It is night.

Everyone is dead.

Everyone but me.

I hid. Huddled in the shade of a plant and tried in vain to block out the screams of the others as they were devoured by the beasts.

The creatures I speak of come at night, with lizards' heads and flared nostrils, rows of jagged teeth. They seek us with overlarge eyes stuck unnaturally on stick-thin antennae that sway as they move, and spindly legs which with they pursue us, causing the very ground beneath them to quake. Their heads are like the sand, tan and rough, with a thin red hide decorated by large, white spots. Despite this comical appearance, it would be fatal to underestimate them. Indeed, the only thing that had saved us up until this night was their lack of camouflage and nocturnal hunting patterns.

I am not wise, nor even particularly brave. I am afraid. Cowardly.

I know to save myself, not in vain hopes of propagation, not in some final, brilliant display of resistance.

I just don't want to die. Is that so wrong, so cruel to leave behind those whom I do not know and who are oblivious to my own plight, caught up in their own struggle to survive?

A distant squeal of terror echoes across the barren landscape. I place my arms over my head in a futile semblance of protection and imagine how that poor soul's last moments will be.

Now the reign of terror is subsiding. The beasts fight amongst themselves over what miniscule remnants of my fellows they can scrounge up.

I lay upon the earth, curling further within myself. I inhale the scent of blood and rotting plant-life and wait for them to find me.

It is just another night. Hell within the humid darkness of summer, then sharp teeth and a hot, blood-caked maw, beckoning.

They will smell me soon, and it will be over.

But that is not what happens.

Instead, I hear a low, shrieking cry. A warning call.

Another, larger monster, perhaps? Do they even have a monster strong enough to prey on them?

It happens, and not even in the span of ten seconds. A deafening explosion of sound and blinding light. I can't hear my own scream. A storm of dirt flies up around me, and I am sent hurtling backwards into the rock face behind me. Feel something break. I gasp in soundless agony; I cannot hear anything, cannot breathe.

Then the light is gone, and I am alone. I can't move, either. So I stay where I am.

I don't feel their footfalls shaking the earth anymore. Have the beasts been frightened off? I can't say I blame them.

Great. Now I'm sympathizing with the most dangerous enemies I know.

I lie there for a long time. Don't know how long. There are many things I don't know; why I think of the deceased, why life must be this way, why I even think of my death as some pathetic, yet heroic passing into welcoming jaws, and where the beasts in question have gone now.

I roll over. Maybe I don't want the rock face to be the last thing I see. Maybe I just don't care. Maybe some divine force or figure takes pity on me and decides to intervene in my favor. All I know is that I can't move anything below my waist, and dare not touch the warmth below to confirm my suspicions.

But it is in the moment when I roll onto my other side that I see it.

Something is smoldering. It's bright. Like fire. Can't make out the details. A blurry shape of red and orange and yellow.

What is it? A star? Can stars even fall to Earth?

I'm on my stomach now, dragging myself closer through the underbrush. Muscles protest, so I stop.

I'm stuck, halfway from the safety of the plant's shade. The beasts should have come out by now. Surely they can smell me.

Unless they are afraid. Maybe they don't like fire.

I drag my non-functioning lower body along behind me like some bizarre, bloody slug.

I must reach the fire. It is a promise of safety, even if only temporary. The fire will have to die eventually, and then they will be upon me.

I wonder if it is really better to prolong the inevitable, but it is a fleeting thought, and I return to my task with unfaltering resolve.

I must reach the fire.

But as I draw closer, I realize it is unlike any star I have seen. A tangle of hard, shiny wires, plates comprised of an unfamiliar material, dented by the impact, now blackened and charred by the heat.

A vessel? What purpose was it brought here for?

I don't know.

The star flickers. I think it does, but I am wrong. It doesn't. I am fading.

My last conscious thought before sleep is that it would be better to die here, beside a warm fire, than in the mouth of our predators.


A/N: More shorthand eerie-ness. The cover comes from a wicked epic Pikmin video you can find here (remove the parenthesis!):

(youtube)(.com)(/)watch?v=Kfq2wTa5Dl0