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 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  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 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 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 28

Midshipman’s Log Part 118

Gregory Samuels

January 9, 1253 CNS

See you space cowboy.

I don’t think I’m going to be rescued.  It’s been nearly two days.  I’ve only got another day of air left.  I’m adrift.  Got Plume with me; I’m only an ad-hoc pilot—would never call myself an Eisenherz.  I…  I don’t have any regrets.  I was the man for the job.

When I was cast clear, and the hull buckled apart, I saw it, this dusky, violet biomass; it didn’t have a well-defined shape, and in the rolling secondary explosions it burst into clumps of tiny bubbles that dissolved in the vacuum in every direction.  It must have been massive, running nearly the length of the Blind Hercules.  When I saw it, my eyes went black for a moment, like my vision was being pulled into dreams, but when I had a moment to blink I could see again.  I think I know what happened to the crew, what happened to the soldiers.

Back from my sabotage of my own vessel, I was huffing and puffing when I finally arrived at Sally.  Tore off the environment suit wet with my own greasy perspirations.  Keyed up the massive container, large enough to house a titan, and there she was, my lovely Sally, such a balm on sore eyes.  Plume, an artillery-class panoply, she was the whole reason I came along for this trip, a facetious maintenance drone when in reality I was simply her keeper, to prevent the other crew from getting ideas.  She’s very precious.  A ten inch gun, a big gun, dangerous in these close quarters.  I wasn’t a pilot, but I nevertheless had a rudimentary interface.  I’d be like a stumbling drunk, but I could control one system at a time to adequacy.  Turns out that was all it took.

They came out from every corridor and every aperture.  I was trundling my way to the engine room.  Multiples of everyone, the lieutenant, O’Leary, that worthless navigator, the soldiers, even those I haven’t managed to list; they arrived in legion, bearing—it seemed—all the missing firearms stolen from the armory, taking pot-shots at my canopy with only amateur proficiency.  Shear shield couldn’t operate in these close quarters, but even so, traditional small arms didn’t have a chance.  Were distracting more than anything else.  I tried to ignore them, focusing my ten inch gun on the concentrated bulkheads that still barred my path, as my overly sufficient form just barely fit within the narrow walls, shooting legion of sparks as I stumbled on ahead, grinding my shoulders against the interior hull.  I trampled over them like a half-drunk infant across forgotten building blocks.  I feel numb just thinking about it.  The ship give way freely under my armaments.  It wasn’t long before the strange blue glow of the engine room presented itself, and I paused shortly to catch my breath.  Couldn’t help feeling like it was my own legs, my own tired knees.

Engine took more than a single shell.  I was halfway through an en-bloc before the room grew blinding white and the floors and gantries collapsed all around me, casting me clear of the explosion.  Whirling and tumbling through the floorless void, I caught the occasional final glimpse of the Blind Hercules as she utterly disintegrated into floating scrap.  And that’s all she said.

I’ve unplugged myself from Plume; don’t want to give her panic as I enter my final moments.  I’ve another day to come to terms.  I’ve…  lost the hope of rescue.  The nearest vessel is probably weeks away.  But I’ll shed no tears.  If it were anyone else, it wouldn’t have gone off well.  My sacrifice will serve the continued prosperity of many.  You don’t understand what that means to me.  I’d never done anything right before, no legacy to leave behind to hint of what I might have done for mankind.  But I’ve got this now.  Certainly, no-one will remember my name, but I will have left my mark.

Good bye.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 27

Midshipman’s Log Part 117

Gregory Samuels

January 7, 1253 CNS

I’m going to make this short.  There’s not much to say.  I feel bad for her, but I can’t let the Blind Hercules make planetfall, can’t even let her debris burn up in terrestrial orbit.  This endangers myself, but it also endangers Sally, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it at this point, and she’d probably agree.

The danger posed is simply worth more than our lives.

I know what I have to do.

In all odds, if I get this right, this will be my final log.

Are you hoping for final words, last testaments, moments of Insight?  Well, if you’ve managed at least of few of these records, I don’t think there’s much more I can tell you.  I was dead the moment I stepped on board—with these idiots.  I could turn at length about the cosmic stupidity that rendered us low and robbed me of my life, but I’m not sure I see the point in it anymore.  I’m not special.  No one human is special, certainly not too special.  It’s sacrifice.

I suppose I wish my life had been more meaningful, that I’d had better friends, known more women, drank somewhat less.

In three days, I will be dead, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  And no-one will know why.  No-one will believe me.  All I can hope for is the glint in the glance of a flashing-eyed goddess as I march to inevitability.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 26

Midshipman’s Log Part 116

Gregory Samuels

January 6, 1253 CNS

I think I’m going to be cool for a while, no sounds of scraping heels with the occasional plosive of jelly-like limbs reverberating at a bounce of the hollow steel walls.  I’ve gotten good at this.  It’s the sight of the gallows they say, that marvelous tension right before the rope snaps.  That’s what I’ve got; that’s what protects me, if not a more sly influence at which I can only conjecture.  Gotta say, I’m impressed with the quality of my diction lately; I feel alive with the gallop of my ventricles charging in my heart.

