Here’s the funny thing about flying a ship by yourself in the void of space: you have to be careful. You wouldn’t think you’d have to watch out for much, especially in a solar system where the closely-packed asteroid belt only has asteroids every million miles or so. But thing is, when the gravity of a planet is strong enough to pull you in, it pulls you in. And I might have underestimated this planet’s gravity.
All I wanted to do is see the lights turn on as the dark crept over the small planet. And then my ship started shaking. Just little tremors in the beginning, but soon I started to notice the drop in altitude. I started trying to pull up, but the planet’s gravity was more than my home planet’s. It didn’t take long to realize my ship wasn’t going to be able to break back through the thermosphere. I still tried, of course. The gravity wasn’t all that different. But it was more, and my ship wasn’t used to it. I’d have to land to get a reading, and I didn’t even know what planet it was. Let alone what its gravity levels were. Or its atmosphere. It could very well kill me.
I tried harder to pull up on the handle. “No, no, nononono, I can’t die like this!” I screamed to nobody in particular. Maybe to my pet? Ah, no, I left him at home, and now I would never see him again. “Don’t lose hope,” I whispered. I pulled harder on the reins. We entered the mesosphere. The gravity was only getting stronger, the details of the planet filling in. We broke through the clouds.
The natives would kill me if they weren’t within the federation. I gritted my teeth and pulled harder on the handles. The balls of my feet pressed against the wall beneath. Tears started to slip from my eyes. The weapon in my holster dug into my hip. We entered the stratosphere. At some point, I started screaming. The details started to turn finer. I was still slowing, but I would be badly injured for sure. The ship I’d had since I was twelve would be ruined. The gravity shook my ship so badly that it eventually turned onto its side. I muttered a swear and pulled on the reins to pull me up. As the details finally started to fill in, as we passed through the last layer, my ship flipped.
As what I deemed a final request, I was shown the sight of the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. The orange and red faded perfectly into a still-blue sky. The planet’s sun peeked just over the horizon, the light spreading across everything. Long shadows cast against the buildings. I felt myself leave the seat. I let go of the steering handles.
My ship hit the ground with a loud crash.
I, Flynn Germane, had never been one to believe in extraterrestrial life. I rarely paid any attention to the news surrounding astronomical discoveries. I heard about gravitational waves two days later. After all, I had no reason to pay attention to it.
So I dropped my briefcase by the door as always, got dinner started as I did every night, and scratched at my face as I walked down the hall to my bedroom. Today hadn’t been unusually taxing. It was only that my job as an office worker was tedious. As I looked in the mirror, five o’clock shadow prominent, I realized just what I needed. I needed something to break the norm.
Only moments later, something crashed in the backyard. It was loud enough to shake the ground. I practically slid down the hall and through the door.
It was a miracle that I lived in a small town. With a big backyard. And no neighbors. I would have gotten X-files called on my ass immediately. In the middle of my backyard, surrounded by clouding dirt and debris, laid a flying saucer. Not like the ones you see in sci-fi movies. The only thing it had in common was the fact that it was round. It didn’t even have blinking lights or anything. I could see that it was flipped on its head, the window submerged in my very own backyard.
What was I supposed to do? If I got close, would its inhabitant kill me? I didn’t have any guns in the house, so I couldn’t very well go up to it with confidence. Maybe I should get a knife from the kitchen-
Something inside the machine let out a noise that sounded inhumane. Of course. It wasn’t a person, It was a fucking alien. But it sounded in pain. I side-stepped towards it. My breath quickened. Something bashed against the window pane, but it was too clouded in dust to see. I stopped a good few feet from it, hearing it try repeatedly to bash in the window. Every cell in my body wanted to run. Get inside and lock the fucking doors, you idiot, my brain tried repeatedly. Instead, I took a deep breath and stepped toward it.
The bashing stopped. Something sounded like it was scuttling away from the window. I reached a hand out and wiped away a section of the dirt. It was only a little bit. I could see a chair bolted to the floor, a section of a control panel. At my angle, I could see the tip of a boot. I knelt down lower and squinted to see inside, wiping away some more of the dirt.
Inside was the thing that had been trying to break the window. It had the same amount of limbs as a human, so there was that. But there was a coolness to its complexion that I couldn’t place. It tried to say something I couldn’t hear. I tapped at my ear and shook my head. “I can’t hear you,” I tried.
It shook its head and scuttled through a door. It came back barely a moment later with something in its hands. It walked along the ceiling and squatted in front of the window. With two fingers, it gestured for me to move aside. It set one of the things in its hands aside and took the smaller thing to aim it at the window. A bright flash of light carved a perfectly circular hole in the glass.
The language it was speaking as it climbed out of the hole wasn’t one I could ever hope to understand. But I was absolutely sure it was a long string of swears.
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