*drum roll* I present to you not one, but two installments in my short story, Truth in Space. If you’d like to catch up, click the links:
And here are Parts 6 and 7. Enjoy!
Laos blanketed in lightning storms. Air low oxygen.
October 15, 3021
Like the telegrams of two and a half centuries ago, warpagrams are transferred one character at a time. But they’re a lot more complicated and have something to do with star energy. I don’t really know how they work. Anyway, because each character travels separately, interference of any kind can create gaps in the message. In this case, the storm sparking overhead probably caused the problem, though anything could be happening between here and Earth. Who knows what they actually got of my message? As for theirs, I’m assuming they’re talking about the air filter. I’m supposed to see if it can purify the neon out so the oxygen is useable.
I haven’t tried yet, because, honestly, I’m terrified of lightning. Always have been. And we’ve had some bright flashes pretty near the ship. Still, science says that if I stay away from the ship, I should be all right, since it’s taller than me. But what if it’s different here? What if the atmosphere acts strangely? What if – okay, I’m psyching myself out. So, I’m going to breathe. I’ll be fine. Besides, I have to go out there. They’ll be expecting results in the morning, and this test will take several hours.
Okay, I did it. And I didn’t get struck by lightning, though the hairs on my neck are still standing up. A tremendous blast electrified the air just as I reached the ship again. Oddly enough, when I dove for the ground, the baton-shaped instrument on my belt started beeping. Apparently the ground here, at least by the ship, is slightly radioactive. The fact just added to an already strong out-of-this-world feeling. Seriously, it was creepy. My chest is actually beginning to hurt from how fast my heart is beating. I refuse to go back out there until the storm’s over.
Fergus said something last night that I haven’t been able to push from my mind. When he was explaining how he survived five years on Vortega, he told me, “Funny that I never understood the point of my life until I had everything stripped away.” I can’t make it stop rolling through my thoughts. What point could he have discovered for his life while freezing, starving, and forgetting the sound of a human voice? When I asked him, he said, of all things, worship. I discovered his frostbite today. He’s missing fingers, toes, patches of skin. Part of his neck is a deathlike gray. And he says he learned to worship? I don’t know how to make sense of that. I didn’t ask him to explain. Yet I wish I understood.
Well, that was freaky. I had no sooner written that then Fergus wandered in here. He was just hungry, but his appearance startled me. He’s digging around in the cabinets now, and my gaze keeps shifting to his neck. How do you worship some god who supposedly allowed something like that to happen? How do you worship someone who lets evil men dominate the government? Who lets promising students be trapped into roles they don’t want? Who let Trevor leave?!
Obviously I wasn’t just talking about Fergus there. I got a little carried away, but I guess I’m angrier about the whole situation than I thought I was. I wish I could go back and change so many things. I wish I could have seen past the stars in my eyes when I got a dream project. Then maybe I would have noticed that I was losing someone I had a potential future with. Someone I didn’t want to lose. If I could tell myself one thing a year ago, it would be this: Pay attention to the good you’ve got. Don’t push it aside in pursuit of some fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Too bad my past self can’t take that advice.
Air filter stripped 90% of neon. Running test again.
October 16, 3021
As promised, I didn’t venture outside until the storm abated. Which meant I was stuck inside for just under thirteen hours, which in turn means the sun has gone down not once, but twice since I last wrote. Days here are weird and I’ve darkened the windows because the daylight changes are messing my system up. Though, I admit, my lack of sleep probably isn’t helping. Still, ten-hour days don’t do anything to stabilize my internal clock. Not that I can actually see the sun, since dark clouds remain though the lightning stopped.
Whatever. The point is that the lightning stopped. So I was able to check the air filter. The results weren’t perfect. Ten percent neon is still pretty high. So, I decided to run the test again, since I am a scientist, and scientists are thorough. Could I sabotage the readings? Sure, but people could die. Yes, they could die either way, but at least this way it’s not because of my lie.
Anyway, the test had only been running for about an hour when the clouds descended toward us and monsoon-like winds began sweeping across the planet. I haven’t been able to see if the equipment’s all right, but, considering that it’s pitch black out there and that the ship has been shuddering for an hour and a half, I wouldn’t last more than a couple of seconds out there. So now I wait. Maybe the filter will come unsecured from the ground and blow away, leaving me with no concrete data to share.
I only slept for about three hours yesterday at some crazy time that reflected neither this planet’s day nor Earth’s. Fergus sleeps every four hours for about ninety minutes. I have no idea why, since Vortega, his home for the past few years, has about eight hours of light and six of dark. Maybe I’ll ask him when he wakes up.
The ship is still shaking. It’s scaring me. Honestly, I’m terrified that the wind might rip it to shreds, sending us into oblivion. Fergus and the crew of the Wanderer may have had the courage to give up their chance at survival, but I don’t want to die. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that. I don’t know. I don’t know what the right path is. And I’m not sure where my path is taking me. Somehow I started this with Fergus’ story, yet I keep indulging my own. It’s comforting, in a way. But there’s a chill deep in my bones that the wind just drives deeper. Maybe I’m just going to freeze to death.