Transmit by Konn Lavery

Humanity’s only hope of survival is to head for the stars and escape the harvesters’ grasp. Their latest ship is to colonize an earth-like planet in a new solar system. Despite their excessive research on space travel, the unknown proves far more dangerous than anticipated.

Transmit is February’s flash fiction that brings readers into the expanding Harvesters / Scrappers sci-fi horror universe. Enjoy the story in written word, audio, artwork and soundscape.

Transmit

Log: 1 – 06 – 0

Alan McLeod of the EX – 7006. I couldn’t believe it when we first found out that we were able to reverse engineer the ships. I was a young buck then, still learning the ins-and-outs of mechanical work. The higher-ups let me have a hand in deconstructing the crafts. Lucky me. The thrill of being able to head for the stars was something humanity hoped to happen for decades. A colonization mission could finally let us escape the grasp of those organ-picking gene-freaks. Of course, we’re no fools and we knew about the dangers of trying to leave Earth. Harvesters orbit the planet continually, waiting for us to stand out on the surface. Where else are they going to look?

I wanted to be on the first ship to leave the planet. The higher-ups needed me back at base. So, the years went by. EX – 7006 worked just fine. Like myself, the whole crew are seasoned dealing with harvesters. Space travel took us a while to get our heads around. Sometimes I wonder if humankind is even meant for the stars. Then I remember we’re human. We defy nature. We’ve managed to surpass every environmental challenge and space would be no different.

We’re the seventh expedition to leave the planet. Most of the previous missions involved returning home, allowing us to understand space travel further. We needed to get a sense of how our bodies handle space travel and synthetic gravity. This mission is different – a one-way ticket to a new world.

There used to be more crafts in the fleet. Unfortunately, with every launch, we attract the harvesters. The gene-freaks have gunned a lot of our ships down, killing good men and women. Their deaths have not been in vain, for their sacrifices have brought us here. EX – 7006 is leaving the solar system.

This log will be transmitted directly back to earth. It will serve as a record for what we may discover as we pass into the unknown, despite the growing time delay that these transmissions will take. I’m sure Captain Ross would prefer if I didn’t send these, but what is he going to do? He needs me and we’re limited on our resources.

On a personal note, let me tell you, leaving the earth behind is unlike anything else you would ever see. It progressively gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, you lose interest. There was a subtle green hue that came from the kitchen window, like ink in water. I didn’t look directly out the window. I didn’t think there’d be such a hue out here. Maybe it’s the tint of the glass. Regardless, it was nice to get one last look at everything before we entered hibernation in the stasis pods. The ship is en route, autopilot is a go.

Log: 1 – 06 – 1

Alan McLeod of the EX – 7006. We have woken from our stasis pods. It appears to be on time for what we experimented back on earth. The nausea is something else. We couldn’t train for it. Adapting to the simulated gravity can play strange effects on your psyche. The light-headedness does go away, and we can now see to our duties. We’ve all work together to adapt to this new state of being. Captain Ross ensured that all procedures were followed, and everyone was cleaned up and ready to initiate their tasks.

Some of us handled the awakening a little easier than others. Poor Annie started to vomit intensely a few hours later. We were in the kitchen. She was looking at the stars through the green-tinted window. She didn’t blink, nor move, looking a little too long. I asked her if she was okay. Her skin was pasty. All of ours were, but her’s more so. That’s when she vomited, projecting it all over the glass. The doctor had to take her to the med bay. I’m sure she’ll recover soon.

Even with my mechanical background, I oversee counting the food rations. It’s a bland and simple task and is welcoming. Maintaining the ship’s thrusters can be a tedious job. Plus, we should track what we have for supplies. Chances are we won’t be going back to sleep. There’s only so much power on the ship and we need to savour it as we enter this new solar system. The pilot and crew are already scanning through the digital maps to see where the planets are in orbit around the red dwarf sun. They’re ensuring we’re staying on course.

