Terra Puniceus

I don’t even get to wonder what sort of monsters this planet has lying in wait; they’re just seeking me out. When I lean over a stream to wash a viscous yellow liquid from my arms, my reflection catches me by surprise.

If only Mom could see me now, I wonder. A seventeen year-old girl looks so wrong draped in grenades, firearms, knives, and alien blood.

Thankfully, my ruined parachute makes a decent sleeping bag. The trek to the nearest human compound will take about two days – if I survive. After checking my rounds, I fasten my weapons and backpack and head north through the jungle. The distant sun illuminates the vegetation with pale lavender light from the other side of a dark atmosphere. Everything is a splattered purple shape against a black canvas.

As I creep between rubbery trees and waxy leaves, I wonder if anyone else is alive. The scientists, the pilot, the specimens… The way our shuttle exploded, it’s a miracle I made it. Rescue won’t be an option until the next group of researchers arrives in two weeks. My objective, however, remains the same: install nuclear power-packs at each compound and bring them back to life.

Ahead, I see where the jungle ends and the rocky terrain of Psyron Canyon begins. I kneel to fill my canteen.

Rumbling, like a gurgling volcano, erupts just feet behind me. Slowly, I turn my head.

White teeth as long as my pistol drip with thick, yellow venom. A rope-like tongue tastes the air to see what large, milky eyes cannot.


I whirl around. The massive beast inches toward me. I step backwards, ducking to avoid the pink feeler. A cloud of rancid breath envelops me. I turn on my heel and sprint for the canyon. My footfalls must resonate through this spongy ground, for the creature thunders after me.

I leap over fallen branches and weave through vines. We reach the jungle’s edge, and I know a gorge lies ahead. My only thought is my rappel. I dive for a tree and fasten my rope around the trunk. The creature pursues, and I bolt for the cliff.

Something catches, and I’m yanked back like a dog on a leash. The creature has the rope pinned beneath its feet, and it’s slowly gaining on me.

I am trapped. I swing my gun around and fire a few rounds at the beast’s gaping mouth. It shrieks and stumbles aside, off my rope. I turn and leap off the cliff. Only about six feet down, my rope grows taut, and I slam against the rock wall.

That’s it? I tugged on my rope, praying for more length.

Soon, the beast’s head looms above, soaking me with noxious venom and putrid saliva. Sword-like claws reach for me, and I fire into its mouth again, drenching myself in another vile liquid. The beast slips and tumbles over the edge, letting out a deafening screech. I dangle for a moment, watching it fall hundreds of feet to its death. I heave myself back up onto the sandy ground and flop on my back. Relief pulses through me, and as I catch my breath, a smile dares to cross my face. I look up.

I’m staring into the eyes of another hungry beast.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *