Contrast is a story I started a decade ago and modified a couple of times, then a couple more. I'm not truly happy with it but I doubt I'll ever be, so here it is, such as it is. Jargon and other cultural references have been fished off the Internet, in unabashed ignorance of those respective cultures. If anyone who reads this has any minor corrections to suggest in terms of verisimilitude, you're welcome to comment.
I was uphill with the goats when the ifriti, what you call dawn’s children, first came, and it was dusk. It was the dogs that told me first. They heard the whispers in the air, you know, with their ears all pointed up and cringing to the ground. Dogs have good ears not just good noses you know, better than us. The goats were only a little scared but the dogs whined and tried to hide and I was trying to quiet them down, talking them down, when I realized I wasn’t the only one talking. I head east when I’m heading home, or used to when I was heading to my old home, so it came from up and behind me. It was. Just like that. No steps, no shadows, but I heard whispers from behind me and was scared, you know, of robbers. Turned around into dead air.
No, not dead. Wrong word. Living air. They were talking all around me. It was words, four words repeating but nothing I could understand. Like they were a world away and just their words were there with me. Then I backed away behind a rock and it was gone. I hurried home. Sarim, I suppose it’s alright to say now they killed him, he had a satellite dish hidden inside the roof of his outhouse. He was already running to all the houses calling us to see what was happening. You kafirun, you call them “angels” but that is foolishness and you must stop it. Malaaikah would separate those of the faith from the unclean, not judge us alike.
When dawn’s children first appeared? I was asleep. I think we all must have been, this whole damn species.
I always hear people say that nobody who watched the sun rise that day when the angels came can see no more. An’ I keep telling them it ain’t true. I can see, we can all see, but the sight never changes. It’s just like it was, that one instant, when they broke through. So now when I walk I’m still walking down the beach road to the old diner. And no matter where I turn my head, I’m still looking left and seeing twenty-seven suns breaking out over the Atlantic.
Rome was the first. I take pride in this. First ruin of the new age, ha. It was half a ruin before anyway so it doesn’t matter, hahaha. You know, I always hated my family dragging me to church all the time, with that fat priest waving his golden dress around beneath his stained-glass dawn. I like to think they got the fat man first, first of all. I like to think they came special for him, and his fat eaten out of the money of old widows buying heaven for their dead husbands, for him and his shriveled old cock he used to stick into every pretty young whore who came to him for absolution. Maybe the children came right through that beautiful, priceless colored window put up by some other fat letch of a priest two hundred years ago, all glorious and brilliant, and the old man kneeling at them and praying at them right before they sliced him, you know, the way they do everyone. Maybe I wouldn’t hate them so much if they got him first.
The first thing everyone did was point their phones up. We didn’t know what dawn’s children looked like yet. Half the satellites were already down by mid-day, but we still got some news here and there. We heard of Europe getting hit, and then the United States. People started going crazy. It seemed like the old and the young got stupidest the fastest. Toothless old obasan saying the Americans got what they deserved, and that these were the bosatsu bringing balance back to the world, and whole schools of brainless thrill seekers all crowding to rooftops with their phones pointed up at the empty blue sky. They all thought they were going to film a bunch of cartoon spaceships and demons. Then they went blind and stumbled around while they split apart three by three, three by three.
The priest told us the angels had finally come down. He pointed to his colored pictures on the walls and said that’s what the children of the dawn looked like. He was wrong. He had a car and a television and he said the television didn’t work any more, but we knew he was lying. The village gets quiet at night, and we could hear it through the walls of his house whenever the electricity was on. Michel said he was lying. Michel was a drunk you know, used to steal whiskey from the trucks that stopped at the gas station down the road. He had an idea though, that the priest was white so he must’ve thought that since the children were white they’d be on his side. I asked him what they’d do with us blacks and he just laughed into his bottle and said they’d be like other whites, they wouldn’t care unless we had diamonds or elephants. Michel was wrong too.
