We didn’t know what to do, at first, when we landed. The atmosphere was clean, breathable, and the light levels were warm and inviting. The gouge we’d carved through the landscape looked like a bloody wound in the moons’ light, a slash across the face of the mountains, jaggedly tumbling down to the plain. The dust in the air hung in strange curtains, and the sound of our impact was still rolling in the distance, a thunder that kept shaking the ground in irregular pulses, echoes of our craft skipping, a flat stone across still water, until it finally tore into the hillside.
My adventurous colleagues set out to explore, but I refused.
They arrived in droves, surging forth out of the darkness on strange beasts made of metal and light; a liquid emotion dwelt below their surface, and they howled like demons until they crested the closest hill, then their howls became song, and their machine-beasts became sleek and swift and elegant creatures, and as they approached us, in the last moment, only I saw them for what they were: a mirage within an endless waste, a barren horror.
“How beautiful!” my comrades cried. “How angelic!” I tried to explain, to warn, but they heard divinity from the strangers, and only senseless fear from me.
Do not mistake — they existed, in and of themselves, but they were not singing, nor were their beasts the majestic hallowfeld of old, with their shining hooves and feathered wings. Instead, they were still the horrors that had poured forth from the horizon, howling despair, not offering rapture. They existed in singular hunger for us, and as they came, my comrades opened their arms and were slain to the last man, while I remained within the ship, and thus was left safe. They left, taking the bodies of the slain, and I was left alone.
That was many, many years ago.
Tomorrow, I will leave the ship, to hear their song, and see their beauty, even if it is only a mirage.
In my age, I find that I prefer even their song to silence.