Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

We were so wrong.

We saw evolution as a paring down to essentials. Our pinkies were getting shorter and soon we might only have four fingers, for instance. We theorized evolution as a process that winnowed away the unnecessary. It aspired to simplicity, we thought.

The spiked and glimmering ships that came down through the clouds all over the world looked nothing like each other. The only characteristic they all shared was that they were complex.

One ship was a series of two hundred rings interlocked and rotating. One ship had millions of thin antennae pulsing and waving, landing like an obscene sea urchin and balancing on fibers no wider that a hair. Impossible half-invisible cathedrals, glowing neon origami, ships comprised of stuttering light floated down from the sky. Ships made of dyed bones, ships made of all types of metal, and ships made of patchwork flesh warbled their way to the earth. One ship appeared to be a sixteen-mile long piece of crimped silk twisting through the air currents ever closer to the ground. Another had thousands of orbiting asteroids chasing each other around playfully.

Since no missiles were flying and the newsfeed stations showed the ships landing around the world with no gunfire, I could only assume they had arranged this with our governments already or that the entire planet’s military had been struck frozen in fear like a caveman spotted by a sabertooth tiger.

A mirrored mobius dodecahedra touched down on the soil in the central park near where I lived in Iowa. It was only a few blocks over so I walked there to see what I could see. If this was the end of the world, I was going to grab a front seat. There were around fifty like-minded people in the park near the craft.

It shone and sparkled in the sun like a mutated disco ball. My head hurt if I tried to figure out its impossible shape. One panel of the ship disintegrated into a cloud of metal butterflies and an alien cantered down before us.

What I assume was its head looked like an ornate chandelier. It moved quickly, rippling on millions of tiny legs. No two legs appeared to have the same number of toes or joints. It had so many arms that I initially mistook them for fur, each arm ending in what looked like a job-specific tip. Its back was infested with softly cooing antlers. I couldn’t guess at the purpose of most of the appendages. The complexity of the alien was almost too much for my mind to handle. It was hypnotizing.

Two other aliens ambulated out behind the creature, each of them more bizarre, colourful, and complicated that the first one. One looked to have hundreds of blinking cat heads, each with too many eyes. It rolled forward on a festival of coloured tentacles and flapped a hundred types of tiny wings. The other one kept going in and out of focus like it wasn’t tethered to this reality very well but when I could see it, it looked as if the instruments from an entire orchestra had been glued together by some welder gone mad.

The one in the lead spoke by rattling its glittering chandelier head and formulating the sound waves into words in our direction.

“We’ve come to help.” It said in a lilting voice. “Apparently, you’re evolving backwards.”


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