Two days later Martin’s gang came through. Our militia had been called off to the city and they hadn’t been answering calls, so when Martin’s jeeps drove in, there was nobody to stop them. They dragged the twins out from their grandmother’s house after they’d shot the old woman and raped them for hours in the middle of the village before Martin took a knife to their nuts and let them bleed to death. They dragged the rest of us out to watch and beat us until we told them where we’d each hidden our money.
He hit too fast to see. By the time you realized something was happening, you were already just remembering the images. Martin, split from groin to forehead with a white-hot blowtorch. The man he was suffocating, the same. The woman lying on the ground, already dead, was in two pieces before Martin’s body had even started to drop. And then two seconds pass before we all start to scream. The wind says four words, but in a language none of us can understand, and in the next instant three more men fall as they’re turning to run away.
The priest, running towards us blessing the almighty, crumples to the ground split open by a hand whiter than he is.
The initial reports are now known to have been incorrect. The attackers do not necessarily work in groups of three. The triple-targeted attacks which have been observed are instead believed to come from a single enemy, not instantaneous but separated only by a few milliseconds. There seems to be no central pattern or strategy. The attacks only happen during the daytime and only outdoors. They have the capacity to destroy most vehicles but don’t seem to take notice of them normally. Satellites, signal stations, relays, wireless routers and any other broadcasting devices, including mobile telephones, all seem priority targets, though they will kill anyone out in the open. Land-lines do not seem to attract attention, so we can still wire some information. The only clear bit of data so far is that light plays a crucial role in their behavior. Until further notice, none, enlisted or civilian, are to leave this compound or even the buildings. Even a second outside can be too long.
This is all we know. We are arranging transport while we wait for word. Any paper maps anyone brought with them would be of great help. Sleeping pills will be distributed with today’s rations. You are dismissed until it’s dark enough to attempt arranging a resupply chain.
- but he was so beautiful.
No, I don’t know why.
He was only like sitting on the pier, like, looking out at the sunset.
I told you, I don’t know. I wasn’t doing anything special, just like, walking home.
No, he didn’t even look at me really.
He was real short, maybe like three feet. Ummm, he only had like one hand, it looked like, the right one. Or maybe the left. He either only had like one leg or I couldn’t see the other one. I couldn’t see his face ‘cause he was like looking away from me I guess. He looked bald, except his head was funny shaped and squishy and transparent going up like there was supposed to be more to it on the top but there wasn’t. And then he sort of stood up and stretched like he was unkinking his back, and then he was like, gone.
Yeah, there is, like, one more thing. He wasn’t shining white, like people say. He was flat black until the moment he turned white and disappeared.
I don’t know what to do either. My parents and my uncle, he was a fish head you know, they all got hit at once on the fourth or fifth day when it all started. Fuck, I don’t even remember. I can’t believe I already forgot when it was. They called me on nan’s old land-line, we all used to laugh at her for keeping that, and said to stay there that they were coming to get me. Then the next day they got out of the car and I guess they must’ve thought the sun hadn’t risen yet so it was safe but there must have been too much light. Just a little too much light. They were just getting out of the car.
I don’t know. Charlie’s boys are all gone now, after they did in Terry and his lot. I think they were only staying around to do that, and after that night they had nothing to do. Everyone’s going mad and there’s nothing you can do. Or maybe everyone’s going mad because there’s nothing you can do. Just find a block where the taps and toilets still work and wait for the canned peas and candy bars to run out. Fuck. I don’t know.
While we still had the land lines we had something to wait for. The police would call us up one by one like they did some of you and tell us the same like they told you, wait and be ready to move, that they were making a plan. An evacuation plan, yeah. People who’ve been up north say the electrical places, they got hit and that’s why everything else is going dead like the phones. Now everybody’s still waiting to move and nobody’s moving. Maybe when winter comes we can move somewhere else. There’s too much light now.
We need to do something and I don’t know what. Fuck me, I don’t know. I don’t know.
