After Humans (an excerpt from a short story)
The group spun through space to land in the middle of an overgrown city.
Futuristic buildings of super-light alloys were bent and twisted with signs of war. Their walls were still gleaming and immaculate, despite the grass and moss that snaked up them.
Stain and rust-proof, Bailey guessed. She was studying structural changes of metal on a molecular level. To design new alloys with precise characteristics. Down to the last atom.
Although it looked abandoned, the city was far from empty.
Giant rats scurried through their feet, darting in and out of holes in broken, black concrete. They travelled in packs that would break into mini squeaking wars.
Bailey noticed slight differences in the body-types. Some were longer and leaner, with the first hints of long legs showing from their furry bodes. Others, had broader heads and teeth that looked halfway to being fangs. “The rats are evolving.”
“Well spotted,” said Gazelle. "The only animals left, are the ones that thrived under human conditions.”
The air was thick with insects, too, which, thankfully, buzzed right through the group without a clue they were there, unable to see or bite them.
There were swarms of giant mosquitoes and iridescent flies.
A strange kind of insect that looked like a cross between a wasp and a dragonfly, buzzed around feasting on other insects. They had long bodies and wings like dragonflies, but the yellow and black stripes and distinctive stingers of a wasp.
“Dragon wasps,” Gazelle said, when she caught Bailey watching them. “When plants became scarce, wasps grew longer bodies and wings, to travel longer distances between pollinations. Then they developed a taste for the live smorgasbord that exploded to life.”
She must have meant the millions of bugs swarming the air. So thick, it was like a living black mist.
Above the clouds of insects, giant crows floated with wingspans as wide as falcons, diving into the swarms to scoop up great mouthfuls with long, flattened beaks.
“Fascinating,” said Ranger Pat. “Life goes on.”
“As it always does on earth. Empires rise and fall. Species rise and fall. They all think they’re immortal when they’re at the top. By the time they realize they’re not, it’s already too late.”
“Every time?” said Swift.
"A new species has been discovered and it's... different."
"Different, is what manner?"
"Well, Mr. President..." The scientist lowered her voice so that it, the creature in the cage behind them, couldn't hear. "We haven't been studying it... It has been studying us."
The POTUS snorted. "Damn right it is. I'll see that for myself..."
And with that, he pushed the Area 51 workers aside and made his way to the glass prison it was trapped in. The Prez's bodyguards stayed close beside him, despite him having waved them off.
The animal, alien, or whatever it was looked like a ever-changing cloud of colors and sounds, and turned its many eyes to the people approaching its cage.
"Hello, Kevin Thompson, 50th President of the United States." It floated up to level with the commander's head.
"How did you know my name?" He asked, the same questions the scientists had earlier. "And how can you speak?"
"Well, you're currently wearing a name tag, so the first question was quite obvious... but I could have used my abilities anyway for that, as I had to learn your silly tongues... do you know what I am called?"
"Wait, don't--" One of the workers yelled as Thompson replied with "no".
The noise that this being made next was similar to that of silverware scraping a plate and nails running across a chalkboard. The guards pointed their guns at the cage as everyone else doubled over.
"The rough translation of that to your language would be 'the Observer'." A mouth materialized in the vivid cloud, smiling toothily. This provoked more swears and shuddering from the room.
"I am the last of my species, from a planet in the Andromeda galaxy that was engulfed in a supernova. I have come hear seeking a new home, collecting information about this world before deciding to blend in."
"Blend in?" The president prompted.
At this, the Observer grew larger, filling the entire glass casing with shapes and bright lights. The scientists immediately began taking photos and notes as the cloud shifted within the cage. More horrible sounds, like those of bones cracking, made Thompson cover his ears and look away from the container.
He didn't look back until silence filled the room and the scientists stared at the cage with wide eyes.
There, where the colorful mass had once been, was a person. They wore a sweater with a 'little green men' alien on it and jeans, and beneath the hoodie was a young face with brown skin and hair.
"As to quote one of your famous philosophers..." Their voice, with the rest of their appearence, could only be described as neutral. "Behold, a man!"
As the Observer said this, another scientist burst into the room, face drenched in sweat. "The DNA samples changed," he said. "They resemble that of a human's, with intersexual chromosomes that we've never..." At the sight of what, or who, was in the cage, he collapsed to the ground, the test results still in his shaking hands.
"I've been waiting for you to meet me before transforming, Mr. President." The Observer stalked their cage, gazing at Thompson with nonexpressive eyes. "So now that you're here, I have something to ask you..."
"Wha... what is it?" The guards lifted their weapons once more to the Prez's anxious tone.
The Observer put their face so close to the glass that everyone near it was afraid that they could go through it.
"I was wondering if I could complete the process of becoming a US citizen? I know I'm a, you know, illegal alien and all... but I think I'm exactly what this country needs right now." They produced a business card from their pocket, holding it against the glass. "We can keep in touch, since I know I'm a totally different species from what the men below you usually deal with. That's all!"
