The Town's New Church
A decade after the arrival of aliens opened Earth and its people to a whole new world of possibilities, there were still many places hardly changed. While there's something to be said for consistency and stability, the world was changing and eventually nothing would be the same.
One warm summer evening, two aliens journeyed to a small backwater town in the middle of nowhere and with them they brought a promise for a better future.
By this time, aliens were living on the planet and pretty much considered just one of the humans. Granted, they looked different, given their average height was only around three feet tall, they were a deep green in color, they hand long thin legs and arms, huge heads, huge black eyes, two little holes for a nose, no mouth, and spoke telepathically; still, nobody seemed to really care anymore.
This being a very religious town, the aliens had no trouble being accepted. They were given a place to sleep at one of the local's homes and found it quite pleasant there.
Now, the only church in town had lived long past its prime. The roof was constantly in need of repair, termites had destroyed the foundation, the walls were literally falling down in places and numerous other problems also plagued the small church.
When the aliens learned of this, they approached the priest in charge of the church and offered to build a brand new church with special alien supplies. They told the priest that this would be a special church and more beautiful beyond any church ever seen before.
Unfortunately, the church was low on funds and couldn't possible afford such a grand building. So, the priest rallied the town and while the aliens went to their home world to gather supplies, the town pulled together over $200,000 for the project. This left pretty much everyone in town down to their last penny but they all agreed it was worth it.
When the aliens returned, they found the old church torn down and the land ready for construction. The priest gave them the money; the town showered them with praise and gave them anything they needed for free.
The first thing the aliens did was raise a giant tent over the construction site. They moved their supplies, several dozen rather large crates, into the tent. The next day they set off to work. Small crowds would come by and listen to the building going on inside the tent. People would speak of their curiosity and try to guess what the church would look like.
After about two months, the aliens met with the priest. He was curious as to their progress and they more than willingly told him things were going well. The reason for the meeting was to explain how the church would be different. They informed him that they were building it with a special material that could only be seen by true catholic believers. At first the priest found this a little odd, but the aliens explained that the true believers would be witness to the grandest of churches. They said the beauty would be unmatched by all on Earth; it'd be like stepping into heaven.
Several more months passed. The town continued to listen as the aliens worked hard within the tent. People enjoyed standing outside, listening to the machinery as it flowed through the town like music. By now, the priest explained to everyone about the special materials that were being used and nobody seemed to have any problem with it.
One day, some six months after construction began, the priest decided to send his closest and most trusted friend to take a look at the building. The aliens agreed to the visit wholeheartedly. Come mid-afternoon with the sun high in the sky, an elderly man became the first to enter the tent.
Inside he found, well, nothing. With the exception of the crates the aliens had brought, there was nothing there. One of the aliens greeted him; the other was about three feet in the air on a hovering panel. In his hand he had some strange glowing tool and appeared to be working on something, except nothing was there to be worked on.
The alien at the old man's side asked him what he thought so far. He didn't really know how to respond, but he realized he couldn't let people know he saw nothing. His mind reeled as he let the implications of this sink in; he had doubts about his religion and now they'd be visible for all to see.
The alien gave the aging man a tour around the construction sight, describing the various features as they walked through. Once they finished, the old man told the alien how wonderful it looked and how much he was looking forward to the finished product. The alien thanked him while walking him out.
The crowd that was gathered listened in awe at the wonders of the church as the elderly man described what he'd seen. The priest thanked him for being the first and the man merely told him it was his pleasure.
Nine months into the building, the aliens agreed to let the priest send another to view the work. This time he sent his beloved sister. At first, she was in shock at the emptiness she'd found. Both the aliens appeared to be hard at work, placing something invisible onto a roof that didn't exist. When they noticed her standing there with wide eyes, one of them came down to see her.
He asked her what she thought, as he seemed to take in the grand view of the church that she couldn't find. Slowly she looked around and still nothing was to be seen. She was lost in her mind, trying to explain her lack of perception. The knowledge that only a true believer could see the structure weighed heavily on her and she knew the elderly man and had heard his wonderful tales, so she quickly realized there was something wrong with her.
Again the alien asked her opinion while leading her around the outside of the church. Without thinking, she told him she couldn't believe her eyes. Apparently it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.
When she left the tent, she was assaulted with questions about the progress. She couldn't be seen as an insincere catholic, so she told of the majesty and wonder that she had seen.
One year after it begun, the wait was finally over. By now, the town was buzzing with excitement and ready to witness the grand unveiling. The aliens chose to reveal the church late at night so the magnificent beauty of the building could fill the night sky. All the children of the town were secure, snug and sleeping at home, as everyone else gathered around the tent for the final revelation.
The aliens stood outside the tent, waiting while the priest said a few prayers of thanks. Then the town was ready. The tent fell and there in the night sky for all to see -- was nothing. Silent confusion crept over the town's people then slowly, one by one, they all started to ooh and aah. People randomly started describing parts of the church, which never existed, that they found beyond glorious. The aliens took turns giving small groups a grand tour and by the rise of the sun, the crowd was dissipating as people went home.
The priest gratefully thanked the aliens. He knew he couldn't see the church and it had destroyed him inside. At first, he thought the town was scammed, but then the people could see it and the beauty they were witnesses to was reflected in their eyes; he knew all he needed to know, it was just he that couldn't see it.
The aliens bid farewell and departed that morning, Sunday morning. People soon started filing into the church that didn't exist. The priest and the town continued to admire the vast new building vocally, even if none of them actually saw anything. Nobody wanted anyone to know they couldn't see the structure, especially since it appeared everyone around them could see it.
Then the first young child to come to the church said in a loud voice, "There's no church here. Where's the church?"
One by one people turned to the child, then they started looking at those around them. Like dominoes toppling, realization set in; they had been scammed and in a big way. The priest, ashamed at doubting himself and embarrassed for letting this happened to his town, escaped from the former church grounds and hid in his home. He couldn't possibly show his face around here anymore.
Overhead, the aliens watched and laughed as they floating above the chaos ensuing in their cloaked vessel.
"Humans." One of the aliens thought.
The other nodded rapidly. "Go figure. Guess the higher ups weren't kidding when they said the humans were too stupid to even be slaves."
They shared a hearty laugh, then set course for the next town. Behind them, in a large silver box, the entire town's wealth burned brightly and silently.