One Hour Later

by m1k3y

 

“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.”

—Marshall McLuhan.

Red

You wake in your bunk, rivers of sweat pouring down your forehead, invading your eye sockets like a storm surge, clouding your vision. The room, far too warm. Wiping your eyes, you see your hands turned bloody; your quarters are awash in the deep red of emergency lighting. Serpentine wisps of smoke infiltrate the room from air vents. The acrid aftermath of whatever's burning erodes your tongue, choking you. A cacophony of competing alarms fill your ears to bursting.

You turn to the screen beside your bed:

WARNING: LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS FAILING.

DANGER: CO2 RISING TO TOXIC LEVELS.

You glance across the room, mind overflowing with questions for your bunk mate, and find by way of answers a hollowed-out skull; chunks of their brains decorating the wall like a Rorschach test you never wanted to take. Their screen, spider-web cracked and frozen on CRITICAL ALERT: EXTINCTION EVENT IN PROGRESS. The sidearm gripped by their lifeless hands comes briefly into focus before your vision blurs once more, this time by tears.

You dress hurriedly, fleeing this waking nightmare, praying sanity lies on the other side of the automatic doors.

Forgetting your shoes, you race out into the corridor. Your bare feet betray you as you slip—and briefly slide—in a pool of water lying in wait outside your door. Your arms ineffectually flap like a flightless bird's.

Your world flips on its side.

You go down.

Hard.

You lie there. Momentarily stunned. Paralysed.

Your brain reboots. Consciousness returns. With it comes the realisation that it's not water that's soaking into your hair, your clothes, your skin.

It's blood. And it's everywhere. Pooled on the floor. Sprayed across the walls. Dripping, inexplicably, from the ceiling. Falling on your face, thick and cloying, like a summer rain.

The floor beneath you trembles, sending waves through the blood pool, gently lapping at your face. Accompanying it, the rising sounds, and screams, of someone—or something—thundering toward you, drowning out the alarms that still ricochet around your skull.

You fight against fear to turn your head, and are rewarded with the sight of a horde of what couldn't possibly be zombies emerging from the haze of the smoke-filled corridor.

The group, a mix of races, heights, genders and body types. United by the holographic patches on their jumpsuits; something you'd been spotting on more and more of your crewmates. The glints from their patches cut through the haze, like a light show for the headline act of an apocalypse.

You wonder if it marked them as members of a cult or not-so secret society, but force the thought from your mind. Now is not the time for speculation - now is the time to get the fuck away from these crazies coming straight for you.

You get up and frantically run toward the main deck, desperate to escape the horde. Bodies upon bodies mark the way. Some shot, piled in a rough heap. Some burnt, fused with their surroundings. Some have been run down by transport vehicles, track marks on their faces, limbs and clothes. Others look trampled by those trying desperately to escape... just what, you're still not sure.

There is only one logical explanation: madness has overtaken the ship's crew.

Insanity has staged a mutiny.

You survey the scene, taking in the words scrawled in blood on walls and windows, on doors and floors. THEY LIED seems to the predominant message, followed closely by NO HOPE and NO FUTURE. Materialising out of nowhere, a burning body lurches past you and collides with the remains of a transport and its scattered cargo of oxygen tanks. Before you can even think to act, the fusion of man and machine goes critical. The explosion rockets you back to the floor, showering you with parts both meat and mechanical.

You rise once more, pausing to roughly wipe yourself down. Discovering a piece of bone protruding from your thigh in the process. It's not yours. You hastily yank it free.

A new voice joins the chorus of chaos: your own screams.

You tear off a piece of tattered clothing to use as a rough tourniquet, and limp toward the main deck—nearly tripping on a neat pile of severed heads, a cairn left in tribute to some dark god.

As the smoke from the explosion thins, you spot the outline of a small figure ahead of you. You close the gap, finding a child in their tweens clutching a burnt toy. Wandering aimlessly. Eyes wide. Unable to comprehend that one of the living has come for them.

Death is everywhere.

 Somehow you convince them to come with you, communicating entirely in plaintive expressions and gestures.

They take your hand and grasp it so hard you can feel the cartilage crunch against your bones.

Together, you keep moving forward to the main deck.


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 READ THE REST OF THIS STORY IN CREEPER MAGAZINE - ISSUE ONE COMING SOON FROM OH NOTHING PRESS

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M1k3y’s s work ranges from travel writing to book and film reviews to wildly speculative essays on the science-fictional condition. You can find him exploring the Earth’s fate after climate change at
https://theposthuman.world or on Twitter as @m1k3y.