An essay by Elize Pentra, as provided by Joachim Heijndermans
Art by Luke Spooner
Day 5 – Gyunsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Hey. It’s me. I’m writing to you in this journal I found on the ship. I missed talking to you, so I figured this was the next best thing. Not much point to it, since we’ll be talking again as soon as you come out of the chamber. But I just wanted to say some things to you. You know, to fight off the loneliness. Talking to myself got to be so tedious after a while. Maybe I’ll even let you read this, once you come out.
Well, first things first: the weather. It’s beautiful out here. It feels amazing to wake up to that crisp fresh air smell every morning, with the light dew tickling your skin. You didn’t get to experience it after we crashed, but I’m certain you would really love it. The view is brilliant too. Each time I see it, it just takes my breath away. There’s not a day where the sun rises in the same color. You’d probably tell me it’s all because of light passing through water particles or something crazy sciency, but I’d like to think the sun changes color each morning as to surprise me. Isn’t that a cool idea? Something that just wants to be beautiful and make each day special just for you?
If I’m rambling, I’m sorry. But you’d be rambling too after four days by yourself with no-one to talk to but the Kitters and the Lobsters clinging to the side of the Ziggurat. At least the Kitters respond with a high-pitched yelp when I yell at them. I’m not feeding them like you asked, but that doesn’t stop them from following me everywhere I go.
So yeah, anyway, that’s why I’m starting this on the 5th day, so as to avoid any confusion about missing entries or anything. So, In summary, first entry; day five. Jeez, it’s only been five days since you went in, and I’m already losing my marbles from not talking to you. I’m not sure you’ll even be reading this at all once you come out, as we might be too busy with other stuff instead. Guess it doesn’t matter. It’s just so I’ll have something to do other than to twiddle my thumbs and pace around the place.
That’s all I got for now. Just spend the day watching the sun rise and set, cleaning the gun, checking the cores, and getting rid of the Lobsters every now and then. I’ll write more when something happens.
Day 6 – Gyunsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
So, today was quiet. Again. Although I thought I spotted something in the morning, flying past the sun (it was blue mixed with tangerine orange this time, in case you were wondering). It wasn’t a ship, that’s for sure. I would’ve known if it was. Whatever this thing was, it was quiet and slow and didn’t leave a trail of dark smoke behind it. I’ll try and get a better diagnostic on it, should I see it again.
Anyhow, like I said, nothing going on today. Cleaned the gun, checked the cores, and got rid of a few more Lobsters. They’re persistent little creeps, aren’t they? I hope I have more exciting stuff to write about tomorrow.
Day 7 – Gyunsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Same old story. The sun was a mix of lavender and violet, with some red speckles here and there. Other than that, cleaned the gun, checked the cores, and got rid of the Lobsters. There were a few more.
Kitters today, but they didn’t bother me all that much.
I miss hearing your singing. When you come out, I’ve got to make you sing for me again. I like that once song you always did for me. The one you said was an Earth song? I don’t remember what it was called, but it has the line about the swimming dolphins and the kiss by the wall. I still don’t believe you about it being an Earth song. Back at home, we never sang. We just hunted and plowed what was left of the land. So not buying that one, Mr. Smartypants the quote machine, even if the song was written in Lang-one words.
Anyway, that’s all for now. No signs of anything on the horizon, so all is good here.
Day 8 – Gyunsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
There was a scream from the jungle. I’m sure of it. And it wasn’t any Kitter scream or a Lobster boiling (yes, you already told me that was just steam coming from their shells, so shush you), so I know there’s something out there.
Checked the horizon and the sky for both the thing I saw the other day and them, just in case. No traces of any vessels. I covered the wreck with some more branches and foliage just to be on the safe side. I doubt that a patrol ship will see it, so I’ll be plenty safe. But if there’s something out there in the jungle, then I’m gonna have to get ready for that.