Anyways, where was I?  Something about a fantastical train ride and a lovely gun-fight that left scores helpless and broken on the floor?  I can only imagine what happens to them when I’m gone.  Anyways, it was a brisk walk to the assault ship, fine looking vessel.  Couldn’t have been more than twenty feet long, maybe twelve feet across, equipped for both void and atmospheric combat.  Made her rather heavier than she should have been, I’m afraid.  Missile pods, rotary railgun and even a point-defense system.

But this was going to be difficult, because not only was I not much of a pilot—I mean I’ve only ever driven shuttles, and those can hardly be called vessels in any right—but the door was locked.  Was really hoping the crew section of the gunship was separated from the passengers’ by a vacuum sealed door.  Standard in some militaries.  I had no idea where these guys even came from, and I had begun to quiz what they were really after.  Was it Sally?

I put the business end up my firearm up against the lock of the door and prayed for the realization of my dreams.  Fucking over penetrated through to the other side of the ship.  Fine fine, alright, but as I hauled the door away and a got glimpse inside I realized it was a fine thing I procured an atmospheric suit.  No door separating the crew cabin.  Fuck it, right?  Shoved the breather back in my mouth and strapped myself in.  Then I got out and put a timer on the bay doors to open and again secured myself inside.  Didn’t want to get sucked out into the void.  Did I mention I’d never piloted a proper ship before, much less a military gunship?

Bay door groaned like an experienced whore as the void began to whip the atmosphere about my limbs and I began to swear the gunship was nearly dragged about on her skirts.  Boy were her controls sensitive, an understatement; I almost collided with the roof just trying to get her off forward, as I slowly realized the void was all around me, and there weren’t a whole lot of round corners on the controls.  Pretty thrilling, she leaped up like frogs in a dynamite pond with my barest pressure of the throttle.  I was dizzy, and it wasn’t because I couldn’t stay upright, whatever that meant anymore.  Was slapping the different dials for a minute—they’d been labeled in a script I didn’t understand—to get the guns to come alive.  Accidentally activated the targeting system, actually helped me about quite a bit.  Green reticules indicated the escape pods.  Not supposed to shoot them in combat—good etiquette and all that.  Not me.  I poured fire gleefully from my combined armaments with terrible accuracy and terrible effect.  Multiple hull-breaches along both port and starboard, but there wasn’t much left of the escape vessels burning from their innumerable tiny apertures.  All that was left was to land and to scuttle this little vessel.  Luckily, so incompetent a pilot was I that couldn’t manage to figure out how to deploy the landing skirts, and knocking upon the floor I just sort of skidded and careened down the bay until I collided with the far wall.  Almost as if the punch line of a joke, the bay doors calmly closed behind me.  Good thing too; suit was ruptured in several locations during the crash—a little dazed too.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 25

Midshipman’s Log Part 115

Gregory Samuels

January 5, 1253 CNS

I can barely feel my hands.  I might as well not be there—numb in all my extremities.  Weird, not at all like anything arctic or the painkillers in a doctor’s needle; hard to describe.

post-it_23 migrainesThings are proceeding now shortly to the only conclusion possible, god as my witness.  I can see spots in front of my eyes, searing orbs and heavenly snakes wiggling in struggle to the center of my vision.  Can’t even read properly; there’s a dot at the center of my gaze; can’t see the letter I’m supposed to be looking at.  Have to type peripherally; don’t tell my mother.  Can’t stop giggling, giggling like a school-girl, like my belly is filled with butterflies.  I did it.  Those things are going absolutely nowhere.  Where you going?  Nowhere.

So where should I start?  It’s a long story, not sure I can render it within a single frame, fearing as I am naturally this alien vengeance.  I’ll make a good go of it, and if I have to relay the rest later, I’ll be good enough to do the same, presuming I still breathe.  Went down to see Sally, plugged in, told her all that transpired.  She strangely believed me without argument.  It was all her idea.  From her chamber I retrieved something she’d squirreled away in case the lieutenant ever got too lippy or the crew got too curious about her container.  Command gave me authorization to liquidate as much of the crew as necessary to secure her secrecy and protection.  But I’m not a soldier, and neither am I an assassin; so they gave me something nice, a weapon of utter last resort—a fragmentation railgun, fit for human hands.  It’s sort of like a shotgun, but there’s not much personal armor in the known galaxy that could stand against it.  I’d reckon with a few blasts she could knock through bulkhead doors.  Pretty vicious device.

I had to get to the assault ship, the fortunate gift of the murdered soldiers, but she was on the other side of the ship and there was only a single railcar still running, and we’d already seen how well its companion stood up against these assailants.  But it would take more than an hour to walk to any of the aft landing bays, and I didn’t fancy my chances with limited ammunition against a world of dangers.  Had to give it a try.  Secured an atmospheric suit.  Wouldn’t hold up against penetrations or lacerations, but would give me a fighting chance if the windows buckled into the unforgiving void.

