Another Friday, another short story. I’ll admit that this one was thrown together rather quickly, so I might revisit this one a bit further down the line. But for now, hope you enjoy!
The deck in the corridor creaked. Had it always done that by itself? Until now it had only done so whenever he had walked through there. Did that mean somebody was out there, waiting for him? Or something?
His rational mind said that this was impossible. After all, he had been alone on this station for over a year now, having neither sight nor sound of any other living being for all that time. Despite there being signs of a past civilisation on the planet below, humanity had yet to encounter a sentient alien life form in the many centuries of space exploration that preceded Private Ashley Wilson’s arrival on orbital station ZX-979.
“Private, you’ll be undertaking a very important role for us” the stern faced General had told him. “You will be the first line of defence against our enemies. While you will be compensated financially, you will be completely alone for the duration of your time aboard. What do you say?”
Looking back, he wondered if he would have accepted their offer – and very generous pay packet – if he had known then exactly what he was getting himself in for. With that said, they were paying him a lot of money for this. Enough to support his family for at least two years, possibly more if they could stretch it out.
At first he had enjoyed the solitude, the days blurring into one as he completed his daily tasks, then settling down to catch up on some holo-vids and reading. He would follow almost the same pattern every day, varying things up a little to keep himself entertained, before retiring to bed, sleeping and beginning the routine all over again the following morning.
Now, after many months alone, his mind had started playing tricks on him. Or at least, that’s what he told himself. He knew he was getting worse, the nightmares had increased in number lately and it was rare if he could go a full night without waking up in a state of panic. The first time he had heard the noises he had inspected the entire station top to bottom, finding nothing. He had repeated this again three of four times afterwards, each time the same result. He was completely alone here.
So why did the sounds and noises keep happening? Something didn’t add up. The good news was that he was due to be relieved within the next 6 months. He had broken into the home stretch of his tour of duty, and now despite his initial relaxation and acceptance he was counting down the days until he could go home.
There it was again. That sound. The same corridor.
Should he go investigate? No, it was probably nothing. A station this old was bound to have a few unique quirks. Or maybe it was aliens after all? Maybe one had made its way up here from the surface, or transported over from a hidden vessel somewhere out there in space, and was toying with him. No, that sounded preposterous the more he thought about it.
If it wasn’t aliens, could it be one of the experiments they had asked him to watch over? There were some potentially terrifying things going on in there, enough to make Wilson stay as far away from that section of the station unless it was absolutely necessary for him to go. Still, the noises were unsettling him. He set off towards the labs at a brisk pace. If there was something stalking the corridors then it would catch him sooner rather than later. There was no place to hide. Better to be out in the open than tucked away in
A clatter up ahead, like something had fallen off the wall or a shelf. He’d definitely heard that. There was nothing at that end of ZX-979 except for storage space.
Without even considering going to see what it was, he turned immediately left and direct towards the lab. He was stood outside in less than a minute, the white light from inside blazing out into the corridor and mixing with the yellow light of the corridor.
He pushed closer to the glass and looked inside. Everything was in order. So, he could tick off the lab as the source of his angst. Well, one of the sources at least. That just left a hundred other possible reasons for the noises he had been hearing.
It was then that inspiration struck. He would tick off the possible causes, one by one, until he was certain that he was imagining it all. With renewed vigour, more than he’d experienced in many months, he set about inspecting the station again from top to bottom. If there was something or someone on board, he would find them this time.
“What’s he doing now?”
The technician turned to speak with the General. The General didn’t look at the technician directly. He was more interested in the live surveillance footage that the technician was monitoring. On it, Wilson could be seen checking through the storage containers.
“He’s responding to all of the stimuli we’ve given him, sir” replied the technician. “He thinks there’s something in there with him.”
“Good.” The General thought for a moment.
“Dial it up to Stage Five, let’s see what he does. Prepare a report and have it on my desk by the morning. I need to brief the Prime Minister on our progress. This project is exceeding all of our expectations.”
“Yes sir.” With a brief nod the General was gone.The technician resumed his observation of the surveillance feed, watching Private Wilson’s every move. The technician looked across at the simulator box which held Wilson and the entire contents of ZX-979.
Poor guy. He had absolutely no idea.