It all started one afternoon last summer in a small, quiet town on the California coast, where my grandma and
I go for vacation almost every year.
Last summer we rented a small wooden house. It had several pine trees and a lot of shrubs in the backyard
and a front yard full of flowers. It was on the outskirts of town, near the ocean, on a path that led towards the
My grandma likes to go on vacation at the end of summer when there aren’t as many
people. She says that it’s quieter and cheaper then.
It was beginning to get dark. I was alone on some high rocks near the isolated beach, just watching the
ocean. Suddenly, I saw a red light in the sky above me. I thought that it was a sparkler or
one of those rockets
that people shoot off on the 4th of July.
It came down, changing colors and giving off sparks. When it was lower I could see that it wasn’t a sparkler or
a rocket because as it grew larger it began to look like a small airplane, or
something even bigger
Without making a sound, it fell into the ocean about 150 feet from the beach, right in front of me.
I thought that I’d witnessed an air disaster and looked up at the sky to see if anyone had parachuted out of the
plane. No one had. Now nothing disturbed the silence and tranquillity on the beach.
I was really afraid and wanted to run off to tell someone, but I waited a little longer to see if I could make out
anything more. As I started to leave, something white appeared floating in the ocean at the point where the
plane, or whatever it was, had fallen. Someone was swimming towards the rocks. I supposed that it was the
pilot, that he had survived the accident. Intending to help him, I waited for him to get closer. He was swimming
so well I knew that he had not been badly hurt.
As he approached I realized that he was a child. He swam to the rocks and before beginning to climb out he
looked at me with a friendly smile.
I thought that he must be happy that he had saved himself. He didn’t seem to be upset about the situation
and this calmed me down a little. When he had climbed to the top of the rocks, he shook the water out of his
hair and gave me a happy wink, as if we shared a secret. Then I definitely felt better.
After coming over to sit down near me on a protruding rock, he sighed with resignation and started looking at
the stars that were just beginning to appear in the sky.
HHe seemed to be about my age, a little younger and a little shorter. He wore a white suit fitted close to his
body; it must have been made of some waterproof material because now it wasn’t even wet. On his feet were a
pair of white boots with thick soles, and on his chest, a gold-colored emblem of a heart with wings. Some
instruments that looked like portable radios hung from each side of his belt, which was the same gold color. In
the center it had a very pretty, large, shiny buckle.
I sat near him. We spent a few moments in silence.
Since he wasn’t talking, I asked him what had happened.
“Forced landing,” he answered, laughing.
He was nice. He had a strange accent and big, kind eyes.
I supposed that he had come from some other country in the airplane.
Since he was only a child, I thought that the pilot would have to be a grown up.
What happened to the pilot?” I asked.
“Nothing. Here he is, sitting next to you.”
“Oh!” That surprised me. This kid was a champ! At my age he was already flying airplanes! I imagined that
his parents must be very rich.
Night was falling and I was getting cold. He noticed this because he asked, “Are you cold?”
“The temperature is just right,” he told me, smiling.
Then I felt that it wasn’t really cold, after all. “That’s true,” I answered.
After a little while I asked him what he was going to do.
“Fulfill the mission,” he replied without taking his eyes off the sky.
I thought that he must be an important kid, not just an ordinary schoolkid on vacation, like me. He had a
mission, maybe a secret one... But, on the other hand, he was just a kid... I didn’t dare ask him about his
mission. Everything about him upset me.
“Won’t your parents get mad when they find out that you wrecked the plane?”
“But it’s not wrecked!” he replied laughing, leaving me even more confused.
“Wasn’t it lost? Wasn’t it completely destroyed?”
“How can it be taken out of the water to be repaired? Or can’t it?”
“Oh, yes, it can be taken out of the water.” He was observing me affectionately and added, “What’s your
“James, but people call me ‘Jim’ or ‘Jimmy,’” I said, but something was beginning to bother me. He didn’t
answer my questions completely and he kept changing the subject. He was acting all mysterious...
He noticed that he was bothering me and thought that was funny. “Don’t get mad, Jim. Don’t be angry...
How old are you?”
“Ten... well, almost. What about you?”
He laughed softly. His laugh reminded me of a baby being tickled.
II supposed that he was going to gloat because he could fly a plane and I couldn’t. I didn’t like that.
But still, he was nice, agreeable. I couldn’t get really mad at him.
“I’m older than you think,” he remarked with a smile.
Reaching for his belt, he pulled off one of the instruments that seemed to be radios. It was a calculator. He
turned it on and some glowing symbols appeared that I had never seen before. He made some calculations
and, seeing the results, he began to laugh even harder and said, “No, no... If I told you, you wouldn’t believe
Night had come and a beautiful full moon appeared, illuminating the ocean and the entire beach.
I I was liking that strange kid’s riddles less and less. That
kid, or whatever he was. I examined his face carefully. He couldn’t be more than eight years old. But he hinted that he was much older
and he was an airplane pilot... Could he be a dwarf?
“Some people believe in extraterrestrials,” he remarked almost distractedly.