I hope you don’t mind, but I took some books from your library. None of the old ones, I swear. Just the ones that tell you how to lay traps. (But seriously, we need to have a talk on why you have that once you get out. Going on the list!) I’ve put a bunch around, mostly around places I don’t have time to keep an eye on, and where the Lobsters don’t go, so they don’t set them off by accident.
Well, that was most of my day, other than cleaning the gun and checking the cores. Didn’t have the time to clear the Ziggurat of Lobsters today, so I’ll get on that tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you have pleasant dreams in there. I miss you.
Day 9 – Gyunsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
One of the traps got sprung in the middle of the night. Scared the weebus out of me. I nearly shot a cyclops-owl that zipped past me, I was so on edge! But it worked. Something snuck up near the Ziggurat in the night and fell right into the small pit, speared on the sharpened sticks. Dead on impact. That’ll teach ’em.
So I don’t know what it actually was what I caught, but it sure as hell was ugly. Like, uglier than you when I first met you (sorry, but it’s true). It was about my height, but with two sets of arms covered with bluish feathers. The rest of its body was scaled, and it had a large frill that went from the top of its head all the way down to its butt. Its face was like a bill or a beak, but with rows of teeth sticking out. It had huge eyes, that were glazed and white, like yogurt. The whole thing kind of resembled a chicken, like the one from the book you showed me. It shrieked and sputtered when I kicked it, but I think that was a reflex, since it was plenty dead. I’m not gonna eat it, just to be on the safe side. I’m sticking with Lobsters, thank you very much (even if they do make a hell of a lot of noise when I cook them).
I didn’t sleep a wink the rest of the night. Watched the sun come up, which was green, orange, and a bit of white. Almost like an old flag or something. You would’ve liked it.
Other than my nighttime scare, nothing much happened. Cleaned the gun, checked the cores, and got rid of the Lobsters. Easy breezy.
I’ll see if I can find more on whatever it was that I caught last night. You have books on everything, so I’m sure you’ve got one with weird creatures of the Neue Gaia System. If I can’t find anything, then I’m claiming my right of first discovery and naming them. That’ll be my first, against that long list of yours.
Day 11 – Gyunsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
No entry yesterday. None today either. Just writing that I’m okay. I’m alive. I’m not hurt. That’s all.
Day 12 – Gyunsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Ok, so on the 10th day, I had a crazy mess on my hands. Like you wouldn’t believe. I’m still reeling from it. I’m angry and scared and tired at the same time. And that probably doesn’t sound very good coming from your Falconeye, but I was frazzled for days after the attack.
Yeah, you read that right: attack. That thing I caught and killed with my trap the other day? There were more of them. Dozens at least, and they all wanted a piece of me. It was crazy town up in here. I guess with all that quiet around me, I got either lazy or accustomed to not fighting, because last night’s alteration left me shaking.
They tried to sneak up on me from the west, again under the cover of night. But it was the Kitters that gave them away (the Lobsters didn’t seem to notice or care, but then again, they’re Lobsters). They were screeching and wailing up a storm, like a bunch of banshees high on Zoxytin. They came running up the Ziggurat as if hell was on their heels. So I go check out what’s causing all the racket when I saw their eyes in the darkness. The dead one’s eyes were all glazed and white, but these were alive, burning with an angry fire. They came with torches and sharp sticks, so I’m thinking they’re the local welcome committee. And by welcome committee, I mean “stab the crap outta the Falconeye that’s standing guard around the Ziggurat.”
So about two dozen or so of these creatures charged at me, but I managed to outrun them (No easy feat! These suckers were fast!) to the entrance of the Ziggurat. I blinded them by turning on the main headlight that we put near the door that leads to the chamber, then blasted two of them away. I don’t think they’ve ever faced anyone with a gun before, since they scattered quickly when I fired on them. They came back about an hour later. Didn’t kill any more of them, because I know you hate it when I kill people that aren’t with the Illium. I just fired two shots into the air, which got them scattering to the wind. Good thing too, because I don’t think I could’ve fired any more shots without cleaning the gun, and I wasn’t gonna use the turrets on the locals.
