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Dark Adaptation

Mars Mission

By Erin BarteskiPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Dark Adaptation
Photo by Planet Volumes on Unsplash

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say…

The darkness is all engulfing, it pulls at you, wanting you to become a part of its vastness. It is illuding and somewhat comforting when you think about it. Drifting alone through space and time. Not having to worry about responsibilities or relationships. A calm sets in and then acceptance takes over. Then, just nothing.

Emmaline awoke abruptly, twisted in her sheets. Panic sets in. The nightmare still playing, as a reel repeatedly in her mind, but it was not a nightmare. Wes was gone. She steadies her labored breathing. Ever since the mission to Mars, bad things have been happening, but nothing like this. She stares vacantly out her cabin room window into the galaxy. His name escapes her lips as a sigh.

Five crew members remain.

Emmaline enters the dining hall of the base. Everyone sits in silence as they sip on their sludge-like coffee. No one wanting to bring up the events of yesterday. She wonders if they are just going to pretend as if it didn’t happen or maybe the shock hasn’t worn off yet. Dane plays with his freeze-dried food packet instead of actually putting it in his mouth. Every line on his face tells a story of all the hardships he has ever experienced in his life. She wants to run her hand along his cheek as he stares down at the table but she doesn’t.

Soleil speaks to the group. The sudden sound startles everyone out of their thoughts and back to reality.

“We are going to go about our normal business today.”

Benton replies, “Who put you in charge?” with a hoarseness to his voice as if he has not slept.

“It feels like we all need someone to step up right now, I know we are all feeling hopeless at the moment but we have a job to do.”

Everyone exchanges looks of surrender.

“She is right.” Ana agrees and goes about clearing cups and cutlery from the table.

Routine tends to set the mind as ease. The familiarity of using your brain and hands repetitively. One day there will be a flourishing colony on the planet because of its underground water source, in the event of Earth’s impending extinction. Although, things can change so quickly out here. Geomagnetic dust storms often kick up with no warning and all you can do is hold on for dear life and assess the damage later. Survival is all that matters and it often grinds research and productivity to a halt. As well as the extreme temperatures, morning temperatures drop below -80F and daytime temperatures can reach up to 70F. Communications with Earth are few and infrequent, to put it mildly. To make matters even worse, black holes have slowly been eating away at the entirety of the galaxy with nothing able to slow them down.

A hand runs along the small of Emmaline’s back. She jumps.

“Oh hi Dane, I didn’t see you come in.” She states.

He laughs incredulously.

Emmaline is in charge of bioengineering for group, helping to improve equipment, devices and computer systems and often loses herself in her own world. Even here on a planet with very little gravity, she held a heaviness within her chest that seemed to keep her grounded in place.

“I just wanted to see how you were holding up.” Dane asks.

He can see her eyes filling up with tears now when she turns to face him.

“It’s not your fault Emma.” He comes closer as an act of comfort.

It was her fault. The mechanical arm holding Wes outside the base had malfunctioned and let him go. The guilt consuming her. She can still see the realization and horror in his eyes.

MysterySci FiShort StoryAdventure

About the Creator

Erin Barteski

Fascination with the unknown

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