A lot of smart minds back home have theorized the possible risks of travelling in space. There was plenty of talk about the psychological struggles that can occur when you’re floating around a metal tin-can through a giant vacuum. We’re resilient. Hopeful, one could say, that we will find a new planet that we can inhabit. Most of us do not talk about the actual mission since it has been quite clear for decades why were leaving earth. We have bigger questions such as what else we might find. I admire everyone on the ship. The crew are strong people that are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of humanity. We will escape the harvesters’ grasp.

Captain Ross has been keeping a formal log of what has been occurring since we managed to launch from the tiny blue dot. For me, this log is the more about the realism of our trip. Let me tell you, sharing a toilet amongst each other crew members can be a bit tedious at times. The same goes for hygiene-powder. It works, but I can’t help but wonder if we run out, if we don’t land on a planet. Or how Annie is recovering. That was a lot of vomit. All worries. Maybe that’s the psychological struggles of space travel. I’m sure the other crew members share the same thoughts, this is no point in talking about it. We must work together.

Log: 1 – 06 – 2

Alan McLeod of the EX – 7006. I believe about a week is gone by since we have woken up in the stasis pods. The crew is getting a bit anxious to know when we are going to land. Captain Ross has assured us that everything is going according to the projected schedule. I was never a pilot, nor an astronomer, and couldn’t give any professional insight. One thing did know though, if something is on a scheduled route, there isn’t much control that we can have. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m overthinking it.

Annie hasn’t gotten better. The doctor ensures that it’s just a bit of space sickness. Something like getting seasick apparently. Seems odd. Not my department, though, I just ensure this hunk of gene-freak metal keeps humming smoothly. I clued in that the windows aren’t green-hued. It was coming from outside in the one kitchen window. I talked to Zoe, the astronomer, she says she’s unfamiliar with the phenomenon. Then again, she proudly has a bit of disorientation from being in a new solar system and seeing space from a new angle.

I haven’t looked at the window, but everyone says it is surreal. The green light has no focal point. It simply glows all around. I couldn’t tell you why I haven’t looked, I just didn’t. We try not to spread rumours around, seeing something abnormal like this glowing green space raises suspicion. Zoe said she is going to do some research and let us know what she discovers. Captain Ross ordered that we don’t over-talk the spectacle and hypothesize that it’s something that it’s not.

We can’t help it, we’re only human. Hell, I remember as a kid all the rumours that were floating around about harvesters. Space demons are what they were called. Of course, that is all bogus. They are just a prime example of where trans-humanism gets you. As a kid, your imagination runs wild and I don’t think that it ever left us. We just suppress it and accept reality as it is. What if all of reality is taken away? We’re not on earth anymore, we are soaring at immense speeds through the vacuum of space. Reality that we once knew is no more. Thinking this way really sparks your imagination again, for better or worse.

Log: 1 – 06 –3

This is Alan McLeod of the EX – 7006. Zoe vomited, just like Annie. I saw her in the engine room, she begged me not to tell anyone. I wasn’t sure why I agreed, but I said okay. She’s cute. I’m human. Oddly enough, that same day was when Captain Ross brought everyone into the meeting hall to discuss urgent matters.

The doctor was with him, explaining that if any of us feel noxious, to report him immediately. A virus may have been on board during the ship’s launch and has mutated. That’s the running theory. I don’t know, that’s the doc’s job. Captain Ross told the crew members to be completely transparent and share anything abnormal that they may witness amongst crew members. It doesn’t sit well with me even though I know it is for the best of humanity. So, I asked if the Captain and doc where Annie was. They said she is in the med bay. I found that odd and asked if they were hiding anything. Boy, let me tell you, that did not go over well.

After that speech, the whole crew was on edge. Zoe found me in one of the storage units where I was counting supplies. She looked sick. Her skin was moist as if she were sweating. She said there was something wrong with her. I told her that we needed to tell the doctor, it was for the safety of the whole crew. She said she understood and knew what happened to Annie.

Before I had a chance to ask, Tom and Lydia, Captain Ross’s top ranked, came into the storage unit and seized Zoe. She shouted, “it’s in the damn hue!” As the two began to drag her away. She vomited again, blood spewed onto the floor. I stood back, watching in disbelief. Zoe’s skeletal frame began to turn to mush. Convulsing. She leaked red goo from her orifices. Her skeletal frame dissipated. She was only held together by her skin. Tom and Lydia let her go and she felt the floor like a folding slab of meat. Seeing a human being without the skeleton is difficult to describe, and I don’t think I want to. I wonder if that is in Captain Ross’s official log.

