The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 1: Introduction

Chief Warrant Officer Edward Michelsson

February the 27th 1253 CNS

ship_04 blind hercules

Blind Hercules En-Route from Autumn Breeze

My name is Edward Michelsson, Chief Warrant Officer assigned as supporting investigator to the loss—possible scuttling—of the heavy transport Blind Hercules bound for Wolf Tertius from home-port of Autumn Breeze bearing a cargo largely consisting of vacuum-sealed rations, machining parts, and commercial-grade prosthetics.  Of the five-man crew, only a single corpse was discovered, drifting within the armored fuselage of the artillery-class panoply Plume surreptitiously secreted aboard the Hercules for transport with the knowledge of one Gregory Samuels, the corpse discovered within her largely unscarred auspices.  Cause of death was asphyxiation with the consumption of the several days worth of available oxygen.  The remaining crew are missing, presumed dead, their bodies perhaps obliterated in the explosion that was evident in the skies of Lacrimae Dearum on Sunday morning January 7, 1253 CNS.  What is known—in the investigation of the debris, the corpse, and from the Plume’s library, is that the remaining crew failed to compose routine logs—any logs in actuality—of their status and activities altogether as of September 13th, 1252 CNS, and that the only written and video records we have of the incident are recorded on an assembly of official ship’s logs, various and increasingly maddeningly-scripted writings on various scraps of paper, and even scrawlings apparently completed with bloodied fingernails on the internal lining of the cockpit of the Plume. 

samuels post-it 01It’s not always easy to make a clear determination of the chronology of such varied records.  When the midshipman ceased production of routine logs aboard the ship’s systems, he simultaneously seems to have lost track of the date, which he seems to only improvise.

It will similarly be evident the midshipman’s decay of mental state in his presumed long period of isolation aboard the Hercules, and while it’s not evident whether this was merely the natural cause of such a long period of isolation or whether the midshipman had successfully concealed from scrutiny serious mental disease, these remain our only written evidence as to the events that obliterated the Hercules, and as such remain a central focus of the investigation.  The events indicated within may seem fabulous, farcical even, the product of a deranged mind, perhaps the mind of a man that had slain all his own compatriots, but they nevertheless deserve investigation.  If there’s even an iota of truth to the accusations indicated within there’s more than just repeat and further danger to shipping in the sector but a lethal danger the entire scope of human endeavors.  I pray whatever authority makes the ultimate determination on these matters takes this investigation into serious consideration in his deliberations.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 2

Midshipman’s Log Part 92

Gregory Samuels

September 9, 1252 CNS

I can’t reiterate enough how lucky I was to get this job.  I can’t say it enough, and I’m not trying to kiss anyone’s ass.  But these opportunities don’t just swing around once in a lifetime; they don’t swing around at all.  I really need the money, and this job is a fair sight more meaningful than stacking shelves.  My head is clear, head is empty, which is no better or worse than any man could have asked for, circumstances being what they are.  Trying not to think about family.  Of course, they were the whole reason.

So, the monthly record of the mental wherewithal of my crewmates.

addendum_01 whatley history    Lieutenant Whatley, I think, has always thought very highly of himself despite being relegated to the command of military civilians.  He still carries around his sidearm, trying to spin it about like some hinterland sheriff.  I wonder if it even works anymore, how often he drops it.  Maybe he thinks we’ll be intimidated, but it’s not like the four of us have never seen a gun before; hell, we’ve all gone through at least superficial firearms training—on the off chance of hostile boarders.  Goes without saying I wouldn’t weep if he managed to plug himself with his own gun.  Not exactly much of a leader either, squinty eyed little shit with a chip on his shoulder.

Midshipman First Class Donnelly lost a huge quantity of cash to Midshipman Third Class Taticius in a recent illegal but nevertheless public night of gambling, and Donnelly’s been pulling rank on whomever he can ever since.  Under regular circumstances, he’d never see that money again, but it’s not like we’ve got a consumer economy here.  And Taticius isn’t the saving or the investing type, unless booze and whores can be considered a valid investment.  I figure he thinks by bullying the rest of us, we’ll somehow compel Taticius to return the allegedly misbegotten goods.  I don’t think he realizes how little the rest of us care, how used we are to this sort of treatment anyways.  I wouldn’t have joined the army, even as a civilian, if I expected sanity or sensibility.  All it takes is one barracks shit-head with a few bars on his shoulders.  Can’t resist saying I’m glad I’m just a civilian.  The enlisted are doomed.

