these people.
      He checked his powers. The power of the gaze, the force of the gaze.
      He greeted them, opening his arms.
      “What is called wealth is worth nothing in my country,” he said. “Love is what is important.”
      The women followed him, but he knew that he could not succumb to them because his energies were growing ever weaker.
      “He is an enchanting man...”
      “He doesn’t even look at us; that is why we love him.”
      “But I would follow him to the end.”
      “He says such new things. I still don’t know what he is saying, but he seems to make a lot of sense.”
      “It is as if he comes from some place far away, a clean place where men are stronger and secure and not dirty as they are here.”
      He checked his powers. The power of his gaze, the force of his gaze.
      “My power, my power...”
      In spite of everything, a deep compassion rose in him for this people so much in need of faith and love. And although he did not stop worrying about being far from his own world -- “My signal is lost and there is no reply” -- he did what he could to help them and to better the lives of the men and women who approached him with such passion. He began to explain things to them, and he did it in an attractive way, presenting them as sayings from some earlier historical figure that they respected or as a new message transmitted through him. Because he had to deceive them a little.
      He spoke in metaphors to impress his audience but also so that his words might later be confusing.
      “I can never get away from those who are following me. The day that I do, the oppressors of this country will destroy me and my last hope of being rescued will end. I know that my power will not last forever...
      Despite this, the hunger of the people and their sickness bothered him. And he used the frequency of the vibrations of his voice to cure, and he decided to feed the thousands of men who were hungry.
      “We do not know this in my world. Strange and poor beings.”
      He slowly unleashed the energy which he had stored in his mind and multiplied the earthly food by a processes of accelerated reproduction.
      “Unless I stop I will end up being no more than they are.”
      But he had broken the mold of history.
      The soldiers were not the first ones to make a move to destroy him. It was the food merchants.
      “This man must disappear. He is ruining us.”
      “He must die. He deserves a sound stoning.”
      As the first stone was raised, the stranger, who had a premonition of this aggression, lifted the merchants’ tables and threw them over onto the ground. And immediately the people repeated his action with all the other tables.
      As each moment passed matters compounded and took on greater significance.
      A silence penetrated their hearts, and the men and women fell down in front of him. He stood erect, he alone, like a king, in the midst of the multitude. He alone, tall and extraordinary, with his eyes and their powerful gaze, which none could reject.
      Dinner was a scientific lecture. He tried to explain how matter adapts to different evolutionary processes, to different biophysical levels.
      “All this is nothing more than ourselves,” he said placing his hands above the foods. ”I can turn myself into this material and it can turn into a person. Life does not end but only changes form. You die because you have not learned to love life, you do not want to live longer because your faculties are not well enough developed and they give you a limited view of the world. If you could enjoy it, then you would wish to renew yourself eternally.
      One of them asked him how he had managed to revive a dead man.
      “My voice destroyed the germs, replaced his movement and rehabilitated his flesh. My word is natural and yet, supplies the needed vibrations.
      The soldiers marched through the street, four in line. They sang an march. A man jumped into the street and signaled them. The group halted at the official’s orders. He stepped forward to the man and asked him:
      “Is it you?”
      “Yes,” the other responded, trembling.
      “Good; tell us where he is.”
      The man pressed his hands nervously and whispered to the official:
      “He is the tallest one. He has brilliant blue eyes.”
      The official moved his men and they advanced in crisp ranks, deploying over the field to close ranks around the indicated point.
      A little later they surrounded the stranger and the official asked him:
      “Who are you?”
      “I am the son of a man,” the stranger replied.
      “Take him,” the official said. And he signaled for them to tie his hands. For an instant, the man who wished to use this time he was living away from his own time to help a very backward people looked at the rope hanging from the hands of the legionnaire. For a moment he thought that he might rid himself of them all with what was left of the force which he still held in reserve. But then he realized that it would serve nothing, since he had already exceeded his own powers here, and nobody truly knew him nor knew who he was. He would gain nothing by sparing a few more hours of his life. He had been consuming his power helping this downtrodden people, multiplying their food, curing their sick. Sooner or later he would find himself thoroughly exhausted. He was uprooted, away from the heavens which he had crossed at incredible speeds, tired of waiting for a reply to a signal sent too hastily. A signal too tiny for such a large universe.
