You take a step forward, awestruck, and gaze around. Your head turns slowly, taking in the lush blue plants, the red sky, the bright yellow sun. The plants here are vibrant and full of life. The sky is different. Everything is different, and yet the same. You can tell that that's a pine tree, that that's a sunflower -- the only difference is it's all blue.
There aren't any lifeforms that you can see, so you take another step forward, crushing the small blue grass under your feet. Then another step. And another. Soon, you've crossed the field; you turn and look back at the rocket you come from. That's when you see it.
Thousands of small bugs coming at you, flying fast. They're all making loud, buzzing noises, reminding you of the bees on Earth. Without hesitating, you duck to the ground and cover your head, hoping that these creatures aren't violent.
The sound has stopped, but you're still facing the ground. You can hear the creatures speak to each other, clicking and buzzing. You finally understand that these things do not speak Earthen language. They really are aliens.
But then you hear it: ″What are you?″
And you think you've gone crazy.
Are you hearing voices? They're in your head; those things are in your head. And you can understand them.
And again, louder and more demanding: ″What are you, two-legged beast?″
You decide to risk it. It won't do any good to ignore the creatures' demands, so you look up.
There are... hundreds, no, thousands of these little bugs no bigger than a housefly. They're blue with pink-ish distorted triangles on their forehead and flashing collars around their necks.
″I... I'm a human...?″ you say, then gasp. Your voice came out in the creatures' language. ″Why am... what's going on?″
Now you're scared.
The creatures stare at you, their small red eyes gazing into your soul. ″Pitiful creature of another world,″one of the creatures say. You can't tell which one it is. ″This is Planet Oute, and we don't tolerate other species unless we have enslaved them ourselves.″
You gulp. This wasn't supposed to happen. ″I-I'll leave.″
Instead of letting you leave, the creatures of the Planet Oute encircle you. One flys out of the group and stops in front of you. It lets out a high-pitched squeal, worse than nails on a chalkboard.
And you fall to the ground.
Day 1: Beginning
It's dark, and it smells. The darkness is suffocating, threatening to close in and finish me off. I try to raise my head but it aches, throbbing with every motion. Then I hear it: the beeping of an alarm, the woosh of the ship's cooling vents. It's then that I realized the worst has happened--I've crashed, I've crashed, I've crashed.
I stop breathing, stunned into silence. I can't remember. Did I cause the crash, or was it a malfunction? The woosh continues in the background, calms me, hiding the beeping. Warning beeps that I must've missed. Somehow, someway I didn't hear them. They would've gone off as soon as the ship overheated.
But they didn't. Either that or I couldn't remember. What had happened?
As I lie here, I begin to think of the possibilities it could've been. I would've heard the alarms if they went off, so it had to be a malfunction. A horrible malfunction that happened the day I was sent to scout the planet our army was about to invade.
That's when I wonder: What planet am I on?
And a new feeling of darkness overwhelms me.
Day 1: Later
I'm still lying beside my ship; my broken, destroyed ship. The cooling vents have turned off now; the ship is no longer overheated, but it's too damaged to repair. The side wings have been torn off by who-knows-what and who-knows-how. The roof is caved in and there's still smoke rising from the fuel's fire. I sit up and sigh, covering my face with my hands.
How this happened, I still don't know. I still don't understand.
I'm lost on a strange planet. The darkness has gone away, and there's a dim light replacing it. I wonder what the darkness was and whether or not it was normal. It was dark, and now there is light.
This planet is not on our maps, not on the planets we were to invade and conquer. I don't know where I am. The creatures here may be violent, though I haven't seen any yet. I'm beginning to wonder if there are any creatures here. I wonder what this planet is called.
I look up towards the sky (at least, I think it's the sky; it's where I fell from.), and it's brighter. And it's very blue. I'm guessing they have a solar like us; I don't know of anything else that brightens the planet.
It's the white thing during the darkness that scares me. I have no idea what the darkness means. It's always bright on my home planet, Oute.
