Mark was feeling nervous as they approached the planet. It looked similar to earth from space. What awaited them down there? It was not likely for the planet to be uninhabited. What would the natives be like? Would they welcome them or would they turn them away? He thought of the children in the ship.
We need to convince whoever’s here to let us stay.
What if they were cannibals? What if they enslaved them? What if they killed them all? What if they imprisoned them for experiments?
He tried to think positively. What would he tell the inhabitants of the planet? What language would he speak? Mark was proficient in all the major Earth languages, but would any alien this far off understand him?
Way to be positive.
The shuttle landed in a clearing in the middle of a lush green forest.
“I don’t believe this,” Andrea said in a hushed voice, “It’s like all the pictures we’ve seen of the past of earth.”
“I’ve never seen trees like this,” Mike Harvey said, “I don’t even know what kind of trees these are.”
“Look at the water,” Sam said, as he walked off to examine a puddle at the edge of the clearing.
“It appears habitable,” Mark said, “and that puddle looks like rainwater, so maybe the climate is a bit wet, however, we are not in a position to pick and choose.”
As if they would! Earth hadn’t had natural rain in Mark’s memory nor in those of his parents. A planet with trees like this and natural rain might be paradise. Mark hoped he would not wake up to find all this just a dream.
“So shall we go back and get the others?” Jake asked.
“We’ll do a bit more exploring, I want to see what sort of wildlife there is. Everyone, stick together and keep your weapons ready.”
As they moved into the forest, Mark could feel the others’ excitement.
“I’ve never walked in a forest,” Ron said in a hushed voice.
“Such enormous trees,” Jake said, awed.
“The grass looks so soft,” Sam said.
A bird flew close to Mark’s face; it was not large, and had bright orange feathers. Mark ducked automatically.
“What was that!”
“This place is great!” Ron exclaimed.
It was difficult not to get carried away in the face of the others’ enthusiasm. But Mark was not relaxing his vigilance. Anything could be here. But the planet felt so comfortable, reminding him of earth in a good way.
Perhaps we can make our home here.
“It’s rather dark in here,” Andrea muttered, holding aloft her torch. “All these roots on the ground could trip you up.”
“Stop complaining,” Jake said, flashing his own torch. “This place is large enough for us, and-”
“There’s something there!” Ron said, stopping suddenly.
Mark was on the alert instantly, “Where?”
“Towards the left, something moved there, like a living thing. I thought…”
Mark waited. Ron took a deep breath and continued, “I thought it looked human”
“Human?” Mark was startled. “Are you sure?”
“It looked like it,” Ron said.
“We’ll go left,” Mark said. “I want a closer look at whatever it was.”
The trees grew thicker as they moved towards the left and the light grew dimmer. Mark saw it. Though why did he refer to that person as it? It was standing about a hundred feet away, staring up into a tree. It had its back to them and it looked to be human, though Mark doubted very much whether in fact it was human.
“What is it?” Andrea whispered.
“Who is it?” Mike whispered at the same time.
“I don’t know,” Mark said, “It looks to be human, but-”
“I’ve a creepy feeling about this,” Sam muttered under his breath, “That thing could be dangerous.”
“Keep your weapons ready,” Mark whispered, “If it is hostile, shoot it.”
They were about ten feet away from it, when it seemed to sense their presence and turned around to face them.
Mark gasped. So did the others.
“It is a man!” Andrea said.
“It is the devil!” Ron exclaimed.
Ron might be more correct. It looked like a man; its features were human, with pale skin and jet black hair. It was starving, judging by its appearance and as they saw its eyes, Mark felt goose bumps all over. Its eyes were red in colour and wore an expression so malevolent that Mark involuntarily took a step back. The creature sniffed the air.
Before he realized what was happening, he was bodily picked up and thrown to the ground. Pain lanced through his left arm and he could see the odd angle at which it was bent. The pain was unbearable and he felt himself grow dizzy, his vision blurring. He shook his head and tried to move. Sam opened fire, but his hand was shaking and he missed the strange creature. His military training probably didn’t prepare him for aliens who moved faster than they could see. The others were also picked up and thrown as if they were puppets. Dr. Harvey lost consciousness as he hit the ground. The creature picked him up and snapped his neck.
Mark stared, unable to move. It killed him! He felt dazed. Mark looked around to see if his friends were all right. Ron was conscious and he looked horrified as he looked at the creature.
“Ron,” Mark whispered, “Are you all right?”
“My leg’s broken,” Ron whispered back. “What do we do, Mark? That thing can’t be human, it just threw us around as if we were puppets! I can’t reach my gun.”
The creature stood up. It threw Dr. Harvey aside and moved to Andrea.
“Leave her alone!” Mark shouted as he attempted to get up, ignoring the feeling as if a brand of hot iron was pressed to his arm.
The creature turned to look at him, and it started moving towards him.
There was a movement from behind him and the creature stopped. A man stood near Mark. He held a spear in his hand; the pointed end was towards the creature. He stepped forward and the creature cowered. It bared its teeth in a feral snarl, turned, picked up Dr. Harvey’s body and was gone.
Mark’s vision blurred as the man knelt by him. He fought it, but his vision turned dark.