Wake in Fright image

Wake in Fright

The time it takes to breach the space between the step and the billowing gas beneath your feet seems an age. You hold your breath as tongues of smoke envelop you. There's a tickling sensation as the air presses around you, licking the folds of your suit. You sink into the gas for a moment, just a moment, until the jets in your boots propel you back to the surface.

And then you see it. Coming at you through the misty sheen. If only you believed in God, any kind of god, you would think you'd come face to face with Her.

The creature before you is scaled and tender. Floating limbs, a wicked mirage of pale greens and blues. The outline of her body seems to flicker like soft Christmas lights. She has three eyes; the third a pale, opalescent white that regards you with interest, but no fear.

"We've been expecting you," she says, and you hear the words not with your ears but in your mind. Images flare behind your eyes, and a feeling of warmth and welcome sucks you in like golden quicksand. "My name is Synthia," she says.

This is wrong. There was only supposed to be bacteria on Saturn. What is this creature? You remember the white envelope and realise you failed to take it out of the drawer and open it before stepping outside. Your only instruction, and you failed.

"Forget the white envelope," says Synthia. "Forget everything."