Sofía Delgado, a 27 year old woman quarantining during the Covid19 pandemic, had lived in her apartment for the past two years. It wasn't in the best neighborhood, but there were worse neighborhoods in her city.
She'd moved to Madrid, Spain five years earlier from Barcelona, her hometown.
The move, along with a broken engagement, caused her estrangement from her family, who had unanimously disapproved of her decision to move to another city.
They'd wanted her to stay there and marry their handpicked choice for her, Pedro Montoya. While he was nice and attentive in front of them, when her family wasn't there he was physically abusive and controlling. She told them about the abuse, but they'd refused to believe her.
She'd decided to leave rather than marry him. She was then informed that moving and not marrying him would cause her to be disowned.
Sofía moved anyway.
She worked as an administrative assistant. During the Covid pandemic, however, like most office workers worldwide, she now worked from home.
Sofía had long naturally curly dark brown hair halfway down her back, normally styling it in a ponytail while at home.
Her fingernails were painted purple, and had the design of a flower on the ring fingernail of each hand. Her toenails had the same color and design, although the design was on her big toes.
She wore dangly earrings, plus small hoop earrings all the way up her ears, including the cartilage, as well as in the centers of her ears. She had a very thick Spanish accent.
Three years after her move, she moved to a building in a slightly rough part of Madrid formerly known as Vallecas, in order to keep her expenses down.
For the past 10 months, she'd seen a shadow and quick glimpse of someone, or something, in her apartment. She saw it regularly, at all hours of the day and night.
She wasn't sure but, whatever it was, she knew it definitely was NOT human! The building she lived in wasn't very new, but there had been no reports of deaths in the building before she'd moved in, so the chances of it being a ghost or apparition were low, slim to none, from her perspective.
The figure didn't seem hostile, and she never felt threatened by it.
It DID unnerve her at times, though, especially when she felt something or someone sitting down on her couch, or laying down next to her in bed.
“Look! I don't know who you are, what you are, or what you want, but stay on your side of the bed or camp out on the couch! Keep your hands or whatever you've got to yourself! I mean it! Goodnight! ¡Sal de aquí! ¡Vamos!”, Sofía said one night about two months after the sightings had started, slipping into her native Spanish out of frustration.
The next night, as she was getting ready for bed, she saw a small vase of flowers on the nightstand by her bed. Each flower looked like a pink rose and daffodil had been inbred somehow. She'd never seen anything like it, and had no idea how they'd gotten there.
The vase wasn't hers either. She'd never seen it before! She smelled them, thinking they smelled beautiful, but couldn't quite place the flowers' fragrance. They didn't smell like a rose OR a daffodil!
Once in awhile she'd catch a hint of a nice masculine fragrance, and just assumed someone in the building was wearing men's cologne.
Sometimes Sofía would hear what sounded like men playing cards or watching a sports game.
She'd hear what sounded like typical trash talk, hearing muffled shouts of
“VA'MBRUDH! COME ON, VA'MBRUDH! BEAT THOSE CARDISTANIANS!” or
“DO WE VA'MBRUDHS GOT ENOUGH ATTITUDE FOR YA, YA STINKIN' CARDIS? SCOOP THAT UP WITH THOSE FACIAL SPOONS OF YOURS! OUR SPOONS ARE MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS!”, etc.
Whenever that happened, she'd catch quick glances of 3 to 6 blurry figures instead of just one. If clients heard the noise while on Zoom, she'd simply say it was her noisy neighbors.
She'd also decided that the strange fragrances and trash talk she heard was her imagination due to quarantining and being so isolated.
She worked from home, rarely seeing anybody other than her customers on social media.
She'd considered going back to church but, due to the new Omnicron variant, decided to continue attending virtual services until the pandemic was over or more under control.
One night a few months later, Sofía was wearing a tshirt with the caption, ”On bad hair days, there's always lipstick.“ A monkey with disheveled hair and wearing bright red lipstick was below the caption.
A friend of hers had sent it to her from the US. Sofía had hot pink athletic shorts on and was barefoot.
As she was doing dishes before relaxing and watching TV, she screamed when she saw a hand reaching towards her.
