This was the picture - or, rather, a variation since I can't find the original on the Internet:
I'll be adding images of what Gastrophia COULD look like in the text. :)
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“Whaddya think?” Roy asked me over the radio. We were walking in our red space suits along a red cliff wall on the planet Gastrophia. Don't asked me who chose such a dumb name for a new planet. I certainly would have chosen something better. Don't know what, but I'm sure I would think of something if I was asked. Not that I would be. I'm only an insignificant explorer who goes out with the crew to check to see if this planet is good enough.
It's the year 3999. Actually, it won't be for much longer. It's New Year's Eve right now, 10:00 p.m. Anyway, Roy and I are part Exploration Team Moon. Again, another stupid name. We've never even gone to any planet's moon. But again, I'm off topic. Roy tells me I'm really bad at doing that. As I said, it's the year 3999, and we're on an exploration to see if Gastrophia would work as a new home for humans after the scientists do some tweaking to the planet's atmosphere. Most humans are on the planet Hope now, others are on this little moon called Faith that's going to burn up soon because its sun is getting to close. It was named Hope because it was seen as a new chance for life after humans polluted earth so badly that they had to move to the next available planet...but then that was polluted, too. This is actually the fifth planet that humans may now inhabit.
“Doesn't look bad,” I answered. “Good amount of water. No aliens spotted yet. It's a little weird with the red rock, though.”
“Well, Senna had purple rock.”
“Yes, and those darn scientists went and made it all grey to make it all more 'home-like'!” I almost shouted.
“Ouch.” I could almost feel Roy wincing, even though his back was to me. “I know you're angry about it, Ami, but maybe keep it down a little?”
We walked in silence. The cliff wall seemed to be going on forever. And the cliff ledge wasn't gettting any wider, either.
Suddenly, my eyes narrowed. Did I just see a shadow move on the cliff top above? I shook my head. No, that couldn't be.
We kept walking.
There it was again! A flitting shadow appearing and then disappearing behind a rock.
“Roy...” I started, a little hesitant to be bothering about him.
“Yeah?” Roy kept walking, pulling on the rope tied around my waist a little. One of the rules is that explorers must travel in pairs with a rope tied around both of their waists for safety. The other is, don't stop walking. Never stop walking. You never know what could happen if you did. Just because the scientists checked for alien life didn't mean that they were always right. Like that incident on the planet that was named Destruction because of the terrible things that had happened there.
“Is it just me, or did you see something up there?”
The back of Roy's helmet shifted down as he looked up, still walking. There was a walk in silence for what was probably about half a minute, but felt like much longer.
“Nope,” Roy finally said. “I don't see anything.”
Suddenly, the shadow flitted out again.
“There!” I forgot myself and excitedly pointed, taking a hand off the rope.
“I see it, Ami, but keep holding onto the rope,” Roy said steadily, surprising me again with how much he could tell when his back was to me.
“Sorry, but did you see it? What do you think it is?”
“I don't know, but something doesn't feel right. Let's keep walking.”
“But to reach the base, we're going to have to walk seven miles to get around this circular cliff. But if we turned around, the base is back just two miles,” I argued, irrationally.
“But we can't turn around, can we?” the unsettlement in his voice upset me.
A kind of hissing roar sounded above our heads.
“Keep walking. At the same pace, so they don't realize that we've noticed them.”
“Don't look up, Ami!”
Too late. I had already lifted my head to gaze above me, horrified.
Three creatures were above us. They looked like three-headed dogs with very sharp teeth, except that they striped like a zebra. Except that their stripes were dark red and light red. They had blended so well into the rocks that I hadn't noticed them before, but now the red rock was turning into a brilliant yellow. Nine heads looked right into my soul with their beady eyes. The middle head of each creature snarled at me. And then, as I opened my mouth to scream, I suddenly realized that I had stopped.
As each dog leaped, Roy stepped in front of me protectively. To my great astonishment, the first dog sailed over our heads into the chasm below. It had jumped too far. Not that I was looking back at me or anything, but I hadn't told you about what that chasm looked like before. It was boiling hot lava. But humans have got around worse things on other planets before. I wouldn't be surprised if the scientists could dry up the lava. The next dog jumped too low, and got itself caught on one of the many spiky rocks jutting out of the cliff. It howled a dying moan. I flinched, and grasped on to the closest jutting rock, which happened to be not particularly spikey.
Not that I want to sound like the narrator of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but the middle creature jumped at just the right height. It hit Roy right in the chest. It and Roy went flying towards the chasm. I screamed. And then I was holding the rock for dear life, for I felt the weight of Roy pulling me down.
The weight got stable. Opening my eyes that I had closed tight shut in fright, I saw Roy hanging over the cliff edge, his green eyes looking calmly at me, the stubble under his nose where he was trying to grow out a moustache making brown specks.
“Roy!” I screamed.
This time, I could see him flinch.
“Ouch,” his voice sounded over the radio in my spacesuit helmet.
“Roy,” I sobbed, but more quietly this time.
“Ami,” he said, calmly. “Get out your knife and cut the rope.”
“What?!” I looked at him with a shocked expression. I wouldn't be surprised if my mouth was open. “I am not leaving you!”
“Ami. Listen to me.” Roy was speaking so calmly that infuriated me. “That dog-thing bit me before it went over. Look.”
He held up his arm. Where the dog's bite had ripped the special fabric that the scientists had designed open, where Roy's arm had been, there was...stone.
“Oh my God.” I put one hand to my mouth in shock.
“I'm slowly turning to stone, Ami. I'm going to get heavier and when I'm completely stone, I'm going to pull you down. Now cut the rope.”
“No.” I shook my head obstinately. “I'm not letting you go. As soon as this expedition ends, we're going back to Hope for our wedding.”
“I know. Those were all wonderful plans.” I saw tear leave Roy's left eye and fall, shimmering, down his cheek. “But I can't marry you when I'm a statue. Go find someone else. There are lot of handsome guys on Exploration Team Moon.”
“Not funny,” I informed him.
“Sorry. But honestly, Ami, you've got to let me go. Let it be a dying man's wish, if it has to come to that. I don't want you to die, Ami. You've got so much life ahead of you. Just please...” He swallowed hard and squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. When he opened them again, those beautiful green eyes were shining with tears. “I love you, Ami, but I'm stone up to my waist now. Cut the rope.”
“All those plans we had together,” I sobbed. “Ever since we were kids together...that one day when we were thirteen and you promised that you'd marry me someday. We've been engaged two years now.”
“It's going to be up to my neck in a moment, Ami,” he said, quietly.
I nodded and swallowed and put a hand to my pocket. Out came the pocket knife Roy had let me borrow on one of our expeditions three years ago. After the expedition, he had told me to keep it.
“And I won't be able to talk in a moment, so it had better be the last time that I say – CUT. THE. ROPE.” Roy's voice sounded strangled.
I put the knife to the rope, and began sawing back in forth. My mind went wild. “After this is done, we'll go back to Hope, yeah? We'll get married and then we'll go to the Moon of Ploom for our honeymoon, yeah? They say it's gorgeous up there.”
The rope was half-cut. I couldn't see for the tears, but I kept sawing away. I took one hand away to swipe at my eyes so I could see again. Roy was staring at me, silently. Where his collar ended, his skin was beginning to look a little grey.
I kept sawing obstinately and wouldn't look at him.
The end got cup off. I still refused to look at him. The rope was almost cut.
“I love you.”
I looked up just as the last cord snapped. His nose was just beginning to turn to stone then as he fell. But to the last moment, his eyes still stayed on my face until they were frozen in place and I turned away and hugged the jutting rock for comfort, sobbing.