Author : Beck Dacus
“Oh my God! I found life!”
Kenrin was kneeling on the ground, peering at something in the dust. As Ederford, Roana, Viccison and I walked over to him, he shifted position, suggesting that whatever he was looking at moved, and rapidly. He had found an animal!
The four of us skidded to a stop around him, and huddled together to try and get a glimpse. It took me a second, because both the creature and the regolith were a very dull brown, basically grey, but it was there. Life.
Life was a precious thing in the universe, as it only occurred on approximately one planet for every fifty star systems, and interstellar travel wasn’t easy. Sixteen times the speed of light may sound pretty fast, but light isn’t all that fast in the first place when talking about galaxies. To get from Gerfysa to here, Manklenon, took four years.
The little beast was around five centimeters long, with a body that looked like a pine cone and… fourteen legs. Each one was very thin, and had something that looked like a hook at the end. Despite my fascination with exobiology, I couldn’t help but admit that it did seem a bit too “buggy” for my liking.
That should have told me that we never should have filed the report.
Kenrin deftly clapped the animal into a specimen jar, and handed it to Viccison. “Get that back to the lab,” he said, “and do what you gotta do. I’m gonna try and find more organisms. You three, spread out and help me look.”
Over the course of our adventure, we found a few more life forms, all equally buggy in nature. When we all returned to the hab, we ran a few tests on the bugs, figured out what they were made of and what they could do, and sent our report back to Gerfysa at a slightly improved 20c. We never imagined the consequences.
Twenty Six Years Later
Achpersson Drives have improved in the past few decades, allowing more people to get to Manklenon that would have ever been possible when my team found its biosphere. Being a living planet, it attracted a lot of tourist attention, and civilian tours began eight years after I first arrived. That’s how everything died.
No one could stand the little “Manklenites,” as they were called. Anyone with any kind of arachnophobia went berserk on them. The creatures, unfortunately, had a knack for creeping into normally sealed spaces, ending up in people’s hotel rooms and luggage. But, despite the disgust, the attraction of alien life made people keep coming. Keep killing. Now, with a more complex ecosystem than previously considered riddled with holes, Manklenon’s biosphere could no longer support itself. It has become the lifeless stone we thought it was on approach. Now here I stand, on Ganorpeña, in front of an alien that is the spitting image of a centipede.
I think I’ll hold off on that report.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows