These update logs are turning into a meta-narrative of sorts, chronicling my development as a writer in the same journal format I use for my fiction. I’m going to keep this up so I can look back on it later if I’m feeling discouraged and maybe other budding writers can find inspiration too. It’s like an Improvement Meme for writing. Expect to see the update logs get more and more involved with time.
All of these species have been added to Black Plants.
Odyssey II has been taken offline while it undergoes major changes. It will return when it is a complete story, if not a finished one.
Overhaul Report #3
Last night I wrote. And wrote. I don’t think I’ve ever written so much in one sitting except for school assignments. I wrote so much I reached the stage where I could harvest the bones of my darlings and put the whole story together on one page. I wasn’t expecting to get there until Novemberish. Most of the old passages went through some kind of transformation and many didn’t make the cut at all. The story still has some major holes in it so it’s not ready to go public yet, but it’s getting there, getting there…
This is going to be a whopper of a post.
Part 1: New introductory passages for some of the characters.
I’ve been involved with the Odyssey program for seventeen years. It started when I was a wee little engineer working for a wee little company that no one’s ever heard of. Inevitably they were absorbed by a multinational corporation by the name of Ceres Engineering and their thermal engineering department was dissolved. Jobless, I spent the next year disseminating applications all over the world, from the parts of China that weren’t Korea at some point in history, to India and even the Americas even though my English was poor at the time and my Spanish nonexistent.
Then something strange happened: a job sent an application to me. At this point I was so desperate I looked at the qualifications before bothering with the job description. The location was listed as “global” and the requirements were broad. Some made sense, but others…. Not planning to have children, if female? Ever? No current spouse or dependents? What kind of business would get involved in my business like that?
POSITION: ASTRONAUT ENGINEER CANDIDATE
APPT TYPE: CONTRACT – LONG TERM
So I applied to be an astronaut. Why? Because I had a drive to explore the greatest unknown? No. I applied because I was dirt poor and selection and training paid handsomely. It kept me afloat while I continued to apply to normal jobs. It kept me afloat long after I gave up on that proposition. As I watched the pool of candidates dwindle around me, I let myself believe I had a chance at being engineer of Odyssey I.
It’s a foregone conclusion. We all know I wasn’t chosen, but there’s more to the story.
The other finalist and I didn’t talk much. The language barrier could not be ignored, but that wasn’t all. Perhaps I resented her because she worked for Ceres and therefore had the luxury of quitting, while I was laid off because my employer wasn’t Ceres. Either way, the higher-ups thought it would be best to make the big choice before the friction between us could turn serious.
One Monday morning I got a knock on my door. Still in my pajamas, I answered. I froze. A man and a woman stood in my apartment hallway dressed for business. I knew what was coming.
“Good morning, Dr. Kim. I am Dietmar Drescher, codirector of the Odyssey program. If you have a minute, I would like to discuss your future with the program.” The woman translated, though I understood most of what Drescher said.
He wasted no time. Carellos had been selected to be engineer (of course!) but that wasn’t the end of it for me. It just so happened that the backup crew, which recruited separately, needed a new pilot. Their only remaining candidate had been diagnosed with a heart condition just two days ago and had to withdraw.
“And you picked up flight operations faster than any other engineer,” Drescher said. “So here’s the deal. If you train with the backup crew, we’ll keep you in the program with the idea that you might be commander of the next mission. How does that sound?”
How could I say no to that? I finally had what I’d always wanted – a job for keeps.
– Commander Kim Seong-Ja
For all intents and purposes, Kim Seong-Ja (that’s last-name-first by the way, the traditional way to write a Korean name) is a brand new character. The man she replaced had no personality and no role to play in the story. Kim’s backstory mirrors Erin’s with some important differences, such as coming from a less priveleged background. There’s also an undercurrent of rivalry going on. This could be a source of tension should I decide to develop either character, particularly Kim because she needs it more.
