's 2016 Horror Write-off:

From the Stars

Submitted by Keetah Spacecat

It was only a few months ago when the world ended.

It wasn't some apocalyptic rapture from the gods, nor was there rains of fire or ice. No quakes or flooding or anything of the sort.

For us, our end came from the stars.

It began in summer. A typical warm and pleasant day enough. Workers went about going to work, leaving their children in the care of teachers. Food was being cooked. Laundry was being washed. Thing were fine. Normal.

But then, It fell.

A twisted hunk of metal, probably maimed by space debris and melted from the friction of atmospheric entry, simply fell in the middle of one of the largest cities in the country. It wasn't all that terribly big, but it did manage to cause some damage. It wasn't one of our space probes or satellites, but something completely alien in design. People flocked to the crash site, either to gawk, pray, or curse it.

Of course, everything eventually was neatly sectioned off and top scientists were eager to study the wreckage. The news was full of update after update for a solid week. The craft was made of elements non existent on our planet, but common around a few other solar systems. The craft, though barely resembling what must have been it's formal glory, was still surprisingly intact. It contained the remnants of a primitive computer system, though it was destroyed beyond all hopes of recovering any data.

But what was it? Countries began accusing each other of spying. Religious nuts preached that it was a sign from the gods. Scientists believed it was an extraterrestrial craft, perhaps a civilization billions of light-years away were trying to communicate with us? Why did 'they' want to contact us?

It soon became apparent that the intent of the craft was less than friendly.

After a month, the first symptoms began to appear. An advisory warning on a new minor illness was spread around. Wash up before you eat. Don't touch your face. Avoid people who are sneezing or vomiting. It seemed routine. People get sick all the time and during fall, it was common for some cold or flu to spread around.

But then when mold began to grow on our bodies, we knew it was serious.

The first people in contact with the wreckage were the first to become sick. All the people who came to gawk at the site then went home to kiss their children, who then went on to share toys, who were picked up by teachers. The spread was brutally efficient. If I didn't know better, I would say that the mold was almost intelligent and efficient, waiting to infect as many people as it could before displaying the late stage symptoms.

The illness at first was our body's way of trying to fight it off...and then failing. After the flu-like symptoms, painful and itchy blackish-red mold, like rust, began to appear on our skin. It wasn't just topical, the deep roots of the mold grew deep down into the muscle and even into the bone. It itched, oh god did it itch, and it only made it spread more. The crawling march of mold came with fatigue, dehydration, and then eventually sucked out every drop of nutrients from your body until you were a withered, dry husk.

They tried everything to stop it. Both over the counter and high end prescription anti bacterial and fungicide did nothing. Amputation was equally useless, as the spores made it's way into our very cells. If it wasn't bad enough, huge painful black boils erupted across our skin, only to burst and shower the air with white powdery spores. In nearly a month, only a small handful of lucky souls remained unaffected. They were taken away somewhere, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves.

Society collapsed. Buildings burned. Parents killed their children so they wouldn't have to suffer the slow and lingering death. Governments went into hiding, to who knows where, to wait everything out. It was chaos and anarchy.

Even now I can look through my window and hear the agonized and sorrowful moans of the late stage infected. Now completely covered in the dark fuzzy mold and riddled with boils, they shuffle painfully, wheezing for breath. They don't even have eyes anymore, nothing by powdery mold as they beg for water, for help, but there will be none. Soon their organs will be leeched of nutrients, and they will join the other dried out husks lining the streets.

I shut the blinds on my window and sit in my chair, scratching the patches of mold on myself. I write a little in my journal, someone has to record our last days. Maybe the species that condemned us to this horrible fate can find these and know of the misery they wrought. But I doubt it. Maybe they wanted us to die to begin with. Maybe it was God, destroying this world to make for a new one. I don't know.

The television stations have long since gone off the air, but I still have some old newspapers. I pick one up to look at the early speculations on the wreckage.

I stare at the picture of the golden disk attached to the front of the craft and wonder at the strange inscriptions carved upon it. It had survived, but the meaning has escaped us.

Soon our twin suns will set and we will all be dead. Over a million years of evolution and development, killed in less than a year thanks to a disk and a wrecked primitive spacecraft.

I scratch my arms, and wait for my death.