The moon was large on the horizon in the sky, as if it were merely an arm’s reach away. Kenneth loved going out at night to view the large space rock amongst the stars in the darkened sky, knowing it was not allowed to go out in the bitter, wintry night. He did it anyway, often at that. The buildings, tall, pointed spires, stood in the distance from how far he walked from them. He was often tired, rarely sleeping at night because of his walks out in the bright moonlight.
It was close enough, the moon, that one could see the craters on the surface and other details that would only be seen through a telescope on another world. In fact, Kenneth often wondered if any of those stars had worlds like his own. Or even different from his own, for that matter. He wanted to travel in space but knew that it was a worthless dream to chase.
Kenneth was from a lower-class family, meaning that he was only good for hard labor, sometimes called slave labor. They worked hard hours in the bright light of the sun, but they were far enough away from their own star that the world was ever frozen, a constant winter gracing the planet’s surface. His people had adapted, evolved, to become sturdy in the cold weather. It did not bother many of them, but they granted the ones that did permission to stay inside and do the world’s easier labor. Or, if they formed from a lower class, much like Kenneth’s mother had, they were put to death.
Weed out the weak, they had claimed that day. It was because of them that Kenneth wanted to travel the stars, to travel to other worlds and see if he could find one different from his own. Different, in many ways. Without the cold, he could survive as he was one of the few that adapted to cold weather while still being able to stay within the hot winter days of the endless beating sun. But what Kenneth wanted to be without was the council that ruled over his people. The council that had put his mother to death for simply failing to adapt to a colder world, and because she hadn’t adapted and was lower class, they had condemned her to death.
It was her grave that Kenneth visited every night. So far from the colony and the council that it took him several hours each night to walk. Each visit was brief, maybe two hours at the most, for he would have to turn back and finish the rest of the walk home. Most nights, Kenneth only averaged two to maybe three hours of sleep.
He had no other family but had his eye on one of the council’s daughters. He might have hated the ones who put his mother to death, but he did not hate the others that were close to his age. He was only 17, in a world where family was supposed to be everything. But he was old enough to take care of himself in the eyes of the council. They had given him a smaller staying quarters, one fit for those who only did manual labor.
Cecilia was the girl’s name that Kenneth was smitten with. He swore that one day he would get the chance to talk to her and tell her how he truly felt, but all the same, he wondered if that might be creepy. They had, after all, only exchanged glances a few times, where they often smiled at each other. Maybe she thought he was cute; maybe she just pitied him.
Kenneth would not know until he could talk to her.
“I’m sorry, Mother. I know it’s been a few days since I last visited; I have just been too tired to make the journey. I needed to catch up on sleep, I guess, and I know that you would be angry at me for the way I am taking care of myself. Which isn’t taking care of myself much at all.” Kenneth knelt by the grave marker, sighing as he laid down winter lilies that he found on the way. “One of these days, I always say this, I will talk to Cecilia. I want to tell her how smitten I am with her, how much I think she would make a lovely girlfriend, and that it’s not just because she’s a councilman’s daughter. If she were anyone else, I would still feel this way. I just hope this doesn’t turn sour, Mom. I miss you and all, and don’t take this the wrong way, but that does not mean I am in any hurry to join you. I still have so much I want to do, so much I want to see and explore.”
The voice behind him made the boy jump. He recognized it immediately: Cecilia.
He stood and turned to look at the girl his age, seeing her sheepish smile and returning one of his own. “C-Cecilia, won’t you be in trouble being out here?”
“I could say the same for you,” she replied as she tilted her head to the side, red hair falling in her face for a moment before she reached up and pushed it away. “I wondered where you buried your mother… Guess I have my answer now.”
“You’ve…. wondered that?”
“I have. I’ve watched you for a long time, Kenneth,” Cecilia spoke. “I’m no mere councilman’s daughter. I’m an alien disguised as his daughter. His daughter died years ago, but he is unaware. She, too, could not embrace the cold… but I saw the way you looked at her, and I took on her appearance. She never noticed you, not once. But I have…”
“Who are you? Really?”
With a heavy sigh, the woman shook her head and closed her eyes. Bright light began to fill Kenneth’s eyes, burning them for a moment until he closed them.
When he reopened them, he could only describe what stood before him as a glowing goddess. The woman was now a bright spot in the dead of night, her skin glowing silver like the light of the moon, her eyes a dark blue, but also glowing. Like a star, she was with brilliant white hair and a white dress that clung to her silvery-grey skin.
“My name is Cecillania,” she replied. “And this was my home planet before your kind came in and took it over. My race has hidden themselves amongst your people easily, and many of you do not realize it.”
“What… do you want with me?” Kenneth spoke, struck by this alien’s beauty.
“You said yourself you wanted to tell Cecilia how you felt, how you were smitten with her. I came to tell you the truth of the girl you thought you loved. She’s dead. This is who and what you were truly falling in love with. An alien, an ancient race to this ice-trodden planet.”
The human was silent as he simply stared at Cecillania, before his eyes widened in pain. He looked down, seeing the silvery grey arm of the woman before him protruding through his chest. Blood trickled from the corner of his lips, and he raised his gaze to look at her once again.
“Don’t worry. When I steal your form, I’ll take my revenge on the councilmen for you as well. For they also took away some of my kind when they selfishly built here. And because you loved Cecilia, I cannot return your love, for it was not me you loved; it was a disguise. You said you were not ready to rejoin your mother, but I believe you are. Join her now, Kenneth, and go find your true love in the afterlife. Forget about this cold, deserted world your kind has destroyed. Find peace in the stars.”
Featured Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay.