By Jonathan Urban

Copyright March 5, 2000

The cold metallic table was intolerable, thought Jake Xavier--where the hell was he and why couldn't he move? Last he could remember he was playing a game of blackjack with his friends, went outside for a smoke, and now this... His wife was going to kill him, which gave him no further comfort.

It was freezing, had to be around fifty or so degrees Jake thought. Though it would of helped had he had clothing on. This better not be some sick prank, like Robbie had always liked to play. "Robbie?" He said to confirm his thoughts. No answer.

Jake tried to move again --pointless, as he could not even feel his extremities. "Hello? Anybody there? This is not funny!" Again no answer. As if someone read his mind the room started feeling warm. This was good, Jake thought, I'd take warm over cold any day. He saw movement around him, though he couldn't turn his head. "Who's there?!" He was startled.

"Calm yourself, Jake." Jake did not hear the words, but felt them in his mind, as if his subconscious was talking to him. "You are a fine specimen."

SPECIMEN??? The word echoed in his mind for what seemed eternity. "What do you mean? Who are you? Where am I?" The questions flew out of his mouth so rapidly that he wasn't sure if the person in the room with him had heard all of them--but he had.

"Yes, our tests are concluded and you have been designated as a fine specimen of the human race."

Jake wished he could turn and see whom his captor was, but in his mind, the truth was beginning to unfold. "You're not human, are you," as the words left Jake's mouth he felt a chill run up his spine.

"That is correct. We have watched the evolution of your people for a great time. The advancements in your technology were a result of our intervention."

Jake was floored, and his heart was beating quite fast. "I never believed..."

"Belief is not necessary as the reality presents itself. Now, we must follow up the examination with a...what is the human interview of sorts, before you may be discharged. You will feel sensation return to your body within the next few moments and then we will move to another chamber."

Moments passed and Jake could feel sensation and control returning to his body. The cold had nearly disappeared, though he was still naked. He tried to raise himself and look around. The room was very clean and antiseptic, void of any decoration or feeling. He was alone in the room except for several devices he was not even the slightest bit comfortable in guessing their usage or origin.

"I see you are awake, please follow me."

Jake turned around and saw a figure dressed in white and exiting the door behind Jake. Jake got up--a little shaky at first, but then managed to follow the figure. The hall was just like the room. He felt as though he was in a hospital of sorts, but he knew that however much he wished that to be true, he was not.

Jake followed the white-clad figure into a room and was escorted to a seat in the center of the room. As he looked around he saw that the room was circular and that other white-clad beings were sitting around the circular room. His first urge was to shout out, "Who the hell are you?" and then run, but for some reason he found himself unable to do so.

"Welcome Jake Xavier." Jake was almost used to nothing coming from their lips--the voices were in his head.

"We have finished our examinations and have a few questions to ask you and you may leave."

Jake felt an overwhelming compulsion to leave now, but he couldn't. He sat there looking at the odd white-clad beings. He could see gray skin every now and then as they moved their hoods to communicate. He knew they were aliens, and yet he was not scared. He had always watched television shows when he was a mere boy that had aliens, but he never believed in them. Popular opinion forbade that, though many people did believe in extraterrestrials as they were identified.

"Do you know how you were created and by whom?" This broke Jake's current train of thought. He had always pondered the question, though he always believed in a supreme being, perhaps more as a result of his upbringing.

"I was always told it was God..." He thought to himself...he realized they heard anyway. All this time he was wasting words when he could just communicate like them, strange, he thought.

"Who is God?"

"The Creator I guess, so I've always been told."

"And you know he created you and your kind?"

"Well, if you are asking if I am I'm not, it's more Faith than knowing."

"What is Faith?"

"..." Jake thought hard; he didn't want to sound ignorant in his answer. "It is believing in something whether or not you can see or prove that it exists."

"Interesting." They all nodded their hoods. Odd, thought Jake, that they seemed oblivious to the concept of Faith. "As you were told earlier, we have observed your race for a great time. We have always found you primitive, and have attempted to advance you. Faith is not a foreign concept to us, just an impossible one. Our civilization rests on our knowledge of everything and evidence.

"And yet, we still lack vital resources in our own evolution. This concept of Faith and a Creator interest us much."

Jake sat, stunned and surprised about what they were asking him. He felt as though he were in a Sunday school class and teaching a lesson of some sort. "Do you have more questions?"

"No, I believe you have answered our questions to the best of your limited ability. You are free to go. Please escort the human out."

Jake walked behind one of the white-clad beings down another hall and to a door. "You are free to leave."

The door opened and Jake walked out. He was shocked beyond words. He looked up and saw a green sky, brilliant and bright. All around him were odd plants and trees. The ground was gray and dusty. The buildings in the distance were huge and not like anything he had ever seen.

Jake looked back at the door he just walked out of. He walked back in and the white-clad being read his expression and thoughts. "Your planet erupted in a state of chaos, mere minutes after we took you. Human beings with strong Faith were being taken by some Being, while others were becoming savages. We saw our efforts over time become worthless, as your world was self-destructing. That is why we took you, to learn what Faith is, since it was evident that Faith was responsible for part of humankind evolving to another level, as we wish to do, and the others regressing to a former savage being. With your help we hope to avoid what happened on your planet. Welcome to ours."

Jake fell to his knees, head in his hands. He was the alien on someone else's planet. A cold sweat ran down his neck. He had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide--all he could do was start over, and this time he would take Faith at face value.