By Robert Lynch
– Excerpt from the journal found aboard the Starglider
If you’re reading this, then I got the ship home at least. Sorry about what you found in here, I’m afraid there is no clean way to die.
Hopefully, you’re interested in what happened to the ship. Otherwise, I’m writing this for no reason; except I suppose, to eat up some of my time, and I’ve got plenty of that. We were sailing the ship on the transit lane from Titan to Earth, the huge space laser pushing us along at tremendous speed. Everything was going well, and we were making great time.
Nine days into the transit tragedy struck. The ship heaved violently to the side, and the hull broke open. We thought it was an asteroid collision until we looked out the breach. There were creatures out there!
I know, I sound like a lunatic who has too much CO2 in the cabin. Not yet. These massive creatures had to be 90 metres long at least. We stopped repairs and took what photos we could. They should be on the computer hard drive and the camera storage, hopefully, one copy isn’t too degraded by the time the ship makes it back to Earth.
I have no idea how they were flying through space without any atmosphere. They didn’t look like whales, but for shorthand, I’ve been calling them space whales. I say ‘they’ because there was a pod of them. You can see in the photos (hopefully) that we saw six of the creatures, all moving together.
Before long the creatures were out of range, and we got to work resealing the hull and making what repairs we could. The radio was dead, so we couldn’t call for help, but we got the hull sealed up and did an inventory. Without connection to the cloud, we had no navigation data, except for old-schooling it by hand.
We had enough emergency rations to last four months, with solar power from what was left of the sails, we could still recycle the water and air. We navigated toward the laser lane, or what we thought was right, but we never found it. We knew there wasn’t much chance anyway, navigating as we were. It wasn’t helped by not being able to see the laser. We might have been able to adjust course if we could see it, but even if the laser used visible light, there’s so little dust out here that we probably never would have been able to see it anyway.
After the first week, once we had not found the laser again, we knew we were drifting. The only hope at that point was that flight control would notice our signal had gone out and would send one of the navy fusion drive ships out to investigate. We had to wait. We closed down the sails and waited for the next month. Then we knew we were in real trouble.
We plotted a course using solar sails and gravity assist to get back to Earth and started on that course, but we knew that it would take 214 years to get the ship back to Earth.
Holding out hope that if we could extend the rations that the navy would find us we cut to half rations and limped on for a month. Then I woke up and Jackson and Trey had spaced themselves in the night. They left me a short note, saying that the rations would last three times as long if only one of us was on board, and they had decided to give me the best chance they could.
I know that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but I don’t know if they took the easy way out. It takes a couple minutes to die in vacuum, it’s taken me nearly ten months. I thought about spacing myself and getting it over with, but that seemed to diminish the sacrifice that they made. I could never bring myself to do it.
The ship is on course, barring any more space whales, so I say hello from the past. Hopefully, life is easier where you are.