The Fig Tree

November 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Farm work was foreign to me, but I needed the money. I was having trouble finding a job since the move to Georgia, and a friend of a friend had mentioned an old estate in the country run by some old woman that their aunt knew. A few strings were pulled and I was to help the old woman with any work that was needed. After working mostly clerical office jobs in the North, I must concede that I did have a slight aversion to outdoor labor, and Georgia in the summer didn’t quell this aversion; it was brutally hot, and the air and plants were teeming with insects.

The night before my first day, I received a call from the friend of a friend’s aunt, with whom I had never spoken. She was pleasant enough on the phone, but did mention that the old farm woman had been acting peculiar in the last few weeks. She attributed the behaviour to old age and only mentioned it so that I wouldn’t be disconcerted upon meeting the old woman. The call seemed out of place to me as I had never spoken to this lady; was the old woman so far gone as to require prior warning?

When I arrived at the farm it was apparent that little care went into upkeep, and, by my estimation, the grass and weeds were overgrown by weeks. I poked into the dusty garage area and was startled by an old woman standing at the rear of the room. She was obviously waiting for me, and my entrance triggered a sort of slow, shambling gait toward me. As she grew closer, I noticed a marbled, mossy glaze over her eyes. I voiced a greeting that went unreturned.

The woman spoke very little, but when she instructed me to pick figs for her, she spoke as if she was uncomfortable with her own vocal ability, and her volume and tone wavered inconsistently. This was odd, I thought, but was reminded of the phone call from the previous night.

I had never picked figs before, and the woman silently showed me how to pick the ripened ones from the bushy,dome shaped tree. She left me to tend to other farm matters, and I was alone, picking figs in the blistering heat; a bucket in my left hand, and a straw hat on my head to keep some of the sun at bay.

My right hand reached in between large leaves and pinched figs by the stem. The very ripe ones would come detached with ease while the lesser took more twisting and turning to snap off. There was no way to pick these without having your body and face inches from leaves and branches. More often than not, the figs would bleed a sticky, milky liquid from their stem which would ooze onto my fingers. It was beginning to attract different kinds of flies to my skin. That, combined with the noisy crickets and hoppers was enough to drive anyone mad. The alternating stutter of their screeching wings was so obvious, and when you’re alone, it can drown out your thoughts.

My left arm grew tired of holding the bucket as it filled with plump figs. The sun penetrated my thin cotton shirt, and I could feel sweat beads running down my back and legs. I could lick my lips and taste salt on my mustache. Sweat beads are indistinguishable from the light tickle an insect creates when it scurries up your limbs. How could I know whether or not a fire ant, or spider wasn’t there? I found it best to swat at every tingle.

Despite the annoying bugs, I continued to pick figs, but my bucket didn’t seem to be filling, and the minutes passed like days; slow and methodical. I wasn’t sure if the heat was making me delirious, or if I was just tired of picking figs, but I began to feel uneasy, and unstable. The world behind me fizzled,and I felt like the fig tree, the bugs, and I, were the only creatures to exist. Each fig, bleeding its milk onto my fingers as I picked it, and each branch, shuddering in pain and with rancor when it lost its fig. That’s impossible, I thought, the tree cannot feel when a fig has been severed and stolen from it.

The inferno in the sky baked my arms and neck. My thoughts wandered as I watched my forearms cook in the sun. My face contorted reflexively to a little green fly biting my other hand. I slapped my hand but the fly escaped. I was not sure how long I had been standing, staring at my arm, but I turned my head to look for the next cluster of figs to pick. The inside of the tree’s dome was dark. Somehow the blinding sunlight didn’t penetrate the canopy. The crickets and grasshoppers were still screaming; screaming for what? Why were they always screaming? For moments I felt as though I was being screamed at; a portentous wail. Little tiny legs and bodies would unnervingly scuttle past my peripheral vision when I tried to focus.

I turned around to gain some perspective, but the sun stabbed my eyes and forced me to shield them until I felt a prick on my ankle. I slapped the spot on my leg, and lifted my pants but did not see a culprit. As I squatted, bent over, I slowly lifted my gaze to the fig tree. Inches from my face, in between two leaves and on a branch, was an arachnid: Opiliones, the daddy longlegs. It sat facing me, and I gazed for what seemed like minutes. What is it doing? Why is it sitting so still in the same spot? I studied it, the way it suspended from those hair-thin legs.; It’s body, a small control room for the entire entity. What an odd creature, I thought, until I caught glimpse of its eyes; pitch black, unmoving, and unwavering onyx. Were those black beads looking back at me? That isn’t that ridiculous, I thought. It would be an evolutionary blunder for a creature so small to not recognize possible large, predatory mammals. But the way it stared back at me made me feel uneasy. It’s just a spider, I reasoned, it doesn’t have a consciousness, though I felt insignificant comparatively. I am six feet tall and you are mere inches, I thought, attempting to express my dominance telepathically. My confidence was a facade, though, and the spider saw through me. Every twitch in my face, every micro-expression I expressed, the spider recorded and noted. I am imperfect. I am faltering and insecure. The spider watches me with supremacy, and assuredness: an abettor for the tree.

I tried to stand and focus on the task at hand, picking figs. My eyes shifted at every scurry in my periphery. My legs felt sore, and my heart raced. I Approached the back side of the fig tree which was hidden in the shade of a large maple, but I felt little relief from the sun. Each little green fly, like a tiny hypodermic needle, sucking blood at my expense.

I hadn’t noticed until this moment, but the leaves of the fig tree all appeared to be facing me, like one of those paintings with the eyes that follow your every move. Why was it so dark inside the dome? The leaves were menacing sentinels. Cosmic, judgmental extremities analyzing my being; tallying up the number of fruits I have stolen without asking. I don’t need permission, I contemplated; man is ruler of this world. You will make more figs in a weeks time, and be plentiful throughout your life, fig tree. As the thought crossed my mind, a large june bug dinged against my forehead and startled me. The crickets were now a deafening howl; a siren, calling to lost sailors.

I heard a rustling shuffle in the grass and turned to see the old woman, roughly ten meters away, dragging her feet and making her way toward the house. Her hands and face were muddy, and she seemed to smile at me as she passed by. But something about her smile had an ulterior expression. Her eyes… Her mouth smiled, but her eyes bore through me; examining. What was I thinking – It seemed like an ordinary, polite smile from an, albeit, senile old woman. But why was it so unnerving?

The moment was short lived when I was forced to switch my sight to my left shoulder: a small green fly, biting me. It was biting my shoulder and staring into my eyes when I turned. I pinched the fly and flicked my fingers to dispatch it; its life taken in milliseconds. The screeching crickets and grasshoppers increased in decibels to become an unbearable shrill, as though metal forks were dragged along porcelain china. I slowly turned my head toward the inside of the tree.

Darkness loomed inside the dome; a black abyss. My ears rang with the cacophonous insect symphony. I dared not blink. The tree knew… It knew me. It wasn’t just the tree; it was all plant life. The tree spoke for all vegetation. They fought and clawed upward toward the sun. their purpose was war and survival, and their means were any. In my mind, I pleaded: it’s just figs… Only food for us… I haven’t violated you.

My peripheral vision caught an unsightly horror. I turned my head and met the gaze of a spider. This couldn’t be the same spider, I thought, I was on the other side of the tree. It’s legs were perched on an emerald leaf. My eyes could not move. I could not look away. It stared into my pupils. The ancient wisdom of a thousand Gods watched me through its eyes like a hunter sees an unsuspecting doe through their scope. I scratched and raked at my oppressively itchy arms. The heat made my sweaty skin sticky and irritated, but I dared not oppose the spider. The fig tree commanded the flies to bite my skin. The spider was its rifle scope. The tree was choreographing the entire dark dance. I am the spider. I am the tree. I am nothing. This is dread and terror. Its figs are precious seed, and I am a villain.

My mind spun and spun, and my eyes fixated. My entire body felt a pressure building; heat and pressure like a thick boiling ooze filling the inside of my abdomen and flowing through my veins until my brain eventually pops. The spider watched, and surveyed. I am imperfect. I am insecure.

Spiraling conical darkness eroded my vision until it burst into a watery, fish-eyed perception. I felt inhuman.

I was paralyzed by what I saw thereafter. My legs quivered; all of them. I was looking at a thin man. A mustachioed man wearing a straw hat, with what can only be described as evil in his eyes, glared at me. I was looking at myself! What am I standing on? The ground felt too lofty, like a green ribbon attached to a post. All of my legs scrambled and my body bobbed, like a fig on a thin branch. How is this possible? I am the spider. A twisted grin on the man’s unblinking face appeared and his hand reached out toward me. I tried to run, but my eight limbs were clumsy, and I was petrified by what I saw; the man’s eyes had the same mossy glaze the old woman’s had. His fingers pressed on my entire body until I felt different again.

I can’t really describe what I saw next, because it isn’t that I saw, in the traditional sense of vision via eyeballs. But I perceived a marbling swirl of light. I could feel the air, as if a chain link fence could feel a light breeze gently push through it. I could not move; my body felt composed of stone… or wood. I could feel them all over me; the insects.

My God, I thought, I’ve become the tree.

The hordes of insects were Crawling, squirming, and tickling my extremities; making homes in my nooks and crannies, and slithering around my roots. How is this possible, I cried; how have we switched places? What kind of dark magic did this tree harness? I felt my figs being forcibly removed by something; like having a bandaid or cuticle slowly ripped off. I lamented, what kind of twisted justice is this? My branches bled. This is the waking nightmare; the verdant wraith.

Credit To – SnakesAgain

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Metroid 2: Secret Worlds

November 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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A few months ago I was busy preparing to move to a new house when I came across something from my past.

I was going through my belongings, trying to figure out what to keep and what to discard, when I found an old shoebox stuffed down the back of my closet. Curious, I opened it up and found that it was full of CD’s. I flipped through them and realized that these were backups of files from over ten years ago.

I remembered that this was how I used to back up stuff before external hard drives became affordable enough for me to just start backing up with them.

I stopped packing and started checking out the CD’s on my computer. They were mostly full of stuff I’d collected off of the net like mp3s, roms and animated GIF’s.

I then came across a CD that was labeled ‘Conversations with Pahn’. I stared at the CD with some reservation for a moment before loading it into my computer.

The CD contained a bunch of images, a couple of audio files and some text dumps from a message board.
Looking over these files made me recall an incident that had occurred many years ago. It was an incident that had slipped from my mind until I saw that CD again.

Honestly, I was glad to have forgotten about it. It was a pretty freaky experience and to this day I still don’t know what to make of it.

It was 2004, I was in my last year of high school and I spent most of my free time being an admin for an emulation message board.

It wasn’t a particularly taxing job, I was one of three guys who were admins and the board itself was pretty niche, so we usually didn’t get a great deal of traffic.

Back then there wasn’t the bot problems you find on boards these days. Most of the time I just had to log in, check my messages, then browse through the forums to see if anyone was breaking any rules or just being a dick.

It was a pretty fun gig, I got the most enjoyment out of messing with persistent trolls.

Being an admin allowed me to change their avatars(I had pics of crying babies for such occasions) or edit their posts.

Usually I’d have them say stuff like “I suck”, “I cry into my pillow at night” or my personal favorite “I left my brain in the womb”.

Basically I used to get a real kick out of administrating justice on the board.

So one night a new guy registered to the forum and created a thread called “Need help to pull apart my nes”.

The following is from that thread:

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I was slightly mystified by his question and I had some time to kill so I thought I’d ask him.

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I almost laughed at this. I explained to Pahn what roms were and he got really excited.

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I got the gist that he really wasn’t very technically savvy. Which was fair enough, we all had to start from somewhere.

After explaining to him about roms and emulators I didn’t hear back from him for a few days.

He then came back to the board and became a bit of a regular. He would mostly start threads in which he was asking questions about emulation problems he was having.

A lot of people didn’t have any time for him.

They felt that he was just an annoying person who asked dumb questions. I remember one night he started a thread about how he couldn’t get an emulator to read games he had downloaded. We then had to explain to him what a zip file was and how it worked.

One of the other admins was thinking of banning him. He didn’t like the fact that Pahn was starting up new threads about stuff that had been already answered in earlier threads.

I told him not to do that, I’d have a word with Pahn.
I don’t know why I decided to step in, I sort of felt bad for the kid I guess.
 I also felt a bit of a connection to him because he was one of the few people I’d run across who was also a fan of the RPG Suikoden.

So I told Pahn to check through the board before posting any questions that might have already been asked and answered. I then told him if he got really stuck to just private message me.

It wasn’t long before he started messaging me. At first he would just ask me questions.

Lots of questions.

Fortunately he seemed to be a quick study, I didn’t find myself having to explain things to him over and over again. So I wouldn’t say he was stupid, just green.

Soon enough he asked me for some game recommendations and this lead to us talking about what games we were playing. It was from there that we started having a correspondence over the next few months.
We only really talked about games and movies though, the only personal stuff that I knew about him was that he was 16 and he lived in London.

