Keep digging, just keep digging. That’s what they said. Some last hope isn’t it? We're going to find a dead desolate core and then we're going to die like good little disposable boys and girls.
“I can’t take it! I can’t take it anymore!” I yell, pulling my hands through my hair. When I let go I half expect to find clumps of matted black thatch.
“Shut up, Hadar,” Versie calls out from the other side of the commons room, her gray-blue eyes not leaving the pages of that ancient book of hers. “We’re all tired, we’re all stressed, and it’s fine to express that, so long as you don’t give the rest of us headaches while you're at it”.
“Stressed? STRESSED? Who’s stressed. ME? NO, no no no. I’M GREAT. It’s not like we spent a couple months, cramped in a tin can, heading towards a giant floating ice ball in space, searching for something more, only to in fact discover it was just an ice ball and we're all going to die miserable deaths”.
Oh, great! The punk’s ignoring me.
“WE'RE ALL DEAD! WHOOP” I shout, flinging my arms in the air. “I ACCEPT IT. SWEET RELEASE! HEY, HEY. YOU GUYS SHOULD TRY THIS. THIS IS GREAT. SO GREAT. I AM ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE”. Tiyo and Milla just stand in the door frame staring in awe at my freelyness until the door starts beeping at them. They step forward a bit allowing the door to close.
“Is he okay?” Milla whispers to blondie.
“I think the guy running the mental evaluations was a bit lax on his requirements, you know? Due to a lack of volunteers. That...or he isn’t getting enough oxygen in his sleeping pod at night”.
“Both of which are highly reasonable explanations!” Versie, calls out.
“OXYGEN IS FOR MORTALS, MORTALS”.
“You are a mortal!” her bookishness shouts back.
“NO SUCH THING, HURUMP,” I tap my foot and display my very crossed arms at that.
“nO SuCH tHiNg”.
“GASP. YOU MOCK ME, MORTAL”.
“Did he just say gasp?” Milla asks Tiyo the toe head.
“INDEED, MORTAL. YOU HAVE HEARD MY DIVINE WORDS CORRECTLY”.
Everyone, but Milla burst out laughing.
“Wh-what?” she asks, looking from me, to Tiyo, to Versie, to me again.
“Don’t worry about him,” Tiyo says, placing a hand on her shoulder. “He’s our problem”.
“I heard that,” I point out.
“You were supposed to. Just,” he sighs. “Keep your head on for the mission, man”.
“I still think we're all going to die”.
He shakes his head. “Come on, Mill. We have things to do”.
“But,” she starts, staring back at me with her mousey eyes. “What about-,” the door closes behind them, cutting off whatever she was saying.
I’m not crazy.
“Hadar,” Versie says, piercing hazel eyes directed at me. “Listen to Tiyo”.
“Look. I know things are rough, I know this isn’t exactly what we signed up for, and I know the future isn’t looking that great, but if you give up now, then none of us will make it back”.
“But, what if...what if I don’t want to go back. What is left to go back to? Ruins? Pain? Fear? It’s just so…”
“Bleak”. I nod.
“That’s why we are here”.
“What do they expect to find? What good is sending a bunch of brats to a hunk of ice floating in space? More ice for their martinis?” She shrugs.
“Milla isn’t even old enough to drink”.
“And you are? I heard the limit used to be twenty-one,” she retorts.
The other door opens.
“What’s up, Kier?”
The half-blind brunette boy turns to her, tablet in hand. His glasses are thicker than said tablet.
“Something...something is wrong,” he says, tapping at the screen.
“Wrong how?” Versie asks, closing the book that had been open on her lap until now.
“Some...some sort of signal. It’s distorted, completely unintelligible. I tried to trace the origin but…”
I’m light, like really light right now, a scene of weightlessness taking over. So I do the only logical thing. I jump.
“The signal appears to be-wha-what the heck,” Kier stammers out as I slam into him. I bounce off, knocking him down in the process. I’m flying. I’m FLYING.
“Hadar!” Versie shouts.
My head slams into the panel by the door, causing it to spark, crackling dangerously as I’m flung to the other side of the common area. Piece of junk panel. We’re not getting that door open, are we?
Whoops. Sorry Tiyo, sorry Milla. It looks like they are stuck upfront.
“Hadar, what the heck?!” Versie is glaring at me, but part of her focus is directed at clinging to the table. “Kier, what’s going on?”
“System failed. This shouldn’t be happening, it shouldn’t”.
“Kier, focus. Can you fix this?”
He nods. “I can”.
“Then fix the issue first, we can find out what caused it afterward”.
“Right, right”. He attempts to run off, but trips and...well...flips.
“Cleats, find cleats”. He...sort of leaps… to the still operational door, disappearing behind it.
Versie watches, her inky black hair floating above her head. It twists like an octopus waving its tentacles as she jerks her head in my direction. I wave back then do a backflip. Who wouldn’t?
“Where’s Anzu?” she asks.
I jerk when a sudden banging sound rings out from behind me.
A girl with black eyes and a dark brown ponytail is prying at the broken door from the other side.
Do I know her?
“Anzu”. Versie rushes up to the door. The two start banging again as if that will help. I bounce over to the table as I start to feel my weight. The doors were designed to prevent a total loss of air in case of a total hull breach. I tap on it, activating the screen. Flames lick at the exterior of the ship.
“We’re entering the atmosphere. We ought to head to our chambers”.
“What, and leave Tiyo, Milla, and Anzu?”
I shrug. There are five crew seats upfront. It might be a bit bumpy, but they ought to survive. Us standing here on the other hand”. I shrug again. The ship shakes, rumbling. Anzu stumbles. I can feel myself sliding toward the sparking death trap of my making. “The five of us went through the training. They'll be fine”.
Versie looks back at the door. Anzu is gone. She turns to me. The ship rumbles again. She bolts, grabbing my arm. We stumble but do not fall.
I wake to a rumbling sound, within my chamber.
“Ship, landing status”.
First phase complete drill in motion.
“Hey, you okay”. I am greeted by black eyes and a brilliant smile.
“I’m...where are we?”.
“On the surface, you oaf”.
“No, where are we?”
“In your room? On the ship”
“Where are the others?”
“Their assignments,” she says, getting aggravated.
“What is your assignment?”
“Do you not have one?”
“Of course I have one,” she says, flustered.
“What? What is your assignment?”
“The same one I had from the beginning”.
“Huh, what was that?”
“Back up. I’m back up”.
“Uh Huh. What else?”
“You must have been really busy, I have never really gotten to see you”.
“That’s because I don’t like you”.
“Then why are you here? Really, please answer. I must insist...No? Well, could you at least tell me why I’M here?”
“This is what you signed up for”.
“You know, I can’t exactly recall what I signed up for. Too much fine print. But, I’m fairly certain there was no clause where I agreed to be abducted by aliens”.
“How did you…”
“Five,” I say.
“Five main assignments. Five seats. Five chambers. Five faces I can remember”.
“Huh...I suppose we’ll have to work on that next time”.
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