Charcoal – Part 2 of 2 from Unconfined Delusions


Charcoal, Part 1

Personal log 04/13/2163

Five more showing symptoms. The medical bay is overflowing. Doc Peters has locked himself in the lab. His assistant lost the use of his hands, so I help him out when I can. Mostly, he lets me bring him meals, but I usually take it away untouched. He sits hunched over the microscope muttering. He’s taking it hard, and I worry about his stability.

Personal log 04/14/2163

I’m the only one symptom-free. I feel like a traitor. The few who can help nurse the ones who’ve collapsed. They say the pain is minimal, but their thirst is unquenchable. I’ve rationed our water supplies, and the moans for more water haunt what little sleep I’ve been getting.

Doc Peters gave a little speech that ended with him distributing a pill to each of us. He plans on using his when his hands freeze up. He suggested we all consider the same. He’s run out of options, ideas, and hope. I could have shoved it down his throat and saved him the wait because his ‘pep talk’ was unbecoming for a senior officer. On the other hand, some of the crew looked relieved to have an easier way out.

I canceled all duties, so some of the crew have isolated themselves in their quarters. I imagine them staring at the pill and gathering the nerve to use it. I threw mine in the trash. I am the captain. It’s my duty to see this through to until the end and record every detail.

Personal log 04/15/2163

I’m showing the first signs of numbness. I had hoped I was immune because witnessing my team turn into blackened statues and their appendages snap off like dead wood… well, horrific is hardly the word for it. We still haven’t found a cure. How can one discover an antidote without a diagnosis?

I make the rounds checking on everyone and noting their condition. I force myself to visit Bobby. He’s lost the ability to talk, but he licks his lips over and over. I drip water into his mouth, but it’s never enough. I can’t look him in the eye. I don’t know how much more I can take.

Personal log 04/16/2163

Doc Peters took his life today.

Personal log 04/17/2163

My progressive decay fascinates me. Like watching embers in a fire that move and wane, the degeneration works its way up my limbs. It’s mesmerizing. The onset reminded me of a bad sunburn, but then the pain subsided to a dull ache and numbness took over.

I thought there might have been an explanation that didn’t involve the Spector-18, but that’s stupid. We were on a foreign vehicle, in an underexplored galaxy─ I mean, how do you prepare for every unknown?

I am smoldering. My temperature is 105º, pulse rate is 53 bpm. Blood pressure 80/50. I should be dead. I wish I was.

The ship has grown quiet. I switched over to my thought recorder before paralysis is total. I wonder when that will be.

I wish I hadn’t thrown away my pill.

Personal log 04/18/2163

The invader consumes with hot determination. The lucky ones crumbled to ash when they toppled, but some twitch and moan where they made their last resting place. I ignore them the best I can. I guess I should put them out of their misery, but somehow I still have hope they will revive and grow their limbs back. It’s ludicrous, I know, but I don’t want to be out here alone and lost in this godforsaken place.

I experimented knocking my hands against something solid. My fingers shattered painlessly into charcoal briquettes. My hope flees with every minute.

Today my pulse rate is 42 bpm. Blood pressure 80/30.  My temperature is 112º. I don’t feel ill, but my thirst is unquenchable, and I’ve run out of water. My tongue protrudes from my mouth. My lips feel like sandpaper.

Personal log 04/21/2163

I’m forgetting my daily posts. I’m not even sure what day it is. I converted ship functions to automatic yesterday. At least I think it was yesterday. I imagine the last person ‘alive’ on the Spector-18 going through the same motions.

My temperature is an alarming 121º. My breath leaves my nostrils with tiny puffs of smoke. How is this even possible?  I can feel my heartbeat; the minimal tempo vibrates down my solidifying tissues like drumbeats in the distance.

I shuffled around the laboratory on what is left of my legs pretending to work on a cure, pretending to have hope. I can’t find any of Doc’s pills. Maybe they took them, and it didn’t work. What a cruel joke.

Personal log 04

I can’t move anymore. Hopefully, someone will find my thought recordings and process these messages before it happens to them. If we are ever found.

How my heart beats in this blackened shell and supplies blood to my organs is all I think about, at least when I’m conscious. I’m losing chunks of time, I think. Time passes like minutes and an eternity at the same time.

For my final gesture, I toppled over across from the blackened husk of Bobby’s body. What’s left of him is on the floor of the isolation cell. He’s not moving. At first, I thought he was dead, but his eyes locked on mine, alive and alert. My God.

Log entry

Breathing… a chore.

Bobby’s eyes… not blinking… once in a while… dart upward… pleading to God…

If Bobby… alive…he was first…

How long… have I been here?

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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.

8 Responses to Charcoal – Part 2 of 2 from Unconfined Delusions

  1. Pingback: Charcoal – from Unconfined Delusions | Angela L. Lindseth

  2. Incredibly good storytelling. This gives me chills.

    Liked by 1 person

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