Extraterrestrial by Madison Williamson

There are so many things that could go wrong in space. The engineers could have forgotten a part to the ship, and it could spontaneously combust. We could ration our food incorrectly and starve. We could get sick and have all of the wrong medications to treat it. We could be hit by an asteroid and watch as the ship’s oxygen is sucked into the vacuum of space. We could even run out coffee.

I walked into the ships kitchen, my steps causing pain to radiate from my back. Out of all the things scientists worry about when building a space ship, the bedding isn’t necessarily the top priority. Most of the work goes towards the vessel that keeps the four of us alive during our trip to Mars. Although, I do wish they would consider taking a trip to Mattress Firm. I poured my first steaming cup of coffee of the morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. It’s hard to tell what time of day it is when you’re in space. We are still getting some light from the sun, but it’s fairly dim by now. The important thing is we haven’t run out of coffee yet.

It is a bit maddening when I stare into the infinite midnight of space. The glass of the observatory opens to the view of the billions of stars twinkling as the ship glides past them. The mixing of hydrogen and helium between the celestial bodies produce brilliant colors of light. The muffled beeps of the machines ground me back to reality. The deep rumble of the engine vibrates beneath my feet. In a room full of oxygen, I stare into an uninhabitable abyss. With my morning coffee in clutch, I wonder what it’s like to be a star. To not need oxygen to survive. I slowly, deeply, take in a breathe. This air might be old and musty, but it’s still air. It is the reason I am alive.

A loud banging of metal coming from the airlock snaps me out of my trance. I guess Charlie must have wanted to get a head start in his exterior inspection today. I sat down my cup of coffee next to my paperwork and made my way towards the airlock controls. But I was beaten there by–

“Charlie?”

“Oh, morning Diana. Wait–”

“I thought you were the one knocking,” we both spat in unison.

“Oh come on, Charlie. You know I’m not a morning person. I just poured my first cup of coffee. I mean, I know I’m the crew’s best engineer, but let’s be realistic.”

Charlie rolled his eyes at me and chuckled.

“Second best, actually. Anyway, I guess Steve wanted to do some sampling?”

I shrugged and figured Charlie was probably right. I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed. More loud bangs sounded from outside the ship.

“Well, Steve’s getting inpatient. You should probably let him in.”

“Let me in from where?”

Charlie and I both jumped, startled from the unexpected appearance of the man behind us. Steve clutched a cup of coffee in his hands, and his curly hair was matted from sleep. His eyebrows arched with concern as he studied the two of us. Banging continued to sound through the corridor. I considered my options. The only person left was–

“Why would Lucy be out there? A chemist has no reason to do exterior inspections.”

Something felt wrong. I turned tail and headed towards Lucy’s chambers. The banging continued behind me. I threw open Lucy’s chamber door and stumbled inside. Fear rose in my stomach.

Lucy was lying peacefully in her cot, her stomach rising and falling in slumber.

“What the hell?”

Then, the warning bell signaling the opening of the airlock doors sounded. I began to panic and sprinted back towards my crew mates.

“Charlie wait! Don’t open the–”

I stopped in my tracks when I saw Charlie and Steve. Their jaws were dropped and their faces were white with shock. I snapped my gaze to inside the airlock.

There was a person in there. I had never seen him before. He looked a bit like he was Russian, with his large build and bright blue eyes. His silver bangs fell over his eyes loosely, the length of his hair reaching past his shoulders. But his nationality is not at all what concerned me.

He was standing inside the airlock with nothing but a plain, white T-shirt and tight, black pants. No space suit. No oxygen tank. Not even shoes. And he was waving at us with an ever so bright smile on his face. He stepped through the airlock and entered our ship.

“Hello all! It took you long enough to open the door. Did you not hear my banging?”

 

 

Bio: Being a student at Aims has given me amazing opportunities to learn more about the arts, creative writing in particular. I am hoping to use my experiences here as a stepping stone for my future as a writer. When I was in the fifth grade, I was voted most likely to write a novel. Ever since then, I have always wanted to be a writer. Creating fictional world’s and unique characters to live in them has always been fascinating to me. I am so grateful for all of the people who gave inspired me and helped become a better writer here at Aims!