Originally published on Jun 23 2008
Download and listen to the Audio version of The Rescue Mission And enjoy the new sound effects.
Special thanks to Kevin Cummings for the mention of Great Hites on his podcast
Prompt From Creative Writing Prompts at http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/ Prompt # 261
Create a Story inspired by a line in the Margaret Atwood Poem. “We are learning to make fire.”
The Rescue Mission
“When you sign up for the rescue corps you do if for a reason. You do it because you, have a drive to help people. You do it because you have a need to see new places. You could even do it because you need that thrill of going into an unknown environment. But most people do it to get away. Or at least that is why I did it. To get away from all but a small group of humans. We have very large ships, large enough to accommodate large portions of a colony if need be, but for most of the time when we get there, there are so few survivors that they can live in their own section of the ship without ever really seeing us, or worse their are no survivors and we pick up a few pieces of their lives to take back to the central planets for them to analyze and figure out what went wrong and if it is safe to send a new group of colonists out there to start over again.”
“Don’t get me wrong I like people. I can’t imagine being without other humans for longer than a couple of months, but the inner planets are so crowded, and the outer ones are so rough, I needed to find an in between, where I could find time to be alone with the modern amenities, and just enough human contact to not get lonely. Besides I like the work I do.”
Joseph shut off the recording he had made almost a year ago when they left dock for the third outer most planet. The settlement had sent a desperate message and being nearly half a light year away from the inner system, the fastest of the three rescue ships, the aptly named Pegasus, had been dispatched. Nine months later they arrived to find only a crater where the colony had been.
At first it had not been clear what had happened, but as the Pegasus hung in low orbit around the planet, it became painfully obvious. The planets slow moving moon was raining down on her mother.
The Pegasus was a fast ship, or at least she was fast in open space. But, with her great size she was not fast in getting out of orbit. When the moon rounded the far side of the planet, they had been in orbit for two days and most of the crew was beginning to come down off the high of getting to a new world and the possibility of a real rescue mission. Before they realized what was happening the collision alarms began to sound as first fist sized, then whole body sized and then mountain sized chunks of the moon slammed into them. The Pegasus’s hull didn’t have a chance, and with the damage the engines were quickly overwhelmed. The captain had even attempted to fire the star drive, which was strickly forbidden in close proximity to a planet because it would suck up a good portion of the atmosphere, in place of the stellar gases it would normally use.
“When you sign up for the rescue corps you…” he paused the recording and deleted the rest of the message, then hit the record button again. “Don’t expect to need to be rescued.” He paused it again and looked out at the ruin that was the ship. “Three days ago, thirty-two of us crash landed on this forsaken planet, nineteen of us are left. Most of the ones that were lost mercifully died almost immediately in the crash. The few that hung on wished they had not, as most of the medical supplies had been lost, scattered uselessly across the jungle a thousand miles away. Pause recording.”
“Did you get the dish aligned?” The com officer was one of the people that Joseph had wished to get away from.
“Yes, sir. just the way you instructed. But without exact coordinates we could be beaming the message off into deep space.”
“I am painfully aware of that. You know you should probably not be using the ships power to record a message, we might need that.” He said closeing the gap between them. “Or at least not when other people are around. I personally don’t care but others might say you are wasting our resources.”
“Right sir,” He said in what he hoped was a respectful manner.
“Look I know you don’t care for me, but we did just crash land on a planet, and well we don’t have a lot of supplies, and power is one of those supplies. I am keeping a message journal too, but I am not doing it when other people are around and can see me using one of our precious supplies.”
“Good.” He walked off and rejoined the main group.
“Thirty three days ago we crash landed. I waited until now because I wanted to give one day for each of the people on the ship. They are not all dead, but I think everyone deserves a little respect. Our supplies are holding out well, but our sister ship the Mercury was on the other side of the system when they got our message, and she is not nearly as fast as the Pegasus. We will have a very long wait here. Two more people have died, one from eating a poisonous fruit, and one from a bite of some cute looking but obviously venomous creature. We are still doing alright, although not living in the comfort we are used to.”
“Day forty-five. This might be my last recording as, yesterday after a particularly large chunk of the moon crashed down on the planet, the remains of the ship was deemed unsafe for living. We have begun the construction of huts. Our supplies are holding out well but we are starting to run low on cooking fuel. We might have to resort to fires from the local flora soon.”
“I am back. And I have managed to get away from the group for a while and sneaked into the ship. It has been seventy-five days since we crash landed here. The com officer says that he picked up a faint message from the mercury telling us to keep our spirits up. I think he is lying but no matter. We are finding food, to mix with our supplies, but most of it has an odd metalic taste. And we have nearly exhausted the cooking fuel.”
“Day One hundred and forty-five. A week ago the hull of the ship collapsed with another quake. The captain believes that the moon is still collapsing and falling on the planet. I was able to pull this out of the wreckage and find a small power supply for it. This will be my last message, as I want the memory of this to last until the Mercury gets here, even if we don’t. Our food supply was lost in the quake and we have resorted to local vegetation and the few animals we know to be edible. We also ran out of cooking fuel, but we are learning to make fire. It is almost like we were the cavemen of Earth those many thousands of years ago.”
The Rescue Mission by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.