[tsat home] [#40] [stories]

by Charles Matthias
©2005 Charles Matthias -- all rights reserved

Orig: Nina TR: 5.12.16:27 SST
Msg: This is Lieutenant Robert Mackay of the Nina. Our attempts to breach the stratosphere have resulted in calamity. Unseen interference in the atmosphere has brought the ship down somewhere over the Arctic. I would elaborate, but a storm has reduced our visibility to zero. We are lucky to be alive. Captain LeMay was killed in the crash, and Ensign Leevi has broken both his legs. We need immediate assistance. I know the North Galactic Relay transmitter is working, so you should receive this message within three days. I will use what supplies we possess and fortify our position in hopes that we will survive long enough for a rescue operation to be successful. Once I have finished, I will update you. Please mount a rescue as soon as you receive this message! I do not know if our landing was observed. Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.12.22:21 SST
Msg: Mackay again. It has now been a little over five hours since we crashed on what our charts suggest is Ellesmere Island. When the storm clears, I will be able to make a more accurate assessment. Though as some of the navigational and positional instruments on the Nina have been irreparably damaged by the crash, I will only ever be able to make an educated guess as to our exact whereabouts.
I am thankful that it is Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. I tremble at the thought of having to survive an Arctic Winter with our limited supplies. After sending my last transmission, I checked on Leevi to find him laying down in the main compartment still conscious. I explained to him my intentions and he agreed with my course of action.
First I inspected all of our equipment to verify which were still operational and which were not. The life support systems have for the most part survived the impact, though there are a few compartments where the filtration vents are no longer reliable. I have moved all essential supplies from these compartments, though this only leaves us with three that we can depend upon: the main compartment, the cockpit, and the forward engineering compartment. I have rerouted all heating into these three compartments while lowering the temperature to 15° C. If the system should deteriorate, I can lower it further still. I hesitate to do so immediately for fear of Leevi's health.
When I felt reasonably certain that we were in no danger of immediate death, I buried Captain LeMay's body outside into the snow. The cold will keep it preserved for when the rescue team arrives in what I hope to be only six to seven day's time. I then organized all of our food supplies and moved them and the refrigeration units into the engineering compartment. It appears we should have enough to last us the week.
There are many preparations I feel I need to attend to, but I would like to take a moment to record some of my thoughts regarding the condition that we found Earth in prior to our attempt to breach the stratosphere. Captain LeMay's last report detailed the apparent lack of the intruder fleet, as well as speculation on where they might have gone. This has not changed. If we had seen any sign of their ships we would never have attempted to enter the atmosphere. But, after circling the planet for over a day, we found no material sign of their presence.
We have seen their touch upon this world. It is quite dramatic and startling as Captain LeMay tried to convey in his last message. Not only have the aliens themselves disappeared, but all traces of human habitation have also been eliminated. We were able to recognize the landscape, and there was definitely signs of population centres clustered in all the familiar places, across the European continent, along either coasts of the American continent, and others. But these signs were strange. We saw no buildings anywhere, and there were certainly no transmissions or distress signals originating from the planet. Even our satellites in orbit have disappeared.
But first, before I become distracted, let me tell you what I saw when I looked at where Paris and New York should have been. Although I cannot be sure, given that we were incapable of approaching closer at the time, it appeared that all of the buildings had been replaced with large quantities of humus. I found no sign of the Eiffel Tower, or the Statue of Liberty when studying the landscape, nor was I able to find any other large structure. Even the Great Wall of China has been reduced to an overly large brown smudge on the landscape. Somehow, all of the matter that made up Earth's civilization has been converted into organic compounds.
We made no sighting of any humans on the surface of the planet. If there are any left alive, they must have journeyed underground. I think it stands to reason that the alien intruders have extinguished all human life on Earth. For what purpose they have done so I hesitate to guess. Over the next day I will scour the Nina's memory banks and transmit as many images as I can possibly find. I fear that it will not be enough for you to form a more cogent hypothesis, but at the very least it will be a beginning. Now that we know the alien intruders have left Earth, or at least, no longer appear to be here, more scout vessels can be sent to ascertain Earth's fate.
There are several things I must still do first. I must check on Leevi and then I still need to move some of our supplies from the sleeping compartment. I will continue to send messages until the rescue ship arrives. For now, Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.12.23:01 SST
Msg: Ensign Ioan Leevi here. Lieutenant Mackay has been furiously working these last six hours. I am glad that he has been unharmed. He has done much for me to make me comfortable. Both of my legs have been broken, and I know I will need medical attention soon if I am to ever walk unaided again. Mackay splinted my legs before sending the distress message, and some of the pain from that is beginning to fade at last. They now feel numb but warm when I am in the sleeping bag. Mackay would be quite surprised if he saw that I had climbed into the cockpit to transmit this message. But he is back in the rear engineering compartment moving equipment around, and I can drag myself well enough.
Anyway, Mackay detached the sleeping bags from the wall and nestled us both in the main compartment. The filtration system in the sleeping compartment is damaged, so we dare not risk sleeping there. Mackay suggests we sleep in rotation, and I agree. I just hope I'll be able to sleep. I need to go now. I can hear Mackay returning.
Leevi out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.13.11:14 SST
