I was the Captain. It was my responsibility.
Seven of us went in. Six of us came out.
I’m not sure who we lost; Eric or Myrtle. She came out with Myrtle’s skin, hair, and eyes, but she had Eric’s lisp, Eric’s strut, and Eric’s empty, hollow stare. She didn’t say much the whole trip home; none of us did. She only watched the stars as they blurred and twisted into the distance outside the ship.
It was minutes before our return to Earth when we realized it. It was far too late to do anything about it. As the tiny blue marble exponentially grew in size, enveloping the inky, black space in glowing blue and white, Myrtle… or Eric… tore through their five-point harness with newly sprouted claws. She pushed their self upward from her seat, defying the thousands of pounds of gravity sitting upon them. Her skin bubbled and split at the joints, revealing the white spiny hairs with green, spongy tips throbbing beneath the surface.
As we entered the atmosphere, our ship barely holding together, fire screaming outside, she pierced the control panel with the tentacles growing from their hips, and the cabin went dark.
I woke up to find myself still strapped into my seat, the belt driving a deep bruise into my neck. I was upside down and alone. I didn’t know how long I had been out.
When did we land? What happened?
It took me a few minutes to unbuckle myself. Smashing onto my back, I looked up and around the cabin. They were all dead, hanging lifelessly in their seats; all of them except two. Two seats were unoccupied.
The cabin hull was ripped to shreds; like something had pulled it apart from the inside, tearing through the metal alloy like a paper towel. Beyond the breach, I could see the wake of destruction; broken trees, uprooted bushes, razed ground, and a long, snaking path of smeared, odd-shaped foot-prints and sloppily interwoven drag marks.
I pulled myself from the wreckage and stood upon the devastated ground, realizing this was not the work of my landing.
Instinctively, I followed in the direction of the drag marks. As I came to the edge of the forest I could see the towering silhouette of Christ the Redeemer looking down on the city of Rio De Janeiro, and at my feet I saw Myrtle’s empty sack of flesh. It was covered in a white and green fungus. It looked like it had been there for weeks.
That was when I noticed the thick haze of smoke and ash in the sky and as I inspected the cityscape closer, I saw the thousands of fires blazing across the horizon. The city was burning, and at its center I saw the massive swinging tentacles rising up over the skyscrapers, and I remembered what brought me here – who brought it here.
What had I done?