I don’t see much of Machinist O’Leary, but I can’t say that I’m surprised, virtually sequestered in the ship’s allegedly radiation-proof buttocks.  And I know it’s a lot of work maintaining the propulsion of a ship of this size, and her hours by necessity revolve around the needs of the engine, but I confess that I’ve only seen her in her bunk about once or twice this whole journey.  I mean, she’s the right to liberate one of us from our duties to give her a hand, but she doesn’t.  It’s not like we haven’t been trained in at least routine maintenance and under the direction of a proper engineer.  Anyways, I haven’t even seen her in a whole week, not that I’m entirely disappointed.  She has something of a slanted countenance; it’s hard to explain.  Spent too long staring into pieces parts, I guess.

At last there’s the Boatswain, an old-world effete by the name of Matheson that you’d swear could spin shit into gold, the way he’s always getting on.  I don’t even know why he joined the army, what his plan was.  He seems to treat his duties as some sort of pleasure cruise.  Ship does most of the navigating anyways.  His only responsibility is to ensure the navigational data is correct, not to even tabulate the data himself.  Can you tell that I don’t like him?  He’s always fidgeting about, absentmindedly performing magic tricks with scattered coins.  And his demeanor—gods above—so insincere!  When he tells you to “Have a nice day,” he’s really telling you to get fucked.  I can only hope he effects an early retirement before he gets his head caved in by a more ferocious man than I.

Anyways, as regards current events, there isn’t much to be said.  The cargo is in fine condition, due to arrive on time at Wolf Tertius, after which I can take a few weeks vacation away from all this mess.  I deserve that much, at least.  Anyways, there’s no rot.  No spoilage.  No unexplained bludgeoning, and there’s been no report of theft.  Ship’s huge.  Never know if someone’s made ingress on board.  Even then, it’s not strangers you’ve got to worry about.

Ship’s running fine.  The Blind Hercules has met all her way-points on time; we might even manage the terminus ahead of schedule, not that anyone would care.  The food is awful, but what do you expect without anything resembling a full-time cook?  Most of the loggerheads around here wouldn’t know a good meal from having their shit pushed in, so they don’t make a fuss, and I’m simply too smart to let on.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 3

Midshipman’s Log Part 93

Gregory Samuels

September 11, 1252 CNS

I’ll skip the usual pleasantries.  I’m unhappy, more than a little unhappy, and that’s enough; you’ll find out why very shortly.  We were making for the XV2308B transit buoy when—surprise surprise—something showed up on the sensor suite difficult in appearance and producing—what they said—a regular monotonous series of what sounded like key-strokes.  At the time I was again taking inventory in the seventh starboard storage module when Lieutenant Whatley sounded on the PA firstly that potential salvage had been located and secondly that he intended to alter course to retrieve this for what he termed an “unbelievable salvage bonus.”  Space detritus—salvage bonus.  Man must be out of his mind.  I have this dark impression that Donnelly put him up to this, which was ultimately his decision, and I can’t imagine Matheson, who most assuredly would have been present, would have put up much in the way of protest.  That thing, whatever it is, they placed it in the largely empty starboard storage module number 23.  Things haven’t been the same since.

room_01 container

Anomalous Object’s Container in Cargo Bay 23

Call it the ecstasy of gold, or call it space madness if you want, but our happy little status quo isn’t what it used to be, is gone, and I can’t truly account for it.  Everyone wants their piece of the pie, same regardless of work or station, but this is beyond the pale.  When I was making my rounds, I actually caught O’Leary huddled up against the object’s container, whispering something—I couldn’t tell.  I kept myself quiet, surreptitiously entered, staying to the shadows; now, I can’t be sure, but I think I heard her mumbling a bed-time tune.  When I presented myself, she didn’t seem particularly ashamed, rose slowly from her ankles.  I, pretending to be congenial, asked her where she’s been the last week, whether or not it had been hell back in engineering.  She didn’t make any pretense of answer, but she just slowly walked to the exit and then down the hall.  I haven’t seen her since.

I have to say, the urge to cast this thing out the nearest airlock was overwhelming.  I can’t say why, but I had a loathsome impression of the thing, even within its obfuscating containment.  Taticius, who’d been a little standoffish since the thing arrived, said it sounded like a xylophone.  He didn’t mean that the electromagnetic signals as interpreted through the sensors had the impression of the instrument, but that it produced physical reverberations that seemed like a xylophone.post-it_02 xylophone  I wanted to see for myself, but whatever was in was silent, even though the container wasn’t sound-proof.  A little savagely, I gave the corner of the container a good kick.  Heaven and earth the thing must have weighed as much as a truck.  Lucky I didn’t split my toe in half.  But I didn’t hear anything.

