The Space Explorers – Part 3

~ Part2 ~
After months of nothingness, here’s part 3 ūüôā


At that point, I wasn’t really sure if I was hallucinating or not. I couldn’t be. I wouldn’t even be surprised to have¬†developed some sort of PTSD after the incident, but I should be stronger than that. I had been trained for all of that, we all were. Oh, friends, why?

I had been doing my best to grab a firm hold of myself, to keep my head off the clouds and feet on the ground while the whole aftermath of the event unfolded around me, but now there was this voice prying on my disturbed existence.

Nobody else was in the darkened room with me;¬†I made sure of that, so¬†where was it coming from? I had heard the voice through the intercom when he called me, but now I could hear it in front of me, like an actual ghost standing a few steps in front of my trembling muscles, but there was absolutely nothing there besides the words my friends and I had scratched on the wall and my lonely silhouette projected on top of them. Insanity was taking over, that’s what was going on.

But it said I can save them. The voice said I could save them.

My legs were shaking like an earthquake, and I knew it wasn’t the cursed winter cold. A headache‚ÄĒ It was coming. I could feel it; my broken voice could feel it.

“Who are you? What do you mean?” I asked away, surprised at my own voice and at my ability to articulate words.

I am the one who will help you overcome your misfortune,”¬†said the voice as I dealt with the fact that it was coming from nowhere in particular.

“I don’t need to overcome anything.” That’s not what I have to do. “Where are you?!”

Altas,”¬†whispered¬†the voice. Did it actually call out my name? “You wish for your childhood friends to return to life.”

He paused for some reason; I waited, hoping I was still alone in the room. I could barely distinguish the walls at both sides of me; everything but the doorway was dark, yet no one stood within the shades.

No one could¬†know what was going on. They’d say I’m crazy. Heck, even I think I’ve lost it,¬†and the walls know it. Why was I still alone?

“But why would you consider them dead in the first place?”

For a moment, I wondered if that had been my imagination. Why would I consider them dead? Are you kidding me? I saw them! My heart rate¬†was just figuring out how to slow down its pace a little; I didn’t need this kind of ludicrous thoughts wandering around my head for my pulse to call for war. I didn’t need it at all. I saw them. I saw them being torn apart and eaten by monsters from hell. How could they not be gone?

Gardeners¬†are strange living things,”¬†said the voice.

I flared up.

“Gardeners must be annihilated! Every single last one of them!” I roared with all of the air left in my lungs. It echoed and bounced all around me. Someone must have heard it. I coughed a few times and covered my throat. That hurt.

The monsters that attacked us‚ÄĒ we used to call them¬†gardeners.¬†Some old man at the Space Station had come up with the name ever since the first invasion. This voice had to be a human’s, then.

There was silence for a few seconds. Had I scared the voice away? I was convinced that someone would sneak up behind me at any moment after that scream. I was dizzier than I should have been.

I understand your frustration, Altas, but there is something you can do.”

“What?” I asked, not surprised that it was still lurking around. I did want to know. There was nothing to lose.

Despite their thirst for blood, they can heal. They leech upon active hosts. Your friends might still be alive.”

That was it: a headache burst out of nowhere. I growled in pain and anger, trying to recite the voice’s last words in my head. I couldn’t really understand what it was telling me. Was it talking about the gardeners? They can heal? I couldn’t really tell what was going on. It felt like one of those mad nightmares, but one I couldn’t escape from as a result of the pounding pain and the naive hope that kept me standing. This couldn’t be normal; I needed my pills.

“What do you want me to do, then?!” I yelled at the wall in front of me, losing my nerves. The voice didn’t seem to care.

You have to go back to where it all happened.”¬†

I shook my head almost instantly. I somehow knew that was coming. Felt it in my veins. My efforts trying to show my disapproval became angered mumbles:

“You must be crazy if you think I’m going back there.”

The voice replied almost instantly. My head hurt as it did.

I am well aware that you would do anything to save your friends. For that reason, I am giving you a chance that you must not ignore.

“You’re in my head, aren’t you?” I voiced through my teeth, “I’m imagining this. Y-you’re not here. You don’t exist!”

You have less than forty hours. Be late, bear your betrayal.”

I was trying to wrap my head around it all, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t think at all. Me? Betrayal? I’d never betray them. I’d never let anyone hurt them. I would not…

My face was wet and my eyes blurry. I couldn’t look at it anymore; I couldn’t look at the world. My brain was tearing itself apart and my body could stand no more. How could it ever be possible for them to still be alive? I saw them with my own eyes.¬†I saw my future betray my past.

“I can’t,” I whispered between to myself among sobs and tears. I had fallen to my knees without realizing, then barely got a heart-attack when an actual voice coming from behind echoed powerfully around the room.

“Commander!” shouted the voice. It felt real, like a voice with actual spatiality. I recognized it, but I just couldn’t remember who it belonged to. The pain was staggering.

“Are you okay?!” said the approaching voice as a pair of arms touched my shoulders. Words could not describe the comfort I felt in that moment. Physical presence.

“It’s going to be alright, commander.” I knew her. I was too beaten to look, but I knew it was my trainee, standing closer than ever. “Please, I¬†need to take you back to the Station. You need to rest.”

“Lydia…” I mumbled. And like a spell cast by her words, my body blacked out and fainted to the abyss.

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