Author: Glenn Leung

We decided to go on foot, so we left ‘Yes Sir’ Dave guarding the Rover with orders to keep the engines warm. The regiment of monoliths stood at attention as we walked towards them, piercing the alien sky like blunt yet deadly spears. Streaks of blue, purple and green flora draped their pensive bodies. The planet’s star peeked over one of these colossal tombstones, as if trying to wake this dead city. It was hard to believe all these were natural. I sometimes think about what Earth would look like if everyone just got up and left, and this view always comes up.

As we moved farther from the low hum of the Rover’s engines, the strange foliage seemed to sink us into an uneasy quiet. It was much like the way snow absorbed sound to give a sense of foreboding. I had returned home after watching my classmates partake in the largest snowball fight ever. My mother was on the ground, the tall chair on its side and pieces of broken lightbulb strewn amongst the red ooze. We moved to the city after that, and I discarded my memories to make room for new ones. The sound of nature gave way to the sound of traffic.

We came across a near-rectangular protrusion, and I was asked to examine it and take some samples. I brushed the red vines aside, half expecting to see my grandfather’s name. My father had felt that the only thing he needed to do was spend a month’s salary on a sarcophagus. The visiting was then left to me. After a while, it had probably become something like this. I cannot say I was surprised when what I found was hard soil instead of marble. This was good, I didn’t have to work too hard to chip it away.

Suddenly, Hysteria Ben let out a scream and pointed at the sky behind us.

The team turned around to see the red glow of the setting star, and the peaceful drift of the odd-looking clouds.

“It was a huge shadow, like a tentacle. It swung across the sky then vanished.”

As if on cue, other members of the team started reporting their own sightings. None were as grand as Ben’s, falling mostly on the creepy side. Our commander’s reprimand got swallowed abruptly, so we knew it was time to head back. We returned to a confused Dave who checked his watch as he saw us emerge from the shadows. It was my turn to drive, so I started the engines and turned the Rover back to base.

That night, we were examined, and no evidence of hallucinogens were found. Dave, however, came down with nausea and had to be monitored. We were told to watch ourselves and each other for symptoms. I didn’t want my teammates making their assumptions, so I took my place in the viewing room. I watched the brightness of a billion stars light up the distant monoliths. They were calling. They were calming.