A figure of what was apparently a male was attached to the hand. It was very blurry, like a full body apparition, and seemed very far away. The hand, however, was as clear as her own.
The difference between the head and the rest of the body was so pronounced that it actually looked as if the hand was detached from the body!
Sofía reached out nervously for the hand. The fingers were moving as if seeming to be searching for something or someone. The hand was strong, warm, and didn't feel at all threatening.
She thought she heard a faint sigh from the blurry figure when she took the hand in hers. The hand gently squeezed hers, then turned it over as if taking a closer look at it.
“¿Que eres? ¿Qué quieres? ¿Quién es usted? ¿Eres un fantasma?”, she asked, her voice shaky, trembling with fear. (What are you? What do you want? Who are you? Are you a ghost?)
“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you. I knew you could feel my presence, but I didn't realize you could see me. I mean you no harm.
”I'm a Va'mbrudh. My name's Be'telahr Va'lvakh. You appeared in my apartment ten months ago. I've seen you off-and-on. I've tried not to disturb you. You haven't disturbed me.
“I know you're Terran, but what's your name? I haven't heard you say your name since I first saw you months ago. You might have, but I probably didn't understand.“, a male voice said in English.
”Nice to meet you, Be'telahr. I'm Sofía Delgado. What's a Va'mbrudh, and what is a Terran?“, she asked, looking his hand over as she held it.
His hand looked human, despite what he'd hinted at to the contrary. Sofía had never heard of a country or even a nationality named Va'mbrudh.
“Nice to meet you too, Sofía. A Terran is a human native to the planet Terra in the Sol star system in the Alpha Quadrant. It's the third planet from the star known as Sol. Your moon is called Luna. That's quite a nice name for a moon, in my opinion. My planet's moons are Xh'anus and Va'otohr.
”Humans from other planets, such as Jorash, Orrion Delta 2, Blargho Alpha One, etc., are called humans. A human coworker of mine is from Blargho Alpha One. His wife just had a baby. The boy's considered human and not Terran because his parents are from Blargho Alpha One, even though their son was born here on your planet.
“A coworker's Bimrettan wife just had a son last week. The baby was given Federation citizenship upon birth. He has dual citizenship now, which is nice. My niece and nephew have dual Va'mbrudh and Marutan citizenship. Their mom is Marutan.“, Be'telahr replied casually.
He appeared to be looking around the apartment.
“The floorplan of our apartment seems to have remained the same, despite numerous renovations to the building over the last several centuries. Even our furniture is in the same place, for the most part, anyway. Your large-screen is in the same place mine is, although mine's mounted on the wall.
”My furniture is more modern though. ”, he said.
“What do you mean by Va'mbrudh? Renovations CENTURIES later? ¿En serio? It's 2022! This building's not very old. I moved in two years ago.”, Sofía said as she followed him around, surprised by his casualness in talking about things which, to her anyway, were nearly incomprehensible.
To Sofía, he was speaking as casually as if he was someone saying
“I feel like tapas tonight.”, yet to him he spoke as if it was normal everyday things!
“You're in 2022? That's very interesting! This building was built two years ago. I've lived here for about a year. I transferred here to Terra, and this was the nicest apartment I could find close to the facility.
”The rent's abit higher than I wanted to pay, 3000 credits a month, but the views from the Gathering Room window and balcony are spectacular! They remind me of home. I'd wanted to pay no more than 2000 credits, but the view was simply too spectacular to pass up.“, Be'telahr said, looking out the window.
“¿Seriamente? An abandoned building is spectacular?”, Sofía asked.
“The view out the window in my century has high-rises all over, and pods flying, both private and public pods. Things have changed over the centuries, apparently.”
“What year are you from?”, she asked nervously. She'd noticed he didn't seem to understand Spanish very well, so she spoke mostly in English. Neither had let go of the other's hand.
“It's the year 3187. Terra's government is now Interstellar Federation. Planets from several solar systems across the galaxy are part of it.
”Centuries ago it was called Federation Directorate, but changed its name about 300 years ago. The planet name was changed from Earth to Terra. I'm from Va'klas 9, a planet in the Taryar Quadrant.", he said.
"Our Empire and Interstellar Federation are longtime allies. We've been allies for about 350 years now.“, said Be'telahr.
