For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“The Saucer Has Landed”

Dino Buzzati


“Relax, relax,” the alien said, “we're leaving in a little while. For a long time now we have been orbiting your planet, observing you, listening to your radio broadcasts. We have learned almost everything about you. You speak, for example, and I understand. There is only one thing we have not deciphered. And we have landed precisely for this reason. What are these antennas?” he pointed at the cross. “You have them everywhere, on top of towers and campaniles, on mountain peaks, and then you keep a vast array of them here and there, enclosed within walls, as if they were alive. Can you tell me human, what purpose they serve?”

“They're crosses!” said Father Pietro. And he noticed that these two creatures had a tuft of hair on their heads, similar to a thin brush, about twenty centimeters high. But no, it wasn't hair; it rather looked like slender vegetable stalks, which kept on vibrating, tremulous, extremely animated. Or were they instead a few small rays, or a ring of electrical emanations?

“Cross-es,” the alien repeated, emphasizing both syllables. “And what purpose do they serve?”

Father Pietro rested the butt of the shotgun on the ground; the weapon, however, stood always within reach. Then he straightened up to his full height and tried to be solemn:

“They serve our souls,” he answered. “They symbolize Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for us on the cross.”

Suddenly the mobile tufts on the Martians' heads vibrated. Was it a sign of interest or emotion? Or was it their way of laughing?

We read it in Restless Nights.