Humans have not always lived here, near the bright center of the milky way, where the light of our stars keep the darkness away, where the light reaches all the corners of our life.
Have you seen total darkness? No, you have only seen shadows. You cannot imagine it, you cannot perceive it, and we work hard to maintain it. There are stories from our distant past, from our long gone parents, of the things out there that lurk in the voids between the stars, in the places that light has never touched.
There is one such place out there in the galaxy, a moon. It is not very far in the cosmic scale, but you will never see it with a telescope, or in the sky, it is unseeable with eyes. It sits under the permanent shadow of a gas giant, hiding its secrets.
Those days people still had the urge to explore, to discover, to search the deepest valleys and to climb the highest mountains. It was during those days that a team of four landed on that dark moon. Once there, they did what they set out to do, explored.
They dove deep into the black oceans. There are records of this, the first several days were fine. They swam inside their air bubbles a few kilometers below the surface. They found life, as expected, and they documented it. Hundreds of different species were identified in a week. One of the divers described them as “ghosts swimming aimlessly in an empty ecosystem”. They called them ghosts because, having evolved without light, their bodies never developed any pigment and most were white or transparent, and when shined upon with a torch their insides would glow, revealing the inner workings of each.
What was odd was that they couldn’t identify a food chain. The big ones didn’t eat the small ones, and the small ones didn’t feed off of any plants or matter of any kind. They couldn’t figure out how they nourished their translucent bodies, and, in an attempt to figure out the mystery, they dove deeper still.
Into the darkness they descended, armed with torches and flashlights. Into the depths of the black moon they were lured, talking of science and greatness. For days the travelled into it, seemingly floating in emptiness, and for days they ceased to see life. Into the shadows of the shadows, not even the ghosts ventured to swim.
It is recorded that on the fifth day they stopped. They saw something 800 kilometers below the surface of that moon. They laughed and talked inside their bubbles with joy, they thought they had finally found the source of the nutrients. And as they moved in to examine the swaying thing they realized what they were looking at: It was a suit. A spacesuit of the old times. Inside it there was a screaming man. Not with joy, not with surprise, not with fear. It was a man screaming because his mind had wandered off. It was the screaming of a body begging for its mind to come back, begging for sanity, and as the team approached him they didn’t realize that the mindless man had been deliberately placed in their path.
They touched him, and when they did a thousand thousand lights shone up to them from the depths. It always has been silly to think that us humans are the only intelligent species. It seemed so improbable back then, to encounter another intelligence. Most missions never had a plan for it, and this specific mission wasn’t the exception.
Four people went down into the deep seas of the black moon, one came back. When their ship failed to return a search party was sent to investigate. They found him on the shore, still in his air bubble, his limbs flailing, blood trickling down his throat as his vocal cords were ripped open after having screamed for who knows how long. He had scratched his ears off and most of the hair on his head. His jaw was locked open and it is said that the wailing sounds that came from within him haunted the dreams of the rescuers for years.
The man was taken to a mental hospital, but he never spoke again. It is said that the man was released and he lived the rest of his life in a facility by the beach. Every night he went out to the shore and looked towards the sea, perhaps hoping that his friends would emerge from its insides, and when the tide went up and the water touched his feet he would scream. He would scream until the sun came up.