You been up to the stairway? Stairway to heaven, yeah, ‘s-what people’r callin it. More o’ that angel bullshit.
Yeah man, they’s buildin it. Don’t ask me how cause shit I ain’t never seen ‘em do fuck-all but cut people open. You can sneak up there though, at night. Didn’t have the balls to get too close to it to touch it, but whatever they’s usin it ain’t steel. I know steel man, I done worked steel all my life, an’ I’s tellin you, no way no tower o’ steel get that cold on a summer night.
Yeah, ‘cold’, man, fuck! You get within fifty feet o’ it and it feels like it’s suckin the heat outta ya! Ground frozen all around it like it’s winter an’ yer eyes playin’ tricks on you like yer lookin’ through a fishtank. Can’t even see it up close, everything goes darker’n night around it.
Fuck Jesus man, forget him, Jesus ain’t got nothin’ to do with this shit. Cause shit, if these’re angels man, where’s the fuckin harps an’ goodwill an’ shit?
What army man? Y’hear about Reynolds? Major Reynolds? Well he ain’t just that no more, now he’s fuckin ‘senator’ Reynolds. Ain’t nobody arguin with his tanks. Y’hear shit about ‘em now, too, like that kid came through here a while back? Talked some shit to one of Reynolds’ crew, an the next day they knocked him out, drove him out to the field in a tank then threw him out for the children to take him.
Shit man, I dunno, fuckin’ dawnies slice anyone, don’t they?
Of the United States man, yeah, of the whole damn thing. Him and a couple air force generals is what I hear, they just called themselves senators one day.
Well if you find any real ones, go ask ‘em.
Alright listen up! Results from the Leeds job are in. The cold-suits worked! They got out safe, heading ba-
- I said they’re headi-
Alright, quiet! They’re heading back tomorrow night. They only got one foot of the thing and it’s still standing on two but it’s more’n anyone else has done including the goddamn bleedin’ tank regiment!
Quiet down! Soon as we get enough smoke canisters and boomjuice, we’re blasting the other collector array, up near Newcastle, probably about fifty days from now. New place, keep moving, keep to the underground and storm drains where we can, keep out of the light, keep ‘em off guard, gonna try for two feet of the thing now and bring it down!
We’ll show these bastards how to kill.
We’ll fucking show ‘em!
Two more months they say. And we’re starving, the few of us left, on half meals while they drill from San Diego with those big earth bores. Nobody got the guts anymore to go above. We knew when the corn was ready last month. We’d marked it down on the calendar, we wanted to go up and get it all, but even at night now they can get you. Like light from heaven, top of the stairway a week’s walk away, and it’ll pick you off before you even realize it. So they talked a lot, Miguel and Jesus and the rest and they talked about going up and they talked all the roads they were gonna take and they puffed out their chests like game cocks and they just kept talking night after night. Finally they went up a few times and came back an hour or three later, saying the gas stations were all empty and we couldn’t do anything without gas for the tractors. So they talked again the next night and the next and yelled at each other and that’s when Jesus got knifed and everyone saw it but nobody’s talking about it.
So finally I said, look, let’s just get all the gas we have left in one tractor, just one, and get out there. Let’s get what we can. We’ll gather it by hand like they used to, it can’t be that hard, it’s better than going into the winter with what we had left. It’d be better than starving. Maybe we dig holes in the field and sleep in them through the day out of sight. Something. I stood there by the door calling them out and nobody stood with me, nobody even got up. They all sat and stared down at the ground like there isn’t just ground in every direction now. I tried the next night and the next and the next and then Miguel finally went off with a few of the younger ones, but they never came back. So the month passed, and we’re still waiting. We just tore off the calendar page.
We tried. I guess that’s what I’m saying. We tried. Dios mio, we tried. But I’m saying… I guess what they sent me here to say is, we don’t have enough left; we don’t have any more to spare for you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. If they don’t get here with the drills…
You tell me, Edmund! You tell me, you and your goddamn brain trust. We dug you out of that rotting neon-lit pit while you were eating your own lab rats, and don’t fucking say you weren’t doing it like the others were, I saw what was in your locker!
