Author: Tripp Watson

Lucy sat on her bedside and stared at the tiny gap between two of the many grey, plastic panels that composed her bedroom wall. The entirety of Station Bravo’s interior was built of these plastic panels, but only these two with the tiny gap between held Lucy’s gaze. Because this is where it came, she thought. Maybe it only came because this is where she had first left food out, but nonetheless, this is where it came. She slid a small screwdriver into the gap and snapped open one of the panels. She produced a morsel of dried meat from her pocket and pushed it onto the sharp line made between the fluorescent light and the inky darkness beyond the wall.

She knew she couldn’t continue this for much longer. Although she only took a small amount from each crew members’ rations per day—barely an ounce—it was beginning to be evident. Where once the commander’s jumpsuit clung to his arms in a tailored, if not flattering manner, it now began to sag and seem ill-fitted. The chief engineer was hollowing in the cheeks, and even some of the med-staff looked fatigued. The entire crew ate their allotted calories and worked out in the gravity pod as instructed, but the feeling of unease was spreading.

Someone would die eventually; Lucy assumed that. Maybe a few before anyone figured her out, but she didn’t find that important. This was important. This small square of darkness in front of her. This was why mankind pushed the boundaries of exploration.

From somewhere behind the wall she heard a small bump and then a slow, dragging rustle. She watched as a small coil of wire was pushed to the side and a hand—no bigger than a doll’s—emerged from the darkness. It’s skin was black and wet with a viscous film that reflected the fluorescent light. The hand had sharp claws the color of flesh on three of its fingers. The fourth, something like a thumb, Lucy had once noted, was really more of a black talon like that on a bird of prey. It picked up the morsel of food slowly and purposefully but with no sign of timidity. Then, with Lucy peering from her bedside, the otherworldly doll’s hand retracted into the darkness.

The years of preparation and briefing didn’t matter. What ground control would say if they found out was of no consequence; for Lucy, her mission was clear.