You know, I never really thought of myself as an astronaut. Taking a boat to Antarctica didn’t make me a sailor, so how is this different? I’m just a garden variety geologist hitching a ride to the next field spot. I’m not even the payload specialist. I’m the payload.
– Alex Ostrovsky, paleoclimatologist
I’ve worked with Ostrovsky before, stationed for five months at Lake Vostok. He’s the one who suggested I apply to be a part of the Odyssey II mission. Our experience working in Antarctica should prepare us for the harsh climate of the one of the coldest regions of Ilion’s sun-facing hemisphere, where we will be planting our feet. I’m excited about this mission because our science schedule emphasizes geology, climatology, and atmospheric science. I’m sure the biologists are disappointed we’re not going to another rainforest but few of them understand how much the planet’s inorganic history factors into their interests. Every ice core has a story to tell.
– Yuzo Yamamoto, geologist
Not much to say about these. These characters will probably get longer intros once I’ve developed them more.
Part 2: Revised Adventures. These are old passages that have been edited substantially.
The Deep Black Sea
The ocean…this is what I came for. No man has ever sailed these waters before. Not even the crew of Odyssey I got to witness the jet-black algal blooms that stain the sea like octopus ink beneath the breaking ice. We’re here to bring a live sample of this algae back to Earth for study, along with whatever plants and animals we can collect on the way. We’ll then need to learn how they live in their natural habitat, so we can recreate those conditions for the three-year transit. That’s the other half of our work on this overnight boating trip. I could float here forever, but our air is limited and we’ll need to leave some for the drive back. Besides, the wind is picking up and I wouldn’t want us getting caught in a blizzard on the way home.
– Nemo Hovsepian (Day 33)
I like these boat trips. The dim red sun is an endless source of beauty. Over the water, that beauty is mirrored. But best of all, I’m in good company. Nemo’s always pleasant to be around but when he’s on the sea all of his best qualities come out. That’s how he got his nickname, by the way. His grandfather used to call him Captain Nemo because when his family visited for the summer, he always asked to go to the beach. He wouldn’t build sandcastles or splash around with the other kids. He would just sit on the rocks and watch the waves crash, recede, and return.
– Caroline Mercer (Day 33)
I don’t understand Alex’s odd fascination (dare I say obsession) with the thorn-faced creatures and their ilk. To be honest, I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Of all the majestic life to be found on this beautiful chunk of rock, he has to poke and prod the things that have caused, oh-let-me-count, two injuries and one death? Maybe I’m just biased, being in that lucky group and all, though Yuzo’s a bit more forgiving than I am. When he called us to ask us what to do with the live archersnake sticking out of his thigh, the first thing he wanted to know was if he should keep the specimen intact. The snake, intact! I wanted him intact, for god’s sake. The snake could go to hell for all I care.
As for Alex, I guess studying the horrible things is just his weird way of coping, of moving on. Is it forgiveness, or revenge?
– Erin Carellos (Day 84)
YY: Thanks for the help, Erin.
ESC: No problem. And Yuzo?
ESC: You’ll be alright. You didn’t get the full dose of venom and that makes a huge difference.
YY: Yeah, I don’t know how you could stand it. It hurts like the dickens.
ESC: Sorry, what was that?
ESC: Alex says to watch out for more snakes.
YY: I’ll be more careful.
ESC: He wants to know if you have anything you can use as a weapon.
ESC: Not that you shouldn’t be mindful of where you step, but it won’t be enough. Hate to break it but you’re going to get swarmed. It’s how they hunt.
YY: God. All we have is our drill.
ESC: Good. Give it to Os. He’s got mobility on his side. Do you have a bludgeon? Any climbing equipment?
YY: We didn’t climb today. We packed light.
ESC: Air tanks. That’s your bludgeon. Take one of your emptier ones out and keep it by your side.
ESC: Alex says to smash the rostrum. He says it’ll…what was that?
