Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Space: The Quiet

The Quiet

The Quiet. The sound of nothing. Even nothing has a sound. And nothing sounds a whole lot like something. Something familiar. Reminiscent. Past memory. A memory that can’t help but haunt you to the very depths of your psyche. Something known that can not be placed. Yet it’s known nonetheless.

Out into the sea of black the probe navigates away from the Lander. My silhouette reflects dimly in the port window as I switch the controls to auto-pilot.  Here the view lends itself to much privacy. The last unmanned reconnaissance unit spins off before navigating its course toward the last marked coordinates of L5. The clamps retract gracefully as the thrusters’ fire one long burst followed by several intermittent pulses. As the probe banks further off port, the Lander partially greets the red Martian landscape in the far distance. The eerie stillness of the red planet fills my soul with an aching that I can’t ignore.

“DELTA. This is Lander 7. Can you comeback?”

“L7. We’re reading you loud and clear. Mission control is recalling the order. You need to move back in.”

“Delta. Forward Mission Control back. I’m alright out here. I’ve got three more probes. Then I’ll head back to Apollo base. “

“L7. They’re calling it a shore recovery. Crew recall immediate.”

“Delta. I’ve got a bare bones crew. There are three of us out here running things, and there’s no collateral damage to the ship or crew so far. No recall required.”

“Helena. Don’t be foolish. There’s a solar storm moving through. We can search for them tomorrow.”

“Tom. Tell them we’re gonna ride it out on the front line. Both of my earlier launches are returning telemetry. It will be fine.”

“L7 your orders stand. Return immediately.”

“I’m sorry Delta. But I’m going to have to disagree with those orders. Scott wouldn’t stop looking for me, if it was me out there. Both Jansen and Webster are in agreement.”

“Helena. Return now.”

“Delta this is L7 signing off. Out.”

Silence isn’t always a bad thing.

As I flip off the comm. The quiet. Drowning out all other sound. Stillness that creeps into your bones like the icy chill that a winter’s day leaves behind. The Lander spins around to face the front of the Earth and the silent alarm flashes on the switchboard. From the looks of things the last few bay sensors are picking up ghosts. The light beacon flashes intermittently. Every indication signals that docking stations 1900-2001 have been decompressed. There’s been some hard-wire malfunctions thanks to the solar storm but they couldn’t trip the bay sensors. It’s nothing but the sensor ghosts. I need to make my way down and reset the grid manually.

Hunting. Hunting a ghost. The destruction of my own ship may come long before I’ve left command. Three more hours until the full scope of the storm will hit. As I suit up I realize I should have called Jansen before moving down toward the lower deck but there’s no sense in the both of us losing sleep over a few sensor ghosts. I’ll send a system wide echo to see if Webster bounces it back from the communications grid. He’s probably still laughing at my last conversation with Delta.

Nothing. Three minutes have passed since I’ve opened the bay doors. The loss of gravity overwhelms me. I can’t recall loving the feeling but there’s nothing like it. Webster final bounces my echo back as I reset the last sensor on the unmanned stations. I push the comm. for the radio and there’s no change in the signal. I must have disabled internal communication when I disconnected from Delta. I bounce another signal back to Webster to let him know I’ve wrapped up on my end.

As the bay doors begin to close I see the faint line of red beads glisten across the view of the black horizon. In the pit of my stomach I already know what I’m looking at and quickly step back towards the internal chamber. Quickly the sensors begin to dictate what will happen next. The chamber begins to compress and I can visualize the distinct figures before me. Webster. Jansen. Their lifeless bodies tethered by the thin cord of the oxygen tanks remain hanging above the ground. In a moment that feels like an eternity I manage to move myself closer to them. My hands carefully untie the thin cable when I come face to face with a ghost. A ghost that pulls back and shoves a serrated tool into my suit, before stepping back to look me in the eye once again.

“Scout. How?”

I’m spinning down and further down looking up at a madman with a thin coat of blood across his smile. And without his answer the darkness takes hold of me.

There’s only one sound when I emerge from the depths of my mind. It comes slow. The deep sultry voice only familiar in a memory. It tells me of solitude. Reminds me that the loneliness is palpable before pushing me to act once more. I think of Adam stranded somewhere on the Red Planet before I think of Jansen and Webster bleeding out by the hand of a maniac. It’s in that only moment of solitude that I manage to find the strength to flip on the comm. The lights of the switchboard reignite the dark chamber.

“Delta. This is Scott. Helena Scott. We’ve been boarded. Assistance required. L7 Out.”

And that sultry voice within leaves me to the sound of nothing once again. A nothing that sounds more familiar than ever before.

I always thought I knew when this would end. Where it ended and I begin. The weight of death hangs above, trapping my thin body in the corner of the chamber without escape. The distant sound of a faucet set to a slow drip is what my mind conjures up. Drip. Drop. Every drop of blood makes a sound before sliding down the faceplate of my suit. The stillness drifts in and out of my skull as I listen to the sound of something known.

There are a thousand things to say but no one to hear them…

The Quiet. Space continues. And silence isn’t always a bad thing. lovely sentiment. Ah, I can give nothing more than silence. there once was a time and place for such terrible things and well to be perfectly honest that time is no more. Maybe another time will come again when it is necessary. Until then darkness will continue to change. as there will always be darkness. thank you. enjoy. kisses. m.

No comments:

Post a Comment