By Morgan Hannah, Life & Style Editor
“Mask? What do you mean? What are you trying to say?” I ask, my breath catching in my throat like a piece of food I can’t quite swallow. Though, somehow, I think I already know what this creature is getting at. I shouldn’t have taken off my helmet. But why? I can clearly breathe with no problem; the atmosphere of this strange planet supports both human and alien life. Is there something more that I’m unaware of? Perhaps some environmental disaster that is about to occur?
The alien takes a step backwards, looking as if it’s about to take off.
“Wait! What are you trying to tell me?” I ask again, desperation burning at the edges of my voice. The creature gestures its hand towards me, curling each of its fingernails inwards, then it begins to turn around and walk away, slowly. I think it’s trying to tell me to follow, so I do. No hesitation this time, my boots sink into the soft red soil with each step I take. The thick atmosphere is naturally warm and balmy, and as far as the eye can see, everything continues to exist in shades of warm reds, oranges, pinks, and golds. What an unusual planet… if nothing else comes from this adventure, at least I had the opportunity to explores something entirely fascinating and otherworldly.
The creature and I walk along the base of a deep red mountain for what feels like a couple of hours. I’m a couple of feet behind the creature for my own safely. Having drank most of my water, I still feel parched and my throat is tight and tasting sour with each swallow. I’ve stripped off my outer layer and tied it around my waist—and have since noticed the sensation that my skin somehow feels thicker.
It looks as if a slight rash has begun to develop on my arms, and possibly elsewhere. But the oddest thing is that there’s a discolouration to my skin that is abnormal. All the rashes I’ve ever had in my life leave my skin covered in red, bumpy, itchy hives. This one isn’t itchy, but rather bumpy and almost green. A woozy sensation trickles through my body each time I think about what is happening to my skin, so I try to focus on my surroundings and on the creature leading the way. But another question bogs at my mind: the way to where?