October 1, 2020

We have orders not to leave the rocket by Will Conway

We have orders to stay inside the rocket. We landed some time ago on this planet but I have not set my feet on the new ground outside yet. The initial landing party disappeared. The auxiliary party have been unable to locate them. They have been out and returned at least but we are told it is not secure for the rest of us to go out.


It’s sure as hell frustrating to have come so far and no set foot off our spacecraft and on the bad days it feels like a prison in here. It’s maddening how I seem to be the only one getting riled about this. The others just accept it mostly; ‘it’s not safe for us out there.’


The real kick in the teeth for me is that I only just missed out on becoming part of the reconnaissance team. I guess the hardest part is admitting that you’re not quite one of the top guys. I wasn’t ever one of those boys that grew up thinking I was special. Sure I did well in my studies enough to be part of the space programme but I suppose I was never destined to be one of the elite. Anyway I don’t know how good an idea it would have been to let someone who happened to get lucky at cards go out with the first contact unit. It’s got to be a security risk.


So we’re cooped up in here together waiting for I don’t know what, but at least they give us plenty of activities to keep us occupied. Sometimes I wonder if people haven’t forgotten why we’re here in the first place. The food is a step up from freeze-dried and meal pellets but it’s not your mother’s roast turkey dinner exactly.


I spend a lot of time thinking about what it’s like out there and what happened to the landing crew. Someone said maybe some kind of alien species snatched them away but I doubt it. Members of the secondary party say they’ve never seen anything to suggest alien life outside. Besides before we left Earth the scanners didn’t report anything of the sort, gases, liquids and some kinds of spores and algaes that constitute this planet’s plant life. My theory is that some other fate befell the explorers, slipped down a crevasse or some other sad accident perhaps, one of those silly things that you just can’t prepare for.


On my more confident days I think about stealing a space suit and getting out there to search for the others myself. Only I don’t know where they keep all the equipment, probably stowed away on the other side of the ship with all the rest of the important stuff. I’m not security cleared to access much more than my quarters and the shared living areas. Command have thought of everything and taken the necessary precautions for our safety.


So I spend a lot of my time reading and exercising, many of the others sit around watching reruns off television shows from back on Earth and pretend like they’re current – nostalgia I guess. But I never cared much for the television myself. You know why they call it the idiot box? Because there’s always more on. Get it, moron? I made that up myself. There are a couple of the other space cadets around here that I can joke with but the truth is this place has turned me into a bit of a loner. Nobody else seems to be as inquisitive about what it’s like out there as me. What’s the weather like on this planet? What crazy shapes of rock and plant are there and what does it smell like when you take your helmet off for a moment? I had an idea that maybe those first astronauts weren’t killed horribly, perhaps they just took off their helmets and were enjoying themselves so much they forgot to put them back on. Maybe breathing the air here is like a drug. They could have wandered around smiling and hallucinating until they just keeled over, one by one, and laughed themselves to death. Just an idea, I guess but it would explain why the second party are so weird and cagey about going out there.


Carter doesn’t agree with me. He says that the guys that first went out were snatched by an enormous underground serpent or some-such because they were sinners. I don’t like to talk to him, religious nut. He’s far too crazy for me, I think he’s even too crazy to be here, but I don’t get to choose that.


I get the impression folk here don’t care that we’re here; sometimes they don’t seem to even remember why we came to this planet in the first place. One of the mission’s psychiatrists encouraged me to write about my frustrations in here to make me feel better about life out there. He even says it would be good to write about my life before the space mission, but I’d rather not. I joined the programme to escape all that.


We took a stroll in the garden today for some calm. They’re always saying that it’s good to spend time amongst the green and get some real light on your skin but I know it’s all artificial. They’ve tried so hard to replicate grass and trees for us up here so far away from home but I can feel it’s synthetic and fake. The warmth and even the recreated rainfall can almost convince me, almost take me back to life on Earth if I’m in a susceptible mood. Almost, but I’m never fooled for long. Even the fake bumblebees can’t trick my mind. I guess just after I take my acclimatisation capsules is usually when I’m most caught unawares and for a split-second think I’m light years away.


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