Night was approaching on a small black planet and amber rows of grain waved forward and back in the cool, evening breeze.
Kybell stopped toiling his patch and gazed up at the hazy sun. Black clouds of birds were blowing in from the south, bringing a sour stink to the evening breeze. The dull thud of a hoe hitting the ground was barely audible in the gray dirt as the farmer dropped it.
Without a second thought, he ran.
He ducked under a railing and leapt over a black-water creek with haste; even managing to kick a nasty little gibnit on his way home.
As Kybell reached the gates surrounding his bunker, the wind shrieked and grabbed at his feet like cool hands tightening their grip around his calves. Anchored by its grip, he came plummeting down to the wet earth.
Spitting salty mud out of his mouth, he noticed a scuffed little coin peeking out at him in the dirt. Looking back at the sky behind him one more time, the farmer snatched the object, and headed inside.
The solid metal door clunked behind him.
"Evening Trevv," he called out.
A mutated and hobbled creature of a man shambled out of the darkness and helped Kybell get the door locked back up from the inside.
"Ebe'nin, Kaib..b-bil," it said with some effort.
Kybell smiled toothily at his misshapen brother, finishing the final latch. “Your speech is improving!" he beamed, "you've been practicing haven't you?"
Drool sagged from the simple man's mouth as he blinked back with dull delight.
The farmer looked around the interior of the home and frowned. "Trevv, lights on please," he said.
His deformed sibling galloped quickly around the single-room bunker, flicking every switch he could find with joy. "Lye on! Lye on!" he chanted, and pretty soon there came the insect-like hum of a few hanging fluorescent lights.
Kybell smiled again, "alright Trevv, Night's almost here. Get ready!"
Trevv spluttered incomprehensibly and leapt to the door with glee, pressing his mushroom-like ear against its cold paneling. Kybell looked down at his brother with love and pity. He turned his eyes back up to a mildly functional clock on the wall and held up three of the remaining fingers on his hand.
"Three..." Kybell began.
"Dweee..." mimicked his brother.
"Two..." Three fingers dropped to two.
"Ooooo..." copied Trevv.
The second finger dropped and Kybell mouthed the final number. Trevv's eyes lit up.
A stark bang hit the door from the outside. Then another one. And another. The suddenous of it made the two men jump. A low sound came in the wind as it rushed against the bunker but before too long split into a multitude of trill screams. The bangs on the door increased in frequency.
Trevv was clapping and jumping, overjoyed as the screams and knocks drowned out all other noise. Just as suddenly as the sounds came, they left.
After a momentary period of silence, wet steps could be heard on the muddy ground outside the door. Softly, there came a lighter, more curious knock.
The lights flickered slightly and sniffing sounds came from outside the door, then nothing.
Trevv's child-like smile faded slightly. He shuffled back to the table, finished with tonight's show.
Reaching into his pocket, confident that the Night had gone and the sun was back, Kybell pulled out the small coin he had stumbled upon at the gate. "Hey Trevv," he said, flipping it in his hands, "check this out."
The hobbling man trotted over, walking with both hands and feet, and snatched the object from his brother's fingers. He licked it and recoiled at the rusty taste.
"Duhrdee," he grimaced.
Kybell gently took the object back and inspected it. "Yeah it's pretty mucky. Rusted as hell too." He turned it over and over in his palm.
"Hey," he said with a grin creeping up his face. "Let’s clean it up, huh?”
The older brother walked to the cabinet and removed a canister of gibnit poison, setting it on the counter. He grabbed a small, tin dish from a drawer and carefully poured a bit of the toxic solution into it. Not too much, the poison wasn't cheap, and could kill a hell of a lot more than just gibnits. After making sure the clear and viscous liquid had settled, he plopped the coin into the dish.
There was a sizzling, then a fizzing, and then a weirdly disconcerting popping. Neither of them were enthused by the last noise. With a pair of metal tongs Kybell plucked it from the goop.
It shone beautifully. Kybell smiled and flipped it over to where he could inspect it. "Let's see," he said, squinting at the object. A bunch of symbols he could not recognize were bordering the rim of the coin. There was also some sort of vulture imprinted next to the words.
He frowned. He didn't know what this meant. Maybe it was some sort of terror-bird that lived here a long time ago. Exhaling a little disappointment out of his nose, he turned it to the backside.
His eyes scanned the pictures on the coin, but they didn't make any sense to him. Some sort of floating giant next to another kind of terror-bird.
"It's from here," he mused, “gotta be.”
Kybell kept turning the object in the tongs, and after a while, felt safe enough to put it in his hands again. There were some other words on it, but he didn't understand them either. He was starting to feel a bit pitiful about the situation until he saw the number: 16.
Was that an amount? An amount of what? His eyes scanned it top to bottom once more. Was it a date?
His brain began to whirl with possibilities.
"Trevv," he shouted, "get your bird repellent!" An ecstatic look came over him. He thrust the coin in his brother's face.
"This is something important I know!”
Kybell rushed to the cabinet and fetched a heavy bird repellent mister. "We've gotta get this to the Epsya Space-Science Station. We're gonna be rich!"