A Pale Stranger: John Smith

We had heard talk from all along the water’s edge, of strange men; pale skin, foreign talk. Whispers of the intruders had only begun a few moons ago. Our leader had commanded we stay near the village, away from the coast, away from the unknown. But as no word had come of fighting amongst our brothers, the elders thought it best to investigate. The forest floor absorbs my footsteps, and the footsteps of my fellow warriors. I cannot even see them within the trees, and they cannot see me. I know they are close; I am surrounded by family always. We creep over the familiar ground as one, silent as wolves. I can already hear the sound of the water in the distance; a constant guide. There are only eight of us, armed with nothing but our bows and knifes. We were told to look in on the pale strangers, but not to be seen. Not even a twig snaps as we grow closer and closer to the coast, completely unsure of what we will see, stealth is our way. My brothers and I stay protected from sight by the forest. The strange people are working, crawling about like ants on a hill; moving things from here to there then back again. Small floating boats are tied to the shore, but further off into the sea is something larger, something massive; towering from the surface, like a beast. The pale men wear strange cloths, glimmering and reflecting in the sun. The carry with them long sticks that also shine in the morning light; they carry these as if they are afraid to be without them. Also illness seems to hang over the people, they cough, and sweat, as they work; even become sick on the ground. The strangers are constantly talking amongst themselves; yelling. One man seems to be the Chef. He has long light hair, even on his face, the color of corn. He works but also seems to keep the others working. I am the closest so I am the only one who hears clearly when one of the men calls to the leader (in their strange talk): John Smith.
My brothers and I retreat undetected, silently slipping back into the safety of the woods. Back at our village we recall our discoveries to our Chef— my uncle. He asks many questions, confused by our descriptions. The elders are also present, and I see fear in their eyes. Once again we are told to stay far away from the intruders, despite the small amount of knowledge we gained, they remain a threatening mystery. For many moons we hear very little of them; around the village it is as if they were never there. My uncle sends scouts to observe the pale ones progress; I have not been one of them. Rumor consumes the village of the scouts’ reports, that the pale sickness seemed to be spreading, many were now sick, and all were very thin, starving. Our elders act disinterested, as if we are not in danger, but there is still a void in their eyes; a fear. My life continues as always, hunting, gathering, and training with my brothers. I am not married, but there is one girl in the village I have in mind. This is life as we know it. Several cycles after my exploration, I am summoned to speak with my uncle. He speaks to me of our fellow tribes who wish to meet these strange people. Our brothers are curious, wary, and he wishes for me to lead another scouting patrol. I gratefully accept— this will be my first time leading a patrol, it is an honor. Once again I find myself, quietly; stalking through the trees with my comrades. We take a different route from our original expedition, and hope to arrive unexpected. As we creep we listen, and one of my brothers points out that...the forest is quiet... No birds chirp, no wolves howl, no critters scuffle among the branches; something is out of place. This feeling of uneasiness spread through our patrol, making us stiff, alert; but we continue on our course. When I can finally hear the sea's roar, another sound sticks out from the silent woods. Snap. We all freeze as one. Crack. There it is again. Whack. I catch sight of the source; a pale man, in the glimmering clothes, hacks at the plants, the low branches with a large knife, cutting at them until they fall. I crouch behind the nearest tree trunk, as do my brothers; arrows drawn. We are still unseen. It is a group of the strangers, all cutting the branches, one by one, cropping a path. And in the middle, is the Chef, the one they called: John Smith. The pale man is so close I see his eyes are the color of a clear sky. He turns and looks right at me…





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