Author: Philip G Hostetler

The madness settles on my skin. I scratch and I caress, I hold it close like a needy infant, I cherish it. I need to be naked, so I cast my Atmo-Suit aside. I’m too hot amidst the snow, it melts and steam rises, a furnace burns in my chest, an inferno of forgetfulness. “I” am no longer present, just a frenetic intent. I rise from my tent and eat the sand at the lake’s edge, the lake of mercury that ripples heavily. I’ve never eaten so well. Heavy metals are so nourishing. I wade into that metallic lake and the weight of the mercury pushes against my ribcage, fighting against the expanding and contracting of my lungs, I don’t need to breathe. Diamond rain falls densely from the sky, a black starless sky, I can feel it lovingly sliding against my skin, blessing me with the only red on this…

What was it again, is this a planet?

I look back at my wasted space craft, the letters on the side could’ve formed words if they weren’t moving, transitioning into indecipherable scribbles that may have once held meaning. I close my eyes to try to remember. I won’t open them again, glued shut by melting, irradiated eyelids. I’m holding on to a sliver of my training. I remember now. The Pan-Galactic Colonization Initiative. The one way trip to theoretically habitable planets. “Report back!”, they said. This is my report.

I am home. This is the end.