Acuminate

The creatures were hideous. Their pale skin was almost translucent, and below its surface pulsated blue veins that lolled like worms in the salmagundi of their crude muscles. They were built like tents, their rachitic scaffolding affording them only the crudest sort of waddle; no doubt their natural life was as stationary monsters, something like anemones. Their heads were acuminate bulbs of flesh. Long pink tongues sprouted from the alimentary holes at the top of their skulls, flickering wildly in the air like spastic snakes, tasting, tasting for us. Their stiff gaits turned their approach into a tottering march of weird flesh.

I raised my raygun and fired at the beasts. Tongues darted inside their tapered heads. A terrible sucking sound. The wounded fell in blazes, crozzled howls rising over the moon’s jagged desert. Still the army waddled on pushing aside the crackling limbs of their brethren.

I grabbed Arnold by the shoulder. “Come on, Doctor, your translator is useless against these things. They’re no more intelligent than catkins.”

“No!” The man flung my arm away and then in panic pushed me towards the monsters. “I must speak to them. For the sake of the world.”

“The world, Doctor?” I blasted an approaching creature with my raygun. The marchers behind it lowered their bulbous heads and began to lick at the flames. I watched in horror as their tongues disappeared and the beasts sucked in their fiery fallen. They expelled the ashes from the same orifice directly into our faces like a charnel smokescreen.

I rushed to the cliff’s edge and wiped at my goggles. “Doctor, the world needs us to destroy these monsters. But first we have to regroup, get back to the ship.”

“Ship? What ship?” Arnold’s blackened smile was a postcard straight out of Hell. “I set the coordinates to impact with the nearest asteroid. The team will be destroyed, Captain. I must be free to pursue my science!”

Aghast, I almost struck him. But there was no time. I leaped down the ridge to escape the waddling monsters. I holstered my raygun and looked up to see them surround Arnold. He tried to touch their clammy skin but his hands grasped only their flickering tongues. And then… The sound still haunts my foulest nightmares.

“Damn you, Arnold,” I muttered to myself, as I set off for the embassy at a sprint. I had to warn them; I had to bring the ship back to the moon. Behind me came the wet smacks of the monsters rolling down the ridge after me. I raised my soot-scorched voice to the sky: “Damn you and your science!”

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