I do not give one single solitary shit if the Incans ate guinea pigs you overeducated moron, the point is you need to pull your damn weight! We could’ve saved three hundred people in the time it took to get the ten of you out of your little ivory bunker. We need two things from you now, no, yesterday. We need workable supply solutions and we need information. They are not interested in talking. We can’t ask them.
So now it’s your turn. You figure it out!
Why are they here?
I had never thought they’d do it. We’d given them the key, but it was so unthinkable, for any of us with any moral capacity whatsoever.
Darkness. Whatever the children truly are, however many aeons ahead of us they are in terms of scientific advancement, they are dependent on the sun. It was logical to fight them using darkness. And so we did: high-refraction aerosols, insulated suits, night-time raids, smoke screens across a hundred kilometers. Blowing up the collector arrays to try to starve them out, yes. But not this.
Hell, not this.
They’re not even coordinating, they’re not even hitting the solar arrays at all. They’re just bombing the cities, our own cities. I don’t think it can even be called a government anymore. Maybe it’s not even the warlords. It’s the staff of those places, I’m telling you. Months, years now of mental pressure and isolation. They’re finally snapping.
And it’s not even working, hell! Did you see the video from yesterday? From Chicago? It’s incredible. Four of them standing right at ground zero, just soaking it in. And it almost makes sense if you think about their past behavior, almost, until you remember the sun, remember the Earth’s -
No, you can’t see them clearly. Just shadows, since they’d switched into their absorption metabolism.
You know what’s funny? My grandfather had a bomb shelter.
There was… I was crying because of the… because my foot hit something. My foot hit it.
Yes, outside their door. You… know, then. Yeah… yeah, I was the one who found it.
They didn’t even bother hiding him, hiding their… never even a name. Right outside their door.
… … …
Sorry, I’m sorry. Hoo. I’m sorry, I’m ok now. I’m ok. Yeah, I’ll tell you.
I don’t bother with socks now in my sandals. Got used to the cold down here, even when the radiator grid fails. I almost stubbed my toe on it, except it was so soft. Soft and small and cold. One touch of my toe and I knew what it –he was. I don’t know why I bent down to feel it.
Their door opened and I smelled both their breaths above me while I was crouching down there over it, like a, like some animal at their garbage. The twenty-seven suns were all dancing so I was probably crying already. Can’t remember. He couldn’t say anything. Just swallowed. She whispered “it’s not crying anymore” and they closed the door again.
He wasn’t even a terat like the others! Do you understand? It’s the only reason I didn’t take him in earlier. Didn’t think I had to. He wasn’t a terat. They were never up in the dust, never near a stairway, neither of them. Their chromosomes or whatever are perfect. He was perfect, like his sister. Ten fingers, ten toes, but not listless like her. Not just eating and rolling in his crib. I’d touched him before. I’d held him so many times whenever they asked for help, whenever I could help. They say he cried too much, but he always went quiet when I talked to him up close and blessed him, he’d touch my face trying to see me through the dark. Like I saw his bony little face with my fingers past the suns of the first dawn, I’d bend down and he’d see my face with his ten perfect little fingers through the dark. Oh, God!
A girl would get them more rations, to grow up healthy on the inside to bear more children, to rebuild, like that damn Canuck in his filthy old army uniform keeps saying. And he was small, I know, and too thin already, and he cried and kept them all awake, and always wanted to feel new things and they were both always too tired. They wanted another fat, quiet one instead.
In the hallway, I picked him up and, and, and, his neck, his head… w-wobbled, totally quiet. I don’t remember much after that, except crying.
Someone else came and took him out of my hands, took him to the composter like the terat from last month, and the one before that, and the one before that.
They used to leave them in the woods, back in the old days, except we don’t have woods anymore. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide our shame. He would’ve loved the woods, I just know it. I imagine his tiny little hands running over moss, leaves and tree bark like they used to over my face. Feeling. He was crying for lack of feeling.
