Author: A.J. Glen
How long had they been here? There was no way to tell. After the ship, their suits and all their equipment had dissolved away, it became impossible to know what Standard Time it was. Attempts to mark the passage of time using their environment were fruitless – the native rock was composed of an ultra-hard diamond-like material, and the strange foliage that grew out the cracks was equally impossible to break or manipulate with human hands. They resorted to scratching tallies into their skin with their nails, until they realised that the skin would unnaturally and perfectly heal – presumably supported by the same mysterious force that removed their need to eat or drink.
At first their minds could take it. Unburdened with the immediate material concerns of survival, they wandered naked and free over the uniform, universally temperate landscape. Days passed with long, often playful conversations and socialising as they waited in comfort for their eventual rescue.
The Chaplain cheerfully announced he intended to use the situation as an opportunity for deep spiritual meditation. He began his meditation and we discovered that he had become impossible to wake. On discovering this, the Psychologist postulated that his mind was now irretrievably lost without the context of bodily needs anchoring him to reality. In a way, he had escaped. We wish he had taught us how to meditate first.
Time passed, or we presumed it did. The unchanging environment, our unchanging bodies, unable to alter ourselves or our surroundings. We had nothing more to say, or do with each other. Existence no longer rushed forwards to meet reality as comparisons, desires, fears, jealousies, impressions and perceptions became muted.
A discovery was made. A sharp shard of rock was found which had somehow come loose from the landscape. An almost forgotten ‘feeling’ was experienced, that of Hope. Perhaps this could be used to cut the foliage, and make a small start on some kind of civilization. Hope turned to another half-remembered feeling, Disappointment, as it was realised that the shard was not sharp enough to cut the plants. However, it could be used to cut the body deep enough to do serious damage before the healing energy began to work. Several of the crew used the shard to kill themselves in various ways before it was realised that they would wake some time later, completely healed. The trauma of this experience had an interesting effect. When they woke, they screamed at us, saying things like:
‘Why am I still here!’ and,
‘I just want to be human again, to be me!’
But we know better. Being reminded of our situation only causes us pain. Pain brings us back into time, back into existence, back into our nightmare. So when they awoke, those who killed themselves were held down and restrained. After what must have been many years of restraint, they merged with us. Now, no one uses the shard because it is better to be together. It is better to fly as one towards the moment when the unnatural sun above us eventually goes supernova, destroys this cursed planet and ends this terrible consciousness.