Msg: Our first night of sleep here on Earth was punctuated by the howling of the storm outside. After one particularly loud outburst, I rose to examine the seals around the main hatch to insure that our heat had not been compromised. The hatch itself was fully pressurized, so I extended my inspection to the other compartments in the ship. After an hour of search, I found a crack in one of the seals in the aft supply compartment. I took the time to weld the door shut and verify that all ventilation in that compartment was shut down before returning to sleep.
I am pleased to say that my efforts eliminated the noise from the storm, though another hour would have brought that concern to an end. When I rose this evening, I found that the storm had abated and we could see the sun on the horizon. Still, the problems of last night have preyed on my mind and I have sought to do everything I can to preserve what power we have.
We have one working backup generator on board and I have already hooked it in place should we need it. I believe that I can scavenge parts from the three damaged generators to make a second given enough time.
I would have already begun work on this but Leevi called out claiming that he was in need of food. After attending to his needs, I inspected our food stores and found that we do not have nearly as much as I first guessed. One of the refrigerators suffered damage in the crash and was leaking fluids. All of the food I stored there has been spoiled, I am sorry to say. I will have to see what can be scavenged from the area if we hope to survive the next week.
With the storm abated, I will try to ascertain our true position.
Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.13.13:02 SST
Msg: Leevi here. Mackay is outside the ship examining something. I cannot tell what he is doing from the cockpit. Night has fallen here. I looked at the computer calendar and it should be about May here on Earth too. The sun set not long ago, and the Aurora Borealis hangs in the sky. It's very beautiful. Similar to what I have seen on Sirrus, but still, enchanting all the same.
I thought I saw something sparkling in the aurora, and it made me wonder whether the aliens have really left. I mean, we saw them only briefly in the last transmissions Earth sent before all went quiet. I remember feeling my blood go cold as I watched that huge army of ships just descend out of space and obliterate the sky. They can't have all left could they? There's just nothing left here on the Earth though. It's frightening.
Uh oh. Mackay's coming back around. Leevi out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.14.5:41 SST
Msg: The weather here is bothersome. Only a few hours after dawn, the storm returned and has kept us cooped up inside the ship. As Leevi reminded me, there are only so many times that one can tell the same set of jokes before one grows bored of them.
Still, I think the storm is beginning to break at last, and when it does, I will continue my search of the area. From what I have seen, the Nina is nestled against the side of an ice face. The snow was only a few inches deep when I walked around yesterday.
The isolation has become troublesome. I have been having trouble gripping my pencil in my right hand these last few hours. Spots and stars have danced before my eyes at times too. It is all very peculiar. I fear that if the storm does not pass soon, Leevi and I may have to restrict our diets even more.
I am going to inspect the ship once more before I attempt to sleep.
Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.15.5:27 SST
Msg: The storm has abated once again, and I hope to attend to one problem that has become increasingly acute: our food shortage. Using one of the tension rods I left in the rear engineering compartment, I intend to fashion a makeshift fishing rod. I can use some of the leftover foil from one of our earlier meals as a lure. The reflective surface should attract some of the North Atlantic fish that undoubtedly wait beneath the surface of the water. It is not that long of a walk to the shore, and if the weather stays clear, I feel certain I will be able to catch something to tide us by.
I wish that Leevi would not eat so much though. It is true that he needs the nourishment to mend his legs, but he appears to be eating more than is necessary. He's beginning to look bloated. I will remind him of our need to conserve our food stores. It has only been two and a half days since we've crashed now, and my first message still will not have reached Sirrus at this point. Another eighteen hours and I am sure you will have sent a ship.
Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.15.8:58 SST
Msg: Mackay's outside fishing. Took him an hour to make his fishing rod, and damn if he didn't snarl at me when I offered to help. I am afraid the isolation is doing more harm to his sanity than it is to mine. I think he's trying to keep himself occupied while waiting for rescue. He just moves about all the time. Doesn't want to talk about home anymore at all. You should have seen him during the storm, pacing back and forth with such a scowl on his face.
He complained about me putting on weight. Me? He's the one who's getting chubby around the middle -- Lieutenant Mackay! I can barely move my legs, and here he comes lumbering up the hallway all beady-eyed and testy.
Please send a rescue ship soon! I don't know how much longer we can take this place. There is something wrong here. I don't think the aliens have left Earth alone. It's not the place I heard about in all the vids. Leevi out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.15.9:36 SST
Msg: This is Lieutenant Robert Mackay. I've just returned from my fishing expedition. My plan was not as successful as I had hoped. Though I spent three hours by the seashore waiting for a bite, I fear that I only claimed a single fish. It will be enough to feed us both a single meal, at least once I clean it and prepare it. I confess that I did not consider how I would cook a fish before setting out, but my mind is working on the problem as I speak.
One thing that puzzles me though, is that the radio equipment here was left on. I distinctly recall shutting it down after sending my last transmission a little over four hours ago. Only Leevi could have turned it on, and when I asked him, he denied using it. I have checked the communications log and it does not appear to be tampered with, nor does it show that Leevi has sent any messages. Still, I will examine it in greater detail.
But first, the fish. Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.15.21:31 SST
Msg: Leevi has become quite irritable lately. He does not even want to try moving his legs at all, and spent the entire day cocooned in his sleeping bag. I informed him that I should inspect his bandages to insure that his legs were healing properly. However, he rebuffed my offer, and claimed that his legs were in fine shape. I have my doubts about this, but cannot vocalize them with any clarity.
