's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Abstract "

Submitted by Flee

Some things are better left unknown. There is so much to know in the immense universe in which we live, and yet I feel that some of those things are not meant to be discovered. And yet, we still look for them, our craving for knowledge is a hunger that can never be satisfied. Every discovery we make always leads to a new thought, a thought that must be pursued until it can be proven as fact. I like to think that the discovery of Vemous-2 was an accident, and yet this accident led us to conjure up more thoughts, more ideas, and more questions that needed to be satisfied.

The planet was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope 146 years ago. It was not what we intended to view, we were actually directing toward pictures of a potential supernova, but a miscalculation directed it instead 2° west. What we got was a surprisingly detailed picture of the planet Vemous-2, and ever since then we couldn’t keep our eyes off of it. Countless satellites, probes, and now finally, a specialized rover built for the thick atmosphere. The planet was now accepted as a barren, dusty planet with massive ammonia oceans, sulfur geysers and copper deposits. The copper especially caught our interest as space mining was now a massive business.

So after 18 years, the planet was in view of the spacecraft carrying the rover. 18 years of soaring through emptiness at a speed of 120,000 miles per hour, and finally its destination was in view. I worked on the project along with 30 others at NASA Mission Control Houston. We all came to work that day extremely excited. The majority of us had started our job working on this project, and had been working on it for our entire career. I was there when the rover was built, and now 18 years later, I was there when the same rover was going to land on a planet approximately 1,051,897,200 miles away. It’s a strange feeling, as some of my colleagues will say, that the exact machine they worked on, still coated with their fingerprints, was now an immeasurable distance away from them.


The text on our computers alerted us that it was now entering the heavy atmosphere of Vemous-2. The craft was taking little damage, which was good. Soon it would be time for the parachutes to deploy, made of extremely thick ballistic nylon fibers, and following that, the landing.

“It’s landed!” We finally hear about 30 minutes later, the landing took a while longer than expected. It was the longest 30 minutes of our lives, mind you, and cheers arose as the news was distributed. Despite having a fairly easy landing, it would still take about 4 days for the capsule to open, the bags to deflate and the battery to fully charge. Our rover, which we named “Polo”, comes equipped with 5 solar panels, 8 wheels, 48 different mineral sensors, binocular vision and a hi-definition video recorder. It is the top of its class for any rovers, praised for its brilliant design. It takes about 26 hours less for its battery to charge than most rovers, and its cameras are said to be comparable to 20/20 human vision. Its wheels were perfectly designed down to every groove for the predicted sandy surface of the planet. It comes equipped with a drill and 48 different sensors, made specifically for detecting different elements and minerals, specifically the speculated massive copper deposits which lied just below the surface. It was a perfect design for the job at hand, and it was expected to make many world-changing discoveries. I assure the reader, that its discoveries were just that. Just not in the romanticized way as one would think. “The first command has been sent.” Ralph, a co-worker announced. The first command was simple, to get a picture of the surface. It would take about 2 hours for the command to reach the rover, and 2 hours for the pictures to reach us; and those 4 hours were possibly the most excitable in our lives. We were waiting for what seemed like forever, our minds stimulated by the situation at hand. Our entire lives were leading up to the event that were about to unfold before us, 18 years of waiting, 18 years of sitting in front of beeping computers subconsciously waiting for this moment. Despite being so excited though, we wasted no time, our eyes glued to the information received and transmitted.

Then, finally, after those never ending 4 hours of waiting, the front screen flickered on with the first video of the surface of Vemous-2. The first transmission of an exoplanets surface, for the first few seconds of the transmission there was celebration, but that was soon diminished, and instead a wave of fear grew over all of our heads.

The videos is sent back were not what we expected at all, instead of a yellow, dusty atmosphere like we expected, it was a sickly green color, instead of a reddish, copper colored surface like we predicted, it was a completely new color unidentifiable on the visible spectrum, a kind of reddish green. These were not what made it such a disturbing visual; it was the life forms.

The things that we saw were near indescribable, forms unlike anything imaginable based on earth life. They were disgusting, different, a spectacle describable as nothing but “alien”. There were a few of these things that we saw in the video. The rover had landed in what looked like a jungle, except instead of plants, there were large, bubble like forms, translucent with a hint of that red-green color that made up the mushy surface. Along with the bubbles there was what looked like needles growing out of the surface in a pinwheel shape, sitting dangerously close to the delicate bubbles that made up the majority. There was also what looked like little dots that swarmed over absolutely everything, so abundant that they created an almost shimmering display. Little tumorous forms rolled about among these, seemingly “absorbing” them for possible nutrition. And then there was what looked like the dominant life forms.

Ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you that these are what truly made it disturbing. They looked like nothing I could ever describe based on the information I have absorbed, the closest thing I could compare it to was that it looked vaguely “echinodermic”. It was for the most part a bioluminescent shell, covered in what looked like hairs and massive tenticular arms coming out of asymmetrical holes dotting it. The arms, and this may sound strange, looked somewhat crystalloid; with a pinkish hue to it. These arms supported the shell, and are what provided the locomotion. Now this is not what made it disturbing, it was their movement. They moved in a sort of rolling pattern, like a bobbing wheel with retracting and detracting arms pushing against the incomprehensible mush in which it stood. There were so many as well, they were everywhere, bobbing with little to no consideration or even any sign of notice for the rover. One even seemed to climb right over it without even noticing the rover. Then the video cut, the surreal landscape disappeared from the screen. There was silence for a while, and then finally in the back someone exclaimed briefly, “Jesus Christ.”

Then conversation erupted, we tried desperately to get the rover back online, there were arguments as to what we even just saw, the brief video was played over and over individually on our computers, pages were thrown, coffees spilt. It was complete chaos for the rest of the week; I personally, could not bring myself to watch that video again. The image it burned into me was enough to bear, at least I could interpret into my own reality instead of watching it again and realizing the surrealities.

The rover never came back online, left to decay on that horrible celestial body so many millions of miles away. We were left to work with that same 16 second recording that it transmitted before losing all communication. I quit very soon after that, I couldn’t take the job, every day felt like a sweating dystopia holed inside of a mission control room. The people could continue trying to make sense of that video for all I cared, that video that can only be described as the title suggests, “abstract”; Abstract mockeries of known life working in an abstract ecosystem on an abstract planet. I couldn’t stand working another day there, and to this day, the images still haunt me, the exact video I watched 3 years ago plays in the same vivid detail I’d rather not have viewed. It will stay there for the rest of my life, coming back to haunt me to the day I’ll die, constantly driving me closer to what they call insanity. It’s a subject that I hope to god is not shared with anyone else, and I will take with me to death. I sincerely hope that nobody besides those people who were there that day had seen that video, and I hope that it is never, ever released. You will not realize why until you would see it, which I hope to dear god, that you don’t.