"...Uh huh... erm, we'll consider it." Thompson muttered, writing down the info and making his way out of the lab. As he walked out, he glanced at each of the scientists, exchanging a "good luck with that" look with them.
"Hey, I observed that!" He heard that strange discovery holler on his way out of the base.
A new species has emerged from the ruins of the old war.
They are like nothing I have ever encountered in my whole career as a zoologist.
We named them the Raan after the strange moaning roar they are capable of producing, and some imbeciles mockingly call them Pan, in reference to their strange flat bodies. They really are fantastic creatures, but I am unsure whether or not to call them animals as many do, because of the close contact I have had with the Rann. I have learned since being assigned to the research team, that they are an incredibly intelligent species and amazingly innovative as well!
Unfortunatly many who are unaccustomed to the strange sight of Rann’s flat crablike body, are disgusted by the creatures, especially by the very un-crab like sight of their hundreds of millipede like legs and almost humanoid heads that crane like a turtles from beneath their rust colored shells, and peer about with three pairs of intelligent pupil-less eyes.
I have tried, and astronomically failed, to convince people that they are harmless creatures who only eat by absorbing energy from the nutrient rich mosses and plants that grow up like small gardens from their cracked sells, but humanity is slow to change. Many fear that these strange creatures that we found six years ago, crawling through the radioactive Atlantic dust sea, are invaders or brutal killers. Many band together and cry out in the streets of the metropolises, demanding the extermination of the Rann. I walk sadly up to a Rann who I had nicknamed Flore because of her shell-garden of tiny flowers. She was the youngest Rann in the research base, and had taken a peculiar liking to me. I couldn't help smiling as she lightly skittered her six foot two ton body over to my side and bopped me affectionately with her forehead, while happily blinking her six black eyes down at my face.
“I hope people will see sense and leave you and your kind be” I muttered as I patted her smooth copper head.
Flore let out a mournfully cry, and nudged at my hair, still keening the typical Raaaaraa sounds of her species. “Don’t worry” I soothed giving her another pat. “I wont let anyone take you away...ever.”
“Come here. Take a look at this.”
“Ugh, hold on one second,” Jenny said as she put down her small blue hand shovel.
She loved that shovel. She had been in the middle of repotting a tiny Ming her and her husband just purchased. The Ming looked like a small tiny pine tree with fluffy green spines spurting out all over. Her and her husband Lou retired just about three months ago now and they had become avid gardeners. Jenny rearranged her area and slowly started to get up. She can’t move as fast as she used. Everything seemed to creek and crack now as she moved about. Placing her hand underneath her, up she went, straightened her back, stretched her legs and headed towards her husband. She had been sitting up on their patio underneath the shade of a large willow tree that filled one side of the house. They considered their patio to be their oasis. Its floor was flush with brick red pavers laid in shapes of diamonds and rectangles. It was now overflowing with lush green plants and blooming flowers too. She shuffled around their fire pit and head out into the yard to where her husband Lou was kneeling down. He had been at the back of their property snipping and tweezing some of their show bushes.
As she got closer she noticed something new below bushes. Lou gave her an odd look and gesture.
“Jenny, do you see what I’m seeing?”
She felt her body stiffen, like she had been hit with a stun gun.
“Lou, what is that?”
The shadow below the bush covered a small, what seemed to be, community. They looked like Polly Pocket house’s made out of dirt, grass, twigs and rubbish. Jenny thought out loud, “you think this is just some kid’s thing? It looks so unusual though, like something lives there.”
Lou picked up a small stick beside his left foot.
“What are you doing? Don’t mess with it! It might be some neighborhood kids’ thing. Just leave it. Come help me up by the patio.”
“Shhhhh,” he said.
“AAAAAARRRGHHHHHhhhhhhhhhh ooohhhhhhhhhhhh,” they heard, in a loud whisper.
Both of their mouths dropped as they looked at each other. It was a tiny little yellow looking human that could have been mixed with a gecko and cat running towards them. It had miniature cat ears and a lengthy reptile tail with small hands and feet. It had a tiny white t-shirt on too, no pants.
Although neither of them had any idea what this thing was, they didn’t feel nervous or scared.
“Hello?” said Lou.
They could both tell the little things’ mouth was moving but they couldn’t make anything out. Jenny nudge Lou with her elbow and nodded her head. Lou lowered his hand to the small creature motioning it to climb on.
The creature gave a nod and proceeded to head into Lou’s hand. Once the creature had seemed to settle in and sit securely, Lou began to lift his hand from the ground. As the creature got closer into both Jenny and Lou’s vision they could distinguish more details. It had bright yellow colored skin and short orangish red spikey hair. Its skin seemed scaly but soft thin feathers wisped in the breeze, almost unnoticeable. Its eyes were big and round, like puppy dog eyes.
As the creature hit eye level, it moved its tiny hands towards its mouth, as if to shout.
“HI, I’M TONY!”