Author : Joachim Heijndermans
They won’t stop staring at me.
I’ve been stuck here for forty-two hours. I haven’t slept in all that time. I don’t know if I can keep it up. Normal procedure is to set the beacon on board the ship off, then find shelter and food and stay put ’till they come for me. I haven’t eaten. I haven’t found shelter. I haven’t even moved from this rock. I’m afraid of what they’ll do. They’re all around me. Looking at me with those big eyes.
I don’t remember the crash, nor do I know what happened to my co-pilot. The last thing I saw before I blacked out was the starboard wing of the Daedalus, shredded into Swiss cheese by the asteroids. Then I woke up on this hill, surrounded by these…things.
I think they’re lizards. Tiny little bipedal lizards, about six inches high. And there are thousands of them. A sea of tiny bodies, tails, and large eyes.
I don’t know what they want from me. Are they intelligent? I tried speaking to them, but they just stared at me. Either they don’t understand, or aren’t interested in what I have to say. They don’t seem to carry weapons, so I don’t think they’re violent. Nudging them with my glove does nothing. I tried to get them to move. No dice. They just stand there and stare. Every now and then, they blink in unison, making an eerie clicking sound.
The Daedalus is close, about twenty yards from my current location. Was I dragged over here? For what purpose? I’m trying not to think about that. I’d rush them, but I’m afraid they might turn hostile if I step on one. Even at their small size, they outnumber me. They’ve taken my tool belt, so making a weapon is out of the question.
My back is killing me. My eyes are heavy. My stomach roars at me. I don’t remember when I last ate. I might have sustained some internal injuries in the crash too, so the pain in my side isn’t helping matters much. My–
Shit! They licked their lips. The sound is bone chilling. Like a thousand wet rags being smeared across a window. Was that a sign? Does that mean what I think it does? I hope to God not.
“What? What are you staring at?” I grunt at them. They blink, all at once. It’s disturbing. I can’t take it.
“What do you want?” I scream.
A wrinkled one with a small bone through its nostrils steps forward. “Shabaaaaa!” it shrieks.
The others join in, bowing and chanting: “Shabaaaaaa!”
Is that it? They think I’m a god? I can imagine seeing someone in a silver and orange suit can lead to conclusions. But in this case, it means I’m saved.
“Shabaaaaa!” they cry again.
“Okay, Shaba! I get it. Now, how about some grub for your new leader? You know, food?” I ask, making a “nom-nom” motion.
No response. They keep their heads against the ground.
“Hello? Some food for your God, maybe?”
A shadow falls over me. I turn around, meeting a larger set of eyes. A seven-foot lizard with eight arms is behind me. Its entire skin is covered in golden scales, with an enormous frill around its neck. It looks at me just like the little ones did; intensely, with unblinking eyes.
“Shabaaaaa!” the little ones cry out again, raising their hands and waving them. It’s not me they’re praising.
It belches, then licks its lips. Behind me, I hear a thousand little voices shriek: “Shabaaaaa!”