A short story written as part of the Summer Prose Competition 2011 Challenges 3 and 4
There in the distance it is sensed. We sense that feeling, strange sadness lurching in organic bowels. This agony is encased in a metal contraption speeding past our planet through space. Here in this vessel we, the orbs the last one thought of us as, can sense many. Human one calls itself, Strzynx another is called, also there is a Kaldaran and Manaviya. Yet the Human thinks of the Manaviya as his own kind and the Manaviya too thinks of the Human as his dark skinned kindred. We have been waiting for beings such as these. We have waited for their arrival so that we may improve them.
We live alone on this barren planet yet we are only some of many. Exiled from the sphere, the continuum of our glowing kind, we are here. We are young yet and have made many mistakes. We can feel beings thoughts. We can drain their energy, manipulate their form. Amused we were by these abilities and reckless we were called for this amusement. Away we have been sent until our taste for amusement has dwindled and we are remorseful. On this planet bathed in light of Baingani the Manaviya call it, kruk by the Strzynx, purple by the human we wait lonely for those beings that would enter our conscience.
An elderly Beningmar wandered to this place, we joined our spherical forms and lured her to the monolith. Her pain, her guilt, her misery, her fear all leaked from the body thick and viscous into the slab of stone. Cleansed of her emotions we absorbed her into ourselves. She lives a better life now. The young man, human too he called himself, we brought here and seeped his suffering through the stone. His emotions were many and now his soul is at peace among us. Now this vessel enters our consciousness and we shall lure them too. They will join us in this way.
We sense anxiety among them. Urgency, they are needing to arrive at a planet. It is not far but it is time that hampers them. Schardin is the planet they are traveling to and they must arrive as soon as possible. From they’re thoughts we know their reason, it is sickness, disease, an epidemic. The Phrenk the Kaldaran woman thinks of it and Locust Pox it is called by the Humans. Medicine, cure, hope they bring in their vessel. Many lives are now put in their responsibility but their source of anxiety springs from many different founts.
The one called Captain Benz by the others, Benzpterdanteign Phrax to himself, the Stryznx, he is dying. There is disease in him different from the epidemic of Schardin. It brings a tumult of feelings within him and makes him heavy and slow. He dares not tell the others, they are his crew and he fears their reactions. He fears their sympathy, concern and disrespect. Gordan, the Human, is full of anger but it is anger born of fear. His offspring, a female called Goya, is living on Schardin. He knows not if she’s diseased. He knows not if she’s alive and he wants nothing more than to go to her.
Cries of fear and anger arose when we stopped their engines, altered them so they could not move. Confusion emanated in their ensuing investigation. Unable to fix their vessel they came down to the surface. We beckoned them with our pulsing lights. The monolith gleamed seductively. They came.
Hundreds of people are dying; my little girl could be dying and that useless woman Kherbla can’t even get our engines working. What is the captain thinking bringing us down onto the planet’s surface? What help will this barren purple wasteland be to us now? We have no time for curiosity. There is no time to dawdle. There must be another way to get off of this rock and I’m going to find it. I will not abide bad decisions if it’s going to cost Goya’s life. These were the thoughts of the Human as they ambled across the undulating surface towards the stone structure, where he did not notice our forms moving closer and closer to one another.
Strange, thought the captain. This surface is most unusual yet the planet appears to once have supported life. Energy readings on the surface are low yet to the skies they are alarmingly high. Perhaps it was not safe to come to the surface. The Shardin colonies’ might be lost to us but my crew I will protect. They grow impatient, mistrusting I can sense it. Do they know my secret? Do they feel the beckoning on this planet also? Perhaps they merely question my judgment on this matter or their questioning only bolsters their inward inklings that I am failing them. This disease wears away at my body yet my mind is still intact. If I were to waver in my sanity, in my intelligence or logic, I would leave them, I would step down. I would not put my pride before their downfall. Yet I do not know if they trust me so. Manmeet, the medic, he must have caught on to my illness. Rumors may be spreading. I know our task is urgent yet in the distance that stone structure calls to me and I cannot resist. The stars seem to be moving and I must move towards them.
The Manivaya medic thought our planet ugly. The Kaldaran engineer thought us strange. We sense curiosity, confusion and fear but these feelings are of little concern to us. We want the disease and the anxious anger. “Captain, there is no discernible power source on this planet.” said the engineer. “I know” confidently replied the captain. He led the small group onwards toward us, not entirely sure why but he must. “Captain, there’s nothing for us here. Shardin is waiting and we are running out of time.” urged Gordan. “If it’s anything like the case on Columbus 5 we don’t have much time.” added Manmeet the medic.
The captain Benz ignored them and plodded on across the barren land towards our now nearly merged forms. “Look at the stars!” exclaimed the woman. They all looked but none commented. A few paces from the monolith, we were so close to our goal. We should have them soon. We shall rid them of their agony, of their petty arguments. They shall be purified and add their life energy to our continuum. All will be improved.
Doubts began to take root in the Strynx’s mind. He knew the danger on Shardin was great and he knew this investigation might be fatal to the colonists. He thought of turning back we sensed and so reached out to him. Benzpterdanteign Phrax, we whispered to his consciousness. Startled by our intrusion he looked around at the barren wasteland, at the smooth and dark stone slab now to his right. We know your suffering. We know your disease. We can cure you.”
The captain moved closer to the monolith and his mind softened to our communication. We sensed Gordan’s anxiety rising, his anger reaching an apex. “Captain what are you doing?” He snarled. “We need to get to Shardin as soon as possible. You are endangering hundreds of lives by staying here.” “But the engines . . .” offered the woman. “We have no communication.” furthered the medic. We had gained their intrigue as well.
As their contempt for one another grew the monolith was awakened. We began our probing; our sampling of their evils. “You don’t understand!” yelled back the captain. “There is something here, something intelligent and it. . .it wants to help us I think.” Curiosity piqued the minds whirred with tumultuous cognition, eyes gazed frantically about the landscape. “You have gone mad!” raged Gordan. “Captain if you are feeling unwell . . .” prodded the medic. “Silence!” cried the frustrated captain, “I cannot hear them.” “Sir . . .” gently began the concerned engineer. “Enough” screamed the human, “I’m going back to the ship and you will all follow me if you have any sense.”
Go he must not! We reached out the tendrils of our consciousness to touch his mind. We wanted his anger so great. His life would be far better without these feelings, this he must know. We would convince him. Gordan we began to communicate Do not fear. All unpleasantness shall be eradicated. “Gah!” he reacted, “what devils? This place is cursed, these creatures invade our minds! Don’t you see? This place is evil and we have to leave!”
“They are not evil!” argued the captain. The rising tension fed the monolith with its thick blackness. Suddenly very fearful the woman reached for the stone, “Where are they?” and the face of her dead mother looked back at her. Tired and worn the elderly woman’s sad eyes bored into her daughter. Anxiety mounted. “The orbs?” queried the medic. “We are all going mad!” the woman eked out. “Calm down.” comforted Manmeet the medic. “My mother! I saw my mother!” “But your mother is dead.” “I saw her there in the stone, looking at me so forlornly. Her eyes asking me how I could let her die.”
“There’s nothing there Kherbla.” And the medic took the frightened woman into his arms. Pleased we were with these emotions. Brought to the surface we may now begin to extract them. Once cleansed we may begin to absorb the beings. Again we urged the captain we can cure you, we can improve you. How? He answered us. First touch the stone. He moved closer, hesitant.
“What are you doing?” shouted Gordan, “don’t touch it! Don’t you see what it did to Kherbla?” The captain withdrew his hand and balled his fingers up into a fist, deciding.