“I served in the Pacific as a medic for the Marines, a Corpsman. I met Jennie while recuperating from wounds I received on Okinawa in 1945. The first thing I remembered after a week in an induced coma was her radiant face.
I was a mess. Not physically, really. The doctors in Pearl were great. They saved most of my right leg. I thought it was blown off completely but I “got lucky” according to Jennie. But I was not very cooperative when it came time to be fitted for my prosthetic. I drifted in and out of depression and shell shock for weeks.
But it was her face, that beautiful, radiant, face, that kept pulling me back from the brink. Once I began to settle into the idea of a “peg leg” as she put it, I started to look forward to her visits. Of course, I got better. She helped me “see” the world again.
It was easy to fall in love with her.
We married in the Spring of ’46 on Waikiki Beach. We both chose, right then and there, that we would never leave the islands for the rest of our lives. We could not believe we would find the same peace anywhere else. She continued her job as a nurse and I joined the fire department as a medic. In 1950 we were offered an opportunity to open a new hospital on the Big Island. We jumped at the chance.
We grew all kinds of crops on some acreage, including coffee. We raised some chickens, and some dogs. But, we never had children. Not that we didn’t try, we just didn’t feel the need.
And that’s how things were for 15 wonderful years.
Then the world ended.
The alarms went off all over the islands as the sky grew dark and ominous. The Naval Reserve command called us all up and we shipped out in order to protect the fleet from possible invasion (Pearl Harbor was still a fresh memory). Inexplicably we were all sent to the West Coast of the continent. The Islands were deemed “safe” for some reason.
By the time we arrived off the coast of Washington State, we knew we were too late. The alien machines had taken all the coast line. We learned later that ALL the coast line, from Alaska to the tip of South America had been completely taken by the massive machines. Which is the last thing we learned over the airwaves. Everything went silent after that.
We had to turn back as there were no ports to anchor. And there was no use in using our ordinance as the fortifications were much too massive. Some vessels were lost at sea because fuel ran out, but we were lucky our captain was wise and used natural currents and conservative use of energy.
The odd thing was that the aliens never fired a single shot at the fleet. Nothing. It’s like they didn’t even know we were there. The only thing we saw, other than the land-based machines were those crazy Cubes. They floated above the machines. They ventured out into the sky over the ocean and “sucked up” sea water on occasion and then would just float back to land. They never bothered us. Even when we took pot shots with our rifles from deck.
We still don’t know what the machines are here for.
It has never been known what those Cubes do.
Once we limped back to port and learned the awful truth about the missing ships, there was nothing more to do other than grieve and go home. Which I did.
We received sporadic news reports gathered by periodic HAM Radio connections. Amateur radio is the only thing that connects us in the islands. But we did learn even more horrible truths; ALL Coast lines around the world large enough to handle the giant machines are controlled and inaccessible to humans. This means all trade between continents has stopped. Oil exports stopped so air travel over the oceans is no more. There has been no word from continental interiors about life there. We can only imagine how things have changed. It can’t be easy.
It seems islands were spared the machines. (Including Australia. Which is odd since it is quite large. Japan was also spared) So, life in the North Pacific has reverted to the days of inter-island trade via human powered flotillas. This is how we have had to live for 40 years. They did it for centuries before the rest of the modern world interrupted the lives of native Hawaiians. We feel like we have been blessed, in a way. The islands are a paradise and they sustain our lives.
But, as with all life, humans suffer from sickness and old age. We die.
You know all of this, of course, but something has come to my attention that I simply must know. I come to you with my heart open. I thank you for allowing me to share my story.
The love of my life, Jennie, is dying.
And I cannot bear it. She suffers so.
We have heard rumor of your Cube. I ask for passage for my wife. And I am willing to pay for the passage.”
The sovereign opened his eyes and considered my request. His feathered cape ruffled in the breeze as he rose from his dais. When he spoke, the people surrounding the dais lowered their heads in reverence.
“I have heard your story. You have led a brave and honorable life. You have been a guardian of the people and we honor your sacrifice. The end time comes for all of us. And until now, we have not been able to choose how and when that end comes. But, for a price, we can offer peace. We will honor your request, IF you are truly willing to pay for the passage.”
I closed my eyes and let the warmth of the sun caress my face while I let his words process fully. I have prayed for this. And now, it seems, we have been granted access to what can only be described as a painless and instant entry into the afterlife.
We first heard about the Cube from a patient at the hospital whose husband’s cancer had returned. She was going to bring him before the sovereign and request an end to her husband’s suffering. She claims to have been granted the privilege. She described the moment when he simply touched the alien Cube and vanished. The cost was heavy. She had to give all her property to the sovereign, the King of the Hawaiian Nation.
Of course, I didn’t believe a word of her story. It was too fantastic. But, as Jennie slipped farther and farther away from me, I became disconsolate, desperate. We made the choice, together.
Now, I too must give our home away. And I didn’t mourn the loss.
“Thank you, sovereign. I gladly turn over all my holdings to you and your people.”
Early the next morning I dressed my wife in her favorite and most comfortable clothes. I shaved and put on her favorite cologne. She smiled when she smelled it. “My Cowboy. . .”
Then I took a last look at the farm and the little house that was our sanctuary for so long.
They blindfolded me, so I would not be able to find the Cube on my own or to tell anyone the secret location. Jennie could see since she would not be able to tell anyone anything anyway. Once we arrived at the sight, they removed my blindfold and there, in a clearing of ancient ‘Ohi’a, sat the Cube. It was larger than I expected, about the size of a small house.
It made no sound and showed no signal or light. The ornate mechanics were easy to see but were useless to anyone (touching the Cube meant death). There was no bird sound or even rustling of leaves. The silence was eerie and unnatural. But there was an air of peace that was calming. The natives surrounded the Cube except for a small opening that allowed us to pass and access the Cube.
“You may pass. . .with peace.” The sovereign pronounced.
They allowed me to carry her to the small bare patch on one side of the Cube.
Jennie and I had made our peace and said all we needed to each other the last few days and nights. We could now be wordless. Our eyes spoke entire encyclopedias to each other. We had discussed our plans at length and found peace in our decision.
Then, to the shock of the witnesses, with no hesitation, reaching out, hands clasped together, we touched the Cube.