He can’t cry anymore, so maybe that’s why I can’t stop. I don’t know. What are we rebuilding?
Give us food and water.
Yes, we kill. Does not matter, we kill. But food for all, yes?
We come in boat under sea. Fifty.
Yes. One hundred in every. Some die, but enough of us. We do anything for you, good workers, you see.
No, no, no, Peking blow up. Like your coasts. Nuclear, you know? No Singapore either, no Seoul, no Tokyo. Nuclear. Boom. No rivers either. Dust in water. Nuclear. Like your Thames.
No, no. We come from Europe now. Many stairway. Too much dark around. Nothing else left.
Africa? No. No nuclear, less cloud, even more stairway.
Boats go back tomorrow, bring more. Workers for you, yes? They listen to me. No worry. We work. We kill. We cross west. New York blow up, but maybe in the gulf.
So, the, errr, “shroomery” as the younger crowd has christened it, report is ready. Agaricus weight is up about ten percent over last month. We’ve also isolated a mellea strain that’s doing great on all those dead trees you’ve been dropping on us when you collapse the topsoil. We’d like you to funnel the wood to us instead of letting people burn it. Yes, I know it helps morale but the smoke is playing havoc with the air filters anyway. The practice should never have been allowed to become so popular in these enclosed spaces in the first place. It’s not logi- yes, alright. Yes, sir.
The algae supplement we’re shipping from the seaside filters is helping and as for animal protein, everyone seems to have stopped calling them earthworms but the paste is in high demand nonetheless. Here, I can’t say we’re doing so well. Yield is diminishing, the algal blooms are too unpredictable without being able to monitor the sea surface and… it won’t last. The cloud cover is deepening. We have no way of synthesizing all the microelements. We can’t keep the whole system going.
Maybe another ten years.
No, it’s not that long. I know it sounds long because we’ve been living so many years day by day, but ten years is nothing. You have to start thinking long term. Listen, malnutrition and sensory deprivation on a population-scale is not something we can so easily ‘repair’ later on. We can only compensate so much. The effects over time, the decrease in quality of-
I know we don’t have problems with outright teratogeny anymore but something lingered. Maybe not even genetic. Maybe cultural.
Yes, but look, remember I told you about the foxes… yes, the foxes. It only took-
Yes. Yes, sir.
Yes, there’s something else. Have you looked at the kids? I mean really gone to the crèche and sat there looking them over, seeing how they… how they act, in general?
Listen to my words, fighters! Listen to the truth. We are born into darkness before we ever see the light! In our mothers’ wombs we know the truth of our natures, and that truth is night. Bring night with you wherever you go, by cloud and shade, and your enemies shall be defeated. Our true essence is to be buried, as in the womb, the source of our life. We are anathema to the hated ones, the children of dawn. We are begat in darkness while they bathe in the light. Their attack upon us is carried upon the false promises of the past age, of light and metal spires. Our way is into the womb of our mother earth, into the darkness where our own true power resides. It is only by embracing darkness that we can drive out the light. Work tirelessly, thinking always of our countless dead at the hands of dawn’s children. Fight fearlessly, knowing the death that hesitation brings. All those who do not join in the fight will fall alongside the children!
Follow me, my brothers and sisters, and we shall one night, when we are worthy, know victory in darkness!
Mains four and seventeen must be abandoned. We still don’t know where they’re crossing the Atlantic. We think they’re using British cave systems as natural underwater ports for all those submarines.
Dawn’s children themselves seem to have pulled back to Africa and South America, staying more within the tropics. For all it’s worth, the dust cover does seem to have weakened them. But what a price, my god what a price.
Here’s something we don’t want spread around. It would kill morale. We never got a single damn one of them. Twenty-seven suns broke out at the first dawn, and twenty-seven children are still roaming the earth. It’s confirmed now, been for years. Up in Greenland, before we lost contact, they catalogued the radiation the children give off when they travel. The pattern they emit at their point of arrival is different for each one, and there are twenty-seven different patterns. We’re still catching flashes through the periscopes, always the same twenty-seven flashes. Sarah got one thing right after all.