“So you're...in the 32nd century? Your hand is here in the 21st century, but the rest of you is in the 32nd century? ¿En serio?”, she asked, squeezing his hand as he gently squeezed hers.
“Yes. There seems to be a type of time wrinkle or something. This apartment seems to be in both your century and mine, 1166 years in the future.
”It's quite interesting to be perfectly honest. Scientists on my home planet would have a field day, as you Terrans call it, studying it!”, he said. She thought she could see a hint of a smile on his face. It was definitely in the sound of his voice; unmistakably so.
“¡Soy español, no terrana! I'm Spanish, not Terran!”, she exclaimed.
“Sorry Sofía but, in my century's way of thinking, if you were born on Terra, you're Terran.
”Your furniture's very quaint. Mine's more modern. These figurines are extremely interesting. I have figurines too. I've collected them on my travels to planets and various moons throughout the galaxies.”, he said.
He walked around her livingroom and looked at her curios on the shelves and in the cabinets. Part of him was still blurry, but part of him was clearer. His face, especially, was blurry, but was becoming somewhat clearer.
“What's a large-screen?”, Sofía asked.
Be'telahr pointed to her TV.
“Oh. That's my TV. I was going to watch some shows on Hulu+ or maybe Tubi when I got done loading the dishwasher.”, she said.
“TV? Hulu+? Tubi? What are those?”, he asked.
“TV is short for television. We watch shows on them. Hulu+ and Tubi are streaming services with all sorts of shows. I ditched cable last year and got Roku, a streaming service. MUCH cheaper than cable!
”I've got Movistar for my internet. I have it for my cell phone provider too. Fastest speed for the money!”, replied Sofía.
“You have live stream in your century? Wonderful! Is sub-space streaming expensive? It's quite expensive on Terra but my provider, Celsius, isn't too bad. Unlimited sub-space streaming for only 400 credits!
”Service back home on Va'klas 9 with Andromeda is half that. It used to be higher a few centuries ago.
”But technology improved, so the cost went down considerably.”
“Sub-space? No. That's the stuff of science fiction. Our technology's nowhere near that advanced.”
“Science fiction? Interesting. Has your kind traveled out of your solar system?”
“Voyager 1 and 2 have. Both unmanned of course. It took 9 and a half years for a space probe just to get to Pluto.”
“Really? It takes maybe 10 minutes to get there in my time. Unless you stop at one of Saturn's or Neptune's moons that is. I love stopping at them for a bite to eat if I've skipped breakfast or lunch!
”I flew to Nereid, one of Neptune's moons, for dinner last night. I've NEVER tasted a roast as good as the one I had last night! My mother's a great cook, but hers doesn't come close!“, he said.
”¿En serio? You're kidding me! You went to one of Neptune's moons for DINNER? That type of thing only happens in science fiction!“, Sofía exclaimed.
”Next time I see you, I'll show you a picture. It was delicious and quite reasonably priced! Only twelve credits for a very filling meal, including dessert! You really can't beat baked Neptunian!“
”What's baked Neptunian?“, Sofía asked.
”It's sort of like a combination of a Terran baked Alaska and creme brulee. It has a meringue and threads of golden sugar over it. My mouth's drooling just thinking of it! It's better than my great-grandmother's Aphka!
“I'm going there Saturday with friends. I'll definitely be ordering it again!“, Be'telahr exclaimed.
”Sounds delicious. Are credits your system of currency? ¿Por qué?“
”Yes. The entire galaxy uses them. I think Andromeda galaxy uses them too. I know the planets in Canis Major Dwarf use them.
“One of my favorite restaurants is on a planet in that galaxy. I might travel out of my way on my next trip home and stop there if I've got time. What currency system do you use?”, Be'telahr asked.
“Canis Major Dwarf? Hmm...Here in España we use the Euro. In Estados Unidos, the United States, they use dollars and cents.
”Canada, Australia and New Zealand do too, but the exchange rate is different.
”Five dollars Canadian is different than five dollars US. Like España, the rest of Europe uses the Euro. Africa and others do too. Some use their own system of currency.
”It can get confusing at times. Thank God for Google currency exchange calculator! I'd be lost without it in my line of work!
