Short stories: The loveless void
The dark void of nothing stared back into his eyes. The moist on his face reflected the glowing LED lights in front of him. Space, the final frontier. The last hurdle for mankind. Yet here he was. Failing at this hurdle.
“Ten percent oxygen remaining.” said the voice in his suit. He never really liked the female voice they choose for the suits. She sounded harsh and cold. Then again, that would describe space perfectly. Guess the others must have felt that way too. No, he didn’t want to think about that now. Not in his final moments. He looked around and noticed the monitors and controls. Everything looked in order. They were still on schedule to land on Earth in three months. He would have smiled if his suit didn’t start to talk again.
“Seven percent oxygen remaining.”
He slammed his fist on the controls.
“I know, goddammit! I can read the display. I am dying, not blind.”
The door behind him slid open with a puf and a robot walked in.
“Ah, SH1007-004. You have come to say goodbye to this old space cowboy?”
The robot tilted his head and a few LEDs started to light up on his chest.
“Negative. Maintenance on engine deck has been completed. Command ‘Goodbye’ unknown.”
The astronaut laughed. The wrinkles in his face were visible in the reflection in his visor.
“And to think I owe the last days of my life to you. I want to thank you for that, SH1007-004.”
He stood up from his chair and switched a few controls.
“Guess it is time to record my last log.” His hands felt heavy. He did not like the word ‘last’. It had too much meaning now. He exhaled and pushed the green button in front of him.
“Logbook entry 1501. Earth date July the fourth, 2050. The name is Captain Roger Mahoney and this will be my last entry. The oxygen tank explosion from yesterday took the lives of all other crewmembers. I was spared because of the action of one of the maintenance droids, who airlocked the leak as soon as possible. At the moment I am wearing my spacesuit and oxygen is running low. We are on schedule to land on Earth in three months. For whoever will find these logs, please know… that our mission was unsuccessful. And if by chance Eleanor is listening… Tell her I love her. Captain Roger, out.”
He pushed the green button again and slammed his hand on the controls. Anger, despair, sadness, his emotions were in a constant battle.
“Master, waiting for new instructions.”
Roger looked at the droid next to him and smiled through his tears.
“SH1007-004, go and find someone. Find love. That is an order from your captain. For your captain has been an idiot. He thought that it would come to him. He ignored the most beautiful person he ever met. And now he is here…”
“One percent oxygen remaining”
I don’t want to go…” he told himself, while the tears started to roll over his cheeks. SH1007-004 stood up and left the control room. “Affirmative. Main objective updated.” was the last thing Roger heard before the robot went through the door. He was alone. His vision started to become clouded and it became harder to breathe. He smiled and cried at the same time. “Oxygen depleted.”
The sun reflected on the damaged spacecraft and a few cows looked curious on, while the military were investigating. The field it was parked in looked scorched, but not damaged. A clean landing. That is what the sergeant saw. He sighed and puffed out a cloud of smoke from his e-cigarette. A young private came up to him holding an electronic tablet.
“Sir, permission to speak.”
“At ease, private. What have you found?”
“Sir, the investigation team has concluded that there is something missing. According to the logs there should have been a maintenance droid aboard, but no sign has been found.”
The grizzled sergeant looked at the young man next to him.
“Didn’t the crew use it for parts to fix the oxygen leak?”
“No, sir. The last logs were recorded by the droid himself. He was the one that landed the ship in this field.”
“Well, where is the tinhead?”
“Sir, there is also a farmer here that claims he has seen the robot.”
“Good, so we know where he is!”
“Sir, the robot got away.”
Annoyed he took the e-cigarette out of his mouth.
“He stole the farmers bike.”
“The droid said he needed it. He said…”
The young soldier scratched his head and sighed.
“Spill it out, private! I am losing my temper here.”
“He said he was looking for love.”