Over nine billion of us dead in the past decades and we never managed to kill a single one of them. And now these fanatics, stupid enough to actually want to start a war. Over what? What is there even left to…
Have you seen them? They’re not North or South American. Most of their equipment’s Russian, Israeli, Chinese, Turkish, scavenged, all of it. Supposedly they speak some kind of pidgin Mandarin-English, but there’s nothing of England or China left in them anymore either. A whole fleet of nuclear incubators - incubating what, I wonder? Malnutrition, restricted environment, strict selection for group behavior and group survival. They breed like vermin in those boats. Pulled a pregnant girl out of one of them, nothing but skin, bones and bulging veins, and a belly as big as the rest of her. Terat. Tried biting us but she barely had any teeth left. Edmund’s quacks checked it out, said some had fallen out, some never fully grew in, others were broken violently. They swear she could not have been older than twelve, and she looked forty. Who knows what goes on on those submarines. All they have is the fungus farms on land and whatever they can fish out of the sea without surfacing. There were no boys. A couple of men, old codgers in their twenties, but no boys. Just pregnant little girls. We don’t really want to know what happens to their boys, or their girls who can’t breed. On our end, we held back that particular demon at the composter.
I feel old. I’ve felt old since I was a sergeant, since there still were such things as sergeants. Have you tried explaining old age to your children? We’re the last old people. Four generations, Edmund says, it only took Belyaev four generations to start turning foxes into dogs. I have grandchildren now.
The troglodytes? They’ll burn themselves out, in time. It’s untenable. It has to be. We just have to pull back. They have no real weapons but there are so many of them. They keep coming, will keep coming, but we can dig in and…
Dig in. What a strange thing to say nowadays.
It has to be untenable, the death throes of our worst natures. The only other option, well, the only other option is that they’re a bit ahead of the curve.
I asked her why she’d name her daughter something so silly as Eyelid. I asked her as a friend. We have gone through two husbands each and birthed seven children before between the two of us and buried three of them and we always gave them Christian names. To remember. All that she did was to shrug. She said it’s useless. I asked what is, and she said eyelids, the eyelid is a useless organ. Vestigial. There’s been less light every year. The power plant is down to one reactor now. All the electricity’s going to the rice trays and the desalinization plant. Soon we’ll be down to just the generators and when those burn out…
So she said it’s useless. It’s a useless name. I thought she might cry but she just walked off. It was lesson time anyway.
Three generations ago you told me I’m a schoolteacher now. A world without magazines didn’t need editors. So I taught. You said to teach in English, one language for one unified species, so I taught in English. You said to teach math. Ask one of my pupils to recite the multiplication tables. They walk in tired. They wake up tired, shuffle into the school tunnel tired, one hand on the wall so they don’t stumble. Whether or not a tunnel’s lit, they’ve gotten the habit to keep one hand to a wall as they walk, from when they were toddlers. Rickets. That’s the first thing I think watching their skinny legs drag past. Makes me wish for blackouts. Used to tell myself I was imagining, my eyes had gotten bad, the light worse.
I try to tell them why so many of their classmates died last year, try to explain about cholera and what germs are and cleanliness and groundwater. They stare at me. Not even at me. They stare ahead. They move their heads to track the sound of my voice across the room, but if I raise my hands to gesture it means next to nothing to them. Their eyes barely shift.
Go ahead, ask them the multiplication tables. If you recite it for them, they’ll complete one or two answers, by rote. One multiplication they all know. Three by three. “Three by three light burns me.” You’ve heard that one, at what passes for night when they should be sleeping, heard little feet along the corridors chanting that hideous rhyme? “Three by three, light burns me, three-three-three Children be.” They can barely add and subtract but they’ve memorized three to the third from that pendeja Sarah’s babbling about angels.