Time of my fucking life.  True enough, they were there, glued to the transparent exteriors of the railcar with those dark, dead eyes pounding on the glass with the force of a gorilla—altogether in unison.  I remembered how badly the soldiers had died, and so I tried to measure my breath and keep my cool, but in reality I was just too excited.  Right as they were about to smash through, I shouldered my gun and put a shell through them that lanced them like a transverse cone, lacerating cruelly elbow from shoulder and ankle from knee—caps —revealing no slow fluids of human persuasion but something altogether more like ashen ballistic gel.  I confess, my fear had become curiousity and enthusiasm.  Rest of the ride, a good five minutes, was filled with the raucous scream and recoil of my little lady, as we tore what can only be called a bloodless swath through their mindless host.  When the train landed, I debarked feeling like a badass, a cacophony of bodies littering the train floors behind me.

Fuck.  More later.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 24

Midshipman’s Log Part 114

Gregory Samuels

January 4, 1253 CNS

I used to be able to just barely get by, inching my way along the very edge of the corridor wall—my heart pounding aloud in my chest—without them noticing me; for some reason they can’t or could only infrequently, but that’s all changed now.  They’re swarming down there, more than just the ten that were robbed of their human existence, multiples and multiples, and when it comes down to it, I can only wonder at whatever happened at cargo bay 17 that went suddenly completely absent of all its perishable contents, enough food for an entire colony outpost.

I saw it—I saw it—when the captain drove his rounds through the jelly-like skulls of his assailants.  There was no fracturing of bone, not the usual resistance of hard human fibers; they weren’t human at all, haven’t been in some time, but fuck me if I could tell you why.  I can’t say for certain if it’s a creature or a bizarre pathogen, but the last thing I’d want is for it to land on a colony world—or any world for that matter; they’d never be prepared.  Even if they succeeded, they’d never be rid of the scourge altogether.  I’m the only one in a position to do anything.

There’s the soldiers’ assault ship and the various life capsules nestled within the Hercules.  Can’t risk it getting out.

Managed to make my way back to the command module.  Fucking navigator at the controls, lieutenant thumbing the hammer of his pistol.  They’re learning.  I skulked away in ignominy.

I’m sure I’m insane, but I know I’m not seeing things, not when it matters.  You might ask me how I know, but a keen eye can tell.  It’s like the distinction between the living world the snoring second.  With discipline, you know you’re dreaming.  I might see a vision in the corner of my periphery; I might see the final grimace of Taticius’s face hovering over my screwed up countenance as I try to steal a few hours beloved rest; I might hear the familiar scraping of an unwanted voice percolating through my tired mind, and these things terrify me, but I know deep down that if I just turn away and whisper the Ode to Joy that they’ll pass with time.  There are no men of wax in my dreams.

It’s all my responsibility now.  I must make escape impossible.  I must cease our vessel’s long meandering—permanently, beyond any possibility of repair.  It’s the lunatics against the obscure madness of the universe.  I’ll do my best.

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 23

Midshipman’s Log Part 113

Gregory Samuels

January 2, 1253 CNS

I apologize.  It’s just very hard to stay free of them now—those things.  Much more aggressive, much more coordinated.  I have to be really careful.  Just glad I saved a few smokes.

So I left off?  I think I had just managed to get my torso past the doorway when I heard the bloodbath around the corner come to what I can only imagine was a vicious and abrupt end.  I don’t think the soldiers made it.  The distinct scraping of a dragged boot-heel was evident; the bodies were being carried off.  I had to be quick.  I was squirming inside, was going to seal the door behind me for as long as I needed.  I was prepared to drink toilet water for a week if I had to, but someone laid his hand about my ankle, and as my terrified expression whirled about to meet the dull dead eyes of the respirator mask, I didn’t know in what manner to be horrified, until I caught glimpse of the twin bars denoting the bearing of a captain.  Better to get shot than to get carried away, but despite all my months of fear and loneliness, I still wanted to live.

He didn’t say anything.  He was done with me.  He was sick of my shit.  I never asked for this.  He didn’t know how, but he was sure I had some hand in the loss of his men, that I was some sort of cosmic monster merely fashioned like a man.  I think in a way that he was right, but he had just mistaken the subject.  He caught the glint of my whirling sclera as I caught sight of the sad predicament of his final charge helpless against the innumerable hands that rose to clasp his heels from between the metal grating of the corridor floor.  Some of them wore gloves.  I don’t know where they came from; they were suddenly so fast, and he collapsed, it seemed, from their touch, loudly respirating as if gurgling blood.  Captain turned about, clasped the lad firmly about the hand and tried to raise him upright, but it wasn’t to be.  With miraculous reflexes the captain suddenly whirled about to his nine and planted the heavy round from his military pistol in the splattering brain-case of charging O’Leary, risen again from god-knows-where.  We were surrounded, and the captain put up a magnificent show, stopping all his assailants dead in their tracks without so much as a cry or a whimper.  I confess I had no reason to like the man, but I respected his prowess.  But I wasn’t going to die with him, and in all the confusion I dragged myself away to the toilets and sealed the door, whimpering with every last round distributed marvelously until his gun finally went silent, and screaming he was carried off out of ear-shot.  I was alone again.  I didn’t know what to do.  I was terrified to open the door.