Charcoal – from Unconfined Delusions


Personal log 04/04/2163

The pinging that brought us to this sector of the galaxy comes from a Spector-18 exploratory vessel, old, but still used in some quadrants. It’s unknown how long the ship has been adrift. No reference to its identification number has been found in our ship’s databases, but our records only go back a hundred years.

There are no obvious signs of distress, and the body of the vessel is intact.

The mooring cables are in place, and an exploratory survey of the exterior is scheduled for tomorrow.

Personal log 04/05/2163

We discovered a peculiar powdery substance on the exterior of the hull. Bobby took scrapings of the gray and black scale. Sample analysis indicates severe carbonation. Dating of the material eliminates the possibility of an Earth origin and the thickness of the scales indicates it formed after the craft became immobile. The engineers haven’t come up with a viable explanation for its development in deep space.

Personal log 04/06/2163

We have been observing the ship for two days per protocol and have not discovered any signs of life.  Motion detectors, heat imaging, audio recordings have all been negative.

Preparations have been made for the Lead Engineer’s Alpha-boarding in the morning.

Personal log 04/07/2163

Bobby entered alone through the aft portal to conduct the Alpha monitoring. He took all the required initial entry readings and samples. Standard operating procedures for boarding an abandoned craft were followed. Full-body protective gear was worn.

I monitored his live video feed. Nothing peculiar stuck out to me. No sign of the crew. They seemed to have literally vanished.

Analysis of the samples failed to raise any red flags. All parameters were within acceptable limits and Beta-boarding will be initiated in the morning.

At dinner tonight, Bobby complained about numbness in his fingertips which struck me as odd. It’s not like him to complain or express discomfort.

Personal log 04/08/2163

Beta-boarding teams consisted of: Team 1- myself, Bobby, and Raj; Team 2 – Shannon, Marco, and Sherman. Our team was responsible for reconnaissance and overall assessment. Team 2 was responsible for establishing the vessel’s operability.

Team 1 conducted a sweep of all three levels. Our primary mission was to determine why the Spector-18 was abandoned, and what had happened to the crew. We found no signs of distress, but we did find numerous piles of an ashy material, and a thin film of the carbon substance similar to the piles covered most surfaces. We collected samples of these materials and food supplies. We discovered some dry goods, but no liquids of any sort.

Team 2 was able to restore the craft’s life support systems. Computers are back online, but most of the memory files are corrupted and will be no help to determine why the ship was abandoned. I’ve ordered the crew to maintain protective precautions until further notice.

Bobby worked the morning, but after I noticed him flexing and shaking his hands I sent him back to our ship for a medical examination.

Personal log 04/09/2163

I sent two crews to conduct a thorough inspection of the lower decks today. They reported more of the gritty piles. Analysis of the substances shows it is composed of nearly pure carbon. The piles, the film on most of the surfaces, and the scale on the hull are all the same. Its origin is unknown, and I’ve put solving this mystery as highest priority.

Update on Bobby. He’s experiencing numbness in his toes and considerably decreased mobility in his fingers. Doc Peters hasn’t been able to figure out a cause yet. There are no symptoms other than the numbness and a slight fever.

Personal log 04/10/2163

Shannon and Marco both mentioned numbness in their fingers today. Bobby’s illness is spreading up his arms, and his toes and feet are also showing signs of atrophy. He claims he feels no pain even though his fingers are the color of shale. Doc says he’s drinking an unordinary amount of water.

It’s unclear if the Spector-18 is causing the symptoms, but it seems a likely.

Personal log 04/11/2163

Bobby’s condition severely degraded during the night.  His fingers and arms have turned black like charcoal, brittle and cracked, and they radiate heat. He accidentally knocked his hand against the counter and his pinky and ring finger broke off. He said there was no pain, but fear shone bright in his eyes. I’ve ordered him quarantined along with Shannon and Marco, but if this is an airborne infection, it may be too late to stop the spread. Shannon and Marco’s conditions have also deteriorated; however, Marco’s feet have decayed faster, and he can no longer stand for fear of them breaking.

I ordered recalibration of all our instruments and a secondary run of tests, full spectrum, but they revealed nothing. It’s too late to abandon our mission especially since we haven’t determined a cause of the contagion.

We used every instrument to test the air, but we must have missed something. I don’t know how else to explain it. Hell, I don’t know. Maybe we absorbed something subatomic.

I’ve sent messages out any neighboring ships, but I don’t expect an answer. This is what we signed up for. Daily downloads of ship’s activities are sent back to Earth every day, but the lag time in responses is twenty-seven days, and rescue could take years.

I don’t think we have that much time.

Starting to worry about our water supply.

Personal log 04/12/2163

The effects of the virus, or whatever it is, hit Raj, Sherman and four others who never stepped foot on the Spector-18. It’s an alarming development considering we took all decontamination precautions when traveling between ships.

Doc Peters is baffled. We’re in agreement the contagion is somehow caused by the carbon although there’s no evidence of the correlation. I haven’t mentioned our conclusion to the crew, but they’re not stupid. Easy enough to connect the dots.

Bobby’s in bad shape. Bobby and I go way back, back to the academy. It’s hard to watch him disintegrate. His body temperature has spiked to 112º, and it’s impossible to keep him hydrated. He drifts in and out of consciousness. His clothes smolder and spontaneously combust. Little patches ignite revealing black and cracked skin. He lies immobile, but chunks of him spall away from his limbs. I’m not sure if he’s aware, but he must be able to smell and see the smoke. I see no reason to bring it up.

Charcoal – Part 2 of 2 from Unconfined Delusions

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About angelallindseth

Putting the finishing touches on The Contraption, a dystopian novel dealing with conversion therapy and social inequality. It's The Handmaid's Tale meets Divergent.
This entry was posted in Dark Fiction, Flash Fiction, horror, Unconfined Delusions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Charcoal – from Unconfined Delusions

  1. I’m waiting for the movie….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: One Match | Angela L. Lindseth

  3. Pingback: Headaches, from Sanity’s Threshold | Angela L. Lindseth

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