They don’t call themselves children. We’ve made the word taboo to them. We’ve been such idiots. Even the younger parents don’t use it. They’ve never adopted the words night and day either, just “sleep-time” “meal-time” or “lesson-time” and all the other times. That giant clock in the great hall that Edmund was so proud of, with the glowing dial, they can’t read it worth a damn. Well, they can, all of them, but they don’t care what six o’clock is. The hands point to mealtime and then to lesson-time and then to farming time and digging time and so on. They don’t care one bit about the old legends about Zeus or Hanuman or Moses. Those are mountain-dwelling spirits. I tried explaining mountains and they thought I was talking about tunnels going up. I showed them pictures and they frowned and stared in disbelief. They have their own oral tradition now. We stopped showing videos of the dawnies a decade ago, but it was too late. The older ones tell the younger ones and the younger ones take up the chants. They all know about the angels. They all know what the angels do to our kind.
There is one sort of legend they all like: the chthonic dirges, of Tartarus and Sheol and Niflheim, about demons and shades and goblins digging beneath the world of light. I’ve stopped telling those stories and it’s too late. They know who opposes the angels. They know that light murders darkness. The older ones tell the younger ones and the younger ones…
The youngest ones are the worst, the toddlers. Their laughter, dios mio. That spastic, throaty cackle they hurl at each other in the dark! I can’t stand it anymore. You don’t need a schoolmarm. You need a zookeeper.
Do you know, it’s the collector arrays or so-called ‘stairways’ which gave us the key. Not that the aliens’ behavior makes much sense in the first place. Their main activity has always, always been manually exterminating us. Why did they not bring some doomsday device and just scorch the planet? Why did we not bring more cans of insecticide down here? We found a ten meter wide anthill above tunnel fourteen-twelve, trying to get at our farms.
For stupidity’s sake! Why are they even on a planet’s surface to begin with? Have you ever asked yourself that? No, not the ants, you senile old cracker, the damn children, Dawn’s Children. You asked me that, a long time ago, a very long time ago, you remember? Huh? “Why are they here?” Then you forgot about it because it didn’t matter anymore. All we had was this.
Why would something like them invade a planet’s surface, bringing nothing with them? We’ve seen no examples of their technology so far but those collector arrays. They come down here empty-handed and start building structure after structure to help them feed. Why not just sunbathe in the sun’s corona? Why dive below a magnetosphere and an ionosphere and cloud albedo to then just compensate by building solar collector forests, all the while actively working to displace an existing city-building civilization?
It’s insane. We’re being driven to extinction by the galaxy’s village idiots.
Except I know, I know the answer. Hah. We figured it out decades ago, long before the others turned on each other and died off. Then you stopped asking why and we forgot to tell you. Want to know the answer? You’ve seen it, you’ve seen the answer grow around you, generation after generation. See, we were tending the pits one night and began discussing the stairways -
We already know what the angels say. Four words, it’s all they need. I’ve been staring at those four words for most of my life now: war, death, famine and pestilence.
Dios mio. Hear old Ed-mud say last dig time, ‘fore heart-stop? Say “a bad one all hope, who you into it?” Crazy old shit, he. Kwahahka!
Them little thing lots come, take little food piece away, make one long line from wall to food pits, gotta put finger on them, quick hard push make stop. Little thing with little legs tickle if they get on you, then try bite you. Dios mio. Make stop quick all they or they all try eat you. Them smaller finger, you make stop one-one-one every finger, feel -crunch-, kwahahakha! One-one-one, make stop three by three, three-three-three. Lick after. Food.
No. Dios mio. Not know what they eat when they not breaking food pit. They go underneath. Maybe eat thing smaller than they, maybe eat it three-three-three. Crunch! Kwahahka!
Hear crazy old shit Un-tun make heart-stop for he next sleep time, go up up up. Dios mio. Nothin up there. Crazy old shit. They boss up there. Kwahahka!
Better to die climbing to heaven than ruling hell.