Three nights after Stewart first noticed the change, a visitor arrived.
Wait, let me back up. I should start at the beginning.
On Tuesday, April 23, Stewart Krawshank attached the solar filter and looked through his number 3 telescope at the Sun. This was a perfectly normal thing for Stewart to do. As of the date in question, he’d made observations of the Sun every third day for 14 years.
Stewart was not a scientist per se. He was a normal guy who liked telescopes. He had six of them. And he used them to look at the stars, including the Sun.
On this particular Tuesday, Stewart looked through his telescope and saw something weird. Weird is not a term that a scientist, or even a not-quite-scientist like Stewart, liked to use. But he couldn’t think of a better one.
The Sun flickered.
At first, Stewart thought it was a problem with his equipment, but he checked and rechecked everything. When he looked through the telescope again, the Sun flickered, like it was winking at him.
Stewart still doubted himself, but he made the observation in his journal. He wasn’t sure what to write, so he wrote, “Sun winked.” Then he drained his coffee mug and set off for work.
Nothing else of note happened that day. Day-time Stewart, an actuary at Jackson, Howard and Howard, LLP, dove off his desk into numbers at the start of the day, and climbed out at the end, with sixes and fours sliding off his back.
That night, too, everything was normal. It wasn’t until the second night that things got weird.
Stewart had stayed up late observing Polaris, and he got up an hour early to look for Venus, which appeared to the east just before sunrise.
He’d forgotten about the Sun by then, and how it winked at him. But as he looked through his telescope at the purple April dawn, something else happened. He saw a meteor.
The meteor flashed in his telescope, so bright that he had to back away and look with his naked eye. It sailed across the early morning sky from north to south and seemed to land about 10 kilometers away in Black Duck Wood.
“Land” was the right word for it. It didn’t appear to crash there. There was no fireball, no cloud of dust. It just…landed.
“That’s weird,” Stewart muttered. He made a note in his journal then started getting ready for work.
Stewart rarely looked at the news or checked the internet for any new astronomical discoveries, but the meteor intrigued him. He took a break from his numbers at around 2 pm and searched google for “meteor strike April 24 Cotton Flat Wyoming.” There were no relevant results.
At 2:30 pm, Stewart employed a highly unusual tactic. He stood next to the water cooler and talked to people as they came in for their afternoon hit of caffeine. This was uncomfortable for Stewart, who in all ways preferred numbers to people. It was also uncomfortable to the five people he spoke to, since none of them had never seen or noticed Stewart before. Neither had any of them had seen or heard of the meteor that flew across that April dawn and landed soundlessly in Black Duck Wood.
Stewart drove home after work as he always did. He removed his hat and coat and hung them on the hook on the inside of his closet door. Then he walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. And that’s when the visitor spoke.
“Hello Stewart,” it said. Like they were old friends.
Stewart spun around and let the refrigerator door slam shut. Right there, at his kitchen table, sat a man. He was beautiful, with flowing blond hair. He had stars on his robe and in his eyes.
“Who are you?” Stewart stammered.
“I’m a visitor. My name is Kylax. I arrived in the ship you saw this morning. The one that landed in Black Duck Wood.”
Stewart struggled to process this new information. It suggested two things:
- That was not a meteor.
- Spaceships landed on earth with such alarming regularity that the visitor felt the need to specify which ship was his.
“None of that matters,” the stranger said. “I came to give you something.”
He reached into a pocket hidden in his robe and extracted a letter. It looked like a normal letter, stuffed inside a number 10 envelope, a bit crinkled but otherwise not worse for wear.
Stewart took the letter. It had his name and address written on the outside. And here’s the kicker: it was written in Stewart’s own handwriting.
“The Sun is failing,” Kylax said. “You already know this. This letter will tell you what to do next.”
“Why me?” Stewart asked.
“Because it is required of you,” Kylax said. “It has always been required of you and only you. Now I will leave you. My mission is complete.”
And with that, the light all around Kylax shimmered and glowed, and Kylax himself became transparent and, at last, disappeared.