ESC: Why don’t I just give you to Alex? Hang on a sec.
AWO: You won’t get far if you just swing the drill around. They’re too fast.
YY: So what should we do then? Give Os a gas tank?
AWO: Use your feet. Or have Os use his. If you pin them down on packed snow or rock, you can pith the brain.
YY: That sounds exceedingly dangerous.
AWO: It’s the best way. You can also use a knife but the drill puts more distance between your face and theirs. Oh, and the brain is where you’d expect it to be, on the dorsal aspect of the head.
YY: I’m looking at it right now and all the sides look equally dorsal.
AWO: The ventrum has a thin, silky hair on it. That’s how you tell. If you can’t see it, just poke holes in it until it’s dead enough.
YY: Do you really think they’re coming after us?
AWO: I’m certain of it. It’s what they do.
– Recording, 15:45 Day 84
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, a subtle stirring that didn’t quite register with me. To tell the truth, my full attention was on the box of microcores in my arms. This was the first time Os had trusted me with these since I took a spill and dropped the rocks last week. Today, it took four hours to sample the sedimentary outcrops on the coast. There was not a living soul out there to disturb our work, just me and Os and our rocks. The serenity was unscathed by the usual bustle of maintenance staff and researchers manning the Vostok station at home.
The view was unparalleled. The terrain looked like rumpled sheets on an endless bed. It’s funny how everything looks like a good place to nap when you’re tired. I couldn’t wait to get back to camp and rest my blistered feet, put some pea soup on the burner, and tell Nemo about the limestone we found at the base of the South Spires.
No such luck today. Once again, the box went flying and the cores splintered into a thousand shards. It wasn’t the talus shifting under my feet that got me this time. Something was trying to take a core out of me. The culprit was slithery, muscular, and definitely not in my field of expertise. I was more surprised at its strength than anything. It coiled my leg so tightly, my foot went numb. I wish I could say the same for the rest of my leg. Walking was out of the question.
After following Erin’s advice (Caroline wouldn’t pick up the call), Os rigged a travois out of rope and driftwood. There’s nothing like lying at eye level with the enemy. More snakes approached us as we made halting progress back to camp. They must have picked up a scent on the air. Alex warned us that would happen. I just assumed killing the animal would silence it, but not so.
I’ll never forget the ferocity with which Os wielded that hand drill, our meager protection against the onslaught. It was spectacular. For all my worrying, we have six fresh archersnakes for the pot, all mostly intact. I hope Alex doesn’t mind if some of the samples are full of holes. He might call it damage. I call it karma.
– Yuzo Yamamoto (Day 84)
We should have gone to Europa instead, where I could drill in peace. Unless, of course, some as-yet-undiscovered monster skulks beneath the ice. On second thought, I’d best stick to Antarctica, where I’d have nothing to worry about but the weather.
– Alex “Os” Ostrovsky (Day 84)
Part 3: Miscellaneous character development.
I had to work with Alex today because Nemo wasn’t here to collect and categorize the preserved life we dug up. I would’ve rather worked with Nemo to be honest. Both are quiet folks, but Nemo’s quiet in a serene sort of way. Alex is just a downer. He always seems lost though not in the traditional sense. It’s like he knows exactly where he is, but not where he belongs. He drifts at sea. His ship has an anchor but there is no seafloor to hold it.
– Yuzo Yamamoto (Day 34)
I’m glad I had someone to confide in during my brief stay on Earth, but Rocky wasn’t the anchor I needed. It was Erin who kept my feet on solid ground while I drifted through space a second time. It’s one thing to listen and understand, another to know without being told. In Rocky’s company I could bathe in self-pity and gin until my pores stank of the very same. I can’t do that on Odyssey or the Polyxena base camp because there will always be someone here who went through the same ordeal and more. Erin nearly lost an arm; I merely lost the motivation to make myself useful when we found ourselves short-staffed. And Luo, for all his guilt, held our crew together with nothing but tape and gauze. In the meantime, all I could do was mix a cocktail of tap water and alcohol scrub and down it with all the shame of a poacher sawing the horn off the last rhinoceros.
