Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta space. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta space. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 13 de marzo de 2017

The space around

   Space has always been the same: cold, unwelcoming and largely boring to watch. That is because, despite how big it is and how many natural phenomenon happen all around, some parts, most parts, are just empty space surrounded by that black veil tinted with stars. People who decide to work there are either adventurers or simply the ones that never got what they wanted and now have decided its time to sacrifice body and mind for the greater good of humanity.

 Every “day” it’s the same thing: waking up to realize you are in space, alone and bored. Then you have some breakfast, normally one of those dehydrated foods that need some water drops to transform into something a little bit tastier. Then, it’s time for hygiene and cleaning of the facility. Most of the time, it’s all about mopping and sweeping all around, nothing interesting like discovering asteroids or observing one of the many wonders of the universe. That’s for others to do.

 Stevenson had been assigned to that quadrant and to that station almost one year ago. He was really looking forward the year to be completed because he would be eligible to be replaced and send to some other planet or station, hopefully one where boredom is not a cause of death. Inexperienced people, as he was at the start, normally get to monitor the boring areas of the universe. The ones that people know about and admire, those are normally assigned to more popular areas of the territories.

 As he sweeps and mops, Stevenson likes to put on some music and dance to it while he does his chores. Many days, not caring much about the security cameras and the visual diary he must keep, he takes off all his clothes and walks around naked, doing everything he normally does only that with not one fabric over his body. Is not really a statement or something funny to do, but just the fact that people get bored really fast and easy when nothing happens around them.

 One of those naked days, Stevenson was preparing dinner. It had been another uneventful day for him and he was looking forward to his weird sleep. For dinner, he made a sandwich, which he had to create in the microwave. When he was eating, one of the emergency sirens started. It was a very loud noise and he had never heard it. Actually there were many things he didn’t really know about the station and he normally learned on the way. He went to the command center but it wasn’t clear what had happened. The siren was turned off and no reason was found for its activation.

 However, the onboard computer declared that the siren had been activated through movement in a forbidden area but it couldn’t really tell what actually moved. Stevenson thought it was a moving cable that wasn't working anymore or maybe it was something worse. He had heard of parasites bigger than fists infesting stations all over the place. Of course, they weren’t creatures that lived in space, but they attached themselves when stations were built or launched into their positions.

 He decided to check everything before going to sleep. He spent several hours on the computer, checking everything on the corresponding monitor and holding the station’s manual on one hand to verify he was doing all he standard procedures correctly.  It took hours but at the end of it all he didn’t find any actual proof something had moved anywhere around the ship. He also found out there were no parasites. The ship was in perfect shape, working like a well-tuned clock.

 As he walked to his room, he thought about the possibility of something actually exciting happening there. He had been alone for long, so bored too, that he had been excited because of the siren. It was scary at first, but it made him feel alive and useful, instead of useless, which was what he felt every single day of his life. As he covered himself with the bed sheets, he looked one last time to his window and wondered if he would ever feel like more than just some lost guy.

 Stevenson had a nightmare: it was about him running all around the station. He was running away from something but he never saw in the dream what it was. But it had to be something really scary because he could feel on his body when it came too close. It was a very tense situation. He would scream sometimes and run. He would also get into areas of the stations that didn’t actually existed. Then, whatever was after him finally caught up with him and jumped and it was then when he woke up.

 Not only the scare woke him up, but also the fact he had fallen from his bed, covered in sweat. He took all his clothes, what he used as a pajama, and threw it on the bin that was actually a washing machine. He had never experienced that kind of nightmare. It had really been scary. He even realized his face was covered in tears when he removed his t-shirt. He decided to get into the shower, as even cold water would help getting his ideas in order and all of the bad thoughts out of his mind, at least for while. He needed to feel calm once again. But that didn’t last very long.

 As he walked out of the shower, the alarm was activated again. This time the computer was able to tell him way with one word: asteroid. He ran still naked and wet to the command center, holding a towel on one hand. Stevenson put the towel on the chair and sat on it and then pushed some buttons and wrote some words in a keyboard. He was chatting with the computer. On a screen, he got an image of whatever it was that had activated the alarm. He had to enhance the quality because it was very small.

 Indeed, it was an asteroid. It had a very classical shape and was travelling slower than most asteroids did. But that wasn’t the reason the alarm had been activated. In the last few months, he had encountered other rocks like that one. The difference this time was that all the instruments onboard the ship had detected life on the rock. Some form of life was around or inside that asteroid and he had to be able to get it for himself as that would be his ticket to a much better life.

