As promised, here is the second spooky October story. Please enjoy and have a safe Halloween!
Ye Who Enter Here
Warning: Graphic Violence (PG-13 Rated)
By Leandra Ranger
“That should be it, boy,” said Dr. Isidora Everlet as she heaved her third bag onto her small Spacefarer. Newton, her Pomeranian lapdog, yipped excitedly. He, of course, had no clue why they were leaving, hence the joy.
Closing the hatch, Isidora walked through the living space of the Marigold, mentally doing a final check. Clothing, check. Rations, check. Engines functioning, check (at least according to the dials). She finally ended at the greenhouse bay, with it’s wide, lovely, functionally useless windows partly obscured with plant stalks and branches. Golden rice, growing well. Limes, too. And finally, the most important check. No stowaways, either according to visual inspection or the ship’s sensors.
Now confident in her preparation, Isidora returned to the bridge, Newton at her heels. Sitting at the sole console, she began the lengthy process of closing and sealing the doors. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, she though with less dread than she had anticipated. Apparently, she had mostly made peace with her fate.
“Marigold to Control 5,” she said as she pushed her speaker button, “Ready for departure when convenient.”
“Rodger, Marigold. Bay doors opening,” replied a professional voice.
“Thank you, Control 5. Please remember to allow the biohazard team to clear the bay before reopening it.” If Isidora’s voice quaked slightly as she gave her (possibly) last statement on Earth, the professional voice did not call her on it.
“Rodger that, Dr. Everlet.”
And she left.
~ ~ ~
Two days later, the Marigold reached her orbit around the moon. Every month, she would dock in a quarantined bay in the Lunar Space Station to refuel and resupply. Other than that, Dr. Everlet was to be a hermit.
This arrival did not change the doctor’s routine in any way. To the contrary, she was in her newly-set-up lab when the ship’s slight shuddering informed her that the autopilot was locking them into orbit. It didn’t even interrupt her conference call.
“Maybe the virus is attacking thrombin?” queried her colleague.
“Could be,” replied Dr. Everlet with a shrug, “I’ll take a sample of my blood and check it for irregularities.”
“Wish I could help with that,” replied her colleague.
“Yeah, me too,” replied Isidora half-heartedly. She thought she heard something get knocked over. What was Newton getting himself into? Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by a cough over the line, causing her to turn back in concern.
“I don’t have it, Iz!” her partner replied, noticing her worried face. “I was tested, remember? My allergies are just acting up. I’ve got to go; I’ve got another meeting.”
“Oh, have fun at the meeting,” Isidora awkwardly laughed off her paranoid concern. “I’ll email you the results from my blood tests as soon as I finish them.” After a wave, the screen went blank, leaving Isidora feeling more alone than ever. But there was no helping it; she was a carrier. Without further ado, she threw herself back into her work.
~ ~ ~
The first month on the ship came with a cycle of emotions and little scientific progress. Ruburm mors was hard to pin down, even if it co-occupied Dr. Everlet’s body. However, Isidora was all too capable of explaining her emotions, though it helped little. She went from the focused euphoria of a scientist engrossed in discovery when she or a colleague had a new idea to familiar disappointment when it failed to pan out. Those were the days when she felt her loneliness most keenly. She quickly found that a sympathetic voice cannot make up for a consoling pat when ideas fail. Sometimes, she was so desperate that, ensorcelled by the random sounds of her empty ship, she ran scans for human life forms. She never found any but her own, and she was not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved.
Newton, however, proved his worth as man’s best friend. His antics distracted and pleased her. Sometimes, the little rascal even managed to surprise her. One day, he had somehow gotten into her lab (she must have left the door open, she decided), and knocked a beaker on the floor, breaking it. She only found out when she crunched the glass under her booted foot. Luckily, he had apparently avoided the shards, as there was no evidence of injury on him.
One night, a few days before she was due to dock at the space station, Isidora woke up to Newton yapping desperately. She sleepily told him to shut up, rolled over, and tried to go back to sleep. Five minutes later, Newton stopped.
The next morning, she wandered out of her room wrapped in her robe in search of coffee. As she crossed the threshold in to her mess, she stumbled against something soft.
“Newton, sweetheart! I’m sorry,” she cooed, still half awake. Newton didn’t move, so she must not have hurt him. Her coffee machine dinged, and she rushed forward to it. Coffee mug in hand, she turned back to get some cereal, and nearly dropped her drink. Laying on the ground, blood streaking his pale fur and eyes staring blankly, was Newton. She quickly dropped to his side, placing her cup on the ground, and felt for his pulse. Nothing. On closer inspection, she could see torn intestine fragments mingled with his blood on the floor. There was no way he could have survived that, even if the wound was fresh.
Panic sinking into her, she stood and examined the kitchen. No moved knives, no blood anywhere sharp. There wasn’t any blood leading away from Newton either except for her own bloody footprints, stained from hitting his body. Quickly, she turned and darted to the bridge, snagging a knife from the knife block in transit.
“Computer, scan for human life signs,” she said, in a voice much louder than intended.
“One life sign in the bridge.” That’d be hers.
What then?, thought Isidora, still panicking. How could whoever did this leave?
Then she heard coughing.