The Stranger

Eastern Europe – 1571

They chastised him. They called him names. They tore at him with their rakes and jabbed him with their spades. They had never seen a man like him and so they were afraid. They feared his golden hair. They were frightened by his emerald eyes. His enormous stature made them tremble and his breath sent chills down upon each and every one of them.

However, it was the stranger’s silence that scared them most of all. He did not speak. He did not cry. He did not fight back. He made no effort to evade their advances. He moved no muscle against them. In silence, he took their punishment.

He clenched his fists as they held him down. He bit his tongue as they tied him to the stake. He gnashed his teeth as they lashed him, finally drawing his blood to the surface.

They cried out when they saw the color that he bled. They gasped and shuddered as it splashed upon the ground. For like the stranger himself, they had never seen silver blood and when that shining, metal blood splashed upon the earth grass and lilies and mushrooms sprang up and this frightened them.

“Monster!” they cried.

Not one of them had ever known a man’s spilt blood to conjure up such life, or any life at all for that matter, and this frightened them more which only further enraged them. They cried for his head. They called for his skin. They wanted his body broken. They wanted him dead.

They hoisted the stake up onto the pile of kindling brought by the women. They checked their ropes and tightened their knots. Then, as the men with torches bent their flames toward the kindling, the stranger opened his mouth to speak.

The words dissolved as they left his lips as if reality could not accept them. They sheared the air around him and extinguished the flames. They tore through the sky and melted the ground and made the smallest tears in everything around. Light billowed into the clearing, radiating from all dimensions. It throbbed and breathed and grew, consuming the men, eating the women, and swallowing the children. The rips and tears grew, splitting trees, annihilating livestock, vanishing homes, until finally, there was only the stranger. His ropes had disappeared. The kindling was gone, and just like the townspeople, even the stake was no more.

The stranger stood alone and proud, surrounded only by the bright lights of the all-dimension. He smiled, baring his ivory teeth and then he spoke.

“I am a peaceful creature and I mean no harm. But this place is not for you,” he said.

He knew that only he had heard his words, and although he spoke but unto himself, he found a deeply set pleasure in those words.

Then his lips closed around his teeth, sealing his smile shut. The white light surrounding him dithered. Its brilliant purity faded, being replaced by dingy concrete walls and black asphalt streets. People appeared around him, populating sidewalks and occupying vehicles, standing in windows and moving through doors, carrying packages and walking dogs. Not one took notice. Not one cared.

The stranger quietly looked about.

Los Angeles – 2012

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