Well I did it. I wrote a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. Twenty nine days, actually. And for that, I have learned a lot about writing, and a lot about myself. It's been a hectic, yet fun 29 days, and I think I've come out a better writer for it. I actually have a bit of wrapping up to do on the novel left, maybe another few hundred to a thousand words to finish it, but I reached the goal. And I'm proud of myself for that.
* * *
Finally, after what felt like an eternity of searching, we found another deposit of books. As we entered the building Weq and I could both feel Rios’s excitment level rise to unprecidented amounts. He quickly began to search the building, as Weq and I helped. Before too long we had found the section, similar to the last one we had found, brightly colored, with thick books containing pictures, alongside words.
Rios began to go over them. Rios began to get answers to our million questions.
* * *
We spent a very long time in that building. It became a sort of “home base” for us. We slept there, when we did sleep. Rios spent night and day pouring over book after book, deciphering the language. Every day, he sat there, learning a few more words. He had been right, it seemed. The small books had, in fact, been a sort of pictorial depiction of words, kept immediately below them. There was more for him to do, naturally, than simply see what word meant what, of course. For example, he needed to work out how exactly the written word of this culture worked. It seemed, he explained to me at one point, that unlike our written word, where each word was represented by a symbol, individual “letters” which each would have represented one verbal sound, and would have been strung together in order to form words. These words, then, were broken up by a small space, and strung together to form longer sentences. Naturally, though, we couldn’t tell what sound each letter made, without an actual auditory recording of speech, and so he was only able to figure out how to read the written word, and not how it would have been spoken verbally.
While he spent day and night deciphering the written word, Weq and I continued to search the city together. We took the guns with us, naturally, unable to trust Rios with them, however it seemed unnecessary to guard him day and night. His whole purpose was to return to the surface to find just such a thing as he was sitting in day and night now. What was the point, in guarding him? Where would he go?
No, Weq and I let him sit in that building, as we continued to search the city. Of course, nothing we found made much sense to us. More of those metal vehicles sat everywhere, just like everywhere else in the city, more buildings containing various objects whose purposes we couldn’t figure out… Indeed, it seemed as if neither of us could do anything important at all, until Rios had learned to read the written word.
Thanks to the nature of the area we were in, a desert, we came across very little animal life. The only animal life we did come across, were insects, and reptiles. (Interestingly enough, we later discovered our animal classification system was very similar to the Earthlings method of classification. Close enough that about 80% of the classified animals we discovered on Earth would have been put into the same “category” by both my people, and the people of the earth. I’ll cover this a bit more at a later point in time.) They were, naturally, fascinating to Weq. Although we kept our distance for obvious reasons. If our suits were punctured by a threated animal, that would be the end of us, and that was simply a chance we couldn’t take. However, from a distance we did observe the reptiles. One type of the reptiles we noticed, interestingly enough, didn’t have any limbs. No, they were just a long body, with a head on the end. They moved by contorting their scaley body and sliding across the ground.
Another type of animal we noticed, an insect (although the Earth had a special classification for them called “Arachnids”, like I said our classifcation systems weren’t identical.) Was also interesting. It had eight legs, and large claws (in proportions to it’s body size.) The really interesting thing about it though, was what looked like a large sharp stinger on the end of it’s tail, which it held up in the air above it’s body. “I wish I knew why it held it’s tail like that.” Weq said. “I wish I could study the creatures here further.”
“I wish I could… I don’t know… Learn about them.” I said. “About the creature?” He asked. “No… About them.” I gestured towards a building. “We know almost nothing about them, aside from the few pictures we’ve seen of them as we’ve searched the city. Clearly they were a great society, but… We know nothing about them. Nothing.” “Tare…” Weq said to me. “Tare, Rios is really good at what he does. I don’t… I don’t agree with what he’s done, but he’s still very smart, and he will do this. He will decipher the written word of these people, and we… We will learn. You’ll learn about the culture, and I’ll… Someday I’ll figure out a way to study the creatures of this planet. And we’ll learn about this planet.” Weq was good at inspiring people. At supporting them. I’d known that about him before, but it still helped. “Thanks Weq. I hope you’re right.” I said. “I just wish… I waited my whole life to meet intelligent life forms on another planet-” “We all did.” He intterupted me. “Of course! I know we all did! I wasn’t trying to say that… It’s just… Like I said, I waited so long for an opportunity like this and now… We’ve found this planet. And we know there was life here… And they’re… They’re just gone. And I don’t even know what happened to them.” “And you wish they were still here. I understand that. We all do.” I paused for a moment. “It’s… It’s more than that though. These people… Look around. These people were clearly a great culture. I mean, just look at the huge structures, and enormous cities they had built. And now… Desolate. Decrepit. Dying.” I said. “What’s your point?” Weq asked. “Weq… If they could just… Just vanish… What’s to keep that from happening to us? What’s to keep us from dying out?”
Weq and I stood in silence for a long time. We stared at the skies of the Earth. White clouds, blue skies… This planet was so fascinating, and yet we knew so little about it. “Everything about this planet is a riddle.” Weq said to me. “From the history, to the species. From the written words, to the brightly colored walls of the buildings. Everything, every detail, is a mystery. We don’t know what happened to the people of this planet Tare. We have no idea. We don’t even know if they did die out.” “Then where are they?” “I don’t know. But that’s what we’re going to find out, isn’t it? We have to.”
We stayed in that spot for a long time. We stared at the skies. We watched as they faded from blue, to orange, from orange to scarlet, and from scarlet to black. Even then we stared at the stars. The same stars our ancestors had stared at so long ago, and had dreamed of finding this place. I wondered if, back when our ancestors stared up at the skies from our planet, someone was staring back at them from here? As we stared at the stars, I finally spoke. “Look. You see that?” I asked Weq. I gestured towards what looked like a large bright star, moving across the skies. It was probably ten times the size of the other stars, and was moving slowly across the skies. “What is that?” Weq asked me. “That’s one of our ships.” I responded to him. “It’s orbiting above us now. We’re seeing the lights out of the windows of the ship.“
“I wonder what’s going on up there?” He said to me. “So do I.” I responded.