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Trek to Moonbeam

It had begun with a choice. Binary. Simple. Nothing had been so simple in eons and, for that reason, it was the most difficult choice to make. East or west? That was all.

To the east stretched the stillest darkness he could have imagined, seemingly only touched by listless debris that had wandered through space without cause, only to settle in the dust of desolation. To the west the silver glow of the horizon, the shine of some distant celestial body, was cresting over the planet’s edge. Might it be a shimmer of hope?

The suit would not survive a return journey and, by extension, neither would he. It could harvest his sweat and his urine and turn them to drinkable water. It could regulate the pressure in the helmet and evaporate the liquid oxygen tanks just slowly enough to stretch the air just thin enough to last without asphyxiating him. It could do this only once.

There was no third option except to lay down and die here. He turned to the west.

On and on he marched in days unmarked by the passage of any sun. This rogue planet that followed no such star had no sunrise with which to measure the days, no consistent constellations by which to navigate, and no landmarks by which to mark the way. These were all inconsequential now, though.

With every step he watched the horizon which grew a brighter and more brilliant silver. He knew what it was in his heart. It was the lost mission, the one that was to meet them here in the first place. With them they would bring food, real food, made from the organic matter grown in the soil of the Earth. The oxygen would be so thick he could swim in it. He could remove the suit at long, long last and feel his fingertips upon the face of the world.

He began to sweat. He was walking faster now, desperate for solace as he was. Within the suit he was getting hotter. More sweat ran through the filter. The oxygen was being depleted more quickly. The light burned white in his fragile eyes.

As he neared, the light, like the shimmer of heaven, was so bright he could see nothing else. Not the numb stomp of each boot in the still dust nor the black expanse of the sky above. His suit screamed warnings as his air and water drained further toward depletion. But he was deaf to the beeps and flashes. He was so near now. Only a few steps remained.

The shadow was upon him in a flash, breaking him out of his quasi-sleepwalk. He looked up. It was indeed a ship. It towered high above, flashing beaming lights in every direction but down. The light that had burned into his eyes began slowly to fade, adjusting to the near normal levels of light. He called out for help as his vision came ever so slowly into focus.

He tripped over something as he stumbled. He scrambled to try and get back to his feet. He felt about the thing that had tripped him. It was hefty and large, as he was. It was very much the same, in fact. It was the same.

As his eyes narrowed he found himself gripping another suit. He apologized profusely, mumbled that he was lost and needed help. The body in the suit did not respond. It did not move. It was limp and heavy in his arms. He looked to the visor to find it cracked. The face within he barely recognized as it hung mouth agape, dehydrated, withered, and frozen.

He stood and threw the body in horror. In the shadow of the craft he found he was not alone. Dozens of others lay strewn about the landing site, limp and face down in the dust. They all bore his same insignia. So did the doors of the craft. This was his craft, he realized, the one he had landed in- the one on which he had turned on the blinding distress beacon ages ago.

He tore back the way he had come, burning energy he did not have, heaving oxygen he could not spare. His suit screamed at him to stop, that his status was critical. But he could only run so far before his body’s resources were spent. He spent his last moments of consciousness laying out his body, finger extended to the east, hoping that this did not have to be the end for anyone that might remain.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Adventure, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Sci Fi