There is something else that is bothering me. The area just outside the main hatch has begun to smell like fish, though I can think of no reason why that might be the case. Leevi suggested it was the fish I caught, but I can tell that they have different scents. This is something different, but I do not know what yet.
I should check on Leevi, whether he likes it or not.
Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.16.21:24 SST
Msg: It has been a very productive day today. The weather has lightened even further, becoming, dare I say it, almost comfortable outside in temperature. It is still freezing, but there is a sense of hidden warmth in the air that I could feel even as I searched the environs around the ship. I intend to go back out again in an hour. I will make a larger circuit of the area. I know that there were many scientific outposts in the North Atlantic. Perhaps I will stumble upon signs of one such place.
Already I've made one pleasant discovery. Our meat supplies are now fully stoked, and we should have enough to eat to last us another week. Certainly long enough for a rescue operation to be successful.
There was one other surprise that I was greeted with today. When I reached for a pen earlier, I found myself grasping it in my left hand. Now isn't that odd?
Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: SST
Msg: Leevi here, but I don't know for how much longer. Mackay is losing his mind, I think that's obvious now. He watches me all the time, and he gives me such strange glares. His eyes, oh there is something in his eyes that chills me! It's not healthy, that's what. Not healthy at all.
Nor am I. Something's wrong with me too. My legs, they're broken in more places than before. I can feel the breaks as I touch them. But there's not much pain involved. It's very strange. My whole body feels strange, but I do not know what is happening.
God, I wish that you would come and get me away from this! Hurry up! It's been almost five days now! Please rescue us!
Oh no, Mackay's coming back! Leevi out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.17.00:58 SST
Msg: I am afraid to say that I found little in my expedition. I am convinced that we have crashed on Ellesmere Island though. I also believe, based on the length of the day, and the position of the stars at night, that we are on the southern tip of the island. That would explain why there are so many fish in the waters around us. I wish I could catch them though.
Leevi is definitely getting worse. Of that there can be no doubt. He is decidedly bloated, and he continues to refuse to allow me to inspect his bandages. The isolation and lack of mobility I believe have contributed to his growing paranoia. If his symptoms persist, I may be forced to restrain him. I hope that I can avoid doing so, but...
I wish that he would confide in me. I have been digging into the computer logs and I have found that he has been tampering with the recorder. Who knows what nonsense he has been spewing into the radio. If you have received any messages from Ensign Ioan Leevi recently, ignore them. I fear his dementia may be expressing itself that way.
Regardless, I shall endeavour to maintain his life despite his own stubbornness.
Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.18.01:12 SST
Msg: Mackay is so restless he cannot stay inside, and I am glad he's gone! I don't even want to be near him anymore! He's not... the same man that I left Sirrus with. He's not even a man anymore! Something is happening to him, whether he truly realizes it or not. But, ah the same thing is happening to me, and to the ship. I am rushing, I am sorry, but I want to tell you what I have seen so you know and know not to try and rescue us. The invaders have done something to Earth, something that keeps us from it -- something horrible.
After Mackay left this time, I climbed out of the main hatch myself, once I was sure he was good and gone. When he goes on his walks, he tends not to come back for at least a few hours. He didn't even take his environment suit with him... ah, I'm getting ahead of myself again.
The first thing I noticed outside was that the scent of fish that had been tickling my nose was far stronger. The snow around the hatch has been disturbed and packed frequently. I dug in the snow and found Captain LeMay's body there. Only it wasn't Captain LeMay anymore, not really.
I have seen dead bodies, and I have seen frozen bodies. LeMay's was neither. It was still flexible, without any signs of corruption at all. Even where Mackay has been cutting chunks of flesh off. Yes, Mackay's little fish supply was not from the sea as he told me. It's been from LeMay's body. But damn, it tasted like fish, and I would know. But that's not the strangest thing. I said LeMay didn't look dead, but of course he was. But somehow, his body had started changing, becoming more piscine. More fish-like. His skin was developing a sheen of scales, and good God, his eyes were glassy, and little fins were starting to protrude from his sides and back. Even his fingers were thin and sharp like fish fins.
And that's not all, but the outer hull of the ship flaked off when I touched it. This high grade compound that is resistant to temperatures up to thousands of degrees was coming off in my hand. I ran it between my fingers, and it smelled and tasted like dirt. Yes, soil. What did Mackay call it, humus! Yes, that was it. I could barely believe my eyes, but it was right there in front of me.
Before Mackay comes back, I need to tell you one other thing. Mackay and I have also been changing like Captain LeMay. It has taken me this long to realize it, but it has to be the case. Mackay has been gaining weight consistently since we have arrived, and not just at his gut. He's bulkier in all of his limbs, his chest, and even his face is larger than before. He's a beast! The last I saw of him he was definitely shaggy in appearance with hair all over his body. His beard had a strange bluish tint to it in places as well. And damn if his teeth didn't look vicious when he smiled at me before he went out.
As for myself, my legs are gaining mobility again, but not in the way that I was used to. I have a web of flesh between my legs -- I found it when I woke this morning. When I saw it first, it was very thin and I could see through it. It's already an inch thick, and that's after only twelve hours! My hands... oh Sophie my hands they... they have become webbed too. And my teeth...
Sirrus, please do not come and rescue us! If you are on your way, turn back now! The aliens have done something to Earth to keep us away from here forever! Anything that has seen the touch of human hands simply becomes something else on this planet. Our cities are mounds of dirt, and all our fellow man have become beasts of the land and sea. I don't think there's anything that you can do for us.
Oh God, Sophie forgive me. No! God, no! Mackay is coming back! Ah, no!