I look at my hands, burned and scratched, and feel a pang of homesickness. I wonder if they're still going on with the plan despite my disappearance. They should, I think. They don't know what's happened to me; they may think I'm Gone. They can't wait for me. They need to conquer Planet Opp.
But I still feel pain. (I try to ignore it.)
I feel alone. I feel abandoned.
Then I hear it. There's a slight rustling in the forest—if those giant things clustered together is a forest. I turn towards the noise, my mind whirling with worry. The forests here are much bigger than on Out. I feel so small here, so vulnerable. Anything can come out of that forest.
And then I see it. Pale pink, and oh my outish it's huge. I can't even tell how many times taller it is than I am. Five hundred times, maybe? Probably more than that. Outish, it's huge. It's coming towards me with a long brown thing in its hand. I gasp and shrink back. Two more come running after the other one, but they're smaller. Outis, I think, and I remember the smaller Outers on Oute.
They're coming, walking straight towards my ship… and me.
And they're still walking, the creature's outi is making high-pitched noises that sound cheerful, but I don't know if that's their battle cry and they're coming and oh my outish, they're still coming--
They walk past me without even pausing. They just keep going, the outi following behind the bigger creature.
That's when I realize that I'm too small to be noticeable on this planet, this gigantic planet, this one planet where Outers are small and the aliens are bigger than us.
Why haven't we heard of this planet?
I turn around towards the creatures that came out of the forest, my antennae twitching, and I that's when I see them. The small creatures here. How did I not notice them?
They're black and have three circles and six legs. They're walking in a line, carrying what I'm guessing is a food source towards a giant pile of sand. Then there are the two-winged yellow and black buzzing things. There are bigger small creatures, too. There are these things that chirp and chirp and sing and fly. Other things that prowl on the surface, waiting to attack. There are also black-fuzzy creatures with brown snouts that climb trees.
Oh my… there are so many of these small creatures that the bigger creatures just ignored. And I was one of them.
Where in the universe am I?
Day 1: Darkness Again
It's dark again. I'm still where I left off—alone next to my crashed ship. No way to contact the Outos, my leaders. No way to contact anyone. I'm alone on a strange, big planet. I don't even know if this is a planet, but what else could it be?
It's odd that this planet is so much like Oute. Oute has air and apparently this planet does too. Oute has a solar; this planet I think does too. The only thing really different are the amount of creatures. On Oute, Outers are the superior species because we are all bigger than our enemies. We conquered all of the planets around us except Planet Opp because we were smarter, because we were bigger, because we had the technology from our own kind and the technology from the creatures we enslaved. Here the creatures are bigger than any of us. We are the small ones.
And I can't help but wonder: Did the Outos know about this planet? If they did, did they choose not to tell the Outers because they knew that these creatures here could kxll us all?
The Outos are my leaders, my wonderful amazing leaders. They've given us a great advantage; we, as Outers, have already conquered so many other planets. The species of those planets fear us because we are bigger and we have the advanced technology—scouting ships, rockets, bombs, maps, translators, tracking devices; you name it.
I don't want to think that they hid this planet from us. They wouldn't lie, would they?
But now I don't know.
They said my ship was the top its class. Tested dozens of times to be sure there would be no malfunctions, but what do you know? My ship had a malfunction.
I jump at the sound of… what is that? Chirps? It's a musical sound, relaxing but loud. I stare across the ground, at the green stalks blowing in the wind. There! It's a brown small creature and my outish, it looks weird. It's brown and has long back legs, tiny wings, and antennae like mine.
I turn my head back around, not wanting to know what that thing is. Probably not vicious, but I just don't know. I wish I had the translator with me. With that, I could translate any language into ours; that's another reason why we can conquer so many planets.
I'm still scared.
Then I remember. I have a translator on my ship. But did it survive the crash?
Standing up, I walk slowly over to my crashed ship. I gasp and look away. I don't want to see it like this: Outer technology reduced to a pile of useless rubble.
How could the translator have survived that? But then again, I survived it. There's a chance it did, too.
