Skip to main content

The Astopards


The swarm materialized suddenly as I walked along the forlorn path. A light emitted from the agglomerate, seemingly generated by their swift, graithly movements. As they descended from the black ether a buzzing became discernible that, as they approached, slowly revealed itself to be more of a cacophony of electric voices. The entity—for the glowing orbs commingled into a near solid mass—blocked my path yet simultaneously appeared unaware of my presence.

The strange old woman I encountered when passing through Felgin warned me not to walk this road tonight; she muttered in her tittering way of speaking something about moving stars and the Astopards but I chalked her ramblings up to a warped mind. The sun gets to people out here in the remote corners of the Mojave.

“They hunt on these nights,” she had croaked. “Minds is what they hunt for, you hear? They don’t eat like other things because they aren’t from here. The dark nights when the moon hides is when they get through.”

I tried to acknowledge her without encouraging any further discussion. The old woman must be mad, I thought at the time. Now, while surrounded by these creatures, these translucent vibrating things, I wish I could recall all of what she had told me.

What did they want with me? I dared not move or think or do anything at all in the desperate hope that they would simply pass over me unawares. Nonetheless, they began to wrap around me like tendrils. Their movements were utterly unexplainable; at first they moved very slowly and methodically but then advanced instantaneously. I thought to run for it, perhaps I could just break through the swarm and escape but I knew this would be a futile effort.

The electric voices became more distinct now that they were circled around me. It sounded like a language not of this earth, but a language all the same. I could almost understand it. The orbs began to pulsate in rhythm with the voices. It was beautiful, listening to them, becoming in tune with their song…

Just then, at what I believe to be the last possible moment before I was lost for good, it hit me. They hunt for minds, as the old woman said. They seemed unaware of my physical presence but could sense my thoughts. Quickly, I focused myself to shut out all thoughts. I emptied my mind and simply stood there with my eyes shut tight. One breath in, one breath out. Don’t listen to them.

I don’t know how long I stood there, but they were gone once I dared open my eyes. The first rays of sunlight could be seen poking over the horizon. I returned to Felgin and immediately began my long journey out of this accursed desert. I escaped them, I think. I must’ve, I’m still here aren’t I? Yet… I found that once I was on the road back towards… wherever it was I came from, that I could not remember a time I was not in Felgin. Before the old lady my memory was a black as that night when I stood in the sea of blackness in a ship of vibrating light and unheard voices singing an unknown song.

Comments