Picture and poetry by Jeni G.
My 100th exploration mission! Time to celebrate. This planet is a beauty, only lifeforms here are algae. They consume dried lava. A day here lasts 42 earth years, when night comes they die under a wave of quicksilver fog. My task is collecting data for a possible mining project. Actually I am sure this is a great opportunity to take some nice VR-photos. Time to concentrate.
To not lose my orientation on the fractalic surface of Theta, I follow the sun. This snow-covered mountain comes in sight. Devices measure its height to 65.000 feet – what a giant. I catch the moment tons of quicksilver ice are blown away by a carbondioxid windburst. A tiny earthquake follows, scaled 3.2, and winds calm down. The kids will love my pictures…
Concentration of algae in that 2 miles wide river is very high. I don’t fear to sink neither have to use my jumpsuit, I just walk over the water. Slowly I believe we should harvest those plants first, because they contain different metals and proteins, they are everywhere and easy to collect, scans force this impression. Wish I could take off my helmet and smell the air coming from those deep purple valleys. I laugh, I would suffocate and my eyes would implode. Not my favourite death. Pressure on sealevel is actually 65 Bar. In 200 years this may be a nice holiday planet.
At first it was a stunning view over the huge crystal-like quicksilver ocean. Much too late I realized the mess, that the red blinking lamp was showing me. The ongoing winds have brought spores over spores to block ventilation system of the suit. Man, I told boss of machinery to care this problem… Instruments say I have 30 minutes until total decompression. Damn. I just can send an SOS-signal and press thumbs. Gosh, I am thinking of my beautiful wife and my two caring husbands. Will I ever see them again? My skin is itching heavily.
I have switched on some classical earth music called drum’n’bass to calm my nerves and, in worst case, I would have a soft ending. My eyelids felt heavy and colours played a funny game with my visual perception. Then it happens… I don’t know what this Andromedian freighter brought here, but it is last hope. Would those smugglers care? Or just steal my technology? When their anti-gravitational arm is grabbing me, warmth floods my body and I lose consciousness.
I open my eyes in a decompression chamber and take a last view on Centauri Theta. They haven’t killed me. The smugglers say they bring me to spacestation Lambda Criolis hoping for a expense allowance. I believe them, lucky me… Sure United Planets Administration will pay, cause they know the importance of my exploration. My name is Shania McSingh and in the 247 years of my life I never felt this eager to see my beloved again. And to take a bath…
It had been a while since the last raid. Zeds made their way around the farm and not entered it. Doro was refreshing walls in the inner yard with the last bag of concrete she could find. Mary and herself were the last two alive in the countryside, as far as they could see the only living souls within 40 miles of distance. Mary was working on a straw zombie. Her black hair was shining in setting sun.
These postmodern scarecrows were a great idea they had had weeks ago. They produced them in an impressive height of 10 feet. They gave them hats and ripped clothes as well, sometimes they also makeup’d them. Unique sculptures. This worked and seemed to scare the zombies from miles away. They placed them all over their home and wild fields, it was a scary view, like time had frozen in an abstruse moment of destruction.
Somehow time stood for real. Days were endless, scouting for food at daylight and playing cards or tailoring new zombie outfits in the evening. Air was clean, since industry had stopped everywhere. Sometimes fires lit somewhere and threw lights at one part of horizon. But night always came.
Somehow life was easy and well organized at these times. Like it had been since ever. Doro remembered going to cinema and watching new horror movies or driving to a dancing night in village back in the days, but those memories were vanishing like straw zeds being deconstructed regularly by the smart swarms of raven which were visiting day after day.
They could catch some of this birds from time to time. With some salt, pepper and paprika they tasted like Mum’s chicken and always gave a good meal. After dinner Mary often painted pieces of landscapes, expressive views on a postapocalyptic life, they hung all over the farmhouse like a weirdo’s exhibition.
The moments Doro feart most were the ones she felt comfortable with this situation. Was all that luxury of past times unimportant? Was a life full of work, nature and daily routines more worthy than her old job, friends and hobbies? She was sitting in kitchen, painting her face in camouflage, because she planned another outdoor exploration. Maybe they could conquer the old mill 2 miles away… Mary helped and her colored fingers were touching Doro’s face gently. She could see, they both felt happy.
Happiness is a
Lost crow that always returns
To the playing swarm.