The Deadly Hello

Death screamed across the sky that day, a glimmering star that crashed toward land with apocalyptic force. A small rock, an inconspicuous meteor, but one that nonetheless brought with it the end to everything we knew. From across a distance we could not begin to fathom, from a species that died before even the dinosaurs roamed, it came. A greeting from a race that saw our planet and thought 'One day, there could rise life.' And hoped to one day speak to that life. And sent a missive in their only language, a living language spoken in bacteria that communicated by sidling into cells, converting them into factories of their own mass reproduction. One not of letters, but replication. Not of speech, or written word, but volume.

Halfway through the long journey, an asteroid the size of Charon, Pluto's moon, crashed into their own world. The lives they knew ended in an instant.

After their message landed, it only took weeks for the first millions to die. Doctors could not even say why the sick were sick, but by the time the borders closed, it was too late. The armed guards' watchful eyes turned inward with illness. The language of the Outsiders had become our only language, manifested in phlegmatic coughs, in bloody stool, in the rapid onset of death. We knew not who spoke through us, only that there was no time for vehemence, nor for mourning. The graves of those who fell before us became our graves. And then our graves became wherever we fell.

The streets filled, and then they emptied, and then they filled with rivers of rot as the language corrupted all, emulsifying our corpses into puddles of man. The world drowned in us as we subsided. And then all we were was lost, only pool of flesh, of viscera, of molted bone.

Years, centuries, passed in silence. Only the occasional sigh bubbled from a carbon ocean, the only disturbance on our empty world. The bacteria lived on, giving birth, giving birth. The language spread, one not of speech, but life. Millennia passed, the bubbles birthed arches, those arches came together to form organic structures that breathed, that thought. The sludge moved and lived again. And the race, once living, once dead, once hopeful to communicate with our long forgotten selves, rose from our ashes to live again. Rose from our ashes to once again peer into the stars, seeking life to say 'Hello'.