The Spectator, chapters 1-3
Prologue: New Beginnings/Origins
I was a mechanic on the Space Station codenamed “Little Wonder” at the time, which was ironic because it was the largest station in the region and leading the exploration mission of 5TRQ4. Being chosen as the lead mechanic for operation Little Wonder was a great honour, at least that’s what they wanted all the candidates to think. In reality, Little Wonder was a ticking time bomb, a powder keg waiting to explode on itself and the vast emptiness of deep space. After humans discovered the potential of fusion power and how unstable it can be at times as an energy source, they boldly left their little blue marble and never dared look back at what they had done to the once shimmering planet. I’m only half human you see, on my mother’s side, my ‘Father’ was among the now extinct species called “Yekim” these rather horrid crimson creatures originally from a planet that has since been lost to time. Luckily for me, I do not display any of the physical characteristics of the Yekim, such as the small horns atop the head. Yekim legend states that the females would use the horns in tandem with a thick black liquid on the planet to channel some sort of godly power. But legends are one thing I did not believe in. It was also rumoured that when the liquid would come into contact with the skin, the person’s skin would then begin to display various symbols, as of now, we only know a few of them and are not one hundred percent sure of what they mean. Hopefully, we would find out soon because one of the main goals of this mission was to triangulate the location of the home planet of the Yekim and understand their culture and why they suddenly vanished. The other two directives were to find a different intelligent life, if the Yekim thing didn’t work out and to find an alternate fuel source. The idea was that if we found the home planet then we might be able to get the other two as well, who knows what these creatures were obscuring from us. When the humans discovered my father’s species, or what was left of them, they were in the wide open nothingness or Q4 in the Cetrap galaxy. Initial reports say that there was about 100 of them on that ship, the humans nursed those that they deemed fitting of survival back to health and some were even given the chance to reproduce, like my father. Unfortunately for the humans, things didn’t quite go according to plan, after being analyzed by the humans computers and forced into their own quarters, they just disappeared. The next day the captain went into those very quarters and found nothing. It wasn’t until about a year later that they found out that some of the women aboard the ship had gotten pregnant, there were three of them and they would soon each give birth to one son. The Yekim were truly an elusive species.
Chapter One: A New Home
The dominant voice of supreme captain Adam Lagaler came on over the intercom to announce that we were approaching a fusion refueling centre. These breaks are about the only good thing on this forsaken ship. No longer were we confined to our rooms with the seemingly possessed vents making a strange noise every couple minutes. It became a running gag among the few armed guards that it was “aliens” or “Space Monsters”. It made me do just that, gag, either they were extremely stupid and didn’t realize I was part Yekim or they did it just to annoy me. Both realistic possibilities.They would also talk about how they have a strange desire to just start shooting upwards and kill whatever was up there. As the mechanic it was my duty to tell them that it was just a fuse problem and that there was nothing up there, we do have scanners after all. But there were times that even I doubted the words that came out of my mouth and I had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time. I swear, this place gets to you, it sure was a Little Wonder.
A day in the life of the lead mechanic aboard this ship went something like this. After the mandatory 8 AM Health and Psych. Evaluation I would start in the engine room, make sure the fusion source is still kicking. The engine room had these small levers and switches and buttons scattered along the mainframe. I was the lead mechanic and even I didn’t know what most of them did, if that isn’t proof enough that this title is just a ruse because the Galactic Republic needed one of the three sons then I’m not sure what will convince you. However, most peculiar there was a small keyhole at the top left with a button under the glass residing next to said keyhole. I liked to joke around with myself and assume that it was a self-destruct button but there was only one person that knows what that button is: Adam Lagaler. After the engine room, I would head to the cockpit to report any “findings” to supreme captain Lagaler. We were pretty good friends. I quickly found out that he was not prejudiced towards me as was 85% of the crew here, which in my book, made us instant friends. Maybe it was just his job to bring everyone together. I don’t know how he did it either, pretty average guy, short brown hair, tall, glasses, nothing strange about him at all. After my little chat with Adam, I go around to the bathrooms as there was, for some unknown reason, very important and fragile tech. In the ceilings and vents. Don’t know whose idea it was but I hate them immensely for it. This was by far the worst part of my average day here, but I would soon find out that there were not a lot of average days left for me. People would always look at me weird when I walk into the bathroom holding my toolbox. I would always have to explain my whole job to them. That would happen at least once every day. The rest of the day I would stay on call in the mess hall, fixing things that might go awry for some reason or another. Even though I might be essentially useless, and we might all die here for not having a real mechanic, it was certainly better than being back “home” wherever that was.
