by D.J. Sylvis
Broadcasting. I’m sending this out on every frequency. My name is Roger Bragado-Fischer, I’m … I was Communications for Moonbase Theta, owned by the Consortium, managed by the Rio de Janeiro enclave. Sorry, Rio – São Paolo. Whatever they’re calling themselves now, whomever is left to make that call. If you receive this message, please forward to their attention, and also … to Alexandre Bragado-Fischer, wherever they might be found.
Alex, please be found. I need to know you’re there. All I could think of, coming back from the other side … staring through that viewport, obscured by my breath …
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.
I found that in your book of poetry. The most … appropriate selection yet. I am the Ancient Mariner, my eye so bright, my hand so brown.
I didn’t repair the communications towers. It seemed … superfluous. I did, when I was back on this side, message ahead to tell them what I’d found. By the time I arrived, they’d already made their choice. I found three more active stasis pods, three sets of lights, blinking in perfect time.
Wilder actually went into stasis first, I can see it in the logs. They pushed too hard in the mines and their arm just … came apart, all at once, they had to take medical. Ashwini and Michell, I don’t think they could see another way.
I think they were afraid I’d talk them out of it. I can’t blame them. I literally can’t blame them, I don’t have the equipment to wake them up to have an argument. The company knew what they were doing, only setting us up for half the process. Sometimes I argue with them anyway, I curse and shout and spit, just in case they can hear. They know what they did, leaving me to watch alone. I can see it on their faces.
All fixed on me their stony eyes,
That in the Moon did glitter.
I still go up to the surface a lot, since coming back. To stare at the stars, or to visit Nessa. I remember when I was outraged that they’d left the body here. If anyone deserved a trip home … But now, it seems like a better place than most. Molecule by molecule, piece by piece, they’ll make their way back into the universe. That doesn’t sound so bad, Alex.
The moving Moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside—
I think about those messages I wrote for Ashwini. The ones to send out, into space, into the black. Every one was a failure, I couldn’t figure out what to say or how to say it. I guess they should have sent a poet.
What was I supposed to do? Invite them to be pen pals? Put out the welcome mat? Beg them to save us? Maybe I did. Maybe at the last possible minute, just when all hope is lost … a flying saucer will swoop down from the black. It could happen, right? Just like we might still reach down and save that freehold. It could happen.
When I’m back down below, I stare at the station schematics. Crew quarters, fully decommissioned, powered down. Laboratory areas, fully decommissioned, powered down. Hydroponic gardens, observatory, security offices, fully decommissioned, powered down. And I find my finger hovering over the power controls for the stasis pods …
But I can’t do that. I can’t do that, Alexandre, or the poem really is about me.
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
Base operations report. Helium-3 stores are at 198%. Mining operations have ceased. Power usage is at a minimum. Water, food stores … are unimportant.
Personnel … 41 crew members in stasis, awaiting retrieval. One crew member awake. One crew member, remaining awake.
The shutdown sequence is complete.
Personal message … all of this has been a personal message. Every broadcast. To anyone who receives this, anyone left out there, particularly if your name is Alex and you’re married to an Ancient Mariner …
I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.
Live and be well. Moonbase Theta, out.