Even though this observation seemed strange to me, something told me that this was the solution to the
mystery. I thought for a long time before opening my mouth. He was watching me, his eyes full of light. The night’s
stars seemed to be reflected in his pupils. He looked too beautiful to be a normal person.
I remembered his burning airplane falling into the ocean, and
, according to him, it wasn’t wrecked... There
was something very strange about that. It was weird how he’d appeared right in front of me. His calculator with
the funny symbols was weird, too. So were his accent and his clothing. Besides, he was a kid, and we kids
ddon't fly airplanes.
“Are you an extraterrestrial?” I asked him, a little afraid.
“And if I were... Would that scare you?”
It was at that moment that I knew for certain that he had come from another world. I was a little frightened but
he seemed to be looking at me with kindness.
“Are you bad?” I asked timidly.
He laughed, amused. “Maybe you’re worse than I am...”
“Because you’re an earthling.”
I understood what he was trying to say. He was saying that we earthlings aren’t very good. This bothered me
a little, but I preferred to ignore his comment for the moment. I decided to proceed with caution. He was a strange guy.
“Are you really an extraterrestrial?”
“Don’t be afraid.” Smiling, he comforted me and pointed to
the stars while telling me, “This Universe is full of life... Millions and millions of planets are inhabited... There are lots of good people up there...”
His words had a strange effect on me. When he said those things, I could almost “see” those millions of
worlds inhabited by good people.
I wasn’t afraid anymore. I decided not to be surprised by the fact that he was a being from another planet and
just to accept it, especially because he seemed friendly and harmless.
“Why do you say that we earthlings are bad?” I asked.
He kept looking overhead. “How beautiful the night sky looks from Earth... This atmosphere gives it a brilliance...a color...”
I I began to feel annoyed again. Once more he wasn’t answering my questions and, besides, I didn’t like him
thinking that I was bad because I’m not. Just the opposite. In those days I wanted to be an explorer when I
grew up and to hunt down criminals in my spare time...
“Do you see that group of stars there? The ones in the Taurus Constellation?”
“ O yes, of course. I always like to look at them because they’re so pretty.”
“Well, they’re called the “Pleiades” and they’re home to a marvelous civilization...”
“We aren’t all bad here...”
“ Look at that star... It was like that a million years ago..
. Now it doesn’t exist anymore...”
“Like I said before, we aren’t all bad here. Why did you say that we’re all bad? Huh?”
“I didn’t say that,” he responded, still looking at the sky. His eyes were sparkling. “It’s a miracle,” he
DID SAY THAT!”
Because I raised my voice, I was able to shake him out of his daydreams. He was just like my cousin when
she was thinking about her favorite rock singer. She was crazy about him.
He looked at me attentively. But he didn’t seem mad at me
“I meant to say that some earthlings are often less good than the inhabitants of other worlds out in space.”
“You see? You’re saying that we’re the worst people in the Universe.”
He started laughing again and patted me on the head. “That’s not what
I meant either, Jim.”
I liked that even less. I pulled away. It bothers me when people treat me like I’m stupid. After all, I’m one of
the best students in my class and, besides, I was almost
ten ye 9 years old
... “If this planet is so bad, then what are you doing here?”
“Have you noticed how the moon is reflected in the ocean?” He kept ignoring me and changing the subject.
“Did you come here just to tell me to pay attention to the moon’s reflection?”
“Maybe... Have you noticed that we’re floating in the Universe?”
When he said that I thought I finally knew the truth: the kid was crazy. Of course! He thought he was an
extraterrestrial. That’s why he was making such absurd statements.
I I wanted to go home. I felt awful because I’d believed his fantastic stories.
Or maybe he’d been pulling my leg... An extraterrestrial! And I had believed him! I felt ashamed and mad at
him and at myself. I felt like giving him a good sock in the nose.
“Why? Is my nose really ugly?”
I stopped cold. I felt afraid. Was he reading my mind?
I looked at him and he was smiling triumphantly. But I refused to surrender. I preferred to think it happened
just by chance, that it was just a coincidence that what he said had anything to do with what I was thinking.
I didn’t let on that I was surprised. Even though it might be true, I had to verify it. Maybe he really was a being
from another world, an extraterrestrial who could read minds... Or maybe I really was sitting there with a crazy
p person...I decided to test him.
“What am I thinking now?” I asked, and I began to picture a birthday cake.
“Haven’t you had enough proof already?” he asked.
I wasn’t going to give an inch. “What proof?”
He stretched his legs and supported his elbows on a rock. “Look, Jim, there is another type of reality, other,
m more subtle worlds, with subtle doors for subtle sorts of intelligence...”
“What does ‘subtle’ mean?”
“ How many candles?” he asked, smiling.
I I felt like someone had hit me in the stomach. I felt like
crying; I felt stupid and slow. I asked him to forgive
me for having doubted his word, but that hadn’t bothered him. He paid no attention to me and began to laugh.
I decided never to doubt him again.
Chapter 2 - Flying Jim
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