Our space ship, The Falcon, had made a desperate attempt to land after developing a guidance problem.Three of us out of a crew of fifteen had survived. Captain Rogers had perished and the first mate. The bo’sun Pete Jennings too was killed in the crash. Only the three of us, who were the least crucial personnel aboard the starship, and so probably the least capable had survived. Jim Durwent, Ted Allen and I, Jeff Cord, had been groping and stumbling for five hours now from the boiling wreck. Strange noises and piercing shrieks shattered the humid jungle air.
“Did you hear that!” said Ted shakily. He was unscathed by the crash – not even a scratch – it was uncanny, but Jim and I had our share of bumps, bruises, cuts, and so on. We were very lucky, I suppose, although we ached from head to foot. I had already popped Jim’s shoulder back into place. That dislocated shoulder was the worst of our injuries.
We were a little impatient, not to say slightly annoyed with Ted for having escaped without so much as a scratch-wound; and moreover the stifling air made it hard to summon the energy required to answer him right away, so after a time I began to explain to him that the sounds were only those of some kind of howler monkey or some similar kind of creature (I hoped that was the case, and I dared not voice my true apprehensions.)
“Howler monkey?” muttered Ted to himself, sounding doubtful and unconvinced. My hands were becoming raw with wading through the vegetation and bending or breaking branches. As I snapped a low threatening twig I caught sight of something brightly-coloured against the mottled blue and green of this alien jungle. “Over there, “I said; “there’s something over there!” I tried not to shout out loud in my excitement. Luckily the close air dampened my cry and didn’t startle my shipmates or any potential aliens in the vicinity of the splash of red-orange-vermilion that I spied.
The three of us, close together, began crouching as we looked in the direction that I pointed. It was more than half-hidden by the dense foliage surrounding it but we could make out that it was a modest dome.
The opening was not visible from our side in the scarlet structure, so we reckoned it was probably on the other side. We decided to circle around very quietly, or at least as quietly as we could manage. There was to be no talking; only pointing and gesturing. The shrieking cries seemed to be increasing in frequency as well as intensity. We prayed we had not stumbled on a hornet’s nest; perhaps the aliens were already alerted to our presence and were hiding. If they were hostile we were surely doomed.
The dome was growing in size as we approached in our inwardly-spiralling route. Still there was no one and nothing to be spotted as we neared the round edifice. Then Ted began screaming. Jim and I were stunned with terror. What had gotten hold of Ted? The shocking, fear-inducing sight of Ted bear hugged by some lithe crimson-skinned creature with two or three spiky tentacled arms about his neck and waist, made a rigid jelly out of the two of us. Ted who had been just behind us was snatched back by the animal or alien whose cinnabarian features were disorganised, picasso-like; consisting of white studs around rubbery orifices opening and closing or merely gaping wide. Where were its eyes? Nose? Were the short white spikes teeth or something else? It was moving too quickly, and then a second later, Ted was sucked into the black hole of the greenery, and was gone. It took us a moment to grasp what had happened, and then we precipitated ourselves helter-skelter through the underbrush trying to regain the path back to the space ship.
copyright © Reality Wedge, 2014
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons or institutions living or dead is purely coincidental.