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I wrote this today at the Peter Cowan Writers Centre (PCWC).
Writing Prompt: Write a short story and incorporate a description of the illustration on the card provided.
The featured image is the card given to me. I have no idea where the card is from or who illustrated it and take no credit for it whatsoever. I merely took a photo of it and posted it on here.
None of us on Earth believed the footage to be real. It looked as though someone had kidnapped a team of fantasy animators and forced them to mash together every fairy, goblin, haunted willow, man-eating flower, and demon from every storybook ever.
What we saw through our contactHUDs was a breathing forest world. Branches seemed to wrap like tentacles in pain; glassy pelts shimmered in columns of violet light through a verdant canopy; flying forms hovered delicate between bursting petals of colours never seen by the human eye; azure pools tore upon the streaking fins of water-beasts of untold proportions. And through this mess of life, always behind the rich, brown trunks of giant trees, seemingly the only creature to take note of our alien presence, they were peaking.
They were the ones who called to us.
Of course, the footage we were allowed to see was a mere sliver of the data collected by the colonists. It was all we got for an entire month. Naturally, the internet tore it to pieces, shredded it, and set the remains on fire. But then the high-resolution photographs started to circulate — close-ups of them. And all of this was backed by proper scientific evidence.
An image of one of their males was the first hardprint I have ever made. I now stow it in the slide-out tray beneath the realwood desk passed to me from my grandfather.
The thing — the intelligent extra-terrestrial creature — is an elongated humanoid with prodding, acute fingers, and an onion head. It’s cloud-grey all over, aside from tips of bronze on its elfin ears, beaked nose, and pointed skull. Like every creature (including flora or fauna… or a blurring between flora and fauna) on its forest home world, it caters a form of bioluminescence — two whip-like antennae tipped in white light. And the thing has whiskers… wise, cheeky whiskers overhanging a horizontal line-for-a-mouth, that at any moment might spill words in a cunning, mischievous tone.
The longer I scrutinised the image, the more instilled with fear I became. I think it was the creature’s eyes. If they had been large, round things with bulging iris and dainty lashes, I would have considered it cute. But they were tiny pebbles, black-glazed and cruel.
Although, I make these assumptions of character based on an association of physical characteristics to behavioural action on our world. What is to say that their devious grin isn’t a sign of curiosity? What is to say those beady eyes don’t pearl over in awe?