– Alex O’Hearn (Day 39)
Part 4: Basically the whole ending.
The Four Corners of the Earth
We had another tense meeting under the canopy of Eurasia. To summarize, we’re scouting every day. Nobody wanted to sit in their bunks and twiddle their thumbs for god knows how long.
Our first long distance excursion into the gray taught us a lot about the challenge we’re facing. Lesson one: navigation only gets you so far. It’s impossible to find the havens without some kind of visual cue. Our most reliable cue is the Earth flag. It’s the highest point and the flag itself is huge, taller than a man, taller than Alex even. At first we expected our crew insignia to be the best guide because it’s orange and yellow but those colors don’t show up well against the sunrise. The Earth flag is big and black with four right angles that cut right through the whiteout.
Lesson two: temperature means jack shit. Remember when it was seventy below and still as the surface of the Moon? That was peaches and cream compared to thirty below with wind chill. Our scouts always bring a hypothermia kit whether or not the doctor’s with them. The other kit stays at camp in case our maintenance crew requires it. I don’t anticipate needing it. When I’m out there shoveling I generate so much heat I sometimes have to take my hood off. We’re throwing our precious calories literally to the wind, but what else is there to do? That air intake’s not going to clean itself.
I’m feeling simultaneously jealous of and sorry for Yuzo. He’s the living reminder of where we’d all be if we’d taken the boring option. Oh, there’s plenty for him to do but it’s obvious he’s going stir crazy watching the rest of us play in the snow. And yeah, I was in a similar situation last mission but I was too sick to care. It’s different here. Yuzo’s perfectly healthy, he just can’t do more than hobble around the havens and pretend we still care about paleoclimatology or whatever he’s working on right now.
– Erin Carellos (Day 100)
Day nine…Grant, Alex, and I are on scouting duty today. Grant keeps looking over his shoulder at the Earth flag, as if for reassurance. It fades in and out of view depending on what kind of mood the storm is in. All our ropes strung together don’t reach far enough for the area we’re searching, so we have to keep careful record of every step, otherwise we might veer off course if we lose our visual.
– Nemo Hovsepian (Day 100)
I’m hearing them now. At first, it was just an occasional occurrence, something I could dismiss as a trick of the ear. Now, it happens every day, every hour, even. In the kitchen, Os clears his throat and I turn around. Nothing. Behind me, the door beeps and I wait for it to slide open. It doesn’t. From the garden, Alex calls my name. I know it’s absurd, but I poke my head through the vines anyway, just to make sure there’s really no one there.
I can’t lose myself up here, I really can’t, not now. We’re only halfway home.
– Kim Seong-Ja (Day 108)
Day twenty-five…nothing happened today.
– Nemo Hovsepian (Day 116)
The air intake is now a meter and a half below the snow’s surface. To keep it clear we have to dig a cone-shaped hole around it. The vent is at the bottom of an antlion’s pit trap and this depression collects snow faster than the dunes at the surface. This means our job is getting harder by the day.
One thing that’s gotten easier is leaving the airlock. Normally one person would more or less worm their way through the snowpack and then dig a tunnel to let the rest of the party through. We’ve done that so many times we now have a sturdy tunnel we can crawl through to get to the surface. Our body heat has made it smooth and slippery so we carved steps into it and widened the space so we could crouch. We call it the rabbit run and it’s nice to have.
– Grant Irwin (Day 119)
Day thirty …I’m enjoying my last mug of hot water because the only remaining hotplate has burned out on me. What’s this about tea? We ran out of that a long time ago. Ever since the water pipes buckled under the pressure, boiling has been our only means of sterilizing our drinking water, and now we have no choice but to take our chances with the snow. If we don’t find a way out of this mess fast, we’ll be taking the same chances with the air, because that intake vent’s getting harder to clear every day.
