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The 2000 Year Old Scream

Remembering Mankind

By R.R. MichaelsPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 6 min read


Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say, yet that was the only way Brad Majors could describe the sensation he felt as he stood, staring at the ruptured spacesuit lying near the crashed spacecraft at the edge of the Sea of Storms on old Earth’s moon. The desiccated face inside of the helmet would have been recognizable, had anyone still been alive to recognize the man in the suit, and the mouth was open, emoting a breathless scream of agony.

Brad knew he was imagining the scream of course. The human had been dead at least 2000 years, a timespan well known to Brad since his planet lay nearly that distance from the Earth.

Brad, of course not his real name, but the name he had given himself, chosen from an Earth entertainment called the Rocky Horror Picture Show, something that had taken his people a number of years to understand as a ‘fiction,” not a ‘reality.’ This was a concept entirely foreign to his species and the discovery had created a great furor on their planet. The entire world was enthralled as the idea was embraced. Brad, in particular, had been hooked and chose the name Brad Majors when he embarked on the journey to investigate why the transmissions from the Earth had stopped so abruptly. Earth was the only other world his species knew of, out of the entire cosmos, which had advanced sufficiently to leave their planet, and when his planet had discovered a theoretical means to defeat the so-called ‘speed of light’ they had begun plans for an expedition to Earth. A year before the star drive was due to be completed, transmissions ceased from Earth.

They didn’t just peter out, they STOPPED! Completely! Abruptly! Video feeds stopped midstream. Audio streams likewise stopped midstream. Even still images were cut off, becoming unreadable.

Brad’s species had been terrified at the implications, and the loss of their entertainments, so redoubled their efforts, finishing the star drive in less than four months. Brad and his mate Janet Weiss had been chosen for the mission and they set out immediately. Even at the unimaginable speeds permitted by the star drive, it still took them 4 years to reach the vicinity of Earth’s solar system and another 6 months to decelerate and normalize their speed with the universal motion of the local space. They had listened the whole way, hoping against hope for the faintest glimmer of a transmission, but they heard or saw nothing.

When they had finally settled into a long-period orbit around the Earth/Moon system, they listened some more. After a month they finally had to admit that the planet was dead. When they saw the spacecraft wreckage on the Moon, they chose to begin their investigation there.

“Move the tractor in, Janet.” Brad said as he carefully pulled the dead astronaut free of the lunar dust which had settled on it and carried him to the side of the wrecked spacecraft, then moved to the open door of the spacecraft. Just inside he could see two other motionless space-suited figures. A chill ran through Brad’s body when the tractor came alongside the capsule, not from fear, but from the immediate drop in his suit’s temperature, the heaters kicking in once he was out of the direct sunlight.

“Have to keep that aspect in mind,” he thought, as he turned the suit thermostat up several degrees. Deep shadows were another thing they were trying to get used to since their planet's two suns and 3 large moons rarely permitted shadows of any kind, much less deep ones like here on this forsaken satellite.

Once the tractor was in place, Brad gently pulled the first dead human out through the wrecked spacecraft’s hatchway and climbing partially in, removed the other dead crewman and placed them reverently in the shadow of their ship. Turning back to the spacecraft Brad reached in and examined the equipment. When he finally located the onboard computer, he read off the electrical specifications to Janet, who adjusted their equipment to matching frequencies. Using a specially designed cable, based on designs they had read about in the seemingly endless human transmissions, Brad plugged in and within minutes they had downloaded the entire local contents of the storage device.

His job, for the moment complete, Brad climbed into the airlock of the tractor and cycled the atmosphere.

“Ahhhh!” he sighed, never having liked the bulky pressure suits. “Anything yet, Janet?” he asked his mate, who was hunched over the computer console working on the human data.

“It’s very degraded!” she answered, “but I think I have part of it, maybe the last 10 minutes, pieced together.”

“I’ll take a refresher while you finish.” He said before stepping into a circular chamber which closed around him as a low humming sound began. When he emerged, fresh, and a health deeply scarlet, Janet beckoned him closer. A paused video feed was on the large screen in front of her.

“Let’s see it!” he said with a note of sadness in his voice.

When the video began it showed three healthy human males, all in their prime, wearing spacesuits without their helmets on.

“I am Captain John Whitmore, and these are Captain Bob Jenkins, and Doctor Jack Thompson. We are, the crew of Artemis 3, and to our knowledge, are the last humans left alive in the entire universe. Approximately 3 hours ago, we received a final transmission from Mission Control warning of a Solar Coronal Mass Ejection of unprecedented scale nearly 100 times the size of the Carrington Event of 1859. Mission Control expected catastrophic damage and warned us to take whatever precautions we could. Fortunately, or maybe not, we were in the shadow of the Earth when the CME struck Earth. We shut everything down except for one camera which captured the following.”

The video showed the dark side of the Earth, abundant lights clearly marking the population centers of western and central Europe and Africa. All looked calm and placid until the Earth was suddenly engulfed in a blue glow. A band of unbearable brightness swept around from the edges to coalesce as a blinding flash when the wave of energy converged on the central Mediterranean. At this point, the video turned a flat white and ended.

Once the video stopped the images of the astronauts resumed.

“Since then, we have received no transmissions of any kind.” Captain Whitmore continued, “Only the fact that we were off-axis from the center of the beacon formed when the CME departed Earth, saved the equipment we had shutdown from being fried. I’m not sure how the footage of the CME itself survived, but it did by some miracle. This,” he began, “is what the earth looks like now.”

The camera view shifted to a window and zoomed in on a clearly stricken earth. There was complete darkness! The only light evident seemed to be of a dull reddish glow.

“Our analysis,” said the man identified as Doctor Thompson, “is that the lights we are seeing are from burning vegetation or other flammable materials or structures. There are no identifiable radio or visual transmissions present. All orbiting satellites seem to have been totally fried and the thermal analysis indicates a surface temperature of over 200 degrees Celsius even at the poles. Cloud cover is, of course growing rapidly and is obscuring most of the surface. Several mega-hurricanes are forming as well. I anticipate wind speeds in excess of 700 miles per hour.”

“There is little hope,” the man identified as Captain Jenkins added, “that anything of mankind will exist within the next 24 hours if it even exists at this point, which is doubtful. Our only solace is that the end came quickly and without any real warning for the average person.”

The video began to flicker.

“This then, as far as we know,” Captain Whitmore continued, “is mankind’s last will and testament.” I hope someone finds this at some point in the future and can understand mankind. We were a violent and often brutal species, but we were also loving and compassionate. We did our best in an imperfect and often hostile world, solar system, and universe. If you find this message, we wish you better luck and Godspeed!”

Our last act,” Jenkins continued, “will be to try to reach the surface of the moon as gently as possible so there is hope this message and the evidence we’ve collected, will survive.

The video ended.

“At least they succeeded in protecting their data!” Janet said as tears filled her multifaceted eyes.

Copyright 2022, R. R. Michaels

Short StorySci Fi

About the Creator

R.R. Michaels

Aspiring author, with a major political thriller in the works with lots of sexual & erotic scenes & themes in support. The work I submit here will largely be ancillary scenes or parallel work which aligns with Vocal's community standards.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (2)

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  • JBaz29 days ago

    First off Brad and Janet two helpless souls caught in something that is out of their control. Great, The story was well written and the tension was there as time was a factor.

  • Flamance @ lit.about a month ago

    Great story I like it

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