Icarus – April 16th, 2099

April 16th, 2099

Kira’s fever spiked over 106 before she died. That was when Anne started screaming. I heard them outside the room, trying to calm her down. When I finally was able to bring myself to open the door, Jennie and Bree were keeping Anne back as Alex and Rich brought the body out.

The eyes were wide open. I’ll never forget what I saw in them, what was happening to them. It was like dropping a dark liquid into a lighter liquid. The darker liquid begins to draw itself out, seeping towards the bottom with long, sinewy tentacles. That was what was happening with Kira’s eyes. This black ichor was seeping its way in from the corners, wriggling like something alive.

They were becoming like those other dead men.

I stood with Jennie while Alex and Bree worked. Anne should have been the one to really do the autopsy but she was in no state of mind for it. Jennie grasped my hand the whole time and I held on firmly, too afraid that if she let go I’d turn away and run back to the room. I’m such a coward. Poor Anne just wants to see her, keeps screaming that she’s still alive.

I hope she’s wrong. I saw Kira’s dead eyes and that blackness wriggling through. It’s the ichor from the brain stem, I’m sure of it, and the thalamus and hypothalamus controls a good deal of the body’s primal functions, but nothing happened. She just died. Yet something is still happening in that body. Alex doesn’t understand it either.

Kira’s brain is still functioning.

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Icarus – April 12th, 2099

April 12th, 2099

I visited Kate today. She couldn’t stay in her Can forever of course, so instead they locked her in her quarters. Evan set it up so she couldn’t unlock or even open the door. One of us has to bring her meals and today was my turn.

We talked and of course she tried to get me to let her out. She tried to explain that this was all some kind of horrid misunderstanding but she knew it was useless. Where could she go if I let her out? After that she just asked about the body.

I told her what I knew, that the tumors were not cancer like Kira initially thought. The theory was that the Chinese ship came too close to Alpha Centauri’s prime star and the radiation made the crew sick. That theory was put to bed with a quick visual scan of the ship. Its ablative armor was intact.

The questions I wanted to ask were hard, but I asked them anyway. Why weren’t we told about the other ships? Why so much mystery and intrigue for a simple science experiment? She didn’t say anything at all, wouldn’t even open her mouth for me. All she did was look away.

As I got up to leave she did ask me one last thing. She asked how Kira was. It was such an unexpected question that I didn’t know what to say at first. I told her the truth. One of the tumors burst on her today and she put herself in quarantine for a few hours. Anne took her vitals and she appeared fine. The tumor was just a sack of blood.

Kate didn’t say anything and I was just about to cycle the door when she called my name. She told me to send a beam to Earth and when I asked what to say, she gave me a code. I didn’t understand it but it sounded military. I’ll go over it with the others later, but I doubt they’ll trust her enough to send it.

Trust is a word we hold like a dagger to each others’ throats.

Icarus – 2099

2099

We are a decade into the future, relatively speaking. Rich was the one who discovered it after doing a calibration on the standard drives. Most of our power banks were low and recharging, so when he went down to look at them he saw the wear on the systems. From there he was able to determine how long we’d been under.

According to our Cans, we’d only been under for 4.85 years, which the Icarus accounted for. Rich and Evan both assume it was the extra burn time Jim had ordered. We’d traveled beyond the speed of light, causing more Dilation than we’d anticipated. The eggheads at NASA are going to have a field day with this.

If we ever get back.

As for Jim, Alex theorized that it was his metabolism that did it. He was healthier than the rest of us and might have burned off the drug faster. Add in Dilation and it paints a grim picture. The others weren’t convinced, Jennie and I included.

They locked Kate in her Can as a precaution. She was the last one in and something happened to Jim’s injection. Kate wouldn’t tell us what year it was and insisted that the laser systems be readied. The other ship was to be eliminated and our mission to proceed as planned. Well, none of us listened to that. Only she has access to the logistical computer and it is that system that controls our injections. She was the last one in and paranoia did the rest, so she was placed in hibernation.

This entry might sound like the writing of a man in full control of himself, but it’s far from the truth. It’s taken me three hours to write these few words, my fingers shaking with every one. I can still hear Kate screaming when they forced her into her Can and I keep remembering blood on Jim’s door.

They’re going to go over there, to the other ship. Alex thinks there might be survivors but I don’t think it’s possible. How did they get here before us when we burned beyond light speed? What happened to them? I can’t help but think about those stories I read, about astronauts going mad on those long voyages. Has that madness begun here? Already?

I look out my false window, tuning the screen to see the Chinese ship in its slow tumble. Something killed that ship. Everyone on board is dead, I know it. I’ve never felt so sure of anything in my life. They are all dead, and if we go over there…

It’s almost funny that I came here to escape my nightmares. Here, the nightmares grow worse and come to life. Maybe I’m still asleep, locked safely in my Can? I don’t remember dreaming in them during training but we were only in them a short time. Is any of this even real?

Or is this the madness I’d feared?

Icarus – Unknown

Unknown

Something has gone horribly wrong.

Jim is dead. Bree hasn’t said a word since it was done. Kira dosed her an hour ago to make her sleep. It was Alex’s suggestion, he said some rest would bring her around.

Kate is trying to get something out of that damned logistical computer so we can figure out what year it is. Once we figure that out, we might find out what went wrong with Jim. It seems that he came out of hibernation early, before the Can was ready to eject the fluid. He drowned. The question is, how long ago did he drown? There was not much left of him in there. The decay was excessive. I’m not going to describe it, but there was blood on the Can’s door. He tried to claw his way out.

It gets worse, much worse. After we found Jim, Kate went to the bridge. The rest of us sat around Medical while Kira and Anne prodded Jim’s remains. When she came back, she ordered us all up to the observation deck. We didn’t know why, but I think we were too shocked to ask questions.

She opened the windows and there we were. Alpha Centauri. Two bright stars staring at us like beacons in the dark. There are planets too, but we can’t tell how many, we are still too far away. And then, as our rotation brought us around, we saw the Chinese ship.

It was right in front of us, slowly spinning end over end like a giant white bullet. We were so close that we could tell there were no lights on it. Kate said there were no energy readings from it at all. It was dead. At first, I assumed that the Icarus’s lasers had hulled it but Kate said it had no damage whatsoever.

So we’re waiting now, waiting to hear what year it is and waiting to hear what we’re going to do about the Chinese ship. I don’t feel any older, don’t look any older either. There’s a pain in my chest when I breathe too deep but other than that, no change.

What had happened while we were asleep and, more importantly, how long were we asleep? The Cans should have brought us out at the correct, subjective time, but what if it didn’t? What if the Time-Vortex did something? What if the extra-long burn shorted something out in our timetables?

We are time travelers without a sense of time and men and women stranded and fearful. One of us is dead and nine more that all want to know why and how. I thought of Sarah and all those words she wanted me to hear. Had I really not lived then?

And will I ever live to find out?