So there was that. Small skirmish, really. But I haven’t seen them since that night. I’ve been on guard, sticking to the entry hall. I’ve also put a live current on the wreck of the ship, so they don’t get any ideas about messing with your stuff. If they do come back, that means I might’ve started a war. Sorry about that. I’m sure you can talk to them once you come out, and explain the situation. I’m not one for diplomacy, but you knew that.
All in all, I’ve been pretty busy these last few days. Keeping an eye out for the people in the forest. Doing the usual, cleaning the gun, checking the cores, and getting rid of Lobsters. I don’t remember the colors of the sun from the last few days. Today it was magenta with stripes of fluorescent green. Still, haven’t seen anything in the sky, so that’s good news. Hope you have good dreams in there.
Day 13 – Tonsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
It’s Tonsoth now. Happy new sunscape. I took a sip from that bottle of “Jax” you left in the ship to ring it in. It’s only Tonsoth for a little while, so I can indulge myself for a bit. I hope you’re dreaming well. The sun was nice today. Like a big eye, with colors within colors. Yellow, pink, yellow, pink, blue, yellow. Although the pink might’ve been magenta. I dunno. Again, girl from Earth here, and we don’t really do “color.” If I’d met you when I was five, and you told me there were names for the colors, I would have called you a liar. I owe you a lot for the books you let me read and teaching me how to read in Lang-one. I still have a lot to learn, and learning is always easier when you’re here to help me out.
Anyway, it’s been quiet again today. No forest people showed up, which is good. Still, don’t know if these guys already have names or not, so, for now, they’ll be the Pinos. It’s from an old show my MeMom used to put on for me when she babysat me. Feel free to correct me once you see them, which you might, knowing you. But until then, I dub them the Pinos.
I don’t think we need to worry about them getting into the chamber. They barely got the hang of fire, so I doubt they’ll have any five-point lasers on them. Hell, for all we know, they don’t have a clue you’re in there. They seemed to know their way around the Ziggurat, from the way they attacked me that night, but it didn’t seem they had much interest in it. With any luck, I’ll have scared them off for good. Not a fan of prying eyes.
So yeah, other than some self-reflection and some minor research into the Pinos, today was the same old thing. Cleaned the gun. Checked the cores. Tossed the Lobsters off the side of the Ziggurat. I’m doing regular watches, and I sleep in the tent next to the chamber, so I’m not out in the open. Hope you’re sleeping well. It’s still relatively quiet out here.
Day 14 – Tonsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Today I woke up in the dark. Something blotted out the sun. Nearly crapped myself, running out of the tent, hands grasped around the gun like some wacky paratrooper. Didn’t even have time to get dressed (nice mental image for you, later) I was so freaked out. I’m thinking the Illium arrived or something, with that giant Eagle of theirs. It wasn’t. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say it was probably what I saw flying through the air a few days ago. Back then it was a speck in the distance. It must’ve been pretty far because this thing was enormous.
I don’t know what is was, but it was beautiful. It reminded me of those pictures you showed me, of the fish that aren’t fish from Earth’s past, but much bigger. Whales I think you called them. I think it was even bigger than the Illium’s Eagle. It had about ten fins and a tail that waved around the place, twirling in these cool patterns, like lint dancing in the wind. And its underbelly was clear like it was made of glass or some kind of crystal. You could see all its organs clearly. It flew so close to the top of the Ziggurat that when I climbed up to the top platform, I could touch it. Its skin felt cool, like it was coated with something that took all the heat away. And I know what you’re going to say, that I shouldn’t touch strange things that I don’t know where they come from, but come on. It was a giant floating whale thing. How could I not go up there?
I wish I could’ve taken a picture of it for you. Maybe we can look for it again once you come out? Because you’re not going to believe how big this thing was. How long was it? Well, it’s head reached the one edge of the forest, while its tail hits the other end. In fact, the way it kept moving, going around in a circle like a horny Kitter, it was like the cleared circle around the Ziggurat was made just for it. Or maybe it was the one who cleared all the trees around it. Who knows.
