You sort of imagine the monoliths being these massive, imposing things, like in the movies. Something the primitive apes would look up at in awe. Origin and purpose still a mystery, all that. At least, that's what you think for the first few seconds it takes for someone to tell you about the monoliths, because the next thing they tell you is that these black constructs are microscopic. Atomic. That they have been infiltrating the Earth for billions of years, but nobody saw them.
Then that someone tells you that they bleed.
Then someone else tells you that it's not blood, at least that's not what Dr Contreras says it is. Contreras has collected over a hundred billion of the things in a tiny sea of liquid xenon under the Black Hills in South Dakota. He says it's a byproduct of the gravitational lensing they produce. He calls it the Red Milk.
There are people down there in that cloistered lake who drink the Red Milk and speak to God. Jamal has been collecting their reminiscences into poetry as the Milk decays in their brains and forms electron bonds on its way out, normalizing. He wishes he had the guts to take the stuff, but the Red Milk terrifies him.
There are the typical calls Upstairs. They say Contreras is a cult leader, a fifth columnist. Congress threatens to cut off their funding every day. There are protestors lining out the gates of the lab, because God has been speaking and the things It is saying are not what the world is ready to hear.