M F Nagel
"A grey night in the universe this morning.
Disembodied voices blazed across the room. A virtual meteor storm of angry verbs echoing through empty space.
Three black-bearded and velveteen-robed men sit motionless in free-floating clam-shelled time capsules on this the first light year of their many-light-year journey. Three come sailing in three ships; ye three kings of Orion traveling far to the drifting green earthstar, reported as an endangered planet, danger to itself and others. Three wise men come bearing the gift of tomorrow, staring out from the far reaches of the nearest black hole, wrapped in tidings of great nothingness.
It was a dark star and a stormy night. All was well with the flat earthmen.
Born flat, live flat, die flat. Even their food is flat. There is no difference between them. They believe in flat and flat alike.
A grey dimension.
"Enough. Begin the Beguine. Mission launch."
Through the shiny round spyglass, all eyes lit upon the bluish green blur balancing on its axis looking almost round. Earthman house. Perhaps they were not flat at all. Perhaps they were green and round. Perhaps it was just a speck of deep space dust dancing on the sky glass.
An unspectacular landing, floating across terra firma. The first, W1, passed out of his pod choosing to cloth himself in the human experience, better to understand the flatties.
W2 hesitated before infusing himself with human reason.
W3 (there is one in every anti-gravity crowd) took to himself a heart, one built from not just a single cell, but a single tear.
Silent stood the three wise men, gazing at the stars, measuring the heavens. What a difference a few light years make.
"Where?" asked W2.
W1 answered in unison with W3, "We will follow that... that bright star... from the East."
They followed, time-traveling, absorbing centuries of civilization. Man. Woman. Earth. Moons. Cataclysmic spasms of creation.
Fragments of existence. Adam burning his hand with fire. Galileo mapping the stars.
Courage, Cowardice, Love. Hate. A complex, combustible formula for life.
"Read correct dimensional reality. Calculating..."
"December 25th, Christmas-tide, earth time. Solar solstice, universal time. New York, New York, City of dreams."
"Dreaming of a white Christmas.
"Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow."
"Earthstar time: 12:00 a.m. 12th lunar month."
"Most peculiar, the first hour of the day is the darkest."
"Day is night."
"The flat earthmen begin their flat earth days in dreams."
"They begin the day unconscious. This accounts for their brief life spans." (Heads bobble in agreement.)
"The dimensions grow narrow. Collect intelligence for mission return."
"Aye, Aye" W2 stared hard towards Rockefeller Center.
"That flat earthman tree is blinking a communique ..."
Harmonic tones. Translating...."We three king of ..."
"Come, we will navigate over the designated travel fare to that welcome portal."
Yellow streaks of steel on wheels rocketed pass them from every direction at reckless earth speeds.
"Do they not comprehend the simplest laws of physics?"
"Perhaps they have discovered a way to suspend them."
"Flying saucer men! They're here to study us!"
"Sit down, Jonnie; you know everyone is welcome here."
The Gloryhole, Bowery Welcome Portal.
"Come on in, Gentlemen. Fill up your plates and take a seat. There's plenty for everybody, and here's a merry Christmas to you."
A pang of relief passed between the wise men. They took their seats at the long table facing Jonnie.
"Have you traveled far? I see you dressed for the occasion. We three kings of orient are, bearing gifts, we've traveled a far...," the pastor hummed.
Dropping his fork, Jonnie bent under the table, eyeing the visitors, warily with his one good eye.
"Damn flying saucer men. Why don't you geet back in your flying saucer and geet back where you come from? We don't want you here," Jonnie banged his tin cup hard. "Flying saucer men! Flying saucer men!
"Jonnie, Now what kind of welcome is that and on this day of all days?"
"O.K., Pastor I'm sorry but not sorry I didn't warn ya."
Standing with the earthmen, women, and children, in the food line, they could taste waves of joy and smell the color of
Compassion. It enveloped them.
Their big flat plates were overflowing with three dimensional earth foods.
Brown liquid with mercurial properties spilled on their robes as they took seats at the long plastic table.
"Scan elements of eatables."
"Featherless flying creature stuffed and radiated at high heat."
"Similarly, small oval root minerals resembling stones exposed to boiling H2O, then smashed and eaten with runoff."
"Flat orange disks baked in round crusts mark end of meal. They are carved into triangular shapes."
"Also, exist small round fluffy balls (a celebration of planets?) Placed on the side, with something referred to as green bean casserole. Chemical composition unknown."
"This nearly terminates our mission."
"This feast ends a season of something more than celebration," the wise men could be heard reciting in unison their report to the commander. "And during this period, the flat earthmen remember the stuff of stars from which they were made. Aye Aye.
"They have been known to lay down their arms on bloody fields of battle and share scant rations and good cheer with enemies.
"The least among them are remembered, with gifts of toys for the innocent and hope for the rest."
The command capsule shuddered with the shrill silence of grey light years reflecting off distant planets.
"Flat earthmen. Living flat earth lives. On a round planet.
They are a paradox of the universe."
The commander continued his vigil gazing past the endless reaches of time.
A thought passed between W1, W2 and W3.
Peace on earth and goodwill toward men!
Their heads bobbled in unison.
Tick-tock, Tickety-toc. Hands on a clock.
The room filled with a kaleidoscope of burnt light. Electrical storms of Herculean portions splattered through black voids exploding with the sound and color of time and space.
They watched. The stuff of man and millennia dispersed across the universe, here and there dusting the empty places with sparkling atoms which would become the stuff of new worlds.
The final question.
26 December. The final answer.
m.j. cleghorn was born in anchorage Alaska, her love of poetry is a gift shared, from her Athabaskan and Eyak heritage. m.f. nagel now lives and writes near the banks of the Matanuska river in the Palmer Butte, Alaska, where the moose, wild dog, roses and salmonberries provide unending joy and inspiration.