As I was leaving, Matheson passed me in the corridor, walking straight ahead as if nothing had happened, but I didn’t believe him.  He wanted to take a look; just didn’t want to be caught doing it.  I have no doubt he doubled-back after he imagined me far enough away pursuing my duties.

post-it_03 gravityI began to realize that no-one was actually performing their duties—no-one aside from me.  It was only me taking inventory, performing routine maintenance—you get the idea.  I went looking for O’Leary to see if I could glean any more out of her bearing after our last encounter, but I couldn’t find her in the engine room.  Perturbed, I went up to the bridge to see if I might catch her on the PA, but there was no-one there, and the navigational computer seemed completely out of sorts, repeatedly calling for confirmation from the boatswain as to the validity of the updated navigational course.  I did what I could for her, not being a specialist.  Machine deserves a bit of love too.  I couldn’t find anyone, but I had a dark impression that I knew where they were.  I didn’t want to find out, didn’t want to learn.  I returned to my bunk and put the covers over my head pretending that the bogey man wouldn’t find me.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 4

Midshipman’s Log Part 94

Gregory Samuels

September 14, 1252 CNS

I can’t believe this!  I can’t believe this!  I must be out of my head!  I mean!  I mean!  I mean, come on!  How!  What what what?!  Shoot shoot.  I should calm down.  Really must calm down.  For posterity, right?  What else am I to do?  Command isn’t going to believe this.  I can’t rightly blame them.  But it’s real!  It happened!  And you’re mad if you take all this exclamation for child-like excitement.  Of all the places one could be in the universe, I would choose any—just not here.

I’ll start from the beginning.  In my previous log entry, I discussed the acquisition of an anomalous object and the subsequent bizarre behavior of my fellow crew members.  Well, I don’t know how to say it; they’re gone—all of them; they’re gone—flung to the far winds.  It began as if a maintenance accident.  I couldn’t get hold of Donnelly or O’Leary.  I got on the PA and called for the lieutenant, who replied as if I’d caught him masturbating, with the vile vitriol of which only the commissioned are capable.  But mid-sentence, without a word, a sound, or even a whisper, he was gone, his live communicator continuing to buzz with the noise of the ambient electronics.  Taticius was the last I heard alive.  And yes, I think they’re all dead.  I tried to get him up, tried to warn him—get to the armory—and get himself ready.  I thought we were being boarded.  He dropped the communicator which scratched and reverberated upon the ground from its fusilli cord, and I heard it.  But I couldn’t make sense.  I regret not coming immediately to his aid, but I had to put out a distress signal, lock out the command module, and then I went straight for the armory, using the lieutenant’s key I’d several weeks ago stole from his private compartment.  A short-barreled rifle and a pistol, and I was out like a flash—playing soldier—but Taticius was already gone.  No blood, no body, no hint he’d ever been there but for the dust and detritus of his ignored obligations.

I was in a daze.  I thought I’d give way and faint.  My knees buckled, but it was not out of fear; I just felt so dizzy.  I moved from station to station looking for any hint of my frankly incompetent comrades, but I found nothing.  The engineering bay was humming with the gentle ruminations of the octopartite engines.  The storage modules were undisturbed all but for one.  Starboard module 23, the object’s container had been violated; whatever within was no longer there, but even though I’m not a proper detective, I could swear it was forced from within.  It was difficult not to cry.

I checked on Sally.

I returned to my living quarters and locked the door behind me.  As I write this, I’ve got my rifle cradled between my legs and my eyes fixated upon the door.  If this is my last communication, I promise you that I wasn’t taken alive.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 5

Midshipman’s Log Part 95

Gregory Samuels

September 20, 1252 CNS

I can’t really deny it.  It’s getting to me.  It’s been a some time since everything’s gone quiet.  I spent the first few days stalking through the corridors painstakingly in search of unwanted passengers and some sign or signal of the whereabouts or final destination of my comrades, but it’s all just empty; there’s nothing there, not the rattling call of a hoarse throat down a long steel corridor or the paddling reverberation of fleeing or pursuing footfalls, but it’s just empty, as vacuous as the murderer that surrounds these stalwart six walls.

I spent the first day huddled up within the crew quarters; I don’t think I even blinked the whole time, fixated upon the solid-steel door encapsulated within the auspices of Hercules’s ponderous bulkheads.  But eventually I grew hungry, hungry enough to risk murder—or worse things only imagined.  The mess was immaculate.  Not a scratch and certainly not a boom interrupted the seemingly slow preparation of my freeze-dried rations. 
post-it_05 food
Biscuits and gravy—filthy stuff—I don’t know what alligator-besotted backwater concocted it, but hunger, you see, is the finest sauce, even if it is hard to eat with your left hand while your itchy trigger-finger violates the most sacred tenets of firearm discipline.

I couldn’t get over how quiet it was, how still the shadows, how crisp the recycled air.  I didn’t know what to do.  As carefully as I could, I went from storage module to storage module, seeking perhaps something that I’d missed, or perhaps it was merely loneliness; just to observe my duties might make me feel whole again.

I visited Sally again.  Didn’t have the heart to tell her what plagued me, though I’m sure she had an inkling.

