Sunday, June 21, 2015
io9 Concept Art Writing Prompt, Jun 18, 2015
Here is the church, here is the steeple...
Halprin and Swift scrambled across the dusty surface of the barren moon, well aware the Temple was rising behind them. The thing skittered--if skittered could be applied as a term to something clocking in at a hundred and forty tons--after them, as enthusiastically playful as a large--oh, so very large--puppy.
Nobody knew whose bright idea it was to enter one of the Temples first. The indigenous life of Veruca was first meddled with by Eurocorp astronauts two hundred and fifty years ago. They all got religion, and none of them returned. It was assumed one of the usual space disasters befell that first ship, until a salvage team found it intact and in high orbit.
The salvage team, too, found religion, but at least they put out a distress call.
Something about them. The Temple is hollow, something like a lung or closer to a fish's air bladder takes up much of its interior space, trapping in Veruca's thin atmosphere. How what happened next happened is a mystery akin to "who first decided drinking fermented milk was a good idea?" or "who invented pasta?," and these sorts of mysteries always bugged Halprin. Someone on the first colony ship stepped in to one of the Temples--probably, but then who knew?--unaware it was a living organism. That someone was immediately flooded with a deep sense of relief, bordering on euphoria, and the sense of a presence, divine and otherworldly, watching over them. That first settler, he or she, proceeded to take his or her helmet off, kneel down, and pray. Then came other settlers, who settled in alongside. Due to the negligible bacterial makeup on Veruca, they didn't properly decay when they died. They were more...mummified, their faces still rapt in worship, staring forward into the eyes of God.
None of this seemed to bother the Temples. They seemed hardly to notice unless they were awakened, but didn't make an effort to eat anybody (that was a different orifice altogether from the lung) they just wanted to play. They just wanted to understand.
Swift breathlessly radioed the shuttle, and Halprin cast a look back through the periphery of his helmet at the skittering Temple. He could swear it was doing some kind of cat-like butt wiggle.
Amanda was in there. She'd found religion, and she probably wasn't coming out.