After it circled around all morning, it suddenly flew off into the distance. It wasn’t fast, so I had a nice view of it floating off to who knows where for most of the day. By nighttime, it was a speck on the horizon. I don’t know where it went. But it seemed to like the Ziggurat a lot. Could there be more structures like it on this planet? You never said there weren’t any, so until you come out, I’m left guessing.
I really missed you today. I saw the most wonderful thing I’d seen in a while, and you weren’t even here with me. You probably could have given me a whole lecture on what it was, what its mating habits were, why it seemed to gravitate to the Ziggurat and a ton of other things. But no, it was just me. Me, the Kitters, and the Lobsters, looking up at this wonderful creature, as it did … whatever it was doing. You should have been here.
So yeah, I had a pretty great day. At least, the morning was great. The rest of the day was just the same old routine. Cleaned the gun. Checked the cores. Got rid of the Lobsters. So, nothing bad. Nothing good, but nothing bad. Just more of the same.
Please wake up soon.
Day 15 – Tonsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Okay, today was weird. Remember the Pinos that attacked me a little while back? Well, they popped up again this afternoon. There were six of them, carrying a big tarp. I think it was made of some kind of leather, with these swirls and stripes painted all over it. They put it down in front of the steps, then just backed away. That’s it. No attack or anything. I think it’s supposed to be a gift or something, but I have no idea what it could possibly mean. I took the tarp up to my tent, and they cheered. For the rest of the day, I heard music coming from the forest. You would have loved it.
I think my war (if you can even call it a war) with the Pinos is over. It was a short one, with not too many casualties, so I’m happy about that. You always said I was more than just a chick with a gun. The Falconeye with a heart. I’d really like it if that was true.
Remember when you talked about what you’d do after this whole thing with the Illium is over? That silly idea, where you’d start a farm on some quiet little place where the Illium have never been? Raise Geenaxes and Todoforn and Rhinos (I finally looked up what a Rhino looks like. Nice. Would have loved to see it in its natural habitat) and grow feed for them? Remember how I said it was a silly idea? Do you think you still have room for an ol’ sniper gal like me?
Day 16 – Tonsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Boy, I woke up to a surprise today. The Pinos came to the Ziggurat again, but this time it was a lot more. Like, a lot more. I think it is all of them. Women. Kids. Elderly. There were a lot of them that looked hurt and hungry. I’m thinking that the tarp they gave me yesterday was an offering of some kind.
I let them set up camp and catch some Lobsters for dinner. They didn’t bother me, as they stuck mostly to the foot of the Ziggurat. Like I said before, I don’t think they know what it’s even for, or what you’re doing inside of it. The kids dared each other to get near me, but that’s just kids being kids. No harm there.
I think they had a run in with something bad. Something that scared them more than I ever could. Didn’t see any branding or Illium tags on anyone, but that doesn’t mean much.
The sun rose and set on a reddish color, with flecks of dark purple here and there. There’s trouble in the air. I can smell it.
All the turrets are set up. Gave my gun a good cleaning, checked the cores, and set up some traps again. No need to take care of the Lobsters tonight, since the Pinos were plenty hungry.
I hope you wake up soon. There are nights when I can still hear the Illium war drums in my head. At least, I hope they’re in my head.
Day 17 – Tonsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise. Lavender with lines of a jade-like green. The Pinos were chirping and yipping away, doing their–
Day 18 – Tonsoth – Olli/Ka/1678
Quick note. Still alive. Love you.
Day 19 – Dath – Olli/Ka/1678
It happened just like you said. The Illium came. I’m not sure if they’re on our trail or not. On day 17, I saw them pass across the horizon in that terrible ship of theirs, the Eagle. The drums could be heard from every corner on the planet. The cycle began anew.