“So let me get this straight. You're from the 32nd century, you're from another planet, you've traveled throughout the galaxy, and you had dinner just last night on one of Neptune's moons?
”Earth is now Terra? You're Va'mbrudh, sí?”, she asked.
“Yes that's correct.”, Be'telahr replied.
“In my century it's impossible, simply inconceivable, except in science fiction! So you're not human, sí?”
“No. No, I'm not. I'm an alien, just as your species makes you an alien to my kind, and vice versa.”, Be'telahr said.
“¿Eres un extraterrestre? Are you an extraterrestrial?”
“Yes, as are you as far as we Va'mbrudh and other alien races are concerned. My home planet, Va'klas 9, is the seat of the Va'mbrudh Collective, our government. We're an ancient but fairly small Collective, about fifteen planets over six star systems. We're at the other end of the galaxy.
”Va'klas 9 has been the seat for a little over 5000 years. The Collective is in Taryar Quadrant, well past the Cardistanian Empire, Dehmo Empire and the Venutian Federation territories. We're the next-to-last outpost of this galaxy...on that end of it, anyway.“, he explained.
“¿Hablas español, Be'telahr? Do you speak Spanish?”, she asked.
“No I'm sorry I don't. Spain no longer exists. The universal translator in my apartment should be able to help me, though.”
“Universal translator? No need for that. I speak English fairly fluently.
”¿En serio, Be'telahr? España no longer exists?”
“No, I'm sorry. It hasn't existed for almost 900 years.”, he said.
”So this isn't a dream. I'm really talking to an extraterrestrial. First contact. Well for me, anyway. On top of that you're from the future, 1100+ years after my time.”, she replied, sitting down on her couch.
Be'telahr sat down next to her. He was starting to get much clearer than before.
Finally, he was as clear to her as anyone else! She took a good look at him.
A gentle bear of a man, he was quite tall, 6'5". Despite his loose-fitting tshirt, she could tell he was extremely muscular, with six-pack abs and a chestful of hair. He had a physique that could take your breath away.
He had ridges on his nose from the bridge most of the way down that looked as if he'd been cut, yet they lay flat against his nose. He had ridges on his temples as well.
He had very odd ears. Each ear was pointed and had 4 sections that lay flat against the side of his head, appearing as if he had four ears for each ear.
He also had forehead “spoon” ridges between his eyes as well as between his lips and chin.
He had swirl-shaped markings, 3 rows across, framing his face that went down his neck and down the outside of his arms all the way to the tip of the outside of his smallest finger. She'd noticed the markings when she'd looked at and held his hand.
She assumed the outside of his legs and feet had the same markings. He had dark brown eyes, short dark brown hair, and a deep resonant voice. He was wearing a tshirt and gray sweatpants. Dark brown chest hair peeked through the top of his tshirt.
His tshirt was gray with “Va'mbrudh Interstellar Academy, Class of 3177” on the front. It also had the Academy's logo.
His sweatpants had the logo and “3177” on them as well. Like Sofía, he was barefoot.
“Your ears look very interesting. I hope I'm not being rude.”, she said.
“You're not being rude at all. I feel the same way about your ears.
“We Va'mbrudh are distant relations of the Uugnans. Unlike the Uugnans, we have actual hair. They're bald. What hair they do have looks like singed hair on their heads and chests. Actually, it's much more like singed stubble!
”They're very nice people though, and extremely fierce warriors! You definitely want them on your side in a battle!”, he replied, smiling broadly.
“I wish I could see Earth, I mean Terra, in your time. I'd love to find out what happened to it over the centuries.”, she said.
“If I had my holo-screen with me I could show you, but you don't have the technology for that here yet. Anyway, Sofía, it's almost been two hours. I need to get back home.
”If I stay past two hours, I won't be able to return to my century. I'll stop by when I can. If you'd like, next time I can take you there for a couple hours. Just let me know.
”It's been so nice meeting you at last, Sofía, my beautiful ancient Terran roommate. I'll see you soon.”, Be'telahr replied, taking her hand in his and kissing it before walking through the portal and fading away to his century. As he faded completely away, his hand finally slipped out of hers.
Merci pour la lecture!
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