Author : Juilan Kehaya
It was bright and he couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. William panicked. Every limb tingled like static running through his veins. Something was in his throat. His eyes adjusted, a ceiling, a light. Electric shock forced him to blink. Hadn’t he just been at the beach?
“Hey! You were supposed to be watching him!” A male voice came nearby but dull and muted.
He heard a chair scrape, and two sets of footsteps moved towards him.
“It’s ok Will, relax, you’ll regain mobility soon,” John said standing over him now with Mary.
“I’m sorry Will, I’m sure that gave you a fright,” Mary soothed.
Will tried to relax but adrenaline had his mind racing. Unable to move for what seemed like an eternity, he began to feel his body, smell the sweetness of Mary’s hair, and hear the buzzing of electronics. The whole time she stayed with him looking down into his eyes. Finally, he was able to turn his head to the side; the tube retracted into a hole in the wall gagging him on its way out. Fluid spewed from his throat and he was breathing again.
“There now, it’s almost over.” Mary said, “Let’s get you into a rehab pod”
“Be happy you didn’t have to be awake during entry. The automated landing was quite the thrill ride.” Mary said, her voice resonating through the plastic of the rehab pod.
Minutes later the pod hissed open and Will sat up, able to move with ease.
“Everyone looks good captain,” Mary said matter of fact, and tapped her handheld opening the hatch to command access.
“Alright, everyone will see Mary in one hour, no excuses. You all know your post-landing routines,” captain McGovern ordered.
Will moved through the cramped command access and took a seat at his array, powering it up. The graphic display showed all the signals they were receiving and the monitor came to life running diagnostics. He rubbed his hands down his face and inhaled deeply. Diagnostics complete, his own image appeared on the monitor in the corner.
“Comms up and running captain. ”
“ETA?” the captain replied.
“Two minutes. Think they are all toasting with champagne yet?” Will smiled.
The captain rose and approached the monitor. “Probably, Roberson always sneaks some into Control.”
“Here it comes.”
The monitor displayed an icon then automatically opened up a video window. Will immediately saw Roberson in the background, party hat, bottle in hand. He and the captain exchanged wry looks.
Mission commander Bill Severs came on screen, “Congratulations captain McGovern! We received automation that the Red Lander arrived without a hitch. Second shift will be…”
A scream echoed somewhere in the background. Both men watched as Bill turned his head. Light flashed. It looked as though the room went sideways, then the feed went black.
“Will?” The captain said.
“Sir, I’m not receiving their signal.”
All signals started to drop off the graphic display, some in groups; save one.
“What’s that? Tap into it!” the captain ordered. “LBA? Thought that was abandoned.”
Will leaned in, “It is. They left behind a web cam for the school children.”
Video flicked back on. It was night on Earth, a new moon. Both of them stared in silence. The sun haloed the Earth. They could see a few patches of lights. Then large, bright, orange circles appeared and vanished. Two more minutes it lasted, both men silent. The planet was almost invisible now: a black, silent circle between the moon and the sun. The web camera vainly tried to focus on the now black circle, back and forth.