Author: Dan Leicht

Jade slumped into the Captain’s chair as she watched her crew on the navigation hub. Their route beeped on the screen in front of her. The four-person crew were relying on her to swoop in for a rescue if needed.

Jade crunched down on a kale chip as she tried her best not to drift to sleep while watching the monotonous screen.


Jade woke to an alert from the captain. A green dusting of kale coated her chest. She checked the screen and only noticed one dot, not four. Where had the others gone?

She checked her notes to see the alert.

Captain Moore: Swoop! Swoop! Latch onto our location. They’re approaching fast!

Jade swiped the screen away with her hand and brought up the ship’s controls.


Scans picked up a lifeform below the ship.

Was it her captain?

No, but it was a crewmate. The ship’s engineer. Kasey.


Jade sat across from her, waiting to hear what happened to the rest of the crew as Kasey avoided eye-contact and shoved handfuls of kale chips into her mouth. Something felt off about Kasey. She looked… Older?

“Where are the others?” asked Jade.

“The others?” Kasey furrowed her brow. “There are no others.”

“There are no… What do you mean? Where is Captain Moore? What about nutritionist Benny? Our weapons expert Sam?”

“May I ask what your name is?”

“My name? What are you talking about? It’s me Jade. I’m the ship’s navigation officer. Surely you haven’t forgotten about me. You’ve all only been gone for,” she checked her watch, “three hours.”

“Outside the atmosphere is different,” said Kasey. “I remember you now. You said we were down there for three hours?” Jade nodded. “I figured. Thirty years we were down there.”

“Thirty years? You don’t look sixty.”

“Time kept looping. It kept looping and we kept getting trapped. Whenever we entered the cave, pop… We’d appear back where we started. The comms wouldn’t work, not until we broke through the loop and finally entered the cave. Benny had to,” she paused for a moment as if to catch her breath, “Benny had to die. After making it to the cave over and over, we finally deciphered the hieroglyphs outside and learned of the ritual. What we didn’t know was that he’d come back, but not as Benny. He came back a beast.
“We ran as fast as we could. Captain Moore should’ve had you on standby, I’d mentioned it to her so often than she told me to shut up. She sent you a message. Did you get it? Sam fired countless rounds. I looked back for a moment, and he stood his ground. Fighting until the bitter end. I kept running. Eventually, I lost the beast. Then you found me.”

“So, the others didn’t make it?” Jade couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. She also couldn’t believe Kasey made it out alive. “We need to mount a rescue mission.”

“It’s too late for the others.”

“You didn’t see Sam go down, right? He might still be out there.”

“He went down.” Kasey shoved her hand into her pocket and pulled out shell casings.

“What’s this?” asked Jade.

“I collected trinkets from each one.” Kasey pulled out the Captain’s glasses and placed them beside the casings. “What did I get from Benny? Oh, that’s right.” She reached into a pants pocket and pulled out Benny’s lighter.

“What do you have to offer?”

“What’s going on? You’re scaring me.”

“Benny wasn’t the one sacrificed.”

Jade watched in horror as Kasey’s teeth transformed into sharp fangs.