The shadows were black, absolute pitch in their darkness. They sliced along the jumbled shapes of the rubble and debris with linear perfection, demarcating the light with a precision that could not be reproduced on Earth.

The phenomenon never ceased to amaze her. The moon was a strange enough place without every standing form creating deadly pools of hidden dangers. How the footprints of her previous explorations of that place were still there, undisturbed even years after her boots had made them. How the lifeless silence always led to weird auditory hallucinations, brain-noise against the blank canvas around her. She’d taken to muting her radio whenever out for extended walks, as she was prone to being startled by the sounds from her own brain.

A whisper came from the wrecked habitation dome in front of her, a whisper from lips she knew weren’t there, couldn’t be there. Wordless utterances, phantom hands sliding down walls and across carpets. Sliding towards her.

She fumbled for the light that was clipped to her belt, only to find that it wasn’t there. How could she have left without the light? The helmet that covered her head was equipped with lights, but they were only to be used in emergencies due to their heavy drain on the suit’s batteries. Was this an emergency? she asked herself. The whispering had stopped, replaced by a distant wind. Maybe not. But she had come to the habitation for a reason. There was something she needed to retrieve from the ruins, but what?

The forgetfulness was not a good sign. Perhaps the oxygen in the command module had become corrupted somehow, the nitrogen mix unbalanced. She’d heard of such things happening, and since they’d now been several months without an on-site engineer it was entirely possible that a good number of the systems were falling into disrepair. She remembered reading an instruction decal on the outer airlock while she’d waited for it to cycle open, how it had insisted that the internal mechanisms required weekly maintenance. A big red triangle with a skull in the center of it had punctuated the importance of such a task. How many critical maintenances had the door gone without now? Enough to make the skull laugh, she thought, and giggled a little herself.

2014.09.12 – 2023.05.08

Next: Earbuds (129)
Previous: On The Button (127)