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Flash fiction: The visitors

From our vantage point we watch the object fall, as if in slow motion from the depths of the universe. A mixture of tangled shiny surfaces, copper and silver jutting out - all angles, no style.

Marty and I exchange incredulous looks that silently convey our agreement. I am already spinning on my heel and heading off in the direction of the dust cloud now slowly rising and dispersing.

Our reckoning is that it is only 40 milion distant and sure enough, within two oras we pass over a freshly formed boundary between the naturally rocky terrain and the disturbance created by the landing, where dust lies newly churned, powdery and deep.

Poking above the horizon, the alien object is no longer obscured. Two bulky white forms prance around, most likely still familiarising themselves with our atmosphere. Next to their craft they have hung some brightly coloured fabric on a short post, however the insignia is unfamiliar.

Watching them across the expanse, excitement and terror strike simultaneously. Will they be friend or foe? Marty has sensed me hesitate and is experiencing the same misgivings. He pulls me down to observe the beings who are using equipment from their ship to collect up small rocks from the surface.

We know our time stranded here has changed us. Over many millennia, the lower gravity and air resistance and our dramatically altered diet have altered our bone composition, facial structure, muscle mass. Now we blend in perfectly with the rocky landscape. We have no fear of being discovered.

Lying low we wait, weighing pros and cons until our sense of urgency overcomes our foreboding again. We cannot see any weapons, and if they do attack, we can rely on camouflage and our greater agility to escape.

In my mind I visualise as much courage as I can muster and transmit a share to Marty. I watch him broaden and stiffen, before he joins me, rising, advancing again. Only then do we see what our fear has cost us. Ahead of us, awkwardly coordinating their puffy white limbs, the visitors scale and re-enter their ramshackle ship.

With sinking hearts we speed now, but lose hope with each movement. I sense Marty's horror and disappointment cycling to anger and regret. As his senior I can only do my best to muffle my own feelings.

When we finally reach the beast we pull out all our tricks, trying frenetically to communicate, digitally and in all the thought languages we know. It is hopeless.

I laugh when Marty grabs a fistful of dust and throws it at the belly of the machine, but the light is fading and we must return to base before night's first watch is upon us. On the sun we return, but all that remains is the fabric and an engraved metal rectangle.

Another millennia will pass before we gain the ancient knowledge to translate it - "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon..."

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