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Science Fiction

The most gorgeous planet, lush green and deep blue, hovered in space just in view of the spaceship. And behind it, a glowing star gave it halo. They almost made it. The spaceship hung in space as it had for the past two weeks. The engines had gone out. And then the lights. And then the water. It was only a matter of time before the oxygen ran out too. The doors wouldn’t open. The intercoms didn’t work. The ship that was supposed to be their salvation was now their grave.

Ivan, one of the engineers, had gotten trapped in the hallway before the power went out and the doors stopped working. From inside the captain’s quarters, Charlie watched him slowly die of dehydration.

Most of the crew was in the control room. They had been communicating with Charlie before the intercoms went out.

Below him, two of the engineers had been trapped in the engine room. Mike and Mikayla. They were twins. They had also been on the intercoms. They tried everything. They were two very smart people and excellent engineers. There was simply nothing to do to save the ship.

They played games. They had an old deck of cards which they spent hours playing various cards games. It’s not as fun when there’s only two. They started to sing songs from their childhood. Charlie could distantly hear them sometimes.

They wrestled. Mikayla usually won. She was strong than her brother. She would tell ghost stories at night. They didn’t really know when night was. They were on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere, so really night didn’t exist at all. Mike was a scaredy cat and easily threatened by her stories.

When the lights went out, they used flashlights. But one day those ran out of battery.

They were in complete darkness. There were no windows in the engine room.

They played tag. Struggling to find each other in the dark, and tripping over everything.

After a few days they began to hallucinate. Their brains, so used to seeing, desperately created images from nothing. Mikayla would see jumping fairy like creatures. She would chase them, and they would disappear. Mike saw vines winding around the engine’s instruments and coming towards him. He would scream and try to shoo them away, waving into the air until Mikayla calmed him.

Charlie didn’t know what happened, but he knew they were gone of the 11th day. He felt the whole ship shake. From down below, Mikayla, having lost it from the darkness and the hallucinations, crafted herself a bomb from various materials they had lying around.

Her brother was too delusional to know what was happening. She held him close as she detonated it.

Charlie heard it, and the metal beneath his feet started to bend, but it did not give. The ship was built to hold strong in case any part of it suffered damage.

Nancy, Brandon, Eve, and Max sat around the control room in silence. There was a large window that allowed them to see the planet, XPLI-34, standing before them in all its glory. Just out of reach. It was mocking them. They had a small faucet for water and a small fridge with food. Till the water stopped working, and the food ran out. The instruments throughout the room didn’t work anymore. They used to be able to send distress signals, scan nearby for any other ships, and communicate with the captain’s quarters and the engine room. There were constant beeps and static. Now it was silent.

Nancy was the first to lose it.

She started to swing one of the chairs against the window. She was screaming.

“Let me out of here! Let me out!” The glass was strongly reinforced, and the chair didn’t even make a crack. She broke down crying.

Max slit his own throat with a box cutter on day twelve. Eve tried to save him, but he kept pushing her away until he finally died. She was covered in blood with no water to clean it off.

She retreated into herself after that. Just a shell, staring out the window.

Brandon spent a while trying to pry the door open. Or break that small glass window that let him see into the hallway. It was futile. The doors were locked and airtight. A safety precaution used against them.

Nancy started to bang her head against the window. After nearly an hour, there was a large bloody spot distorting the view of the planet. She eventually passed out. She didn’t wake up.

Brandon tried to get Eve to snap out of it, but she was empty. Giving in to defeat, he decided to write a letter. It was addressed to his kids. They were back on Earth with their mother somewhere else in the cosmos. It was unlikely they’d ever see the letter, but knowing that it exists, made him feel better.

After stating that he loved them, he stared at the paper, lost for words. He looked out at XPLI-34. It was supposed to be their new home. A new, fresh, and livable planet. Just out of reach.

His daughters had hugged him goodbye, and he had told them that soon they’d be joining him on their new home planet. He tried to be strong, but he broke down into tears.

Dear Charlette and Amelia,

I hope one day this letter finds you. I want you to know, though you already do, that I love you so very much. You guys, and you mother, are my world. I know it must be hard without me, but I want you to know that I left to find a better place for all of us. I would give anything to be with you right now.

I know the two of you dream of exploring space just like your dad. I hope you do. Despite how terrifying it is, it is also so beautiful and amazing. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the first to ever step foot on XPLI-34. Don’t be afraid. Be the two brave girls I remember.

I love you guys so so much.

-Dad

He wiped a tear from his cheek and left the letter sitting on the communications board. He approached Eve.

“Hey, Eve. I don’t know if you’re still in there. But uh… We don’t have much longer.”

He was hungry. Thirsty. Exhausted. His head hurt.

He slowly picked up Max’s box cutter. “It’ll be quick, I promise.” He waited for her to respond, but she didn’t. He slit her throat quickly without hesitation. Then he approached the window and looked out at the planet, a beacon of life and the last thing he would ever see. He could imagine his girls hugging him goodbye and waving as he stepped on the ship. It all felt so far away. As he brought the blade to his neck, he imagined what it would be like to see them again. To see them smile as they ran up to him, reunited at last.

In the captain’s quarters, Charlie heard a loud beeping sound. It was the oxygen detector, battery powered. Oxygen levels were low.

Once communications shut down, he was alone. The captain’s quarters had a small food storage, so he was well in the terms of food and water. The ship was eerily quiet. He was used to the sounds of the engine and crew members passing by in the hallways.

He blamed himself, but really there was no one to blame. They knew the risks when they started, but humans needed a new planet and they volunteered. He couldn’t see XPLI-34 from his quarters, the only window in his room faced the opposite side of the ship. He could see stars. He couldn’t see it, but he could imagine Earth hanging in the distance.

He didn’t know where they went wrong. The course had been plotted with an 83% chance of success. He spent the first week after the power went out looking over everything trying to find what happened. It was driving him insane, so he stopped.

Charlie had no family. No significant other. He had a dog. Martin. Martin was a mutt with the most ferocious tail wagging a dog could have. Charlie left him with his neighbor. He missed his dog.

The oxygen detector was making a ruckus. Oxygen levels were in the danger zone.

Standing was exhausting. He collapsed in a chair and stared out the window. Maybe if they’d changed the course. Maybe if they’d risked getting hit by that meteor. Or maybe if they’d overworked the engine. No, no. It was too late for all of that now.

God, he was so tired.

He watched the stars in the distance twinkle. The oxygen detector was warning him of a fate he already knew was coming. Oxygen levels critical.

He was struggling to keep his eyes open. He wished he could see it. He wished he could see XPLI-34. It was so beautiful. And so close. Just out of reach.

His eyes fell shut. 

September 10, 2020 19:25

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2 comments

S. John
01:36 Sep 12, 2020

Whoa— this is so wonderfully dark; I read it TWICE.

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This is an amazing story!! Really sad, but you crafted this peice excellently. It was short, but that’s all that was needed to tell the take of the members on this rocket. Great job! Keep writing! ~Aerin P. S. Would you mind checking out one or two of my newer stories? Thanks!

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