One night we were having a conversation about Metroid games. I’d just clocked Super Metroid for the millionth time and was thinking about dusting off the original Metroid and giving that a go.

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It was a pretty well known glitch. Basically how it works is, if you are falling down a long shaft in some places in the game and then press the select button repeatedly really fast, you can make wall tiles disappear. If you go through the tunnel that is created you’ll end up outside the map.

You can then find rooms that are tile swaps of regular rooms, rooms that scroll repeatedly forever and rooms that look like they have been randomly thrown together.

Apart from using it to sequence break, it’s pretty pointless. It’s more of a novelty then anything else.

Some people started up a website devoted to the ‘Secret Worlds’. They were obsessed with mapping the whole thing out. Like they were explorers braving uncharted territory or something.

I tried it out myself once on my gameboy. I quickly got frustrated though after I kept getting stuck in walls when I moved between rooms.

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I didn’t hear from Pahn for a couple of days after that. Then one night he sent me a message.

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I taught Pahn how to take snapshots and upload them so that he could show me the stuff he was finding.

A few days later I got a message.

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After that I didn’t hear from him for about a week. Then one night I was on the message board and got the following message:

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Pahn sent me the links and I looked over the images he had uploaded.

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I knew straight away that this wasn’t a glitch.

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I asked him where he had got the rom from and he gave me the address. When I checked it out, the page wasn’t there anymore. Which wasn’t really surprising. Back then rom websites were frequently popping up and being taken down almost immediately.

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Just before I was about to go to bed I looked at the pictures again. It occurred to me that the words might form a sentence. I wrote the words down on a piece of paper and started trying out combinations. Eventually I came up with;

“HOW DARE YOU. STOP STEALING MY LEGACY.”

I thought it was a rather strange sentence. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would even bother hacking that message into the game, I didn’t even understand what it meant.

A few days later I got another message from Pahn.

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I taught Pahn how to capture the audio and gave him my email address. I told him to attach the file there if he did manage to record any sounds from the game.

I thought about what Pahn had described to me and I had to admit that I was pretty impressed by the hack.
I also agreed with Pahn’s reasoning. If someone had bothered to put this much effort in, then it was likely that they had done more. It was just a matter of finding it.

Though I was surprised that I had never heard of the hack before. I started browsing through rom hack sites, trying to find the one that Pahn was playing. I didn’t have any luck so I asked around in a few IRC channels but no one had seen anything like what I was describing.

The following night I was browsing the message board when I noticed I had a new private message. I saw that it was from Pahn and opened it up.

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The audio file finished downloading and I listened to it while I waited for Pahn to come back.

I didn’t know what to make of it, I’d never heard a gameboy make that kind of sound before.

At first it just sounded to me like a foghorn, but then another sound started to play over the top of the foghorn noise.

The other sound did seem familiar to me somehow, but I couldn’t quite place it. I found myself getting spooked so I quickly closed the file.

I got up and made myself a cup of coffee and a snack. By the time I got back to my computer 15 minutes had passed.

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I waited a few more minutes but I didn’t get a response from Pahn. I got worried for a moment but then just figured either a friend or family member had come by and he was busy.

I surfed the net for a bit, did some Admin duties then checked my messages again. Pahn still hadn’t come back. I was pretty tired by that point so I shut down my computer and went to bed.

I got up early the next day and checked to see if Pahn had left me a message.

He still hadn’t gotten back to me.

I headed off for school and didn’t get home till the evening. After I grabbed a bite to eat I sat in front of the computer and checked my email and private messages. There was still nothing from Pahn.

I left a few more messages and waited for his response. Over the next few days he still didn’t get to me and I really started to freak out.

I skipped school for a few days and stuck pretty close to my computer. One afternoon, after performing some minor admin duties, I re-listened to the sound that Pahn had sent me.

I still couldn’t make out what it was so I started playing around with it in sound recorder. I sped it up a few times and realized that the foghorn sound might be the the music that plays right before you fight the Metroid Queen. As I continued to speed the sound file up I realized what the other sound was, someone was talking over the music.

I had to speed the sound up over ten times to get it to sound like it was playing at the right speed. Once I had done that I tried to make out what the voice was saying. I had to listen carefully a few times before I got it.

The first part was an introduction. Someone was saying “I am…” and after that was presumably their name. I couldn’t catch what it was though, it wasn’t an English name.

The second part of the sentence was clear enough though.

“Knock Knock, I am here.”

Needless to say I was quite unnerved at that point.

I hit the internet again, trying to find out anything I could about the version of Metroid 2 that Pahn had been playing. I emailed people at the “Secret Worlds” website, I posted messages on numerous emulation websites and I spoke to people on various IRC channels.

Most people though I was joking, the rest thought I was crazy.

It seemed no one knew what the hell I was talking about.

Then one night I got a private message.

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I was a bit startled. When I’d been going around asking questions about Metroid 2 I hadn’t been using Pesmerga as my username. Nor had I mentioned what message board I was from.

I replied back to the message, wanting to know who was messaging me and how they had found me. But the user never got back to me. After that night I kept an eye on the logs of user activity to see if he came back to the site, but he never did.

I then took the message’s advice and looked up the name Gunpei Yokoi.

It didn’t take me long to find out who he was.

It turns out that he was hugely influential at Nintendo. Some of the games he worked on included the original Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Kid Icarus, Metroid and Metroid 2.

But what he is best known for is arguably his greatest creation, the Gameboy. It’s often described as his legacy.

I kept reading the article in fascination when I got to a section that was about his life after leaving Nintendo. Not long after he left Nintendo and started his own company, Gunpei Yokoi died in a car accident. I glanced at the date of his death and that gave me a shock. It was October the 4th, 1997. The same day that I got my last message from Pahn.

I listened to the sped up version of the audio Pahn had sent me and that’s when I knew that the first part of the message was “I am Gunpei Yokoi.”

It was after this realization that I went through a period, which went on for about a year, in which I flat out refused to answer a door unless the person identified themselves.

Over the next few months I scoured the internet for any news stories concerning a missing teenager in London.

There were several stories that would pop up but the details were so vague that any one of them, or none of them, could have been Pahn.

There was one story that did catch my attention. It was about a missing teenager who had been last seen at home.

His mother had left for work and she said that he had been on the computer in the lounge room.

When she returned several hours later the lounge room was empty but the computer and various other electrical appliances were still turned on. At first she thought that he might be in another part of the house, but when she checked she found that it was empty.

She then tried to call his mobile phone and that was when she discovered that his phone and wallet were by the computer. It was at this point that she called the police. They investigated and found no sign of disturbance in the house and nothing was missing, well except for the teenager. He had vanished without a trace.

I looked for more information online but couldn’t find anything else.

I contemplated getting in touch with the police in London. But one thing stopped me, there was no way I could think to word my story without sounding like a crazy person.

Even if I could figure out how to word it properly, and if this missing teen did happen to be Pahn, there was no information that I could give them that they wouldn’t get off of his computer anyway. And if it wasn’t Pahn then I would just be wasting their time and possibly end up in some sort of legal trouble.

The words ‘hindering a police investigation’ popped into my mind.

I went back through my conversations with Pahn to see if there were any clues to his real identity that I hadn’t noticed before. But there was nothing there that revealed anything I didn’t already know about him. It was then that I realized that I always just assumed that he was a ‘he’ in the first place.

But there was nothing in our conversations to dismiss the possibility that Pahn had been a female. The possibility of Pahn being female instantly made the task of finding Pahn twice as hard.

In the end I had to give up, I just didn’t know what I could possibly do. I took screenshots of all of my conversations with Pahn, copied the pics and sound files he had emailed me and burnt them onto a CD, just in case I ever needed them again.

Not long after that I finished high school and then started working.

Within a month I stopped being an admin. I still stuck around the board for a few more months, but by then I no longer had the free time to post with any regularity. Over the following years I got busy with life and everything that happened with Pahn drifted further and further from my mind.

I decided to write this all down and put it online in the hopes that after all these years someone might know something about what happened to Pahn, or know of the version of Metroid 2 that he found.

As I said at the beginning, I honestly don’t know what to make of this.

Is there a copy of Metroid 2 floating around the internet that’s haunted by the ghost of Gunpei Yokoi? And if you have the misfortune to stumble across it does he come to your door, angry that you have dared to defile his legacy?

I try not to think too much about it.

When it does cross my mind now I like to imagine that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax perpetuated by Pahn. That he set the whole thing up months in advance. He created the images and the audio files. He came onto the message board, pretending to be a technically inept teenager, when really he was brilliant with a pc.

He was user12345, he was the one who told me to look up Gunpei Yokoi.

I like to imagine that he is somewhere out there, still laughing about the wonderful joke he pulled all those years ago.

Sometimes I can almost convince myself that it was just a hoax.

I think that was how I was able to get to sleep at night in the months after I lost contact with Pahn.
And I think that telling myself that it was all a hoax now is going to come in real handy on those restless nights in the days to come.

Credit To – Yuber Neclord

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Down the Pit

November 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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He knew it was there but couldn’t see it. The basement wasn’t wired for electricity yet and was completely dark save for the light from the stairs leading up to the kitchen. With the boxes in his arms blocking his view, Gil shuffled along the basement floor feeling for the pit… or was it a well? The house was over a hundred years old and he couldn’t be sure what the hole in the dirt floor was originally used for. He only knew it was in the middle of the basement, hewn out of ancient dirt, and about 2 feet wide—the perfect size for the wayward foot or ankle. Remembering this, he stopped and tripped on himself abruptly as his toes teetered over the edge–“Christ! I almost didn’t see that…” he murmured to himself as an errant fork and butter knife went flying, clanging, along the floor and into the abyss of the pit. He didn’t hear the items hit ground.

“Do we need any more dishes out of this one?” He yelled up, setting the box down beside the abyss.

“Just the cutlery set and mugs, babe, thanks!”

Ascending the stairs, he admitted, “Fork and knife are MIA. Lost them in a battle with the basement, down that big fucking hole. Sorry.”

“One night and the house is already winning. Great,” Jen responded cynically.

As they went to bed that night, Gil made a mental note to call a contractor about closing up the pit. Creaks and groans from the old house aside, the couple felt good about the new move and fell asleep peacefully on the blow up mattress upstairs.

In the next few days, several contractors came in and out, the couple finally settling with a local Joe. Unable to stay and babysit the contractor, Jen and Gil left him the keys, hoping to come home to some progress that evening after work.

Instead, they came home to an absolute mess. Damp, uneven pools of concrete were scattered throughout the basement along with some cracked wooden planking. Of course, the pit lay untouched, damp cement spread in wide semicircles around it. Angry, Gil called Jen down and they looked at the terrible job with the industrial flashlight. After leaving several angry voicemails that day to no response, they gave up on Joe contractor for the day. However, a week later they had still not heard from their contractor; they assumed they got swindled, and they were unsettled to know he still had their house keys. Once they realized nothing had been stolen from their home, they took their lumps, and lost deposit, and had the locks changed on their doors. They decided on another renovation project, giving up on the basement for the time being.

That night, Jen lay snoring and Gil was awake. Restless, his slightest movements bobbed the blow up mattress and woke Jen, so he decided to get up and watch some tv downstairs. Gil sifted through the static to find some infomercials that would make him drowsy. Around 1 am, he heard a scuffling in the basement. It sounded like boxes shifting on earth, slowly—almost imperceptibly. He turned the tv off and listened—the last shuffle and then silence. The empty echo bounced around in his head and he immediately became suspicious. What if the contractor had been down there hiding the whole time? Was it to steal their property… or for some more sinister purpose? Determined, Gil grabbed the industrial flashlight in his left hand, swung open the basement door and descended the stairs, picking up a baseball bat just removed from storage in his right.

Descending into the dark, Gil waited a moment for his eyes to adjust on the middle stair. The smell of damp earth filled his nostrils. Raising the bat in his right hand, he also lifted the flashlight in his left as he tried to scan the basement without going further. Realizing he must continue, he slowly forged on and as his foot met the floor, CRASH—a box seemingly fell over on its own and its contents slammed on the ground… rolling near the pit. What had caused all that movement? And that sound…that snaking whisper had to be from various objects from the box falling, bouncing, and echoing deep down into the abyss. A round, small shape with dimpled, tough skin seemed to descend, or jump, into the darkness of the hole. Did his old black basketball fall down into the pit? He remembered he had a throwback, orange basketball, not a black one. It had to be one of Jen’s things, now lost forever.

After rooting through the remainder of the box and searching the space for animals, Gil walked back toward the stairs and felt a distinct crunch underfoot. He lifted his slipper heel to find a broken picture frame. He and Jen smiled up from the photo, but the scribble left in the now dry cement beside it was foreboding. The print—or was it an animal track?—was smaller than a human hand and excessively thin. It seemed etched in like a signature made in wet cement. The “fingers” weren’t straight but crooked and measured about three inches long; each “finger” ended in a sharpened point. How had they missed this before? How had they been made in dry cement? He hastily threw a few of the broken boards over the opening and ran upstairs. He couldn’t bring himself to look down inside the hole that night. And he couldn’t tell Jen that, either. So he ignored the incident altogether.
A few days later, Jen had to do laundry—in the basement. Basket in her arms, she tried to get her task done as quickly as possible. The basement freaked her out and was starting to smell terrible. Returning to the first floor, she casually remarked:
“Gil, it smells like death down there. We really need to get that damn thing sealed up.”

