“Corporal Gill! Where are we?” Sergeant Lee was not happy with me. I was the squad cartographer, and we were on an alien ship. It was my specialty to keep a map and interpret it. But the map I was making was just a mess of lines and curves. I had no idea where to go next or even what part of the ship we were in. It just looked like a maze.
“It’s just another hallway, Sergeant. Just like the last one,” I said. “This one curves south instead of east.”
“That doesn’t make any sense, Gill,” he barked.
“Affirmative, sir. It does not.” What else could I say?
“Another five minutes,” Lee ordered, “Then we back out of here.”
A murmur of “sir, yes sirs” ran through the squad. Most of us sounded relieved, although there were a couple of disappointed voices. Give a certain kind of man a rifle and he’s sad if he doesn’t get to shoot anything today.
We moved down the hall, weapons out, legs screaming with the effort of moving in a slow crouch for thirty-five minutes. That’s when we heard the music.
The tones and rhythms were alien, literally like nothing any of us had ever heard before, but it was captivating. Without orders, without words, we all moved towards it, weapons slowly lowering, legs straightening until we weren’t a squad any more but a crowd, an audience.
As the hallway curved, we got closer to it. It didn’t just get louder. It got clearer. We could hear more parts of it, subtle sounds, quieter parts. It seemed to be a chorus of pure emotions: grief and joy, love and sorrow, passions of all kinds. It made us smile and weep. It made our hearts soar. None of us, including the Sergeant, could wipe the grins off our faces. We had become part of the music, and the music was all there was.
That’s when the doors slammed down on both sides of us, and the room filled with gas. We died happy, at least.
* * *
The two aliens sat across from each other, watching a hologram of the human invaders wandering directly into their trap
“They do this every time?”
“The computer makes random vibrations, and they wander to it?”
“Not quite random. I wrote a program.”
“How many people know about this?”
“You and me so far. I’m submitting a report to the Sub-Commander. We can take this planet in a day.”