The ship's door is broken, hanging wide open. I look inside, and sigh. Everything is upside down. Glass and test tubes are on the floor. My goggles are crushed and broken, lying in a corner. They would've come in handy, too, with their ability to view microscopic creatures. We used those goggles to defeat Planet Jei, home to the Jeians, the microscopic creatures.
I look over to the steering room of the ship. The wheel is crumpled together, squashed into a square. I open the cabinets, which are in surprisingly good shape compared to the rest of the ship. I see the little box the translator is in, dented but in good condition. Grabbing it, I back out of the room.
I avert my gaze from the destruction. Instead, I keep my eyes on the ground, hopping over the pieces of glass. I can't afford an injury; the first aid kit was destroyed in the fire.
The darkness is breath-taking when I finally get out of the ship. I'm still not used to it.
Why does it get dark when this planet has a solar? The white thing in the sky glows, illuminating the ground. I sit the translator box on the ground, and open it.
It's dented, but I hope it still works. I pick up the circle and put it around my neck. I press the button.
And nothing happens.
I deflate. I feel myself start to give up, give in to this horrid planet. There's no way that I can survive without knowing what the creatures here are saying.
I plop down, putting my hands on my head, and I cry.
There's a light under my feet when I open my eyes. When I look down completely, I see my planet's insignia glowing pink, casting an eerie glow on the ground around me.
I jump up with joy when I see the glow. It works, it still works. It actually works!
I make my way back to the brown chirping creature, running, hoping it's still there. The chirping is still going on, so it's still here somewhere… there! I push a button on the translator, and that's when I hear it: Eat, eat. Life, life, life. Need food. Come to me. Come.
That's what the brown creature is saying. It doesn't seem too bright, but I decide that I may be able to get information about this planet from it.
Where am I? What are you? I ask the creature. I can't stop a laugh from escaping when I hear my words translated into the creature's language.
The creature stops and stares at me. Earth, it says. Earth, Earth. Cricket I am.
I've crashed on Earth?
Day 2: Brightness
The solar is back in the sky. I'm so happy to see it again. I thought the darkness would never go away this time.
This planet is Earth. There was no such planet name on our maps, no such planet. There wasn't supposed to be anything here. It was supposed to be empty space, filled with stars.
I'm confused and lost here on Earth. Everything is too big, and what am I supposed to eat? On Planet Oute, we eat these blue plants called Spoorks. They're all we need to eat, and they grow everywhere. There are no Spoorks here on Earth.
I decide that I should find something edible on this strange planet. Now that I have my translator, I should be able to talk to all the creatures here on this planet.
That stops me from standing up. How does the translator work if… if the Outos did not know that this planet was here? We Outers aren't that smart. We can't program a language into the translator if we've never heard that language spoken before.
So how did I talk to that cricket during the darkness? There's no possibly way.
Unless… unless the Outos did know about this place.
But if they knew about it, why didn't they tell me?
Did they want me to crash, to burn, to be Gone?
No, no they wouldn't do that to me… would they? I am their top commander, their top Gone-creator, their top conqueror. My leaders wouldn't want me to be Gone?
But there's no other way that the translator would work. It's impossible. Inconceivable.
And yet, it did work on that cricket creature. That must mean that our technicians knew the cricket language.
If they had known the cricket language, that must mean they've either been here before… or there could be crickets on other planets!
I laugh. Of course! There must be crickets on other planets. Somehow, we must've conquered the Cricket Planet but some were able to make their way to Earth.
I smile. That makes perfect sense. Shame on me for doubting the Outos.
I look for the cricket creature, walking back to where I had spoken to it last darkness. I wonder if the darkness will come again. I decide to ask the cricket that when I find it.
There! I see the cricket up ahead. The creature is only a little bit taller than I am, a little taller than us Outers. I smiled when I thought about how we must've conquered the crickets, and we were smaller than them!
I walk over to the cricket and tap the button on my translator around my neck. Cricket creature, I say in the cricket's language. You say I am on Earth. Why is there darkness here on Earth?
The cricket creature stops biting a green thing and looks up. Darkness? What is that you speak of? It pauses. Oh, must you mean the night-time? Night-time is bedtime. Sleep-time for most Earth creatures. But some night-time creatures come out because day-time is no good for them.
