Fiction Science Fiction

The two men dug the grave with sturdy shovels composed of pure gold. They wore bulky but expensive white suits smeared with red dust that was not coming out in the wash, but it was better than freezing to death in the endless rust-colored desert.

The taller one paused from the hard labor to wipe the sweat from his forehead only to swipe pointlessly at his reflective visor before realizing what was happening with a heavy sigh.

The shorter man heard him over his comms unit and laid his shovel in the rust-powder soil. "It could be worse, Nathan."

Nathan nodded seriously, but it looked comical in his bulbous helmet. "I know. The low gravity here really is a lifesaver with all this digging."

"Yeah-I mean no! I meant the press could know about it."

Nathan shuddered, irked by the very suggestion of it. "You're right, Casen. Things could be a whole lot worse if the public knew."

Usually, the words "You're right" cheered Casey up. Isn't lovely to hear confirmation of your superiority? Casey reasoned for he did so adore being in charge. But the threat of the average citizens of Earth hearing of Extraterrestrial 2309 was no laughing matter.

Both of the men in multi-million-dollar suits flinched away from the coffin behind them as if the hibernating life form within might hear their thoughts, which was a possibility for all they knew of the creature.

My apologies, did I just misspeak? The capsule behind them, not the coffin. I did not intend to cause any confusion, but, then again, if things go awry as they often do in space, it could become the poor alien's final resting place.

The two impromptu grave diggers thought along the same lines as me. Casey ordered Nathan to continue digging the hole while he recalibrated the timer system in the capsule.

Casey pressed buttons with clumsy, gloved hands and fiddled with dials until he was certain that the device would not fail to sail back to Earth.

While Commander Casey ran through his checklist, Nathan finished shoveling the iron-oxide dirt. He valiantly hoped this would be the last time he dug a hole to put a life-form time-capsule in but still held his suspicions. There was plenty the government was hiding from himself and Casey, Nathan was sure of it. If they could lie to the public about the space program's activities, why not tell a few white lies to the minions in the program itself?

That's what it felt like to Nathan, at least. A decade spent in college studying rocket science and geology and biology and-well, it's impressive enough to say it twice-rocket freaking science for what? To get a pat on the back from NASA and not hearing a peep out of them since? Nathan was sick and tired of being kept in the dark when he was sure he could be of more help than this.

Nathan also had his doubts that Casey was telling him everything, but I can attest that they were unfounded. Casey was just as clueless but didn't care to think about the possibility, and that is exactly the kind of mindset the space program rewards with high rank.

Within the cryogenic capsule, Extraterrestrial 2309 took its first breath in the past twenty-four hours. In the low-temperature capsule, its bodily functions slowed to the point of being able to survive for decades without sustenance other than a little bit of carbon dioxide. The scientists that devised the contraption were rather pleased by their own ingenuity though they were unaware of its true purpose. The disinformation campaign took care of any questions the criteria raised and that was that.

The public couldn't have any unanswered questions. That could bring them too close to the truth for their own good. The revelation of extraterrestrial life was too big of a shock, instead, they needed steady scientific advancements until the "discovery" wasn't too much of a shock.

A dozen decades should do the trick. After all, it would only be one life form. They would never have to know about the race. Nathan and Casey didn't know about the Marsidians and they never would. They only knew of Extraterrestrial 2309 and his uniqueness.

How could they know that they had incurred the wrath of a species they had never heard of?

Nathan was the one to spot the dust storm on the horizon. "We need to get out of here."

Casey had enough foresight to know that they wouldn't last long against a dust storm on Mars. "We need to fill in the hole. No time to waste!"

The two took up their golden shovels again, scraping the red sand over the capsule fervently. The pile of dirt beside the hole had diminished significantly before the first winds snatched the loose debris aside. Nathan hastily packed down the top layer of the now hidden pit in an effort to keep the unpacked soil from flying away.

Through their sealed helmets, the tundra was eerily quiet. The roar of the wind went unheard but the pair could feel the gust's effects. Casey's boots lost traction and he fell on his visor with an ominous crack!

A thin vein split the glass, quickly spiderwebbing as the pressure of the windstorm slammed against the weakened shield. Nathan could hear his commander release one horrifying screech before his microphone was stolen by the breeze and the man froze solid.

Dread coursed in Nathan's veins but it also brought its friend, adrenaline. He sprinted as swiftly as possible in the low gravity, bounding across the desert towards the shuttle. "Patel to Houston! Patel to Houston! I'm caught in a dust storm. Commander Casey is down!"

But nothing but static fizzed in his ears.

It was then that Nathan had the sickening sensation that everything was going to plan in Houston. Casey and Nathan knew so little and yet too much. Maybe it is only of slight consolation, but Nathan Patel died knowing he was right.

October 03, 2020 22:38

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