I've heard them say that the visitors were always here. That they were amongst us from the very beginning. That all our destinies and timelines had been manipulated, dictated and cultivated by them.
They didn't see the sky that day. They didn't sit there, on the banks of the river that overlooked the city. They didn't grasp their brush with all the vigor a young painter needs. They didn't capture in bright colours all of the beauty that sprawling metropolis contained. But I did. I saw the sky that day.
Red. A deep, blood red sky. It hung above the buildings like a theatre curtain and at first I felt overjoyed at the chance to paint such a thing. I dipped my brush into my deepest tones and lovingly recreated the blood sky over the bustling city.
Then, as the day began to tuck away into the night, I saw the shapes. The red grew darker - older. It turned from fresh blood into an old wound that gaped across the heavens. Thin twinkles of starlight barely penetrated the blanket of red and I remember being upset that I'd already finished my painting. The evening sky was far more powerful. How I wish I'd realised.
The darkness was their cover, and my brush couldn't have recorded them even if it wanted to. Through the redness they descended. Through the night. I saw their ships, the hollow shapes that tore through the red mask and came hurtling into the city.
I saw them fall, but I couldn't paint them. I couldn't capture their shape, no matter how much I tried. It pains me to think it. Me! I thought, a painter who specialises in capturing form, cannot draw their shapes from memory.
Whatever magic they use to hide themselves from humanity, it has worked on me. I cannot paint their ships. But I know they came. No matter how hard I try, I cannot forget that red sky. Or the night that came afterwards. The discovery I made when I lept into action to follow one of the shapes that fell to Earth.
I cannot paint their faces, although I have seen them. I have seen the horror of their existence. Their insinuation into our culture. Their lies, their deceit, their strange powers.
They call me deluded. They say the beings have always been here. But I saw them fall that day. I saw the face of those monstrous beings. And despite all of my years of expertise, I cannot capture them.
All I have is the painting. The red sky above the city.
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