Log: 1 – 06 – 4

Alan McLeod, EX – 7006. Despite Captain Ross’s best efforts to keep command, the crew continues to talk about what happened to Zoe. I don’t bother. What’s the point? All it does is start rumours. Holding onto the past doesn’t help either. Some of the crew members mentioned that the green space hasn’t left. No matter how far we travel, it seems to stay there, right by the kitchen window. I stopped going there and just started grabbing food from the storage unit. I’m usually not one of superstition… this hue had me creeped out.

We passed several planets in the solar system. There had to be over a dozen. Zachary was telling me that we were headed for a large Earth-like planet. He’s the environmental expert. He worked closely with Zoe in deciphering where exactly we were going before our ship left earth. Apparently, the planet is suitable for us humans. Now, Zachary works on his own.

Shortly after Zoe’s demise, the crew demanded answers from Captain Ross and the doctor. The Captain summoned everyone to the meeting room and finally came clean. He told us that Annie had died shortly after she vomited and her symptoms matched Zoe’s. This caused an uproar. Most of the crew members felt betrayed by Captain Ross and the doctor. They were not honest with everyone. I don’t blame the crew. Keeping secrets was no way for us to survive space travel.

Captain Ross ordered that the crew continue to operate as normal. I spoke up, asking what Zoe meant that it is in the damn hue. Another crew member asked about the kitchen. The doctor said stay clear from it until the window is shielded. Just then, Zachary began to vomit. Everyone backed away, watching in horror as the man regurgitated his innards, like meat-paste through a tube.

Several other crew members began projecting blood. Gore was everywhere. I manage to avoid most of it, except for the splatters on my overalls. The doctor, too, began to vomit. Captain Ross, myself, and Lydia are the only ones who are unaffected. Maybe they didn’t look at the green hue either. We could only watch helplessly as our comrades fell before us. It didn’t take long for them all to stop vomiting, collapsing on the floor, like sacks of meat.

Lydia entered a full-on panic attack, asking what they were going to do. Captain Ross ordered her to remain calm as we attempted to come up with a plan. There were no more secrets now. We all had to work together now.

Captain Ross mentioned that the doctor first thought the illness had something to do with the stasis pods. That wasn’t accurate. Later, after the doc began to feel some symptoms himself, he contacted the Captain and told him to shut all the windows immediately. The sickness came from the green hue. It all happened so fast, and he was unable to act in time. I regret saying it, but Captain Ross is not suitable for command. The argument got pretty heated and a couple of fists were involved too. Lydia calmed down, I got my frustrations out, and Captain Ross is finally transparent with us.

Log: 1 – 06 – 5

This is Alan McLeod of the EX – 7006. I’m not sure how soon these logs will take to transmit to earth. Hopefully, sooner than later. Everyone back home must know what happened. Humanity can build new crafts and send more people beyond our solar systems, away from the harvesters. They need to know some of the dangers that lurk out in the unknown. We’ve shielded all the windows from the green light and can only presume that it is still there. Whatever it is followed us from our solar system and into this new one. Maybe we flew straight threw it while in the stasis pods and it attached to the ship like a net. Whatever it is.

Our course still aims for the large earth-like planet. We’re overworked with only three of us managing a ship the size of the EX – 7006. We will make it to this new world. We will inhabit it and continue the colonization plan. This is what we were trained for – scout out the new planet and bring more colonization ships. I will send a log once we have reached the atmosphere. All three of us can only hope that the green hue doesn’t follow the landing pods and does not affect us when we land. We don’t know until we try. We’re daring the unknown, as humans do.

Transmit by Konn Lavery

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About Konn Lavery

Konn Lavery is a Canadian author whose work has been recognized by Edmonton’s top five bestseller charts and by reviewers such as Readers’ Favorite, and Literary Titan.

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