– Nemo Hovsepian (Day 121)
There’s quiet, and then there’s silence. A lot of people don’t know the difference between the two. Quiet is when you can hear the finches at the feeder, the turning of the page, and the whisper of the cherry tree outside the bedroom window. Silence is when your own beating heart drowns out the emptiness of space.
– Kim Seong-Ja (Day 122)
Day thirty-three…we found it! This is it. It’s got to be. There’s something hard and smooth at my feet and I’m only sinking to my thighs, not my waist. What else could it be but Sunset? Caroline, where’s the shovel?
(Alex has it.)
We’re at nine degrees northwest about thirty meters from camp. The whole complex is buried except the Earth flag which is impossible to see from here. The orange-gray light makes the place look more like Pompeii than an alien Arctic and visibility is worse than ever. But I don’t care, we found it!
– Nemo Hovsepian (Day 124)
So many people put their money toward this mission in the hopes that we might make contact with an alien civilization. It was humanity’s purpose, the optimists said, to extend a five-fingered hand into the stars and make peace with the neighbors. To the cynics, the mission’s purpose was to find the aliens before they found us. I can’t pretend I didn’t believe we might find another species resourceful and intelligent enough to survive on the outskirts of a habitable world. This would be the expedition that would make first contact and what an occasion that would be.
Today is no less an occasion. Today is the day I made contact with my crew. I say that like I was the mastermind, but really the credit goes to the seven people on the ground. They made a plan. They executed it against incredible odds. Sunset was buried so deep the three of them had to dig a tunnel to the door and yet here they are, talking to me from the cockpit. How did they find it? I’ll have to ask later. I’m waiting for Sunrise to finish self-checking and when that’s done I’ll be on my way.
– Kim Seong-Ja (Day 124)
KSJ: And make a record of where you found the shuttle and how to get to it, just in case.
CLM: In case what?
KSJ: In case something happens to you and Alex on the way back, so the message might reach them if you don’t.
CLM: How on Earth would that happen?
KSJ: I don’t know. Just do it, okay? There’s no reason not to.
– Recording, 9:00 Day 124
Listen closely, and this is important. We ran into some rock outcroppings and deviated from our search path. We knew there were no big rocks at our landing site so we took a ninety degree left and walked about fifty paces from there. Do the same and you will find Nemo waiting at Sunset. If all goes well, Kim and Sunrise will be there as well. There is no need for Yuzo to come and one more person should stay behind to make sure the Earth flag doesn’t blow away, but otherwise we’ll need help carrying supplies back to camp. Best of luck.
– Caroline Mercer (Recording, Day 124)
We have a rule, and that is to wait for the scouting crew to be five hours late before letting ourselves worry. The reason? Four hours is about the time it would take Kim to complete the flight to surface after reconnecting with our people. It should take a little less than an hour to walk back to camp. Then we can start worrying.
This is the longest five hours of my life. One of two things could have happened:
- Alex, Caroline, and Nemo found the shuttle and it’s taking them longer than expected to get it running.
- They lost sight of our Earth flag and now they’re navigating by the sun and prayer.
I wish I could go outside and flag them down myself but…I can’t. I haven’t been outdoors in weeks. Even though Hell’s frozen over across the continent of Polyxena, I would kill for the chance to shovel snow every now and then.
– Yuzo Yamamoto (Day 124)
The damn flagpole broke. It’s gone. If we’d checked more often…fuck! We killed our scouts. They must’ve followed the flag instead of retracing their steps. I bet they’re holding it now, wrapping themselves in it to keep warm. Wherever it blew, that’s where they are.
At least that narrows it down. They’re downwind of us. If they followed the same line of logic they’d walk upwind as soon as they figured out what happened. And that just makes things harder for us. They could have walked right past our camp and not realized it.