 The station couldn’t really move but he did have a vehicle for outside exploration. He ran to the hangar, put on some piloting clothes and hopped into the small vehicle, which was shaped as a tennis ball. The idea was to grab the rock and carry it back to the station with the mechanical arms the vehicle had. It shouldn’t be hard as the rock was not that big and he only needed some pieces. So he went out inside the ball and navigated bravely towards the floating rock.

 An incredible velocity pushed it though space but it was too slow for asteroid standards. So breaking it a little bit shouldn’t be hard at all. He started doing so when a powerful sound almost made him deaf. It was coming from the station, another alarm. He had to complete his work fast with the asteroid first, so he decided to use a laser to extract a good chunk of it. His operation on the rock was successful and he was able to take a very good part back to the station, where the sound seemed to get stronger.

 Apparently, it was an urgent message and that piercing noise was the way to get it through. He was surprised to see it was not only a short written message that said, “Stand by”. He didn’t really understand. Besides, his mind was with the rock he had just brought back. But then, the alarm ended and a screen that had never worked had been turned on. There was a face there, it was his boss. He was pale and looked very skinny and tired. He declared they had encountered something and that, whatever it was, it had attacked them. He failed to explain it further. But his next phrase was the one who made Stevenson feel heavier: “The Earth has been destroyed. Don’t come back”.

miércoles, 8 de marzo de 2017

Waste of space

   Every day was almost exactly the same. He would wake up, have something to eat, then shower, look for a job and then lunch. After that, it would be hours and hours of basically nothing until dinner. At night and in the morning he would exercise a bit and before going to bed he would watch something, like a movie or whatever was available. That was life like for him, even after he had decided it would be different. His decisions in life had amounted to nothing and he didn’t know what to do.

 He had been living there for almost a year and nothing had happened, nothing at all. Not a single change since his arrival. He tried to keep it different by distracting himself with movie or by going out to walk around the city, but that didn’t change anything either. It was a perpetual movement he was trapped in, a series of actions he repeated every single day, every week and every single month, no matter the little differences like weather or things like that. Things didn’t change.

 He had tried to change them. He had really tried but he soon realized that one person couldn’t really change the world. Whoever had said that in the past was wrong. A single lonely human couldn’t change a thing in this world. Every major shift had to involve lots of people with a common goal and a certain organization. And he didn’t have that at all. He was alone and he depended on his parents for survival. They weren’t happy for him or anything, but they felt they couldn’t refuse him help.

 The money he received as an allowance was used very carefully to pay for the apartment, the bills and the food. Those were the normal expenses. He sometimes used the money for distractions, going out and that sort of thing. In those instances he would have to remember that he was taking money away for his food. He never minded. Besides, it wasn’t something he did often; on the contrary, he managed his money in the most careful way because it was just enough to survive.

 But that was the thing: he had been thinking for a long time if it was worth it to keep on living as he was. He was draining money from his parents every month, he was sitting on his ass doing nothing, except getting older and older people have a harder time getting a job. But no one was giving him a job, not now or before. Not when he was recently graduated or after his various years of studies all over the place. They had never acknowledged him as a nothing more than a man that could pick up a phone or move boxes from one place to the other.

 The money he earned for such jobs disappeared very fast. Most of it was taken away by the health service they provided, which he never used. And the rest was used to pay debts or bills. Nothing remained. Those times, whoever, he could grab a little more from his parents money in order to have fun, even for a short period of time. He would get drunk, go out and party and just forget about everything in his life and who he was. He lost himself every time or at least he tried.

 He loved going out to dark places with loud music, wherever they could have alcohol. He even tried drugs a couple of times but it wasn’t his thing. The point of it all was forgetting his life, which was pathetic and sad. He was a leech and a waste of space. He remembered that expression once and it had gotten stuck on his head since then because it described so well what he thought of his place in life. He did feel as if he was a waste of space and would have loved it to be different.

 But it wasn’t things are as they are and one’s blind optimism cannot change that. People want every single person in the world to think blindly that everything is going to be ok but the reality of life is that probably nothing will be ok. The world itself is more and more violent, not a hospitable place for actual life to develop. So why should people be blind to that? Why should be people avoid the truth, instead of embracing it and maybe then find a solution for whatever the problem is?

 Many times, he looked around his house and carefully planned his last day on Earth. It was kind of like a game he played with himself when things where a its lowest. He would imagine cutting his wrists on the tub and having one of those almost artistic deaths, with the blood tainting the water slowly and also spilling gently to the floor. It looked almost like a romantic thing inside his head. But it would take too long and that wasn’t something he was very eager about.

