C o m m e n c e m e n t
Resplendent light illuminates the track tonight
its skeleton in strobing light
Under the caliginous sky
they make their final descent
Hoarse screams all abound
pungent smells all around
They peer through shuttered eyes
to ameliorate their darkened hearts
The C o m m e n c e m e n t
Far from the atmosphere
their spacesuits now linger near…
“Whataya working on, Mitch?” Mission Specialist Dubov said, startling Mitch as he entered the centrifuge. He tossed up an old marble once belonging to his son, and with the marble falling and resting in his palm again he went on: “The crew says you’ve been despondent because of the new trajectory… Listen, it’ll only be another 3 Earth days till we touchdown… lookin’ forward to running a lap or two.”
“I’m sorry if I’m hindering spirits here, Dub, but I’m just looking for a little time away from… from…”
“Poetry, huh?” Dubov interrupted. “I used to write Olga poetry when we were going through the cancer treatments.” Dubov sat down at the table removing a quill pen from a nylon pouch. “The crew and I weren’t supposed to know either until we were home with our families. I’m sorry you had to find out the news from Haman… How far along was she?”
“Just 4 Months this time.”
“Listen, take this pen, and instead, write Laurie in ink.” Dubov placed the pen down next to Mitch’s communications device. “Whatever you’re wanting to say to her right now may be distorted by the troubles we’ve been having on this ship. Let’s take things slower, alright?”
Oxygen level… depleting, the onboard Darwin 7200 sounded throughout the spacecraft.
“Mitch, the truth is, we’ve been in contact with Laurie through Houston and we’re quite aware of the communications you’ve been sending her over the last 48 hours. Now’s not the time to give up goddamn it. She needs you—the crew needs you.”
“I won’t do it,” Mitch said slowly shaking his head while preparing tea in the mess hall. “They’re good people… with families.”
You’ve never cared much for others Mitchel. What’s different?
Through the porthole, Mitch fixed his stare on a binary system 4 thousand light-years away. He tried to rid his mind from, of what seemed like, an onslaught of deprecating language coming from Darwin. He silently witnessed a region of stars blink out one star at a time, until nothing was left but inhospitable darkness. Nonsensical, he thought.
Moths? Within seconds the porthole was awash with peppered moths frantically crawling on the outside pane, as if trying to make their way into the ship.
It’s time Mitchel
“Propofol,” Chantel said. “He’ll be home before he knows it.” She took a vial from a white case, then filled a syringe with the agent and flicked at it 3 times.
“We are within code to administer the agent without his consent,” Haman said, looking at Dubov with sudden confidence and vehemency. “He’s a threat to us and a threat to himself… Once we dock at the station and make the necessary repair, we can initiate the anesthetic.”
“Do you think he’ll ever come to perceive his psychosis and that we need not play nice anymore?” Haman asked.
“I don’t know…”
Home is where the heart is…
Affixed, he stared at his blurred and battered self-reflection as the rain pelted the paned glass window. Behind him, the slow hypnotic sound of the tick and the tock from the old grandfather clock—unwavering.
A precipitous act, or perhaps a brief moment of clarity, he toppled the wooden chair that was affixed to his ass onto the cold ceramic floor—his head now appearing buoyant in a puddle of his own piss. He fixed his stare on the muddy footprints left by the 3 abductors and with tenacity, removed the remaining rope that bound his arms.
“Laurie!?” he called out, but the rain was tumultuous and he barely seemed to make a whimper. His arms, having been repeatedly slashed by the intruders with a straight razor, buckled at the elbows by his weight. His lips once again tasting his own piss. He tried to establish contact again. “Lorrr?” he shouted. His knees and elbows worked his way out of the precarious position, getting him vertical again. Mission accomplished.
He tumbled down the hallway onwards to the staircase. Alcohol-free, but still with a twist; a twisted fucking ankle. In rapid succession and outré, the metal-framed wedding pictures from yesteryear fell from the walls smashing to the floor as he passed. Unfazed and determined to connect, he pressed onwards to the oak stairs.
Well folks, spring has finally sprung… a radio blared from the upstairs bedroom after some brief static, Are you ready for it? At the top of the hour, meet Sandy Wilson, botanist, accomplished mother of 3, and on the bestseller list with the title Meet your Greens—we’ll chat. I can use all the help I can get…
And another thing, Mitchel… The radio sounded after some more static.
Oxygen level… depleting
Mitchel opened the bedroom door. A blood-soaked comforter; not so comforting. In crimson hue, a handprint smeared across the bathroom door. “We wish you’d turn back,” Dubov said while sitting at the end of the bed tossing the marble that had once fallen dying son’s hand, then rolled along the hospital room floor resting next to Dubov’s foot. “There’s nothing more we can do. We’ve done everything we could to stop you—from yourself. But there’s something else going on in that head of yours, Mitch… The truth is that Olga and I…”
Oxygen level… depleting
“Chantel’s here to administer the agent!” Dubov said changing the conversation and his pitch. Footsteps clacked on the staircase getting louder and faster.
“It’s true?” Mitchel asked. “Laurie did it? Killed herself.” He again turned to the crimson door. “I understand why I haven’t received a response to my last enquiry.”
“Slit her wrists in the bathtub,” Dubov said. He lowered his head pointing to the bathroom door. “Go ahead, sir.”
“Mitchel!” Chantal and Haman shouted in unison after having arrived. He turned the handle feverishly stepping into the bathroom. Peppered moths frantically made their way in, pelting and whizzing by Mitch’s face reminiscent to looking out the porthole while traveling at warp speed through a cluster of stars in Andromeda.
They watched through the porthole as Mitchel’s body slowly rotated in dead silence, his body appearing smaller and smaller as he drifted farther away into cold dark space.