The Pinos scrambled around. I was afraid their yipping and whooping would draw their attention, and that we’d get another blood bath on our hands. Thankfully it didn’t. No, those fuckers did the same old thing they always do when they come to a new place.
The blast was far enough away from us that we didn’t get hit by the fallout, though the Ziggurat is now littered with debris of trees, dirt, and Lobsters that were blown sky-high. The Kitters that lived here scattered to the wind. Not sure they’ll ever come back. I hope they don’t. Not if the Illium are on their way. It’s bad enough the Pinos might end up in their crosshairs. It’s like Houdom all over again. And Kllrrttm. And Earth. And Trillia. And whatever poor backwater place they screwed over while we were on the run.
War is in the air again. That clammy feeling that tells you people are going to die, and that they’re gonna die badly. Last night, when I tried to write my entry, I just couldn’t shake the feeling we led them here. They’ve been all over the damn universe, leaving no stone unturned to find you. All these people of the Pinos, the Kitters, that whale thing I saw the other day, and even the damn Lobsters; they’re all going to be stomped on by the Illium, like all those places before, with no-one to stop them.
Then I remembered what you said back on Trillia, up on the hill, as we watched the Oona burn. I can recount every word you said. It’s not us. It’s never us. It’s them, always has been, and always will be.
Noticed it’s the first day of Dath. You should be done soon enough. Please don’t take much longer. Because if it comes to a fight between the Illium and a bunch of bush people and one rogue Falconeye, it’s not gonna be much of a fight. I don’t know if I can stop them from hurting these people should they find us. And you know they will. They always do.
Don’t sleep too long.
Day 19 – Dath – Olli/Ka/1678
They’re here. If you find this, I love you. Always have. Be safe. I’m sorry if I couldn’t stop them.
Day 20 – Dath – Olli/Ka/1678
I’m in so much pain, so sorry for the crummy handwriting. But it’s a good pain. Pain that tells you you’re alive. Still hurts like fuck though.
I swear, I will see the looks on those bastards’ faces ’till the day I die. Their shocked expressions as you rose up, with an azure sun as your backdrop. No movie or book will ever compare against that for me. I get jittery just thinking about it again. That you burned through your clothes was a nice bonus (and yes, I took a peek).
As I write this, there’s a party going on in the Pinos camp. The kids are using helmets as drums, clanging away on them at a pretty decent beat. My arm and face are still sore, but I think I’ll join them for a drink and a dance later. You’re sleeping beside me. You deserve it. Your plan went off just like you said it would, so that content look on your face (the one I think is absolutely adorable) is completely deserved.
It feels like we won. That everything will be all right now. But this was only the beginning like you said. One ship burning to a cinder is not the death of the Illium Imperium. We have work to do. But it’s a start. And for now, you deserve to rest.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll watch the sunrise together. I got a feeling it’s going to be another sunny day.
Sleep tight. I love you.
Elize Pentra is a decorated veteran of the Illium/Oligarchy war, achieving the rank of Falconeye in Barra/Ka/1670. She is a native of the outer rim world “Earth,” living on Houdom until deserting her post in Zuda/Ka/1674, after which her whereabouts became unknown to the Illium records. She is believed to act as a mercenary or servant to wanted criminal #1967-VRI, and is to be treated as an accomplice to terrorism until proven innocent by decree of the Illium. Approach with extreme caution.
Joachim Heijndermans writes, draws, and paints nearly every waking hour. Originally from the Netherlands, he’s been all over the world, boring people by spouting random trivia. His work has been featured in a number of publications, such as Every Day Fiction, Asymmetry Fiction, and Gathering Storm Magazine, and he’s currently in the midst of completing his first children’s book. You can check out his other work at www.joachimheijndermans.com, or follow him on Twitter: @jheijndermans.
Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.
“A Sunny Day on the Ziggurat” is Copyright 2017 Joachim Heijndermans
Art accompanying story is Copyright 2017 Luke Spooner