Chapter Two: Entwined
I woke up in the middle of our allotted sleeping time, gasping for breath after empty breath. Drenched in sweat, I look around at everyone still in their pods, nobody around, no lights except for the dim green lights in everyone’s pods. Sleeping in this place was a dreadful experience, you couldn’t move two inches to either side of you. About two inches above your face when you get in was a mask, welcoming you to the pit that might very well be hell. Inside on the right was a red button that I knew all too well if you press it the mask would be released and the pod would open. However if someone did this then all the other 5 pods in your row would open up. Everyone in my quarter knew I had problems with this very alien way of sleeping. Luckily it wasn’t too big of a deal due to their being no “day” or “night” in the great wide open space. Little wonder was always moving ahead at incredible speeds to chart any and everything it picked up in its path, which unfortunately was not a lot. As I said it is very boring here most of the time. I’m not really sure what caused my dreams to be so vivid and wake me up. What I do know is that the day following my disturbance an event of some kind happens. Sometimes big, sometimes inconsequential, but it always rhymes, I have a bad dream, something bad will always happen…
This was no exception, my dream depicted my dear friend Adam’s bloodied corpse in the engine room, near the back. When I approached him cautiously, his body seemed to slowly dissipate until all that remained was his captain’s gear and hat. All of a sudden the intercoms come on, the very ones that Adam and Adam alone can control. I heard a faint growling, almost a gurgling, then slow, controlled breaths. It was incessant with hardly a pattern to follow. I slowly began to creep towards the sound. Sweating profusely, I managed to haul one boot after the other down the twisting, narrow light flickering hallway where I believed the sound was coming from. I only got a few more steps before I saw it. A tall, lanky, discoloured figure stood in the middle of the darkening hall. Fading in and out of the light, almost like it was dancing with the light itself becoming enveloped by it then casting it aside. All the lights behind me and the figure were going out one by one. I rubbed my eyes with my now soaked hands. The figure had not faltered in between my eye rub, still standing in my path, nearly engulfed by the shadow that had been creeping up behind it. A few moments later there was no defined shape of a figure, just 2 toxic green eyes, unblinking, looking directly at me, or perhaps in my direction. I was too paralyzed with fear to look behind me to see if another was sneaking up. Suddenly, the figure began to inch its way towards my shellshocked body. Paralyzed with fear, it was at that moment that I was sure the Yekim were not the only ones out there. As it took a few more steps towards me, now within an arm’s length I could hear the message over the intercom clearer now, that thing was making the noise, I could hear it clearer now. In between the gargling and the dripping of saliva likely coming from its putrid mouth was a message, I believe it said “Not Alone” which just solidified what I had already realised in the terrifying moments before.
Throughout the next day, all I could do was replay the extremely vivid dream, especially the last few moments. The clarity of it all almost made me think that it was the big wigs trying out some virtual reality tech on us while we were sleeping. Yet I was too terrified to ask anyone else if they had something similar. As I dropped by to see Adam, as usual, he looked different. Or perhaps that was just my mind still in shock trying to make sense of it all. But I swear that he seemed like a shell of himself. A great dark bag hung below each bloodshot green eye of his. I looked at the spot that I had seen Adam’s corpse at in my dream. Not really sure why I looked in that dark, little, insignificant corner. Maybe I was looking for answers, maybe I hoped that the easy explanation to all this madness would be in a blasted corner. Adam noticed I was slipping out of consciousness again and snapped a few times to get me out of it. He asked me if I was alright. I wasn’t of course, however, I still gave the same answer.
“C’mon, It’s me”
This always seems to reassure him for some unknown reason. I continued with my daily duties except this time I kept thinking about just what that thing could have possibly been. Did I just witness the future? The past? Or the most frightening of all the options, the present. I began to get anxious; sweating once again. A strange sense of vertigo overwhelmed me as I looked out the windows into once again the vast nothingness. I desperately dashed out of the command centre. Faster and faster until I reached my room. I don’t remember why I went there, I opened up my footlocker at the foot of my bed. I pulled out a folded brown piece of paper folded over itself multiple times as evidenced by the many creases all over it. I had never seen this thing before. On one side of the folded, aged paper said one single word: Yekim. I was now even more certain that we were not alone, on this ship, or in the galaxy.
