The ancient hills are simply that, very old and mostly forgettable, still, I love to feel their unevenness and the clean gravel and cool stones beneath my feet; the sweet sound of that crunching noise under my sandals. Whenever I walk these mountains and small hills I sense their tiredness, their worn down slopes, their gradual inclines, and ponder how easy it would be to walk clear around my world on their crests, if I only could find and carry enough water. But that isn't possible, now. Springs are very difficult to know about and come by.
I have been living in the land of red sands and beige hills, blue mountains and empty seas for as long as I can remember and that is a very long time. Close to a thousand years, I was told, when others were alive, ever since the the last of my kindred family populated this world, but almost every path, every monument, every vestige of our once great civilization has disappeared off of the surface, and now they are coming, the other ones, other kinds of men from another world. It is a slow gain, though, they don't seem very committed, whoever they are, as it is rare that they send their exploring machines to our world.
As far as I know, I am the only one left alive, now. But there could be more. Communication is hard to come by these days. Our telepathy grows weak as we age, and I haven't been in communication with any one for more than a few orbits around our sun. They were all older, than myself, too, so I just might be the last of my kind.
There was a machine, nearby, that landed years ago. I saw it from a distance but never approached. It just sat out there in the red dust and didn't move. There were little movements, at first, but I don't know what it's purpose was, exactly, and would hate to die if it shot me out there on that empty place. But lately, I've thought of going to visit it. I won't live much longer anyway, and a death by an alien machine might be rather poetic, if not painful. I haven't felt pain for so long it would almost be a new experience. My life is too comfortable and some days, much too easy to appreciate all my comforts.
I don't speak very much, but if there is some kind of communication I can make with whoever sent it, it would be fun and rather thrilling to talk to them. If they want our world, they're welcome to it. There's not much left, except underground.
The main problem is they'd have to transport a real moon to our world and put it into orbit, if they wanted any kind of protection from the solar winds. If they're that advanced. We weren't. That is if they could get the magnetosphere to begin working again. It would certainly take something much larger than those two asteroids orbiting the planet right now. They're a curiosity but nothing more. Just remnants of the moon that collided with us so very long ago and began the downward spiral of life, here. That's what initially killed our planet's magnetic field and most of the population; Scientists messing with our moon's orbit. There are so many variables, they couldn't possibly interpret how all of them would have been effected by their tricks, the fools. Life had almost been completely wiped out, except for those below ground that kept the few people left, after the cataclysm, going. It took thousands of years to come back from that great catastrophe, but we flourished again for a time, and there was even talk of going to the third world from the sun, but it was too primitive and the atmosphere of its oxygen/nitrogen mixture would have been poisonous to us. Luckily, our carbon dioxide atmosphere has staid fairly constant, though growing richer in the process so we can still walk the surface, when we want to. I live on a mountain top where its less dense, but colder, and I bundle up and don't have any problems.
I've made my mind up to go out onto the plain, tomorrow, and visit that machine that landed years ago. If I die, then so be it. I have lived long enough.
The day was cool and I could smell the frost in the air as I strolled out into the rocky place of dust and stone. I needed the exercise. It took almost five hours to reach their little machine. Why they had landed it here, was a mystery to me. Its as desolate as a spot can be. I saw it out in the distance once before, as I've said, but never this close. The white odd looking thing with machinery above and below, the little towers and the concave disk above the main body. I could guess what all the different apparatus was for making initial measurements of soil and atmosphere. I'm sure it had other functions, too, but didn't know what those were.
It still stood on its three widely spaced legs like the strangest machine ever made but it was doing what it was designed to do, I suppose. I went closer, cautiously now, though it didn't seem to notice me. And then I was five steps from it. It was larger than I thought. Almost to my chest in height.
I came right up to it, shortly, and touched everything, wiggled some items but it all seemed quite asleep. Removing some covers, on either end, I discovered it was battery powered and they must have gone dead some years ago. I was interested in all the little pieces of machiner and extensions on the machine but again, I could only guess their true purpose. There was some kind of writing and symbolism on its side, saying, VIKING, and other things, but I didn't understand it, of course, though they seemed to be peaceful letters and symbols.
I took some pictures and recordings, up close, the details and everything I found, then left. It had been interesting but I shook my head thinking how I had been afraid of it all these years.
I was almost home when I sensed something. It wasn't telepathy. It was movement and electrical signals. Maybe it was some telepathy, but as I climbed my mountain, I looked back out over the views and saw nothing. It wasn't until I was back home, on top of the mountain, that I discovered what it was. It was another of their machines on the far horizon, on the opposite side of my mountain. It had six legs with wheels attached and had a few similar items on its top of it that the other machine seemed to use, only much smaller. It moved, too, though very slowly, I could see, when I focused in on it with a hand held far-view. I determined I would go see it in the morning. As slow as it moved, I knew it wouldn't disappear anytime between now and then. Besides, I figured it would stop for the night. There's a lot of rocks out there and it seemed on the smallish size.
I was excited to get out there but I was feeling very tired, by morning. Yesterdays journey had exhausted me. For an old man, though, I thought I got around okay, but I would have to go very slow if I was to make it back to my heated house by night.
Science Fiction /