28 Oct Tinnitus
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"Tinnitus"Written by Captain Boris Lightning
Estimated reading time — 43 minutes
The Journal of Dr. Edwin King
Journal Entry 01
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.
Journal Entry 02
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.
Journal Entry 03
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.
Journal Entry 04
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.
Journal Entry 05
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.
Journal Entry 06
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.
Journal Entry 07
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.
Journal Entry 08
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.
Journal Entry 09
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.
Journal Entry 10
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.
Journal Entry 11
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.
Journal Entry 12
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
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