Orig: Nina TR: 5.18.05:20 SST
Msg: This is Lieutenant Robert Mackay. I returned from my expedition to find that Ensign Ioan Leevi has lost all sense and has become completely insane. I have restrained him in the forward engineering compartment for his own safety. For some time now, he has been plotting against us both, I am afraid to say. I know now that he has been sending messages, though I caution you to ignore them. Whatever he has to say is doubtless deranged. Further, he has left the safety of the ship and ransacked my fish supplies that I was keeping in the snow to preserve them. He has half eaten several chunks of cold fish, another clear sign of his lunacy.
I attribute his mental degradation on the odd physical deformities that he has developed in the last two days. His flesh has become flabby, thick and rubbery, while his legs are very distorted. I at first suspected cancer, but I now doubt that he is afflicted such. I am unsure of the exact origins of his peculiar metamorphosis, but I doubt it is anything malignant. He smells quite healthy in fact -- appetizing even.
Still, these changes have preyed upon his mind in ways that I see clearly now. It is my hope that once you send the rescue ship, something can be done for him. It has been five days now since we crashed here on Earth, so, I am looking to the sky. Any day now we can expect you. Any day.
Mackay out.

Orig: Nina TR: 5.20.06:11 SST
Msg: You haven't come yet. It's been seven days and you haven't come. Why haven't you come to rescue us? I cannot stay here much longer. The ship is startling to crumble around us. Some of the controls have already fallen apart. I think this is the last time I can call you.
I found a cleft in the rock and snow that I can take shelter in while I wait for you. When the water freezes, I'll cross the ice to the land to the South. There's more food down there. I have enough meat to tide me for a while though.

[dead air for a minute]

Leevi is dead. Struggled against his bonds too long. I tried to subdue him, but he died. Sorry.

[dead air for a minute]

I definitely think it is warmer now. Not melting the snow, but I feel warmer. It's nice. Going to go for a walk now. Maybe fish some more. I hope you come and find me. I don't think the radio will work when I get back. So this is Lieutenant Robert Mackay, and I have to go now. Bye.

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