“She won’t calm down, dammit!”
“Strap her down, then.”
“Shit. One of the best, gonna be wacko now for God knows how long. Perhaps forever.”
“Space hysteria. She was bound to be prone to it.”
“Oh, shut the fuck up, Bruce. Hormones and gyne don’t make you more susceptible to the space-freaky. It’s cold and lonely up here, and she was alone in a reccy pod. For months on end. Gender be damned, you Neanderthal. Best put her down on the bed and see if this tranq works. Hopefully after a good sleep she’ll be more inclined to talk.”
I knew at the time they didn’t believe me. No matter what I tried to tell them. That I’d not lost my mind, but that I had seen things and heard things and…touched and tasted and smelled things that would screw any sane person up.
I told them, for instance, about the dragging loneliness of the previous months. That I had just so desperately wished for some company – any company at all, even a drone, as long as it moved and whirred and made some sound.
And I told them about how I felt when, all of a sudden, despite my sensors giving no indication of anything in the area, the Station hove into view. God, she was gorgeous. Pinnacles and peaks, a Vernian City in the Sky. I knew at once that she was not a product of any Earth that I knew.
I told them that I tried to hail her. That all I got was static, and the fragments of a garbled message in a language that I had no chance of understanding. I told them that I was spooked, but there was something pulling me towards her. I don’t know what. The promise of company, perhaps, or sheer curiosity.
I told them that on docking I felt wrong. Indefinably, but certainly, wrong. I felt sick, heavy, sluggish. And I told them that the way the grappling arms and tracker machinery for the docking bay creaked and groaned suggested to me that this was a Station left untended for a long, long time.
I told them that the air was cold and dusty when I reached the main concourse. I told them that all the lights were on, and that turning them off at the power made not the blindest bit of difference. I told them that all the food modules served a only tarry black mush. I told them that I could hear…scuttling. Rat-scratchy scritter-snitch. And husky breathing. I told them that, before I realized what had happened, my module had been sealed off from me. I told them that I got lost in the light. In the gargantuan space.
I told them that there was nowhere to hide.
I told them. I did.
“She’s determined we shouldn’t go. I am inclined to agree.”
“Oh come on. It’s there and it’s fantastic. This is the find of the century. We have to go. If we don’t, we’ll be deemed cowards. Frightened of a hysterical woman’s fairytale.”
“I’ve told you before. She’s not hysterical.”
“So you expect me to believe that what she told us is the product of a sane mind? Come on. She’s worked herself into a frenzy. Nothing more. Space bonkers.”
“I think you’re wrong. We didn’t beleive her that the Station existed and now, here it is. I feel like we should believe her on this count too.”
“She found something incredible and was overwhelemed. That’s all. Nothing sinister.”
“Well I’m going. You come or not, it’s up to you.”
“Supposed I’d better. I don’t want you wrecking things over there. But I’m not happy. We’ll stay in contact with the ship regularly. She’ll be alright with the drones. I have to admit…the prospect of exploring something this alien is becoming more and more appealing.”
I told them. I screamed at them when they said they were going. I told them that they wouldn’t come back. I told them that I had launched myself out in my evac suit knowing that I would probably die alone in space but that that was better than being in there and…not alone.
I told them that they couldn’t leave me. That they had found me and now they couldn’t leave. I told them that they’d find nothing of value. Just waking nightmares.
But they didn’t listen. They went.
But they never came back.
I’m still waiting. I can’t fly this thing. I know how it works. But my hands and eyes don’t work anymore. The light in the Station was so bright and hot.
I can smell. And taste. And hear. That’s all.
And mostly, the only thing I hear is scuttling.