 He imagined many other outcomes for his life. Some more admittedly violent and graphic but others were even more subtle that the one in the tub. He had a great imagination, which he used laying on his bed, waiting for someone to respond to his calls looking for one of the many menial jobs the world had to offer. He had realized a while ago that no one was going to give him a good job where he could feel like a real person. He was apparently built to be a slave and he had decided he didn’t mind at all, it was his destiny all along and that was settled.

 Sure enough, he had two jobs latter on: one as part of the cleaning crew in a hospital and another one in a supermarket, doing basically the same thing. He would break his back for a pay that was laughable but there was nothing else to do. However, he decided one day to ask his parents not to send him any more money. They did ask him “why” but he never answered, so they just did as they were told and the subject never came up again, in telephone conversations or when he visited, which was rare.

He had decided he would survive with whatever he had. His meals were greatly reduced and he had to move to another apartment, one even smaller in a much uglier part of the city. He sold some of his belongings too, in order to pay for the first couple of months. He tried to set aside something every month for pleasure, such as alcohol or whatever he would be in the mood for. Those small moments were not of joy but of quiet and a certain peace, which he still enjoyed.

 After some months living his new life, he got very sick with the flu. He stopped earning money for almost three weeks. When the disease didn’t kill him, the lack of food almost did. He actually had to be rushed into the hospital but he escaped it as soon as he could because he didn’t have the money to pay for a hospital bed. He just bought bread and medicine and hoped for the best. He was fired from the hospital he worked in but kept the supermarket job, where they raised his salary a bit in order to make him do more stuff.

 As always, he didn’t really mind. He got better, or just about, and start working harder every day. The hours were longer than before and this time he had to work every single day of the week but at least he was distracted by something. He didn’t have time to ponder or think about what could have been or what the future may hold for him. Those were empty questions now and no one care about the answers. He had lost the will to rebel in any way. He just lived, if that’s what it’s called.

 He was eventually fired from that job too. Not long after that, he decided to jump off a bridge that passed over a highway. His parents had nothing to keep from him anymore, as he had sold almost everything except and old notebook he had kept from when he was young, Inside, he had written a number of stories and he had also drawn lots of characters and abstract figures. They took one look at it and then stored it away somewhere. The man became a memory and, after his parents died, it was as if he had never existed on this Earth.

viernes, 3 de febrero de 2017

Wild Space

   Above them, the various pieces that made up the space station had caught on fire and were falling at high speed to the ocean in front of the islands. It had been a miracle that the planet had a archipelago in the right place, or their pod would have landed in the middle of the water and they would now be dead. As the biggest pieces collided with the surface of the water, the five survivors of the station looked at the water in horror, as an enormous creature roared, visibly enrage by the fallen projectiles.

 There, above the ground and the sky, their life had been ideal but not perfect. They had everything they could ask for, such as running water, food, information, communications and so on. The program they were involved in was only about civilians in space, so none of them were actual astronauts or scientists. They were all normal people, in the sense that they only had the basic knowledge of how to survive in space. And now, survival skills were the most needed.

 The group started walking downhill, as their pod had crashed against the highest part of a mountain that seemed to be made of something sand-like. Shock wouldn’t have let them move but they noticed the ground shaking below them and the monster in the water became a second problem. In front of the team, Richard was leading them towards the beach, where he thought they could be safer. No one really said anything, they just followed and tried to hear everything around them.

 Richard had been a boy scout as a kid. He had camped in various national parks back home and he had enjoyed it thoroughly except for a traumatic experience that made him retire from the scouts. Their parents never demanded to know why and he concluded it was better like that. Now he was walking under a blazing sun, with four other people he barely knew, even after living together in a space station for a year. That, somehow, had not been enough time to get to know one another.

 When they arrive to the beach, the first to sit down was the only other man, a man called Sebastian. Despite the English sounding name, he was actually Swedish and spoke with a very thick accent. Sebastian was older than Richard and he had been a magazine editor back home. He had become a part of the team as they all had: paying a big sum and basically winning a lottery. He wanted to get out of the Earth fast, as his wife had died only a few years after getting married. He felt so heartbroken that he decided to leave on an impulse and now there he was.

 The three women were called Maria, Kim and Victoria. Maria had only win the lottery. She had won the only seat in the station that was up for grabs without the need to pay anything. She was a janitor back on Earth and had decided to join in order to get away from her family, who she secretly hated. Kim was a famous supermodel, tired of being in the spotlight and Victoria was an architect from Angola, named after the queen that had conquered the African continent.

 The three of them seemed tired but none sat down on the ground. They instead watched the ocean, looking for the creature. At some point, it had disappeared, along with the wreckage from the station. Richard was still trying to understand what had happened but it had all been so fast… They were all sleeping and the alarm started beeping: apparently the ship’s hyper drive had ignited by itself and they were now ramming against a planet. With only minutes to decide, they jumped on the pod and saved their lives.

