'We can see it right in front of us. An alien ship, unknown to us. It's shape very different from everything we've ever seen. Gently moving through the blackness, toward us. White dots in the background, far off worlds beyond count. One of them is their home. They travelled far, though what their motive might be is a mystery. No signs of aggression emanate from the smooth and shiny surface of the foreign vessel.' The man spoke with a calm voice.
He sat at a large wooden table. He wasn't alone. They whispered amongst themselves.
'Why are you speaking in present tense now?' Someone asked.
Perplexed by the question, he swallowed. He hadn't notice it.
'Oh, I'm sorry. It's just that it left an enduring mark on me.'
'Yes, that's understandable. Well, please continue, in whichever tense you prefer.'
He continued relaying his tale, but in past tense again.
'When we started our voyage, no one was expecting an outcome as fantastical as this. On our way to Saturn, this most strange meeting took place. It was going to be just another scientific exploration to Titan. I was the pilot and didn't understand much of anything my passengers talked about, some academic jargon. Frankly, I didn't care either. When I spotted it, I was in shock. I didn't know what to think. At first, I kept it for myself. Before they scrutinised it with their hungry rational eyes, I wanted to ponder it. Yet, no coherent thoughts formed in my mind. By the time I realised that I couldn't make sense of it, they already stood behind me, their faces paralysed by awe. They too, knew it wasn't a human-designed vehicle.'
Unconsciously, he switched to present tense again.
'We're about to make contact with it. I am beginning to be afraid. No doubt, all the stories I've read somehow inculcated in me the belief that aliens will always be evil. I believe now that there's no malice in the universe, but what we have within.'
He waved his hands in the air in front of his face, as if he was visualizing in his mind what happened next.
'Then nothing happened, at first. What felt like hours passing by, were probably just a few minutes. The silence was harrowing almost. Not even the breathing of my passengers, looming behind me, disturbed that perfect silence. Maybe my mind just blocked it all out. My eyes couldn't look at anything else, but the strange object now almost touching our hull.'
He was interrupted by one of the inquisitive persons present.
'Wait, a second. It touched your hull? Was it organic?'
'No it wasn't. Well, I can't be sure. It didn't resemble any material we have here on Earth. I've said this over and over again. How many more times do I need to repeat myself?'
'The others are too pragmatic. That's what all of you scientific types are.'
He looks around the room, at each and every one of their faces. They thought him crazy, labelled him in a liar. That's the impression he had, based on their reactions. For two hours, he poured out his heart, telling everything he could remember. He felt as though they were tired of his stories. His mind drifted.
For generations, we've pondered the question whether there might be other intelligent life in the cosmos. We never thought about what would actually happen if we did encounter extraterrestrial life.
'I don't know where this is going. I have repeated the same story five times now. It doesn't change my perspective. It doesn't change what I know I saw.' His words impressed the studied minds of the scientist and journalists. They fell silent. No whispers could be heard either.
'They are beings of a higher dimension. That's why I can't describe it objectively. No laws of science we know can help understand that sensation I had, when they touched us. It felt unconditional. They didn't want anything in particular. I doubt they'll ever come back. Here's what I think. Whatever they wanted to find out, they did just by connecting with us. If they're smarter than us, and I think they are, they'll avoid our miserable little world.'