I worry I’ll lose track of the days.

I returned to the command module.  We’re on course.  The navigational intelligence demanded the presence of boatswain.  I didn’t know what to say, tried to explain that he was wounded or hurt, and she called my bluff immediately, indicating that the roster still denoted him healthy and hale and presumably on-duty.  I couldn’t help being curious.  I brought up the roster window to see what the administering intelligence thought of our status.  post-it_04 rosterFour green lights accompanied the names of my comrades.  A yellow light presaged my own.  I didn’t know what to say.

I’ve returned to the crew quarters to make this report.  I sealed the bulkhead behind me.  I can’t be sure, but I think someone’s been here, rearranged a few personal items—but none my own, so I can’t be sure.  The sheets are unblemished.  I’m pretty sure I sealed the armory doors behind me.  I’m not sure if it’s just the groaning of an old ship, but I think I hear voices, but I can’t tell what they’re saying; I can’t even tell if they’re addressing me.

It’s hard to sit upright; I’ve a splitting headache—feel like I’m going to fall face-forward onto the metal panels adorning with adornment the subservient floor.  Feel sick.  Fucking biscuits and gravy.  Fucking freeze-dried rubbish.

I’ll sign in again soon.  I’ll get her there safely.  And if I can’t, I promise I won’t let them get her.

See You Space Cowboy

All twenty-eight chapters of the Gregory Samuels series have been released.  There’s no more, but there will be sequels in the future.  For the time being, there will be about a week and a half of unreleased though essential content–that I just never got around to posting–to be followed with a forty-four part series about pirates and slavery–and what you might call “romance”–and spectacle violence.  It’s the incipient story of the chevalier Arius and how his life got “flipped turned upside down.”  Gritty fantasy with a dash of dark humor.  After writing mechanized violence for nearly two years, trying to make it sound visceral, it was refreshing to just be able to plug the other guy with a bit of pointed stick with the effusions of gore necessarily entailed.  Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for the moment.  Wish I had more to tell.

The Sagas of the Iron Hearts: Fragments, The Fall

The following is the first of five short stories from my recently published book, The Sagas of the Iron Hearts: Fragments, which can be found here and the Kindle Edition here.  If you enjoyed it, you can peruse at your will the remaining four for the low low price of $5.99 paperback  and $0.99 kindle edition.  Every sale is a step towards paying my utilities and a step away from being evicted from my meager lodgings by my girlfriend, whose mother warned her about me.

Anyways: The Fall

1.

sagas_front_v2Lost amidst the infinite specks of starry sky there hurtled through the void an errant youth huddled within the still belly of a metal monolith.  The dusky ovaloid capsule—engraved with the ancient production markings of an age beyond memory, scored and seared with centuries of use—was a thing monstrous, several stories in length.  The wild-eyed youth of fluttering heart, the traveler comfortably enshrouded within the armored auspices of the soaring bulwark, could strangely think only of his own inconsequence—how small he was against the titanic backdrop of stars and galaxies that would dwarf him just as easily as the events at hand—and his own part in them.  Dread ruminations of catastrophic failure, that there is no undying glory, crept, slithering like a poisonous thing, unbidden through the hollows of his gray matter, as, with some disbelief, he remembered the sparkling image of the tiny speck he observed from the brazen bridge of the vanguard cruiser, that this tiny point in the umbra sky constituted itself a whole world with its own millions of souls—his destination. Read More …

The Fall

The following is the first of five short stories from my recently published book, The Sagas of the Iron Hearts: Fragments, which can be found here.  If you enjoyed it, you can peruse at your will the remaining four for the low low price of $4.99 paperback  and $0.99 kindle edition.  Every sale is a step towards paying my utilities and a step away from being evicted from my meager lodgings by my girlfriend, whose mother warned her about me.

Anyways: The Fall

newtest_031.

Lost amidst the infinite specks of starry sky there hurtled through the void an errant youth huddled within the still belly of a metal monolith.  The dusky ovaloid capsule—engraved with the ancient production markings of an age beyond memory, scored and seared with centuries of use—was a thing monstrous, several stories in length.  The wild-eyed youth of fluttering heart, the traveler comfortably enshrouded within the armored auspices of the soaring bulwark, could strangely think only of his own inconsequence—how small he was against the titanic backdrop of stars and galaxies that would dwarf him just as easily as the events at hand—and his own part in them.  Dread ruminations of catastrophic failure, that there is no undying glory, crept, slithering like a poisonous thing, unbidden through the hollows of his gray matter, as, with some disbelief, he remembered the sparkling image of the tiny speck he observed from the brazen bridge of the vanguard cruiser, that this tiny point in the umbra sky constituted itself a whole world with its own millions of souls—his destination. Read More …