I could feel the fear coursing through me as I looked out over the railing. The Others were going about their work down below. I knew I had to get out, get my family out of here before the moon passed over again. It was a Red Moon, beautiful in appearance, yet sinister in the havoc it would wreak over our seemingly peaceful colony, Ganymede.
Ganymede was all I had known. Since I could remember, we had lived with the Others in Ganymede. It was a fully-functioning living area that we had come to accept as our home. Yet, it was never really home to us. We were second-class citizens, leftovers of a dying race, and the Others took advantage of it.
We thought little of it, going about our work, contributing to the maintenance of Ganymede as we always had. But the dark, disturbing secret I had learned in the last few days had stolen my peace and I was forced to accept that things were not as they appeared.
It started exactly three nights ago, when the Red Moon passed over Ganymede. The Others worshipped the Red Moon, or at least displayed what passed for worship. It made them crazy, in a sort of trance.
And it always ended strangely, with a few of us being “transported” to another Colony on the planet. I had lost friends, close ones, over the years. But I never questioned the motives behind it. Or asked where they were being taken.
I did, however, notice that the ones who were taken had asked questions. Uncomfortable questions about the way things were. And their questions did not go down well. Not just because we were second-class citizens, but because questions disturbed the delicate balance of power between us and the Others.
So, what happened three nights ago that changed all this for me? It was Kata, a close friend of mine since we were children. Kata asked a question that made the others uncomfortable. He asked what the moon did to them and why it made them crazy. So they came and took him. They said they were sending him to another Colony.
Because he was my friend and I loved him, Kata and I said our tearful goodbyes. But this time, something made me want to know more, so I followed them, trying not to be seen. The Others took Kata to a basement three levels below the city. There were many doors that opened and closed.
I managed to get through the first four since there were no locks, but at the fifth one there was a console with a set of numbers. It was a code and I had to type it to get in. So I waited. I didn’t know how it would end.
A couple of Others came down and saw me. I told them I had been called inside. They seemed skeptical, as though wondering why anyone would want to go inside, but they let me in. Probably no one from my clan had ever asked them that before.
Once they vanished, I began to explore the place. There were a number of corridors, one large main corridor and smaller ones branching out on either side. I went down the main corridor. My heart was beating hard in my chest. I did not know what I would find.
I came to a door with some strange markings over it. It was in a dialect that I had never seen before. I pressed the button and it slid open.
I was inside a large room. In the center of the room, separated by thick, but very clear glass, was my friend, Kata. On the other side of the room were the Others who had come to escort him away. I quickly hid behind a large machine with blinking lights and buttons. They were so busy watching Kata that they had not noticed me slip in.
I kept my eyes on the Others and on Kata. Suddenly one of them cried out. One of the walls of the chamber that Kata was in slid open and then… a pause. Everyone, including Kata, stared at the open door. Suddenly Kata was screaming. Something had taken hold of him… something invisible. In front of my eyes, Kata was torn limb from limb and devoured by invisible teeth.
His screams and the sight of him being eaten by an invisible “thing” were the most terrifying thing I ever saw in my life. I couldn’t take it anymore. While the Others were watching intently, smiling and cheering at Kata’s plight, I slipped out of the room and ran.
I ran all the way out of the basement. I was shaking, terrified, crying all in one. I was a mess. It had finally dawned on me where our friends and loved ones had disappeared. Not to be sent to another colony, but to be torn apart and eaten by a monster. A monster that had always lived among us and that we never knew existed.
My life would never be the same again. That night passed in sleepless terror. I was afraid for myself, for my family, my children. My wife had passed away years ago from an illness that had taken many among us. My children and my clan were all I had. I could not let one more person face Kata’s fate.
What was I to do? I could not raise a rebellion. The Others were too many, and even though there were many of us, we were not raised to be fighters but workers.
I had to get my family and loved ones out of there. But security was tight. How to get past the guards and find a transport? This is where I came in. Looking down from the railing of the corridor above the main lobby, I felt the fear coursing through my body as I watched the Others and members of my own clan going about their business.
They were no longer the benign overlords we accepted, but killers and murderers of my people. I realized that the Red Moon was their time of sacrifice. When they took my people and gave them to the monster in the basement.
To be continued…
© Priya Florence Shah
This is the first chapter of Ganymede, a novella by Priya Florence Shah. If you’re interested in reading the rest of this story, let me know in the comments below.
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