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The Dead Planet

The first story that I wrote at seven years of age

By TANIKA SMITH WHEATLEYPublished 6 months ago 8 min read
My very first story

I was at school and only seven years old when I wrote this story, my first ‘essay’ at school, after having just learned the alphabet and how to read and write. I even did my own artwork cover. It was a red planet in a starry night sky. At that age, I don’t even know how I was aware of space and other planets. Perhaps a teacher spoke of our constellation, I know we had lessons in later classes, but I don’t remember lessons on space at or before seven years of age. Perhaps I’d seen comic books, maybe I heard other people speak of the planets. The teacher was impressed and put my book on show in the main foyer. It went missing while on display, and I don’t remember every word that I wrote at the time, but I remember the story, so I am now attempting to write about The Dead Planet once more…


Something has gone wrong. Our spaceship is not responding to my father’s attempts at driving on course. We are hurtling – rolling and spinning out of control – my brother, mother and I managed to strap ourselves into our seats – she says to be brave, we’re going to be fine, but she can’t hide the panic in her voice – on her face – she also says to close our eyes, but I look out the windows instead – are those flames that I see outside our ship? Are we on fire? But I don’t have the time to ask – we seem to be sliding in blackness – into nothingness - the flames go out - so do our lights, inside and outside, and so do all our controls – silent moments in complete darkness – then a sudden rolling, skidding, and nerve-wrecking jolt, a nerve-wrecking crack, a nerve-wrecking screech, and finally, a nerve-wrecking halt…

I’m not sure how long we sat there in complete darkness – I’m not sure how my family are – I’m not sure how long I sat there in the silence, and I’m too scared to cry, or to ask if my family were alright. I only knew that I survived and was too afraid to ask if anyone else had as well because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to know the answer. I wasn’t hearing any breathing, gasps, or groans…

I was aware that our ship had faltered, and we’d crashed. But I was too young to know where we were, too young to know where we’d crashed, and too young to think for myself – but as I sat in the darkness, I knew that I had to try something, anything. I unclasped my seat harness and reached out beside me. My brother. A hand on his chest revealed that he was breathing. I sighed. I was not alone. I shook him. He gasped. I asked if he was alright. He answered he was. The relief I felt actually hurt my chest as I took a deep breath knowing that at least, I wasn’t alone.

He was a few years older than me and instantly sprang into action, reaching out and inspecting our parents in the darkness. He knew where the emergency torch was, groped around in the darkness until he found it, and it worked. It was good to no longer be in complete darkness. And he managed to revive our parents as well. Finding that we, their children were fine, they both immediately went into inspecting our craft, hoping that communications might work and we can alert the ‘mother ship’ of our accident – but although they worked tirelessly and desperately for what seemed like hours, nothing worked – it seemed as though the craft had died completely – they knew it, they knew that our craft had died before it crashed, they knew that attempts at communication failed before we crashed, but they had to try – and they did – exhausting themselves out – until we, their children, reminded them to rest, reminded them to drink, reminded them that our craft was damaged beyond repair…

Finally, they sat back and leaned against the walls of the craft in despair – finally, they accepted that we were lost – that we had crashed – and no-one knew where we were – that we, did not know where we were…

When suddenly, it seemed as though the sun was rising – was it? Could it be? Had we crashed on our own planet Earth? And soon after, we could see our surroundings – we could see our predicament, all too clearly…

Which could only be described as a desert – a barren, vast, planet of nothingness – dunes, but no mountains – ravines, but no streams – and worse still, no plants…

Our parents sighed – we had supplies, but they won’t last long, nor would our water – mother decided to check the rations, that’s when she gasped as she noticed, that our craft in that area had been ripped open in the crash – our parents were both relieved and devastated at our plight – thankfully, for we were able to breathe the air, but obviously, the ship was beyond repair…

Father would try for hours anyway, to use our communications in an attempt to be rescued – a hopeless attempt to be found - hours turned into days until he realized that our supplies were not going to sustain us for much longer and we had to venture out, to find food…

We put our space suits on, they prevented us from feeling too cold or hot and may even protect us from who knew what, in this unknown place and tentatively, following our father, we stepped outside, and put our feet onto the ground of this, our unknown new world…

Thankfully, the gravity didn’t seem any different to that of our own world, to what we were used to, but dad insisted we keep our helmets on for a little while longer, just in case – he took his gun though, just in case we come across any animals or birds for food, he explained, but I suspected he had it in case we came across any dangerous aliens that thought we, might make a good meal.

“This might be the Sahara,” mother hoped, “or any other desert on Earth…”

For a moment, Dad looked as though he was going to answer to the contrary, then hopelessly looked at us, his children, and decided not to answer at all.

But my brother voiced what we’d both noticed, in the darkness of the night. “Nah, this world has two moons…”

Father looked at my brother. “You think we’re on Mars?”

My brother nodded. “We have days and nights, within 24-25 hours. In our ship, which had a gaping hole, we noticed that we were breathing – not as easily or as freshly as on Earth, but we were breathing, and we can probably take our helmets off and gasp in this foul red dusty atmosphere, but I believe we will manage, get used to it…”

Dad wasn’t so sure, but he didn’t argue – he hoped his son’s faith alone, might be enough for his children to survive here, whatever, and wherever, here was. I realized that he’d lost any hope of us being found and rescued. And that was confirmed soon after, when we literally fell when a dune gave way beneath our feet, and we all slid down and came to a halt, at the edge of an oasis…

With an instrument, our father was about to test the liquid first, but my brother, taking his helmet off, immediately scooped some up into his gloved hand and drank it. Dad was going to growl him, but my brother happily laughed. “Water!”

There were also plants around the water. Dad insisted on at least testing those first, to find that they were edible or lethal. Still, and for the first time since our crash, we all smiled hopefully at each other.

I peered into the water. “There might be some fish in there, too…”

“We must explore some more,” mother was feeling more hopeful too now, “find things to make a shelter…”

“If this is Mars,” our father shook his head, “it would have to be strong…”

We all knew what he meant, to withstand the dust storms…

I decided to remain positive. “People on Earth, lived in the Sahara…”

We all thought of our lack of instruments, to build, but for now, dad was glad that we weren’t giving up hope, that we were all resolved to try to exist in our new environment. He came over to cuddle me. I was still studying the water and his reflection appeared beside mine.

I looked up at him. I was the youngest in the family and did not know as much as they did. “But,” I asked him, “where are the Martians?”

He told me to look back down at the water. “What do you see?”

“Our reflections…”

“Yes,” He cleared his throat, “we’re looking at…the Martians…”



About the Creator


When I was a child, I would wake up in the night because of nightmares. As time went on, I realized that I was looking forward to my dreams. Now, I write them, among other stories as well.....

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  • L.C. Schäfer5 months ago

    That is pretty impressive 😁

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