“I know. It’s probably time to get serious about covering it again.”

“Did you see those weird markings in the cement? I can’t tell if its an animal that got in or…”

Gil froze. “Markings? There’s more than one?”

“Yeah. Like jagged, pointy sticks. You knew about it? Go check it out. I don’t remember them being there before.”

Even during the day it was dark and cavernous. Again, Gil descended, his cell phone light dimly lighting the path in front of him until there it was, the new print. It was a good two feet away from the first he saw last night… and closer to the stairs that led to the first floor. Three pointed edges of each indent this time were clawed deeper into the cement somehow. It had been dry for weeks now.

This time, he knew he had to look inside. The boards had already been removed from the opening and cast aside. He doubted that Jen had gotten close enough to do this due to the terrible smell. He took a few pictures of each print on his phone and held it out for light, avoiding the boxes and boards while slowly walking towards the hole in the ground. On the edge, he took a deep breath, and peered over.

Nothing. Nothing was there—just a dark hole in the ground. He listened for a moment and heard only eerie silence. He snapped a photo of it anyway with a bright flash, for reference, and stood back up and returned to daylight.

That night they lay on the mattress, a general ominous feeling settling over the two. Jen was vaguely uncomfortable with the shuffling sounds emanating from the basement, but Gil had a growing apprehension and fear.

“Let me see those pictures again, Gil. It has to be some animal, like a possum or something, that’s making those noises. And they’re supposed to smell awful like that.”

He took out his phone in reply, and sorted through his images until he came across the three shots he had taken earlier. The first was the print nearest the stairs. Its gnarled fingers ended in points somehow cast deeper in the cement than the rest of it, almost like an ominous threat. The second photo was nearly identical, though more benign as it was further away. Gil flicked to the third photo, which he hadn’t shown her yet.

It was a photo dominated by dark, blurred edges. Flecks of light from the flash reacted with the dust motes in the swirling air, like gold and white snowflakes in a coal mine. Nothing could really be made out distinctly in the shot. Tired, Gil grabbed the phone back. Jen refused to let go of her grip: “What’s that in the corner?”

“Huh?” Gil frowned and held the phone closer. In the very corner of the photo, a midnight black, round object had two red dots in the center of it. At first sight it looked like flecks of rust-colored dust, but as Gil enlarged the photo you could see the lights belonged to the shape in the darkness, somehow discernible as more dark than the pit shadows itself. They were paired fairly close together in the middle of the black mass as he realized they were eyes. It had been staring at him the entire time he was looking in.

“What the fuck is that?” Jen uttered, her voice rising in fear.

Downstairs, the low shuffles in the basement turned to distinguished movements. Large boxes were being overthrown as if they weighed nothing, their contents clacking and banging along the damp earth.

They turned to each other, unsure if they should head off whatever creature was downstairs or just run.

“Just stay up here and I’ll check it out.”

“No fucking way, Gil. We need to get the fuck out of this house. This is bullshit, we just moved in and I can’t believe—”

“Shut up, take the bat and go out the front door. I’ll check it out, its only in the basement. If I don’t come out in 5 call animal control. It will be fine—its just an animal trapped in there.” Though, by this time, Gil was unsure what kind of creature he would meet.

As soon as their feet touched the floorboards, the basement shuffling ceased. Heightened, the couple tip-toed downstairs, floorboards anxiously creaking as Jen reached the front door, hurried out and hugged herself on the front lawn.

Grabbing a knife from the cutlery set and the industrial flashlight in the kitchen, Gil stood in front of the closed basement door in silence. He put his ear against the flimsy door and listened… just more silence. The temporary peace of the moment lulled him. Stepping back, he whirled open the door and shined his light on the stairs.

***

Five minutes passed, and no Gil. Jen started to panic and after 5 more, she called 9-1-1. A team arrived promptly and went inside the house, unable to understand her fear. After another 10 minutes, two policemen emerged.
“Ma’am, please just come with us” intoned two officers as they closed in to block her path into the house. Crashing through them, Jen rushed in, determined to see.

She snaked through the hallway, and then into the kitchen. She stops abruptly and slips on a sticky substance. It’s as if someone had thrown a full water balloon where the kitchen floor meets the stairs–but its a deep maroon red splatter, saturating the floor and walls.

A screech tears from Jen’s throat as she looks up and sees dozens of twisted, deformed, red prints strewn across the ceiling. They emerge from the basement ceiling and exit out the open back door into the night.

Credit To – Skyla2186

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Darkness

November 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Darkness surrounds me.

And cold.

And emptiness.

I lay in this void not knowing how long I have lain here, and in the initial grogginess of my awakening I know not why I am here. I turn my gaze from side to side, but can see nothing in the enveloping blackness. I can sense nothing – no sound, no light, no scent – beyond the feel of the smooth stone on which I am resting, and a constant pressure upon the entirety of my being.

I feel the coldness of the rock on which I lay seep into my being, and trace a finger across its surface. Delicate swirling patterns – almost too fine to be felt – whirl in the rock beneath my thawing fingertips, like an arcane language I am unable to discern. After a moment, spurred on by my frigid isolation, I begin to crawl forwards. In this darkness, I of course cannot know where I am going, though I feel an irresistible urge to press forward – as if I am being summoned by some far off voices united in a silent song. My progress is painful – my limbs weak through lack of use…

Just how long have I slept?

The pressure clinging to every inch of my form presses against me, weighs down upon me as if from many leagues above, and I am unable to move with any speed. Slowly – maybe as slowly as a glacier cutting through a valley – I edge ever forward towards my goal, though I still cannot know what it is.

I have an age to ponder my situation – to bat the cobwebs in my mind away from the memories underneath – though still I cannot. It is difficult to move, and difficult to think. I vaguely recollect images of the world above, of the stars shining in the vast, endless aether of the night’s sky. The memories feel so distant to me now. And just as I am on the cusp of penetrating the fog in my mind, my hand falls upon a small collection of stones. I pause here – startled by the sudden intrusion on the perfect plane I have been traversing – before tentatively reaching out ahead of me. Giddy euphoria envelops me as my hand brushes against the craggy surface of the wall in-front of me.

Finally.

Finally I have something on which to anchor myself. Something solid that lets me know there is an end, a periphery to this darkness in which I find myself. I stand, grasping the rough-hewn rock in my hand until my fingers ache. Now I have hold of something tangible, I do not wish to return to the emptiness behind me.

I take a moment to compose myself, and begin my ascent.

While the rocks beneath my fingers feel rough to the touch, they are slick, and I find myself digging my nails into each handhold to gain purchase. Though less than I once was, before I fell into the darkness, I still have the strength to heave my body up. I stare sightlessly above me, into the void, and climb.

Relentlessly.

I strive upward for what feels like an age until the blackness surrounding me begins to recede, and the cold falls away like a discarded robe. The blackness becomes a deep grey, then a hint of blue-green creeps into my vision. And still I climb.

The pressure on my skin lessens with each surge upwards, and I am able to register changes in light around me more and more. I can see the soapy, greenish-black rock to which I cling, and I begin to experience sounds again. There’s a rhythmic, slow churning surrounding me, almost like the heartbeat of the world.

Upwards I strive, ever upwards, towards the light above. I notice tiny creatures all around me. Though moving with more speed now the pressure is abating, I still move terribly slowly and they wheel, glide, dip, and weave joyously before me. I do not deign to imagine what such an insignificant intellect would think upon beholding me, though their movements bely deference, bordering on worship. I look into their bulging, unblinking eyes and see many emotions – Love and longing as they move towards me, fear and loathing as they move aside.

I continue rising towards the dazzling blue above me – can almost taste the air of the surface-world above. The greyish-green figures surge upwards alongside me and we all break the surface of the waves in unison.

The winds and the spray blast away the last vestiges of amnesia in my mind, and my purpose is as clear as the waters lapping at my shins. I feel the heat and the light of the tiny yellow star above upon my back, and flex my dreadful wings wide to catch its warmth. I snatch a few of my servants from the waves with claw and tentacle and feast on them. Even in pain and death, their song to me holds adoration and awe.

Long have I slept in the dark, cold, empty R’lyeh.

Now I am awake, and I hunger.

Credit To – Sue

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Trick-Or-Treat

October 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Trick or treating was something I always loved as a kid. It’s something that I was too old for, being twenty-five is something that easily puts a damper on childish festivities, and being pregnant makes it even more difficult to join in on the fun. There aren’t many happy families that take kindly to an adult wearing a vampire costume showing up on their doorstep to beg for candy, with an obvious baby-bump to boot. The next year would be different because I’d be taking my pride and joy around the block, but that year, I had to deal being too grown up for trick-or-treating, just as I had every year since I turned sixteen. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t dress up or that I wouldn’t be roaming the streets after dark. It just means that I wouldn’t be going from house to house in search of delicious treats.

That year, I dressed up like a vampire. I thought it would be a little funny because of my large stomach. I was six months along, but I was showing pretty a lot. I guess I ate a little too much for my own good or something, but that was okay. I was eating for two. I decided to wear a tighter black dress with spider fishnet leggings. I had on a Morticia-style wig and donned a pair of fangs behind blood-red lips with pride. I didn’t have money for a costume, so this was all stuff I found in my closet from years before. Maybe that’s a statement of how much I love Halloween.

Either way, I decided I would carry-out the age old tradition of passing out candy before my midnight stroll. Being outside in the open air of the witching hour was always something that I found enthralling about Halloween. It was as if the night held a hint of magic that I wasn’t allowed to forget and didn’t want to. It was intoxicating and I was intent on keeping both traditions, cultural and personal, alive. I had a big bowl of candy waiting for the kiddies and my costume on almost an hour before anyone even showed up.

I passed the time waiting on the little ones by watching old horror movies. I had a set of movies all picked out, from “The Blob” to “The Amityville Horror”. Every time I heard a knock at the door, I hit pause and jumped up as fast as any pregnant lady could. I was always happy to rush to the door, grab my bowl of treats, and greet the little guys and ghouls at my doorstep. The kids that came by were just so cute. I saw princesses, power rangers, witches, other vampire kin, and even a tiny baby in the most adorable pumpkin costume. It was marvelous to see all the other Halloween-lovers.

As the sky descended into darkness, I became more and more excited. It was getting so close to the time that I could take my walk. The pieces of candy left in my bowl had dwindled so much that the plastic bottom of the Tupperware was visible and the trick-or-treaters were starting to get become less and less frequent. At 11:30pm, I hadn’t heard the door in a while and my last movie was nearly over.

Easing myself up, I started to stretch. It wouldn’t be so bad if I went out a little early. With a sigh, I was ready to end the first tradition, one wordlessly passed down from adult to grown child over the years, and begin the one I always enjoyed the most. It was time to walk out into the night and soak in some of the magic in the air. As I went for my keys, I was startled by a knock at my door.

My hand went to my chest and I laughed softly at myself as I walked over and took up my bowl of candy. I really didn’t need the rest of it but I still grabbed a couple pieces and set them on my table before opening the door. Outside, there was an elderly woman and a very small, thin child. The woman had her white hair tucked back in a rigid bun. She had more wrinkles than a shar-pei puppy and brightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. She was a big lady, but she wore an almost elegant, yet simple blue dress that hung all the way down to her sandaled feet. The child was a little unnerving to look at. Her hair was brown and matted in areas with something dark red, almost as if it was matted with blood. It had to be a wig. It was so thick and long. The matts in it seemed coarse and impossibly large. She had on an old-fashioned nightgown that was tattered around its seams and smudged with dirt. It was a great costume. In fact, it was the most elaborate costume I had seen all night.

I grinned at her, exposing my vampiric fangs, and said, “Well hello my pretties! You’re just in time for some treats on this night of trickery!”

My spiel made the old lady smile, but I didn’t hear a peep from the girl. I was about to lean down and allow her to take some candy from my bowl. I guessed she was just shy and I wasn’t about to make her stick around if she didn’t want to. However, before I could do so, the old lady said to the girl, “Say trick-or-treat to the nice lady.”

After a moment of silence, I shrugged more to myself than anyone else. In the kindest tone I had, I told the girl, “It’s okay. I know what it’s like to be shy. This can be pretty scary, huh? I’ll tell you what, I have about fifteen pieces or more of candy left in my bowl. If you open up your bag and tell me thank you before you go, you can have them all.”

I intended to give this little girl as much of the candy as she wanted that was left in my bowl to begin with, but it was obvious that her grandmother wanted her to talk. I want to give the little girl a nice Halloween but I didn’t want to step on her Grandmother’s toes either. Even though I couldn’t see her face under that mess of matted hair, I was certain there was a sweet child beneath it. If she was willing to put that much effort into her costume, she was almost like a kindred spirit. I knew in my heart that she deserved a wonderful Halloween. I really hoped I could help. Being shy and trick-or-treating can be very taxing.

