None of us breathed as we listened intently to her. A slam of an airlock door. A gasp of relief. “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m in the kitchen wing. Two airlock doors are between us. It can’t get through. Johnson?”
“As far as I can tell, they’ve hit the door and can’t seem to get passed it.Something about it is making them stumble.” Johnson said. I peered over his shoulder and looked at the screen.
The mass of black specks were gathering en masse into one large ugly thing, making deeply curious and also scared.
“Anna’s safe. I think.” Johnson assured me. He pulled up the screen with all of our life signs blinking steadily. We could see Anna’s, still there, still moving.
“I think someone from security needs to go investigate how much damage these things can do and see how long the door can resist.” I suggested. Davis’s quick intake of air told me he wasn’t quite on board with that plan. “”Good point. I’ll stay here, monitor the comms. Davis, you go and discreetly tell the adults and Leo, you do your thing.” Johnson spoke with authority and I was ready to get things done. Davis, though, was hesitant.
“Leo, I don’t want you going there. It’s too dangerous. Who knows what will happen.” Davis grabbed my hand and refused to let go. “You saw what they were doing!”
“Hun, Davis, this is my job. I have to– no, I need to make sure my people are safe. It would kill me to know I had a chance to save people and failed.” I brought our hands up and kissed the back of his. “Johnson will be in direct communication with me the whole time.”
“I’ve just making sure Anna’s okay and the barrier is secure. And then I’ll be right back.” I assured him. He bit his lip and nodded. I gazed at him, hoping my love for him would shine through and give him hope. I was a capable man who didn’t do stupid things.
“Goddammit, Leo.” Davis shook his head before pinching the bridge of his nose. “I can’t deal with this.”
Johnson gave me a sympathetic shrug and passed me a small ear bud. “Once you give me the okay, I’m going to suck all the air out and maybe disorient them so they leave us and find somewhere else to harass.”
I nodded as though I agreed with him but I wasn’t too sure about these things actually losing interest.
I went over to Davis who was doing his level best to ignore me. HIs colour was high and he kept taking quick glances at me. I slid a hand down his arm to lace our hands together while he stood utterly still. “Davis, hon.”
“I don’t want to talk to you right now.” He muttered. I pulled him gently out of the room and to a small alcove thing just outside. Johnson didn’t need to be a part of our drama any more.
“Davis,” I brought up his hand for me to kiss and he didn’t say anything. “I will be perfectly safe this whole time. Johnson will be in my ear, telling me everything that’s going on. If those things start reacting or doing anything strange, he will let me know.”
My reassurances felt repetitive but I had to get to Davis to hear me. This was my job, my calling. Shaking my head, I kissed his cheek and walked away. It destroyed me, leaving him behind. He was my light and my love.
Getting into the suit alone was definitely not something I would do again. It’s clinging fabric and all of its mechanical add ons made it not fun.
Slipping on the helmet, I patted it once and turned on the microphone. “Okay, Johnson. I’m ready to do my thing.”
“Okay, so obviously, you’re going to go to the service corridor where Anna was. Everything should be okay there but that’s where the locked airlocks are. I want you to confirm everything there where it’s supposed to be. There’s no rust, no dents, nothing for the specks to eat.“ Johnson commanded. I nodded even though he couldn’t see me.
The hallway had already begun to have that abandoned feel to it. It was dark and lonely. There was no sense of life or activity. We hadn’t been able to do that yet.
A dull buzz permeated the air and it set my senses afire. My skin broke out in chills. I straightened up and proceeded more cautiously down the hall.
“What do you see, Leo?” Johnson asked. I swivelled my head and took stock of the situation.
“It’s not that there’s anything odd that’s visible. It’s an impression,” I said. I kept my guard up and moved down the hall. The throbbing noise was constant now. It moved and pulsed in a set rhythm. It was hypnotic. I was being drawn to the source.
“Be careful then.” Johnson clicked off and I was alone with a multitude of tiny specks. Carefully, I peered out any of the windows I could to see what was going on on the outside of the shell.
We had only been on the planet for maybe a day and the windows were covered in a dusty grimy film. I could barely see the mountain range protecting us from the majority of the dust storms.
As I peered out the window, trying to discern anything of importance, a mass of black crashed into the window, shattering the thick glass. I reared back. The loud thud scared the crap out of me.
Sneering I gave the mass my finger. The glass was thick and most impenetrable..
“We might be able to survive. They tried to break through the glass and couldn’t.” I said to Johnson. I continued on down the hallway, occasionally glancing to my right. The specks were right there with me. It was unnerving.
“Leo, Anna hasn’t reported in. I can’t locate her tracking beacon either. Can you do a search for me?” Johnson asked pensively. I bit my lip. This was worrisome.
“Where was her last location?” I asked, reversing course.A distant buzz filled my ears, distracting me from my task. I shook my head in an attempt to clear it.
It came back, louder than before. Huffing, I continued backtracking to where Anna was last seen.“Okay, JOhnson, I’m entering the school area now. Can you give me more information?”
A garbled noise was all I received. “Johnson?”
I waited impatiently for him to respond. Swearing viciously, and hating what I was about to do. I closed my eyes and opened up a channel. “Davis?”
“Are you okay?” I whispered as I peered into everyempty room , searching for Anna. My irritation was fast disappearing as my fear grew. There was no signs of life here in the education area. I didn’t see a chair out of place or evidence that Anna had been here.
“YEah?” Davis’s voice wavered and my longing for him threatened to swamp me. I needed him beside me now. I needed to protect him from whatever was out there.
“Can you gather everyone into the cafeteria and barricade the doors from everything?” I asked hopelessly.This was the absolute worst thing I had to do.
“Leo? What are you doing?” His voice that gave me so much joy cracked. I pressed my lips together and blinked away the tears. “Leo, don’t do this.”
“I have to, my love.” I took a shuddering breath. My resolve was fierce in its need to keep everyone safe. If I had to… no, I couldn’t think like that. “I’ll be there with you soon enough.”
“Dammit, Leonard. Don’t you dare do stupid things.” Davis chastised me. I was tempted to turn him off but even when he was frustrated with me, he made me happy.
I tightened all the latches and zippers on my suit, praying that this would give me a chance to survive the coming danger. As long as those tiny whatever they were focused on me, I knew that Davis would be alright. He had to be alright.
I shone my light down the hallway. I needed to find some evidence of Anna. I wanted to prove that she was smart enough to get away from the danger. I had to believe that.
My heart dropped when I discovered a boot in the middle of an empty hall. I approached it carefully. Was it Anna? Was she okay? Please tell me she only tripped.
The body was sprawled on their front, their arms above their head as though reaching for something. I followed the body line and lifted my eyes to see the haunting emptiness of black as night eyes gazing at me with quizzical wonder. I scrambled backwards and they lurched forward. I couldn’t get to my feet as the ground was slippery and I had no traction. The body reached toward me beseeching me and I shook my head, denying it anything.