I am confused. This darkness has a name other than darkness? Night-time, you say?
Yes, blue creature, yes, the cricket says.
And this… brightness is called day-time? What type of planet is this? Does it always happen? Night-time and day-time?
The cricket laughs a chirping laugh. Yes, blue, yes. Ways of Earth it is. Night-time is when we crickets sleep away the day. Other creatures like owls and bat creatures come out at night and prey on other night-time creatures. Dangerous night-time is, yes, yes.
I'm so confused. There are time-changes here on this planet. There is nothing else like it in our solar system. I am in a whole different system! My ship must've had the wrong coordinates for Planet Opp.
So it is normal for night-time and day-time to occur? I ask the cricket.
Yes, yes, blue creature. It pauses and tips its head. Where on Earth have you been? It's like this everywhere except the cold-places.
This time I laugh. I am an Outer from Planet Oute. I have crashed on this Earth while on a scouting mission for my planet. We are on a Destroy mission to conquer Planet Opp. You must know who we are, since Outers have conquered Cricket Planet, have we not?
The cricket looks at me in a weird way. I know not of what you speak. Sure you are not crazy? No such things as creatures from other planets, no, no. Earth is the only planet.
I look at the cricket, mocking how it looked at me. You know not? We destroyed Cricket Planet! Of course you know us. Earth isn't your home planet.
The cricket laughs a chirping laugh. You, blue creature, strange creature. Earth has been home to Crickets and many others. Has always. Earth is 'Cricket Planet' as well as 'Ant Planet' and 'Mouse Planet'. You blue-creature are strange, strange indeed you are.
My heart thumps wildly. They have always lived here? No Cricket Planet? Then how does my translator work? It's impossible!
I shake my head at the cricket. No, no, cricket, you are wrong. You have to be wrong.
But the cricket does not give. Strange blue creature, please leave me. You are nonsense on four legs. Go fill another's head with butterflies.
Butterflies? What nonsense are those? I think back to what the cricket said before. Other creatures live here, you say? Why doesn't one take over the other?
We live mainly in peace, blue creature. Humans are the dominant ones, for they have made things beyond comprehension. Humans do eat us creatures, but that is their natural way. We are the prey, and humans are the ultimate predator. Everything listens to humans or we perish in ponds or the other creatures are eaten. You be wise, blue creature, and leave the humans alone.
Humans? What are humans? I ask.
You know not of humans? Humans may not be the biggest creature, but smartest they are. They are pink and tall, but start out like a medium size creature. Other creatures are bigger, but humans are better and wittier. Be wise, blue creature, and leave them alone, the cricket says, and with that, it hops away.
The cricket leaves me utterly confused.
Day 2: Night-time
It is night-time on Earth. Day-time has passed.
It is day two of no food for me, and I start to feel the pains of hunger. Outers can only go five days without Spoorks or we Gone.
I need to find the cricket again and ask it where the Spoorks are, but it is night-time and I am afraid to leave my ship at night-time, even if it is useless and destroyed.
If what the cricket says about the humans is true, then those are the pink things I saw on my first day here. If humans are so smart, they could find my ship and fix it for themselves.
Humans must be… smarter than us Outers, for they have avoided us for so long.
The Outos must know about Earth because the cricket says they have lived here forever. We must have tried to conquer Earth... but failed.
Then why were my coordinates set to Earth? Did the Outos do that on purpose?
My head hurts, and I feel pain again.
The pain of loneliness, the pain that you were forgotten, sent to be Gone from Out.
Did the Outos really want me Gone, to cease to exist? Outos do send out Outers that are too old to continue serving Planet Oute. They never come back. The Outos want them Gone because the old Outers have no use to live anymore.
But if the Outos did want me Gone, why? I am a young Outer, a good Outer, a loyal Outer. I never did anything to upset them. I was the best Outer, even the Outos said so!
I hate thinking about the Outos this way, so I decide it is time for me to sleep. On Out, we sleep every once in a while. I guess that is two days here on Earth.
I sigh and go to sleep.