Chapter Three: Inside
My mind was racing, I was the chief engineer, nobody had access to my room except for me, let alone my footlocker. This couldn’t be a prank, this mission was supposedly too important to be screwing around. I glanced down at the tattered brown parchment and shoved it back into my foot locker and locked it. It took me a few days before I gathered enough courage to open it up and not a day goes by without me regretting that decision. The map revealed a star map of the galaxy. My eyes frantically read over what had been inscribed on the map, various symbols of which I could not identify scattered the map. I grazed my trembling fingers down the rough map, examining the crudely drawn pictures and print, whoever made this was clearly in a hurry. This lettering here looked like some kind of hieroglyphics. I continued my examination, crouched on the floor in my room, sweat fell from my forehead and plopped onto the map. It was then that I saw a dimly glowing symbol of some kind at the top right corner. It was some kind of symbol I had never seen before, then it dawned on me, it was the astronomical symbol for Saturn (♄) but it was different. The cross at the top was elongated, almost to a ridiculous amount. I touched it and the whole room was illuminated red for around 4 or 5 seconds then the light from the symbol faded away, and with it, all the lights on the station. Little Wonder was now seemingly engulfed by the space that surrounded it. Something that I had deemed impossible. But then again, this whole trip didn’t exactly reside in the realm of possibility.
I stumbled my way out of the room and it locked behind me. I moved my eyes left to right, slowly, looking for anyone or anything that might be waiting in the darkness. I’m sure there was a place we all should go in a situation like this but I wasn’t there the day they told us about it. This was supposed to be impenetrable and the safest vessel ever made. I saw nobody and paranoia began to set in as a result. My body was tense, my hands latched onto the map holding on for dear life, my feet heavy as bricks. One after the other I made my way down the dark desolate hallway. Abruptly, as I entered the kitchen, a single light dimly awoke from the darkness. It illuminated a table, every fiber of my being told me not to approach it. Yet, I began to near it, when the intercom system came on with a very familiar, booming, monotone voice. It said, “Stay away from the future; Back away from the light.” A few moments passed as I stood there, frozen and conflicted by what I heard. The message repeated itself but this was not a message that I would heed. The voice over the intercom was not Adam’s so I would not obey it. I walked up to the table and shockingly noticed another brown map that, like the one before, was folded up. I looked at the one clenched in my hand and picked the other one up with my empty hand. The moment I did that the light went out with a flash and everything was plunged into darkness once again. Everything got dizzier and my vision was clouded, a few seconds later I collapsed onto the floor.
I regained consciousness in an empty rectangular white room. The blinding lights in there were not something I was used to as Little Wonder did not have a single room this bright, I should know. It was at that moment as I was laying on the floor looking at the remarkably clean ceiling that I was not on Little Wonder anymore. As I stood up and looked around a few times I realized there was nothing in this room, not even anything that would be emanating the light. Or so I thought until I examined one of the corners more, there was a small black and white speck there. I steadily approached it when it seemingly started to grow larger, rapidly too, as it did this I quickly realized that this was not simply some speck on the wall, it was some sort of 8-legged creature, native to Earth, long extinct, like most of the things from Earth. The 8 cream coloured hairy legs protruded from its grotesque, metallic black body. A few red eyes sat atop the head staring unblinkingly at me. It did not attack me, instead, it chose to sit on the wall doing nothing in particular. I think it realized that I was not afraid of it, that was just a show, on the inside I was terrified for my life but if you don’t show it, then they don’t know. It’s easier to fool simple minded creatures like that. Seemingly instantly there was a bright flash around the body section that caused me to shield my eyes. The flash ended and the creature was no more, in its place stood a man. He didn’t look like a normal man that you would see walking the halls of Little Wonder. He wore a black jacket and pants, paired with cream coloured shoes, cane, and a top hat. He began to chuckle a little bit and removed his hand from his pocket and placed it over his stomach, revealing a rather strange arachnid ring on his pinky finger.
“Oh, my oh my, so sorry about that. Well, not really, it’s not my fault! I’m cursed, I can’t control when that thing will come out, I swear”
He was now on the floor rolling around, begging and pleading with me before getting back up with a devious smirk on his face, clearly insane.
“Who are you?” I viciously replied, still looking around the room.
“You’re kidding, right? I thought everyone knew the name Cyrus Schultz, I uh kind of made that big ol’ tin can you’ve been floating on, but you may simply call me The Architect and I am certain we shall meet again, until then stranger...”
And just like that, with a flurry of laughter the figure was gone and the darkness once again engulfed the once pure white room.