She lifted her sack and held it open. It was small as if made of a large, folded blue plaid handkerchief. There were already a couple pieces of candy in it, but not many. It struck me as odd because a little girl like her had to have been trick-or-treating for a while. As I tilted the bowl toward the opening, I heard a tiny whisper say, “Thank you.”

After dumping the contents of my bowl into her bag, I smiled at her. I got my thank you, no matter how quietly. The woman smiled back at me and put a hand on the little girl’s shoulder. She guided her away toward the street so that they could disappear into the night. I stepped back inside with the bowl and set it on my table. I had a warm feeling inside my heart, because I knew I had to have done something good for her.

I took my time gathering my keys and my cell phone. I was giving those two time to get some distance. I liked them but I wanted to walk alone and uninterrupted by others. It was just going to be me and my unborn baby, enjoying the night of Halloween in its last few moments of the year. I was excited when I left my home and locked the door behind me. As I wandered down the street, in the opposite direction than what I saw the lady go with the child, I took in a big breath of cool night air. I meandered down the twisting streets with my hand idly resting on the curve of my belly. I found myself doing that more and more as the pregnancy progressed. The more aware I was of my baby growing inside me, the more and more anxious I was to meet him or her. I could hardly wait to share this walk with my child the next year. For that year, he or she, I chose to wait to learn the gender, would just have to be cradled in my stomach.

Eventually, I came across a road with one lonely street lamp. The yellow glow shining through the darkness was actually a little creepy, but in the spirit of the holiday, I had to check it out. I slowly made my way towards it, enjoying the ambience of the cool night air and the silence of the nearing midnight hour, until I saw a figure standing in the light. It took a moment, but I suddenly realized it was that girl from before. That hair was matted in her face and her dress looked dirty and tattered. There was no way it could be anyone but her. The sight of her stopped me in my tracks.

Should I go talk to her? Where was her grandmother? What was she doing all the way over here? I decided I had to help her. Anything less would be wrong and I knew it, but there was something about this situation that sent a chill up my spine. Despite my discomfort, I approached her. I didn’t say a word until I reached the edge of the light. For a moment, she just stood there, facing me in silence. I had my hand pressed against my stomach and she had her fingers wrapped tightly around the top of her small, blue bag.

I cleared my throat and asked, “What are you doing out here all by yourself? Do you need some help?”

My heart raced as I waited for a response. Without a sound, she took a step forward. When I didn’t move she took another step. I was about to repeat my question when she took a flurry of little steps in my direction. The movements never revealed her face. It merely made her hair and dress sway as if pressed upon by a gentle breeze. The more I looked at her hair, the more the matts looked real. The areas with the bloody substance looked gooey and dark. They glistened like a fresh wound. It was strange. Her costume was so elaborate but she still wouldn’t talk. I heard her bare feet on the sidewalk before I even looked down to see that she wasn’t wearing any shoes. This girl was so odd, but I was intent on helping her. Why was she out there all alone?

“Little girl?” I asked, hearing a slight quiver in my own voice as I spoke. “Do you need help?”
Her hand shot out and landed on my stomach. It was unusually cold, as if she were pressing an ice cube to my body. I gasped and nearly took a step back but I was frozen in place, as if I couldn’t move even if I wanted to. Finally, she lifted her head. That hair plastered against the contours of her face so that I could make out the indentions of eyes and the small slope of a nose. Her bag dropped to the ground and I heard the candy spill out along the cement as I stared down at her. It was hard to breath. I started to feel dizzy. My knees began to sink towards the ground.

She lifted her hand and abruptly pulled her hair to the side. All I could see was her dark brown eyes in that moment. Those eyes were so intense that I couldn’t look away. She seemed to be pleading with me. There was so much sadness in that gaze that I felt tears streaming out of the corner of my eyes before I even knew I was crying. The world around them began to fade away to darkness until there was absolutely nothing. It was like I closed my eyes and it all went away.

I don’t know how long I was out, but when I awoke, I looked around. I was laying on the ground with candy strewn out all around me. My head was sore but my biggest worry was the dull pain I felt in my stomach. I had fallen and a pain like that couldn’t be ignored. I fumbled around for my phone without getting up. I didn’t want to do anything that might harm my baby. I had to be cautious. As I dialed for an ambulance, I looked around for the little girl and couldn’t find her anywhere.

A few hours later, I was in a hospital bed in the emergency room. I had been rushed there to get checked out. So far, all I knew was that I had a knot on the back of my head and a bruise on my rump. I had a blood test, a scan or two, and an ultrasound done, none of which I had heard any news on yet. I was getting frustrated and even more worried as time passed. It seemed to take ages, but a doctor eventually found their way to the foot of the bed.

He smiled at me and said, “Ms. Anderson, I’m happy to tell you that everything is fine. Your bruises should heal up nicely, you don’t have a concussion, and there’s nothing wrong with your baby. I do have news though. The reason we’ve been doing so many tests is because the ultrasound technician thought she heard two heartbeats. We didn’t want to alarm you further until we knew, but ma’am, you’re having twins. Congrats!”
With that big goofy smile, he didn’t even wait for me to respond. He left me there to deal with the news, saying that a nurse would be in to release me soon. I put a hand to my belly and couldn’t believe there were two of them in there. Why hadn’t anyone caught that before? How long would it have taken for them to catch on that I had twins if I hadn’t had that altercation with the little girl? Everything I could remember about her was really confusing. I could only guess that she pushed me or that I passed out for some reason. Nothing made sense anymore.

As I tried to take it all in, a nurse walked into the room. I looked up and saw that old woman from before, only in light blue scrubs. She gave me a weary smile and approached my bedside. The world around me seemed to waver and I began to feel dizzy again. It was a good thing I was laying down because I think I would’ve fallen over if it wasn’t for that. Were they sure I didn’t have a concussion?

She came to me and put a soft, warm hand on my stomach. In a gentle tone she told me, “Don’t be scared. There is nothing wrong with the little girl you carry now. She’ll be a sister to your son and I’m sure you’ll love them both dearly. That girl only knew sorrow and agony in her short life. You are her chance to try again. Feel free to rejoice.”

The dizziness I was feeling began to fade. I felt myself shake it off as I heard a new voice tell me, “Okay, Ms. Anderson, let’s get that IV out and you can go home.”

I looked up to see a young, brunette nurse with a chart in her hands at the end of the bed. The old woman was gone but I could still feel residual heat from her hand on my stomach. I was so astounded that I couldn’t say a word. The nurse didn’t seem to mind. She got the IV out swiftly and showed me to the front desk.

Even as I filled out papers and signed forms, I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened. I was in a daze. It wasn’t until I started asking the receptionist about talking to the older nurse that was in my room that it finally hit me. The old woman said I was pregnant with a boy and a girl. She was clearly referring to the little girl from before. How was that possible? Where had she gone? I couldn’t find anyone that knew who I was talking about and I eventually called a ride home before they re-admitted me for further inspection.

Just three months later, I gave birth to two healthy babies. My family was elated to have twins brought into the family. Their father created more distance by disappearing to his mother’s house an entire state away. I was fine with that. He still had to pay child support. I had my family. I had my little boy, with his sky blue eyes and his bald head. I had my little girl that came out with eyes as dark as the Earth and enough fuzzy brown hair to be the talk of the town. I never forgot about that night of trickery in which she found me. I guess I got a treat after all.

Credit To – Nixie B. Vilda

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Tinnitus

October 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The Journal of Dr. Edwin King
————————————–
Journal Entry 01
Day: 1
Time: 0700 hours

It’s fascinating, really, how far technology has come. It’s been just over a day and I already find myself gazing in awe upon the distant majesty of our planet Earth’s moon from the port windows in the hull. The rest of the crew tease me for my tourist-like fascination with the shimmering nebulae and deep blackness through which our vessel swims for they have made similar voyages, crawling across the rings of our known universe, countless times before. However, I believe that no amount of further training at the astronaut facility could have prepared me to glimpse the eons quite like this. For I am merely a man of science, field biology research to be specific, and I have never ventured so far as to question the contents of deep space until recent discoveries by more sophisticated branches of scientific study brought those contents to my doorstep and ironically, now I to its.

You see, within the subterranean ocean layer of Uranus’ largest moon, Titania, a miraculous organism (or rather the corpse of one) was recovered by means of an automatic probe. While organic life sprouting from within the mantles of a variety of moons and planets within our solar system is nothing novel at this point in mankind’s explorations, this particular specimen has left our greatest minds puzzled and obsessed. My reasons for never involving myself in the expeditions to gather such specimens as shriveled plant life and micro bacteria from reaches of space consist of insufficient funding as well as a general disinterest; nothing could be found within those gaseous giants which could not be scooped up from the bottom of a darkened trench somewhere or plucked from the summit of a mountain until now.

While most of the information surrounding this organism is classified, I am no ragamuffin to the scientific community, as I was chosen by name for this study. However, I should not flatter myself, as ‘study’ merely means gathering a living specimen with which more information can be gathered and my participation was requested undoubtedly due to my reputation as more of a rough and tumble spelunker than a desk-worker; I have wrestled with my fair share of anacondas so I’m not too frightened of this thing. Then again, I have only had the opportunity to view this ‘thing’ through picture and video format and even still it was found by our probe deceased with minuscule traces of organic life still active. It’s a sort of worm-like creature; gelatinous and pale purple like a large, vibrant leech or slug. One of its most remarkable traits is its lack of sight and smell which is clearly reflective of its natural habitat which is these underground oceans in which only sound and sensation can guide such an organism as this. I’ve seen similar creatures such as Axolotl and the Mexican Tetra, both of which adapted to live deep within lightless caves with remarkable sustainability and specialization; such evolutionary parallels astound me and I find myself quivering with anticipation at the opportunity to view such an alien yet familiar ecosystem so far from our verdant planet.

The true marvel lies not in the organism’s environment however, but in the organism itself. For even in death, this creature secretes a minute amount of potent, clear liquid, just enough to fill a small pipette. The liquid is not corrosive, nor organic, more like a chemical release that must be some sort of defense mechanism, mating ritual, or self-sustaining fluid and thus testing on small rodents commenced with alarming results which brought biologists such as I and my singular, designated partner on the expedition, Dr. Dwight Howard, into the picture. The testing period was brief, as the fluid samples were sparse and too dissimilar to any compound our chemists could reproduce within the confines of our Earthly laboratories. However, results were achieved, and rather unnerving ones at that. Even topical exposure of the fluid secretions would induce a slow-acting state depression in the bodies of lab mice, declining all bodily activity until it reaches an absolutely catatonic if not technically “dead” state at the end of three days. Further testing with the remaining samples would show that all bodily functions in the rodents would slowly cease to function with only vague signs of struggle from the subject. It is however unknown whether this fluid simply functions as a sedative to the typical nervous system or if it is indeed lethal and intended more as a venom, produced by the organism for defensive or hunting purposes.

My mind is a whirl with images of spiders paralyzing their prey for the painstaking feeding process, leeches and mosquitoes administering anesthetic so their hosts don’t notice their gorging, and venomous caterpillars threatening creatures many times their size, all in this alien setting which no living man has yet step foot in. We will be pioneers, Howard and I, along with our three companions piloting the ship and taking every precaution in entering the moon’s mantle; Kurt MacReady, Carl Bairnes, and Julia Willard. They’re a rather polite bunch, and they’re all respected astronauts who have been in the business since NASA was shut down back in the early 2000s, but many times I feel as if Mrs. Willard is the only professional aboard this ship. She’s a very striking woman, even when wearing the standard-issue, orange jumpsuit which the pilots always wear. She is tall, with frizzy black hair tied up atop her head, ebony skin, and deep green eyes overshadowed by a stern yet understanding brow which never fails to reassure me that she’s here to do her job without an ounce of nonsense.

Kurt and Carl on the other hand seem rather unamused to be taking the trip to Titania, as they say compared to the likes of Mars, or any of the moons of Jupiter, Titania is just another “Frozen little rock,” which they evidently do not have the patience for. Mr. Kurt MacReady is an oddly gruff character, sporting a bearded thicket upon his prominent chin and a rat’s nest of short, burgundy hair. He smells of whiskey and does not particularly look at anyone with an expression other than vaguely hazy, but he has a firm handshake and took us off the ground without any issues so I’m inclined to place my trust in his training.

Mr. Carl Bairnes however, I have no doubts in. His viridian jumpsuit is just as decorated with medals as his face is with scars; I would be excited to ask more about how each mark of achievement was earned, be it of flesh or silver. He has a small tuft of black hair atop his head and his bronze flesh is riddled with protruding veins and defined musculature however…his expression truly lets you down. His silhouette is one of some great, Native American monolith of a man whereas his eyes suggest nothing more than uninteresting vacancy; it’s as if he’s constantly distracted by some invisible fly fluttering about the room. Mrs. Willard on the other hand seems interested in the more remote moons and chiefly, in the organism itself which the other pilots seem to ignore for the most part, thinking it just another organic scrap dragged back by Earth’s many probes coming and going by the month.

Dr. Howard is rather intriguing despite how introverted he seems. He’s a tall, gangly thing who’s shockingly thin with prominent cheekbones and what seems like a perpetual frown accompanied by a skeptical, arched eyebrow which rarely falters. His skin is pale in contrast with a black dress shirt which he enjoys sporting when not forced to wear his jumpsuit…which is also black. He’s a bit eclectic, but he’s very intelligent; despite appearing wholly disinterested in the crew and the expedition itself, whenever our small talk wanders to the organism which has brought us together, he becomes very animated in vocalizing his findings which seem to perpetuate as the hours go by.

We’re still close enough to Earth to receive a communication feed which Dr. Howard seems to indulge in most of the time as he demands constant updates on the status of the current tests so he may know what to look for. So far, both he and all of Earth’s finest minds are not completely sure what to make of this anomalous creature, making progress only through suspicion and hypothesis. I should enjoy this time however; my role does not quite begin until we reach the planet itself at which point I will be conducting the act of tracking down and gathering a live specimen, and thus I have plenty of days ahead of me which will consist of stargazing and reminiscing so I expect to be writing again soon within the next day or so.

One more thing, just something that has been bothering me lately. Though I do not consider myself an anxious person, and I have never been one to turn down an opportunity to further the cause of modern science at risk of my own health, there’s something that Kurt said over our first lunch together. I had expressed gleeful curiosity at the concept of being the first to even experience how this creature interacts with human beings, if at all and he responded with what I can only describe as superstitious-sounding bitterness, he said, “I respect your enthusiasm, but we’re just the next in what will probably be a long queue of guinea pigs. Those dead rats at the facility were like the first men to drink anthrax, we’re merely giving it another try to affirm it was the poison that killed him.” I’ve never honestly had reason to doubt the decisions of my higher-ups because if they have any definite goal, it’s profit. Money in my field, however, stems from innovation and I have never encountered any issues with seeking innovation outside of a few nasty spider bites and sleepless nights in Mexico. Perhaps Mr. MacReady is not a man who’s in it for the experience, but then again I can’t shake the feeling that he may have a point. It is rather strange that we were shipped off to this distant, unexplored moon with only minor animal testing having preceded the expedition, though I’d be willing to attribute that to a budgeted time frame.

Will update soon with any further information from Earth and/or my crew mates.

– King

Journal Entry 02
Day: 3
Time: 2200 hours

We’re coming upon the fourth day of our exhibition and the hours are already beginning to bleed into one another as the pale dot of Jupiter looms unblinking within the inky sea ahead of us. Despite my pained desire to revel in my fascination in the great beyond, I have forfeited the notion that this particular group can be engaged socially; I guess I came just a few decades too late to this whole space business. For when I was a child, digging up worms in my backyard, the final frontier seemed to me like the domain of the unwavering ambitious and unmistakably wealthy, neither of which I identified with at the time. Yet as I topically breeze through the extensive scientific journals published within the last century about extraterrestrial life sent from back home, I can reluctantly admit that biology is no longer subjective of Earth and there are countless ecosystems unexplored among these gaseous giants.

I must thank Houston, however for supplying me with some form of reading material for unlike my crew mates, I’m not particularly accustomed to such prolonged exposure to…plastic. How I long to plunge my boots into some warm, marsh water and feel the thick, unfiltered air weighing comfortably within my lungs but for now I have a task ahead of me and I must make do with the information feed while it is still an available resource. You see, Houston has warned us that upon passing to the dark side of Jupiter, we will have extended beyond the reach of our furthest satellites, effectively cutting off any communication with Earth and its databases. While I can confidently say that the majority of my applicable knowledge will be readily available regardless of written resource, Dr. Howard seems to be taking the situation rather severely; he’s spent most of the past three days buried in his monitors or conference calls, ensuring that not a single stone is left face down when he reaches Titania.

While I’m mostly feigning busywork to seem at least slightly useful in this time of anticipation, I have learned quite a few interesting things about what organic life has been found on the likes of Mars and Saturn. Specimens have ranged from fragile microbes, alive for mere minutes before dissolving ferociously to vaguely plant-like, prokaryotic matter which crumbles into dust when exposed to oxygen but they all seem to retain similar characteristics; chemical reactions which seem inexplicable yet similar to various processes found within our planet’s atmosphere. For example, one Dr. Percival Burroughs wrote a rather dull yet undeniably informative journal exploring the interactions of a strange, organic “metal” found within the mantle of Saturn with human skin cells. Extensive experimentation beginning with swabs of skin cells and concluding ethically with active exposure to the flesh of a living human consistently displayed a violent reaction similar to some kind of hyper-accelerated lead poisoning. Now I could not tell you what use mankind would have with a rock which can wreak prolonged mental destruction upon those in contact with it, but I do hope we can manage to keep it out of the hands of the military.

It’s fascinating, really, how unknown and perplexing the substance of these alien matters can be while simultaneously mirroring effects and interactions which we can actively observe in nature. It’s got me thinking more and more about what this mysterious organism could be reflective of in our familiar environment and what it could indicate about what we’re bound to find within the depths of Titania. Dr. Howard has affirmed that further monitoring of the mice exposed to the organism’s secretions back on Earth have shown gradually decaying vital signs and general stagnation. There are countless parallels to be drawn in the face of the systematic organ failure or whatever it can be classified as, (Howard is unwilling to accept any of my theories as plausible without conclusive test results) but in my studies I have encountered one puzzlingly similar creature; the black widow spider. Its paralytic venom swiftly overtakes the body of its prey to prepare it for consumption and when introduced to the bloodstream of something far larger than it (a human), localized paralysis, extreme pain, and even death are all possibilities. While it is a frightening prospect that we may be chasing some sort of extraterrestrial killer leech, the suggestion is merely incipient and as of right now we do not know nearly enough about the current test subjects to make any surefire conclusions about the effects of the organism’s fluid.

In fact I am curious about what sort of ecosystem would facilitate a predatory “slug” which utilizes paralytic venoms to capture or immobilize prey. Few aquatic organisms rely on venoms or poisonous secretions for obvious reasons of fluids dissipating in water, so what is this creature’s function? Is it a hunter or perhaps it IS a defense mechanism, produced within the body of this otherwise hapless little alien to prevent its untimely consumption by some larger, more formidable creature which lurks within the subterranean depths of Titania. If there’s anything I learned diving in Australia, it’s that there’s always a bigger fish and I’m quivering with excitement just imagining what Megalodons may lurk past that grayish spot which is Jupiter, slowly approaching upon the indefinite horizon.

Mrs. Willard has just given us two hours before we must report to the hull for a crew meeting, and I’ll be glad to share my theories with the rest of the crew so long as Dr. Howard’s continued contact with Houston does not discredit my hypotheses. I will return with the verdict of the team and any additional resources I can manage to squeeze from Earth’s data banks before we detach ourselves from humanity altogether and venture bravely into the unknown as many have before us. Jupiter is clearly in sight now, and I’d better move to the hull before Bairnes becomes cross with me again; he’s a military man and does not have time for nonsense.

– King

Journal Entry 03
Day: 4
Time: 1900 hours

To say in short, it has been a maddening day. It began as I spoke of earlier, with a crew meeting to map out our course of action, and it concluded mere minutes ago with a raucous and meaningless quarrel between Mr. Bairnes, Dr. Howard, and myself. You see when I proposed my theory of a predatory presence beneath the crust of Titania, I was met with rather rude and unexpected sneering from Dr. Howard. He pointed out that nothing has been recovered from beyond Earth’s atmosphere outside of dead plant matter, vaguely metallic compounds, and bacteria, all of which are to be expected from such barren environments. He refuted that even if these, “slimes” (as he referred to them) were remotely worth researching, even Uranus has not shown signs of a developed ecosystem so why should its moons? I retorted that perhaps the sophistication of the organism suggests a more sophisticated environment; that there are more similarities than differences between this creature and those of Earth. However, when I began to reference my materials and experience, I was met with only further jest from Mr. Bairnes as he began laughing about, “Giant spiders and caterpillars.” (A truly mature little menagerie I have found here). And though I assured him that if my hypothesis proved true, it would be no laughing matter and that additional measures would have to be taken to ensure the safety of the crew and the expedition, none could take me seriously from thence forth. Now granted, my ideas may seem a bit drastic seeing as we have uncovered little from even the largest of planets in our solar system, but is the danger not even worth CONSIDERING?

Anyway, it took Mrs. Willard nothing more than a sharp glare to silence the two, followed by an apology for the actions of Bairnes as they apparently have a history of working with one another and Dr. Howard merely returned to his quiet demeanor of smug disinterest. Looking across the small, polymer plastic table around which our party was gathered, I realized that hers was the only face I could see patience in; Bairnes and Howard looked like sour-faced children whom had just been scolded by a teacher, and MacReady had still said nothing, too busy picking his teeth with his fingernails. (I cannot tell whether MacReady is genuinely unqualified or merely odd). Yet even still, Mrs. Willard enlightened me to the fact that Bairnes would be supplying what little protection we would need while it was to be expected of Dr. Howard and me to work together in ensuring a safe procedure. She told us to ‘get along’ to which Dr. Howard was visibly detested to.

I protested that this WAS me ensuring a safe procedure; that the prospect of potentially dangerous organisms must be addressed, but Howard was swift in rebuking me once more. We disputed the lack of evidence in what I can recall as an ungraceful manner; shouting and wagging fingers at one another to no coherent end. It was only until we received an urgent transmission from Earth about the progress of the experiments, to which Howard very proudly accepted. However, after about 10 minutes of annoyed mannerisms and a generally irritable tone of voice, he returned to the table with unnerving yet unsurprising news (to me): all subjects exposed to the organism in testing became unresponsive as of the night before with no vital signs to be recorded.

Now I’m not a competitive man by any means, and thus I was not preparing to deliver any vengeful, “I-told-you-so.” Instead I’m shaken by the implications of this recent development and what it may suggest as far as my theories about this alien ecosystem; not only are the secretions paralytic but they are lethal upon prolonged exposure. Dr. Howard’s defeat was not long lived however, as he immediately began viciously covering his tracks with excuses and accusations of which I was unwilling to pay any attention to. For not only were his shrill babblings bothersome, they paled in comparison to the realization that we were en route to a planet inhabited by dangerous creatures with insufficient time as well as materials to formulate an antidote to their venom.

Houston has ensured us that we should be safe as long as we remain within our suits and take all necessary precautions in our decent into the mantle of Titania yet these final words, repeated by Dr. Howard as he ended the transmission, echoed emptily throughout the hull. The room fell eerily quiet and the entire table shifted to look at me expectantly as if I were retaining some valuable information from them. I had a hard time vocalizing any response to the announcement, as the reality of the situation took me slightly off guard and I found myself stuttering quite ravenously until Mr. MacReady interrupted me, speaking for perhaps the second time since I met him. To me, Kurt MacReady from the beginning seemed more like an action movie protagonist than an astronaut and the manner in which he addressed the crew did nothing less than affirm my impressions. He let a heavy fist fall to the table with a startling thud as he barked at us to stop babbling and keep on task; that we have been given a very simple mission which should not be complicated by a little bit of extraterrestrial ooze. We were all taken aback by his assertiveness and not a word was uttered as he lumbered back to the cockpit having sufficiently roused us from our brief state of panic.

Dr. Howard and Mr. Bairnes simultaneously stood to leave, spitting their individual businesses they must attend to before pausing briefly and looking out towards the port windows. Mrs. Willard had already risen from her seat and was standing before the windows, gazing out into the blackness which was slowly becoming thicker around our ship as the blazing sunlight dimmed. The three of us approached the window as well, stricken with a silent hopelessness as we watched the gargantuan giant Jupiter slowly eclipse the sun, marking the twilight of our communication with Houston and anyone for that matter. The tension and concern flowed throughout the darkened hull like a thin fog, rolling in around our ankles; just gentle enough to be invisible yet cold enough for all to notice.

I have made it a goal of mine to continue work with what information we have, I’m sure Dr. Howard will do the same. Dangerous or not, we’re headed for Titania and we shall return with enough specimen to revolutionize the fields of chemistry and biology forever. Yet there’s still a chill crawling up my spine from time to time, despite all of my experience with myriads of terrific creatures. There’s still a growing blot of uncertainty upon this page of my mind that ignores my knowledge, casts my intuition aside, and makes light of my PhD. This is no Black Widow, this is no Mamba, no Killer Bee, no this is nothing remotely as dangerous, in fact its venom takes many days to become lethal…but perhaps it’s just that; that I have never seen anything like it that disturbs me so.

I plan on updating in a couple of days as soon as Uranus is in sight for I should have a better understanding of the situation when I’m given some time to make more sober deductions. I know I should attempt to share my work with Dr. Howard and perhaps come to some conclusion about how best to avoid unnecessary contact with the organism, but at the moment I’m still rather prickly about the whole situation. Nevertheless, it must be done for the sake of the expedition.

Perhaps I’ll bring him a drink or fourteen.

– King

Journal Entry 04
Day: 6
Time: 1800 hours

The past two days have been exhilarating to say the least and with all the note-taking I have done, my carpals are screaming at me to give this blasted journal another day or two’s rest. I can’t however; there’s far too much that’s been accomplished between myself and Dr. Howard since we resolved our differences over wine and a handful of Xanax yesterday. The man has a rainbow of vibrant capsules and bright pill bottles strewn out across his desk, most of which I recognized as benign anti-anxiety meds like Valium and Xanax but also more intense names such as Vicodin and Prozac. He apologized for his actions as well as the disastrous mess, explaining that he probably was not the best chemist to be sent up for this mission due to his severe anxiety and brutal migraines, but despite that he’s trying his best to carry out his duties. I had not considered these factors before and I felt rather guilty having responded so aggressively to his abrasiveness the day before; I apologized myself. At that point we concluded to exchange our research and come up with a more applicable course of action to which I was met with puzzlingly slim findings from Dr. Howard’s part. Apparently the last transmission from Houston marked a dead end for his research, as scientists from Earth had given him nothing but inconclusive data and vague hypotheses about the chemical compound in the small time he had in contact with them.

Though the organism is alien and its secretions are a compound never before encountered by man, I still found it rather difficult to believe that all of Earth’s best minds could not sort out at least some classification for it. I brought my doubts to the table and Howard responded with great distaste, claiming that he had been hounding Houston since day one in attempts to coax the flow of information along which seemed to be stopped up by something; it seemed strange that Houston would not give them even their slightest suspicions if it would mean assisting in their mission. Anyway, in our current situation of radio silence, we are forced to work with what little knowledge we have acquired on our own in order to ensure the safety of the crew and the expedition.

All Howard knew for sure was that it must be a neurotoxin which can attack the central nervous system directly by means of topical exposure. This would relate it to something along the lines of a vastly expedited form of metal poisoning which I found rather interesting, bringing up how common of a theme that seems to be among extraterrestrial matter. However, Howard refuted that conclusion on the grounds that the neurotoxins found on Saturn and the like produced a variety of other symptoms to suggest the relation to our understanding of metals, while this organism’s fluids create a slow and nearly symptomless decline in the subject’s condition. “This organism is far more sophisticated than those inanimate samples; it’s specialized and remarkably effective in its function whatever that may be,” he claimed. I realized now why he was so quick to dismiss my theories that night at our crew meeting, they seemed so obvious yet so blatantly overlooked by Houston to the point where they must have already been tested and disproved.

I posed my theory once more, “There must be a purpose however. When it’s a geological compound, its chemical properties are merely a reflection of its environment but when it’s a living organism, there’s almost always a function to such properties. Where there is an ecosystem there are bound to be predators and prey; we just have to find out which one our little alien is.” He was reluctant at first in accepting my proposed direction of study, but in time we both submitted to the inevitabilities of scant information and the vibrant, bluish-green dot awaiting our approach on the inky horizon. There is a mere 40 hours resting between us and Uranus, and another 5 will place us on the surface of its largest moon and our destination, Titania.

We began concocting a plan of action revolving around the possibility that the organism is either a threatening predator which we must not provoke, or merely a dangerous creature which we must avoid physical contact with altogether. Thinking back to what information Houston could not supply us with, we determined that the only distinction to be made would be whether or not the fluid is corrosive or if it has some delivery system within the organism. If the organism does in fact have a means of “attacking” its prey with its venom then it could easily be marked as a predator and dealt with by means of luring it into some kind of trap. However, if it is corrosive or only effective when introduced directly into the bloodstream, it will be clear that the organism has no means of utilizing the venom in an aggressive manner, rather it would be used as a defensive measure to fend off predators. If we found the latter to be true, then our only task would be to wear fully protective suits when leaving the ship to acquire a live specimen. It may just be a chore finding it within the subterranean waters if it is prone to hiding from potential predators.

We concluded our session of brainstorming and preparations with a rather satisfying consensus, achieved with such little real data on the subject. It gives me hope in fact, hope for the future when such different fields of study can come together in the name of science and the furthering of collective knowledge. It’s uplifting too; despite how vague our hypotheses may be, we still accumulated a more sound pool of theory and information than was supplied to us by all the scientific minds back at Houston. It’s so elementary, really: I will leave the ship first to study the terrain and either find an organism to bring back to the ship (as the original plan stood) OR find signs of organisms previously visiting where we will touch down. These signs will include things along the lines of disturbed water, animal-like tracks, or some sort of organic matter within the water itself with which a lower creature could exist upon. If I encounter none of these, responsibility will fall to Dr. Howard to take samples of the water itself and determine if there are traces of the alien fluid within it; if there are, we will have a means of studying its properties aboard the ship before searching for the organism itself and if not, we will at least know that the fluid either dissipates in water or that there are none of the organism living within the water. The plan is fundamentally sound, and we would only require the help of Mr. Bairnes in the event that no traces of the organism are found in the water or in my initial search, at which point Dr. Howard and I would need to venture deeper into the environment to find a living specimen in hiding.

However, upon making our victorious stride to the cockpit to announce our progress, we discovered that our news would need to wait on more demanding developments. These developments involved the status of the ship and how the expedition could be compromised if they are not dealt with immediately and before we make our final approach. Mrs. Willard, who is apparently the more able-bodied engineer of our two pilots, has declared mere minutes ago that she will be examining the exterior landing gear and that artificial gravity will remain off for the duration of the process; an irritating parameter yet necessary to make transitions outside of the ship more smooth. I will be unable to write effectively during this time and Mrs. Willard is unsure of how long the process will take, but considering how anxious I am about the precarious uncertainty upon which our ship slowly descends, I will certainly update as soon as possible with the verdict on our condition.

Our plans were introduced with the blunt demands of Mr. MacReady, “So do you two at least have a plan yet?” To which Dr. Howard and I answered with a rather anticlimactic, “Yes.” That was all MacReady and Bairnes needed to feel secure at the moment and frankly, despite our disappointment, I cannot find it in me to disagree with them; the situation seems maddening enough to be so far beyond the contact and assistance of Earth.

For now, all we can do is await Mrs. Willard’s return.

– King

Journal Entry 05
Day 7
Time: 1500 hours

Mrs. Willard returned this morning in a blaze of fury. Her face was bright crimson from the artificial oxygen or unadulterated rage, I cannot be sure, but what I can determine is that it’s no positive sign for the condition of our ship. She wordlessly trudged into the cockpit, demanding that Bairnes leave her with MacReady, taking us all aback with the abrupt change in her typically cool-headed attitude. Bairnes complied however, joining Dr. Howard and I in a curious huddle outside of the cockpit with his shoulders shrugged in obliviousness. There was no hope in eavesdropping as the doors are all sealed tightly, locking even sound into each individual room throughout the ship, so we collectively decided to await enlightenment of the situation in the hull which Mrs. Willard would undoubtedly pass through on her way out of the cockpit. As we waited, we indulged Mr. Bairnes on the details of our plan and his potential role if results come up slim to which he responded well, not having many expectations as to his role outside of appearing on the mission as a formal precaution; an “insurance policy,” as he referred to himself.

After an hour or so, the doors hissed open with an accompanied cacophony of shouting and irritable debate following Mrs. Willard from inside the cockpit. Nothing was discernable from the hull save for Willard barking a single accusation before spitefully thrusting her fist into the control panel for the door, cutting them off, “…ing conspiracy theories! We’ve got to figure this out before we take a Titanian nosedive, not point needless fingers!! I’m going back out, and I’m cutting off communication; I’m tired of this bullshit.” We all stood at her reentry like speechless children as she continued past us with her helmet tucked under her arm and without so much as a word as she turned the corner for the airlock vengefully.

The doors to the cockpit reopened as MacReady slowly lumbered out with a coiled scowl on his face and spiteful disregard in his eyes. His head turned towards the direction of the airlock, he marched over to our group crowded around the table in the center of the hull, still standing dumbfounded. Without even the slightest glance in our direction, he swiped a bottle of wine from a nearby, white plastic coffee table and with a masterful flick of his wrist he withdrew a small pocket knife from his coat and pried out the cork to take a long swig. We looked on in confusion and a sort of estranged awe at the demeanor of the man, wondering how on Earth this man was designated the pilot for such a valuable mission. As if in response to our silent criticism, MacReady addressed us with a harsh grunt as he wiped his beard on his sleeve, still never giving us a moment’s eye contact, “Quick gawking and do something productive.” As he huffs his commands at us angrily, he raises his eyes to look past us and out the Hull windows at the bluish giant staring directly back at him with such inhuman aggression. We all turned in tandem to look upon Uranus which now towered before us, with what could only be 26 or so hours remaining between us and Titania; a clock which ticks in gargantuan strokes as Mrs. Willard toils away in something we bystanders cannot understand.

As we gazed forebodingly into the unwavering eye of the planet, I heard a grunted, “Hopeless,” from MacReady as he shuffled away from the table in an echoing chorus of a pocket knife clacking shut and the distinct hiss of the cockpit doors opening and closing again. While I can’t say he’s wrong for doubting our collective ability to act in this precarious situation considering we’ve been able to do nothing since then but gossip about possible conflict between our pilots as well as MacReady’s suggested drinking habits, they haven’t told us anything about our status nor what we can do to help in the matter. However, even if our brazen captain were to indulge us as to the issues which they have encountered with the ship, Mrs. Willard has disconnected her communications with the cockpit and thus her knowledge of the ship’s condition must go unheard until she concludes her repairs; who knows how long that will take. I’ll tell you who, MacReady does, and frankly I’m tired of his childish attitude; this is neither the time nor place to be keeping secrets bottled up from those whom they would affect the most.

I must say, this entire expedition has been defined by a general lack of information. Houston has supplied us with little in the way of novel developments, Dr. Howard made few definite conclusions on his own time, and now even our engineers refuse to inform us on where we stand or…float rather. It’s driving me mad, really, as if nobody aboard this ship nor back on Earth wish to LEARN anything from this experience; I feel less like a field biologist and more like an overpaid fisherman at this point. I never thought I would be in a position to say this considering how much of an honor it was to be summoned by name for this mission, but truly I just want it to be over with. I want to find the damn thing and hurry on back so I can breathe some real, unadulterated air, maybe do some real fishing for lampreys in the Great Lakes like the old days.

Those days feel all the more enticing the longer I spend in this over sized plastic tube. Patience is running thin with the lot of us, and I only hope that Mrs. Willard finishes up by tonight and gives us a calm and collected verdict which we can work with. There should be around 30 hours remaining before we touch down on Titania’s surface and the other two have gone to their rooms for early sleep which I’m sure we all need, though MacReady still hasn’t left the cockpit. I too will retreat to my quarters as I’ve been writing for a couple of hours now and don’t feel it necessary for me to await Mrs. Willard’s return; I’m sure MacReady will be first to receive her.

So exhausted. I’ll have to update as soon as I awaken as I’m sure it will be when Willard returns with news and I have no intention of waiting much longer for our two delightful pilots to indulge us. I do apologize for my edginess, I guess we’ve all caught a bit of cabin fever in our time up here. Nevertheless, we have no choice but to stick with each other, at least until we acquire the specimen and get off the ground.

Should be simple enough.

– King

Journal Entry 06
Day: 8
Time: 0100 hours

Middle of the night, something woke me up. I swore I heard the recognizable click of a door opening down the hall followed by some footsteps. I stepped out momentarily to investigate to no avail and though I may just be groggy, nothing seemed to have changed in the hull since I had left it earlier; in fact the door leading to our quarters’ was still open as I remembered accidently leaving it. Mrs. Willard instructed me to leave it shut, but I always felt no harm in my forgetfulness, and thus made no attempts to amend the habit in the few days I would be aboard.

I’m back in my bed and beyond brutalized by tiredness. It must have been MacReady returning to his quarters, though I couldn’t remember hearing those noisy cockpit doors. Then again, it could have been only the proximity of the doors within the quarters which awoke me, and thus I wouldn’t have noticed any previous sounds. I mustn’t let it worry me, I already have far too much to think about, and things going bump in the night may drive me to borrow some “supplements” from Dr. Howard.

Let’s hope I stay asleep this time.

– King

Journal Entry 07
Day: 8
Time: 0900 hours

Enlightened, famous, perhaps even rich were among many things I had hoped to become though the process of this expedition. One position I could have never predicted myself in was hostage. That’s right, I am now a hostage on this ship, along with Dr. Howard and Mr. Bairnes at the hands of our buffoonish, drunkard captain MacReady. We’re currently seated around the table once more within the hull as MacReady stands in the corner of the room armed with irrational fury and a loaded revolver. He’s been ceaselessly barking questions at us like some crime drama cop until now and nether of my companions have been at all entertained with the performance while I must admit, I’m probably white as a sheet; I’ve never been good with authorities.

Allow me to explain in further detail, though I’m not sure how much time I have to write before MacReady feels it necessary to demand more answers from us. I woke up before the others this morning and left my quarters in the direction of the hull, hoping for new developments, however upon opening the door to the hull, there was only MacReady seated at the table facing the door. His presence startled me, but what truly took me aback was that he seemed to be awaiting my entry with a gun resting on the table before him and, as the others joined me in the doorway, preparing to enter the room, MacReady shouted at us all to stand right where we were. He then lifted the gun, rose from the table and instructed us to sit while he stood at the helm of the table. Bairnes protested, but MacReady made it very clear that tensions were higher than we had anticipated, and that he wasn’t unprepared to deal with them if necessary.

Apparently Mrs. Willard hadn’t returned to the ship last night, in fact she hadn’t at all because the line securing her to the outside of the ship had been remotely detached with Mrs. Willard nowhere to be found. MacReady claims that performing such an override while someone was attached to the line would require experience with the mechanics of the ship, implying that one of us is not who we say we are. I saw this as an opportunity to determine exactly what she was doing outside of the ship, and though it may not have been wise to assert myself to an armed man, he indulged us all the same.

He informed us that Mrs. Willard had a suspicion about the condition of the landing gear as nothing showed up for them in a diagnostic check of the ship’s systems, and she had left the ship to investigate. She had returned to the cockpit with the aggravating news that the landing gear had in fact been tampered with and reprogrammed as to avoid the ship warning us about it. This was clearly an inside job, MacReady claimed, and though Mrs. Willard disagreed with him she still went back out in attempts to remedy the situation. He grimly stated however, that she was unsuccessful, and whoever cut her line did it too long ago so that nothing could be done to rescue her from drifting to her demise. Thus MacReady believes that his suspicions have been affirmed and all that’s left to do is to find the culprit and force them to reverse the damage which they have inflicted upon the ship and ensure a safe landing which is less than 10 hours away at this point.

Bairnes grew more aggressive the more MacReady explained, demanding to know why damaged landing gear would make any difference and why someone would want to sabotage such a simple mission. MacReady explained that while the ship can enter the planet’s atmosphere with damaged landing gear and make a relatively safe descent, the ship cannot physically LEAVE the atmosphere if the landing gear cannot retract fully as the aerodynamics would be thrown off dramatically, granting the ship insufficient velocity needed to leave the moon’s gravitational field. Therefore, unless the traitor was found, there will be no leaving Titania once we landed.

Though Bairnes simply appears smug and irritable, Dr. Howard is beginning to worry me. He is obviously beginning to experience panic, and though he’s demanded that MacReady allow him to return to his room for his medication, six chambers still stand between him and his quarters. I’ve begun to notice minute twitches and ticks, and his overall demeanor is frighteningly pale and flighty as if he were slowly losing his grasp of the situation the louder MacReady’s tone crescendos.

There seems to be an argument sparking between Dr. Howard and Mr. MacReady. I’m afraid I have to put my journal down and make an attempt to calm Dr. Howard before he has a panic attack or worse, gets himself shot.

Wish me luck.

– King

Journal Entry 08
Day: 10
Time: not known

As I had expected, the air is frigid on the surface of Titania to the point where even filtered oxygen makes me shiver as it flows into my helmet. My head is dizzy and my body is numb though I can’t say so much for my companions; strewn about the hull like discarded ragdolls. I must have been unconscious for about a day, maybe more but I cannot be sure as the ship’s Earth clock along with all other automatic functions have been destroyed in the crash. Anyway, I have only had time to drag myself over to check the grim state of my companions and write this short record of the disastrous occurrences of the past day.

I’m not sure whether or not oxygen is still being consistently produced in the ship, but just to be sure I fitted myself and any living crew members with helmets. By any, I mean Bairnes and MacReady; Dr. Howard is dead by a bullet in his torso. A certain amount of hope has been extinguished with my fellow scientist’s life, as there is none else capable of identifying the hostility of this environment than he. I can examine the ecosystem as much as I like but it’s still not Earth, it’s still uncertain whether or not my knowledge even applies here; only educated analysis of the organism’s secretions can determine whether or not we should panic.

Our ship crashed rather close to what can only be described as a cave, as it is large enough for a man to enter upright and seems long enough to be an entrance to some inner cavern. This must be our drones’ means of accessing the subterranean oceans beneath the crust of the moon, by boring out a massive hole inward though it’s strange, as if this entrance had been made by multiple machines, not the single drones we sent to each moon of any given planet. Nevertheless, there will be no spelunking to be done until the rest of the crew awakens, or at least until Mr. Bairnes does; Mr. MacReady seems to be in rough shape, perhaps even critical condition from his outburst which resulted in our bumpy landing.

Dr. Howard lashed out in his immense anxiety, claiming that the mission wasn’t even worth it at this point and if the ship were to break up in the atmosphere, so be it. MacReady did not take to this well and nearly jammed the revolver down his throat, bellowing at him like some kind of rabid beast about how he must be the traitor amongst them. Bairnes reacted swiftly to the situation, bounding over the table like a burly jackrabbit, grabbing hold of the hand in which MacReady held his gun and pulling it back in an attempt to point it away from Howard but to no avail. As Dr. Howard scrambled to retreat from his chair, the surprise of Bairnes’ attack startled MacReady and clenched his finger around the trigger, sending Howard back across the floor clutching his rib cage. Bairnes and MacReady proceeded in their brawl as Bairnes disarmed our captain, throwing the firearm away and into the open cockpit where they would both scramble to gain an advantage. While they occupied themselves, I dove for Dr. Howard in hopes that the wound was not fatal and though it merely punctured his pelvis, the man wailed in pain like a pitiful creature caught in a bear trap. He was losing blood swiftly and as I attempted to raise him upright and bring him to a medical kit, the entire room was flooded with vermilion light and blaring sirens. I could hear grunts and shouts erupting from the cockpit and adding to the raucous din of stimulus surrounding us; my head was spinning.

Finally, Bairnes stumbled from the open cockpit doors, clutching his ribs with one hand through a torn up sleeve and MacReady’s pocket knife in the other, visibly caked with crimson. He blurted across the room to me with disgruntled haste to hold on to something as he himself knelt and clung to the module for the cockpit doors, they must have accidentally triggered some emergency landing protocol in their flurry and I now dizzily searched for something to cling to. I dragged Dr. Howard’s screeching corpse across the floor to the table at the center of the room which was bolted to the floor, latching my free arm around its base. All I remember is the deafening clamor of those sirens singing out in symphony with Dr. Howard’s agonizing screams. It was a hellish ride, I assure you.

And now I find myself here, after many hours of unconsciousness alone aboard this ship with the lifeless corpse of Howard mere feet away from me, gazing blankly at the ceiling, Bairnes breathing barely shallow breaths in an unresponsive state, and MacReady unconscious as well within the cockpit of the ship, bleeding out slowly from multiple nonlethal stab wounds in his legs and belly. It’s so unbearably silent now, save for a distant ringing in my ears that must be a result of the impact, but I can’t help but feel rather shell shocked from such a calamity. It’s also so dark here, on this moon which is to be expected of Titania as it is so far from the sun yet I had not expected it at all and I’m painstakingly writing by the light of a blinking emergency warning which was triggered when the entrance to our quarters was caved in during the crash. This also means that we don’t have access to Dr. Howard’s medical equipment for use on Mr. MacReady if his condition worsens. I am however reluctant to even reenter the cockpit with that violent man much less tend to his flesh wounds.

We will more than likely need to move as soon as the two awaken, as the ship will soon run out of its stored oxygen and a CO2 buildup is something which we shaken men don’t need to worry about at this point. We’d might as well salvage the mission if we can, as a rescue ship will be sent out within the next few days and if we have something to show for ourselves, this disaster will have at least not been in vain. I can only hope that the situation is not as I had feared in which case CO2 and pocketknives are the least of our concerns.

I will update if and when we find ourselves in a more steady condition though it will have to be by the light of night vision which may be difficult. I’m not sure what lies within that darkened cave in the near distance, but I can’t imagine it will hop in our laps and purr like a cat.

– King

Journal Entry 09
Day: 10
Time: must be nighttime on Earth

Blackness, nothing but all-consuming blackness. This cavern, this oceanic grotto is stunning but I wish I could enjoy it in a shade other than neon, night vision green. However, I can’t complain considering our circumstances have improved drastically from battered bodies to huddled and whimpering sods. Bairnes and I managed to drag MacReady out from the cockpit, away from the ship and into cave over the course of what must have been five hours without a budge from him outside of shallow breathing. Using half a flask of whiskey, we soaked a small stack of books and let them ablaze in what was the most pathetic fire I have ever seen, and I have camped in the Amazon before during the rainy season. My survival training has come in rather handy in this particular situation, as it was needed to patch up MacReady and maintain the fire despite it not giving off enough light to explore the shores of the water.

The ocean itself extends off into the darkness in all directions and it’s impossible to tell how deep it is nor at what point it drops off. We’re also rendered ignorant as to how safe the water is to even touch much less drink without the help of Dr. Howard whom we were forced to leave with the wreckage of our ship. Dr. Howard and Mrs. Willard were the only two individuals on this expedition whom I found myself able to speak to freely and though Bairnes has shaped up to be a rather agreeable man, I cannot find myself any more socially apt around him than MacReady, and thus the day has been long and wordless to the point where I have almost completely lost track of time.

I have informed Bairnes that I still plan on scouting the area for any signs of hostile life, or perhaps the organism itself and that I wish for him to accompany me just in case. Bairnes agreed but showed tentativeness at the prospect of leaving MacReady unsupervised which is understandable considering the damage he’s already done to our crew and the expedition; I’m not prepared to return to another standoff over the campfire with the current state of my nerves.

I figured it would prove wise to bind MacReady’s hands and search him for weapons in case he decides to go rogue on us while we’re fumbling around in the dark. Bairnes also suggested that we revoke his night vision attachment from his helmet to ensure that he does not wander off and thought I found this measure questionable, we don’t exactly have time to debate; I’d rather have peace of mind than indulge my empathetic urges right now.

As I struggle to write this by the weak, grainy glow of the night vision attachment, Bairnes is silently roping the unconscious MacReady’s wrists with a length of wire from the ship; how grateful I am that he has yet to awaken and this task had not turned into a wrestling match. Bairnes asked about the notebook earlier and I told him about the log I have been keeping throughout the expedition, how I long to return to Earth and publish it as either a progressive documentary or an action-adventure novel, whatever people are willing to believe. He chuckled at this comment and asked to read it while we walked though I refused, he seemed rather insistent on borrowing the notebook in fact; strange. Anyway, we’ll be off momentarily and though I wish I could make more meticulous preparations, there is little I can do outside of calming myself mentally as I seem to be experiencing a bit of panic; my breathing has become shallow and there is a knot in my chest which becomes tighter as the minutes lurch on. What lies on the banks of this gargantuan, stagnant pool is just beyond me but I get the feeling that something will be waiting for us and whether it is predator or prey, I am unsure.

Mr. Bairnes has returned with MacReady’s knife and his night vision attachment. Bairnes revealed that he had a revolver with him just in case and thus I coerced him to let me hold on to the knife; it’s not much but it’s far greater security than my nonexistent pugilist background. I’d better check MacReady’s vitals before we leave and change his bandages, we have sat him up next to the pathetic flare remaining of our campfire, sufficiently far from the water, I believe. God help the poor lunatic.

God help us all.

– King

Journal Entry 10
Day 11
Time: no way to tell

MacReady was right. I never thought that I would give him such credit, but now as I kneel before the darkened, wet lump that is his corpse lying face down in the water, the reality of this “expedition” sends me reeling within my own obliviousness. We came cautiously when we heard a raucous splash from the direction of the camp at which we left MacReady’s unconscious and bound person only to find his motionless body surrounded by ankle-deep water which had slowly risen to claim the fire along with the poor man’s life. He must have stood and walked a few steps before falling as we found him a short distance from where we left him, and without so much as surveying the thing, we already knew what became of him, as well as what Bairnes and I are dealing with.

In fact, the truth which MacReady was sharp enough to realize involves the dear Mr. Bairnes of whom I speak of…in fact it IS him. As we made our way along the shore, I swiftly realized that the immediate area which we surveyed was devoid of life, even the water did not make a sound, lying impossibly still; it’s as if nothing has moved within that vast ocean for years. We did find something however, something which would place my life in a precarious position of danger, teetering even now as I sit a safe distance from the water. For we did not find the organism, nor did we find some horrible, carnivorous beast; we found the last expedition.

A single, human corpse silently decaying into the earthy sand which borders the water, wearing the same orange jumpsuit as MacReady and Willard had. I leaped back at the macabre specimen out of a severe concoction of fear and bafflement; Titania had only been explored by probe…once! Yet without a doubt, before my own eyes, rests a half-buried cadaver decomposing as it should; the pale, purple skin slowly flaking off of the muscle suggests that it’s long since dead. In my befuddlement, it took me more than a few minutes to find my explanation down the cold barrel of a revolver pressed to the back of my head.

