Fiction, Short fiction, Short story


Oindrila Gupta, December 7, 2022

Year 2320 of our era. Logbook. It’s been years since we crossed the far reaches of the Milky Way. We return after a prior successful exploration. Several black holes discovered. Unable to reduce the propulsion speed without shutting down the engines causing them. We exceed programmed speed. We break the time barrier. Fuel in short supply. End of crew hibernation. Earth is finally in sight. It is recognisable, but the poles are not visible. We enter the atmosphere. The temperature is high and humid. Unknown seas and rivers. Impossible to select a landing point. We avoid wooded areas. We spot a rocky platform at high altitude where we land. The coordinates indicate Sahara, but everything is green, lush, and full of water. We leave behind the eerie, eternal, and empty channel that has brought us to life. At dawn, we are surrounded by slender people with skin made reddish by clays and clothes of geometric patterns and striking headdresses. We keep helmets and gloves on. We avoid disease transmission. An imposing shaman threatens the village. We have found a way to understand each other. They guide us through their strange city on rocks aligned in streets and avenues made infinite by the effect of the mists. Children’s cries splash in the pools. Flowers, fruits, fauna. The light, a bubble of gold under rainbows by nearby waterfalls. It is a happy village. Days pass. Unconsciously, we plant the seed of evil: We teach them how to perfect their hunting weapons. Now they are superior to neighbouring villages. Grateful, at night, rhythmic footsteps and polyphonies make us vibrate, eagerly. In homage, some young people paint us in their cave-house. I appear in my helmet, scarf, and boots. Amazed, I recognise the 8,000-year-old drawing. We are now born as gods and will suffer for it.

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