Author : Brian Varcas

OK, time to get going again. I mean, what else is there to do but try to get back to the ship? I can see it only a hundred yards away. It shouldn’t take more than another couple of hours to reach it.

If only we’d known before we landed that this planet had a mischievous side. When we surveyed it from orbit all our instruments showed a breathable atmosphere, no life forms and a gravity of 1.2g’s. After planet fall we headed out on foot to begin our full geological survey of the area.

After about an hour I was feeling surprisingly tired and short of breath. Looking around I could see the other 5 crewmembers also looking laboured. “Time out, I think guys,” I said.Thumbs up all around. We sat down and compared notes.

The desert landscape here was pretty barren; ochre sand and occasional brown rocky outcrops. Our ship, looking like a silver blue dragonfly in the distance, was the only relief from the drab terrain. In the distance there was a range of purple mountains, which hinted at a more varied geology so we decided to head back to the ship and fly there. Our tests in this area had so far revealed nothing of value.

As we talked, I began to feel more and more weary. It was taking a great deal of effort to even sit upright. I could see everyone else was having the same difficulty.

“What the hell is going on? I feel like shit” Svetlana Borowski, our Senior Geologist shouted. “No idea, but I reckon we all feel the same way,” I answered. “Let’s get back to the ship.”

We couldn’t even get to our feet. We barely managed to get to our hands and knees and began crawling towards the ship, about half a mile away. Impossibly, our instruments now showed the gravity at 4.8g’s!

Crawling here feels like trying to swim in a pool of peanut butter! It takes so much effort just dragging myself a couple of inches that I have to rest every few minutes. The sand seems to be changing, becoming viscous and it sticks wherever it touches. It’s beginning to burn my skin and the material of my suit seems to be slowly disintegrating. Three of my crew are still with me, the two others seem to have stopped and are not responding on the com. I know they are probably only 50 yards or so behind me but it might as well be 50 miles. I can’t help them. I can’t even turn to see them.

Night is falling now and it’s getting cold. Only a couple of hundred yards and then I can get off this fucking rock! But I feel so tired now. The ground feels soft and comfortable when I lie still. Maybe I could rest for a bit longer. Maybe I could sleep for just a few minutes…

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