Author : Roger Dale Trexler
They heard the sound of the approaching vehicle and looked at each other.
“That can’t be,” said John Hemington, “the rover’s been gone for three weeks. It’s programmed to stay gone for two months.”
He looked quizzically at Daniel Hepford, communication expert.
Hepford looked out the viewport. The wind was blowing at its usually one hundred miles per hour, blowing debris and dirt all over Cantza 3. The filth in the air was so dense that the rover’s searchlight could not cut through it.
“It is damned peculiar,” replied Hepford. The rover was programmed to survey the alien planet’s landscape, then return when its batteries needed recharging. They shouldn’t have needed a recharge for quite some time.
“You think there’s a malfunction?”
Hepford nodded. “Has to be,” he said.
He looked at the computer in front of him and punched in command codes for the rover. “That’s odd,” he said.
“The rover….it’s not responding.”
Hemington stood and walked to Hepford’s side and looked at the display. “May I?” he asked. Hepford nodded and let Hemington sit. Hemington punched a few buttons and the console displayed new information. “I don’t understand,” he said.
“The command codes…they’ve been overwritten,” he said.
Hepford looked confused. “But…we’re the only people on this planet,” he said.
“Apparently not,” replied Hemington as he punched a few more buttons. Another screen displayed and, on it, he saw a language that he did not understand.
Outside, the rover struck the building. The entire building shook. Both men ran to the window and looked out. The wind and debris hid most everything, but the rover was so close now that they could see.
Both men gasped.
On the rover, wrapped around it like an octopus, a grayish-skinned creature, rode. As they watched, its arm, which more closely resembled that of a squid than an octopus, lashed out and struck the window. A thick, gooey mucus covered the window where the arm fell.
“My God!” Hepford shouted. “Do you realize what that is?”
Hemington looked at him. “What are you talking about?”
Before Hepford could reply, another wet slapping arm struck the window.
“It’s a Lamfir?”
“A Lamfir?” asked Hemington said. Then, slowly, an expression of realization crossed his face. A Lamfir. A mystical space creature rumored to travel across the void of space. It attached itself to a spacecraft and traveled across the void. Once the creature made landfall on a planet, its sole purpose was to consume any and all organic life.
With the exception of a small spaceport a few hundred miles to the south of them, Hemington and Hepford were all the organic life on Cantza 3.
“Oh my God!” Hemington said. “Get on the radio and contact the spaceport.”
Hepford ran to the radio just as another wet slap smacked the window. A long crack appeared in the glass.
“Space port 1,” Hepford said into the microphone. “Come in, spaceport 1!”
No reply came.
Then, when Hepford switched to the auxiliary channel, he heard the slow ting of the automated distress call.
The Lamfir had been there already. It had headed in the direction of their base and, along the way, come across the rover. It had, somehow, taken control of the rover, attached itself and gotten a ride back to base.
Another wet slap cracked the window further.
Hepford looked at Hemington. Both men were afraid.
Hepford turned to the radio again, grabbed the microphone, and shouted: “S.O.S. To anyone near Cantza 3. We need immediate assistance. We are under attack!”
Then, the window broke inward.
The Lamfir slid inside.
Later, when it was done, it lay dormant on the floor, awaiting the rescue ship.