I was on my way back home. I had had a long day mining the asteroids. It wasn’t an easy day. The autopilot on my ship was taking me away when the violet planet caught my eye. We had been warned. They said it was off-limits for our safety. I had heard rumors of the surface, stories from a friend of a friend who had ventured down into the cloudy world.
One of the stories I remember most was one of a man who had landed there many years before I was born. He had been lured into that purple atmosphere by its beauty. Mesmerized by it, the man ignored the warnings. No one knew for sure what it was he experienced, but the story goes that when he came back, he came back smiling. The man never went mining again, and the people who knew him said he never spoke another word. Not one. But he always wore a smile. When I was younger it never seemed to me to be a warning story. Why be afraid of a place that would make your world a happy one? The typical reaction was that he went mad. He stopped working and he begged in the city streets, struggling to survive. But to me he was complete. Whatever it was he saw that day fulfilled him.
I cannot adequately explain why I decided to land there, on that day. Thinking about it now, I suppose you could say I had always wanted to go. It was the slow accumulation of my craving for that alien world. Every day I passed by it and watched its swirling clouds and lightning and its purple seas. My imagination took me there some nights, in my dreams. The cold rain would pour on me and I’d feel revived by it, and the thunders would produce a tremor and the tremors would go through me. At times I wondered if I had actually taken the decision to land, but then I would wake up and find myself a little sad, in the darkness of my bedroom.
So I shut off the auto-pilot and flew my miner ship towards the purple marble. Into its atmosphere I dived, and in its clouds I disappeared. I flew over its mountains and valleys, and it was then that I first noticed the trembling of the wind. The thought of a mulfunction on my ship crossed my mind, but there was none. I admit I was surprised when I landed and the ground was a brownish red color, I was expecting violet.
Checking the outside of my ship was my first priority. I didn’t want to keep flying if something was loose or missing, but the source of the vibration became readily apparent the instant I opened the hatch. It was a song. The sound of something like a thousand thousand violins playing all around me, across the vast lands, and I knew the vibration I was feeling was the very song I had discovered. I didn’t even step outside. I sat on my seat with the hatch open in awe.
The song had a sorrow in it. It was a melody of sadness. Perhaps the remnants of a long gone civilization. The farewell song of its people, left behind to be experienced by the visitors to the violet world. The warm and discordant notes somehow became embedded in me, and within minutes I found myself sobbing uncontrollably in my helmet, unable to wipe the tears off my face. Images of fleeing people flooded my mind, and I watched myriad ships taking off into the purple clouds. “I’m sorry”, I began to say, “I’m so sorry.” I closed the hatch again and everything became silent. The only remaining evidence of what I had experienced was the slight trembling of the world and wind. I took off into the purple clouds and I turned the auto-pilot on.
Every time I close my eyes I hear the song, and every time I do I cry. Ten years I had been searching, with tears in my face, for the man who left the violet world with a smile. I wanted to know why. I found him yesterday, and I asked him. He said he found the source of the song, but that there wasn’t a way back in. I’m not taking his word for it. If I find it I may still have a chance to cure myself of sadness. I may still have a future in which I close my eyes and feel nothing.