Star Vessel SV-1E expelled tens of thousands of gallons of fuel byproduct in a foul spray as it sped over the surface of the uncharted planet.
“Sir, if we’re done here, then we really need to get a move on, sir.”
“That clock of yours never stops ticking, does it Henry?”
“Hold course, lieutenant. Just a few seconds more. Wait for my signal.”
The ship’s engines emitted a toxicity alien to the world it invaded.
“I remember when you were all about the research! The thrill of the new!”
“Not now Reed.”
The vessel began jettisoning used nitrogen canisters, spent hydrogen cells… anything to shed weight.
“Remember Paris? And Mireille?”
“Not yet lieutenant! And stop it Reed! That was a long time ago!”
“Sir, after I dump our bios we have to go. I’m afraid I have to insist, sir!”
“Do what you’ve been trained to do, son.”
Twin hatches were opened and a hail of frozen particles vaporized upon contact with the planet’s atmosphere, creating a shadowy mist that congealed as it fell, growing larger like a black snowball rolling downhill.
“I’m sorry Henry, but without the readings we’re just wasting our time here!”
“I know that, but Reed… We’ve only got about another-”
The major was interrupted when the SV-1E was struck portside and pitched violently. Everything not secured was thrown about like toys, including the crew.
“What the hell was that?”
“I don’t know, sir!”
“Get us out of here lieutenant! Now!”
But the vessel was stalling as fine tendrils tangled themselves inside pistons and exhaust fans, as a bizarre entity was taking shape.
“What’s wrong? Why are we losing altitude?”
“We’ve got no thrust! Intakes are plugged!”
Being born of refuse and toxins and wasted energy, a pollution golem made of useless metals and contaminated plastics, the lifeless lifeform arranged itself.
“Henry! What’s happening?”
“Get us free lieutenant! That is an order!”
“I’m trying, sir! We’re dragging a coupla extra tons somehow!”
Becoming one massive tendril, it coiled itself around the landing gear, dragging the ship down toward the surface, hungry for more of what was birthing it.
“Henry! Are we dying?”
“Not now Reed! Not if I can help it!”
“We’re going down, sir! Brace for hard landing!”
A giant maw formed from a cloud of swirling materials, all of them foreign to the planet’s atmosphere, all of them causing rapid mutations having myriad ripple effects.
Little Mona put down the comic book and watched her mom raise her hand to the slightly open car window. A chewing gum wrapper made a loud snap as the wind tore it from her mother’s fingers, sending it off to who knows where.