Mr. Bairnes explained that our new acquaintance is one Dr. Maria Crane, a respected woman of science and the first astronaut to touch down on the face of Titania. He explained without removing the gun from its position that we were not the first to seek out this organism, as Dr. Crane’s expedition obviously ended unfortunately as well as without a live specimen. Those underhanded bastards back at Houston played us, leading us to believe that we were venturing out into the unexplored reaches of space and be the first to risk our lives in the name of science. Instead, we were sent on what had already been proven to be a suicide mission; we were not intended to be pioneers, we’re mere grunts being sent to our probable doom with the vague hope that we’ll bring something back. And that two-faced rodent Bairnes had been working with them all along, ensuring that the crew learn nothing of Houston’s plans to draw out the organism once more with a fresh crew. The fiend murdered Mrs. Willard surely because she was the first to catch on to his putrid scent, uncovering his attempts to so-called, “Keep the crew grounded,” as Bairnes explained. I wanted to strangle that devilish excuse for a man, that cogwheel in a machine of corruption which left us stranded on this god forsaken rock in the depths of nothingness, but I had to settle for shoving him into the water when he finally lowered his weapon. He arose with the thing cocked and ready, but he struggled to hold steady as he found himself sopping wet with an exposed hand allowing water into the sleeve of his suit. Serves the moron right, should have thought about that before playing fisticuffs with MacReady back at the ship.
I however, have insufficient energy to attempt fighting fire with fists, and thus I reluctantly complied with him. As he began to describe our new course of action around finding a live specimen and awaiting a secondary expedition bound to pick up Bairnes and any potential survivors within three days, we heard MacReady and raced to find him as he is now. The water rose without us even noticing, and I would not doubt that the organism had ample time to attack the unconscious MacReady and retreat back into the tide without leaving a trace. In fact I’m afraid to examine his corpse for risk of coming in contact with the organism’s secretions, and both Bairnes and I have taken precautions to stay far away from the water from now on; I’m only thankful nothing got to him when I pushed him in…to a degree.

There’s no hope for a fire anymore as all of our kindling was drowned with the undertow which emits only gentle ripples from around the gentle silhouette of our face-down friend. We have only the dwindling batteries of our night vision to keep us from going mad in the silent pitch that surrounds us. Above everything however, more than the pristine silence, more than the frigid air, even more than this omnipresent shade, it is panic which overwhelms me most. My breathing is labored, almost hyperventilating, and I had to coerce Bairnes into resting a moment only after he became rather exhausted himself, complaining of his head “swimming.” I checked my oxygen filter yet the small display on my chest reads that oxygen is flowing steadily into my helmet, so it must be something internal. My symptoms seem to match those of a panic attack, or at least what I saw in Dr. Howard when we were still on the ship, except for one small detail…one nagging sensation which I have only now begun to notice and cannot wrench my mind from no matter how hard I focus.

Tinnitus, I believe it’s called; simple ringing in the ears. It began when Bairnes was explaining the truth to me, and I had previously attributed it to pure rage and anxiety which had begun rising within my throat the more I learned. However, even now as I scribble what I can, seated across from the pleasantly sleeping cretin that is Bairnes, the faint din has slowly arisen to the forefront of my attention to the point where I struggle even to hear myself think. My head was already throbbing but now the noise has become unbearable, like some distant squealing in the back of my head as my synapses cry out in pain. I hope that if I sleep now, some of this splitting pain will dissipate, and perhaps we CAN return to our search for the organism.

I only hope that it does not find us first and do to us what it did to MacReady. I’m beginning to see shapes swirling in my vision, I must be getting a migraine. I’m forced to cease writing and rest my head. Houston, if you ever happen upon this journal,

Burn. In. Hell.

– King

Journal Entry 11
Day: ??
Time: irrelevant

I’m alone. I’m condemned to solitude in this dripping fucking hole in a remote corner of the cosmos. I woke up, painfully, as I passed out for what must have been fifteen minutes or so upon trying to lift my head; a lot of blood must have left my head while I was laid down, and my breathing is now reduced to heavy heaving. When I finally managed to stave off madness itself in the form of discordant ringing greeting my awakening, I painstakingly pawed my way over to Bairnes to stir him to no god damn avail. I discovered him breathless, without a pulse, slumped over in a seated position like a deathly monolith before me, overshadowing me despite an encompassing lack of light with which to cast one.

I managed to make a vaguely thorough search of his immediate person for any signs of the organism but found nothing. With the final dregs of my mental strength and a blinking red light in the corner of my night vision display, I crawled in the direction of MacReady’s corpse. With what was surely a cacophony of struggled grunts, I managed to flip over the body to uncover a horrendous scene: MacReady’s head is fully exposed as his helmet is shattered open, glass puncturing his face in various places for a gory demise. However, I now understood his death; if the venom of the organism did not kill him alone, it must have weakened his central nervous system to the point where he became too weak to walk and collapsed, face down in the water, and drowned. What I was unsure of however, is whether or not his helmet broke open upon impact with the ground…or if something found its way in.

I left him however, as a small notification appeared across my vision notifying me that my night vision attachment had 10 minutes before it would shut down, its battery drained. Even in my panicked, weakened state, I remembered that Bairnes had taken MacReady’s attachment and must still have it, and thus I returned to the lifeless lump with renewed hope. However I swiftly realized that the hope was misplaced as the imbecile never shut the attachment off, thus draining the battery completely, as well as his own. To think that of all the sly, cunning scoundrels which Houston could have chosen from to accompany us in this grim expedition, they had to pick the kind of person who leaves the lights on when they leave a room or better yet, when they leave the land of the living.

With despair in my heart, lead in my lungs, and a deafening clamor splitting my ears asunder, I write to you, whomever may read this, as I await the finale of my 10 remaining minutes of sight. I have begun to come to terms with the nature of my current condition as I have lost feeling in my legs and most of my lower torso; the organism must have come in contact with me at some point or another. Breathing is nearly impossible now, my mind is screaming, and I am slowly but surely losing control of my motor functions; there’s no doubt about it, my nervous system is gradually giving way to the creature’s venom just like those vermin back on Earth. Those vermin who died in boxes in a laboratory somewhere underground, no more isolated than I am as I write within this damn cave.

There must be something I can do to survive, at least a few days until the next expedition arrives and finds me here. I have to stay awake, there’s simply no other option; if my central nervous system is failing then I cannot give in to sleep until my body forces it upon me for I may not awaken…just like Bairnes. I can barely think straight at this point…it’s very difficult to write. Maybe I’ll check Bairnes again, see if I can figure out how it got to him…Maybe I’ll be alright…

I just want the ringing to stop.

– King

Journal Entry 12
Day:
Time:

It’s inside me. I can feel it, squirming around in my ear canal, wailing like a petulant swine. It’s not tinnitus, it’s not a migraine, it has gotten inside me just like it did to Bairnes and MacReady. That’s why I could not find it on them…THAT’S why there was never any bites or anything on their skin…because it crawled in their ears while they were sleeping…it crawled in and screamed at them, but they could not hear it like I do. They did not know until it was too late.

They got to MacReady through his helmet when he must have fell and shattered it open. He couldn’t get back up because the venom was too potent and disabled his body, like a spider’s neurotoxins paralyzing its prey while it devours it alive.

They got to Bairnes through his sleeve when I shoved him into the water…that’s why his head was swimming…he heard it too, inside his head but the venom must have numbed his body so he could not feel it crawling inside as he fell asleep…It only makes sense as now I can only barely move my arms enough to drag myself along the ground.

I don’t know how it got through the seals of our helmets…but there’s no doubt about it. I can feel it lurching within my skull like a leech thirsting for my brain matter, boring its way deeper and deeper as it screeches…a noise that leaves horrific wounds within my psyche…a noise which I cannot bear any longer.

For I found how it got to me…the knife. MacReady’s knife, which Bairnes gave to me…which I had completely forgotten about. It had cut a hole in the torso of my suit as I had laid down, leaving an opening for those scuttling things to worm their way inside my suit and up into my helmet. But how…HOW? How did they get inside my helmet, I would have suffocated by now!

I know it’s in there though. Nothing of Earth, nothing of the human body could produce such a terrible, gut-wrenching wail the likes of which has been ripping my mind to ribbons.

I cannot allow this creature to have free reign within my skull…my body is going numb, I’m barely breathing, and I have mere minutes before my night vision cuts out entirely…

If that happens…I’m trapped. I’m caged within my own mind with not a single thing to accompany me but this unholy ringing. I cannot bear to imagine such a fate.

I cannot wait three days for the next expedition…I cannot spend another second with this demon writhing within me, siphoning my soul from inside me. I have to get it out.

I have MacReady’s knife in one hand, the other is readied on the release switch for my helmet.

I can’t feel anything
I can’t even hear myself scream.
There’s nothing but ringing now.

– Final entry in the journal of Dr. Edwin King

Captain Jacob Ripley
Expeditionary Log
1300 Hours

This is Captain Jacob Ripley, appointed head of this expedition to retrieve any remaining subjects of the primary mission on Titania, moon of Uranus. We had been informed of the situation and told to expect only Mr. Carl Bairnes to be present however it seems that Mr. Bairnes encountered complications as not only did we encounter the team’s desecrated spacecraft outside of the subterranean cavern, but inside we found further evidence of the expedition’s failure.

The strange thing is, we never intended for the team to encounter the specimen, as Titania’s seasons span many Earth years and during the darker of those seasons, the organism is completely inactive. The expedition was intentionally rushed out to take advantage of the inactivity, as the organism does little during this time except burrow under the “sea” floor and hibernate as they are cold-blooded. Unfortunately, what we learned about the organism when communication went dark, was that the organism contains heat sensitive cells which trigger the continuous release of what can be compared to Earth’s morphine in order to suppress its bodily functions and hibernate. On-site tests of the subterranean body of water showed dangerously high levels of the chemical, which means our hypotheses are in fact correct, and if we proceed with draining the small ocean, we can dig up more than sufficient specimens.

While Dr. Dwight Howard was found shot dead in the wreckage of the ship, we have sent out a small search party to scour the shores for Mrs. Julia Willard who seems to be missing. The other three were found around a small pile of ashes which must have been a fire before it mostly drifted out with the tide. Mr. Kurt MacReady’s waterlogged corpse was found a short distance away from the other two, the cause of death is drowning. His arms were bound with wire, so we can only assume that as the chemical-contaminated water made prolonged contact with him, it began numbing his body as morphine-like compounds do, and as he attempted to stand he would have lost his balance, falling and breaking open his helmet. At this point he would have swallowed a great deal of the water and the chemical process will have rendered him unable to control his muscles enough to flip himself over.

Fortunately, Mr. Bairnes was found heavily sedated by the chemical compound as it seemed to have soaked his clothing at one point or another as well as getting through his torn sleeve directly to skin. His pulse is barely noticeable and his breathing disturbingly shallow, but our doctors on board should have no trouble resuscitating him enough to report before returning home. Thank god he did not panic, as his condition is nothing more than a heavily sedated surgical patient. Unfortunately however, the same cannot be said for Dr. Edwin King.

Dr. King was found in a rather peculiar state, as he was completely untouched by the water as well as the chemical compound so he would not have experienced any symptoms, though his death was particularly gruesome. His helmet was opened manually and his ear canals gouged out with a pocket knife, apparently by his own hand as the knife in question was found near his corpse which ended up far from the others. Despite this despicable act of quasi-suicide, the cause of death determined by our doctors seemed to be oxygen deprivation or simply suffocation. We figured that this was due to the helmet being opened, but upon further inspection of Dr. King’s suit, the doctors digressed.

Dr. King’s helmet was dismantled in order to inspect the damage to the sides and back of his skull and clearly present along the back of the visor is a small crack. This seemingly minuscule rupture in the glass would have slowly halved the amount of oxygen intake and resulted in an unnoticeable release of air. The technicians informed me that the visor must have been damaged in the crash and thus he would have experienced more and more difficulties breathing as well as functioning as the crack widened. They also said the only indication of this given the crack would have been behind his head (essentially invisible to him) would be the sound of oxygen escaping which would have manifested as a loud, high pitch squealing noise. The noise must have driven the poor sod crazy, carved his ears out having to listen to it.

Regardless, the bodies of the team as well as that of Dr. Maria Crane (whom Houston will be glad to have found), will be returned to Earth to be cremated. All evidence of this expedition as well as that of Dr. Crane will be hereby erased with the mass retrieval of the designated specimen for research. With further testing, we may come to mass produce a new age in surgical anesthetic, pain relief, and sleeping medications. In fact, the doctors on board offered me a diluted sample of the chemical secretion to try as a form of benign headache relief. Works like a charm, save for a little ringing in the ears.

Tinnitus, the doctors said; simple ringing in the ears. Should pass with a bit of sleep.

– Captain Jacob Ripley signing off.

Credit To – Captain Boris Lightning

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