      He extended both hands and the soldier bound them.
      When they reached the city the interrogations began. Many persons appeared who claimed to know him and who attributed phrases and deeds to him. Then they wanted him to confess various things that he could not remember and they insisted over and over again on ascertaining whose son he was.
      “Are you a prince? Are you a king?”
      “I am only the son of a man,” he repeated again and then, surprisingly, they spat on his face and beat and clubbed him.
      That was the first physical aggression. He wanted to break his bindings and focused on them, solely on them, despite everything that was going on around him. He concentrated totally. But the bindings would not yield; he was lost, his final superior forces had abandoned him. He was unprotected like the others, like the inhabitants of this occupied land.
      “You are a conspirator,” yelled an old hysterical man whom the entire Council of Elders seconded. “We are going to hand you over to the army...”
      And that’s what happened.
      They dragged him before a soldier dressed in iron like the others but covered in a red cape.
      Before arriving there, he had to cross between two lines of men with standards. He looked from side to side and saw how, with furor in his gaze, he could pull the standards down.
      “I still have some energy.”
      He tried again to break his bindings. But nothing, only the standards came down; his last bit of energy had made them extraordinarily heavy in the hands of the soldiers.
      “Who are you?” asked the official.
      The stranger looked at the chief of the soldiers, skeptical.
      “I am a man of...”
      The commander interrupted him.
      “Are you the Christ?”
      “You call me that,” said the prisoner and thought that if he had had his identification on him he would have gladly shown it to the official.
      “Are you the king of these people?”
      “I don’t understand what you are saying,” the stranger responded.” I am not from here.”
      “Your kingdom is not of this place.”
      The official turned to the multitude and told them that the tall man was innocent of the charge of conspiracy.
      But in the first row of the multitude were the merchants the visitor had defended himself from. And these men began to scream:
      “Death! Death!”
      And the word frightened the governor, who handed him over to the army.
      The soldiers brought him to a rooftop where they kicked him, beat him and, last of all, strapped him to a chair, writing strange symbols on him as if he were a scarecrow.
      From here they brought him out a little later to the street and placed an enormous cross of cedar over his shoulders. The man carried its weight as best he could, while they made him march toward a nearby mountain known as “the place of the skull”. Whipped and whipped again, like all subjugated people, the unexpected visitor stumbled onward.
      They arrived at the mountain and raised the cross.
      There were two other convicts at his side, but he was much taller.
      “Perhaps I would have received a better death if it hadn’t been for my custom of opening my arms...”
      One of the soldiers heard him speaking and pierced him with his lance.
      He relaxed once and for all so as not to suffer.
      But although they considered him dead, his heart still beat at a rhythm undetectable by the men of Earth.
      They pulled him down and placed him in a sepulcher.
      He was much shorter than when he had fallen from space.
      The soldiers guarded the sepulcher for fear that curious people might remove his corpse.
      Darkness fell over the land. The sun disappeared and the sky appeared dark even though it was still day. The stars could be seen. The moon, which was like blood, did not shine at all during the night.
      The rescue patrol fired two or three shots over the earth and the buildings for effect. In the cemetery the graves of the dead opened up. While the ship maintained itself in the air, next to the surface of the earth, creating a sky of storms with all its lit reflectors, two of the men approached the sepulcher in full view of the shocked guard. They were tall and wore glittering uniforms and easily removed the stone that covered the tomb.
      The tortured stranger rose up and, walking under his own power, went to meet the two men.
      “Let’s go,” he said.
      And they disappeared into the sky.
      Later, the people began to tell the story with great emotion. The detractors distorted it and so did the admirers. The writers took all of these distortions and turned it into a literary work. Each storyteller embellished the story in his own way and humanity continued repeating it and continues repeating it. Even today, in the year 3000.
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