– Grant Irwin (Day 124)
Searching for Life
It took considerable effort to hold myself upright against the fearsome winds. And the cold! It was bitter beyond belief. The day Caroline and Nemo rescued us from the whiteout, that was nothing compared to this. Was it really four weeks ago? That’s four precious weeks they bought us. I owe them the world for that.
I had to keep looking, but a tug on the line told me it was time to come back down. I found Grant crouching in the rabbit run, the length of rope coiled around his wrist. His eyes, usually bright and beady, were bloodshot. The beam of my flashlight cut grooves in his forehead. He looked wretched.
He rubbed his eyes and said, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt your search. I was only checking if you were still there on the other end. Worrying over nothing, really. I just don’t like that you’re out there alone. Makes me nervous.”
There’s no reason he shouldn’t have some peace of mind when it’s so hard to come by these days. So I took his end of the rope and handed it over to Os, tossed Grant his goggles, and gave him a nod. He took my hand in a death grip and together we stepped into the cold, thin air.
– Erin Carellos (Day 124)
We found one third of what we were looking for and it’s not what I wanted to find. Let’s just get it out of the way: Alex is dead. We walked past him several times I think, and no wonder. He was wearing nothing but his isolation garment, which is solid white, and he was half buried in the show. It was like looking for a ghost in the fog. Where the hell are Caroline and Nemo? Splitting up wasn’t part of the plan. Maybe if I looked around a little more…Erin’s gone back inside to tell the others but I can still….
Hang on. What’s that in his hand? It looks like…hey, that’s odd. He’s got Nemo’s voice recorder. I wonder what’s in it?
Caroline and I couldn’t be more lost and the cold is cutting through our clothing. She hooked up my air supply to the core warming system. That helped a lot, but then she started taking her clothes off and complaining of the heat. When even the doctor doesn’t recognize the signs of hypothermia you know something’s not right. We only have one core warmer with us so I took it off and gave it to her. I have no use for it, so if you find this, go and tell Erin I’ve gone to see an old friend of ours. She’ll know what I’m talking about.
– Grant Irwin (Day 124)
Grant pried the voice recorder from Alex’s frozen fingers while I was delivering the news to Os and Yuzo. He slipped it into his pocket and didn’t pull it out again until it was just him and me, returning to the site where our companion had been found. He sat me down in the snow, put his hand on my shoulder, and pressed play.
I didn’t take it well.
“Why does it always have to end like this? And it’s all because I didn’t listen to our geologists. Last time, nobody saw it coming, but this time we had warning signs. But I couldn’t bring myself to abort the mission because we worked so long to get here.” A buildup of moisture made my goggles fog up. There was nothing worth looking at anyway, just the same goddamn snow, so I buried my face in Grant’s chest. “I…I could’ve called it off whether Caroline agreed or not. It only takes one to give that order. Second head of safety, my ass. Couldn’t even do my job right.”
Grant said something but I couldn’t make out the words through my sobbing. He sounded both frightened and concerned at my outburst. What was he expecting? A quiet acceptance, or a succinct, well-rehearsed elegy for our fallen friend? I’m not a poet. I’m just the same as him, a grown-up kid who sold my soul to this mission in exchange for some temporary freedom. And you know what? I should’ve aborted this thing long before I left Earth. This sort of crap sucks you in and then when you’re most invested in it, when you feel like you were meant to do this all along, it snatches it away. Tracking down alien beasts is fun but so is hiking through the Canadian wilderness. I would give anything to go fishing with Jo Beringer again. I would give anything to erase the memory of Alex’s mouth agape and filled with snow, of Rashid’s faceplate smeared with blood and spit.
After I calmed down, we listened to the recordings once again. They dated all the way back to the mission’s start but most interesting were those recorded today by Caroline and Nemo. They were intended for us. Nemo left coordinates for the shuttle’s location and Caroline left directions just in case the coordinates didn’t pan out. I think they meant to tell us in person, Alex and her, while Nemo stayed with Sunset to guide Kim to our location. Caroline is still missing but at least we know where Nemo and the shuttle are. And Alex, I guess.