 As they had no idea how that world worked, they agreed that the best thing was to walk along the edge of the ocean and look for something to eat. Then, they would try to find some sort of cave or safe place to rest. After those two things had been achieved, they could be thinking about the future, if that was a possibility. They walked in silence, watching the strange bushes growing by the beach, hearing the strange squishing sound coming from the greenish water of the ocean.

 Not of them wanted to talk too much. After all, there were originally six people in the space station. A man called Bruno had not come to the pod after hearing the alarm. They never knew what he was doing, if maybe he had been the one to make the hyper drive work. In any case, he was now dead, spread across the skies as the station fell to the ocean. He was a strange man, always hiding something from the rest of them. He seemed much more tormented than all of them put together.

 They stopped when they noticed a small stream coming from inside the island. The water was also green. Kim walked closer but Richard warned her that it might be poisonous or have chemical compounds too different for the human body to process them. But Kim didn’t want to drink the water but to observe it. It behave differently, not like a normal liquid but like some sort of creature. The woman got up fast, shaking. She then looked at the ocean and said what she was thinking aloud: what if the water in that planet was actually alive, moving slowly on its sides?

 As she said that, tentacles branched out of the ocean and launched themselves at the group. Richard and Kim ran first. Maria followed them closely, as did Victoria but Sebastian was way to slow and he got grabbed by the ankles. What happened next made Maria scream and Kim almost faint. Victoria vomited right there, just a few meters away from the water, as they saw the most disgusting spectacle that they had never seen. The universe was a place to be afraid of.

 The water, or whatever it was, had absorbed Sebastian’s body through those tentacles. It was like watching a kid drink out of those juices that come in a bag, only that this bag had been alive just moments prior. He didn’t even had the chance to scream or anything like that. The man just died, obviously, his empty body dumped carried by the tentacles towards the ocean. Apparently, the tentacles fed the creature that had been disturbed by the fallen debris. It appeared again, eating their companion.

 Victoria was trembling wildly and Kim had to be helped by Richard, as her legs didn’t properly work. It was Maria who, her face white of the horror, suggested they looked the opposite shore. They had to verify if water was like that all around. It could be the decisive point between remaining alive in that planet or dying without any possibility. So they walked, in silence, still shaking and wanting to scream. But hey feared potential creature in the bushes, so they kept to themselves.

 The opposite shore was only an hour away, cutting through the island. When they saw it from afar, they noticed right away it was a different kind of ocean. When they got closer, they realized it was normal water, the one they knew from back home. Deciding it couldn’t get more dangerous than a stomachache, they decided to drink some. It wasn’t salted, as ocean water on Earth, rather on the sweet side. They each drank a bit and then sat down on the beach, to rest their trembling bodies.

 It was Victoria who started crying first, then it was Maria and then everyone was crying. In a weird way, that united them more than anything before. They hadn’t really been friends or anything back in the station, just travelling mates,. Now, things had to be a little different.

 They were drying their tears with their hands when a loud noise was heard above them. They looked up in horror to discover an enormous ship just passing above them. It was obviously not man made. It had all sorts of inhuman features. And it hadn’t noticed them… yet.

sábado, 9 de julio de 2016

Juno V

   Collecting ice from the rings was very dangerous but also one of the many things they had set up to do on the mission. The Juno V crew knew their responsibilities by heart and every one of them knew everything about their ship and their list of duties. They also knew how to fix the microwave if it broke or how to properly grow food in the small compartments where doctor Wood worked all day every day. Not that anyone thought he would leave or something, but rather he had told him how to do it.

 He was a botanist, one of the best, and had accepted to be on the mission because he wanted to test many of his theories and what better way than in a mission to Jupiter and its moon. It was the perfect place to make tests and try to execute every single one of his theories in order to know if they were accurate. His results would prove essential for the advancement of botanical technology on Earth and in other space missions.

 Wood had tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and apples growing on his small farm. Well, it wasn’t really a farm because of the dimensions of the laboratory and of the food but he enjoyed calling it that, it made it seem less advanced, more grounded. After a few months, he was able to feed the other five people of the ship with his vegetables and they enjoyed their salad thoroughly. It was much better than eating one of those dehydrated meals they had in stock. No one complained about sizes or portions because they understood the difficulty of the whole thing.

 One of the astronauts that spend a lot of time with Wood was Brooke Stone. Ms. Stone was in charge of the telescope and everything related to the observation of the bodies they were studying such as Jupiter, Europa, Ganymede and Io. She love to spend her day taking pictures of them, trying to not only make them functional for work but also a bit artistic as she thought science lack a little bit of that sensitivity only real artists had.

 When she was younger, Brooke wanted to be a painter or a sculptor. But her parents did not encourage that at all. They were very accomplished scientists and believed the only art that made any sense was music and even if Brooke wanted to be a musician, they would have thought it would’ve been a waste of her time and their money. So throughout her childhood, she was convinced to become a scientist like them.

 She didn’t resent them or anything like that. If anything, she was pleased to be there, taking pictures of the chaotic weather of the gas giant, a very long distance away from her parents. They had a very tense relationship and she realized it worked best when they were separated instead of being in the same room. She loved her moments alone, which she used to draw, sometimes copying the picture she took.

 The adventurous one, the guy who took a step forward to pick up the ice shards with a robot, was called Alexei Ibaraki. His mother was Japanese so he had these different features that made every single person turn around to look at him. Not only was he very daring but he was also very attractive and interesting. He was one of those guys that always has a story to tell or that has that ability of making anything they say into something extremely interesting, even if it really isn’t.

 Alexei was also a model, besides an astronaut, and was used frequently in campaigns done in order to encourage children to study the sciences and getting interested into it. After being sent to Mars on a routine flight however, he became also the poster boy of several brands that wanted him as an imaged. His face was connected to beer, butter, insurances, banks, toothpaste and even condoms.

 The truth was he enjoyed that work but he loved to be in space doing work that was more important than selling beer to people that were already going to buy it. As he operated the hand of the robot that collected the ice from Jupiter’s rings, he realized that’s what he wanted to be doing his whole life. He wanted his actions to be remembered instead of his face. Alexei was tired that people only looked at him for his beauty and not his brain and wit.

 Carmen Nyongo, the medical chief of the ship, was very aware of the crew’s problems. She was not only a certified physician but also a psychologist that loved to spend at least thirty minutes which each of them every two days to check on their mental health. This was determined by the agency as something very important as they were going to be very far from home in a place where no one else had been before. They needed some support and Ms. Nyongo was an obvious choice.

 She had worked for years in military hospitals were she proved to be simply the kindest person ever to come in contact with all the soldiers and astronauts that needed her help. She loved to listen, since she was a very young woman. She liked telling her friends what she thought of the world but she much rather listened to them and their dreams and what they had inside their heads.

 Carmen thought people were extremely interesting and that’s why, after medical school, she got a masters degree in psychology. She thought it was essential to get to know about mental health in order to prevent and help people with their physical problems. She was not your average doctor but she had proven, once and again, that her methods made a lot of sense, to her and her patients.

The most frequent one, of course, was the captain. Her name was Katherine and she had been born in the Australian outback. Her parents still owned a big ranch there, where they had some of the best cattle in the country. With all the money they had won with that, they had built up a very good life for themselves and their two children. They rarely went to the ranch anymore, but it had been that place that made them who they were now.

 They lived in beautiful homes and went to the best school. When Katherine said she wanted to be an astronaut, her family didn’t say a word for or against it. They just supported her with money for every single expense she had to make to turn her dream into a reality. So she studied abroad and came back only on the holidays. From then on, the relationship with her parents was kind of broken, not really deep.

 They were not very sensitive people, any of them, but she would have loved more kisses and hugs in her life. She would have wanted to feel some kind of interest from them, but the only thing they did was giving her money and talking to her about it all the time. And when they weren’t they were busy. So when Katherine met Carmen, it was just a natural thing to become a very frequent patient of hers, even before the mission started. She just wanted to come to terms with the fact that she wanted recognition and she was never going to get it, not from her parents at least.

 The last crewmember, the one who made everything work properly, was Alejandro Obregón. Different from his captain, Alejandro had a very difficult life and had to raise himself to the place he enjoyed today. He was the happy father of a very intelligent young daughter. He loved his wife, whom he had met in a fast food restaurant after training in the astronaut academy. She was studying in a nearby university and they hit it off right away.

 They both had a very strong personality, the kind that made them being a little overdramatic but always effective in public. They didn’t mind being looked in the street as if they were crazy. They didn’t mind anything else than their love for each other. They also had in common that they supported a lot of good causes, maybe because they had received so little over their lives.

 Alejandro would always go to marathons supporting any type of disease, would march in the pride parade and would protests in front of police stations or administrative building. He was all about causes and its effects on people’s lives. He really believed everything could be better for everyone. And that’s why he had become an astronaut: he thought that a future where everyone was equal had to involve that final frontier and he was going to be one of those who brought it closer to every other person on Earth.