I’m stranded on Ilion and there’s nothing I can do about it so I might as well make myself useful. Kim had a lot of good reasons to push for my recruitment and one of those is my ability to navigate to just about anywhere. Well. Time to get back on my horse and ride off into the Sunset.
– Erin Carellos (Day 124)
Everyone except Yuzo is hauling supplies back to camp. Even though these crates were designed to be dragged through snow it’s still hard work. Kim can’t walk at all. She’s been weightless too long so Grant’s pulling her with a sled. Yuzo was waiting for us at the entrance to our campsite. He had surrounded himself with all the camp’s blankets and towels to make sure we could find our way home.
Our reunion was bittersweet. We were a crew of seven before Kim touched down and we are seven once again. If you’re wondering why I’m saying seven and not six, let it be known that I haven’t given up on Caroline. Erin promised me we would search together when we got back, but only together. She thinks I might do something rash if I go alone and she’s probably right.
Caroline must be completely buried by now. I wonder what’s going through her mind.
– Nemo Hovsepian (Day 124)
Alex was smart to leave the radio with Caroline. Even though the range was limited to 10 meters or so, that was all we needed. A barely discernable voice cut through the static on our second day of search. Nemo nearly broke free to chase after it before I pulled him back.
“Stay with me, Nemo. You don’t know where that’s coming from.”
He looked at me with pleading eyes but I shook my head.
“We’ve got to take it slow. She could be anywhere.”
I tied a rope around both our waists and told him to stay put. The plan was simple. I would walk in a wide circle around the spot where we picked up the signal and spiral inward little by little. The plan was simple, and it worked. Somewhere in the middle of my third orbit of Nemo, my foot got stuck in the snow. I tried to pull it free only to fall on my face. My ankle was caught in the grip of two gloved hands.
Caroline was in a sorry state. Her ears and nose were black and swollen and later we would find the same of her toes. The core warmer had no power. The battery should have lasted longer than a couple days. Maybe it wasn’t fully charged or maybe it was broken. I don’t know why it ran out but she would have died if it hadn’t. See, her carbon scrubbers were saturated and she was breathing an atmosphere of 8% carbon dioxide. This would kill a person at normal body temperature. Hers was several degrees below normal. How she was even conscious I can’t fathom.
She’ll be okay. She’s a wilderness doctor and she told me just now that she’s seen people survive worse things.
Things are easier and safer now that we don’t have to go outside as much. Kim says we have about three weeks left of snowfall and it should start to taper off in two. That’s a long time but we’ll make it through this because we’re human. It’s what we do.
– Erin Carellos (Day 126)
It’s good to have food again.
– Grant Irwin (Day 126)
Today it was my turn to clear the intake and collect snow for drinking water. Kim accompanied me this time. She may be commander again but chores are chores and everyone has to chip in. I threw my body against the snow that plugged the entrance to our rabbit run. It put up no resistance. This struck me as odd because it usually takes a few good shoves to clear the blockage. I stuck my head into the open air and immediately pulled it back, like a tortoise standing face to face with a hungry raven. Except what I saw brought happy tears to my eyes, which turned to ice on contact with my goggles. I turned around, grabbed Kim’s arm, and half ran, half slid down the run to the airlock. I had news and it was good news this time. The storm was over.
– Erin Carellos (Day 148)
The seven of us emerged one by one and laid eyes on a blanket of snow so pristine you’d never know mankind once set foot here. One small step indeed. It took giant steps to wade through the deep, crystalline snow to where our rescuer had landed, despite the stillness in the air. It was as frozen in time and space as it was in temperature, ideal conditions for the flight back to our ship, the Odyssey.
We are headed home at last.
– Nemo Hovsepian (Day 149)